by Robert Frost
Her hardest hue to hold.
But only so an hour.
So Eden sank to grief,
Nothing gold can stay.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Snow is falling on Hickory Lane.
Even inside I can hear the quiet it brings,
muffling every sound,
smoothing off the sharp edges of daily life,
bring tranquility to the scenes outside my window.
But inside my head, the racket continues. My ears (still) ring, and my mind is noisy and chaotic like a radio turned too loud with fuzzy reception and random station changes.
Somehow the snow helps me to slow down a bit. My friend MaryJean describes snow as "God's invitation to pause." I think she's right, and I want to accept the invitation. I light a candle and watch through the window as ice crystals dance to earth across red shed and weathered gray barn board backdrop.
I struggle to bring order to the scattered fragments of worry I've managed to pick up this day before I remembered to pause. (I feels like I'm herding cats.) Some bits I must simply release; they are soul lint and gravel that I have somehow added to my bag for the day because I hit "start" before I chose pause:
-the state budget (or lack thereof.)
-the unavailability of a jacket I thought I needed...now where will I find one before our trip?
-another presidential debate. (could somebody please at least act presidential?)
-the projected weather and how my projected plans will be affected. (School isn't the only thing that gets cancelled when the weather turns south. Errr, I mean north. Brrr.)
-rude words I recently heard directed at me seem to stick like lint...
Let it go, B, let it all go. Turn every bit loose to blow with the snow flakes.
Other floating anxieties, worries, fears are harder to toss. They are deeper, closer to my heart. I move them to a list for praying, my "holding up list."
-friends dealing with the big C's, cancer and chemo.
-relationship tangles near and far.
-my friend with a houseful of orphans and no water
-a short list of mourners who have lost their mothers recently. I.know.how.hard.that.is.
-a friend's struggle with drama, how she hates it yet creates it.
-on and on.
Half the stuff I can't list because...the stories aren't mine, yet somehow I pick up these heavy bits and haul them around with me day after day.
It takes awhile, sitting in deep silence, unpacking a lot of...stuff, but I gradually feel the peace of Jesus encroaching on each spot vacated by the piecemeal release of my collection into His care. I'm letting go. (Again.)
It's not that I don't care; it's that I am choosing not to carry. I'm putting these anxieties in better hands, off loading on One who has offered to carry all of it.
I sense a change as the volume of my inner radio is dialed back, notch by notch, and I breathe in the quiet.
This. How I've missed this quiet on the inside.
I've been too goal oriented lately; I've been doing too much multi-tasking; I've been moving too many directions too soon most mornings. Like a loose throttle on a lawn mower, my life speed has been inching up, faster, faster, faster.
The noise of life lived too fast has been overshadowing the whisper I want to hear more than any other.
Even though I read these words every single day (or, at least I see them....) I've lost track of their truth.
But not this day.
Today the quietness of snowfall murmurs a reminder-
to listen to the silence,
to listen in the silence for the whisper of God.
December 21. Four days until Christmas. “Are you ready for Christmas?” is a common question these days…checking lists…what remains to be done before The Day?
How about pause.
(Maybe next week???)
No, I suggest, I urge, now.
Today. And maybe again tomorrow.
Pause. Because you need The Presence.
The hunting season is paused for a few weeks, and
I need the exercise,
I need the woods,
I need to think,
I need to pause,
This is a good prayer for such a day, for such a season:
O God, You are my God.
I seek you earnestly.
My soul thirsts for you… longs for you…
As in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
(Or at least no snow so far this winter.)
I wander up the path. The woodspace is open now;
leafless trees pause in the life cycle for rest, to go deep, to wait for spring.
Bird song is muted; no murmur of a breeze can be heard.
Not one squirrel announces my presence; we’ve had a sudden cold snap and they are hunkered down in their messy looking dreys.
It’s a still place.
But it is not empty.
I am halfway to wherever when I finally tune in to the whispers of life surrounding me.
I hear a great horned owl calling, low and steady, pause, repeat. The call is repeated in a higher pitch far up the mountain. Mating season comes early for these predators.
Woodpeckers tap.tap.tap. their steady rhythms and call out the warnings
when I encroach on their space.
The raucous alarm cry of the pileated woodpecker raises my curiosity and I stand, pause long, until I spot him, high in the canopy. (Sorry, no clear picture!) I wait him out, and he forgets me, or decides I’m not a threat, and resumes his busy-ness- he is dangling, twisting, snatching red berries from a bittersweet vine twined sixty feet above the forest floor. Looks like a happenin’ Christmas party for one.
I see other signs of forest activity. Someone has cleared a fallen tree from the path and neatly stacked the wood. Something has torn apart a log in search of a snack; I notice a recently excavated hole about the size of a chipmunk…it’s nap time.
Long unseen fingers of frozenness have brushed across the pond, adding crackle glaze to tree reflections.
I could turn around now, and it would be enough-
But I choose otherwise. This time I will not rush home. This is a different kind of power walk…
I hear the water before I see the glory,
a stream of water gushing from a hidden source deep in the heart of the mountain.
It is my favorite resting place on a hot summer afternoon. Beyond this spot, the path disintegrates into a tangle of thorny canes and tick cover and snake rocks, but right here, a reservoir overflows with pure clearness that quenches more than my thirst today.
It’s been just cold enough, and the ice beauty catches me off guard. Oh, dear God, You did this. For me?
I doubt anyone else has seen it, just this way, this day. My eyes, my soul can barely take it in.
I see a host of ice fractals, patterned in a multitude of designs.
A waterfall of icicles flows from one nondescript twig.
This one makes me smile...(is this what happens to naughty aliens?)
I stand back to take in the delicate ring of ice formations…ummm, did You intend that to be heart shaped?
And then, ohhh...these exquisite ferns.
I’m out of words and on my knees,
to see this breathtaking beauty,
to capture photos so I will remember,
to say "thank you."
Psalm 63:2-4 continues:
So I have looked upon You, I have seen You – to gaze at, to perceive, to contemplate with pleasure. This is a more poetic word than the usual “seen.” It refers to a prophetic vision and insight, to seeing God.
In the sanctuary – a sacred place. “God’s presence is what makes any place, anything, or anyone holy.” (Note from NASB Key Word Study Bible, OT entry 6944) Moses heard God’s voice at the burning bush, “...the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” It was his unexpected encounter with the living God in an ordinary place that became holy. Yes. I get that. I'm standing stock still on holy frozen ground.
I don’t take my shoes off…brrr... but my soul kneels and my heart is raised in praise to this One who would pause to create this place of pause to meet my need,
to meet me.
My lips will praise you – to address in a loud tone! (I’m doing it, yes I am, because my heart is overflowing, and I just want to thank Someone.)
Because Your steadfast love – your lovingkindness, your unfailing love
Is better than life itself.
I will bless /honor/praise You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
Jesus, You whom we
during this frantic, festive season,
I will pause to praise You as long as I live,
or at least, let me be singing when the evening comes.
“And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.”
Edward Hirsch from Wild Gratitude
Thank you, Edward Hirsch for giving us these words, these reasons for wild gratitude on a cold autumn day. HumminB.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows...
The nosey cows, I call them. I take a walk past the meadow, and I suddenly become the focus of attention for a pastureful of (very large) creatures. Very curious creatures. I had a minor vehicle accident once involving a fence...around midnight...and when I got out of the van to figure out what to do next, eleven black and white observers were lined up along the fence to help me think about it. I told them to go away, but they don't give up easily. They like to stand and stare.
They don't blink.
They don't look away.
They simpy stare.
Who knows what they are seeing? Who knows what they are hearing? Who knows what they are thinking?
There are days when it does me good to do as the poet suggests. I need to take time to stand and stare.
Without looking away.
Simply stand and stare.
Who knows what I might see? Who knows what I might hear? Who knows what I might end up thinking about?
The poet answers his own question a few lines later, tells us what sort of life we have when we don't have/make/take time to pause:
...a poor life this, if full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.
Try it sometime. It's harder than you think. Take time to stand and stare as long as the cows. Only, do not get into a staring contest with them. You will never win.
I'm heading out for another walk, thinking about why/how I do this as often as I do. Somehow the waters of my days are parted occasionally and I find a path to my wooded wandering place. Certainly it's great exerscise for my body - although it would be even better exercise without this dangling camera...often my footsteps slow, stop, even back up, as I catch a glimpse, then try to capture, some tiny exquisite jewel...or I look up and long to pull in the wonder of morning gold. But my camera can only garner what it's one dimensional wide eye can observe. It cannot catch the hum of crickets warming in late September's angled rays nor the damp fresh smell floating from Lydia's laundry. Still, I take my camera anyway, thought it slows me down, for recently I've realized that the physical benefits might actualy be secondary. Even if this were fattening, I might still find a way to do it....
So why? Why let sixty three possible projects undone: dishes stacked with breakfast drying on the edges, slow cooker awaiting chopped veggies, clothes dryer dinging "done," lesson plans strewn across the desk…oh, the desk. There are appointments to be made for my parents, my son, myself. Editing/writing projects call my name, and I know I'm not prepared to teach Sunday school this week. (Whose idea was it to tackle "grieving the Holy Spirit" as a topic. Oh. Mine. Sigh.) I keep moving through unseen beckoning tendrils of the "oughts," past the silent glare of the to-do list. I am moving toward the door, toward a different choice for these 30-40-50 minutes.
Because I've been learning something lately:
When I get to the end of life, my in box will not be empty.
My list will not be ended.
The oughts will not all be accomplished.
So, I cannot wait for the perfect time or enough time.
I just have to take time. NOW.
You know, in the present.
With the Presence.
I'm almost there...here. I choose my water proof hikers. I choose this way to breathe life into my soul. I walk outside and close door on all of that, for now. It will all be there later. It will all wait. But this moment will not wait.
"High moments of holy companionship are found
as one's ordinary life is lived out in the Creator's extraordinary creation."
(Corrine Ware in St. Benedict on the Freeway)
"High moments of holy companionship are found as one's ordinary life is lived out in the Creator's extraordinary creation." (Corrine Ware in St. Benedict on the Freeway.)
We do not have an agenda for the day. We have some hopes - eagle sightings, turtle pictures, peace. And before today's journey ends, each of these hopes is realized. And then some.
I ponder what marriages would be like if we would move toward this approach every day - not an agenda, but hopes
- to see eagles, (eagles are angels, says our friend Dan. I'm in! And I'm watching...)
-to bask like turtles in the present reality of God's love (separate blog post brewing here)
-to experience (or offer?) peace.
We spend the day...we fritter it away... we expend the hours...we lavishly "waste" minutes...hours...half of an ordinary day.
We watch wildlife...
We practice being where our feet are...
we bird watch...
we talk...or not. For hours.
Soon enough, oh, too soon, we will be back in the rapids of our ordinary lives. There will be plans to make, and needs to meet. The pace will pick up, rocks may threaten, a storm will undoubtedly blow in. But for now, we breathe deeply, we pause, we smile. We wrap ourselves in the peace of these moments that almost didn't happen.
You see, we almost didn't float today. Schedules have been daunting, finding child care is challenging, the pace of life has been exhausting. It's difficult to take this kind of time. Even decision making takes more energy than I have some days. But not to choose time together is worse, more costly, in the long run. Choices must be made, priorities must be balanced. Journeys don't usually just happen.
We must make time for what really matters to us.
Determinedly. Regularly. Purposefully.
On ordinary days. Together.
So, happy anniversary, Max! Thanks for this day of holy companionship. Here's to the next 32 years, one ordinary day at a time! Hummin'B
"We give you thanks, Almighty God, for all Your gifts and graces to us this day:
For the splendor of the whole creation, and the beauty of this world......"
-from the Vesper prayer in Venite by Robert Benson.
It was dusky when I headed toward the mountain this evening. Truth be told, I headed out the back door in mud crocs and old jeans as soon as Youngest Mystery and Ottie had settled into sleep, intending to pull weeds from wet earth. And then I looked up.
It was not meant to be a work evening. The earlier rain was gone; now a ribbon of road beckoned me toward the mountain where mist draped the hollows like un-hemmed lace curtains. This it too good to pass by, this lovely mist-erious evening.
Come walking with me, you won't be sorry.
Just a minute while I step back inside for some walking shoes and of course, my camera; yet before I click the shutter even one time, I know these moments cannot be captured. The eyes are not enough to take it all in. We stand still, trying to absorb all that surrounds us, the wonder of this ordinary May evening. It is good to remember to breathe deeply, to look up, to listen carefully, in the middle of ordinary moments on less than spectacular days, in obscure places...(ie, here, now.) I know your journey with me is only imaginary, yet I want to paint a picture for you of shifting vapors, blue-gray mountains, glorious clouds. But what we see is such a small slice of all that surrounds us. How will I add the sound track? And will you be able to smell the night air?
Listen to the birds; they are having their nightly ruckus, each one telling every one else good night or fussing about who is on whose branch or… what? What are they fretting about, every single night? Robins, song sparrows, the occasional irate killdeer, red-winged blackbird, each one chiming in, weaving around us a song we can never sing for there are no words. Listen to the children giggling, murmuring. A little hat-clad Amish toddler and his older sister follow their Mam and the wheelbarrow. Amish kids get dirty too, so dirty, playing in damp soil and mulch. Mam will have no trouble keeping track of who still needs scrubbed!
Click. I snap a few pictures, longing to capture misty mountain mystery and sky beauty. It is so lovely.
Another neighbor wields a shovel; he suggests it's almost too late for a walk, but oh, he is so wrong. It will only be too late if this moment passes and we've missed it. We leave him to his mulching, poor fellow. He cannot see the mountain, for he isn't looking up. As light fades, the loveliness deepens. Do you smell the mist? Sketchy little whiffs of deeper dampness linger, memory patches of half remembered dreams. They tap the shoulder, then slip away before we have a chance to call their names.
As we pass from open valley to wooded hills, smells swirl around us- pungent heavy odor of pasture wetness oozing between cow's hoofs, sweet light perfume from a thousand blossoms of multi-flora rose on a single bush, multiplied by dozens of white shrouded shrubs dotting the dusk, damp moss comingled with rotting leaf mold, tulip poplar fragrance mixed with another distinctive plant scent that takes me back to a rabbit pen that no longer exists in a town I no longer have a reason to visit. Oh, breathe deeply my friend; who knows where the memories will take you...
We slip up the mountain road, ambling through shades of gray. It will soon be truly dark, but we don't need to be afraid here. The sounds are friendly sounds, familiar, almost familial. The birds are quieter now, settled, at peace. Me too. And you? A deer silently retreats from the woodland meadow to the safety of the shadows, at least until we pass. (Maybe you should stay, since he can't see you…) I realize it's been weeks since I've heard an owl, but then the bob-white whistles, and it is enough. My ear suddenly detects a raspy buzzing call; a woodcock is nearby. I've never seen him, but I'd know his voice anywhere. Those deer must have circled back through another neighbor's property; his geese are squawking like a burglar alarm. Oh, and have you noticed the frogs? (How could you not notice??! Perhaps the birds really aren't quieter, they are simply outdone!!) The chirping, vibrating tones of frog tunes punctuate the night quiet from every direction. Incessant is not too strong a word to describe their echoing racket. Mountainside, woodland meadow, rural residential, creekside, farm pasture…every place is a residence for their resonance.
It is time to make our way homeward. The birds are now completely silent. (But not the frogs. When do they sleep??) I hear our muffled footsteps as we retrace our path past tranquil meadows. Horses, cows, graze, munch, chomp, rest in deeply dusky pastures hung with mist. Even a cow looks almost beautiful in the gray beauty of lingering night vapors. (Okay, it is pretty dark…) A lone donkey lets fly his otherworldly shriek, and for a fleeting moment, I recall the bobcat that someone saw crossing this mountain road earlier in the year. We can hear the brook tumbling over itself, murmuring of recent thunderstorms and sudden downpours. Frogs agree in four octaves of chirps. Clouds, back lit by faint moon glow, stretch above the mountains. Alongside the road, a tall clump of silver tipped weedgrass, in full seed head, sways elegantly, and it is tempting to break off a bouquet handful. But filigree will fade in harsh morning light on kitchen window sill, and someone is sure to sneeze. So we let them here, content to have seen their secret silver glory.
We are almost home. A thin slice of moon plays hide and seek among the clouds. Venus rises above the mountain, clear, vivid, intense. The farmhouses we pass glow with warm lantern light. Families are settling for bed, morning will come earlier for them than for me. I will hear the milk pails long before light reaches its fingers through my curtainless window. The weatherman predicts morning fog; I hope he's right. It will be nice for the new day to begin like this one is ending, in mist-shrouded mystery and silvery hope. Rest well my friend, and should tomorrow be an "ordinary day," take a moment to look up, breathe deeply and listen carefully.
Because you never know what you might almost miss... -HumminB
Pause. Take a deep breath. Wait. Look. Listen. Be still.
All of these seem like the simplest words, the easiest instructions. What's not to get? A lot apparently, based on my observations, based on my own hurried, busy little life. People are just in such a crazy hurry these days, and many days, I'm in the race too. "There was so much work left to do, and so much we'd already done…" Oh yes, Rich Mullins, you nailed it, and I can barely hear you sing that line, that richly layered song (Sometimes by Step) about life, about my life, without tears slipping down my tired face. My to-do lists are gaining on me, projects dreaded and beloved seem to multiply when I'm asleep, and anxiety steals my joy while I'm preoccupied with the business of living my life.
"Beware the Barrenness of Busyness," I read those words on a plaque decades ago, and it struck me then (ouch!) as true, but now I know it to be even truer. It is easy, way too easy, to simply join the chase. Everyone I know seems to be forever rushing, scurrying to attend the next event, to acquire the next gadget - newer, faster, better…- to deliver the darling children to their next life shaping encounter, to experience the latest cuisine at the newest place in town. Always rushing, dashing, hurrying. While it’s usually easy to explain what they/we are running toward, it is worth pondering what we're running from…
In his song, The Last Frontier,(which you can listen to here,)Andrew Peterson describes the emptiness of lives that never pause, "And the highway's like an old sad song, people moving through their lives alone; on the run from grace, from place to place, like fugitives without a home…"
I hardly think it's possible, that we'd be on the run from grace, not the people I'm thinking of, not intentionally. And yet, I know it's true that when I slow down enough to think about inhaling, to pause, to reflect, to listen or look, just for a moment, every time I bump into grace, or maybe grace bumps into me. And every time I am so refreshed, so strengthened, so encouraged, I wonder why in the world I don't "do this" more often. Why in the world don't I just let the world fly past in a blur while I pause, take a deep breath, wait, look, listen, be still.
Earlier this week, I had one final phone call to make before heading out the door, and when it lasted longer than I'd expected, I was tempted to rush through it so I could get to the next (important?) thing, an early evening walk. But it was important to chat, to be present in the moment. (A bleak diagnosis can bring the present into sharp focus.) Pause. Take a deep breath. Wait. Listen. Be still. By the time we said our goodbyes, dusk was falling. I was probably rushing as I put on my shoes, found my sweatshirt, and scrambled toward the mountain, but the cool evening breeze slowed my pace, my thoughts, my spirit. My return route was mostly from memory; night had erased the path. Quiet darkness surrounded me; and then it wasn't quiet. A buzzy chirp sounded just ahead of me, over and over, a funny, persistent little sound, almost nasal in quality. Stealthily I tried to move closer to whatever it was, but always it was just ahead of me. Back at home, my internet search confirmed my suspicion - I had encountered a woodcock. Because of my earlier pause, I received the gift of a "chance" interaction with a quirky, chirpy little fellow who sings for a short interval each evening at dusk. Grace.
Another afternoon, James and I were headed for one of those life shaping encounters I mentioned above. I know the riding lessons are good for him (and me) but we'd had a late start, and the atmosphere wasn't exactly peaceful as we rushed toward our destination. But then I sat very still for the better part of an hour. I took time to pause and look and listen (too much extra chatter around the ring today, but no matter, I was still, sitting still, being still.) I viewed turkey vultures soaring high and free, sensed cloud shadows passing between my warm back and the sun, heard a quiet breeze murmur in my ear. Heading home, I chose to drive in a way that reflected our mellowed spirits. We kept our eyes open for wildlife, and while deer eluded us, we were amazed to find a turtle making his way across a lonely stretch of road. I simply stopped the van, and we watched him plod to the other side. He might have been doing his version of rushing, but to me his pace appeared sedate, leisurely, even relaxed. And sitting there in the middle of nowhere watching a turtle cross the road, I felt relaxed too. Grace.
So tonight I'm on the porch. (When have I ever been able to do that, midMarch, in central Pennsylvania? And I almost missed it tonight!) Nothing big has happened. I am listening to the endless sounds of a country nightfall - quiet barn noises (chewing, an occasional low moo, horses thudding against stalls, a small dog fussing) birds saying goodnight, the water garden murmuring its continual song. I wasn't at the end of my daily list, but I chose to pause on the porch. I think sometimes, this is what it comes to, a choice. We must be intentional. If we don't do anything differently, nothing will ever change. I will take time to ponder what I'm running toward, what I might be running from...Grace?
And I will choose a quieter path, the road less traveled, or maybe no road at all.
Hickory Lane traffic is noisier than usual tonight; our sleepy little corner of the valley echoes with tire squealing, motor racing adrenalin. I want to tell everyone to just go home and sit still. I think it would do them good.
I know it's been good for me.
Pause.Take a deep breath. Wait. Look. Listen. Be still.
It's time and past time for a long, long walk, around my country block or up into the mountain, it doesn't really matter; it just needs to be long - long enough to quiet the racket in my head. I realize too late it might have been good to know where I was heading when I started out… But a decision about destination has kept me paralyzed on the porch too long; sometimes you just have to get started. I have half a mile to trek before the road forks, and yes, I take the one less traveled. We'll see if it makes all the difference. As it is, my aesics are mumbling about mud, my bare legs will bear signs of bramble scratch for days, and overgrown paths give me and my no-show socks reason to pause as I remember a snake I once met.
My camera dies a drained battery death, now it's just excess baggage. I leave it on a fence post to pick up on the way home. (That's how it is where I live, safe that way.) MY pace picks up; I'm storming the trail, feet keeping pace with the internal chatter I seek to escape, or more accurately to silence, or at least to tame. My ears have been ringing for months, but abruptly I realize the present chirp-buzz-click is external. I am surrounded by unseen cicadas, crickets, and God knows what else. (He does!) "The hills are alive with the sound of…crickets…"
I know some cricket facts: -Over 900 species of crickets exist worldwide and we have at least nine varieties here in Pennsylvania. -Only the males sing-chirp by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing, NOT by rubbing their wings together.
And, I know some cricket lore: -Crickets have been considered a sign of good luck for thousands of years in far eastern as well as Native American culture. -In some circles, it is believed that the more crickets you have singing in your home, the more wealth your household will enjoy.
I even know (of) some famous crickets: - Jiminy Cricket, and - Chester Cricket better known as The Cricket in Times Square.
But the truest thing I know about crickets is that they are a sign of the beginning of the end of summer, and at the moment, all of the Pennsylvania varieties seem to be making the same announcement. When did they start this? I wonder. We had that sleep-stealing heat wave a few weeks ago, put a little a/c in our bedroom window, listened to white noise for a few nights, took it out, and – crickets.
Aughhhh, I gasp (again.) Not the end of summer yet, I'm not ready (again.) It's gone too soon, too fast (again.) I didn't see this coming…or going?! (again.)
Not so, says Jeff O'Brien, a favorite writer of mine whom you've (probably) never read. Your loss. I just read this in his book, Seasons in Upper Turkeyfoot: "The change (of seasons) is neither fast nor slow; the seasons change gradually and continually." And so I look around. I listen (again.) And now I see what's been happening gradually and continually around me.
The open fields and pastures are edge-stitched in lace fit for a queen, (Queen Anne of course.)
Manifold greens shine again, after drought quenching rains, but these are different, deeper greens, more mature and settled than the flirty greens of spring.
The moss looks tired along the path, and sunlit clearings are dappled with goldenrod.
Chipmunks scold and "tuwwhit" more than they did in early summer, and where are "my" birds?
The indigo bunting is nowhere to be seen or heard, and even the grackles are gone as are most of the robins.
I stand beside the cat-tail swamp, and it is silent as a cemetery where redwing blackbirds frolicked and fussed over their nesting territories oh so recently.
I realize too late I forgot to look for phoebe but I know her nest is emptier than mine, and she's probably moved on.
The nightshade berries are turning purple-black, and wizened blackberries bend seedy heads toward the earth, offering food to creatures preparing for what is surely coming.
The signs are unmistakable, summer is slipping quietly away, and autumn is on the move and has been for some time. "The change is neither fast nor slow…"
I want to put the brakes on, find the pause button, or just stop everything for an afternoon or three. I have not taken the time to look, to listen, to walk attentively in this place. And I have missed so much. I've been preoccupied, again, and thus caught off-guard, again. "Preoccupied with society and our place in it, we age in ignorance, caught up in the transitory." Jeff O'Brien again. He's right, and I will write it here. "Time speeds up only when we ignore it." So true, so very true. Conversely, if I take time to be fully present in this moment, I feel momentarily quiet, stilled, at rest.
And so, today, I will pause and breathe in the fragrance of the butterfly bush. (And I will not be alone!)
I will look up at flat bottomed clouds against a back drop of mountains drawn close in a no-humidity sky.
I will observe the swelling pink seeds of the ladyfingers.
I will not ignore time...
I will embrace this moment without trying to hold it forever. Hummin' B.
I'm finding my way beyond the maze of the "middle" years