I found a quiet spot to sit among the trees. As the sun warmed my face, I closed my eyes and listened to the gentle wind singing through the pines. At one point clouds made shadows and brought a light, brief sprinkle, washing the air with the sweet freshness that follows rain. The pungent smell of the pine needles reminded me how much I love the landscape here.
With all that is happening in the world at large, I am blessed to be sheltering in place in these peaceful surroundings.
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A Quote about Winter
There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
I prefer to stay home and off the roads during the winter and only go out when necessary for supplies or an appointment. I am fortunate to have family and friends close by that I rely on for help with transportation. I am mostly content to say home, cozy by the fire in long, quiet stretches with time to reflect, to heal, to dream of the future and be thankful for all that I have been given. The stillness of these close, cocoon-like days is comforting, like being wrapped in one of my mother’s quilts. I do yearn for spring at times but the groundhog saw its shadow this month and, indeed my local weather forecast says more snow is on the way so I settle in again.
One day last week the temperature went up to 50 during the day. I was taking a walk with my granddaughters and as we were out, a fresh wind came up. It seemed the season was changing and transforming right before my eyes. The local roads and driveways were filled with big puddles and deep ruts and most of the snow had melted. Spring thaw, I thought, but then the temperature dropped back down to freezing that night so that was that, and it has been cold ever since, cold and still.
And the next day
I love being close to nature and observing wildlife. I have lived in several rural settings during my lifetime and I have enjoyed the peace that a country setting provides. When I was a child, our family spent many summers camping. One year we went up into Canada and the beauty of the Canadian Rockies touched me in a way I have never forgotten.
Nature walks with my grandchildren are a joy. Children are very observant and have so many questions about the different foliage, the creepy crawlers, the elusive butterflies, or the wild turkeys that were so abundant up here this year. I think the kids learn to pay attention to their surroundings on these walks and to respect this wonderful Mother Earth that we walk upon.
Once upon I time I lived up in Bellingham, WA which wasn’t rural but our backyard was a wildlife preserve. It was fun to watch the different creatures; the birds, the chipmunks, the raccoons, and the most friendly, the deer. They wandered through the yard and the neighborhood, quite at home.
Momma and her baby
This guy showed up on the day we got the keys to the house.
Pretty as a picture
Close up of the stag. It was hard to snap the picture quickly and do it well.
Just another day
Look who’s eating the bird food!
I’ve done some research on the spiritual aspects of these gentle creatures. There is a lot of information to glean. Below is only one source.
The practical days have departed
with their structure, their plans,
the how to and supposed to be;
Such ideas are no longer a part of my reality;
Having learned that these are pure vanity
and egocentric wanderings
of eager, misguided egocentricity.
I choose instead to embrace spontaneity,
say what I think honestly
but if the hooey hits the fan,
well that’s just part of the fun.
Do you mind?
The transition from fall into winter has always been a reflective and somewhat bittersweet time for me. The weather gets colder, the days shorter, and the nights longer, and I want to hibernate but I’d miss the fall foliage which is quietly breathtaking. I feel blessed that I live so close to nature. I can look out a window at any given moment and see glimpses of the river silently flowing, constant in all seasons, just beyond the pine trees in our valley.
My thoughts turn to my family, my children and grandchildren especially. What a year it has been. I turned 70, my firstborn son turned 50, and my firstborn grandson turned 20. Each of us is beginning a new decade. It doesn’t seem that long ago I was a young mother embarking on a new and so very fulfilling and challenging life. Hindsight is now clear and I made some unwise choices but the love I have had for my children was and still is, unwavering. My heart is full.
To all of my children, I pray for your strength and wisdom as you navigate this crazy world; be kind, be forgiving, be true to yourselves, and never give up hope.
“A miracle is simply a shift in perception.”
I have landed in the center of myself. My soul is like a precious stone cast into a deep pond causing ever-widening ripples of understanding. Does what I perceive mean anything at all? To still the mind, do I wrestle it into submission or gently entreat? Suddenly in a moment my perception shifts and a pearl of peace is felt. It must be treated gently, not clutched it tightly, but held lightly, for it is the miracle of grace.
The pond freezes in winter. Then what? There is no motion in the water. It is white, still, suspended, timeless. No reflection, just acceptance for what is as Mother Nature wields the silent power of snow, ice, and utmost stillness. This, too, is grace.
Your identity is not equivalent to your biography. There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.
The Inner Landscape of Beauty” an interview with Krista Tippett on American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith
“It is essential to allow yourself to know what you know, instead of driving yourself to be. When there is so much striving to be and become, we don’t often recognize what it is we really want when it’s right there in front of us.”
Rita Pitka Blumenstein
Grandmother’s Counsel the World, pages 47-47
It stands on the corner where Alder and Bridge Streets intersect; the house where I spent my teenage years and from which I left when I became of age. A solid structure, it is an old building rich with history. Two generations of our family have lived there.
It was our beloved home, not only where our parents raised us but also where grandchildren and great-grandchildren laughed and played within its walls. It was here that Mom took care of Dad when he began to fail during the last few years of his life. This is the house that my siblings and I packed up when our mother moved because she couldn’t live alone anymore. It is this house, and the life it represented that my mother longs for.
It is more than the house, or the town that she desires, It is the presence of Dad, who passed in 2011 and the wholeness of her mind and heart that dementia is stealing from her. Dementia is stealing our mother, slowly and surely.
We take comfort that Mom is now in a safe, clean place and being cared for. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. There are some things in life that cannot be controlled, things that are hard to accept but accept we must and do the best we can each day. My siblings have done an amazing job handling the many details of Mom’s medical and financial situation. Mom has a network of good friends that have been closely supportive for many years. This it the nature of a small town. People care for one another.
The sad part is that Mom does not realize how much she is loved. I know she appreciates and loves her family and friends but she has been so sad since Dad died and hasn’t really been able to move on. She still has her sense of humor at times, and her easy-going personality is what I love the most. She has always had a hard time asking for help and I know she feels helpless right now. She is in a place that is not “home” and has lost control over aspects of her life. She has lashed out in anger and frustration, unable to escape the prison of thoughts in her mind; the forgetfulness, the anxiety and confusion.
I miss the house at the corner of Alder and Bridge. I miss the peaceful afternoons there with Mom when I would visit her. I miss our walks around the neighborhood on those beautiful summer evenings and sitting out on the front porch playing a game of Scrabble and sharing a cold beer. I suppose in a way I am grieving.
The house at the corner of Alder and Bridge has new life in it now; extended family (children of a cousin and their little boy). I am happy for that. I believe they are continuing the tradition of care and love of our family. There is much to be thankful for on this part of life’s journey.