Archive for the 'walking' Category

Life and pictures

February 12, 2016

I walked around the Reservoir this morning, despite the ice and packed snow.  It was pretty, if a little slippery — and very cold.

When I got to the part of the Res where water enters it from a brook, the water rushing over rocks while half covered by ice and snow looked so picture postcard perfect.  Or maybe it reminded me of a picture on a Christmas card.

And that was the problem for me:  when I initially encountered the scene, I was drawn into it, and engaged with it.  But when my monkey mind suggested parallels from pictures, the moment was gone and I was left with a much more superficial appreciation of what I was looking at.

It’s one thing to see pictures of places and things we will never see in person, but having seen a picture I think can be a distraction if and when we encounter the real thing.  Not sure what more to say than that.


Happy as a human in mud

February 2, 2016

It’s muddy around here, what with warm temps and some snow melt.  I put aside my winter boots for my rubber ones and went walking at the Res.

I didn’t need more than a jean jacket and woolen shawl (I doubt the embroidery adds much to the warmth, but between the embroidery and the colors, I find this particular shawl energizing).

With the rubber boots on, I felt I could walk through anything I might encounter on my circuit around the Reservoir — puddles, mud, the sand on the beach.  And as I was walking through a muddy section of the path, I realized how much I liked what I was doing — no particular “reason” I liked it, I just was aware, when I bothered to reflect on it, that I was having a blast.

There was no idea in my head that I ought to like what I was doing, there was just the liking of it.  There was no detailed understanding of what might be the components that made it likable, there was just the liking of it.  There was no sense that this was a valuable thing to be experiencing, there was just the experience of it.  These things that weren’t part of it occurred to me afterwards, when I pulled myself out of the moment and reflected back on the enjoyment I had experienced and how it was only the enjoyment itself, without gloss.

Inarticulate enjoyment I realized is what I find absent in some people’s descriptions of what they find helpful or relevant for spiritual development.  I myself need to get to something beyond the words.  I don’t say that’s the only path, but I truly don’t understand how people get from words to conceptual understanding, or from words to those basic feelings that admit of no further analysis — those states that just are.

I guess I am suspicious of the words and the descriptions, that they become the focus instead of the actual experience.  But I really can’t know if people who are talking about this stuff are doing something necessary for themselves and their own development — who’s to say everybody should be focused on the same things?  But here’s what nags at me:  people who focus on the words, who are not able to focus at the level of inarticulate experience, I worry don’t have a full enough perspective to be telling people what they should be focused on;  I worry they have not been to the top of the mountain yet and so are describing the foothills from the beach as if they were high mountain peaks.

But, you know, part of me has become less concerned with whether others are interested in what I’m interested in.  I’d rather just walk through the mud.


A variant that worked

July 11, 2015

Yesterday morning Jordan left the house before I left to take a walk around the Res.  Some documents had come in the mail that I needed first to photocopy so I could scan both sides, and then to scan and attach to emails and send off to multiple parties, making sure the attachments were not too big for my commercial email server’s settings and making sure that my email program was not inserting an email address other than the ones I intended.  Then I filed away those papers, and a couple of others I had put off filing because it meant moving around stacks of cartons of files in the attic, so by the time I got out of the house, Jordan had been gone for a while.

So Jordan reached me by cell phone as I got to the Res, and he asked if it was okay if he invited a couple of friends over in the evening, to play boardgames and card games, and whether one of them could do a load of laundry in our machines while he was over, and I said it was fine, after reviewing what Jordan needed to do that day.  So when Jordan asked when I thought I would be back, I thought he was calculating when he was going to do something or other, either a chore or some prep for the game night, that he wanted to do before I returned.  I told him I thought I’d be another hour, and I didn’t pay the exchange much mind.  He had said, earlier in the conversation when I had asked where he was, that he was coming up the hill to the house from the bus stop.

And I took a glorious walk.  Saw a Great Blue Heron flapping over the water, saw small dark fish with iridescent tails in the shallows of the water near the shore, clambered down to the shore in less accessible places that seemed to have things that needed to be seen, found a sea shell and saw a rabbit.

So I get back to my house, climb the front steps up to the porch, and notice, as I am fumbling for my keys, Jordan’s messenger bag on one of the chairs.  And then I notice other stuff on the middle chair, and no, not Goldilocks in the third chair, but Jordan himself — he hadn’t left his things on the porch by mistake, but he was there with his iPad doing his millennial generation screen engagement thing.  I was a little surprised to see him sitting there.

I thought he had taken his key with him when he had left, but, as I learned, he had forgotten to.

After we clarified that, he said, “I didn’t want to tell you because I wanted you to take your time and enjoy your walk.”

I generally don’t like being deceived, and sometimes an attempt involving deceiving me has backfired royally, as when someone says they will come and help in some way, perhaps thinking that that sense of back-up will encourage me to do more myself and that by then I won’t need their help.  When the person doesn’t follow through, I have found my reliance on the promise and my continuing need for the help to be a difficult combination to deal with.  The reliance produces a shift in me that is difficult to undo sometimes.

But Jordan’s variant on this mix of inducing an attitude on my part and not being completely straightforward actually worked for me.  I had a great walk.

Jordan was absolutely correct that had I known he had forgotten his key, I would have been at best somewhat distracted.  It’s summer and he’s 23, so I wouldn’t have worried, but his waiting for me so as to be able to get back in the house would have been in the back of my mind to some extent, and I might not have taken as much time as I did on my walk and in my explorations and gazing, even though it turned out that I got back from my activities in the amount of time I had estimated it would take me and which Jordan had accepted without any discussion.

For me, this was an iteration of a pattern that had been quite painful rearranged into something quite pleasant, including my appreciation of Jordan’s considerateness and thoughtfulness and that he knows his mom and her issues.

That this episode involved someone returning home and another person waiting for the return had resonance for me, reminding me of a tradition of stories in which someone is told that someone will be coming back.  I had been thinking recently of a version of such a story, in which the little girl left at an outpost in the wilderness would have been much better off without the promise of a return by the grown-up, who told her he’d come back in part to make himself feel better and in part because he didn’t realize she had better coping tools than a false promise.  So my experience of a deceit involving a return home and a wait in which the elements have been reshuffled to produce happiness all around meant a lot to me — I like to think it reflects that progress of some sort is being made.

And Jordan had brought back with him to share with me a free chocolate candy bar that he had been given at a table in front of a yoga studio near his gym.  Priceless.

Goose, goose, turtle

May 18, 2015

A couple of times now, at least, I’ve seen a delightful little scene in a marshy corner of the Res.  I think there must be a capsized tree beneath the surface of the water there, with bits of trunk and branches poking up through the water’s surface.  There have been three or four Canada geese perched on the wood, and among them, also on the wood, has been a turtle, a rather large turtle.  I’ve seen this scene on multiple days, which has surprised me, but I can’t tell if it’s the same geese and the same turtle.

In any event, it impresses me that the turtle seems very comfortable to be out there among the geese, and the geese remain perched up on the wood — sometimes on one leg — rather than floating along on the water.

It’s a nice grouping to come across, both picturesque and full of life.


May 16, 2015

I was walking in a colonial-era graveyard the other day, and I was visiting a great big maple tree there I like.  And I noticed on the ground a piece of a limb that had apparently fallen off — there was a jagged stump up in the tree from which it probably had broken.

It hadn’t happened all that recently — the wood was exposed without bark.  And that made it easier to see the small holes that I am guessing reflect the activity of critters — insects that bore into trees.

I think I started reviewing other objects that fall from trees, like fruit, like Newton’s apple, like enlightenment.  And that got me wondering, in keeping with the Adam and Eve story, whether with knowledge come less benign influxes, too — there could be critters still abiding in the piece of wood that fell, ready to branch out if one were to take the wood home, say as firewood or to use as fencing material or out of which to create a sculpture.  Do we increase our knowledge but also import with it into the world greater capacity to do with it something unhelpful, for example?  We have the internet, we have hacking and identity theft, for example.

I am not sure how we would measure the things I am trying to compare over time — the seemingly positive increases with losses elsewhere in our collective lives.  How has our quality of life improved and how has it deteriorated?  We would need a large group to survey, so as to filter out idiosyncratic anomalies and so as to take into account lots of differently situated demographic groups.

Anyway, things fall — apples, branches, pine cones, flowers.  (Rain, too.)  Some provide a vector for other things to come into our lives, too.

Rocks in the roots

May 13, 2015

A lot of trees fell down this winter.  In the various patches of woods I often walk in, I sometimes go up to uprooted lower portions of the trees and examine them, and I am fascinated when I find rocks embedded in the roots.  Seeing tree branches grow around fence pieces or telephone wires fascinates me too, especially once the majority of the tree is gone but these chunks encasing the wires remain because they could not be removed.

I tend to think of trees as independent, rooted in soil but not intertwined with rocks and wires.  Vines may grow around their trunks and entangle their branches, we may build houses in their limbs for kids to play in, but I still think of trees as basically solo entities.

But maybe I shouldn’t.  Maybe trees are more interactive than I give them credit for.

Fire containment

May 10, 2015

I took a walk in some woods this afternoon and was surprised to find a substantial circle of charred ground in the middle of the place.  The fire was clearly pretty recent — I could smell it still.  And a fellow walking his dog, whom I had seen exiting a nearby home on my way to the woods, said he thought it had occurred this past Wednesday.

What I can’t figure out is why it was in the shape of a circle and why it was that particular size — maybe the size of a 2-car garage?  Had it been set in some way, had it been contained in some way?  It was in the woods in a place you couldn’t drive a fire truck to and not near enough to houses to run a garden hose to, either.

I have no idea how to interpret it, why it was that big, why it didn’t spread further.

Tangle of trees

April 25, 2015

We had a lots of big snowstorms this winters, some of which included a lot of wind, and then this spring it we’ve had some very windy days (and nights).  So it’s not surprising that a lot of trees have come down in the various patches of woods I walk through on various routes that I take when I walk, but today, by the Res, I noticed this huge bunch of tree trunks and upper branches and maybe some vines all in a tangle on the ground — it was striking.

I worry that the older trees that fall are not being replaced adequately by new trees, that the underbrush is cleaned out too thoroughly by the town or by “Friends of …” groups.  So when I see a bunch of fallen trees, I wonder how they will be replaced.

Despite the sight of the trees, I got a helpful way of re-framing a situation that has been bothering me for some weeks now, shortly after I passed the tangle.  I was comparing how another difficult situation had recently worked out more easily than I had expected, and how in the time before it had, I had had less trouble “turning it over” after we did all the tasks that were ours to do.  In the earlier situation, I knew I had no control over the rest of the process and I also knew that there was nothing more I could actually do once we filled out the paperwork and sent it in.  In the current situation, what I’m supposed to do is less clear, and whether there’s more I could do is less clear — so there’s more room for me to wonder if by act or omission I am messing something up and making it less likely the result I hope for will occur.  I was trying to figure out what “turning it over” looks like in such a context.  And it came to me that the universe can take whatever it is I do and find a way to get from there to wherever it serves for us to go, and that in the meantime I can just be kind of curious about what will happen, how that will look and play out, and not worry so much about my contribution.  Because for me a big ongoing challenge is to do what’s mine to do and then get out of the way so that those other forces have room to work and so that the other people involved in the situation have room to do what’s theirs to do.

Of course, none of this means things will turn out in this second situation as I would like, but since it will probably go on for months before it is resolved, I needed a better way of thinking about it — a way of being able to lay that burden down or at least carry it more comfortably.

My Wendy Davis boots

March 7, 2014

What color is “poppy”?  I didn’t assume I know, so I looked at the pictures — in the print catalog and then online on the company’s website, and the color looked like red to me.  The product was mid-calf height rubber rain boots.

The poppies in my gardens are red, so red seemed to be a reasonable color for “poppy” to be.

I thought of ordering black, but I spend half the winter in black boots (and half in brown), so I am ready for a change.  I have fond memories of wearing red boots, and up here in New England I thought I could get away with wearing red rain boots, even as a middle-aged woman.

I want them for the spring mud and melt-off, especially when I’m out walking.

Well, the boots that came are not red.  They are the color of my neighbor’s poppies, that is, deep pink.

I do wear some pink in my clothing choices, especially because I have such a pink complexion.  My glasses are pale pink.  But bright deep solid coral pink is a little further than I would intentionally go.  As a stripe in a pair of socks, I would wear it in a heartbeat, but pink rubber rain boots?  I would not have chosen that color in that item knowingly.

I was, of course, offered the option of returning the boots.  Pack ’em up, ship ’em out, wait a number of weeks, and I could have black.  Instead I accepted some money off of what I paid and I am wearing them.

I’m thinking they could be my political statement in support of Wendy Davis’ candidacy for Texas governor, she of the pink running shoes.

Actually, what made me decide to keep them was the chance to come to terms with having something pink foisted on me to wear.  That happened to me when I was a youngster being pressured into taking ballet class.  This time around I am better able to find a way to fit the pink into my life, including seeing it as an opportunity to overcome feeling self-conscious about it and troubling myself about reactions I might get.

When I wore the pink boots to run some errands this morning, the clerk at one of my stops had hair that was dyed a bright pinkish red.  That made me feel in the swim.

I do think life often gives us multiple opportunities to learn something, and that eventually we and a situation match up well enough for us to be able to hit the pitch and learn whatever it is we needed to learn — and in a context in which our learning our lesson also helps serve the greater good.

Buddha on the ledge

March 3, 2014

I took a walk today along some roads I don’t usually travel, and as I was negotiating icy sidewalks and the occasional deep puddle, I noticed I was passing through an area with lots of trees and raised terrain and new large houses, including one that looked to me as if it belonged in Colorado and one next to it that still had stickers on the windows.  That latter one did have a satellite TV dish, though, so I thought it might be occupied.  Anyway, then I noticed an outcropping of rock between the two houses, and guess what, up on one of its ledges was a statue of a seated Buddha.  It looked terrific.  I was enjoying it and sort of wondering which house to feel gratitude towards.  The Buddha was facing the house with the TV dish, but siting such a statue seemed more in keeping with wooden cabin look of the other house away from which it gazed.  The rocky outcropping was midway between the two houses.  So I couldn’t figure it out and I went back to just enjoying the way the seated Buddha looked up there to a passer-by.