62: Wind, water, sky, and earth

(Above.)

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~ Thornton Wilder

(Below.)

Today is a gift.  Every day is a gift, of course, but today feels special.  I’m not sure why.  There is something in the air.  A shift.  A transformation.

(Above and below.)

The temperature has been dropping since I rolled out of bed this morning.  The wind is singing.  Clouds are being whisked away as the sun takes over the sky.

(Ripples and sunlight, dried flowers in the wind.)

The leaves on the ground are no longer crispy and crunchy.  I can walk silently through the woods and under the trees as I make my way around the pond.  We had rain last night.  It must have followed the bright flash of lightning and big boom of thunder that woke us from our dreams in the middle of the night.

(The creek and lines in the woods.)

Few leaves are left on any of the trees, just a stubborn straggler here and there trying to hold on as the wind tries to force it to let go.  The sugar maples in the neighbor’s yard which were full of color yesterday now have a carpet of yellows, reds, and oranges at their feet.  The neighbor will probably rake them up.  I never saw much sense in that when you’re living out in the country.  Or in the suburbs for that matter.  Why not leave them or mulch them on the lawn to feed the grass?

(Peering through the rushes.)

It will snow soon.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  But before the week is out.

(Today’s view of the pond from the front of the property.)


61: Fear the Roo

Last night’s outdoor time was fabulous.  M and I went to Akron to watch the Akron Zips Men’s Soccer team play in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  They beat West Virginia University 3-2.  But I gotta tell ya, I was worried near the end.  Akron was up 3-0 for the first 80 minutes.  WVU came in and scored in the 81st and 86th minutes.  It was (to me) a brutal game in that there was a lot of fouling going on, not to mention some injuries here and there.

Akron is unbeaten in its last 37 matches at home.  Let’s hope it stays that way as they will be hosting Indiana (who beat Tulsa last night) next Saturday.  If the weather is good, perhaps we’ll go.

(Fear the beach bird, especially when he looks at you like that!)

The Roo, by the way, is the mascot for the Akron Zips.  Zippy, the kangaroo.  To be honest, Zippy is more cute than fierce.  I met him last night at the game.  Nice Roo.  Funny Roo.  But fierce Roo?  Nah.  Maybe he has a more frightening side that doesn’t come out when he’s meeting and greeting the fans.  (The kangaroo pictured at the beginning of this post is not Zippy but a kangaroo who lives at the Cleveland Zoo.  I took the photo back in April of 2007 when visiting the zoo with my granddaughter.  If you would like to see Zippy, click here.)

Mascots are interesting.  I wonder if they’re supposed to be totems.   Click here to read about the kangaroo as an animal totem.  Somewhere else I read that kangaroos only go forward, never backward, and if the kangaroo is your totem, you will have the strength and power to keep going as long as you keep moving forward.  That one seems to fit the Zips soccer team pretty well.

(Today’s early morning view of the pond.)

Last night’s moonrise was incredible.  A big, pinkish-orange moon came up from behind the city buildings in Akron while we were watching the soccer game.  The weather was wonderful.  Breezy but not too cold, the scent of the air fresh and clean.  I did not have my camera with me hence I have no photos of Zippy or the moon.

(Pussy willow budding.  This shouldn’t happen until spring.)

I only managed to fit in ten minutes of my outdoor time this morning.  Just after I went out the wind began to whip and there was lightning and thunder in the distance.  Storms are coming, bringing winter with them.  It’s a good thing, too.  The trees have started budding and the buds on the pussy willow are starting to open.  The unseasonably warm weather has been confusing the plant life.

(A break in the clouds.)

The rain promised by the gusty winds, lightning and thunder never materialized.  Or hasn’t materialized so far.  When I went back outside this afternoon it was still windy and warm with a big break in some of the clouds that allowed the sun to come out.  I stayed out longer than planned.  I love this kind of weather.  It’s invigorating, crackling, almost breathtaking when the weather is on the precipice of a big change, the kind of change that causes the temperatures to plummet sharply.

(Sunlight breaking into the afternoon.)

About 30 minutes after I went out I felt the wind shift.  The warm air became cooler and cooler air.  By the time I decided it was time to walk back to the house and do a few chores, I almost needed a coat.

I saw a couple of frogs hop into the pond as I walked by.  I hope they hurry up and get themselves back into the mud so they don’t get caught in the freeze when it arrives.


60: Sunsets, shadows, and silhouettes

(La Jolla sunset.)

You are standing in the sky.  When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth.  We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it.  We breathe it deep within us.  With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world.

~ Diane Ackerman

I read this quote last night and thought how cool that is:   We live in and breathe the sky.  I should think about that the next time I’m on an airplane and way up in the sky.  It’s comforting in a way.

(Embarcadaro sunset)

My yoga practice this morning was lovely.  Energizing, in a “I can feel the energy moving throughout” kind of way.  Although there is something to be said for all of the poses (or asanas), tree pose (Vrksasana) was my favorite today.  I was balanced and felt rooted to the earth while reaching up towards the sky.

(Surfing at sunset.)

Some days my balance isn’t as good and I almost topple over.  Some days it’s really bad and I do topple over.  Today I found my center, where the balance comes from.

(Wading.)

When we get back into the warmer months, I think I’ll move my mat and practice outside.  I imagine it’s a wonderful thing, doing yoga outdoors.

(On the deck)

I’m going to spend my outdoor time at a soccer game later this afternoon.  It should be fun.  The weather will be nice (unseasonably warm again).

(Having dinner during the golden hour.)

I am stretching (s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g-!) for something to write about today.  It’s one of those days when I seem to have lost my words.

(Sunlight and shadows on sand.)

So I think I’ll give up on the words and just post some photos.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel more inspired to write.  Today I just want to feel and luxuriate in the good energy of the day.

(Walking on sunshine.)

(Walking on sunshine II)


59: Wondering

(View from the airplane window.)

I wonder.  I wonder a lot.  I even wondered about the word wonder and had to go look it up just to see if it is all the things I think it is and I was delighted to find it’s true:  Wonder is a wonderful word.

(Looking to see what’s out there.)

To think or speculate curiously

I wonder about blogging and life.  I wonder about the ups and downs of it.  I have a few blog mates that have dropped off the blogosphere for a while.  Some have come back for NaBloPoMo.  Some have made brief appearances for NaNoWriMo.  And others are showing up in comments here and there remarking about how this is the first year they have missed NaNo or NaBlo.

(Looking up while standing inside of a sculpture.  Shelter Island.)

I wonder about some of those folks.  Is life keeping them so busy that they no longer have time to blog?  Did they grow tired of it?  Have they moved on to some other aspect of online life?  Or are they so immersed in life that blogging about it doesn’t even enter their minds anymore?  (I like to think it is the last option because I want to imagine them happily going about life.)

To be filled with admiration, amazement or awe

Some of those I am missing from blogland are people I admire, people who amazed and awed me with their use of words.  I’ve often wished that I could put together letters, string together words, and make sentences and paragraphs the way they do.  I know there is a certain amount of skill involved in writing as with any art, skill that comes from knowing the basics and practicing them, but I also know there is a gift to it as well.

(Balanced rocks.)

I miss their gifts and I hope they are still sharing them somewhere so that others can experience the wonder of their use of words and their ability to draw one in to a story or a poem.

To doubt

I’m committed to this — blogging and the outdoor adventures challenge — for a good long while and I have to tell you, I wondered (a lot!) after making the announcement if I wasn’t making a great mistake.  A whole year???  How crazy is that??  Did I aim too high?

(Becoming part of the sculpture.)

But day after day it has become easier, mainly because it has become part of my daily routine.  I am habit building.  A day without some outdoor time doesn’t seem normal anymore.

I also wonder if I’ll be able to catch up.  I tried to keep up with blogging and my blogging friends while in San Diego but I could only devote so much time to it as my days were filled with enjoying being in San Diego.  So I think I’ll give up on catching up and start from where I am.

Today’s Walk

Today’s walk was filled with wonders, too.  It always is.  Today I admired the silvery sheen of the sunlight and clouds, especially as they were reflected in the water of the pond.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The sky has been milky today.  Even the blues, when they were showing, looked washed out.  It’s an unseasonably warm day.  Perhaps that is what is causing the haze and milkiness.

(Reflections through the grasses.)

M has been outside using his new toy, a chain saw.  I can’t get quite as excited about it as he is, but I am glad he has a better chain saw than he had in the past.  It should make it easier and quicker to cut up all the wood lying about out there, especially the huge chunks of elm left from when we had to have the dead elm trees cut down.

One of the places I be sure to visit each day is the back of the pond where a big, old maple tree hangs over the water.  We are going to have to remove it sometime soon.  A strong wind could bring it down, roots and all, and that could/would undermine the dam.  I feel awful about it.  It’s a beautiful tree.  I took a few photos but they all came out blurry (sort of how I look at the tree now, feeling teary-eyed about having to cut it down).

I’ll try again tomorrow to get some decent shots of it.  I will be visiting the tree every day until we finally do the dastardly, but necessary, deed.

I also wondered at and admired the browns.  I know most people don’t think of brown as a beautiful or wonderful color.  I like it.  There are so many different shades of brown now that most of the other color has dropped away.  Sometimes I try to see how many of those shades I can get into one photo.

That’s about it from the Bogs for now.  Thanks for stopping by.  🙂


58: Deep breaths

(Simplicity)

San Diego was great.  The sunshine, the warm temps, the ocean views, the fresh seafood and fab Mexican food, and all the long walks on the beach were wonderful.  Certainly worth the anxiety of flying.

But…

The moment I stepped outside today for my daily outdoor commitment walk and took a full, deep breath — the kind that goes all the way to the toes — I felt more than thought:   Home.  The hour of yoga practice just before going outside didn’t relax and loosen me up the way that first breath of outside air did.  The combination of the two was pretty powerful stuff.  Joyfully, happily powerful.

(A glimpse of the pond from the meadow)

My meditation prompt today was:  Look for joy.  While walking around the pond I thought, “I don’t need to look for joy.  I’ve already found it.  It’s right here, right now.”

(A spot of red marks the X.)

How lucky is that, to live where one truly feels at home?  The smell of the air, the colors, the sounds, and the feel of the land are all, for me, just right.   The modern version of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears popped into my head with that last sentence.  The mind works in mysterious ways.

(Meadow grasses and dried flower arrangements)

Or perhaps not so mysterious.  I remember reading somewhere that the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears can be interpreted as finding the middle path, the place that’s just right, rather than choosing from one extreme or another.  Balance, centering, moderation, that sort of thing.

(Mourning dove welcomes me home.)

Our trip home yesterday was long (about 15 hours, door to door) and uneventful.  The planes did not crash.  The two flights (the first to Chicago, the second to Akron) were relatively smooth.  I had a brief moment of panic boarding the second plane.  It was one of those small, commuter jets.  Why that should bother me more than a large plane is beyond me.  Walking out on the tarmac and then up the stairs was more nerve wracking than the usual walk through the jetway/airbridge that connects the airport terminal gate to the plane.

I am extremely grateful for and to the woman who sat across the aisle from me on our second flight.  When M and I boarded the small jet it was immediately apparent that we were not seated together.  It was one of those planes that have a row of single seats and a row of double seating.  While I’m sure I would have survived sitting by myself, the woman that would have been seated with M or with me was kind enough to switch and take the single seat across the aisle.  I explained to her that I have a fear of flying, although the explanation wasn’t necessary as she was willing to move as soon as we asked.  But that’s not all she did.

My fear of flying is worse during take-offs and landings.  The descent through the clouds (and there usually are clouds, especially when coming back to the Bogs) when we land are the worst moments for me.  Just after the pilot announced we’d be descending and landing soon, the woman across the aisle reached over, patted my hand, and asked, “How are you doing?”  It was a simple, sincere question.  I told her I was okay so far.  Still breathing (rather than holding my breath in panic).  She jokingly remarked that at least I wasn’t screaming or trying to escape from the plane.  I don’t know why that relaxed me, but it did.  We talked for a little while and before I knew it, the plane was touching down and we were on the ground.  I never even noticed the bumps and thumps of moving through the turbulence in the clouds (and yes, there were clouds as it was overcast when we arrived).

(Sunset in Mission Beach on the evening before coming home.)

After the anxiety of flying, a 2am wake-up call to make our flight, and a lack of sleep two nights in a row, I had no trouble at all getting to sleep last night.  Or staying that way.  In fact, I slept in until 10am, having woken up once (at 6am) and decided I’d sleep for as long as I needed to.

As for my outdoor commitment, I was worried I might not be able to fit in the minimum 30 minutes of outside time with the long day of travel yesterday.  United Airlines provided me with the opportunity.  With many conventioneers (there were approximately 30,000 people attending the same conference/convention as M) leaving San Diego yesterday morning, they had to line us all up outside.  The line stretched and looped a long way.  We stood outside for at least 30-40 minutes.  While it’s not the nature walk I’m used to taking, it was outdoor time.  Because the winds were from the west (off the ocean), the fog was fairly thick.  There was a bit of a breeze and it felt a little chilly.

Today, here in the Bogs, it was brisk (45 degrees and breezy) and mostly sunny with the occasional puffy cloud adding white spots of interest to the sky.  I was greeted by a crow, a mourning dove, and a red-tailed hawk.

It’s good to be home, in both the wide view…

… and in the close-up, smaller view.


57: Going Home

(A California rose.)

It’s Tuesday morning as I type this.  I’m sitting on the deck of the condo we’re renting, occasionally getting caught up in watching and listening to the waves of the Pacific as they roll in.  It’s foggy this morning.  They say it will burn off by 10am.

(The Fish Tree.)

This has been a lovely trip with perfect weather.  The only thing missing was a swim in the ocean, something I’ve never done here.  I put my feet in.  I wade.  But I never swim.  I suppose if the weather got hot enough — to counteract the cold of the water — I might.  I love to swim in the sea and play in the waves.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing this on Tuesday if it’s a Thursday post.  We’re heading home.  It’s going to  be a long travel day.  I’m not sure I’ll have the time or energy to post before the day is over.  The solution is a scheduled post.  Gotta love WordPress.

Once again I will have to be up at 2am to get ready to go to the airport.  That makes for a very long day.  It might not be so bad if I could sleep on the plane.  But I have a fear of flying so sleep is out of the question.  I stay awake to keep the plane in the air.  (It’s magic!  lol!)  As I was explaining to someone the other day, the fear doesn’t lessen with each flight.  I never understood the idea (or benefits) of desensitization therapy.  As far as I can tell, it doesn’t work.  Deep breaths, meditation, visualization… tried ’em all.  I still get anxious and afraid.  I spend the first part of the flight in a cold sweat of terror.   Eventually I relax out of sheer exhaustion until the descent and landing.

(Pacific Portal.  Shelter Island.)

I’d give up flying but it’s difficult to travel anywhere if you don’t fly.  It takes longer, for one thing.  A cross-country trip in the car would mean a couple of days travel time to get here, a couple of days travel time to get home, and not much time in between to enjoy actually being here.  So, I get on an airplane and hope for the best.

I don’t want to spend my remaining days here in sunny California dwelling on my fear of flying.  But it does help to sit with the fear using mindfulness techniques for a little while.  I’ve learned that trying to deny or ignore the fear doesn’t work.  Might as well sit with it with mindfulness and compassion for a few minutes.

(Walking the dogs.)

As of this writing, it’s been a great trip.  There has been time to relax as well as see some of the sights.  I’ve taken lots of long walks and had no difficulty at all meeting my outdoor commitment.

(Mission Bay sculpture.)

Home will be good, too.  I miss Izzy and Bella, and wonder how they’re doing.  I’m sure they are fine or I would have heard something from our house-/pet-sitter.  I will also enjoy sleeping in my own bed once again.  The bed here has been comfortable enough and I didn’t have any trouble sleeping, but there’s no place like home when it comes to comfort.

We had breakfast early this morning (that would be Tuesday) at Kono’s, a Pacific Beach institution.  On the weekends the line to get in is out the door and up the street.  A Kono’s breakfast is large, especially if you order a breakfast burrito, delicious, and the price is great.  Going early on a Tuesday, it wasn’t very crowded at all.  In fact, we were able to get a seat on the patio that overlooks the ocean.

Well, I guess that’s about it from San Diego for now.  Next time you hear from me, I’ll be back in the Bogs.


56: Torrey Pines

(Christina’s tree.)

Today I met up with Christina.  Christina is one of those friends I met through blogging.  We got together the last time I visited San Diego (you can read about it here and see some photos here).  At that time Christina took me on a wonderful tour of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.  When she asked what I would like to do this time I responded (without hesitation) that I would like to go to Torrey Pines again if she wouldn’t mind.  I wanted the chance to see the area again during a different season.  Although I could have gone on my own (or if M could fit it into his schedule, with him), going with Christina is a special treat because Torrey Pines is Her Place.  It is a place she loves and has taken the time to get to know which makes her a fun and knowledgeable guide.

(On the beach.)

Since this is my last day here and I want to get in some beach time, I’m going to put up some photos and hope to fill in any blanks later.  We walked on the beach and climbed to higher areas where there were wonderful views.  We saw Torrey Pines (the rarest pine in North America), a few birds (including a peregrine falcon and a hummingbird), and even the occasional flowers (although this is not the time of year for flowers).

As usual, the photos are all straight out of the camera and uploaded to Photobucket (which seems to take away some of the clarity, or maybe that’s just me).

(Peregrine falcon.)

(Flat Rock.)

(Rock formations.)

(Christina told me the name of this bird but I’ve forgotten already.)

(We climbed a few stairs.)

(The view was worth the climb.)

(Way worth it.  And the climb wasn’t that bad.)

(Hummingbird.)

(Another lovely view.)

(View through the pines.)

(The wrinkled tree.)

(View of the beach — where we started — from above.)

We had lunch after our hike at a Mexican restaurant where I ate some sort of cactus in a spicy tomato sauce.  Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Thank you so much, Christina, for another wonderful outing.  I can well understand why you love it here.  🙂