Sometimes, usually when we least expect it, an event happens ~ after which life is never quite the same again. There have been no posts from me for quite some time, as I learn and feel my way into new ways of living after experiencing a health crisis. Slowly, deliberately, over the past few months I’ve been regaining my strength, noticing the little things ~ and coming to terms with the unpredictability of living. We can never know what will happen tomorrow, or even in the next few moments. On some level, we all know this, but for me it has become a lived reality.
Photo by Seth Rockmuller
As a result, I’m not certain which direction this blog will follow. What shall I release? What shall I continue? As the leaves begin to drift down from the trees, autumn seems an appropriate time to sweep away the unessential. Samhain will soon arrive, heralding a new year, a new cycle. Its meaning will be deeper for me this year, as I welcome my ancestors into conversation, and walk on the wild side.
Even though late afternoons are a low-energy time for me, I decided to cook a paella for dinner tonight.
There are many steps in the process, and I miscounted the number of asparagus spears I would need, but apart from that – yum!
These days I am delighted by the simple pleasures.
A close-up of a yew branch.
New life emerging below the bushes.
Bits of snow linger in tucked-away places, as in this large, mossy tree stump. (Click to enlarge it.)
The sky today was an astonishing blue color.
After an especially intense week I needed to get out for a walk this afternoon, even though I had told myself I would work on taxes today. It was breezy and chilly despite the sun. Old age, illness and death were on my mind because of recent events with family and friends. The brown oak leaves underfoot were dead, the tree branches still barren. Bits of ice clung to the shadowed shores of streams. In places there were bits of green, mostly from mosses.
Feeling the weight of the week (and months) past, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with the walk – but after crossing a wooden bridge over a stream, I met one of my woody, creature-like friends. She had obviously been there quite a while, for moss had grown on her forehead and snout. Her mouth was slightly open, as though she were about to speak. In an unexpected way, I found myself comforted by this critter made of life, death, and decomposition. A weight lifted from me.
The rest of the walk was in balance, an elusive balance I seek in my up-and-down life these days. I realize I have spent too much time indoors. As the weather warms, I will seek more woodland experiences – and then, of course there is the garden . . .
First there was the snowstorm. Then the ice storm. Now more snow is predicted tonight. Today, with the rare sunshine, my new camera and I walked around the property. It is a beautiful, enchanted landscape, but the trees and bushes are bowed under the weight of it.
The weather makes me think of Fire and Ice, the Robert Frost poem.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great,
And would suffice.
“Fire and Ice” was inspired by a passage in Canto 32 of Dante’s Inferno, in which the worst offenders of hell, the traitors, are submerged, while in a fiery hell, up to their necks in ice: “a lake so bound with ice, / It did not look like water, but like a glass … right clear / I saw, where sinners are preserved in ice.”
In an anecdote he recounted in 1960 in a “Science and the Arts” presentation, prominent astronomer Harlow Shapley claims to have inspired “Fire and Ice”. Shapley describes an encounter he had with Robert Frost a year before the poem was published in which Frost, noting that Shapley was the astronomer of his day, asks him how the world will end. Shapley’s response is that either the sun will explode and incinerate the Earth, or the Earth will somehow escape this fate only to end up slowly freezing in deep space. Shapley then describes his surprise at seeing “Fire and Ice”, which seems to ponder the question of which of these two outcomes will occur, published a year later, and cites it as an example of how science can influence the creation of art, or clarify its meaning. Although the poem does seem to pose a scientific question of how the world may end, most critics agree that this serves to mask the darker meaning of the poem, that flaws of the human heart are capable of leading to the destruction of the world at any time.
Deep snow always reminds me of growing up in the North Country, near the Canadian border. Warm feelings for cold white stuff!
This morning, the view from the front porch looked like this:
Looking out my mother’s window I spied this blue jay with feathers all puffed up, taking shelter in the rhododendron bush from the snow and wind.
Photo by Seth Rockmuller
Photo by Seth Rockmuller
Then there was the process of clearing the driveway, making paths to the doors, and clearing snow off the car.
Just now a gorgeous cardinal couple perched in the same rhododendron, but no photo – I couldn’t get the camera in time.
I love the slow pace of a snow day, grateful I have no place I must go by vehicle.Walking is a different matter – a walk is in my future, this afternoon. My new camera will be in my pocket.
To segue from the Halloween posts, here are the pumpkins on the compost heap, surrounded by a dusting of our first snow of the season.
We enjoyed a cozy cuppa in Ralph’s Café, with fat flakes filling the air outside the window.
And so it begins.
Given today’s weather, it’s odd to think that just yesterday Seth took this photo of his shadow in the late afternoon sunshine.