Will you still need me when I’m 64?

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

Singing this song as a young person always brought a heartwarming scene of happy elders, together after all these years. With no clue about what was to come! I couldn’t have anticipated the bumps along the road from 24 to 64. But here I am, well into “the new 40” recently thrust into early retirement. Well, there’s another concept I can’t quite identify with! I’m still voraciously curious, wanting to eat up the beauty of the world.

2008_02_26_Evans_CatholicDiocese_ph_ChurchOn the Move

In October I moved from Maryland to central Pennsylvania. Now I live with my longtime friend Mark, who returned to his hometown a few years ago. He welcomed me with 3 cats, an awesome generosity! My new tiny town has no traffic, dozens of mom & pop diners, old wooden houses marching up and down ancient hills. Alas, there is no Trader Joe’s, no Vietnamese restaurant, and not enough Uber business. But it has trains rumbling through the night, and church bells that ring! I am surrounded by forested hills with rocky-toothed crowns, filled with deer and bear and bobcat. And it SNOWS!!!! I can tell this is my new happy place.

Sad Farewell

lilyheadIn the throes of relocation I had to say goodbye to my beloved companion, Lily, the most loving (and the most difficult) dog I’ll ever know. I carry a dog-shaped hole in my heart, and being back in Maryland for a bit, she is everywhere. I love you Lily, and I always will.

So happy birthday to me, who once sang (with gusto) “Hope I die before I get old!” I changed my mind. I’m curious to see what time will bring at 64 and beyond.

A poem for today:

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

“Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti.

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the Coldest Morn

One of my writers group sent out a prompt this morning: “Winter’s coldest day…”

My bay is frozen flat, and white with snow. In my youth I would have strapped on my skates…

The scrape of metal on ice changes as I move. there’s the soft shish of gliding on perfect smoothness, and the scrape sound when I slow or curve, shaving ice to slow down. There’s the vibration of milky ice that welled up then froze again, and the gritty sound of snow-crusted ice.

This watery world is off limits to me most of the year. It’s too swampy for swimming, too shallow for boating,  but now it’s mine for the gliding.

I skate onto a space swept clear by wind, a curving plain with ice is so clear that the underwater world is revealed as if through a window. Only the cracks break the illusion: pale ribbons cross the ‘window,’ revealing foot-thick ice.

It’s alluring. I speed up, soar across this glassy plain, and feel like I am flying over still water. A sudden move below, and I realize the fish are moving in the  underneath. Curling to a halt, I kneel and bow to gaze between my mittened paws, peering into a world below the ice. A finny tail flicks out of sight.

The sun glows, dully shining through a high thin sky, and I take to my blades again. My mirror is edged with tall marsh grasses, faded to gold against the grey. Beneath me, flashing white, dark deep and sky blues. My face is pinked with cold air and my heart happily pushes the air into my pumping limbs.

I outrace the cold. 

>note: I searched but could not find the name of the painter of today’s image. If you recognize this painting or could shed any light on the artist, I’d appreciate it.

The Magnificence Right Under Your Nose

A friend called to day, sharing coffee and gratitude though many states apart. She shared a thought experiment: what if everything, what if I were completely perfect right now, in this moment? What if the fear, disappointment, worry, grief were all lifted from our shoulders, without effort, right now.

If it crosses our mind, it is possible. By imagining this state, we can achieve it. As I believe, so I become. At the speed of thought.  (Remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull? “Perfect speed is… being there.”)

What if peace what right under our nose? What if beauty was blazing away, and our eyes were too busy to see?

Rarely do I hear them: the wild turkeys. But when I do, these huge birds make an alarming racket! The tom may flare his feathers to look even bigger, while his  flock melts silently into the woods.

Did I really see them? Look, there’s a feather, on the path in the morning frost.

 

I give thanks for all blessings.

Those year end reflections…

I’ve been slurping up the “best trash cans of 2017” stories that most media organs pump out this time of year.

Why? So I can muse about 2017 without thinking too much about reality in America. You haven’t seen “Greatest Hits of the 115th Congress,” have you?

As indulgent as they may seem, this NYT story got to me:

Inside of a Dog, by JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN

When you lose a dog, you not only lose the animal that has been your friend, you also lose a connection to the person you have been.

I hit 62 this year- old enough to qualify for senior housing. I walk with a cane, slowly. I’m grateful when I can remember your name. And at each wave of aging, there’s a wash of nostalgia/regret for what used to be.

It’s hard on me, losing a pet. This year my bright spirit Charlee (above right) was suddenly killed by a passing car. Four years ago I lost my old black dog- she presided over an important and eventful 15 year slice of my life. At 44 I had so many options to work with. Now I feel doors closing, firmly closed, on chapters in my life. It’s sobering.

I still have my Young Dog, Lily (above left) At 11, she’s considered old now, her vision dimming. Can’t see the squirrels to chase anymore.

I’ll never be the globe-trotting artist I was when Seneca was young- not again. I’ll not careen around the city on my bike. I’m most likely past my last great romance, and glad for the lack of emo drama.

My Wiccan priestess would challenge me: “look for your unfolding challenges! The crone has plenty of important things to learn.”

Okay. Perhaps it’s just year-end blues, all this looking back with poignant feeling. And the cold and darkness that Winter brings. Let’s light a lantern and look ahead.

Do you Fear? or Understand?

Our species has travelled a long and twisty road to get to where we are today. From hunter-gatherers to farmers and fishers, to city-builders, machine-makers, and space travelers, we’ve survived by adapting to our changing world.

Not too long ago, fearing the Dark Forest and the Big Bad Shark was necessary for our survival. But when we learned more, we came to a new viewpoint: The lion, the wolf, the shark aren’t evil. They are just predators, as God made them. They are predators, like we are.

“The basis of our fear is our lack of understanding.” Lisa Mondy, Shark bite survivor

It’s an evolutionary step  – from fear to understanding. If we really are the smartest animal on the planet, then we can see the whole context. The wolf hunts to eat, and keeps the tundra rodents from over-populating. Considering the predator for their role in the ecosystem doesn’t mean there’s no danger. It means we have a fuller understanding.

In the video, the surfers and divers are all survivors of shark attacks. Yet they have come together to advocate for these predators, who are disappearing at an alarming rate. Because of myth and misunderstanding.

 

Don’t Fear the Fin. Support your world’s oceans, as if your life depended on it. It does.

The Real Deal

In the early 1960s I was in grade school, and my mother let me stay home to watch NASA’s Mercury and Gemini spacecraft launches on TV. We’d follow the whole exciting run-up and count-down, and cheer for blast-off, willing the fiery ship up, up and away into space.

This gave me my life-long love of space travel stories. Every moment of Star Trek the original series, the next generation, the movies. Star Wars amazed me with its realistic hardware, like Luke’s rusty little flying car – it felt so real!  I never miss a space flick on the big screen if I can help it.

I carried my space fandom into adulthood, thrilled when the Shuttle began to fly, and devastated when the Challenger burst apart before my eyes in the Florida sky. Then we lost Columbia, and the shuttle missions withered to an end.

While we may not be launching as many humans into orbit, NASA has stayed busy with amazing planetary missions and probes bringing us closer to the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.

Today, the incredible Cassini mission to Saturn and its moons begins its final mission, 20 years after it lifted off from earth. For nearly 13 years Cassini has amazed with the data and imagery from the moons, rings and storms of Saturn.

Watch this. This is epic space opera, folks. And this one is REAL.

 

Another Monarch Update

Enjoy this 360° video from the NYT that takes you to the Michoacan forest in Mexico:

Basking in Butterflies

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Check out this wonderful 360° video of the Michoacan forests, destination of the migrating Monarchs. (sorry I wasn’t able to embed.)

Every year, thousands of monarch butterflies migrate from eastern Canada to Michoacan, Mexico. Step inside a butterfly reserve in Michoacan to see where they make their winter homes. Link

Reblog: What a Buck in the Marsh Taught me About Respect on the Morning After the Election

Dear readers: last night Stephen Colbert reminded me that all the beauty OF the world is still right here IN the world. In that spirit I’m re-blogging my neighbor’s beautiful post from today’s morning walk:

Earthy Blessings: What a Buck in the Marsh Taught Me about RESPECT on the Morning After the Election

I am fortunate that I have the flexibility to walk the woodlands and visit the marsh this morning. Where else would I go on such a troubling day? I went into this election, determined that no matter the outcome, I would continue to do my best to live as salt and light in a world that always needs both. As an unashamed follower of Christ, I have and continue to attempt to live in accordance with what matters to Him…treating people with love, treating the Creation with care, and recognizing my dependence on the Spirit to help me to know and name my blindness and shortcomings.
But this morning, I have to admit that that determination comes hard. I am chagrined to realize who made up the voting block that has elevated our president-elect. I am sickened with grief and foreboding for what this outcome will mean for the earth, for the Creation, its creatures and all the humans who depend upon it for life, as the party elected will not hesitate to exploit it full measure and never look back.

bringlightI was thinking these thoughts, and wondering whether I had anything at all to say in this space this morning, anything gleaned from the natural world around me, as I walked along the boardwalk, when I heard the crashing and say the dried cattails waving wildly. I had seen possible traces before of deer in the marsh, but was never quite sure. “How would they maneuver through the muck?”

But there he was….. Read the rest at Earthy Blessings

Winning While Not Winning

Back in September I applied for an artist’s residency at Big Bend National Park, an opportunity to live and work for a month in one of our largest and most remote wilderness areas, right on the Mexican border (image above.)

As I worked on the application, I gained a new understanding of why I paint the way I do:

My painting is both objective and reverent observation, a deep, active appreciation of the natural world.  My aim is to inspire others to look more deeply and develop a more profound appreciation for our world.

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I wrote quite a bit about why painting on the Border would be important to me, and I’ll explore that in a later post.

I didn’t get selected for the residency. When I got the email I was mildly surprised, as if I really believed I would. In the email from the National Parks Art Foundation was a personal note that I was one of the finalists. Which felt really good.

Last year’s Artist in Residence at Big Bend was painter Dawn Waters Baker. I fell in love with her work instantly. I feel it beautifully captures what I had imagined creating at Big Bend.

Please go look at Dawn’s beautiful paintings and leave her comments if you can.

Dawn talks about ‘the emotional landscape’ –  not what is there but how we experience it, what we feel. That really comes through in her luminous paintings. They are filled with awe and a deep respect for the space. And she called the final show Reverence.

I’ve never been one who takes rejection particularly well. But this was a whole other experience. I got to know myself better by applying. I looked forward to bigger, more spacious paintings and the magic of a desert landscape. I enjoyed dreaming about how I would fulfill the residency requirements. And then I fell in love with Dawn’s paintings.

I feel complete, or pau as my Hawaiian healer friend Carol Burbank would say. It’s all good.