Spring View From My Windows

It happens so fast. Only days ago my three bedroom windows framed bare branches and sky and just across the way, houses and flashes of car passing between them were still visible. This morning in the early light, all that has changed. Blurred by a range of new-leave-greens, I barely make out the houses. I watched the woody limbs of my trees grow thick with buds and now the Maple tree closest to my window drips spider-like flowers. The cars in the driveway will soon be dressed in pollen.

The privet hedge is filling in and I remember the daunting task of pruning the damn thing. It’s messy, exhausting work taking a full day and then more to pick it all up. I don’t hate it and always feel accomplished and strong when I’m done although my arms ache for days after. The lush length of wall it creates between the street and our yard is worth the effort. We sit on our porch in privacy, summer into fall.

There’s an insidious ivy that pops up everywhere and creeps over everything. I imagine it will swallow all of this when I am too feeble to yank out the vines. The patch besides the driveway is mostly cleared of it after a day of pulling it out this weekend. I transplanted day lilies, hosta and other tough perennials in the bald spots hoping they’ll spread and beat out the pesky stuff. People buy this plant – I see it for sale at the garden center. Don’t: I have plenty – come and get it!

When I climbed into bed last night, it was cold and rainy and I kept my socks on. This morning, I kick off the blankets and open the window. The sky is clear and the day promises to be warm and sunny, speeding up this Spring business even more. Not only the view but the sounds are changing too. The almost comforting white noise of highway traffic will muffle and breezes will become audible in the rustle of leaves. I’ll miss easily watching the birds in the bald branches but they are such vain things, wanting to be noticed, they’ll sing louder to let me know they are there.

Mornings the Moon and a Wood Walk

Mornings are still dark when I wake and recently I opened my eyes and saw the moon just outside my window. My head still on the pillow, I spent a few minutes staring at it clear and silver in the sky. Full or close to it, waxing or waning, I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter. It’s the same moon and always there even if we cannot see it and that’s a comfort to me. I thought of the distance, all that space between me and the moon and about the incredible spinning involved to keep us all here. Thinking so much beyond what will I wear today or make for lunch was a great way to start the work day.

Looking up at the sky, thinking about space, casting my gaze at the stars or the sun or even a passing plane – my brain seems to expand. It feels as good as a stretch. A psychic stretch. My imagination gets charged by this simple exercise of thinking beyond where I am while being where I am. Realizing the vastness of being in the present. Does that make sense?

Meanwhile, back on earth on this Sunday morning, I went with my friend Tracy for a hike. We tramped on a path through the woods – nonstop talking because we always have so much to catch up on and even later, I think of something else I meant to tell her. She’s that kind of dear friend. We walked through the intermittent rain across a field and down a nice wide trail and through wetlands full of skunk cabbage and fiddleheads, past boulders and ponds. We were welcomed into this wood by a magnificent pileated woodpecker – gigantic and noisy. Cool and damp, smells and sounds (the birds!) of Spring. The just emerging leaves creating a soft green wash across the landscape.

We saw only one runner, a dog walker and 2 women – our age and gabbing like we were. One of them under an umbrella. Tracy and I both had hoods and weren’t worried about getting wet and she also didn’t care when I got mud in her car. And on the drive back, she asked what that noise was without being too worried and I suggested it was the wind through her car’s skylight. But when we stopped for coffee, I opened the car door and discovered that the sleeve of my jacket had been flapping outside. We laughed hard because it was so silly and we were happy. The coffee was good and I feel grateful to be spinning along and out on this planet during the morning hours in the sweet early greening of Spring.

What did you do this weekend?

Remembering

On May 1st 14 years ago, the weather was just like today’s although Spring was further along back then. We’d already had many days of sitting out on the porch and working in the garden. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? And it probably looked so too, if you didn’t know the dissolution in progress. Molly on the verge of turning 9 years old – did her best to stay neutral between us. The evening before I thought we’d made a breakthrough – that we’d be able to move forward in creating a new life – as separate, loving parents to our girl. Yes, she could spend Christmas with him in England and summer holidays. We’d make it work. But no, I didn’t want a cup of tea, I was going to sleep.

The next morning, the light was extraordinary when I woke in the room that Molly now sleeps in. Shadows and light of morning glows like a treehouse when the trees are in bloom.

There are no leaves out yet – so far there is only the red weight of flowers on the tips of branches promising, promising to deliver soon. This morning I woke at an odd hour and did not return to sleep – remembering, feeling him here, one of my benevolent ghosts. For years, I took the day off, but I no longer feel paralyzed by grief. Time does this. The sadness comes in flashes, unpredictably – thoughts of the terrible morning, imagining the pain he was in was so great that he couldn’t have imagined ours. Could he?

Every day I remember him. And often, those memories inspire laughter. Out for a walk on Sunday, Molly and I greeted a group of men as we passed them, all hovering over an old car. We continued on and in my mind, Neil was with us but had stopped to join the banter. We walked ahead as he made new friends. Laughing, I told Molly this – that if her dad was with us how we’d be still standing at the end of the street waiting until he caught up, his long strides covering the distance in half the time. He’d fill us in on who they were and what they were up to – a marvel that he’d be able to garner so much information since he was usually the one doing the talking. He’d have told him about the Maserati we once owned for a month in Italy before it was stolen. Or some old beauty antique he’d driven in England before my time. He was there with us.

Out walking Rufus after work today, one of my neighbors stepped out of her house to chat with me. Our first post-winter catch-up. Had I heard about the mailman busted for stealing money and gift cards out of our boxes? We caught up on the kids and then she asked with a pause,  ‘isn’t this…’ yes, I answered, with my voice suddenly thick with the rumble of possible tears. Thank you for remembering. She said, I’ll never forget.

 

Forced blossoms

I pruned the dickens out of the two peach trees a few months ago. Ever an optimist, I stuck the branches in buckets and vases throughout the house and breezeway hoping to hurry Spring. It didn’t really work. Out of the many dozens of sticks, one bloomed. While my experiment ended up making my house look more like Miss Havisham’s than Martha Stewart’s, this one elegant spray was enough to make it worth it. See?


It’s a little convoluted but somehow, these pink beauties encouraged me to pay attention to my neglected blog. I’ve started many actual posts that remain sitting in my cyber home as drafts. I’ve ‘written’ even more – mentally. During the last few weeks there have been a few nights when I woke up with what seemed like almost formed essays and thought – grab your computer – do it! More devoted to sleep than words, instead I rolled over. I’ve been inspired on many meanders with our little mutt Rufus. Captivated by something on a sparkling morning or moonlit night I thought – today I will blog – and didn’t.

I’d like to say I’ve been writing other things – but I’d be lying. For me, writing is like exercising or yoga or meditating. If I don’t carve out a time to do it everyday – it falls by the wayside. My discipline in all things has lagged. The hours are eaten up by mundane routine of life – work and socializing or on the couch reading and watching what always feels like too much television even if I insist to myself that it’s mostly good stuff – English mysteries and reputable news. Ha! And let me confess too, my shame about lost hours staring at social media sites like some bored teenager. Ugh. So that’s what happened.

My lone blooming peach branch out of all those branches in 4 different buckets and 2 vases, made me thing that as well as being lazy, maybe I’m being too precious lately about about what I post here. There’s certainly a bit of existential angst – why am I doing this for all these bloody years? But I’m pushing back against this paralysis! Inspired by the damn twigs so hopefully sitting in water for months, I’m going to write and trust that out of it all, sometimes there will be a beautiful bloom.

Creativity is a lot about showing up and doing it. I need to get back into working the muscle. Like moving my body or eating right, getting enough sleep – all things I feel better doing so why not do these things? Yes – it’s been winter, hibernation and all that. But enough. The blossoms are blooming and today, without rereading this a million times, doubting, tweaking, fussing — I’m going to press publish.

How was your winter?

Whatever I Want: Birthday Inspired Ruminations

My birthday was last week. I always try and celebrate by taking the day off work and doing whatever I feel like. But for dodging icy rain drops on the way to a morning yoga class and later, delicious dinner out, I stayed inside, sitting here, in the little room off of Molly’s bedroom, that in her absence, I claim as mine. I wrote, I read, I napped and spent way too much time reading Facebook posts and other people’s blogs. I made myself tea and took Tetley out when he wanted to go – although my handsome old guy is mostly content to sleep by my side. Bliss.

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Is this what I would do if by some miracle, I can, one day, I can not work – you know: retire? Maybe. But I’ve also been thinking a lot about traveling. Not the 10-day visits to 15 places kind of travel. More of the life-changing, where else might I live kind of travel. Partly this is financial – there are so many other places that cost so much less than here. It’s crazy how much money we need to even live ‘simply’. The car no sooner is paid off and it needs big repairs. The house always needs fixing or just requires constant ‘juice’ and electricity, oil, water bills are daunting, especially during these long, frigid winters. Add to that the cost of being hooked-up to society – telephone, internet, television. I have a good life but lived fairly close the bone and without a solid job, I would not be able to sustain all this for long.

Now that my daughter edges closer to independence – meaning half-way through college, I have started to imagine what I might, like on my birthday, want to do every day. Having a kid means turning that spot of what “I want to do” over to what you need to do for your kid. I did so willingly, wanting nothing more than to make her my joyful priority. But the deal is, the kid grows up and goes out into the world and figure all this stuff out themselves. Mine will be ready soon, I’ve no doubt. So time for me to re-evaluate, to ask the question I haven’t seriously considered for 20 years: what do I want?

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Happy mom-me in Dubrovnik 1995.

When I was the age my daughter is now, all I thought I wanted to do was travel, to see the world, live other places and so, I did some of that. After hopping on a Freddie Laker special ($100? something crazy like that!) I traveled through Europe for 4 months – from Ireland as far as Greece. I think I had barely $1,000 with me – all in traveler’s checks. I wrote letters and if anyone wanted to write to me, they did so c/o American Express. I think I picked up a letter or 2 in Athens. I never called. Can you imagine? No email never mind Facebook or messaging! I remember many adventures, wonderful connections – and an almost constant ache of loneliness. First of all, I’d made the mistake of falling hard for Gerry Clancy who I met in a pub in Limerick on the first day of my trip – and after an extraordinarily romantic interlude with him, continued on. I might have stayed were he not still spinning from a recent breakup. That story deserves to be told on it’s own another time, but for now, let’s just say, I spent many Europass miles for the rest of the trip, pining. And lonely. Would have things been different if I’d been able to connect through cyber space with family, friends, lover(s)? Absolutely!

Kyoto, 1985? Me and my Honda Cub - I felt so cool and looked so dorky!
Kyoto in 1985? Me and my Honda Cub. I felt so cool – looked so dorky!

While I look back and marvel at the richness of those days, the months of living an interior life out in the world, on my own. Really on my own with no loved ones ever really knowing where I was for long, what I was doing, hell – if I was alive – all of us just trusting in the universe. I think this set the foundation for the rest of my life – to believe I was okay in the world – anywhere.

But I do think the ability to reach out and connect and sustain relationships and share images, stories, joys, sorrows, and most of all – meals, while traveling, has changed the game, the experience, to one I would enjoy even more today. I love my solitude but I love connection. I like to have hours to myself to read, walk, contemplate – but I love company, sharing my experiences with like-souls, something not always so easy to find in a strange place.

Contemplating the Grand Canyon. One of the best trips of my life - drive-away car across country with Paula & Jane, 1981.
Contemplating the Grand Canyon. One of the best trips of my life – drive-away car across country with Paula & Jane, 1981.

I get inspiration from many traveler’s blogs – a few of them (like this and this one) are kids not so much older than my daughter so I follow them with a dual traveler interest and maternal concern. Some are young couples, some are a little older – a dreamy idea. Some have settled in one spot for awhile so are less traveler and more expat now, living for a time in a place – probably more my speed these days. But I devour their news, thrill at their adventures. And I start to imagine my own. These days, I’m thinking about Burma/Myanmar – a place that’s always appealed to me. Maybe they need English teachers? Or Cuba? Something about these places that seem locked in time appeal to me. (I’ll pass on North Korea, thank you, especially after reading this book.)

For now, I relish my life here, in almost-Spring Connecticut with a little room looking out at the oak, my dog beside me, my man in the next room both enjoying their sleep on this Sunday morning. Oh – and the New York Times delivered to my drive. I’m thinking about dinner – crockpot pulled out from a cupboard. So much stuff under there! Juicer, rice cookers, food processer, pots, pans, serving trays pulled out once a year. I’m still a long way from hitting the road. For now – I’ll dream, longingly gaze at friends photos of the cherry blossoms now in bloom in Kyoto, and check on the croci in my own garden, bravely torpedoing their way out of the frozen earth.

The Challenges and Pleasures of Paying Attention

10:00 AM Thawing! Yes, the end of winter is in sight. And sounds! Can you hear the birds’ new songs?

I have tried to avoid chiming in on winter complaints and not just because whining about the snow and cold has become such tedious conversation but because, I have been trying to embrace winter, to seize even the snowiest, most frigid day rather than hurry the passage of time. Is this a challenge for you? It is for me, no matter the season.

Today is Sunday and I already anticipate Monday with a falling heart. Back to work. Although I enjoy my job, I bemoan the end of time to myself – whole blissful days to make choices based more on desire than need, time to be at home. Similarly, by Wednesday, I think, “almost there – another weekend!” And thus goes the days, the weeks, the months… you get the idea.

This is not how I want my life to pass. I like my work, full of creativity, interactions with people who I feel kin spirit with, focusing mostly around books, books, books! Still, I can’t resist looking forward. I look forward to time to myself, I look forward to warm days, to spending time with those I love, to sitting on the porch, getting my hands dirty in the garden – yes, like all of us here in the Northeast: I look forward to Spring!

Yet I love to be really in the present, to live in the moment, relishing the time I have, keenly aware, we cannot know how much we get.

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I am looking out at the old Oak tree twisting, craggy branches almost touching the house. My window covered in clear plastic sheeting holds back the winds but allows the light to shimmer through onto the grey wall beside the writing desk I rescued from the street on a summer’s night many years ago.

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Sweet, isn’t it? Sometimes the radiator under the window bangs with the promise of a warmth that is never delivered. Luckily, this room is little more than a closet in size so I’m easily warmed by an electric heater and blankets around my shoulders and knees. Tetley sleeps on the futon folded beside me. Why would I hurry this moment?

Tet

Hunger distracts me. I begin to think about eating, and that becomes what I might cook and that may lead to what I need to buy. And there I am, drawn away from the ‘now’ by my growling stomach.

2:00 PM I’m back to this spot again after doing laundry, drinking coffee and eating a clementine. Consciously, I focus on bringing myself back from distractions back to this NOW. The light’s changed a little since I left the room, clouds are greying the day. It’s warm  today – almost 40 – a veritable heat wave! My friend and I have plans to walk. A demand I admit feels mostly tedious to me: exercise! I wonder what time we will do this or even if we really will push ourselves to leave our cozy homes to tromp besides the melting snow banks lining the streets, blocking the sidewalks. See? Again, I am away from ‘now’ wondering about the future.

Why is being present so difficult? As long as I’m not in the dentist chair or enduring some other misery, it feels good. It gives me joy to pay attention to the moment’s light, sound, taste, breath. Breathing is the anchor in meditation – to focus, pay attention to each breath – I try to remember this throughout my day.

Attention. “Pay attention” teachers tell their students. As if that is easy for any of us. And yet, for me it’s one of the most beautiful things to observe in others. To watch someone really, really, paying attention gives me an almost peculiar pleasure. I first realized this at my desk in Second Grade when one of my classmates stood on a chair next to the gigantic windows of Saint Gabriel’s Elementary school, watering the plants lined up along the sill. I can’t remember who, whether a boy or a girl, only the palpable, dreamy pleasure I felt as I watched them do this task with care and concentration. I remember shivers starting from the back of my head and spreading over my shoulders to my spine.

Apparently, this is a thing  called Autonomous Sensory Meridian response. There are even YouTube videos created to trigger these tingles, mostly of whispering women with Eastern European accents touching their hair. They don’t work for me. The whispering thing is weird. Now if you wanted to come sweep my floor or dust my house, I’d probably get tingly watching you. (and boy does my house need cleaning) Sounds kinky, doesn’t it? It’s really pretty benign almost primitive, the pleasure compared in the Wikipedia description to being like that of primates grooming each other. ASMR effect is “…related to the perception of non-threat and altruistic attention.” I didn’t realize until describing this to some friends, that not everyone experiences this. Do you or do you think it’s weird?

Woefully, I can’t remember the last time I felt these tingles because I rarely observe anyone paying complete, devoted “altruistic” attention to anything. We have become such chronic multi-taskers. Even driving doesn’t get our full attention. If we’re not talking on a telephone, or worse – texting, chances are we’re listening to music or the news. I’ve become acutely aware of how distracting the radio is and must turn it off when the weather makes driving dicey or maneuvering through a crowded parking lot.

4:00 PM  The earlier grey has lifted and the sky is blue. I did the laundry and walked around the neighborhood with my dear friend. We talked and walked and turned our faces to the much-missed sun and now I’m back in my spot by the window, trying to look neither back nor forward. But I think about dinner and the evening. I’ll likely end up in my usual spot at the end of the couch with a book. My phone will be beside me in case my daughter calls or texts me. Now that Downton Abby is over, I may not bother to turn the television on. Good. More time to make my way through the tower of books waiting to be read. I’ll do that until my eyelids droop impossibly.

Tomorrow morning will come and this day, (a good one) will be in the past. But now, now the sun is on the other side of the house from my East facing window. Instead of dancing light, there are encroaching shadows on the gray walls. Sunday afternoon is becoming evening and despite all my efforts, I think about Monday and what needs to be done at work.

But stop!  I again reel my monkey-mind in by paying attention to the shifting light of this late winter day, the squirrel scampering through the branches now gently swaying with a warmer wind than we’re used to. Doing this, paying attention to the light, my breath, even to my back – achey from sitting in this damn chair too long today – all feels good. And now, that is enough.

Making Space for Light

2014-04-12 13.30.43Yesterday we chopped a tree down. There were 5 Maple trees all growing out of one small spot – so we took this one out to give the rest a better chance to thrive. Plus, our vegetable garden will get more sun. And we’ll have firewood for next season. And R will build a charming little reading nook nestled into the other trunks.  Okay, it’s this that really sold me on taking it down – imagining this sweet place to read.

Still, it took some time for me to agree, to let go, to get ready to – well… grieve a little. I’ve lived in this house for 17 years so of course there are memories attached to everything.

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I held a rope taut ready to guide the wood away from the hedge and road as R cut a wedge of trunk first on one side, then the other. With a huge crack, the tree fell to the lawn as if it was shot. Prone, it appeared more massive, a daunting crush of wood.  We spent most of the day cutting branches and logs, turning our tree into pieces. “We need to have a ritual bonfire.” I said. We cannot simply trash these twigs, bundle them off to the town brush dump. We’ll burn them in our fire-pit, perhaps with neighbors or just the two of us will raise a glass and stare into the flames recalling years of shade, the different voices of wind and rain channeled through foliage and fractals. These branches were visible from our bedroom window – a best seat to watch squirrels scramble between limbs, Woodpeckers banging, Chickadees tweeting. We need to herald this wood off with a blessing.

2014-04-12 13.30.50Now a weird emptiness lingers in that space. Perhaps it’s like Phantom Leaf Effect – when a part of a leaf is cut off, it is still visible using a special photo technique that captures energy. Amputees experience this too, feeling sensation and even pain long after losing their limb. So the energy remains, some essence invisible to the naked eye. I’m anxious for the remaining trees to leaf, perhaps easing this sense of nakedness in our garden. How can I not be mourning a little, the absence of this tree. Or to think about death?

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I cannot avoid it, especially in Spring even as everything around us promises new life. For me, the sweet scents, the vivid morning light, remind me of a terrible morning on May 1st. This year is the 10th anniversary of my husband’s suicide. Enough time has passed that I mostly remember the man I loved, my daughter’s father, rather than the often frightening shell he’d become at the end. The mourning of possibility never goes away when someone dies too young – like a phantom limb, sometimes, inexplicably calling to us.  Grief brings such darkness in the early days of loss, yet I’ve heard from others and experienced myself, there comes a light like we’ve never seen before, made all the brighter by the shadows.

Cleaning up this downed tree on an impossibly brilliant Spring day, I honor darkness and make space for light.

Over the Hill

My birthday is this week. Again. Since I slipped over to the downward slope, everything goes so much faster. Once again, it’s time to celebrate. But didn’t we just do this?

March 9

I’ve never been particularly coy about my age, but this year’s number does sound a little shocking when I say it. I’m how old?! It’s hard to believe. And I cannot ignore how our society perceives this number. I am increasingly less employable with every year. My age group has the most difficult time getting hired and most of us, still need to work. Retirement? Ha! So I better hang on to my job. And how many years left there? In a bookstore? While I still feel confident in my company’s ability to survive the Amazon storm, I’m also not stupid. And as my bones become brittle, will I really be able to hauling boxes of books to schools? Oh yeah! Students are, or will be soon, using tablets so I won’t have to, right? So much to keep up with! If only I could get paid just to keep reading. I’m so good at it.

Red Leaf

And then there’s the memoir I’m writing that I hope to sell to a publisher. Yes, I’m still working on it and it’s becoming a better book — really. But have you looked at the back flap on any book jackets lately? New authors are (attractive) youngsters. Who wants to read about the adventures, the romance, struggle and resiliency of a geezer? (Okay, I know I’m not quite a geezer – I just like that word.) But publishing, like much in the world, is the realm of the young. First time fifty-something author? Not so many of us.

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And I can’t ignore the physical dimensions of aging. I know there are things that I can do to look younger for my author shot – like color my hair. But since I suck at maintenance I’d soon end up with one of those skunky-stripes across the top of my head – right up there with crazy-clown lipstick as a bad look for an older woman. See, it’s not that I lack vanity, I’m just realistic. Besides the fact that coloring my hair is not what I want to spend my time or money on, better to look like a sea-hag from behind. When I turn around I can get the reaction “oh, she looks good for her age” rather than have the hair of a sixteen year old and a face of a, well, 55 year old. I’d rather hang onto my silver strands than risk that cringe factor.

snow tree

At this point, as long as nothing major fails in the body department I’d like another 3o years or so. Preferably with the ones I love. I know that’s a tall order – the people we love don’t always stick around and that’s heartbreaking.  I won’t even go there (for a change!).

I don’t mean to be depressing. I am not depressed, rather, I’m contemplative. We humans are a marvel of nature and in nature, everything has a season and all that. I’m glad to be here to keep marking the seasons.  I’m not horrified at the prospect of aging. I embrace it and intend to do it as well as possible. Like the New Year, I think of my birthday as time to take stock. Where and what do I want to be doing in X number of years from now?

crocus

Oh, never mind all that. Better to savor the moment, seize the day. Pay attention. That I can do. Cheers and happy birthday to me. And while we’re at it, happy birthday to you too – it will be here before you know it!

A Tast of Spring

Finally, that endless crush of snow has melted!  For a few hours today, in the cold air and bright sun, I raked leaves and discovered —

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At last! Keen to find more, I made my way around the yard to every patch where I know spring bulbs are ready to burst, to clear away blankets of rotting leaves. Sure enough, there are plenty of emerging crocuses (croci?) in different stages of bloom – some still torpedo like, others, sweetly opening up to the sun.

We don’t take autumn clean-up very seriously around here (truth is, we don’t taking any clean-up seriously around here!) and as a result, there’s a lot of good compost material to be had. Sure, we end up taking some to the town leaf-dump, but mostly we throw it in to the vegetable garden – in-place-mulching, if you will.

I ventured up in to the vegetable garden I’ve mostly abandoned to the greedy groundhog these last years – who shockingly, doesn’t seem to enjoy asparagus. I’m hoping that this year’s yield will be enough for more than a meal or two. I cleared away the matted, dry grass that had encroached on the patch to more easily spot the lovely spears.

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These scraggly sprouts are Horseradish plants that have multiplied from one that I planted years and years ago. Horseradish spreads just enough to be a handsome, leafy addition to the garden without bullying other things out of the way – not like the damn mint that would swallow the house if I let it. I dug up a root to grate. Fresh horseradish is intense – but then, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

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I’d forgotten how much I love working outside. I think better with my hands in the dirt, I see things – well, differently. I become absorbed in a way, transported into a zone – very like the place I aspire to be in when I write.

With the changing, warming light, I can feel my winter-torpor fading. It’s time for me to get efficient and disciplined again. In the garden, in my work! Enough of this lounging about in front of the fire! I’m ready to feel the ache of my body after a day of gardening. Ready to feel the heat of the sun on my body, to get my vitamin D not from a pill. I’m ready to savor meals (outside!) with fresh sage, basil, oregano.

Yeah, I’m ready. Are you?

Some Winter Joy

snow tree

I have always identified myself as a Winter-hater. When the rich Autumn light thins into icy-grey and nights grow long, I fall into a funk. I mourn the passing of warmth and resulting ease of moving from inside to outside – no coats necessary.  As the garden gets lost to frosts and buried in banks of snow, I miss plucking flowers and herbs from my garden. I hate slipping and sliding down the streets. But this year as we edge towards Spring, I’m beginning to savor aspects of this usually dread season about to end. There are things I love about Winter.

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My pajamas. I change as soon as I get home from work into flannel-y, soft pants. They’re my ‘I ain’t going anywhere’ garb matched with fuzzy socks and a sweatshirt. How decadent to be dressed for bed at 5 PM!  I’m ready to climb into bed with a book. What I do instead is lovelier: I snuggle up with a blanket on the corner of the couch in front of the fireplace. R is the master of fires and we have a blazing one every night, cranking our heat down and keeping this baby stoked – this room heats up quickly. Once settled in front of these sweet flames, it’s impossible for me to pull myself off the couch so I nod off in place, prodded up to bed when only the glow of embers remains.

tet n fire

 

We’ve had a crazy amount of snow this year – a tough one for the birds. Our feeder has been a popular spot for visitors like this. Bliss is sitting by this window with endless cups of tea, pretending to write while a flurry of feathered friends visit us. When I’m too old to do anything else, I’ll still be happy if I have a view of the birds.

bird feeder

 

Winter allows me to read guilt-free. It’s so miserable outside, I can’t do anything else, can I? I better just finish a few more chapters. When things warm up there will be so much to do outside, I won’t let myself just disappear behind a book all day. There will be garden beds to clear and so much to do to get this place in shape not to mention the veggies to plant for the groundhogs. For now, these patches are buried in snow and we are cloistered here inside, windows shut tight. The silence is lovely – no sound of the highway traffic, usually our background noise during the months of open-windows.

crocus

While it is still February and the temperatures remain frigid, the light is changing – growing warmer and the days, longer. The branches on some of the trees are beginning to swell with the suggestion of buds. It won’t be long. So for now, I savor these last harsh days in the warmth of my home walled in by my piles of books and a view of the birds.