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the path back is the path forward


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the rockwalk. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t know how much i noticed the rock garden next to the chalet shed in the backyard of my growing-up house. i know it was there. there were plants peeking out from in-between the rocks and the garden-pile grew through the years as my momma – with a love of rocks and stone – added to it.

the cairns and vessel-collections in our house echo that garden and its solid base for my own love of rocks and stone and pebbles. though i believe i will remember where each individual rock originates, where i picked it up, what it means to me or what moment it represents, reality is that i forget. with a few exceptions, i simply know that they are important. they were part of something i wanted to hold onto. and they became part of the rock garden of my life. they all count.

the rockway of the shoin house of the chicago botanic garden is deliberate. carefully placed stones, “bones of the earth” form a pathway through the fragile mosses of deep green. we stood, gazing down, both of us – i’m pretty sure – lost in thought about how we could incorporate such a walkway in our own backyard. orderly and stunning and functional, protecting all around it.

we spent a couple hours in the basement last night. i heard them from a distance first; the tornado sirens were going off. then, closer. i am storm-nervous. the derecho back a decade has gifted me with long-term storm ptsd and i’m not sure if there is much i can do to alleviate it. so when the weather forecast offers “tornado watch” i get ready.

we created a go-bag during the riots in our city a couple years back. it was recommended. i also keep an empty backpack nearby for computers and cords. there’s a leash in the go-bag and we have a duffel with a few clothes. i didn’t unpack all this after those devastating riots. instead, we realized the wisdom of having important stuff nearby, things you can grab in an emergency. and so, i had this all lined up – like a good rockwalk – on the couch in the sitting room off our bedroom, waiting. d picked up the dog (who doesn’t do steps for some strange aussie reason) and i grabbed the bags and water and some dog treats.

when you think about tornadoes as you sit in the basement listening, you realize that you can only create so much order…you can only try to design a walkway…you can only make plans. sitting in two rocking chairs in d’s studio, surrounded by the bins i am emptying and clearing down there, a couple dehumidifiers turned off so we could hear, with our backpacks and duffel bag, it all comes down to, well, not much. chaos happens and we find ourselves in it, stepping, trying to find our way on the rockwalk, to the other side, the next sunrise.

we waited for the sirens to stop and for the weather app to show that the worst of it had passed over us. david carried dogga back up and he got another sleepynightnight cookie. the bags went back on the couch, lined up, things to put away in the morning.

i wanted pancakes but it was too late and we were too tired.

*****

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chipping away, i suppose. [merely-a-thought monday]

long island has nicer springs than wisconsin. considerably warmer temperatures, more consistent sunshine, earlier flowers, i remember my birthday in late march as sweater-weather, with many birthday pictures taken in front of the yellow forsythia at the front corner of our yard where the grass met the curb of the street. not so much in wisconsin. it’s still cold, still windy, still cloudy, still rainy, even still snowy. as my birthday rolls around i am always hopeful that it will suddenly change and there will be 60 degree days and we will hike with no coats and no 180 earmuffs. invariably disappointed, we layer up and hike anyway. saturday was no exception. no in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb for this state.

birthdays always seem to be a time of reflection. the generosity of wishes texted, emailed, called, zoomed, facetimed, mailed, shipped and wrapped on the doorstep are a heaping portion of goodness and they enveloped me in warmth all day. the lion of march did not reign the day. instead, the only roar i heard was laughter on the trail, on facetime with my niece, on zoom with best friends, reading the glittery-unicorn-poop card from my other niece, the lingering echoes of my girl and her boyfriend singing to me, my son’s voice on the other end of the phone, a dinner invite from him and his boyfriend, singing memojis, exploding confetti on a text from crunch, music and spattered painting in an ecard from my mother-in-law, words in messages penned or typed, thoughtfully chosen. i lit my new candle, named my adorable new gardenia bonsai, and pulled my concentric circles ever tighter to me, hugging them back. there are days i think that every day should absolutely be lived like a birthday.

there was a common denominator in messages. my husband cleverly made a birthday book about life and love from a pa-pad, pads of scrap paper cut and glued by my sweet poppo in his effort to save trees and the environment. a dear friend from elementary school wrote that she hoped all my wishes come true. my oldest friend ever, a cherished friendship that has sustained through the years, wrote that she hoped i was celebrating. in one card that wished me “all things beautiful” i read, “may you always see the beauty in this world and be encouraged to keep pressing on, regardless of the stumbling blocks or hurdles that stand in the way.” in another was simply the word “forever”. another made me laugh aloud, poking fun at growing older. another wished me a better year. and one reminded me that “we are all works in progress.” in that card, my wise friend added “to ever evolving you” to the message “to another good year of chipping away…”

ever evolving.

the spring rains gather on the deck. they clean off the last of the snow and dirt that have been left there through the winter. like periods on sentences, they mark a new time of growth, an end to fallow, warmth on its way. there have been so many periods on sentences this year. too many. it is a time of wondering. clarity is elusive. it is a time of giving over to not-knowing.

i suppose it is possible that this is the lesson after all. not-knowing. ever. i suppose that spring – even in wisconsin – could surprise me. i suppose no time is really a time of stasis. i suppose that is why riverstones are so smooth. i suppose that, no matter what, the promise is to be ever evolving.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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i cleared the path for you. [merely-a-thought monday]

cleared the path bridge copy

there have been times when a clear path would have been my choice.  something that was predictable, “normal”, serene.  a path upon which i wouldn’t have to ask a lot of questions about direction.  sense-making would be easy; “right” choices would be obvious.

how many times have i hoped for a sticky note to float down from the heavens above, simple instructions listed like on an ikea bookshelf leaflet.  how many times have i wondered about how to forge through the muddy waters, how to get where i can see but not touch.  a clear path seems maybe too much to ask.  we seek mentors to aid us, to ask tough, blunt questions. expecting candid answers, they help us see.  perhaps we would miss too many lessons – or just too much – along the way were we to have a clear path.  there is no “normal”.

the elderly hiker in the woods approached from the opposite direction.  his hat pulled down over his forehead and his jacket zipped up keeping him warm along the trail, he smiled, inviting a response, and said, “i cleared the path for you.  it’s all clear.”

we laughed and thanked him, but i know we both wished he meant it literally.  in a life sense.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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