Lush September garden
Sometimes I truly miss my year-long outdoor blog commitment. Some of you may remember Opening the door, Walking Outside. From Solstice in December, 2008 through December 20, 2009, I spent time outside every day and blogged about it.
It proved both wonderful and challenging, as you can imagine. By mid-January I felt exhausted by the entire endeavor and totally irritated by the *stupid* commitment. Yet, one soldiers on.
As the year progressed–and a reading audience grew–feelings of delight and appreciation for nature expanded. An adoration of blogging blossomed.
As he croons in the song–It was a very good year. Thanks, Frank Sinatra.
1. I have nothing to say and should be getting ready for work.
2. A perfect time to write a blog post!
3. If, by the time this post ends, the fingers type all nonsense–well, it’s easy enough to delete.
4. A big-eared mouse and I met on the circular stairway this morning at 5:45 a.m. He panicked. I jolted. We both froze. He high-tailed it back upstairs and I sighed. Why can’t we share our living spaces with wild creatures? Because we can’t. The Buddhist part of me never wants to slap a mosquito. The more practical part searches for a trap.
5. Autumn approaches from the north. How does one know? I felt it two days ago on a walk up the road. Suddenly the air held that nip. You know, the nip which foretells dying tomato and green bean and squash vines. That breath of cold wind which eventually sings a million vibrant colors into our northern leaves. That change of the seasons spinning.
This early September afternoon, just after our Michigan schools have opened their doors to laughing and shouting students for another school year, I would like to share a blog post I wrote way back in May, 2009. Mary was the principal at our small school–someone I truly loved and admired. She died four months after I wrote this post. Thank you for remembering her with me.
Beautiful death by frost
Mary is going to die.
She’s opening her heavily-lashed eyelids this morning in a cheap hotel near Mayo Clinic. Are the birds chirping so sweetly outside her window, their high-pitched trills cascading the scale of life’s melodies, up and down, singing out an indecipherable pattern perhaps only known to the birch trees, the sloping hills, the good garden soil back home eager for spring seeds?
I want to roll over and return to sleep’s forgetting. Mary is going to die. Where is that voice rising from? Shouldn’t it be qualified by hope? Shouldn’t it be radiated and chemotherapied before you utter those words even in the privacy of your own head?
Mary is going to die. Sweet Mary. Calm Mary. Peaceful Mary. The minister’s wife snapping her wrists as the bell-caroled songs fill the church. The principal of our tiny school, softly scenting the hallways with her unflappable peace that you feel down below your own churning heart, way down between your ribs, way down into the marrow of yourself–
While her marrow dances with cancer cells, multiplying endlessly in rhythmic frenzy, fearlessly, over-running and over-spilling the vessel that takes everything in like an embracing hug, like Jesus feeding bread and fish to the multitude.
Overlooking Lake Huron
Perhaps some of you might be surprised to know that my love of Lake Superior birthed on the shores of Lake Huron. Shall I share about my first love down in lower Michigan, that long arm of the Great Lakes reaching up?
During our recent book tour, Terri Bocklund sang of genius loci, the spirit of place. How the spirit of a certain place can draw us, inform us, dream us. (Visit her blog, here, to learn more of her love of Lake Superior.)
The rising spirit of a lake, or prairie, or mountain, might ignite our heart and create music through us. Or stories. Or deep connections which refuse logical arguments.
The boundaries between place and person might blur, as each gifts the other with precious beauty, creativity, delight.
Years ago I attended a spiritual workshop out in the green and brown hills of Montana. The snowy crests of the Continental Divide towered over us. Our teacher gave an assignment: Out you go onto the ranch. Instead of allowing your head to guide your walk, follow your feet. Let the feet lead wherever they desire to travel. Follow your feet.
Off we traveled, letting the toes and heels and arches guide us. While thought may have suggested turning left to visit that cottonwood by the river, feet led us up into the hill country. Thought so often attempted to keep us on the beaten path, but feet guided into a patch of the most fascinating scrub bushes. Thought carried on about cleared trails, but feet led to the next appropriate moment.
Such gifts the feet shared! A broken-off branch in the most fascinating shape. A stone shaped like a heart. The shadow of a Native American spirit dancing in the wind against a tree.
I walked away from that feet-guided afternoon inspiration with a renewed trust in intuition. With a convincing knowing that something deeper than our thoughts might actually know which way to turn in the upcoming moment. With a delight in the journey underlying the thinking churning mind.
The red door of possibility
I am downstate visiting my mom and dad now, having previously added these photos to Word Press during a very busy morning last Friday while preparing to depart.
These images come to you from Big Bay, Michigan, where Suzi Banks Baum shared a “Slow Time Salon” of art and writing with many friends and acquaintances last Tuesday. I snapped most of these pictures during a mid-day walk down a dirt road to the lighthouse out on Lake Superior.
Up close design
You’re wondering about the “serendipity” part of the title, aren’t you? I can’t wait to tell you!
Last Friday morning before working three hours at the school and two hours with the township–before cleaning and packing and organizing–I kept hearing the phrases “Ladies of the Lake” in my head, like a song. Since I had a photo of the three of the book tour participants standing by the lake I started the title of the post with “Ladies of the Lake.”
Jumped in the car, drove away (forgetting my telephone charger, alas) and tooled down the road in anticipation of the 550 miles to visit family. Keep in mind that this was not necessarily a logical decision, but an impromptu desire from the heart.
Evening silhouette against the lake (this may be a gentleman of the lake!)
Friends, I am leaving again–heading downstate to visit my mom and dad and brothers and families–but still want to show you some sunset photos from an evening in Big Bay along Lake Superior last Friday night during the aforementioned book tour.
Beating wings of geese over Lake Superior
There are more pictures of the Big Bay Lighthouse but I’m not sure if there shall be time to upload them before departing and driving 550 miles south to my dear family.