Archives for category: Oregon Trails

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. πŸ™‚

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. πŸ™‚

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. πŸ™‚

It’s a lovely drizzly Saturday in the Pacific Northwest. I ventured out for a walk along the bank of the Columbia, this morning. Lovely. First decently long walk at 57 years of age.

I’ve walked this path before, but may never walk it again. Somehow that makes the journey feel significant. πŸ™‚

My birthday was yesterday. 57. Not a “fancy” sort of birthday, and it didn’t need to be at all. It was quite special without a lot of frills or elaborate plans. It was warm and intimate and joyful. I hung out at home with my Traveling Partner, who made his schedule work out specifically to be home with me to share the day. We talked about the upcoming move… Different community. Different views from new windows. Different view from a different deck. Different walks to be taken, down unexplored paths and unfamiliar streets. In 14 days we get the keys to a different house, we move to a different address. πŸ™‚ I’m more excited than anxious, more eager than fretful. This is a change I’m delighted to embrace. A new home. Our home. At long last, a place that is truly ours (mortgage and all). It’s very exciting, and very busy. πŸ™‚

…So much paperwork…

I look over my “to do list” for the weekend. I’ve committed to packing up the studio this weekend, and preparing the container garden on the deck for one more move. I’ve moved, now, 3 times in 5 years. 5 times in 9 years. Too much moving. lol. This move, coming up, though, amounts to “a promise kept” – to myself. I won’t need to move again for a long while, maybe not ever (although, change is, and one never knows where life’s path may lead). I hear my Traveling Partner’s voice in the other room, playing a video game online with his son. I smile. I enjoy the sound of his voice. I feel wrapped in love, and the promise of a shared future, together, feels safe and warm and full of fond conversation, affectionate teasing, and shared moments.

I think of the cynical 14-year-old young woman I once was and shake my head with a sad, tender, forgiving smile; she knew nothing of love, and could not have fathomed this feeling – or this moment. Her life was mostly about pain, and survival, and her bitter resentment was only exceeded by her impotent rage. There was little room for love to find a foothold in her wounded heart. I find myself wishing I could have “been there for her” then, as the woman I have become, now… She could have used some compassion, and empathy, some real concern, some reliable emotional support… from the woman staring back at her from her mirror. I’m still smiling; we enjoy this moment together. I’ve come a long fucking way from 14…

…57 feels very different indeed.

The shoreline has been lost to recent rains. Change is.

I walked along what was left of the riverbank. Most of the soft sandy beaches are lost to high water, after weeks of rain. I’m okay with that. Water levels rise and fall. Seasons change. Flowers bloom, then fade away. I walk, with my camera and my thoughts, enjoying a view I may never see quite this way again. I ponder how often that’s true, and I think about change.

I see blackberries blooming and think about the summer fruit that will result.

I smell the wild roses blooming on the bank, and wonder for a moment specifically which species they are, and whether they are native flora, or later arrivals, brought by travelers.

I sit for a few minutes on a damp log at the top of the bank, watching a passing barge.

I took time for me, to breathe, to reflect, to consider changes to come, and the relative value of preparedness (in moving, and in life). Nothing complicated, although there were verbs involved (and choices). Safely home once more, showered, and dressed in soft comfy clothes, I sit smiling with my thoughts and pictures. It’s enough. πŸ™‚

 

This too shall pass. I sip my coffee and sigh, this morning. I’m groggy. I could go back to sleep, so easily. It’s a work day, though, and I will log on to my work laptop in a few minutes, and get started. The work day felt pretty short, yesterday (it wasn’t). Will today?

Yesterday’s moment of tension, between my Traveling Partner and I, is still on my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and it wasn’t about him, or us. I had a moment of feeling “overwhelmed”…by circumstances, by demands on my time, by lack of cognitive bandwidth, by a sense that I somehow wasn’t doing enough to actually take care of myself, and I started weeping over the need to do one more thing in what had already felt like a very busy day. It didn’t last long, and once the moment passed I was more easily able to reflect on it (and take time to meditate, properly, for a few minutes). What was up with all that? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters. If I were a younger woman, I likely would have called it “hormones”, just based on the way it swept in and swamped me, and then simply dissipated. I have a sip of coffee, and let it go. That moment has passed.

This coffee is good. My shoulders ache, an extension of the pain in my neck, and back. I breathe, exhale, relax… I go through all the physical therapy stuff, looking for relief. I go through my history, on YouTube, and remove all the COVID-19 stuff, all the Democratic campaign stuff, all the stuff clicked on absent-mindedly that I don’t need clogging my feed… maybe the content will improve? Small steps to improve the quality of my experience, generally. I glance at the time, reluctant to yield my consciousness or my soul to the work world, again, so soon. There is more to do, and to enjoy, with life’s precious few mortal years, and this morning I find myself more than usually resentful of having to maintain “gainful employment”. I’m yearning for “a proper rest”…

…Then it hits me; once source of background stress is simply the right-now reality of having to let, now, two little vacations go, over COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings, closures of state parks, closures of many retailers not determined to be “essential”… I was really looking forward to a spring camping outing (and entire week out in the trees), but the reservation has already been canceled by the state park system, as a recent measure to limit the spread of the pandemic. I am “dealing with” the prolonged stay-at-home social distancing mandate pretty well, generally, but this morning? I also find myself seriously peeved about a vacation planned for May becoming… not a thing, after all. I could certainly still take the time off… but… how will it be any different than any day at home, right now? I sigh, and stare moodily into my now-cold coffee.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and let all that go (again). Another breath, another opportunity to let it go. Again.

And another breath. Another opportunity to let go. I make the effort to feel it effortlessly.

And another breath. Another letting go. Another effort. It amounts to practice.

We become what we practice; so I practice calm, and contentment. I practice non-attachment. I practice breathing. I practice letting go.

…I practice beginning again. πŸ™‚

I am drinking my coffee this morning with that certain feeling of satisfaction and relief that comes from completing a task I wasn’t looking forward to, or may even feel a deeply anchored reluctance towards taking on the task at all. There are quite a few things that fit this category, some pretty ordinary things: vacuuming, filing my taxes, tackling a sink full of dirty dishes, raking or sweeping leaves, weeding the garden… sometimes it’s just pure resistance to the discomforts of manual labor, sometimes it is some sort of strange mental “block” that holds me back. So human. Tasks toward which I feel anyΒ  sort of resistance or reluctance can prevent me taking on the rest of a to-do list of needful things; hard to get past that one thing I just don’t “feel like” doing. Very human, indeed.

This morning, I’m smiling because I’ve finished off one such task, and entirely overlooked even feeling the weight of any reluctance, at all, during that process. Almost… pleasant. Definitely emotionally neutral, if nothing else. No baggage. I grin to myself, and have another swallow of almost-cold coffee, and considering planning a spring camping trip for myself. I wonder, contentedly, if my Traveling Partner will want to go? I keep my planning sufficiently open to permit it, without any concern or sorrow that he likely won’t go; our outdoor preferences are enough different that we truly don’t enjoy all the same things, done the same way. That doesn’t bother me at all. We need some time apart every bit as much as we enjoy (and need) time together. πŸ™‚ The bigger question is actually… April… or May? LOL

I let my mind wander to my walk, yesterday, instead of indulging my desire to plan an outing…

It was a lovely morning to walk along the riverbank.

Camping, hiking, walking… it’s about that moment of solitude and contentment, a moment of stillness, in the trees, on the seashore, along the riverbank… time spent walking, breathing, and contemplating. Time spent awake, aware, and present in the moment. It is about sufficiency, and perspective.

I woke to rain, today, and I am feeling restless, and eager to put a few more miles on my boots before the weekend ends. I had planned to work in the garden, but it was too early for it when I woke, and too rainy. Later, maybe. The rain dampens my plan to walk along the riverbank, again, too. I’ll still get a walk in… but when? Where?

I think about distant mountains, and waves lapping the shore. I think about Spring approaching.

I think over my short list of things I committed to doing this weekend and take a few minutes to sort it out in my head. It’s not that much to do, really, and mostly very routine sorts of things setting up the new work week that begins tomorrow, plus a creative task that gives me a measure of real joy, and a task I’d like to get done to make the house more comfortable. Putting my walking near the top of my list this morning makes sense; my Traveling Partner is still sleeping, and noisy housekeeping would be unkind.

I smile contentedly. I’ve got a good plan for a pleasant day, and it’s enough. It’s time to finish this coffee and begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke before dawn. As daylight began to shift the darkness to light, a foggy damp morning begins to reveal itself. Colder than yesterday, but not icy, probably a good one for an early walk, I think to myself, rather unenthusiastically, as it happens.

I consider the morning, and the moment.

I sip my coffee, dressed for walking. Yesterday it took a peculiarly long time to “talk myself into it”, and strangely, I was still halfheartedly trying to excuse myself from not going for a walk, although I feel better, and enjoy my day more, when I hit the trail for a couple of miles. That time alone with my thoughts, free of media inputs and other consciousnesses, is more than valued; it is part of what keeps me mentally and emotionally well. Dodging the effort is not a helpful thing. So, out I went. I returned home feeling sated, refreshed, and accomplished; 3 miles felt comfortable. The hill is no longer daunting, it’s just a hill.

This morning, I know I’ll go. Soon. I’ll finish this coffee, and lace up my boots, grab my cane, and go. I may drive up to the path along the Columbia river, this morning. Seems a lovely morning for it.

The morning continues to lighten, as the day develops, quietly.

There is so much disappointing chaos, corruption, and madness, in the world right now. I sometimes find it terrifying. I nearly always find it disheartening. I walk in the mornings, listening to bird song and breezes, and the sound of my footsteps, and let all of that go for at least a couple miles, and a handful of pleasant moments. The weekends feel shorter without the walks. Funny how this time spent with – and for – myself can seem to “stretch time”. I breath, exhale, and relax. I feel the hint of a smile on my face.

…Nice morning for walking…

My mind wanders pleasantly to the Spring ahead. Is it too soon to plan that first camping trip? Where would I go? The coast? The forest? Will the end of March (specifically, the Vernal Equinox) be too soon? (I don’t much like camping if the evenings/nights are cold; it makes my bones ache.) The winter has been strangely mild, perhaps the Spring will be unusually warm? (It may be unusually cold…) I smile at my own eagerness, sipping my coffee and delaying the start of my walk, to consider walking elsewhere, weeks from now. I am amused, without irritation, at the implied internal conflict. This morning, I am gentle with myself, uncritical, and unhurried. There is time for meditation. Time for coffee. Time for the outside temperature to warm up another degree or two. There is even time to recharge my wearable device, so handy for tracking my mileage.

I contentedly dilly-dally over my morning coffee, savoring the morning quiet. I appreciate it, and it is enough.

Mindfulness, perspective, & sufficiency: ingredients for a lovely morning.

I finish my coffee and lace my boots. It’s time to begin again.