The Great Heart

Light dancer

If we demand enlightenment, it hides. . . All that we can do is make ourselves enlightenment-prone.  We learn to treasure the possibility of awakening in all moments and circumstances.  We learn to simplify and cultivate the receptivity of heart that can be touched by profound understanding.  We learn to listen deeply and discover stillness amid the movement in our world.

~ Christina Feldman

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What catches the inner eye

After the rain

We finally got some rain yesterday evening.  It was one of those hit-or-miss pop-up showers, and we were lucky enough to be hit.  It came down pretty hard for about twenty minutes.  I could almost hear the earth sigh with relief.  Once the rain moved on, fog developed over the pond and ground.  You can see a little of that fogginess in the photo above.  My camera didn’t quite capture it (almost) so I used a toned down Orton Effect to enhance it and better reflect what I saw.

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182: Transitions

(A leaf, having just landed on the pond.)

… paying attention to your transitions can bring your focus back to the journey instead of the destination.  When we rush through transitions, we fool ourselves into thinking that once we arrive somewhere — whether it’s a pose, a classroom, or a life stage — we will pay attention and become present.  But this is a fallacy, because presence takes practice.  And really, each moment in life is equally important, regardless of what the ego may try to dictate.

~ Jason Crandell, from an article in the March 2011 edition of Yoga Journal

I read the article about transitions in the latest edition of Yoga Journal sometime last week.  I took the time to copy the quote into the notebook I keep for that purpose.  And then I forgot about it for a little while.

I did not enjoy my outdoor adventures this morning.  I went out early, thinking to get it over with (bad attitude!).  Remember the slow walking I mentioned yesterday?  It didn’t happen today.  Today I hustled and bustled in an attempt to keep warm.  We had a light dusting of snow overnight.  The temperature, which was 59 degrees when I went out yesterday, dropped to 28 degrees this morning.

Dry grass, new green grass, and snowflakes

I have been spoiled by the milder, warmer weather.  I like going out without having to put on 10 lbs. of layers with an additional 5 lbs. of boots.  It was nice to be able to just slip on a jacket and my gardening shoes, and go for a leisurely stroll.  I am ready for spring.  Ready, I say.

But winter isn’t finished yet.  March is a transition month.  Some days spring is in charge.  Other days, winter has its way.  In between, there are battles with cold fronts and warm fronts and air masses colliding and clashing.

View of the pond from the cattails this morning

Transitions.  I know I am not always good with them.  Even in my yoga practice I often find it difficult to move from one pose into the next without some klutziness.  I am starting to learn some of the little tricks that help.  Still, I don’t move as smoothly, as gently, or as effortlessly as I’ve seen some practitioners flow from one asana to to another.  I know I’m making comparisons here — and you’re not supposed to do that in yoga — but it’s true.  I find transitions awkward at first, until I learn to relax and go with the flow of the change.

A pair of mallards

Today’s cold snap feels harsh, brutal, not spring-like at all.  I can’t remember the last time my fingers and toes felt so painfully numb with the cold.  I put on all of the usual layers, including my mitten-gloves.  It makes me wonder:  Did I acclimate to the cold at some point during the winter?  I must have.  Even on below zero days I was taking my time, looking around, enjoying the beauty of winter.  Yet today it was difficult to stay out there.  The wind sliced right through me and all of my layers.  Brrrr! Outdoor adventure?  Forget about it.  I wanted to be indoors.

I stopped to take the occasional photo, something I wasn’t particularly in the mood for (because it was cold!), and to watch a pair of mallards gliding across the pond.  They acted as if the cold didn’t bother them in the least.  The other birds were fairly quiet today.  Even the red-winged blackbirds, who have been dominating the bird symphony lately, didn’t have much to say.  Perhaps they were all hunkered down, trying to stay warm.

Reflections of spring on a cold day

About an hour or so after coming back inside, the skies cleared and it now looks beautiful, sunny, and crystal clear out there.  I’m thinking about braving the cold again, just to see if the sun and blue sky make a difference in how I feel about the cold.

Return of the buzzards

Even with the cold, we’re still getting signs of spring.  The buzzards are back.  The common name for them is turkey vulture.  Here in northeast Ohio they call them buzzards, and their return is celebrated in Hinkley, Ohio.  We saw a large flock of buzzards while we were in Florida.  The photo above was taken this morning.  I played around with it quite a bit in Photoshop to get rid of the overexposure of this morning’s gray sky.  Then I decided I might as well go whole hog and add some tinting.

That’s about it from the Bogs for today.  If I do decide to experiment with going back out into the cold, I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

113: Balance

(Tea time.)

Yesterday I mentioned that I love to cook but don’t like to bake.  There are far too many rules in baking whereas cooking allows me to unleash my creativity, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and a handful of something else.  When I was homebrewing, I made my beers the same way.  There are, of course, some rules that must be followed.  And some tastes that don’t mix well.  In cooking there is a balance between the rules and creativity or individuality.

There is also balance in my home and kitchen.  M likes to bake so we balance each other out in that regard.  He makes fantastic breads.  He even learned how to make gluten-free breads when I went gluten-free.  Sourdough gluten-free breads.  It doesn’t get much better than that, let me tell you.  (Note:  I am no longer living the gluten-free lifestyle, but I still don’t include many wheat products in my diet anymore.  I feel better that way.)

Yesterday M made the fig bars you see in the above photo.  I thought they might make a good subject for my food photography experiments.  The photo needs a spot of color, I think.  Or something.  I dunno.  It doesn’t look quite… finished.

Something to ponder

I was reading an article about skiing in the December issue of Yoga Journal last night.  (I’m a little behind in my magazine reading.)  In a section about cross-country skiing, the author wrote:

Balance is not something you achieve and hold on to.  It’s more ephemeral; it’s a string of temporary successes, held momentarily, lost, and then discovered again.  Skiing gives you a fleeting experience of balance with each shift of weight and each glide.  But it’s not permanent.  When you lose it, you just have to have faith that you’ll come back to it.

~ Carmel Wroth, “Cold Play,” Yoga Journal, December 2010

I like it.  I like that it can be applied to life as well as skiing.  The yoga poses included with these words of wisdom are a bonus.  I’m going to give them a try.

Today’s Outdoor Adventures

We’re approaching the time of year when it feels like winter is weighing heavily upon us.  Mid-January.  Then the dreaded February comes along, the longest short month of the season.

(Weighing down the wood pile.)

Although I mean heavy in a figurative sense, there are some literal meanings as well.  Getting dressed to go outside takes time and effort.  You have to put on a couple of pounds of layers and boots.  Hats.  Gloves.  Even so, the cold manages to find any vulnerable spots and slip inside the poundage of layers.

(Buried in layers of snow.)

Walking is more difficult.  The snow seems to weigh you down as you trudge through the drifts that are almost waist high.  It’s a relief to find the spots where the wind has thinned the snow layer.

(Animal tracks across the pond.)

Today has been mostly gray.  The flurries continue but with little accumulation.  It’s in the 20’s and windy.  I did not want to step outside.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The original plan was to wait until late afternoon and go skiing.  Then I decided I better not wait.  I knew waiting would result in me not going at all.  So I put on all those layers.  The boots.  The hat.  The gloves.  And I stepped out into the gray and cold and blustery winds.

I didn’t intend to go far.  Just far enough and for just long enough to meet my commitment.  It was strangely quiet.  Although there was food in the feeders, there were no birds at them.  I topped off the food in the feeders and then found myself walking down the hill towards the pond.  I would go to the bottom of the hill.  No further.

I got to the bottom and my feet wanted to keep going so I continued on until I found myself standing by the creek in the woods, thinking how dull and gloomy the day was and wondering where the birds had gotten to.  Perhaps they were feeling the weight of winter too, and had decided to stay inside.

And then…

The sun came out and lit up the creek, the ice, and the snow.  Birds were chattering and cheeping and tweeting in the trees.  In a split second, the world had changed.

(The top of the creek is beginning to freeze over.)

Of course we all know the world didn’t change.  My perspective changed.  It changed enough that I was able to enjoy the rest of my walk on this wintry day.

(My tracks, heading home.)

The clouds came back and hid the sun again.  The grays grew deeper and darker.  On my way back to the house, I found this:

A little gift from Mother Nature hidden in the willows.  I must have missed it when I walked by the willows on my way to the woods.  To some, it’s just dried flowers left behind when summer and autumn moved on.  But it brightened my day almost as much as the sun’s brief appearance.  I’m not sure why.  It just did.