Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ushering in the Storm

After tuning in to early morning scenes of Winter Storm Justin making it's way up the east coast, and after helping Kerri decide to cancel the winter women's retreat day we had planned, I bundle up and head out for a walk before snow overspreads the land!

Outside the air is still but for a flock of ravens making a ruckus in the treetops.  Not one snowflake, for all the fuss.  When I was a kid in upstate NY, three to six inches of snow fell without comment.

It is remarkable that it's the 23rd of January and we have yet to accumulate any snow. I'm wearing long johns under my sweats, ski socks with toe warmers, sweatshirt, jacket, headband, gloves and a scarf wound up to my chin.

Quiet Saturday morning.  Paul went for coffee and then off to a budget workshop with the rest of the council and the board of ed.  Oh, how I do not miss those days.

The muted colors of winter seem more precious with the knowing they'll soon be under cover of snow. Gnarled bark, laced with silvery lichen; tarnished coppery leaves littering the ground around the massive oaks.  The trees themselves, with their arms outstretched, awaiting the snowfall. Do they know, like the ravens, that snow is coming?  Can they tell from the pallor of the sky?

The evergreens are fatigue-green; some have a blue cast.  The grass is a rolling collage of faded green, earthy brown, and pale yellow.  The only shot of color is a lone basketball left out on the soccer field; it looks like a leftover pumpkin the distance.  And here's someone's (loud) bright red snow-blower, warming up for later use.

I feel the tiny flakes on my cheeks before I can see them.   I have to look very carefully -- they're scarce, random.  Materializing before my eyes and disappearing in an instant like micro shooting stars.

When I arrive at the pond there's no speculating about ice -- it's frozen solid.  A pearl gray sheet from shore to shore.  A wind-swept dusting of snow looks like a sheer curtain being pulled ashore by some playful winter sprite.

I stay for awhile on the dock, grateful to be outside in January in sneakers.  I breathe in the cold fresh air and let it work it's head-clearing magic.  I let the hush settle around and within me.  I wonder about the turtles, swans, and geese -- all the waterfowl that live here -- and imagine them burrowed in somewhere as I'll soon be, sipping tea in my long johns, typing the sentences that  are composing themselves in my head.  A whole day unexpectedly open.  Life is good.

Back on the street there's a tableau of evergreens that bring the finely blowing snow into focus.  It seems the storm is arriving on schedule.  I'm blessed to usher it in.

Stay warm and safe!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Flying in the Dark

It's January 10th in Connecticut, a Sunday afternoon, and so mild I decide to take a walk, despite the gloom.  I consult my weather app to check sunset  (4:39) even though there's been no sign of sun all day.  It's now 4:26.  I decide to do my neighborhood loop and end at the pond, per usual, even though it will be dark by then.  The dock faces northwest so at least that part of the sky won't be completely drained of light by the time I get there.

I've got my umbrella looped around my wrist and only a cotton t-shirt under my oversize sweatshirt. The treetops scrape the damp sky with their bony fingers, swaying back and forth.  It's strangely warm and good to be outside on a January evening.

I've taken up yoga.  I've discovered the joy of easing tension away under the guidance of my teachers. Eagle arms, circle of joy -- these  asanas let it all go.

I love the yoga but my walks give me fresh air, and today -- in January! -- it's warm and windy. Perfect for a thorough aura cleanse. I imagine the gusty breezes getting into every nook and cranny of my energy field -- the unseen cocoon that surrounds and interpenetrates our bodies -- metabolizing all our stuff (and I don't mean food here).  Like a stiff breeze through gauzy curtains, shaking loose the dust and cobwebs.

Rounding the corner onto Highland, I open my umbrella because now it's drizzling.  I hold it at an angle so I can still see the sky and the occasional jogger coming my way.  It gets caught in the wind, so I hold it steady as it pulls me this way and that.

On the dock is John, the owner of the property, who graciously lets me sit and gaze out over the reservoir whenever I want.  Tonight he's smoking a sweet smelling cigar, like sage, smudge.

Hey John.

Hey Julie, I had to step out and get some air.  I've been in the car all day.  We chat.

Do we have ice?  Out on the pond the geese are standing on the surface of the pond, and since they're not Jesus, John jokes, we have ice.  Here in the inlet, there's a thin glaze.  Further out, ghostly fog floats.

Unseasonable.  Warm like Spring, but the last few days have been cold enough to create ice.  Down the way, the waterfall is swollen and rushing from overnight rains.  Although the solstice is weeks behind us, it still doesn't feel like winter. The grass is green, unmarred by snow.  Christmas lights strung on bushes and around front doors await a return to normalcy.

John and I are saying good night when we hear the croak of the heron. I've never seen one in the dark, but there he is, flying low overhead, tracing the shore of our little inlet but not venturing over land. John says it's because we're here, that he does cross through the back yards if no one's outside.

The voice of great blue heron calling out in the fallen darkness reaches into my soul.  He doesn't have to say anything; we might not have noticed him had his flight remained silent.  Yet he cries out in his distinctive voice, his neck stretched outward, wings beating like laundry snapping on the line, his long beak pointing the way.

Like this bird, I, too, am flying in the dark in this new year.  Trying to get a feel for a direction of my own. The new year always feels full of possibility and potential, but where to focus?  Where to expand? What to let go of?  Like the fog hovering over thin ice, the future feels etherial, difficult to peer into, and ultimately -- unknown.

Yet we meet it like the heron.  Hanging out in the border-lands between earth, water and sky -- the realms of the material, the emotional, the spiritual. The dimensions of stable ground, movement -- flowing or frozen, and the mental realm of air.  The only element missing is fire -- not even one streak of light across the western horizon to light the way for us.

In this way, my pond retreat is like the aura I was consciously cleansing earlier.  In the human energy field, all these elements converge -- earth (body), air (mind and spirit), water (emotions) and fire (passion and creativity).  Our beliefs run along invisible threads of light, colliding with our feelings, spinning and wheeling like the very wind.  Spirit opens its wings to fly. Our inner fire ignites our creative self-expression.

Nightfall is complete.  I make my way home without stars or slim moon, only clouds scudding across dark skies, grateful for my feathered totem -- flying with confidence into the mists, calling out for us follow.

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