Pandemic-induced recluse ventures into the wooded path for a break from the sameness of home.
Ah… the good stuff – rocks and moss. 🙂
In the US, at least in the midwest portion, the standard is to inquire about what one did for the latest religious holiday just past.
My standard is to reply “I don’t observe”.
It’s a very quick end to the conversation and if I were skilled at conversing I would be able to redirect so that it didn’t feel so awkwardly halted.
It seems that many people in my area are completely unaware of the religious traditions outside of christianity. Those dates may or may not appear on a printed calendar or in a specialty shop, but for the most part those other dates important to their keepers are brushed aside or unknown by many people. There is likely the unstated opinion that those dates are less important, or not relevant since a majority prefers the well-known dates. It’s stifling sometimes.
I did a quick search on the standards, to find at what point dates became stated as US owned or observed days. It seems that most of what is determined to be Federal Holidays were established in the late 1800s and edited in the early 1900s. The dates were primarily set to determine time off and pay standards for federal workers, not meant as a US standard for all citizens.
I also took a peek at an ancestor’s writings, and find that the early days of the US held much more closely to the biblical calendar than I ever realized. Check out the Diary of Thomas Miner (or Minor). He wrote during the last third of his life. He immigrated from England, and settled in the Mystic/Stonington area of Connecticut. It’s not an easy read, old English simply isn’t. Of great interest to me: his year began in spring, around March/April, with the new growth signalling a new year. As is biblically written; as matches an agrarian cycle! In the US, mind you. Originally. In the 1600s.
We accustom ourselves to our surroundings and take on the notion that this is how it is supposed to be – what we learned was the rule, what we were taught from our cultural inheritance. To what harm, I ask?
Who determined that January 1 should be a new year, and what was the reasoning? Was this a change to something that was long-standing? What benefit – or who benefits from this change?
That seriousness aside, the true reason I’m writing is to express the joy of spring as this first month of my year rolls past.
Yesterday, on Shabbat, I traveled to a wildlife refuge.
The trip was sublime, as an eclectic mix of music accompanied my drive.
Scenes of green and brown, blue and white;
the rolling and winding roadways along the way;
a crispness to the air which felt perfectly warm in pockets of wind break.
I arrived at the refuge and began scanning the rolling hills to each side; crossing the cattle guard into the open range as I expectantly looked – maybe after the next rise?
And then as I crested the hill, noting the traffic ahead – they were there! A herd of buffalo to my right, still distant – and a few tucked into a descending tree spotted ravine, closer to me.
I slowed and looked to my left and realized that the stars of the view were present there!
The elk herd!
The male standing prone on the top of the hill, head turned toward me; his females and youngsters mostly laying on the hill around him. I pulled to the side and stopped.
I was the main concern for the male and he kept his head turned straight at me for a while… then a sound from the traffic up ahead.
He began the slow pan of the horizon, looking back to me… and then, satisfied, he lowered his head some. Still watchful, but accepting.
Camera! Where’s my phone? Ugh!
Yes, a trip without the phone – not something I would normally do. So the pictures were only what I watched. Both sides. Capturing memories.
Bladder pressing, I moved on to meet my needs and then turned back to return home.
Buffalo not in the same place, I kept heading forward and then I realized what happened.
The buffalo herd had followed the leaders in the ravine and crossed the road. Most were grazing greedily at the ground salad near the road, while a few had moved on up the hill and were halfway to the still lounging herd of elk.
Again, I stopped. The buffalo were so close now, it was a treat – a safely distanced treat – to watch them tear the greens from their anchors. Pawing and head shaking to angle for a better munch, as they side eyed me a time or two.
I looked to the few on the hill and then realized that they were nearly to the elk –
and the large female elk had risen and moved toward the male.
The two came to some agreement between them…
and then the buffalo slowly moved in. Right amongst the elk herd.
Sweet memories that.
To home I returned, settling nicely into the back yard to watch the first dragonfly of the year and the first eastern tiger swallowtail – both testing the winds and the scents.
And then, to my surprise, the first honeybee was seen sampling my fine garden of dandelions!
A Shabbat to remember for me.
An end to the month of special Shabbats – Passover, the First and Seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day of the new year, the abib stage of the barley.
Extremely important culture to me.
Original plans were to fly to the Northeast and spend the Sukkot week roaming the national treasure of fall color with another of the Hebrew community.
COVID-19 changed those plans, dashing them solidly in July when it was apparent that there would be no quick recovery.
With life still wreaking havoc to our prior routines, and no rest to be found among the necessary tasks, I determined to find another option.
Hubby and I had made an anniversary trek, just days before my dad arrived as our new household resident. The trek included several bodies of water over a two day drive, to determine if we would like to consider options for vacation, vacation home, or other. We liked what we saw.
With a notion of my favorite locale, I was able to secure a vacation rental that encompassed all of the ingredients for a substitute – within our driving range.
Time leading up to Sukkot was harried. So much to do, so much to plan. We knew we would be bringing dad along for the trip, and never considered setting up alternatives. Hospice smoothed the way by making certain his meds were in place and that there was a local hospice standing by should there be any needs.
We arrived, vehicles loaded down with our assemblages. Dad’s sister, her husband and son all arrived just before us, so they had the home opened up and ready. We all enjoyed a first weekend of family time, food and drink.
With nothing planned, we lolled through the rest of the week and into the weekend, recharging, unwinding, relaxing and allowing the sights and sounds of nature to soothe us.
How necessary it is to slow down, to see the grandeur of Creation, to allow our busy selves to reset and acknowledge our lack of importance. To find respite.
Spring has sprung and the fireflies have arrived. It feels early. It’s only been days since the last freeze. . .
I watched one alight on the garden bed beam, and as I peered closer, it flashed wings at me with agitated antennae. I took the hint and retreated back – and it was gone in that moment. Absent.
We are in the midst of this storm of no precedence. The unknown. Varied in strength and strike and form.
The storm activity has been one of ‘take shelter’ here. In tornado country we know how to be prepared for a short and harsh duration that may cause a term of duress… but this. . .
Prepare for taking care of family – too many in the scary category to comprehend.
Prepare to be home for extended periods… write lists, revise lists, check lists.
The theme has been prepare.
Work was deemed essential. Many hours were spent by the team to set up and roll out that particular preparation. I and my office mates are nearly full remote now – a jerky transition wrought with change and chaos and frustration – then sprinkled with joy and anticipation from my perspective. What I have oft longed for is now short term reality.
And so, after so many means of preparing in and around my own realm – I recognize, once I’ve slowed down, that I’ve gone bouncing and careening along this whole storm prep while moving over and through several stages of grief.
My emotions must also have been setting up buttresses of potential realities and … well … here we are. I imagine you or someone you know has been staging through grief steps as well.
Fireflies have been spotted. So have asparagus beetles. I’m awaiting a particular wasp to cart in luggage and set up home base.
It’s been a while since I’ve been ‘present’ here. I’m surprised to recognize that. If you’ve been along for the telling, we moved a few years back, leaving established garden spaces behind. But we’ve been busy here, building new spaces and options… and I had opportunity to .. inhale it .. breathe it in. Absorb it.
It’s good – we’re a good building team.
Greens are growing. Life is abounding here. Breathing space exists and just in time.
I hope this finds you well. Recovering, or surviving, or staging the grief steps – no matter where you are, I hope you find well .. are well, .. will be well.
Although I have the pleasure of working for a business with a full nursery and garden center, I rarely take the time to get what my coworkers call “my horticultural therapy”.
Yesterday, I took some time just to see the fall colors. Here’s what I found:
And here is my artistic representation of some of those found shots:
It’s been a while since we moved to a new home, a new lawn, a new town. I mourned the loss of the gardens I’d built, the soil that had formed from the years of tending. Until I could once again focus my efforts on that building, I was in limbo, unsettled you might say.
Well, we’re finally settling in. The ancillary gardens are coming along quite nicely, and the garden proper is now defined. The working and waiting and tending and watching will begin in earnest.
Today, I enjoyed. Here are a few of the items that were brought over from the old home.
The other plants you saw in these photos are new, or were here when we moved in and have been transplanted to where I prefer them.
These shots are new things added, to create new spaces and sights.
Bits and pieces as we settle in. 🙂
Vacation and preparation for vacation consumed my attention, as did the pre and post work weeks. Arrival at home was a welcome scene as our cat bounded from lap to lap enjoying the sorely missed human contact.
Then came reality – jungle style. Our lawn and gardens had thrived beyond our imagination during the eight days that we were absent.
Overall, once the allowed weeds were culled back to an acceptable state, and the volunteer flowers were forced into their proper boundaries, the garden looked quite healthy and tidy – as tidy as a mish-mash of weeds, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables might look.
I’m claiming success, although the season is quite early. There are not large productions of any one thing (except grapes), but just enough of this and that to provide for our household.
Better yet, it seems to be sufficient for the large variety of natural critters that have taken up residence.