My morning drive to work was filled with some of the most beautiful images I will see in all the year. The sky was filled with puffy, angry dark rain clouds, but they were very broken up and the sun shone brightly through them, illuminating all of the spring flowers. The light had such a tender, triumphant quality, truly appropriate for spring. It lit up the daffodils, magnolias, carpets of blue scilla and the bright yellow forsythia. And everywhere the green grass! I was lost in my head driving along and experiencing this. I have always felt that my prairie roots go down to the bottom of my soul with unbreakable bonds to this place. But recently I have been pondering about my future and northern Illinois.
I recently returned from a week long back country camping and hiking trip to Death Valley. I spent the week (not) sleeping, but laying uncomfortably on rocks with my tent whacking me in the head all night long from the very strong winds. I was caught high up in a canyon one day in a terrifying dust storm. I climbed narrow trails and hiked all day long, and I climbed four difficult rock climbs one day. I was very busy all day long from the time I got up until I went to bed, but nothing hurt on me all week, except for my blisters on the bottoms of my feet. I suffer from allergies, and maybe even asthma, but even in that impressive dust storm I did not cough one time. But since I have returned, I have been coughing non-stop, and all of my troublesome arthritis pains have returned in full force.
As I said, I dearly love this place, and never have been able to imagine any place else as home to me. My family all moved out to southern California and they love it, but I never wanted to live there. It wasn’t my beloved midwest home with my spring and fall warblers passing through the pine trees outside my bedroom windows, and the lush green summers. However, since my return I am beginning to wonder about quality of life. I have not felt good since my return, and for the first time I am beginning to understand the pull of the warm, dry climates. I am beginning to be able to imagine moving away from here if it meant being free from the suffering of coughing continuously all night long, and all of the aches and pains stabbing me. I have no idea where I would go and how it would become home to me. It has always fascinated me to drive through different regions and to think of all the people who live there and call that place home. I have always wondered how anyone arbitrarily picks a place to move to and decides that they will now call that place home. Yes, I love it here, but this place is trying to kill me!
and then a bird announces
his dis-silence, throwing out
his request into the waiting woods,
but sill there’s stillness devouring
his words because no bird answers him.
The silence that presses in and
seamlessly fills every space
is an illusion-
we don’t have ears in tune enough
to hear the music in the sunlight
falling on the leaf.
One degree of resistance less, and
the fires of friction begin.
The sky is blue above the clouds
to where the blueness touches empty
beyond our fires of friction, and
with the distance become the only true silence-
no voice to answer in return.
Snow, of course.
Starlight, moonlight, lightening.
Frost flowers unexpected
Sleep with empty dreams.
The empty space that outlines
dress the bare bones
with your insinuation of green.
mud thrones coolly await
your new queens.
blush green the branches,
whisper promises of fruition.
Frogs and I
only witness, only sing
in spring falling
in spring and under
spring, thawing slowly.
deliver your promise of fecundity.
Don’t leave the frogs and I
I’m an hourglass with the sand
suffocating in the clarity of the vision remaining.
The sand departing leaves more light
illuminating more and more brightly
supernovas of loss and life lived
and life left flowing quickly away.
I always knew-
but never balanced on these shifting sands
Strange sandmonaut carried inexorably
away from youth and possibility and hope,
and crucified in piety which is the domain
of the elders illuminated from within
and from without
by the stronger light;
the charity for others when
love for self has escaped
backward to youth.
Fearful flyers represent! Today is the day! I head to the airport at an ungodly early morning hour to fly out to Las Vegas. I will spend my night there in a hotel that is off the strip, and the only hotel in Las Vegas with no gambling. That’s OK with me because I don’t care about gambling. It is the hotel where I will meet my group that I will be spending the next week with in Death Valley. Yesterday I opened my final bulletin from the travel group and saw that they had included the names of the guide and the fellow travelers. There will be one female and one male guide, which is nice, and there actually are eight woman in the group, and only two men. I felt very encouraged by this as I was worried that I could be the only woman, and the one always sheepishly asking them to please stop for a moment while I relieved myself at the trails edge (keep hydrated!)
I have lists upon lists and I need to feel all ready to feel in control. I don’t know why I have never liked to fly. I have noticed that it gets easier for me to do when I have had periods in my life when I was flying frequently. I think it just seems so impossible for something so big to get off the ground, and stay up there. One time when I was leaving and on the runway we headed back in due to a problem. Great. I consoled myself thinking that at least they had found it before we got off the ground. I had a seat over the wing, and I watched them fooling around with the wing for an hour. When it was time to go I told myself that the guy who had to sign off on the repair would not sign anything that would send a plane full of people to their deaths. But it’s always tranquilizer and white knuckle time for me every time we hit that dreaded turbulence.
I did have one memorable flight. I was flying to Austin, Texas to visit my son. I turned out to be seated next to a Texan. The conversation surprised me because usually people keep to themselves. We talked about everything, with him giving me suggestions on what to see there. The talk turned to music and he pulled out his IPod, giving me one of his earbuds to listen to songs. Then he consulted another big guy across the aisle and up one seat about places to go and things to se. This lively conversation turned to music too, and I was amazed when the two of them began singing! That was one flight that I never wanted to end! I left the plane with a very warm place in my heart for the people of the Lone Star state. They are bigger than life.
So flying can actually be kind of fun, I tell myself as I await. Flying nerves get all mixed up with the excitement of embarking into the unknown.
After yesterday’s post about my daughter, I thought I would like to write a few things about my son.
He was determined from his very beginning, showing up in my life at a time when I would have thought it was not possible: I moved that month, had a terrible bronchitis, had two teeth pulled for orthodontia and had my out of state dad coming to stay with us just a week after moving into our new home. But he was meant to be. And just as I had felt ambivalent about my daughter when I was pregnant with her, so did I feel that way with him, but for a completely different reason. She was my child and I could not imagine having another one to share my love with. It seemed that anyone else would take away from what I wanted to be able to give to her.
The time for his birth came, and again, it was to be a Lamaze experience. But what a different one from my daughter. The contractions would start and I would dutifully start breathing only to stop midway through. “Breathe!” my husband would say. “Why are you stopping?”
“It doesn’t hurt! ” I responded. I only had one pain where I tried to rip apart the bedsheets. One pain and there he was! This was a much more promising start to our relationship than the exhaustion I had with my daughter. He was so different from her. Instead of curling up in a ball on my chest and sleeping as she had, he raised his head to look around. He was so strong! He looked like a boy with his square hands, and his shoulders that were shaped differently than hers.
And that day I learned that there was more than enough love to go around. My love for him was shared and reflected by the love his big sister had for him. Many times I would have to say “Not so tight! Not so tight!” as she determinedly squeezed him.
And did he grow up to be as wonderful as his sister? Yes he did! It has been harder to keep close to him as he joined the Marines after high school, then moved to Texas where he went to college. He is still there, studying in medical school. I experienced the empty nest syndrome severely when he left after high school. My consolation is that he is a wonderful human being. This summer he is going with a group of students from his school to assist in a medical program for the poor in Nicaragua. He will only have 6 days of summer vacation. I hope to fit in a visit to him. I am so blessed with my children and the love and life we have so far shared together.