The Springing of Spring

 

depth of field photography of tulip flowers
Photo by Vural Yavas on Pexels.com

The weather finally decided to warm up and act like spring here in the soybean field. The final measurable snow fell a couple of weeks ago and yielded four inches of slop. We stayed inside, needless to say.

Except for that day, we’ve been able to resume walks with our friends on weekend mornings. Oakley and Bonnie Blue read and respond to the social media posts left by other dogs as we meander the riverside trail connecting two parks, the one where we meet and the one that’s our turnaround point. It’s not a long walk nor is it a strenuous one, but it’s good friend hangout time for us as well as the pups.

Here at home, the first task outdoors will be cleaning out the raised garden bed. I still have a couple of weeks before I can plant this year’s crops, but remnants of the rogue lettuce and other plants I don’t recall inserting into the soil last year need to be pulled before that happens.

It is good to have that to look forward to. It’s good to participate in the cycle of life, of growth. In the last weeks, I had yet another passage to process. The husband of a close friend (and a friend in his own right) made his journey to the Other Side a couple of weeks ago. He had Parkinson’s. It wasn’t a battle, nor a journey during the 10 or 12 years of living with it. It just was a part of their lives. Until the last couple of weeks he was still engaged, curious, and did his best to follow the tango steps from his wheelchair as my friend and their teacher danced during a visit. Not long after that he just started the quiet drift to the distant shore. It was peaceful, comfortable, and full of grace. His funeral and interment will be next week.

For now, we get ready to go on.

 

 

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Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

 

women s white top and orange floral skirt
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

East. Sunrise. As part of my morning rituals, I thank it for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s at the top of the wheel of the year, signifying spring.

Which arrived, finally, this week. We had a beautiful Monday and Tuesday wasn’t bad. Yesterday and today have been cooler and rainy, but no complaints will be issued after this winter.

Winter is in the west position on the wheel. It is to be thanked as well for the times of rest and stillness. Growth can be forced, as with amaryllis bulbs, but going against nature’s rhythms and cycles has always felt wrong to me.

When the time to break through the ground or wiggle out of the cocoon comes, it comes at its own pace. The need for changes acts as the catalyst for the process just as the alchemy of sunlight and enzymes spur plants to break through the surface of the soil.

For humans, that might mean a change to one’s appearance. I had my hair cut last week. I just couldn’t do long hair anymore. It’s grown finer as I’ve aged and snarls no matter how much conditioner I use. Pulling it up and back made me look older. It’s in a just below chin length bob now with lots of layers to accommodate the natural curl. Even though there’s more silver and grey than brown showing now, I think I look younger, or at least feel that way. If I blow dry it and use a half-tube of product, I can look sleek and sophisticated. If I just scrunch in a dab of curl cream and let it air dry, it springs into its natural ringlets and waves. Hubby said I look like a mad scientist. I will take that as a compliment. Anyway, it’s lovely to run a brush through my hair and not feel like I’m picking apart a piece of felt when I reach the ends.

The other seedling coming to fruition involved buying a ten-pack of classes at a yoga studio in the town where we do our big shops. After a month of arguing with myself about it–ruminating about the 30+minute commute, distance, hassles with parking, weather issues–I just did it. Since the teacher I had studied with decided to move on to other things last year (and the fact that I was the only student showing up most of the time), I had fallen off the yoga wagon. I don’t have the discipline to keep going solo with the YouTube videos. Neither studio here in town is a good fit for me. When I remind myself that it’s an investment in myself, it goes a little easier. Plus I can see a couple of close friends for tea or lunch as a reward. I went to my first class this past Monday. The teacher greeted me warmly and went on to lead one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. I’ve made reservations for two more classes this coming week. I already feel more grounded, centered, and inspired than I have in quite a while.

We worked on tree pose during class. Tree involves balancing on one foot while placing the other foot on the ankle, calf, or thigh of the active leg. You may hold your hands in prayer position at heart level, or reach them towards the sky.

As I wobbled like a willow in the wind storm with my weight on the right foot and left foot on my ankle, I kept reaching for the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

You Know It’s Spring When…

person standing using red umbrella
Photo by Aline Nadai on Pexels.com We are in for storms

I’m going to whisper this: it looks as if winter’s finally let go of us. Don’t let winter hear you repeat this; it might get ideas about returning.

Yesterday some redwing blackbirds sang in the day as I took Oakley out for his first round of social networking. It was breezy, but not to the point where walking and standing were neat tricks. The mild air smelled fresh and slightly milky with notes of green. Beneath my feet, the tender soil yielded to each step, making a slight sucking noise as I pulled my feet from the mud.

Yes. Hello, spring and all the things that come with you: the mud, the bird songs, the unstable weather. Welcome.

We are under a tornado warning until 5PM Central today. It’s to be expected when the day’s high spikes near 60 only to be chased out by a cold front during the afternoon hours. Starting tomorrow daytime highs will be more in line with averages for mid-March. After a winter with a polar vortex, they will feel subtropical.

So far today, we’ve had three short rounds of rain followed by crystal blue skies. The southwest wind is howling away. A little while ago hail smashed against the windows. No damage, just noise.

Oakley has spent the last few hours either sitting next to me with his tush glued to my hip or taking refuge in his storm shelter between the arm chair and the love seat. The flying debris smacking into the house and other solid objects is a bit nerve wracking for both of us. I don’t blame him. A seat next to Mom soothes his anxiety.

We tried to walk at the big forest preserve this morning, but bailed. The thunder under a half-blue half-clouded-over sky was disconcerting enough, but throw a couple of bus loads of elementary school students in and you can kiss any semblance of peace goodbye. We missed our 30 minute goal by about five minutes, but the speed of return to the car likely compensated for it.

I made sure to charge my phone last night in case of power outages, both so I can contact the power company and communicate with the outside world. We’re prepared. We don’t really have much else to worry about as this system makes its way to its next destination. For that I am truly grateful.

 

Beltane Eve

 

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Finally, the weather picked a lane. The grass turned green; flowers unfurl their petals. This calls for a dance. 

In some quarters, Beltane, a/k/a May 1 or May Day, gets celebrated as the ancients intended it to be: a welcoming of warmer weather marked with bonfires, music, dancing, and, um, fertility rituals.

In others, it’s a rather watered down acknowledgement of the turning wheel of the year. May poles and teas abound in tamer circles.

Personally, I’ll land in the middle, dancing in the back yard with Oakley as we enjoy tea, cake, and biskies respectively. The soil is still a little cool, so I shall be twirling about in my boots.

Not for much longer, though. With a sigh of relief, I checked the weather. We have a potentially rough couple of days of storms looming ahead, but it’s just rain. This last weekend we had what was our last (please, Mystery) frost. I might have to wait a couple of days for things to dry out, but maybe I’ll be able to get the garden going this weekend.

Maybe.

I hope.

Carrying On…

 

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

I think it’s safe to break this out now.

Finally, winter released us from its cold bony-fingered grasp. If winter is going to be protracted, make it interesting. One of my college friends who teaches at our alma matter posted pictures of snow arranged by the wind into five foot high drifts. That’s interesting. Days hovering around 40 with wind and your choice of rain, sleet, or snow aren’t. That’s just common March weather staying long past its welcome.

But finally the weather patterns broke. The clouds parted. Out came the sun. And now there’s talk of 80 degree weather next week. Instant summer. Just add water.

With luck, it will just be rain. If the sky dumps anything else onto us, I will slide down an icy hill into a deep pool of self-pity and despair.

There’s always a sigh of relief when the first dandelions emerge, gracing the good brown earth with their greenness. Even though the weather wasn’t unusually challenging, I could have done without many of the events. Oakley’s eye problem. Hubby’s UTI. Hubby and I both slogging through our respective bouts of crud. His finally went back to hell or wherever it came from a couple of days ago.

Hubby whispered the magic words to the mower that brought it back to life, then cut the grass around the house this morning. We will be clearing last year’s debris and the remnants of a critter nest from the raised bed this weekend.

The earth has been reborn and life goes on….

 

 

 

When “My Turn” Isn’t a Good Thing

First, it was managing Oakley and his meds for his autoimmune problems. That took a chunk out of me. Right now, it looks as if he’ll officially be done in about two weeks. For that I am truly grateful.

Second, it was Hubby’s UTI. The one that drove him through the snow during the last bad storm to the nearest doc-in-the-box. That got to me on a couple of different levels: he was miserable to the point where it hurt me as well. I have had those, too, and know they are no fun. The other level was the reminder that we are not getting younger. He is some years older than me, and while in good health otherwise, still needs to be reminded to take basic self care  measures including  drinking enough water and taking supplements.

And then it was my turn (she says with sarcasm). Or turns. In the middle of the above, I had a flare-up of stress related IBS. That took time and white carbs to get under control. That end is fine now.

Problems on the other end started earlier this week. Monday was dry and windy, filled with the promise of spring and allergens taking flight. My nose started running uncontrollably. I wrote it off as allergies. Then Tuesday I woke up at 4 AM feeling as if my sinuses and skull were on fire.

I drank a lot of healing herb tea, used a sinus oil that my acupuncture dude had given me some years ago, and rested as much as I could. I can’t take OTC cold or allergy meds (except Claritin) because they render me stupid or wired. I grabbed naps, ate soup, and amped up the spice content of food with hot sauce and chili where I could. I slept decently last night. Still tired, but better.

On we go. This is not a space where I want to be stuck.  We drink our water, take our supplements, and go on with the day.

 

Singing to the Moon and Wind

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

Finally, March is here. If the old adage of “in like a lion and out like a lamb” has any truth to it, we’ll be in capris and shorts by the end of the month.

I just took Oakley out for a quick jaunt. The winds that tumble from the north carries the scent of green buds, damp earth, and grass with it. Oakley turned and faced into the wind, nose all a-quiver. Dogs have something like 44 million scent receptors as opposed to the paltry seven million that we humans have. If it was heady for me, it would be downright intoxicating for him.

In addition to the liminal winds, today also features a moon at her fullest. She’s hiding behind the clouds right now and on the other side of the world. At night when the sky is clear and dark and her polished face looks down on us, we sing to her.

To common ears, our music sounds as if a mildly insane woman and her dog howl loudly enough to wake neighbors and start their dogs and the resident coyote pack.

To the moon, our songs mean so much more.

We sing the primal songs of Oakley’s ancestors and contemporary cousins. The songs of reassurance, of community fill the air.

We sing the songs of the wise women, the craftswomen, and musicians who proceed me in my mother line. The playful, the joyful, the spontaneous  voices coming through me harmonize with his.

Wherever she is right now, the winds carried our songs to her, even though we sang beneath a daytime sky covered in thick grey clouds. We have sung in daylight before. We will again.

We have sung to her beneath star dappled velvet skies. On those nights I swear I have seen her look down at us and smile.

 

 

Recovery from The Great Iced Tea Disaster of 2016 and Other Notes For a Monday

I had to take my MacBook Pro to the shop last week to rectify a situation that I created last summer. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been exponentially worse than it was. Parts and labor came in at two-thirds less than the original quote.

Let’s rewind to last August. I had a big Mason jar of tea in the fridge, a reward for a hot walk with Oakley. I put it on a coaster on an end flap of a cover that I had draped over the sofa arm. When I sat down with my laptop on my lap, the flap moved, flipping the tea onto the computer. With a bloodcurdling shriek, I dried it off with a towel, then ran upstairs to get my hair dryer. I put the laptop back on the desk and positioned the dryer to focus a concentrated air stream onto the key board. Then I mopped up the sofa, the rug, and myself.

It would have worked, but in my distress, I neglected to check the temperature setting.  The up-down-left-right and shift keys had curled like bacon in a hot frying pan.

When the dry heaves stopped, I just left the laptop alone, choosing to let nature take its course. I used a lot of Rescue Remedy the rest of the morning.

Of course Hubby came in that afternoon. He’d had another round of disasters with repairs and renovations. I didn’t say anything, not wanting to listen to him hyperventilate about the incident (he takes care of most things technical) and because he was of good cheer. He crashed on the love seat, Oakley also crashed next to him. Did I want to disturb that? Hell, no. I poured a glass of rose, spiked it with Rescue Remedy, and told The Mystery to send more of the peace, please.

I needed to take it in. I just couldn’t. The combination of distance and parking (our nearest Mac store is in an otherwise lovely suburb that involves picking and dodging through traffic some 45 minutes east of here only to end up in the third circle of parking hell), embarrassment and self loathing (really, am I ever going to be grown up enough to use tools properly?), and terror of the repair bill played factors in the procrastination.

Fast forward to a little over a week ago. I’d been able to work around the melted keys, but the battery wasn’t charging, and the laptop shut itself down  when there was an interruption to the power supply.  Hubby, to his credit, didn’t judge. “Shit happens,” he said as he set up the appointment to drop it off for repairs.

It was just the battery, not the motherboard. The problem is that MacBook Pros have their batteries glued to the top panel (with the keyboard), so the whole top had to be replaced. Very well. See you in three to five days.

The call came. I had my laptop back, and all was again well with the world, or at least my little corner of it.

Next purchase will be a water bottle for making iced tea. One with a pull top or spout to mitigate the odds of future damage.

On we go into spring. The scent of new grass gently floats through the air. It’s good to hear the birds again.

I signed up for a yoga class. That starts tomorrow. Been ages since I took one. I don’t have the discipline to keep at it on my own.

So we begin again.

 

 

Life Does Not End after Ren Faire Season

OK, it might slow down, and the fumes from the turkey legs and memories of the performances might have to carry me for a while. I might end up going to the much smaller Faire at Stronghold the first weekend in October and will see if I can convince Hubby to go to the Janesville Renaissance Faire next spring.

Earlier this summer, I went on line and made notes in my calendar to remind me of upcoming events. In September, there’s a pow-wow near by and there’s a couple of spiritually oriented events that I’ve made tentative plans to attend; in October there’s the Stronghold Olde English Faire; but in November…oh, is there something to attend in November.

Finally, after many years of wishing and hoping, Garrison Keillor will be doing his one-man show at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora on November 13. This is only 20 minutes from my house. The tickets are on the way.

Most Saturdays and many Sundays, I’ve listened to “Prairie Home Companion” faithfully. Lake Wobegon has been and continues to be an oasis of calmness and decency in a world growing crazier by the day. I’m glad that it’s continuing. It will be different this fall, yes, but I will still have my two hour vacations and soundtrack for dinner prep on weekends.

It’s a little bittersweet to see Garrison. The whispered word is that it’s likely his last tour due to age related health concerns, but no matter. Finally I will get to see him in person.

Hubby and I were able to see a live streaming broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” some years ago at a local cinema. I know that this show will be just as good, even with the knowledge that this will likely be the last one. I’m just grateful that I’m able to attend.

I’m also grateful that I have a new perspective on Labor Day this year: it may be the end of the season at Bristol, but it’s the start of the countdown to see Garrison.

Cow

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Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Yesterday’s storm rode in on epic winds, the kind where a cow flying past the window might be a shock, but not a surprise. The snow fell horizontally the better part of the afternoon. While we didn’t get that much in terms of accumulation, the 25+mph velocity put us in near whiteout conditions.

Like heck I was going to drive in that. I kept Oakley home instead of taking him to daycare. We amused ourselves with social media, turkey treats in puzzles, and a couple of episodes of “The Tudors.”

It’s still extremely windy today. I don’t think we’ll see flying cows. The average Holstein such as the beauty in the above picture weighs in at just under 1300 pounds. It takes a lot for one to get airborne.

On a stroll, perhaps. One windy morning during the first late winter-early spring after our move from the suburbs to the soybean field, Hubby and I sat eating our bagels for breakfast. We heard moo-ing somewhere outside, but couldn’t tell where it came from because of the wind. Not anything out of the ordinary, really, with several neighbors keeping cows. Suddenly Orion sprang to his feet and went on point.

The pretty black and white cow sauntered through the back yard, looking around, her face knit into puzzlement.

“Mooo? MOOO?” she called, unsure of where she was. She kept walking through our field, then the neighbors’, heading northward towards one of the main roads.

Hubby and I both watched, teeth frozen midbite into our bagels. Orion held his point, but shook.

He knew what to do per his hunters’ training from his previous owner. Hubby and I had never run into information what to do in the event of a strolling bovine in the various magazines we’d read during planning and construction. My impulse was to use Orion’s tie out line as a leash and lead her home.

All 1300+/- pounds of her.

Maybe not. I grabbed the phone book and called the nearest dairy farmer and the county farm bureau and left messages asking if anyone had lost a cow and giving her last known location.

No one returned my calls. If I listened to my messages and someone sounding that crazed had left one, I doubt that I’d return it, either.

My hope is that she stayed safe after her queenly walkabout. Did she return to her milking station and report to the girls on the outside world? Did she run off with a handsome bull? Or keep running until–

We won’t think about that last possibility. I’ll just keep the image of her enjoying her freedom as she traversed the fields, air redolent with the scents of new green growth, heading towards her true north.