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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

The saddest noise, the sweetest noise,

The maddest noise that grows, –

The birds, they make it in the spring,

At night’s delicious close.

– Emily Dickinson

 

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Intermezzo

“Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. “
–  John Boswell

(Just a brief post to let you know I am still here, idling in this lingering season. I’ll post a proper post soon. Hope all of you are well.)

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Then . . .

. . . there were chunks of ice, falling en masse, individually, randomly, sporadically. The racket would stop; a calm, silent, pregnant pause that would last a few minutes or an hour, then a fresh volley of frozen winter “fruit”.  Born from an ice storm, the chunks of ice would frazzle the steadiest of nerves as they hit the roof of the house, the skylights, the pavement, the arbor and more.

With frost quakes and frozen cannonballs, we have been experiencing a rather raucous winter,

a winter with tree “fruit” sparkling amid uplifting sunrises and spectacular sunsets.

Snow can be peaceful, pristine and startlingly beautiful. It is a great equalizer; a coverlet, in equal measure on all that it touches, with indifference to income level or social status – at least at first snowfall, before the snowplows work time-and-half or double-time to clear the roads.

Ice, in all its glittering glory, is a lethal weapon when falling from above. It is challenging to walk upon. Its weight bears down on wires, creating outages which can become emergencies for medical needs, heating, communication. We have been fortunate. Our power has remained on, though our cable connections (which include landline, television, and internet) went out the other day. Thankfully, service resumed in a few hours. We really cannot complain.

We are coping, grateful for a warm house, food, cars that start and roads that plowed and are salted.

We have, however, entered into that 5th season –  pothole season. Rough winters and heavy vehicular traffic conspire to create amazing crevices – potholes –  in the pavement. This year, for some reason I have yet to discover, the potholes are harder to see. They are smaller, deeper, closer together and reveal themselves upon impact! I am wondering if the frost quakes have something to do with this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So it goes, here on the cutoff. Stews and soups, hot tea and books are good for the winter-weary soul (not that I need a reason). More often than not, I can be found near the front window, a blanket on my lap, tea on the table and a book in hand.

On a recent late afternoon, I pulled out an old friend, “An American Year; Country Life and Landscapes Through the Seasons” by Hal Borland. It is a journal of sorts, filled with Borland’s seasonal essays and accompanied by illustrations from a host of “Distinguished Contemporary Artists”.  These are Hal Borland’s words from February, page 179.

The temperature still falls and the wind still roars, but there is smugness here and comfort and companionship. The night draws us all closer together. Surely it was not by chance alone that hearth and heart came so near to being the same word.

 

 

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Sitting in my favorite overstuffed rocker, a cup of tea precariously positioned on a pile of decorative storage boxes at my side with a current “read” in hand, I was quite content in the stillness of the approaching end of day. I like this spot for reading, and other spots as well, but, truth-be-told, I can read a book just about anywhere.

How about you?

Do you have a favorite spot where you like to read? A chair, perhaps, or on the couch, in the cafeteria, or your car? Really, Don’t laugh. Natural light pouring in from the sun roof on brilliant day naturally illuminates the words on a page, especially for those of us who find the need for “cheaters”.  It  isn’t a very practical place for a long read, but works quite nicely when stopped by a freight train, but, I digress. Do you like to be wrapped in a blanket by the fireplace or propped on a beach towel at the pool? Do you need complete silence or mood music?

This is the first page in my Reading Women engagement calendar. The painting, by Adolphe Borie, brings to mind my Greek grandmother who read to me while I sat on her lap. She would turn the pages and tell the tales, even though the book was often upside down and without illustrations. Yia Yia could neither read nor write, but, she gave me a love of books sitting on her lap in much the same way as Borie’s painting.

As my mind was wandering with bookish thoughts as sipped a new tea, I realized that it has been awhile since I have shared some books that you might enjoy and asked what you might be reading. Here are few books that captured my interest over the past several months.

“Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: We are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.”  

from “Sourdough” by Robin Sloan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would also like to recommend this wonderful tea. It was a gift from a dear friend who knows how much I enjoy tea along with literature.

Literary Tea.

 

 

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Tom awoke even earlier than usual to shovel the drive and carve a path to my car before leaving for church to help with set up for Sunday service. I heard the door close and lingered a little longer under the warmth of the covers, then padded down the stairs where the kettle was filled and sitting atop the stove. A few tea bags and a cup and saucer were set out, as they are every morning, waiting for me. I forget to thank him, far too often, for his thoughtful gesture each morning – a gesture for which I am always grateful.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G. K. Chesterton

I took the long way home after church, as I often do. It gives me time to ponder and pray, to sing along to tunes with the volume at “rock the car” loud, or to simply hold close the gift of silence, solitude, and scenery. I drove through stately old neighborhoods with bumpy brick streets and wound through pleasant subdivisions and past neighborhood parks that brush the suburban landscape.

I had a William Kent Krueger audiobook playing in the car today. “Sulfur Springs”. Krueger’s mysteries hold my attention. I appreciate his writing, in part for his ability to create with words a vivid sense of place and in part for strong character development in his tense, tangled mysteries, which are usually set in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. In this latest book, I was taken along with Krueger’s main character, the protagonist of most of his mysteries, Cork O’Connor. A frantic call from Cork’s new wife’s son on July 4th thrusts the reader into the oppressive summer heat of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. This was, actually, a welcome change of scenery as the heater in my car was being fussy.

I headed toward the sloughs and preserves that I often visit. The Saganashkee Slough was frozen and still and reflected the mood of the frosty afternoon. I sat for a few moments then turned onto the route home.

A summer monsoon was drenching the Sonoran desert in Cork’s audio predicament while the temperature gauge in my car showed an outdoor temperature of 19 degrees (F). Homeward bound, I made a quick stop at Crawdad Slough, curious see if there were any ice skaters gliding across this pond. With nary a blade or a hockey stick in sight, I turned the car around and was greeted by this heavenly glow which arrived, as if on cue, to  guide me home.

 

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“Gratitude can transform common days into
thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change
ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

 William Arthur Ward

I rolled over, checked the clock, and wished for a few more moments of sleep and a dozen or so more degrees in temperature.  At an unseasonably cold 17 degrees (F), I was signed up for a guided walk with a friend that I had not seen in quite a while. A nature enthusiast and photographer extraordinaire, I didn’t want to let Peggy down – nor myself – so, a mantra of “up and at ’em”  pushed me forward and into the frigid early November morn. After a cup of tea, an English muffin and then a shower, I layered warm clothes on: a hooded fleece jacket, my blue winter coat, and a red shawl to brace myself against the wind, and headed out to the Mayslake Peabody Estate.

Peggy greeted me as I got out of my car and we headed in to the mansion where other attendees had gathered. We  met our docent, signed in and chatted while waiting for others to arrive before hearing an overview of our morning’s walk with a focus on gratitude.

I can not say enough good things about our docent. She was knowledgable about the mansion, the property, and the history of the area, while having a calming aura about her, encouraging us to observe what was around us while being mindful of the beauty and sense of place. At several locations, taking from the indigenous people who once lived here, we had moments of instruction and then moments quiet solitude.

As we were guided through the grounds, we were encouraged to feel the pull of the land we stood on and to feel the encouragement of those who may have helped us or lifted us up in our lives. While this wasn’t the intent of my participation, I none-the-less felt the overwhelming sadness of this past year as well as the abiding appreciation of those who helped in the caring of my sister, Dottie, as she entered into the final stages of her journey with pancreatic cancer. There were many who lifted us up and in so many ways eased the load of caring for someone at end-stage cancer. Unintentional in my choice to participate in this walk, I was quite mindful of a cathartic elements this walk afforded me.


We spent some time around the chapel, used by the monks who inhabited the estate after Mr. Peabody suddenly passed away and the property was sold to them. A few walkers remembered the youthful legends of Peabody’s Tomb and the monks who lived there; teenaged adventures of the fearless and those who dared to trespass on the property. We walked around, admiring the chapel and the site, some of us writing thoughts down, others taking photos, talking or just being present in the moment.

 

We walked the restored prairie amid native grasses and plants. My shawl helped keep me warm, however, I may never get all of the seeds I brushed against off of it. I wondered if the owl found me to be a foolish human!

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The oak savanna helped shelter us from the wind and the rustle of leaves was a soothing sound. Soon, we arrived at Mayslake, which is manmade. It glistened in the sunlight and sparkled in its iciness.

 

One of the many gifts of this walk was the flocks of Sandhill cranes that gathered overhead. They were close enough for us to watch as they swooped and floated and joined together for their long migration south. I felt such gratitude for this sighting. These cranes are most often heard but are only seen as specks high up in the sky. The photo (below) does not do the migration justice, I am sorry to say. If you zoom in, you might be able to see the groups circling as they join together. It was only when I downloaded my photos that I noticed the hawk landing on the top of the tree.

Our docent encouraged us to keep a gratitude journal of small things and large that we have to be grateful for. She suggested that just writing a few words down each day is all we need to get started to trigger our memories. There is an action between writing something down that helps the brain remember. Hmmm . . . maybe that is why when I write down a grocery list then forget to bring it with, I do remember most things on the list.

Peggy and I warmed up a bit in the mansion, thanked the docent and decided to grab something warm to drink and lunch – and talk some more.

On my way home, I stopped at a newly opened home furnishings store. As I walked in, this journal caught my eye. I bought it and keep it near my bedside table, where I endeavor to write down words or phrases; things I am grateful for, starting with my very first entry.

 

https://www.dupageforest.org/places-to-go/forest-preserves/mayslake

For an interesting article of the history of Peabody and the tomb, here is an interesting article: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-history-cop/2015/08/the-chicago-legend-of-peabody-s-tomb-and-the-masochistic-monks-turns-93-today/

 

 

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“Some single trees, wholly bright scarlet, seen against others of their kind still freshly green, or against evergreens, are more memorable than whole groves will be by-and-by. How beautiful, when a whole tree is like one great fruit full of ripe juices, every leaf from lowest limb to topmost spire, all aglow, especially if you look toward the sun! What more remarkable object can there be in the landscape? Visible for miles, too fair to be believed. If such a phenomenon occurred but once, it would be handed down by tradition to posterity, and get into the mythology at last.”

-From “Autumnal Tints” by Henry Thoreau; 1862

 

One of our most memorable moments was on a fine October day, ten or so years ago, at Walden Pond. You can read about it here. On that remarkable day, Tom and I walked and talked and didn’t talk, seeing the original site of Thoreau’s cabin and a reconstruction of it. The air was crisp and clear and the scenery mystical. The photo on top was taken on Walden Pond on that long ago day.

Across the pond, a singular tree accented the landscape and glowed like no other. When Thoreau’s quote popped up in my internet wandering, I immediately thought of the scarlet tree at Walden Pond.

Thoreau’s quote and our Walden Pond walk came to mind once more as Tom and I walked, much closer to home, at one of our favorite spots, Lake Katherine. It was the same sort of cool, crisp October day, with the sun shining, powder puff clouds sprinkled here and there, the soft crunch of fallen leaves at our feet  – and the brilliant mythology of Autumn before us.

Right red

 

Where do you go to find your own myths of nature?

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