It was a drizzly, misty morning and everything had been freshly cleansed by the soft rains. It felt soothing just to be out walking, taking in the atmosphere and literally taking the mist within. Something about such days makes me more aware of my body’s permeability — as if the water within my cells more readily merges with what we like to think of as the world beyond our selves. Maybe because the potency of the sensations overtakes my often restless mind, tunes it down a few notches.
Blossoms had already burst forth a few weeks ago but now the predominant tone was verdant—trees that were just budding with tips of green when I left town suddenly were abundant lush textures of fresh growth. The color of the river reflected this change, the canopy of the trees shifting its hues toward a more olive green with hints of golden ochre.
I appreciate folks making the most of their time, but have no desire to wear earbuds and press something into my mind while I am experiencing a walk. I savored the familiar music of birdsong, a raven’s deep Cronk!, and the river rippling softly over ancient rocks. I was almost alone on the greenway, but then, by typical serendipity, an old friend strolled toward me. Two days prior, her name had come up because a new friend (now living four hours away where I was working) had a brief stay in Roanoke a few years ago and the approaching friend had been her host. So it goes in my life, that threads of connection are always appearing and appreciated.
We had a meaningful chat, about challenges when family or personal health issues arise, and how COVID-19 had pushed some of us to face and reconsider the trade-offs of our sacred American individuality related to separateness and family and community and death. The issues are not new, but this year for me they feel more pronounced. Will the post-pandemic recalibrate our life-styles and values? Are the changes moving us toward a healthier future? Life is never static, much as we sometimes ache for the security of stability.
As I walked up the alley toward my inner city home, I came upon a pair of deer, who ceased their munching on tender greens and stared. I couldn’t help but consider they were in the yard of the former home of a couple of friends, since divorced and moved away. I learned the mother of one had passed away last week. Changes...Stability... For a moment the deer seemed uncertain whether to stay and engage with me or flee. They opted for the latter and we all continued on our chosen paths.
My backyard is overgrown a bit, and the overwintered kale had bolted, so I nipped the tops and clipped them into the compost pile, along with the pruned shoots off my dwarf pear. Especially when things in my life are shifting, a part of me craves such simple repetitive tasks. I spent ten minutes snipping the branches into small bits so they’ll more readily transform into rich soil to feed new life. As if on queue, I noticed another shoot of raspberry had popped up in the compost.
While peacefully mindful at my mindless task, my shoulder was sprinkled when I brushed against a Japanese maple on the side yard. It had nearly died a few years ago, but this moment was thriving. Bending below its lower limbs, I discovered a glorious array of colors—golden bronzes, scarlets, sprouting greens, maroon buds set against the misty gray morning sky. The fresh rains adding both a hazy softness and a clarity, the view epitomizing the richness, mystery and certainty of life’s progression.