Mellow Monday

A view in the Woods

Winter continues in my neck of the woods. I won’t complain as we were spared the wintry mix of snow and sleet that had been the forecast over the weekend. However, I’ll readily admit that I am more than tired of gloves, hats and bulky coats. 

Even though I had on all the aforementioned, including a wool scarf, I grumbled during the first few minutes of my morning walk. A cold wind stung my cheeks as I headed into the woods with The Poodle. As we neared the top of the path that leads down into the woods to our two lakes The Poodle pulled, hard. Something in the air had sparked his entire body into keen attention. A soft growl followed by barking broke my focus on the music I was listening to.  The Poodle had his snout practically glued to the muddy path, sniffing like crazy, as he continued to pull.  “Heel,” I said as I looked all around and pulled back on his leash.

Please let it not be the woman with the two Labs, one black and the other yellow.

My boy is as friendly as can be with most dogs…and humans too. But it baffles me that he’ll go all-out Cujo when he sees those two. And it is just those two Labs; he’s happily cavorted with plenty of Labs over these last ten years.

Thankfully, the Labs are nowhere in sight. Perhaps it was a fox that had  him go all Tasmanian devil on me. It’s happened on numerous occasions during our walks in the woods. The first time it happened, just after we had moved to Northern Virginia, it scared me witless. The Poodle was agitated beyond belief, practically pulling my arm out of my socket. For the life of me I couldn’t see what was causing his melt-down. Images of being mauled by a bear (yes, apparently there are bears living in suburbia!) made my heart race as I all but sprinted out of the woods to “safety.” Yep folks….there’s “chicken” in my blood…..

Whoosh. It was over in a flash. The Poodle slowed, as if terribly disappointed, walking once again calmly at my side.  I stopped to pet him rubbing my hands over the length of his back.

“I don’t know what it was that got you in such a tizzy my love, but you are such a good boy.”  He stares at me intently with eyes that are milky with age. For a brief moment my heart is gripped with a certain sadness: my Poodle love will not be with me forever.

But we are here now…together came the thought, as if carried in on a feather.

So yes, the remainder of our walk had me centered inward more than usual.  I’ll attribute my lost-in-thought walk to Hearts of Space (a streaming music service that my brother-in-law got me hooked on several years ago). For the fourth time within a twenty-four hour period I found myself pulled in by this weeks’ music compilation: Specifically program number 1207, titled A Fragile Beauty. This particular playlist features “ambient chamber and choral harmonies for the winter season.”  Eleni Karaindrou’s Love Theme and Johann Johannsson’s  A Pile of Dust https://youtu.be/L1pnayWa4dYl compelled me to stop and gaze at the seemingly weak winter sun as it struggled to shine through a thick haze of gray clouds. A shiver shook me awake. I must have mellowed inward far too long as The Poodle had decided to plop himself down on a mess of muck and who knows what else as I stood in the morning quiet.

Oh dear….we’re gonna freeze if I have us stand here any longer. Let’s get home. Kibble for you and coffee for me awaits.

The serene, melancholy and ethereal playlist was really a perfect accompaniment on a cold winter morning but it made me pine mightily for spring.  And so, the universe delivered for on the walk back towards home I spied the beginnings of tulips and crocuses too, pushing up through frozen earth.  Yes! There is the promise of color in the weeks ahead and this lifts my spirits on this, my mellow Monday.

Then around another bend, there’s a pop of color which seals the morning walk with not a promise but a fact.  Winter, as in all things…shall pass.

As torn as one can be about the nature of impermanence, there is bliss in that.

A sign of Spring!

One Less Set of Eyes…

The day started in the usual way which is to say, as of late, I’ve had to practically do cartwheels to get The Poodle out the door for his early morning walk. Begrudgingly, he finally gets with the program, as it were, and we’re off up the street, around the block and into the woods.

Luckily we have been missed by Hurricane Florence but we’re experiencing some scant peripheral effects as it is a particularly gloomy day.   We’re due for rain but we’ve not seen more than a few drops, so far that is.  Still, the sky could not be any grayer.  As I listen to a Hearts of Space playlist I’m all to keenly aware of how the music and the somber sky are messing with my soul. I need some pep in my step so I switch to Spotify and decide on something more energizing.  On cue, The Poodle begins to pick up his pace too, although it’s because of a nearby squirrel sighting.

My mind wanders over this and that as we continue down the path. About a mile into our walk I say to The Poodle, as I often do, “We’re almost there so let’s stop for a brief moment to say hello, shall we?”

‘Round this bend….up and over breaks in the macadam path due to gnarly tree roots….then around another bend to the right…..

Wait a minute….

I stop in the middle of the path in a moment of utter confusion.

Was I so into my head that I missed her?

“Let’s turn around,” I say to The Poodle.  We backtrack only three steps. I look right, left…all around me.

Something definitely is not right here.

I turn back in the direction of my purpose.

And then it hits me like a two by four….

I am in the right place… but she is not!

OH NO! This can’t be! I literally cried out aloud. The Poodle looks at me with questioning, clouded eyes.

Drusilla the wood nymph–the name I gave to her– is gone!  I hadn’t taken this route for a while because the mosquitoes were such an annoyance…and now, it seems that she has disappeared! 

I cannot believe that my “eyes and ears in the woods” is gone. 

I stand at the spot where she was once proudly rooted, searching for an explanation.  And then I see her.  She had to have taken her last breath weeks ago during one of the pounding rains.  She’s lifeless indeed, broken almost beyond recognition, split into three or four chunks and covered with a  tangle of debris.  The heavy rains from some weeks ago have drowned the life out of her, washing her away from the sentry post she held for years down into the shallow ravine that was now to be her final resting place.

I stand above the spot where she fell lamenting the loss long enough for The Poodle to decide that he may as well lie down and rest his weary bones.

Dear readers you must think I’m bonkers.  Perhaps so.  But truly, seeing Drusilla the wood nymph on my morning walks for years when visiting my sister and now for a year living in her neighborhood has been a lovely ritual.  Nearly every morning I’d share a moment with her, stopping as close to her base as possible given the terrain to tell her a thought that I held in my heart…then I’d move on to the rest of my day.  It was a curiously magical, divine start to my day.

Yes, you know it…I shed a tear or two.  I will miss her wonky head and her almost sad, asymmetrical face.  I will miss the simple act of saying “Good Morning Drusilla.” My morning walks won’t feel quite the same now that she is gone.

I suppose it just speaks to the impermanence of Every. Little. Thing.

In the words of french novelist Gustave Flaubert:

“The principle thing in this world is to keep one’s soul aloft.”

Through some difficult months a walk in the woods and a Drusilla sighting  was responsible for doing just that.

There was bliss in that.

 

 

Drusilla, the wood nymph.  Eyes and ears of these woods!

Wake Me When It’s Over

Tonight is the first presidential debate. Yes….. I’m gonna watch it and then afterwards, I’d like to take a pill.

To be clear, I am not one to take pills of any kind.  Still, the choice of candidates–the devil we know and the devil we don’t know— makes me want to sleep for….um…let’s say…four years.  I’ve already told Rocket-man that I will not watch television on election night. That would be a first for me in more than four decades!  I went so far as to say I’d rather watch a Steerlers game.  What’s that saying?!  I’ve succumbed to that. Horrors!

This year at the voting booth, I feel like I’m being asked to pick my poison.  It won’t matter which one I pick.  Either choice will make me violently ill, for a long time.    But yes, I’ll cast a vote early in the morning come election day with the hope of course that the polling station in a non-denominational church just down the hill from my house is handing out Krispy Kreme donuts as they did four years ago.  I’d rather have a doughnut than an “I Voted” sticker.  The rest of the day I’ll do whatever I can to escape the insanity that is sure to come.

The sting of voting this year may be easier with a Krispy Kreme....

The sting of voting this year may be easier with a Krispy Kreme….

NO!  I will not listen to CNN nor Fox News nor NPR nor BBC radio whilst driving around in my car.   I’ll have Hearts of Space music and Spotify playlists blasting through my ears.  I won’t sit at the computer either.  I’ve got a boatload of stuff to binge-watch on Netflix.  Thank goodness my Boy Scout purchase of Trails End popcorn arrived just the other day!

Hmm….note to self:  Turn off notifications on all my devicesSigh.  Becoming a head-in-the-sand ostrich is a bit more tricky in this tech and social media driven age.  I suppose if I could rid myself of all of my devices and arrange for travel to, say Nepal…or the North Pole….or a spot smack dab in the middle of the Australian outback, I’d find just the right level of insulation from all the insanity going on around the world (though I’d probably meet my end by a venomous snake as I stuffed myself silly with chocolate glaze and sprinkles….).

Rocket-man cannot tune out completely.  He must stay connected.  What goes on in the world drives his work…his purpose.  And yet, when his head hits the pillow at night he’s out in 10 seconds flat.  I’m often flabbergasted that he can tune out the madness of the world so easily.  I still cannot shake the image of the Aleppo boy….nor just recently Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson sticking out his tongue during an interview with an MSNBC reporter.  Seriously? Seriously.  Check out YouTube.   In case you missed it you can watch a clip here…then, go eat a doughnut:

 

Is it any wonder that I want to go face down into a box of Krispy Kremes while sitting in the middle of the outback?

Wake me when it’s over Rocket-man.