through the night’s darkness
an icy mist fell
fog floats over the earth
like a grey phantom
nothing left untouched
dampness drips from the landscape’s heavy bones
a mystical mist
mother earth’s breath
trapped in the fallen sky
silently heaven’s soft kiss moves in
sunrise sweet lips
a gentle warmth reached
chill crumbles in the face of light
numbed emotions thaw
mysterious meanings revealed
I walk with my feelings
towards light’s waiting kiss
lost in the shadows
With good reason, many Wisconsinites are agonizing over the blast of Siberian like cold passing through the region. Temperatures with the wind chill plummeted to 50 below zero in parts of the state last night, creating exasperating problems in our daily existence. We have descended downward to temperatures that could surely freeze hell over.
Dressed in the wool of two sheep, I found myself sweating before I finished feeding and watering the horses. At times, being over-prepared can be no better than being under-prepared. Sweating was my body’s voice of common sense, telling me to restore the balance between the outside and inside climates. Taking two sheep’s worth of sweaty wool clothing off was more of a relief than the warmth that consoled me at the wood stove. Extreme cold weighs heavy on the mind and body. Clothing adjustments will be made, a last minute decision to throw on a pair of ski goggles— borderline genius.
I am grateful for the bitter cold’s wide opening to feel compassion’s inexhaustible warmth. Folks are filling bird feeders, checking on the elderly and helping each other, two-legged and four, survive the cold. Duchess my 23 years wise Pinto mare, insists on standing outside. Even though I’ve hung two heat lamps in the shelter and laid down a good two feet of shavings on the floor. I did blanket her, more for my comfort than hers. She spent most of the night standing in the shelter of spruce trees bordering the pasture; out of the wind, underneath the light of stars, in a good two feet of snow. Who am I to argue against 23 years of horse sense?
I am also thankful that the jet of glacial cold is forecast to leave the area tomorrow afternoon. By the weekend, meteorologists predict the temperature to be in the upper thirties. Mother Nature’s playground is the weather and she has two pieces of equipment in it, swings and teeter-totters.
I am walking in two winters, one outside and one inside. How well I can balance the climate changes in each has intense implications on my life. Winter invites us to explore the hidden closets old thoughts get hung up in and forgotten. Temperature fluctuations outside, mood swings inside, both create chaotic conversation within us. We become uncomfortable but they are necessary to “feel” what we’re wearing. Adaptability is fundamental to restoring balance in one’s life. It is the sheer definition of preparedness— for anything!
Nothing in nature remains full.
Everything contains openness.
When you are open you never feel empty.
She’s not much to look at on the outside; bare bones on the inside; stick shift on the floor; no cruise control; no heated seats; no automatic nothing. On her tail gate are two bumper stickers. I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN and NO FARMERS. NO FOOD. What she lacks in appearance appeal is made up in the heart that pounds under her hood.
“She” is a red 1995 Ford Ranger, Reggie White Signature Edition, complete with floor mats bearing the Green Bay Packer “G” emblem. Reggie White played defensive end for the Green Bay Packers football team in the early 90’s. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXI with a game-ending sack. Green Bay, Wisconsin raised his standing in the community to sainthood after that.
I’m borrowing her from my brother Eddie while my daughter is home from college during winter break. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money during her time off but we unfortunately are short on vehicles. Thanks to my brother’s generosity purchasing another vehicle can now be put off until spring.
On the first morning behind the wheel, I spilled most of the coffee in my mug trying to find the cup holder. Its awkward position almost completely under the dash and behind the stick shift on the floor created the dilemma. No worries. When I tried to wipe it up I couldn’t tell where the coffee spilled. I found it’s quite difficult to drink coffee driving a manual transmission anyhow. Every time I reach for a sip it seems I have to shift.
Adjectives to describe the complex interior aromas cover a wide range of essences. The prominent odor emanates from the three-inch long, one-inch round cigar stub balanced on the edge of the ashtray. I don’t think they put those in vehicles anymore. Do they? I love the scents that swirl around inside an old pickup. The Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror is long past its freshening stage. I was a little sad. I wondered what Black Ice X-tra Strength smelled like. My brain is constantly deciphering the potpourri of airborne wonders wafting past my nose. One deep breath in and all those cherished childhood memories bumping around with my Dad in his pickup truck were revived.
A two-inch round chip in the windshield with an uncanny likeness to a bullet hole, lines up squarely between my eyes. Highway speeds give me a palpable feeling of vulnerability as my body slowly slouches down into the well-worn hollow of the seat on the driver’s side. Seventy mph seems like I’m exceeding her engine boundaries so I keep her five miles under the speed limit. Traffic passes me; make that everyone in the slow lane behind me, with an aggressive attitude. I notice their vehicles roll slightly from side to side from the sharp steering maneuver to cut in and out of the lanes at Nascar speeds. “How rude of them,” I think to myself. With a quick glance from the passing lane they think they know where the Red Ranger and I stand in the world. I take her daily doses of humility to heart.
I’m going to genuinely miss driving her when Sophie goes back to college at the end of the month. I didn’t expect the driving experience to be so fun. Her energy was more zoom zoom then chitty chitty bang bang. She’s slowed me down and sharpened an awareness with my surroundings. Every shift in our lives, up or down, is impeccably timed to slow us down or speed us up. On the winding road of life freewill may be doing the steering but a higher power is working the clutch and stick shift. Getting us where we need to be. When we need to be there. We are all vehicles of Spirit.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson
The woods are slow to fill up with snow and cold this winter. I have yet to wear more than one layer of wool when walking Wally. Old man winter’s unpredictable emotions keep me wary. The snow shovel and extra woollies will be kept within reach. Unable to enjoy the usual playful snow activities has left a void in this winter. Then with impeccable timing they came! Slow at first. Soon opening the mailbox needed to be done with great care. Or an avalanche of shiny slippery catalogs would land on the ground.
One staple of the dark white season I can always count on is currently piling up on my kitchen counter. I save them for those especially long dreary days—seed catalogs! They come at a time when forgiveness for last year’s garden disappointments is easy to offer up. I’m ready for another go at the garden’s blank canvas.
I have my favorites, the tried and true. Oh, but on the next catalog page I’m tempted to believe the “too good to be true”. The colorful photos and persuasively written descriptions fill me with anticipation. Small seeds of optimism take hold with a promise to grow.
Life is like a mailbox full of seed catalogs. You never know what opportunities optimism will grow.
Wishing you and yours the best from life in 2019.
Spring seed catalogs
loyal as my old dog
piled up on the table
a late winter mailbox staple.
Slippery glossy pages for some
no frills no fancy for others
black ink on plain paper
for this one.
New and improved promises to create
bountiful blooms on the garden’s clean slate
last year’s disappointments easily forgiven
with one glance to the next page
I escape from winter’s white prison.
Favorite varieties come first
the tried and true-blue
but then there are the new
that make you utter, “Oooo”!
Could they be too good to be true?
Colorful descriptions shout
no pest no drought will kill you out
this one will grow anywhere
without a doubt!
In deep winter optimism can be hard to muster
these light moments keep their luster
dog-eared pages mark the best
scorn the limits on the sum to invest!
Mild temperatures gave my husband and I an opportunity to check on our beehives. For the most part, we leave the bees be; only interrupting the hum of the hive when necessary. On this occasion, we wanted to remove mite medicine placed in the hive a week earlier. We felt fortunate that only two out of the four hives had mite counts high enough to warrant treatment.
As we approached the hive we could see the bees were very active and agitated. On closer inspection, it was obvious something had removed the entrance reducer, possibly a skunk or a raccoon. Wasps were trying to enter the hive and raid the hive’s winter stores of honey. Guard bees were protecting the entrance but the large opening was giving the wasps an advantage. Once we replaced the entrance reducer the bee’s demeanor quickly calmed. Our human help must have seemed like divine intervention to the bees.
As we watched the bees come and go, we noticed that some were bringing in pollen. I was astonished to see them collecting pollen in November but there it was! The robust yellow-orange bundles clinging to their hind legs was hard to miss. It felt as if a much greater hand was working with ours to help the bees help themselves survive the winter.
Helping…no matter who or what or how much…creates connection. We energetically weave another strand into the web of life, strengthening humanity. You know there is sacredness in the act of helping. You feel the intervention of divinity stir in your heart and spirit. We lend our hands to the Divine when we intervene on behalf of the helpless.
Note: In the featured photo you can see the pollen clinging to back leg of the bee in flight.
In the circle of seasons fall is a restless spirit. These deep months of autumn are one last raucous hurrah before the weather turns the somber corner towards winter’s reverent quiet. Radiant wild leaves that moments earlier burned the sky’s blue, float like embers from a forest aflame. The confetti-colored earth is a sign that winter’s wait is ending. Summer’s party is over.
Chilly north winds usher in a steady stream of grey clouds heavy with rain. For days the dampness soaks deep down into the bones of the land. An earthy scent lingers in the air like the perfumed smoke of incense. There is nothing like that smell to freshen ones state of mind. All it washes over is cleansed and purified for the coming journey inward to connect with self.
Seasonal transitions can be unsettling. They are raw elemental movement measurable in the mindfulness I keep on my mood. Nature is forcing us to face our feelings. In my way of thinking, her influence on our mind isn’t to bring our spirits down as much as it is for us to find ways to raise them up.
Each fall is unique. This year the rain has been persistent and significant. For the most part I’ve been able to keep a sunny disposition despite the seemingly endless string of gloomy grey days. Making monstrous kettles of homemade soup is a delicious way to shine a soul or two… or ten.
This fall taught me…
When you can’t hold the heaviness of dark clouds any longer let go of the rain.