Monday's Meander/Dreaming of Snow

I haven’t been meandering afar since I had the Auto Accident on Thanksgiving Day. Caps are used here due to the effects seeming highlighted as if it was the event of the year. Which it was not–my daughter’s twins’ arrival with immediate and subsequent amazing baby-ness won that prize. I just didn’t know it’d take so long to get everything tied up around this car loss. Egads.

For every day errands I’ve been using my husband’s newer, sportier Mazda (my old Hyundai was, alas, quite pedestrian in comparison yet loved) while he was on a trip, thankfully. But no interesting jaunts have occurred–too busy talking to insurance adjusters often every day, and recovering from neck and shoulder pain…yes, I am addressing my irritation and seeking more gratitude. Because I can walk, I can talk; no one else was really hurt!

BUT I find good moments and today I’ve dug into photo archives and looked about. This is what I found from about the same date but in 2016: snow! More blanketed the area as weeks passed that winter, a real windfall of a snow year.

We’ve had far less precipitation than normal for early winter Portland metro area- finally it has begun to rain more. But since we now live at 800 feet versus about sea level, I expect the snow to arrive. The roads are hilly, sinuous and wooded out here so I’m not sure if I’ll welcome it as much as I think. Especially after the Auto Accident. Have to put on my suit of bravery when behind the wheel of my new car when I get it–and take it slow and easy. As an old Michigander, I know NOT to brake hard or fast in snowy and icy conditions. Still, please drive safely during the upcoming holidays, wherever you are.

These few random shots from the old neighborhood cheer me, and nudge me more toward Christmassy things. I am about ready to get on with the joyful parts, and I am keeping track of blessings, praying for stamina and guidance, giving lots of hugs–and getting quite a lovely bunch, too.

Saturday’s Passing Fancy: This Wintry House

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This sturdy house of seven,
how it gathered close snow and people,
the ice-light of winter a magic reveal;
how yellow circled thrumming life, a
collective heat of its dense center:
such music, affection, courage, prayer.

And she lept into the beauty of it,
dove into wide, steep snowbanks,
rode the glistening waves on her
Radio Flyer or creaky toboggan
which transported her to Alaska
or Antarctica, toward the edge of dreams.
On her tongue snow melted sweet-sharp,
water for the thirsty child
who could have been lost but was given
doorways to joy, exploratory powers to
forge freedom in December treks.

Oh, such dancing flakes sparked air, drifted
in tenderness to kiss her face,
wind sang out, trees waving bared arms;
her mittens and boots grew encrusted with snow,
feet were certain of their simple fate as she made her way.

This house with simple Christmas greetings
on door and porch goes blood deep,
felt like our hearts worn on our sleeves.

And I confess each year my spirit strengthens:

how the God of Love reaches to uphold us,
how the winters can rescue a woeful child
how wonders cannot be separated from the living
and those gone weave a music of their own

how Christmas still carries hope of peace,
a great promise of healing that cannot be undone,
a blessing of mercy folded ’round broken hearts,
how good will can reign when all else has fallen away

Friday’s Quick Pick/Photos & Poem: Advance, Retreat, Reveal

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Like a woman, spring offers glimpses
of secrets with calculated abandon,
loveliness just a hint until ready,
then as you move in to discover
the mysteries there is more waiting,
a few required shifts, a pause unexpected,
one last flourish before its unveiling.

Treat even these moments as small gifts,
for such restraint of exemplary beauty
brings sweet virtues to finest completion.

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Notes From the Edges of Sleep and the Day After

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It was that fine velvety stillness which held my attention. No mechanical clangs or motors roaring, no ebullient voices ballooning in the darkness after bar closings. The crows had taken a hiatus, were asleep or perhaps frozen stiff on their perches after the evening’s steady snowfall. I peeked out the window once more: nothing but rapid accumulation of an almost florescent snow upon rooftops, fences, tree limbs, parked vehicles. A January night’s attire arrayed itself with grace. Nothing stirred amid the restful snow, or pounced on blowzy flakes as once my calico cat had zealously attempted.

But why was I thinking of feisty Mandy, she of snappish meows and fast claws, dead and gone for a decade? I didn’t miss her warmth at my blanketed feet since she hadn’t been allowed there due to ending up a nuisance, though I loved her. No, it was another sneaky thought from nowhere. I lay on my back, blankets pulled up to my chin. Why did I think of anything at this time of night? I ought to have been snoozing, traversing vaporous realms at the most or loosely tethered to a wakeful consciousness at the least.

It was way past two in the morning; I didn’t want to check again. I had had my usual herbal Sleepytime tea while watching some innocuous television, headed to bed to devour many pages of an engaging novel. Tried to think sleepy thoughts. Let the day’s work and play be put aside. Worries offered up to God as well as a few suggestions that might be helpful, then humble retractions and surrender once more.

Closed my eyes. Ignored familiar inroads of pain that crept from neck to shoulders to head to back. Visualized warmth and healing in each spot, fell toward restfulness. In thirty minutes: fully awake again. This time, heart skipping about as if deep darkness was the best time to change things up, do a little sidestep, try on a galloping jig and then a waltz. A long pause or two and a swing step. Be at ease, I counseled the muscle that drives this flesh, fuels this life.

But beyond the bed, the vibrant quietude of snow carried me first to blizzards of my Michigan childhood and youth. The snow houses, sledding, ice skating, tunneling into the depths, falling into sharp sweetness with a boisterous shout. All that force of beauty and opportunities for fun; the ways it shaped the flow and tenor of my life for sometimes five or six months of each year. It gave me fortitude, more room for imagination and pure happiness.

And I thought, too, of a time in the north country with my first husband, our children gallivanting in brilliant snowdrifts, the skittish and graceful deer living right alongside our lives. The wood stove tended all day and night to keep us warm enough. That last winter of complicated snowstorms and love, more snow and loss. As I tried to let sleep come, I greeted him somewhere, wherever he is since body failed. But why was this necessary to revisit? Because the snow is made of memories. A unique elegance, freedom; it smells and shimmers of wonder and sorrow.

Music came forward from somewhere far away inside my mind– kept awakening me with chords, clear and robust. Giant icicles used to shine at the windows of my parents’ home, the music house. That was then and this snow was now but they were superimposed as I lay there half-awake. Trees must have shivered, as just like childhood I felt their aliveness, my eyes closing tighter against seepage of sky through the blinds and that far away past. I hummed a melody almost recalled as it melded with a sudden wind. Chimes jangled on the balcony, sonorous, comforting.

Three forty-five a.m. I sighed, re-positioned, fluffed the pillows. Thought of Marc on the East coast after flying all day. Was he awake, too? Sleep is often more elusive in hotels. He would likely be at work already.

Wait, a few poetic lines floated across mind’s eye…the slight of a slivered moon left behind, a pale cascade of stars nudging my waking… I grabbed pen, slip of paper.

Flopped back down. My heart rat-a-tatted over and over– electrical messages, small circuitous interruptions. That prescience of shocking mortality. We are not only memories and dreamings. But I know to wait it out, breathe well. It was persistent, then passing as mercifully, I fell asleep for awhile.

That night was a winding road. Long, crammed with bits and pieces that entertained, annoyed, jolted, intrigued and even soothed as each moment leads to another unlike what is expected or needed.

I am not alone with such night voyaging. All who experience insomnia for any reason know how it goes: it starts to feel long and unreasonably temperamental, then to feel more like floating in ineffable space and finally it feels like nothing but weariness. That waiting for dawn. It can be survived if you are friendly with it, acknowledge it as a terribly stubborn guest, and behave as if it is not unexpected and not despised.

And I finally awakened to full light. Looked outside. The snow was more immense, lay in high mounds and cancelled grayness with its reflective light. A foot of it? (Fourteen inches in places, I heard later.) Where did all this come from (an Arctic front via Canada, likely) and why to this valley saturated with a cold rain each winter? This was our second real snow so far; it was by far the biggest. I got up but it was as if my body came forward first, my self came second while, in between, I wavered. Then, steadier on both feet, it was time to greet another day properly despite the specter of exhaustion after four hours of sleep.

The pain in my neck had dug in. My eyes burned with bleariness. A daughter asked to come by as she usually does, using our computer (hers being broken) to search for another job. I dressed, put on the teakettle and toasted a bagel. I had things to get done. And I longed to walk into the snow. Discomfort does not usually excuse me from a daily walk, though it can be tempting. It’s better life management to keep going. I find such good moments, an infusion of strength–and it’s a good work out. Fresh cold air was surely a perfect antidote to poor quality sleep and a tenacious soreness.

And so we did walk for over an hour, good daughter and I. We clomped about in our heavy boots and I took pictures. Neighbors and passersby were chatty; it was satisfying to compare pleasures (and inconveniences) of such a rare snowstorm. Contentment filled me during that hour.

But this is all I have to offer today. No philosophical musings or insightful anything. Just this bout with a trying companion, insomnia. A glimpse again at my resilient but touchy heart. A sharing of bounties from an energizing winter mosey. Pain lessened, heart rhythms more settled. I’m quite tired out. Happier.

Time to sleep again, I so hope, And for all who traverse that oddly mysterious landscape of stony nights when trying to snooze: I wish you good rest.

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Friday/Saturday Quick Picks: Surprise Snow!

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The virtuosic snow
arrives, wild angels
astride streamers of bitter air,
here to surprise, sweeten,
to rearrange time into
measures of northern beauty,
billowing with memory of
more innocent desires.

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I missed out on my Friday posting as we had a major power outing. It had snowed on Thursday, then moving into Friday sporadic sleet joined in and finally robbed the area of power and safe mobility. There was nothing for it but to acquiesce and find ways to entertain myself and stay reasonably warm. Driving anywhere to cozier digs was not a great idea with black ice just starting to slick up byways. My adult children were snug elsewhere but I determined to stay put.

Still, I longed  to walk some in the brisk air before things worsened. After all, I grew up in Michigan; Oregon displays of snow in the Willamette Valley are not that fearsome. Our Cascade Mountains get an abundance; skiers and snowboarders hie thee to Mt. Hood and other gorgeous peaks. So I had a very ordinary goal–to blink away lovely snowflakes, see whiteness decorating all, to get exercise. It started well with snow still fresh and light, but suddenly the wind took on more edgy iciness. After a mere 20 minutes the mess began to cling to jacket, gloves and hat. My face stung and fingertips were numb. My old hiking boots were holding up but traction had worn off more than I thought. Thank goodness for decent balance; I got home safely.

The power did not return. The next eleven hours were alternately spent in the car warming up and charging my cell phone, digging out and lighting many candles as night descended, reading, gazing out our windows as pellets smacked the street and then snow that, I felt, fervently wanted to be rain swirled about in a crazy dance. I recalled childhood romps and how much they shaped my well being and sense of joy in the outdoors and my body. However, the heat in my place is electric and it got quite chilly. I sat swaddled in a thick throw plus my heavy fleece, with half-gloves on my hands and my slippers wishing they were mukluks.

I texted my husband, on business in Mexico: “cold and lonely” (dang it, Mexico!), then retreated to bed under weighty blankets by midnight, candlelight gleaming in the dark, a fine book in hand. Then, candles snuffed, good sleep at last. At 1:30 in the morning the radio (which I’d been listening to, forgotten about after power left) in the living room rang out with alarming force. A seriously classical chorale brought me to galloping consciousness. I bolted from bed to turn it off, as well as a few lights that were finally shining. Then snuggled back into a warm welter of coverings and slept until late.

All’s well that ends well! Here, a few pictures that tell some of the day and eve. Today we are back to regular rain and a bit of brighter sky. That’s the Northwest!

 

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