These are autumn’s glory days. Though the calendar says the season is waning, it seems to be in full performance mode in our backyard, which would be right at home on the campus of Harvard with its carpet of crimson and gold. Today was the first day in quite a few that we’ve had the benefit of any sunshine, and you all know there is nothing quite as spectacular as a November sun high in the azure sky, spotlighting nature’s own extraordinary palette.
A few weeks ago I wrote of my intention to limit my time on social media, and as you would imagine, I have had varying degrees of success. To paraphrase an old song, it’s a hard habit to break, and most of you are well aware of that.
On days when I am successful, however, here’s what happens: I’m more content, more focused, less flustered, and I accomplish a whole lot more. And by accomplish, I don’t mean just checking stuff off my to-do list. The biggest accomplishment I’ve achieved in those days when the phone stays tucked into its pocket inside my purse and the iPad remains closed on the kitchen counter is that of doing nothing. Of sitting on my couch and looking out the window, watching birds fly in and out from the feeder, listening to my little dog snoring softly from her bed in the corner.
Of being quiet.
I sent my dad a Father’s Day card about 15 years ago that had a photograph of a little girl walking hand in hand with her dad on the front. Inside it read, “I miss having your hand to hold.” Cute, sweet, sentimental.
But at the time I mailed that card, I hadn’t spoken to my dad in over five years. We became estranged over a period of a decade when he left my mother after 42 years of marriage. During the ensuing divorce proceedings, I learned what my mother had suspected for quite some time - that he had become involved with another woman, they had fallen in love, and were embarking on a new life together.
It’s been a queer couple of months since my last post. I feel lethargic. Tired. But agitated at the same time. Disinterested in my normal activities. An odd feeling of disassociation with the things I usually do. I feel myself pulling inward, spending more time alone than usual. Not really caring about much.
During the first year after I lost my mom, I wrote a lot about grief being like a roller coaster. There were huge vacillations in my emotions - one day I was riding an almost manic high, while other days I was in the depths of despair. I kept extremely busy, scheduling social activities with friends, trying out all my mom’s recipes, gardening like crazy, looking for ways to stay close to her, to keep her presence alive in my life.
With the passage of the first anniversary of her death, it’s as if the roller coaster has come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the hill, leaving me strapped inside the carriage, motionless.
It was crazy windy here yesterday. March made like a Lion, and roared up a storm. Our utility company reported more outages than any other time in history, and says it will take up to a week to restore power for everyone. Trees are down all over, schools and businesses are closed.
It was a mess. But all the while, the sun shone beautifully and there was nary a cloud in the sky.
On the night I was born, 61 years ago today, it was crazy windy as well. My mother loved to tell that story, of the wind whistling around the windows on the top floor of the hospital. Of the way the large window by her bed rattled and shook until she was afraid it would crash into a million pieces. “There was thunder and lighting and rain pouring down all night,” she said. “I was a nervous wreck!” By morning, though, the wind had calmed, the sun was shining, and I had come into the world, red-faced, screaming, and with a headful of dark, wavy curls.