Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumn Observations

Because my home is adjacent to a wonderful, county-maintained trail, I try to walk for exercise as often as I can. Walking is a good way to think, too--to ponder life, to sort out problems, to make plans. For years I'd return from a solo walk with observations to share with Jay. Now I have to keep my thoughts to myself, or trot them out across my blog.

About two miles from our house is the Kenmore Blue Heron Colony where a large number of these magnificent birds raise their young each year. They live year round in the area. Several days ago I was walking past a stagnant, algae covered outlet of the Sammamish River and came across this blue heron, so close it could probably hear me breathing. ( I tried to hear it breathing, but no luck.)  I stood and watched the bird for a few minutes as it tiptoed through the water.

When I arrived home from my walk today, I noticed this outcropping of chanterelle (I think) mushrooms on lawn across from mine. Nothing there yesterday; today life's magic! In our old neighborhood, Al, the man who lived next door to us, was a mushroom hunter. We always agreed to his request to harvest the chanterelles from our yard, but neither Jay nor I had any desire to take up Al's offer share the spoils--just in case he was wrong in his identification process.  

And here, right by my front door today, is another kind of mushroom growing, which was nibbled by something. See the bite out of its top? I'm wondering what munched it, a bird, a mouse, a rabbit, a snail . . .? And how is that critter feeling today? 

September is winding down. The good weather is nearly over for our neck of the woods. Even if I'm feeling anxious about the future, a walk has a way of tranquilizing those feelings. There is so much to see and think about besides myself--and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And the mourning light, the morning light

In the twenty-first century in America (at least, in my culture) there's no way to tell, just by looking, if someone is grieving for a loved one, short of seeing him in a police-led funeral procession or seeing her weeping at a grave. Gone are the black armbands and other forms of prescribed mourning attire that let a private grief be visible.

My mother owned a small black daisy-like flower broach with a tiny emerald center that had been her grandmother's. My mother liked to tell my sister and me about it, explaining that our great-grandmother was expected to make her widow's grief visible every day for a year by wearing black. Presumably the pin was acceptable jewelry for her to wear during that year. I recently rediscovered it in my safe deposit box and thought for a minute about wearing it, but then tucked it back into its little storage bag.

No one sees my grief, and that's OK. I've always been a private person when it comes to my feelings.

That is not to say I don't have my own activities that help me ritualize my own sadness. I like to take morning walks on the lovely Sammamish River Trail near my home. When I see sunlight striking the trees and the river, I cannot help but think of Jay.

The light makes me feel as though I will heal. It makes me feel OK that I am alone and comforts me with the awe of creation. The light makes me feel hopeful and connected to the everyone I love, even if they no longer walk beside me. Walking in the morning light . . . the mourning light . . . helps me feel certain Jay is in a good place, and I will be all right. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Favorites

Katie, Maddie, and Mae
These three young ladies each have distinct personalities and gifts, but collectively they make up a category I call "My three favorite people under the age of fourteen." They make me smile; they make me proud. In a group of strangers they are well behaved models of polite children; in a group of familiars they can be silly and goofy, or thoughtful and wise. When they write me notes or texts, I nearly burst with appreciation. When I get new videos or photos of them, it's all I can do not to go door-to-door in my neighborhood to share. I am a lucky woman to have these dear granddaughters.