When I neglect the solitary pleasures of my soul, Forget that there are myriad Waldens, cloned Thoreaux, I lessen what I have to spend, to share, Ignoring random treasures buried there, And find my self undug and drowning old, A story dreamed, but never to be told.
But if my face should turn towards silent suns, Lessening winds that storm and whip and churn, Perhaps a tale will speak from ashes left To smolder slowly, finally, to burn.
In brightness glowing with a roseate hue, A saga shared with stones and living few, The blooming blaze of me will well retell The story still unknown, but known too well, of love and life, of death, of heaven, hell, Of ages sages laughed and lied for, Eons soldiers killed and died for.
Daily gratitudes: Nerve Lists A beautiful thank you card Friday Finishing a journa
Quote of the Day: “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” — Henry David Thoreau
When I was little, I worried a lot. About things that had a .000001% chance of ever happening where we lived, like tornadoes or earthquakes. Things my Father called non-questions. He shut me down with that statement whenever I’d finally driven him to the point of exasperation, though he was still kind about it. But there was one fear that neither parent could ever quell.
For my first 14 years, we only took driving vacations, and only within North Carolina or to West Virginia to see my grandmother. (Except for a few train trips down to Florida to see my other grandparents when I was very small.) As my Father worked at the University, we took Spring Break when school took Spring Break, which was usually in March. My parents would load up the car and drive to the Outer Banks, staying in Buxton where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse sat on the point, shining its beacon as a warning to ships far out in the treacherous seas off the easternmost point in the state.
It was a drive that felt like forever. We didn’t have a big four-lane highways back then. We took two-lane state highways, passing through rural farmland. I remember seeing so many old white abandoned houses that I wanted to grow up to rescue. We would stop in Willamston and have lunch at the Shamrock (it’s still there), and I always had stuffed flounder (it’s no longer on the menu), which was one of my “special occasion” meals growing up. I can still recall the wood of the captain’s chairs at our four-top, and the art on the paneled walls after all this time. After lunch, the drive turned from farmland to swampland, trees deep dripping with moss in uninterrupted mystery. What we were skirting is now the Palmetto-Peartree Preserve and the Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve, but back then, to a child, it was just the creepy swampland. Then suddenly, the swamp ended and we were heading over the bridge, through Manteo, across another bridge, and onto Whalebone Junction, where we turned right on Highway 12, which runs the length of the upper Outer Banks.
And that’s where the trouble started. Or more accurately, where I started being a particular pain in the ass.
By now, it was usually dusk. Not only was it a long drive from Durham, when you added trying to pack the car and two kids, stopping for lunch, and keeping to the speed limit, which my Mother did, the day was well faded by this time. Car headlights approached us as we traveled the 60 mile stretch of oceanfront road that was frequently washed out by Nor’easters or hurricanes. And therein lay the cause of my fears. Always, all the cars — all of them — were coming towards us. And we were the only car heading in our direction.
I was frequently near hysterical about this, absolutely convinced that something disastrous had happened at our destination, and that’s why everyone was coming towards us. They were all sensibly running away from the tragedy/monster/peril. But we were going towards it. Here we were, an innocent family, blithely travelling straight to our doom. Driving unknowingly right into the greedy, vicious maw of the beast. From my shotgun position, I kept swiveling around to see if there was anyone behind us, but no, there wasn’t. Just a long string of refugees from the terror ahead, passing by us, unable to gesture or indicate what was out there. My parents had enough of my nonsense after about 20 miles, so I would shut up and sit silently, staring into the darkness and girding my loins for our fate. As I recall, my brother, E-bro, was singularly unhelpful in this situation, but that’s what older brothers are for.
Of course, we would always live to tell the tale, reaching our haven of the Tower Circle Motel without being devoured or destroyed. Mr. Jack Grey would have left the light on for us and the door to our unit unlocked. There were no monsters or secret storms, just the sound of the crashing waves and the reassuring beam of the lighthouse flashing in its silent, trusted rhythm. We went on to spend a week with books and games and music and walks on the cold beach, times that I treasure. But every year, I went through this anxiety, without fail, until I grew out of it. I can’t remember how old I was when that happened. Curiously, my nephew had the same fear when he was small. That takes my mystical mind a-roaming to things like soul families and past lives. Did my nephew and I share a life long ago where we had a legitimate fear of something that destroyed us? Sounds a bit far-fetched, but one can’t be sure. I’m just glad that fear is a memory and that I’ve done a complete 180, going anywhere fearlessly and perhaps too often disregarding what might lie ahead. Roads, day or night, are made for adventure.
Daily gratitudes: Plans No change fees on plane tickets Nearing vaccine eligibility My baked salmon Getting called for Jury Duty!
Quote of the day: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” — William Shakespeare
Slivers of sun peek through sodden skies As the tender tendrils of spring Tremble in the breeze. deceptive wind deceptive warmth teasing clouds Where is it coming from? Where is it going? How strong How stubborn How painful How powerful How tragic We wait, Me and the harbingers of spring tentatively tucked up for whatever the storm brings.
Daily gratitudes: Tuna steaks A day warmer than expected My pirate mask Friday A quiet day
Quote of the day: “Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity.” — Novala Takemoto
Since this seems to be how things are flowing, weekly original poems will now appear on Friday.
Gone My feet have walked these streets these paths these hills Climbed this mountain. Does the soil remember the imprint of my sole?
This town no longer knows me nor I it, its open earthiness drowned in vats of chic microbrew pubs and the inch of wine called a glass in expensive eateries where pretentiousness is disguised as humble entrees.
The elders here are as hidden as the sun sinking behind the peaks, the shadows of their light highlighting brief, vivid memories across the cold snow.
There is no place for any of us here now.
Daily gratitudes: Canadian geese laying in the snowfields Pigeons snuggling atop the lamp post Lemon ginger tea That I had the privilege of knowing Millie Blue skies
Quote of the Day: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” — Elie Wiesel
She stole out from the shadows of the trees Into the light of the moon and the sea Abandoning herself in unseen turquoise Letting the slow waves Sway and carry sway and carry Dipping beneath the darkness reaching and seeking only to find That the treasure was herself.
Astrology: yes or no? Believer or scoffer? I honestly am not sure. I’m a Cancer (I hate saying that, because it sounds like I’m a disease). And I could be the poster child for Cancerians: a sensitive, ocean-loving, moonbeaming, moody, wanderer — well, not the wanderer part, because Cancers are supposed to be homebodies. Other than that, I suppose there’s some validity to it. I studied up on it quite a bit, along with herbology and palmistry, during my esoteric semi-hippie early days in Colorado.
It was also terribly in vogue when I was in high school. There seems to be a resurgent interest among K and her friends, which makes me wonder if it’s something that captivates us at that cusp of adulthood, that perhaps we hope to gain understanding of and direction for ourselves as we gaze into a future shrouded in fog. Because of her, I’ve developed a renewed interest in the subject.
Back in the days of yore, the go-to astrology text was Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. I gave K a copy for Christmas a couple of years ago so she could see how things have evolved since the 1980s. You wouldn’t think astrology would change, but it seemingly has — becoming more detailed and specific. I did have the pleasure of staying in Linda Goodman’s former home in — who’d have thunk it — Cripple Creek, Colorado, which had become a Bed and Breakfast. And a haunted Bed and Breakfast, no less. I was in town for a ghost adventure at the former jail (and an adventure it was, may I say) and made the mistake of telling my hostess at the B&B about it, which led to her having me go into the basement to see what I could pick up from a ghost perspective (also an adventure). The next time I went to town, this particular B&B was closed; the ghosts may have been too much for her.
I’m a fan of Rob Brezsny’s astrological divinations and musings in his Free Will Astrology column/email. Having just googled him, he doesn’t look like what I’d expected, but he looks exactly like what an astrologer should look like. Who really knows how sound any of it is, but I’ve found his insights and predictions to be pretty on track over the last ten years or so. He also seems to tap into a certain esoteric level of rational thought that I very much appreciate. I’ve enjoyed his book Pronoia, which also amused a crew of market researchers who visited my house some years back to interview me on my love of Toyotas.
K has introduced me to Co — Star, which is an app instead of a column, but I guess that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. It’s very specific, based on one’s date/time of birth. I (of course) know my birth date, but am not so sure of my birth time. My birth certificate doesn’t list it and my folks are somewhere in the stars themselves now, so I can’t ask them. But I’ve made my best guess in the hope that, whatever this app produces based on birth time, close enough is close enough. The little astrological messages are somewhat cryptic, which is both good and bad, but intriguing and make me ponder. For example, today’s central message: “A tongue that lacks self-control is a fire.” That one is pretty self-explanatory. But the “Dos” and “Don’ts”, I’m not so sure of: Dos: Ice cream, Sunshine, Venting. I don’t have ice cream and there has been very little sunshine today, but yes, I have vented to K. Don’ts: Clutch pearls, Pathos, Narratives. Not a huge pearl-clutcher, but it could have happened during the venting; not really expressing Pathos (took care of that last weekend); and Narratives….? Well, I guess this is one, so that really should have been part of the “Do” list.
On the purely pragmatic side, I love the stars themselves. M and I have a wonderful memory of driving to Santa Fe one dark night before Christmas when we first started dating, and we’d never seen so many stars. That memory still stands, even after seeing nothing but stars during a power outage in Costa Rica. And on the anniversary of our first date, we drove up to a meadow in Gilpin County and froze ourselves sitting in the bed of the truck watching a meteor shower. But anyplace under the stars with him is perfect. My horoscope said nothing about being sappy.
Daily gratitudes: Fingerless gloves The woman who crossed herself before driving away from the Emergency Room My marvelous niece who has a birthday today The new way Mr. Man snuggled in last night
This should be a poem. I feel a poem brewing in me, but it hasn’t steeped enough yet to be birthed. So I’m putting fingers to keyboard for a half-version — a “po”, if you will. Something that expresses the sentiments without the lyricism.
Depression has been a constant companion for me in this lifetime. I’ve done all the right things — therapy, anti-depressants, herbs, diet, exercise — and 90 percent of the time these days, I keep it at bay. But when it comes on me, it comes like an avalanche, and I don’t have an avalanche beacon and I’m buried under tons and tons of weight. I always dig myself out. Always. Because of promises I’ve made. Usually, it’s bad for a day or a night, a short, yet tolerable length of time. This bout has been particularly vicious.
I haven’t slept well in four days, plagued by nightmares (a rarity for me), hot flashes (also something that hasn’t happened in years) and thirst. I mourn for everything — people, opportunities, choices — and cannot find solace in the many blessings and joys in my life. I yearn for sea breezes, for a future without a set date, when we are settled in the Retreat for summer and living on a beach during the bleak, cold, grey-brown of winter. This darkness has been my companion for two days now, which is not long in the grand scheme of things, but feels like an eternity while I’m in its midst. Digging oneself out from under an avalanche is slow-going at best.
Tears come easily and of their own accord, triggered by nothing, something, everything, Not in a deluge, but in a welling, a prickling in my eyes, half-formed (like this po), and unwilling to spill. I find myself inconsolably lonely, grieving the past and the people I’ve lost.
I say a prayer each night, that tomorrow will be better, but so far my prayers are failing me, falling not on deaf ears, because that’s not how prayers work. Which means there’s something I am supposed to learn from this. There’s always a lesson, isn’t there? Some are just harder to puzzle out. So I force myself to eat. I have some sweet warm tea. I take a shower. I do a load of laundry. I sort through some clothes, setting some aside for charity. I do 100 sit-ups. I change the sheets. I look for words of comfort in random places. And I find the merest crumb of peace. I scan the darkening skies for a metaphorical dove with an olive branch. And I hope for a better morning.
I echo Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s feeling on the month of February, so well expressed in his poem “Afternoon in February”. The first stanza reads as follows:
“The day is ending, The night is descending; The marsh is frozen, The river dead.”
Trust me, it just goes downhill from there, ending with the line “Like a funeral bell.” You can imagine.
This February, in particular, is rough. I have finally reached a point of being fed up with not being able to go out to dinner, shoot pool, have a drink at a bar, cater a wedding. Colorado, too, seems to have changed its tune wind-wise. We’re having chinooks in February now, instead of January, and as stated in yesterday’s poem, I’m just not a fan of the wind. M told me when we met that he just thinks February is an asshole. I always thought that was January; he’s now converted me.
But to be peppy and upbeat (which really is not me all the time), here is Seasweetie’s Positive February Thought List:
The days are getting longer. It may not seem like it, but I can judge this well, because we usually drive back from the Retreat right around the same time. A few weeks ago, it was full dark by 5:30. Now, we can enjoy a longer twilight, which also means more deer spotting and cautionary driving, but it’s gently beautiful.
There are fewer days in the month. That’s nothing new, but thank the heavens for it.
Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s sappy and trite, but I love it anyway. I like giving presents and while I don’t need an excuse to do so, I enjoy having a little celebratory reason for it. Besides, the origins of Valentine’s Day are fascinating, with not one, but TWO Saint Valentines being beheaded by Claudius II, and the christianization of the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival. (I suspect they dropped the goat sacrifices, the whippings, and the drawing of eligible young townswomen’s names from a giant urn to find mates for the men.)
The occasional sense of spring can be felt if you pay REALLY close attention to the feel of the air.
My twee-woo bird is back. I don’t know what kind of bird it is, and I’ve actually never seen it, but it always comes back as a harbinger of spring, like the swallows returning to Capistrano (which supposedly happens on March 19). It has a very distinctive call (hence why I call it the twee-woo bird) and I like to think it’s singing just for me.
I’m anticipating that I might see a few green shoots of something (snowdrops, grape hyacinths, crocuses) on a walk this month.
We’re one month closer to getting into the Retreat full-time than we were one month ago.
Of course, usually by this time, I have a plane ticket in hand and am making packing lists for somewhere warm and tropical with turquoise water and white sand beaches. But everybody knows that when you buy a house and start to move, you become house-poor and that lasts for at least a year. Such is the case with us. We’re having to do things like figure out fire mitigation and snowplows, and home improvements for the Bungalow and M’s house, so I am facing the reality that I won’t see an ocean until July. I’ve been blessed by being able to travel as I have, and it will happen again. Just not this spring. This spring, I will have beautiful hikes and slight sunburns and deep snowfalls and good music and a few perfect days. Let’s just get through February.
Daily gratitudes: My stir-fry Leggings with pockets Dancing My neighbor’s chickens Carrie, the wonderful lady on the phone at the insurance company, who didn’t mind that I cried, and started to cry with me.
Wind whipped her, Flailed her, Sending fragments of her to flight above The captured clouds Walled in Behind the mountains.
Reminded her of a fairy story, A morbid favorite of her childhood In which A magician whipped a sobbing young woman as they flew on the winds, punishment for some now forgotten trespass.
That rude wind that No matter how many bright sides she tries to find Always Just always, Beats her body Fights with her soul Shortens her temper Makes her long for some gentle soft breeze Ruffling the palm trees On a far shore.
Instead, the cruel wind sweeps her inside To sulk in hot water, Soothing her spirit in the cold west, And listen to the chimes being blown in the night.
Daily gratitudes: Hot water Soup Good choices by elected officials That the quasi-quarantine is keeping us healthy