It rained here for nearly two solid months. I had forgotten what color the sky is when the clouds are gone. But the weather cleared up and became beautiful with pleasant temps just in time for the long weekend.
Unfortunately, I did something to my back. I woke up yesterday morning barely able to get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom as my muscles groaned, seized, and resisted movement. Things gradually improved after I’d forced myself to move around the house a little, put some ice on my back, and took ibuprofen.
By afternoon, my back felt A-okay. I thought, Well, that was unpleasant, but it’s over with.Guess I’ll go tackle some yard work. Things remained okay through an hour and a half of mowing and more.
Then I woke up this morning, once again barely able to move. I did what I refer to as the Igor Shuffle across my bedroom, pushing one foot forward a few inches, then dragging the other from behind to catch up with it. More ice packs and ibuprofen, combined with slow stretches throughout the day had it feeling mostly better by afternoon. But I learned my lesson. The weeding remains unfinished.
However, I talked my son — who currently has a slightly bum foot and also needs a to move more slowly than usual — into accompanying me on a little outing to Shelter Gardens, where we could make like the gentry and stroll at a leisurely pace, enjoying the results of someone else’s manual labor. I didn’t take many photos, but we found serenity lingering at the fish pond.
When you’re a homeowner in Missouri, you spend a lot of time thinking about water flow and drainage. If you have a basement, you probably have a sump pump. The repeated hummmm-clunk on rainy days is just part of the soundtrack of your life.
I live in one of the oldest parts of our city, old enough that maps of the sewer system in our neighborhood have been lost to history. The municipal government is always going to do something to make sure the sewers are up to snuff around here, but they first have to figure out how they’re all networked. That’s been going on for a while. Once, they even sent someone into our home to blow smoke through our toilet while other workers were stationed at various access holes nearby to see which direction it was traveling. I’m not sure what they learned.
Drainage has been on my mind even more than usual lately because it’s been extremely rainy and also because my husband came up with a new plan for our sump pump drain. It’s always been a puzzle trying to determine the best place for the water to discharge. We had some pipe along the side of the driveway to a French drain at the end, but we share a driveway with an apartment building, and people kept driving over the curb while passing each other and damaging it. Then we’d get leaks that would cause slime in the summer and ice in the winter. After a lot of digging (division of labor roughly 85% spouse / 15% me), a few yards of pipe are now buried, with just the end emerging by the drain. Fingers crossed this will be the final iteration.
Ambling around the neighborhood lately, I’ve been paying attention to drainage pipes and grates. It’s amazing, once you notice it, what a large part of the infrastructure has to do with getting the water to flow a certain direction.
It was funny — funny odd – after the time change last week that you couldn’t tell a difference around here. That’s because the sun didn’t come out from behind the clouds for about five days. It was like one continual night, with lots of rain. Kind of in tune with my spirits of late. Until yesterday, when things finally brightened.
Then came today, the first day of spring. I was able to walk in the sun this afternoon wearing jeans and t-shirt, no jacket. My son accompanied me. Once you get them through the teen years, they become willing to be seen with you again. They’ll even indulge you in things like stopping to snap pictures of new blossoms. I think this is a magnolia tree. Whatever it is, it made me happy.
Considering what’s going on in other parts of the U.S., I know we’re lucky. We’ve only had arctic cold and a few inches of snow. One water pipe made a half-hearted attempt at freezing the other night when the temperature dropped well below zero, but my husband thawed it pretty quickly. Still, other than going to work, I’ve been hunkering inside a lot, as high temps were in the single digits for several days running, with predominantly gray skies and not much to lure me out.
Today the sun came out and we reached 30 degrees in the afternoon. I was able to walk a mile and a half without ever once feeling a body part might drop off. It was comfortable, in fact, other than some small spots of treacherous footing.
I don’t know if sunshine is more important to my emotional well-being than it used to be or if I’m simply more aware of how it affects me. But I experience a marked difference in how much life seems worth the effort to me depending on the amount of sunlight I experience. Same with my walks outdoors. Maybe they’re a bigger part of maintaining my mental health than they were in days past, or maybe I’ve gotten better at noticing. Whatever it is, I know I feel much better for having gotten outside and walked in the fresh air today. I remember that doing so needs to be a top priority.
“Walking is man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates. “Walking is also great medicine for people who are not men.” – Me.
Here’s a game changer for my winter walks. A new coat, with much warmer sleeves than my old one. The temperature was 32, with a real feel of 27, but I was snuggly warm for two and a half miles. I also had on thermal underwear, so there’s that, too.
The Winter Queen brushed her fingertips along the landscape as she went by.
My son-in-residence consented to walk around the neighborhood with his old mom today. We live in an interesting part of the city and always find something new to catch our attention. The neighbors did not disappoint today.
I should note the skeletons and tree stump art are not in the same yard.
The trees I saw on yesterday’s walk inspire me to share a poem I wrote.
Instead of dreary gray strands threading subtly widening paths about my head, I desire blazing red for my autumn color interspersed with patches of can’t-peel-your-eyes away yellow and clusters of an orange so perfectly sun-toasted it holds its own as an independent hue not remotely a blend of the other two. I wish for the colors to burst out all at once so that people I meet will feel their breath catch at the splendor, the glorious culmination of my maturity.
Today’s walk happened in the last 40 minutes of sunlight. My neighborhood is not too far from downtown, but also not too far from a couple of trailheads that go into a wooded corridor.
Barred owls were calling to each other. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Where are you? I’m here. Like my husband and I yelling, “What?” to each other from different rooms.
And the neighborhood gang that has been raiding yards and gardens was caught in the act (see above.) I’ve watched these young ‘uns grow up during the course of this year, having seen them first when the two tawny ones were awkward spotted fawns stopping traffic in front of my house.
I don’t know why it surprises me when animals adapt and make their homes in cities. I’ve done the same thing, after all. I can’t begrudge them too much for the tomatoes they’ve eaten. They left us plenty, and we humans keep taking more and more land for buildings. They’ve got to feed the family somehow.
Lately, I’ve been pretty exhausted by my job and things. Stuff. Events. Tasks. Overthinking. Worry.
Normally I work Tuesday evenings. But I had some vacation time to use, so I’m able to blog instead. I couldn’t have better timed my ask for random hours off. Gorgeous evening for walking and trying to focus on the miracle that is every day nature.
Amazing how life can look so different if you change your vantage point. Perspective is a heck of a thing.
Strolling about the neighborhood today, I ran across the above sign in someone’s yard, a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Le Guin:
“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
This is from her novel, The Lathe of Heaven. I know I read it many years ago, but I forget a lot a the details. What I remember is that the main character is a man whose sleeping dreams change reality. But nobody else seems to notice.
This quote, though. It’s so true about the nature of love. It requires intention. There are other sayings along the same line that I’ve found to be true as I go through life. Here’s one: love is a verb. Don’t recall where I read that, but yes. It’s not a vague warm glow, it’s got to be active to have any positive effect.
Here’s another: Love is a choice. You choose how to treat someone. There might or might not be a pleasant emotional feeling while doing so. But the more you make that choice, the more likely you are to develop a pleasant feeling about it. At least, that’s my experience.
Actively choosing to find ways to reach out to our neighbors while we’re all separated is love manifested.