Monday, February 20, 2012

February Daffodils

February……in Louisiana, it is not quite Spring…..but the daffodils are blooming, providing a bright splash of color in the landscape. My mind drifts in and out of my usual February funk……


Daffodils – always a symbol, for me, of the cycles of life…….of dying and rebirth…..and of mood……of dormancy and creativity……of heaviness and lightness……of color in contrast to winter starkness……


February -  a time of transition…..when the wet, rainy cold (or at least uncomfortably cool) gives way to the warmer promise of Spring……but it is elusive, transient and always shifting. February, for me, is about living in the the ‘not quite’…….

And those February birthdays……a celebration of life…..but a clear reminder of time passing…..another year come and gone……

And death…the February anniversaries of deaths and the birthdays of loved ones who have died…..

All of these thoughts, mix in my mind……mood as changeable as the weather……

This February, we are living the ‘not quite’ – as it is ‘not quite’ time to head off on our next trip….not quite time, even to get packed up. Not quite time to say goodbye……And I find myself, as in each year at this time, trying to make peace with the February blues.

I picked up a book that I had read several times before, “No More Words” by Reeve Lindbergh…..a journal of  her caretaking of her mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (wife of Charles Lindbergh) in the last years of Anne’s life. It is a book that speaks to transitions with warmth and humor and insight. And I am reminded, in this book, of the importance of the “Right here, Right now” ….a Buddhist meditative practice….of breathing in and breathing out…right here…..right now……and trying to stay focused on being fully present in the moment. Never as easy as it sounds……

And, while sorting through my books, I came upon a card that I had been using as a bookmark that has a quote which strikes me…….”Life is not a problem to be solved, but reality to be experienced”  - Kierkegaard.     I can’t get this out of my head….I stick the card on the ‘fridge, sure that it holds some clue to this February mood; and in it I find a measure of absolution.

This week, Fred and I chose to step off the treadmill of life, (literally, as we blew off our gym routine) in favor of more leisurely, conscious time spent enjoying the here and now.  We slept in, ate good breakfasts, instead of the usual cereal….in fact, made a point of enjoying tasty food for each meal…..and decided to consciously savor life.  We embraced our life at the cabin, setting aside the usual routines; letting each experience be fully felt and cherished. On pretty days, we worked outside, and on rainy days, we cuddled on the sofa, warm and dry, and counted our blessings. On one day, we drove up to El Dorado, Arkansas to visit the cemetery where Fred’s parents and grandparents are buried, then ate at a favorite sandwich shop downtown and talked about all the times Fred had visited El Dorado as a boy.  We spent the week together and talked of life and death, of time and transitions, of love and family and the ‘leave-takings’ of our life. We spent time visiting with family and celebrating.

Another quote….this one from Anne Morrow Lindbergh….”To leave, is to die a little”…… And I know that I am thinking about our up-coming trip and how difficult it is to say goodbye……to our family here….to our beloved cabin……to our church group and friends…..and then to our kids, as we will see them for all to briefly a time, then have to say goodbye again.

I think that it is our human tendency to protect ourselves from the sadness of ‘goodbye’ by getting busy with the everyday things that occupy us. We put up walls and keep a distance……yet, this week, as we immersed ourselves in the fullness of our life, I felt that it was easier, somehow to let go……that the experiences felt more ‘whole’….more complete…..and I felt more at peace. Being fully present made the upcoming ‘goodbye’ seem a bit easier. Perhaps this is what was missing with those relationships which I grieve in February….a sense of completeness…. a feeling that the relationship had not been fully lived and appreciated.

My thoughts come back to the daffodils, and the recurring cycles of life…….

Our relationship with a person does not end with their death, nor is it unchanging. These relationships might lie dormant in our thought and feelings, then spring forth, anew, in their season….sometimes with a familiar regularity (as February is for me)….other times, at random…. We are able to experience these relationships from a new perspective…. in a way, re-experiencing the person with the present-ness and focus of the ‘right here, right now’ …..and, in doing so, we create a new reality…..a greater sense of completeness.

For my part, I am going to try to remember to live more ‘intentionally’,  to spend more of my time fully feeling and cherishing my life …. good and bad, happy and sad, with all of the comings and goings. And I will pick a bouquet of flowers and bring them inside to cherish, however briefly, without thought of their dying……and I will be brave enough to be open to life……to feel…..right here…..right now…….


Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Hawk

The other morning, as we were just getting back from the gym, we spotted this Red-Shouldered Hawk perched on our garden fence post. He had just swooped down in the garden, and had snatched up a bit of breakfast (a frog, I think). I scooted into the cabin to get my camera, and quietly stepped out on the porch to take some pictures. The hawk seemed unconcerned, as he continued with his meal (OK, I know it’s a bit gruesome, but fascinating to watch wild creatures).

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We watched until our hawk had finished, and then he flew back into the woods. We often see the hawks flying overhead, or perching high in a tree, or zipping into the woods around our cabin, but this is the first time that we were witness to the hunting/feeding behavior….and a bonus to be able to get pictures!