Posts Tagged With: nature

 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: That Was Real In Tents

March 25, 2016

Dear J, J, L and L,

Sorry for the bad pun in the title. I couldn’t help myself. But this letter happens to discuss tents. One tent in particular.

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Very handy

Your father and I recently went camping. Yes, camping in March in Arizona. We got up in to the pines but not into any patches of snow. We’ve done that with L and L as I recall. That was the “Little Muddy Foot” and “Queen of the Flame” with snow patches around us trip. That was cold. Oh, and once with Aunt Ny, up American Fork Canyon in April. Brrrr.

I digress.

So, as I was saying,  your dad and I went camping. Instead of the two-man tent, which is pretty snug and requires crawling around and barely allows kneeling upright, we chose to bring the good ol’ six man tent. You remember that one, a big yellow and white dome with a gray rain fly. Yup, that tent. It’s big enough for standing up to get dressed and maneuvering around in. It’s a spacious and comfortable temporary abode for two people.

For six people, it’s a snug fit. Oh, but the warmth generated inside there is awesome on a cold camping night. We’ve had a few of those in that tent.

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Ponderosa Pines and sunshine!

If I put my brain to it I’m sure I could almost come close to remembering all the times we’ve put up that tent and slept in it. We’ve slid the poles through the sleeves on that tent in a bunch of states. Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, (oddly, never Colorado) Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennesee, and North Carolina. Let me know if you think I missed any.

I remember a Thanksgiving in North Carolina with raccoons visiting during the night. And two days of rain camping also in North Carolina a little too near a stream that rose a few feet. There’s the New Mexico fiasco as part of the camping our way across the country. Pitched our tent across the lake from a nuclear power plant in Arkansas, where I was sure I was gonna die but somehow didn’t. We’ll never forget rain camping with a grand mud fight in Oklahoma.

We’ve had some grand adventures in that tent. We’ve also experienced angst and anger, aggravation and sheer boredom in that tent. If that tent could talk, imagine the tales it would tell. We’ve owned that creative piece of engineering genius made from fabric since October 1989. That makes it 27 years old. That’s quite a long life for a tent.

How can I be so sure of the year and month? Your Dad called me from Oakland, California where he was working in a skyscraper on October 17, 1989 to tell me he was in an earthquake. We decided in the days following that disaster that we needed to be more prepared for whatever the world and life threw our way. Owning a tent and some camping equipment would make us a bit more self-reliant if we ever found ourselves evacuated or homeless for whatever odd reasons life comes at us with.

One of the best investments we ever made was that tent and those sleeping bags. I hope you agree.

IMG_5981A few years back the rainfly became a congealed mass of guck. I think it spent a month too long in the back of the truck on an extended road trip and the heat did a number on its chemistry. The manufacturer no longer made that tent or rainfly (imagine that after 27 years) so we didn’t haven a replacement.

On this most recent camping trip we jury-rigged a rainfly out of a blue tarp. We did that not for any rain in the forecast, but to keep the heat from escaping out the mesh panels at the top of the tent. It looked a little amateurish, but it served its purpose.

Breakage kind of defined this camping jaunt. Luckily no bones were broken. But one of our cots broke, which was inconvenient but not unbearable. And one of the camp chairs collapsed while your dad was sitting in it. That was inconvenient. (I knew we should have thrown in an extra one.) And then after nightfall a zipper broke on one of the tent doors. As a quick and dirty fix we simply duct taped it shut. (Red Green would be proud.) But by morning the wind had kicked up and the duct tape didn’t hold things together in all that swaying. I woke up to a cold breeze blowing through the tent.

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My sewing job included a needle poke and blood.

We debated what to do about that, since we wanted to stay another night. I dug through my backpacking pack and found a sewing kit and guess what? I sewed that broken zipper opening shut! Was that clever or what? I was pleased with myself. Luckily that tent has two doors, so we simply used the other one.

Between the rainfly and the tent door we got the hint that it’s time to retire the old reliable family tent. I knew you’d be broken hearted to hear this. Or at least semi-interested. So I thought I’d let you know about it before we give it a fitting farewell. It almost feels like we ought to be respectful and burn it, but I don’t know if I could watch that happen. Saying goodbye is a tough thing.

Of course, we need to buy a replacement tent before we do that. I’d like a four-man tent that you can still stand up in, at least in the middle of it. I think we’re past the backpacking stage, but you know your dad will want to camp in all four seasons, so it’ll need to be a rugged piece of equipment.

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These Flutterbys were everywhere!

I have so many happy memories that revolve around that tent. We had some great times camping, didn’t we? I’d love to hear about some of your favorites sometime. To me, they were all epic and made us the family that we are.

Even though three of you are out of state this Easter, and I’ll miss coloring eggs and putting olives on our fingers during Easter dinner, I’ve been feeling a strong connection to you this week, thanks to that old yellow tent.

Thank you for always being willing to go along on those outings, and for being part of the joy of the outdoors that’s such an integral part of who I am. Here’s hoping that a love of nature and camping has woven itself affectionately around your genes as well.

Love you each beyond expression,

Mom

~~~~~

“My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, “It is air-conditioned and has exceptional location.” ~ Fennel Hudson

 

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Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Still Kami: Bringing Me Back to Myself

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 16, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

I read this book about five years back called “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. (It’s coming out as a movie soon, but of course, the book is better.) Since then, and since my Mom’s stroke, I’ve thought about getting older and memory loss a whole bunch.

Frost lace on a December morning.

Frost lace edging the leaves on a December morning.

Some days I already feel ancient and ready to call it a life. I never dreamed that by this age I’d feel old already. Creaky, slow to get going in the mornings, aches, pains. Some days thinking about living another twenty, thirty or forty years just about puts me over the edge. I know this is tough for you to grasp since you’re all still really young regardless of how old or mature you might feel.

Anyway, the real point I want to get to is this. If I start to forget stuff, or get a bit of dementia, or if I just need lots of physical care, could you please make sure I get my daily fix?

I know for some people that’s a morning cup of coffee, or a diet coke, or some chocolate, or maybe a certain news program, a half hour of Jeopardy, a glass of wine, a good laugh, prayer, meditation or a zillion other possibilities.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

For me, my daily fix comes in the form of nature. When I start to forget who I am a walk at the Riparian always brings me back to myself. If I can’t fit in a walk then just sitting on the porch swing can kickstart the old psyche. Even as a kid in midwinter with the temps hovering at minus ten, I’d find a way to get my daily dose of sunshine, usually curled into the shape of the sunlight coming through a window.

If you have to put me in a nursing home or care center it’d be best if they had a sunroom, or a little garden. If, heaven forbid, I have to live in an apartment I’d really really really need a patio or porch and some plants with a hummingbird feeder and maybe even a bird feeder.

Indoor plants don’t cut it. I always manage to kill them with kindness and attention, or inattention, I’m never sure which.

What is it about a body of water that's so soothing?

What is it about a body of water that’s so soothing?

A daily walk or stroll will keep me from tipping the scale from sanity to insanity, even as my legs and eyesight and mental capacity all wither away.

Yup, I count nature as more important than books, if you can believe it. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to an audio book or large print novel to read while I sit outside in the shade or the sun.

That’s all for today, I guess.

Oh, except, I hope you know what your daily fix is. What’s that one thing that gives you daily energy, fills your morning bucket, floats your twenty-four hour boat or keeps you moving forward every day? If you don’t know I hope you find it soon and then make sure it happens regularly. It can help keep you cheerful even in tough times.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Nature isn’t all that little, but a tiny bit of it every day keeps me steady and strong.

Loving you in a big way,

Mom

Yesterday's sunset at the Riparian.

Yesterday’s sunset at the Riparian.

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Nature, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Autumn?

Woke to the sounds of rain this morning. Second only to the hush and muffle of snowfall, rain makes me want to put on my raincoat, grab an umbrella and get outside.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Given than I think of this place as my Riparian Preserve, I loved that the place appeared abandoned when I arrived. I didn’t cross paths with a single person until the last five minutes. A photographer with a tripod making his way toward some wonderful scenery to shoot seemed a bit put off by seeing another human, as was I. We successfully ignored the existence of each other and went our separate routes.

How can I possibly describe the scene today? The diffused light through low clouds muted and highlighted colors. Today’s cloud filtered light particularly played up the yellows and enhanced the grayish brown of everything else. Greens, of course, seemed greener, but golds sang out in the rain-light like a soprano in a choir.

Don’t take my words for it. They’re inadequate today. Stroll along with me, imagining the sound and feel of rain on your raincoat and the not particularly cold water seeping through to your wool socks.

Today's stand-in for the sun.

Today’s stand-in for the sun.

Here in the desert autumn isn’t. We don’t really get to experience that particular season. At best we usually get a hard freeze for a night or two in late December or January which turns the deciduous leaves dark brown and drops them to the ground a day later. Nothing pretty about that. But this year serves as a delicious exception. Lows in the high thirties and low forties have kissed the leaves and made them blush red or brighten to a golden hue.

Most of the water birds stayed quieter than usual today. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Why would rain shush them? The ducks stayed tucked in, beaks nestled under a wing while they sat or floated quietly. The night herons seemed more stoic than normal not flying off when I approached. Jumpy best describes a few of the shore birds, as if they don’t know how to behave when it rains. Not a hummingbird or yellow finch in sight, snuggled up inside their tight little nests, I’m sure.

At times the trail was more puddle than path, but I managed. No speed walking or jogging going on here. Just a slow meander. Sure my toes got wet as I knew they would so I’d put on wool socks and didn’t mind the damp at all.

I’m glad I ignored the to-do list this morning, threw on a hat over my sleep scruffy hair and spent an hour under rainy skies. Such moments happen rarely here and want savoring. Desert Autumn or Winter rains, whatever name it goes by suits me just fine.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

~~~~~

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” ~Roger Miller

Categories: Nature, photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Home Again

After my acrobatic stair performance and subsequent recovery, coupled with a too long battle against Zombie’s taking over my lungs, I’m finally back to my morning walks.  I had missed that quiet time, I just didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until I stepped out of the car and set foot on the trail this morning.

Stunning, yes?

Stunning, yes?

The biggest difference? Twenty degrees cooler! Last time I went for a walk the pre-sunrise temps hovered at eighty-three. This morning? Sixty-three! Glorious! Even once the sun’s southern-leaning rays reached my skin I didn’t feel overly warm or wish for a water bottle. Summer seems almost behind us now. (It still hits ninety-something during the day.)

Other differences I noticed included:

'Shrooms!

‘Shrooms!

Mushrooms? Not normally in the desert! But yeah, two major rainstorms, nearly five inches the first time and two inches the second. A year’s worth of rain in one month did a number on our little dry patch of earth. Fungi popping up all over the place.

Green! More than normal. Every plant seems intent on growing faster and bigger than its neighbor.

Fewer rabbits. Not sure why. Too cold? Coyotes perfecting their hunting technique? They’re sleeping in and waiting for warmer late morning temperatures?

Three little birds…singing a sweet song…a melody pure and true.

Three little birds…singing a sweet song…a melody pure and true.

The birds seemed extra cheerful and more willing to sing out. Maybe that’s just a result of being away so long I’ve forgotten their sounds. I think they’re every bit as happy about the cooler weather as any other desert dweller, human or otherwise.

More night herons out and about. I had wondered all summer long if they’d moved on to other feeding grounds forever, but I saw more this morning than I’ve seen in the past four months combined.

Things that stayed the same:

My coyote friend still frolics in the tall brush of the dry ponds and watches from a distance as I watch back. I’d like to think we share a sort of connection, but I’m not fooling myself with that idea.

Yellow hollered for attention, too.

Yellow hollered for attention, too.

That creosote and mingled dust smell still permeates the air. Some people don’t care for it, but to me it’s the scent of wildness and quiet. Some days I go out of my way in the car to drive past with my windows open just to get a whiff of one of my favorite places.

Peace abounds and wraps itself around me as I walk. That, more than any other aspect of my morning ritual summarizes best what I missed the most this past month. Lacking a brush with nature, I stumble around off-kilter and unfocused. It’s not something I ought to neglect.

 

 “This early piece of the morning is mine.” 
~Wallace Stegner 

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Certain Angle of Light

photo 3-5 copy 4Moisture pushes ahead of the straggling remnants of hurricanes limping far inland from the Pacific, bumping up against the northern and eastern mountains.

photo 1-5 copy 6A traffic jam of clouds fills the sky with swirling masses of whites, grays and blues.

photo 4-3 copy 10Cloud sculptures twist and swirl while light plays a melody in concert with the sound of distant geese calling out their imminent arrival.

photo 2-4 copy 3Dozens upon dozens of rabbits rush around drawing too much attention to themselves,  making use of the cooler morning hours.

photo 1-6 copy 3Sun breaks through the tangled muss of fluff with bits of light but little color.

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Small birds twitter, tap, chatter, sing, peep, mimic, flit, flutter, flap, hum and tweet.

photo 4-5 copyLarger birds sit in silent patience.

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A pair of hawks sweep low and silent along a path searching for the unaware and unwarned.

photo 1-5 copy 6I walk, finding more than animals, birds, sky, water, shades of green.

photo 2-2 copy 22I listen for solace and a different kind of silence.

photo 5 copy 4I look for something within myself as I walk the dawn.

photo 1-4 copy 20Thoughts clarify with each step I travel through this oasis.

photo-24 copy 29I gather courage and hope as I pass the creosote, palo verde and acacia.

photo 4-4 copy 2Each morning I claim sanctuary, and emboldened, face the day.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Morning Gifts

It’s Gratituesday! On Monday morning I wrote up this little missive and decided to wait and share it with you today. It sums up my gratitude for this week quite nicely.

I forgot to set my alarm last night, but my brain knew when time to wake up arrived and rousted me from dreaming anyway. Good thing, too.

It stormed a bit overnight, so the humidity soared and the desert heat cooled somewhat. Remnants of clouds still hung out on the horizon in every direction. I got some picturesque shots of the sun and sky dancing like they do some mornings. Corals, golds, a touch of silver with an azure backdrop.

A nearly perfect sunrise.

A nearly perfect sunrise, wouldn’t you agree?

Besides capturing sunrise photos, I keep my eyes alert hoping to sight an elusive family or two of Quail, or perhaps my favorite bird the Night Heron. The Hummingbirds have been extra active lately zipping about catching insects. It’s a typical morning walk for me.

Until it isn’t anymore.

Off to the right in a small pond, stood my friend the coyote. I see him about once or twice a week in different spots throughout the Preserve. He was standing half in and half out of the water, looking intently into the bushes to the north. It would make a nice photo, so I stopped to line up a shot.

The coyote bounded like a rabbit toward the bushes, playful and boisterous. I’d never seen him do that before. Suddenly he raced back toward the pond edge. Then he wagged his tail and pounced forward again. His head and shoulders clearly searching the brush for a glimpse of something. A leap, a tail wag, and more bouncing. Then he kept his hind quarters up and leaned his front end to the ground, like a pup ready to chase a stick. He was playing a game with something in the bushes.

Oh, for a better zoom on my tiny camera.

Oh, for a better zoom on my tiny camera.

I stood there mesmerized watching this coyote revel in a game he’d made up. Then, suddenly he pulled his tail between his legs and raced back to the water. Then he ran east, as if the game had come to an abrupt end. He wandered toward the back side of the bushes he’d been so interested in, when another coyote appeared. Larger, and looking somewhat menacing, ears back, body low to the ground and moving lower, as if ready to launch at some prey.

Uh oh. I thought. The younger coyote’s ears perked up, his tail wagged, he ran back and forth not ten feet away from the larger one’s attack stance. Then the ears perked up on the bigger coyote, the pup raced in large circles, jumping and dancing, prodding the other to play.

Mother and child. That’s what this was.

The younger coyote raced and raced, tail wagging, delight in every movement, until the older one slunk back into the bushes. They fell out of sight, momentarily emerging to race into the water briefly, then they were gone.

What a gift to see such wild abandon not a mile from my front door.

The rest of my ninety minute walk hummed with the joy of what I’d experienced. Sure, sweat dripped off my head and hair, ran down my back, soaked my clothes. And yet, a breeze blew down the path occasionally, working with the damp on my body to create a miniature swamp cooler bringing temporary relief from the morning’s desert heat. I welcomed every patch of shade offered, lost count of the rabbits and crossed paths with very few humans. I hesitated to end my walk even as the temperature rose and fatigue increased.

I didn’t want to let go of what I’d felt, what I’d seen in those rare and, yes, sacred moments between mother and child.

Nothing compares to that ephemeral time shortly before and just after the sun rises. The earth transforms from dark night to a brief otherworldly dimension of surprise and wonder.

Such a morning makes any shortage of sleep a very minor inconvenience and fills me with a sense of gratitude that ought to last a very long time.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Little Bit of Everything Makes it Nice

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for the amazing variety I find in the world.

There's nothing like an Arizona sunset.

There’s nothing like an Arizona sunset.

Yesterday MSH and I took a sunset walk through my favorite local sanctuary, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. I’d worried it would be too hot, as the temperatures had been in the nineties all day, but a good breeze kicked in and some clouds danced about keeping things pleasant. Add in the shade inherent in the low angle of the early evening sun and we had perfect conditions for a stroll.

I used to walk here every single day for a year or two. I laid claim to certain aspects of the place. I recognized some of the photographers that regularly wandered about. I noticed differences in duck families and became well acquainted with a gaggle of geese that acted like they owned the place. I knew most of the daytime locations of the night herons, recognized shifting water levels, and avoided visiting at times when crowds would be there.

Then life happened and my visits there dropped to almost never. Once every three months or less. Last night I realized I hardly recognized the place, particularly with its late spring green rush making everything so bright and perky.

My walks used to happen in the early morning hours, before the sun even broke across the horizon, so seeing it all in early evening very literally made me see things in a different light.

I couldn’t seem to snap enough photos. From the pink Prickly Pear cactus, to the rare leaves and flowers on an Ocotillo, the variety stood out. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean. Plenty to be grateful for around here, as far as I can see!

The world continues to surprise me with its resilience, beauty and variety. Even in the desert, as the temperatures hover near one hundred, nature delights me with her wonders.

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” ~ William Cowper

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Nature, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wild Ones and Volunteers

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

My wildflowers reach the end of their life cycle this month. MSH keeps insisting I just need to water them. To appease him, I have drenched the poor worn out plants with copious amounts of the precious resource, to no avail. Well, that’s not exactly true. The weeds appreciate the extra moisture and show their appreciation by growing a foot in a day, or at least it seems they do.

No, sad to say, my wildflowers have simply reached the stage in their life cycle where they produce seeds and then let the winds scatter their progeny willy-nilly. By time a healthy seed head appears, the plant itself has given its all, nearly five months from peeking out of the ground to now.

This seed head looks promising.

This seed head looks promising.

Now’s the part of the wildflower process where the hard work kicks in. If I want to share any of the seeds, which I like to, then I gather the puffs of seed heads into a bucket and distribute them into Ziploc bags. These little guys, African Daisies, will grow in almost any climate, even in a regular garden bed during late spring and summer, as long as they get the full sun.

It’s a little trickier gathering the California Poppy seeds. They form in long pods after the flower bloom ends. The seeds aren’t much bigger than a grain of sand. I gather the pods before they open and let them dry out in a container. When the seeds are ready the pod splits open on its own and releases the seeds where they fall to the bottom of the container.

The other much harder part of wildflowering in my rock covered desert landscape is that every plant must be plucked from the ground and disposed of. Usually I pull a few plants a day as they slowly die off, which isn’t too difficult. But this year, there are more plants than ever and we had a really hot patch of weather last week that sped up the process of end of life.

So I’m faced today with the task of cleaning up the dead and dying. It’s a little sad. The yard starts to look bare and desert-ish again. My flowerpots in the shade of the front porch provide my only color fix out there.

Yet in this undertaking (excuse the pun) I have hope, because hundreds or probably more like thousands, of seeds have fallen among the rocks and next years bloom looks promising.

I suppose what I love about wildflowers lies in their self-propagating properties. They voluntarily show up, without any work on my part.

If you aren’t familiar with gardening terms:

“a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or a gardener.” ~ Wikipedia

I once had a tree seed blow in and grow in the middle of a series of garden beds. Turns out it was a Brazilian Pepper Tree that grew very quickly. In a matter of three years I had a tall, full tree that provided shade for a south-facing kitchen window. Another time, in the middle of a compost pile, I had a cantaloupe vine grow that gave out the sweetest fruit I’d ever tasted.

Unplanned, yet perfect, colors in my garden.

Unplanned color in my garden.

All winter I had meant to plant vegetable seeds in the open spaces of my back yard flower bed; combine utility with beauty for a perfect combination. I set in a few tomato plants, but that’s all. The deliberate planting never happened. Life and death and illness took hold for a while and got in the way of my good intentions.

And yet, almost miraculously, my back yard flowerbed overflows with nearly all volunteers this spring. Some flowers simply survived the very mild winter, with only one night of below freezing temperatures covered by a sheet. The red Penstemon apparently throw out seeds because they’re spreading and blooming proficiently. A few Sunflower seeds planted themselves from last years batch and have made themselves comfy among the Romaine lettuce and Petunias. Marigolds reseeded themselves as well and threaten a yellow takeover once they start blooming. And Cosmos, with their feathery stalks have already flowered in neon pink, the children of last years few seeds I tried for the first time.

Looking out the back window provides a view of this unplanned but stunning flowerbed at all times of the day.

Not being in too much of a gardening disposition this past winter, I’ve been lucky to have so many plants volunteer to brighten my life. Sometimes, in spite of lack of attention, or maybe because of it, nature sends surprises to delight and lift and cheer.

Categories: Gardening, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Poetry of Gray Infused

photo 2-2 copy 2Some days lean toward solitude and slowness. Quiet settles in like dust in every crack and crevice.

photo 4 copy 4Color appears as the exception, with gray predominating. Even the green leaves shows variations of gray.

photo 2-1 copy 8Gray in all its hues and tones permeates the sky, the mood, my heart. Even the hopeful nest of a bird feels emptied out and uninviting.

And yet.

photo 3-2 copy 2Color insinuates itself into a scene, here and there. Flamboyant, amid the pale winter green of leaf and stem.

photo 1-1 copy 2Out of sleeping branches,  unexpected bursts of life demand notice and appreciation.

photo 1 copy 8Against my need to wallow, the gray begins to dissipate around each slow corner I turn.

photo-20 copy 18And at its close, the day again asserts its hold on me with waves of color singing me to sleep.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Afternoon Magic

So, here I sit out front, fuzzy black slippers on, in my porch swing. My computer sitting on my lap. I thought, maybe, being outdoors would somehow prompt some inspiration or insight or intelligence. All “in” words, which is contrary to being “out” here.

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If you look closely you can see a reflection in the water.

Still, there’s something comforting on the breeze. The cooler air smells different, fresher, promising, tentative. A couple of hummingbirds hover at the feeder that I’ve let run dry in the past day or two. I should get up off the swing and make up some nectar to fill it. Then the tiny chirps would sound less insistent. Two house wrens, make that three,  jump from bush to bird bath, taking turns dipping into the water, drinking, checking, drinking, checking.

The bush they flit about in needs a good trimming. It’s overgrown and leaning to the east. Every time I’ve thought of getting out the trimmers for a little shaping the bush is in full flower, purple over the entire outer surface. The unkempt look of the bushes matches the wildflowers which are getting taller in sporadic and uneven places. They look more like weeds than ever. I’m not sure where I’ve put the “Wildflowers Under Construction” signs. I should locate and set those out so the HOA knows not to fine me for weeds.

Leaves skitter down the road from time to time as the wind picks up occasionally. Drifts of orange curls settle in crevices and under bushes and between stepping-stones. Then here and there a rain of tiny gray-green leaflets fall from the boughs that oversee almost the entire front yard. I ought to get the blower/vac out tomorrow morning and clean things up a bit, before the garbage truck arrives. But I probably won’t. Let the rest of the leaves from the trees on our street finish their deleafing, then I’ll “clean up” what ought to be left out for crunching footsteps and mulching gardens.

Still with a lengthening to-do list growing in my head as I swing I find a sense of okay-ness out here.

Maybe it’s the family groups that walk or bike the perimeter of the park.  Maybe it’s the sound of children playing on the swings across the street. Could be the chips and cheeps of unseen birds or the blue softness of the sky. It could be the ease of a Sunday afternoon spread out languidly before me. Nothing but a diet Coke to work on.

Choices abound. I recognize how amazingly lucky I am to have the option of being comfortably inside or outside in December. That I live in a place with room for a porch swing feels almost decadent. That growing things surround my home and provide homes for birds and rabbits and an occasional stray cat helps me feel more of life in my days. Healthy and able to walk or dance or bake or spend time with MSH or my children seems like something I shouldn’t ignore or presume.

Yes, pending loss cracks open the shell of the universe, hearts border on breaking.

And yet, somehow goodness and beauty soothe and succor. Something about the outside world gentles the  pounding in my heart and hushes the worry circling my head.

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