June 2012


We are expecting thunderstorms, so I go out to gather peas and raspberries before they arrive. The peas are stubborn. I have to rip some of them from the vine. I am rushing and they don’t cooperate. The sky is getting black and I hear thunder to the west. I give up on the peas and move to the raspberries. I tug and pull and gather, filling my basket. Midway through, as the thunder grows louder and the sky gets blacker, it occurs to me to ask permission of these raspberry canes and be grateful for their yummy fruit. Then, the berries come easily into my hand, almost dropping from the plants and I see the first flash of lightning. Back inside.

The storm gathers, gusts of wind flowing through the open windows and the thunder gets louder. I suddenly see the parallel between the storm and my feelings. Two days ago I lost my nineteen year old cat. My inner clouds were dark then, gathering, tension in the air. How would his transition be, would I have to help, would it be peaceful? The process was slow and uncertain, ugly at times, dark and brew-some: I had left a message for the vet. When I got back outside, Willie was gone. Not in any of this usually hiding places. I searched for the swarm of flies that had been flowing him, listened for his rasping, wheezy breathing and I couldn’t find him. I tried to listen to my heart and decided he had intentionally left, wanting to be alone, to spare me of the actuality of it, the choice, and decisions. But I spent the afternoon in agony, crying, wandering, looking, searching, trying to find peace.

Today, with the storm almost here, I now sit upstairs on my meditation pillow and feel the surges of the storm blowing through the window and recognize it’s like the gusts of uncertainty and angst that have been with me for the past few days.

I see all the parallels, the color, the smell, the sharpness, and hugeness of it all. And I remember that it will all pass and later, the sun will be out. I ask permission of this storm to contain me in it, so I can get through and out the other side. Cleanse myself of guilt and sadness. See it as a metaphor of weathering the storm and ending at peace. For certainly Willie has passed by now. Although I have no true knowing. I haven’t felt it. Two other cats disappeared when sick and I knew. One I had a rainbow and knew it was Tara. The other, I saw a coyote and heard Miss Rose purring when she wasn’t there, even before I knew for sure she was missing. But not with Willie. Nothing.

So I ask permission of the storm. And the loudest, scariest crash of lightening strikes within yards of my house, frightening the bejesus out of me. Is that a yes or no? Good lord, I have no idea. My heart is pounding; I pet my remaining cat to reassure him/me that we are fine.

The rain falls hard, pounding into the dirt, like my tears of yesterday. Pouring, gushing, drowning plants and insects; tearing my heart apart. It is still pitch black, the rolling thunder moving along the valley and echoing with each clap. I hear the call of a blue jay, a special totem for me, meaning I am not alone, and I wait.

I love thunderstorms, I love the volley of rumbles. I can only hope that this is my transition. My cleansing of the air, knowing that Willie has passed and moved on and is at peace and I can be now also. Once the storm is over.

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No words necessary….

On the night before your birthday, you should sleep out under the raspberries.

~Anastasia

 Fireflies. Bullfrogs. Occasional glimpses of stars in the cloudy sky. Dark pine silhouetted across an open sky. Two cars, a few dogs, mostly quiet. Quiet. Quiet.

Awakened during the night only by logistical issues. Where is the pillow? I’ve edged off the therma-rest. Where’s my extra blanket? My head is cold.

And then they start. Robins. Blue jays.

My first image: pine silhouette, open sky, and the thinnest, most stunning sliver of the moon hanging with a few wispy scattered clouds that almost immediately hide its glory.

Happy birthday to me from Mother Earth.

We are starting a new blue-blazed trail, the Menunkatuck! After brief confusion about the meeting place (thank goodness for cell phones), Cherry and I parked her car at the end of our planned hike on Route 77 in Guilford, and then drove to our starting point on Race Hill Road. Here was another glitch – the road didn’t go east as indicated on the map. Fortunately, the area was well posted, indicating only a half-mile walk to the trailhead, so I left my car under the sheltering arms of low-hanging tree. We got started around nine o’clock and the weather was overcast and in the sixties, which felt perfect.

Along we went until, after about fifteen minutes, I started to get antsy. I thought we’d gone a mile and had seen no indication of the blue blazed Menunkatuck Trail. We hoped this would not be a repeat of our disappointment in the trails at Cockaponset. Just about ready to give up, I checked the map contours, walked a few more steps, and voila! Blue blazes! And a nice sign indicating it was 3.2 miles to the junction with our former friend, the Mattabesset Trail.

So, we were off. Most of the area was forested, with scattered rocks and boulders. We followed the woods road until we began twisting and climbing up rocky formations. We never did get a good vista, but it was beautiful.

As usual, we talked about relationships. Or rather Cherry did, because I had nothing to report on that front. I did however have a lot to report about other ventures. The online course I was taking was off to a slow start. I’d begun offering a series of ecotherapy workshops, which was going well. I was trying to finish up a sequel to my first novel and that was stuck, again, although I had added another 10,000 words this month.

Cherry talked about her work and desire to retire in some reasonable amount of time. I interjected I’d been trying hard to understand why I was so overextended when I had no full-time position. We came to a rock cairn, one rock carefully placed atop the next, perfectly balanced. But for us, balancing work and pleasure was always a challenge. Can we trust our inner voices to guide us to the next right thing?

I shared an idea I had recently heard, which I have since looked up, below in its entirety:

 Don’t change. Change is impossible, and even if it were possible, it is undesirable. Stay as you are. Love yourself as you are. And change, if it is at all possible, will take place by itself when and if it wants. Leave yourselves alone. The only growth-promoting change is that which comes from self-acceptance. ~Anthony de Mello.

Certainly, that’s what the trees and rocks do. We found a rock, cleft in half, perhaps by ice or other natural phenomenon. We might do well to follow nature’s example of flowing with what is happening, instead of trying to fight our way upstream.

Eventually, we reached the beginning of the Menunkatuck where it joined the Mattabesset. The sign indicated it was 1.3 miles back to Cherry’s car. We continued, had a snack, admired the ferns, and both agreed that we were tired and ready to be done. Three hours after our start, we spotted Cherry’s bright red car through the trees and gratefully make our way to it.

But, it was only a few seconds later that Cherry said, “That was wonderful. We’ll have to pick a July date for the next piece. We should start early to avoid the heat.”

We’re die-hards, what can we say? We’re hooked on being out in nature, hiking the trails, getting some exercise, and sharing some of ourselves with each other.

The tide is coming in, rippling across the sandbars, as I walk across the hot sand and unload my paraphernalia. Within seconds I am settled and relaxing my muscles. Being at the shore always feels like coming home.

My eyes take in the expansive horizon, interrupted by an off-shore island. I hear osprey keening as they fish and feel their exhilaration when they snag a fish and fly off to their nestlings.

I finger the sand, letting it run through my fingers. I notice its perfect grains are interspersed with slipper shells, broken bits of phragmites, dried seaweed, and small stones. The sand is, just as we all are, pocked with distinctive imperfections that make it unique.

A group of boys nearby shout as they dig deeper and deeper in the sand, looking for China. They rough-house, they play ball, they swim, and they go home, as the afternoon passes. Their legacy in the sand will be washed away by the incoming tide, grains of sand filling in, washing away, back and forth, reminding us of the impermanence of all.