Saturday, July 30, 2016

I’ve been avoiding the Internet . . .

for the same reason I’ve avoided spending much time outside. It’s just too hot and nasty right now.

The Internet doesn’t need me. But two weeks of no rain and 90+ degree temperatures means the flower and vegetable gardens need constant watering. Lots of other attention too, as hot, dry conditions weaken the plants, make them less able to fight off the ever-present cabbage worms, Japanese beetles and all the other bugs I know by sight if not name who very much appreciate the gardens they seem to believe I have grown for them.

If we go anywhere to sit by the water we must get there at daybreak, because by 10 o’clock the rocks and banks of the river will be filled with people trying, as we are, to escape the heat. And as soon as we get home all my time and energy seems to be swallowed up with those petty little irritations some people refer to as life but I call things we have to do because we are grownups.

All this is to explain why I haven’t been up to the cabin the last several weeks. Even though I knew it would be cooler up here, knew I would be able to sit outside on the porch in the afternoon because there is always a breeze. Even though I knew I would sleep better in the deep silence punctuated only by night birds and the gentle hum of an overhead fan.

I came up here yesterday determined to rest and read and recharge. I expected nothing more than the possibility of a hummingbird at our new feeder, the chance flash of red from the head of our resident woodpecker, possibly the sound of deer crunching through the leaves behind my back and moving slowly into my sight line.

In town I try hard to slow down, look and listen, be mindful of my surroundings. But my resolve rarely lasts past the end of the morning walk with the dogs. I speed up, let little things irritate me. I grow impatient with myself and with any part of the world around me that is not going at what I consider the proper speed. 

There’s always so much more that could be done: the house could be cleaner, the dogs could be brushed, the garden and the yard need work. I could be organizing my office, going through the closets and culling unneeded items, working on promoting my books or, heaven forfend, even writing.

Not this weekend. This weekend I gave myself to the mountain, to slow down, to listen and see and smell.  And the mountain gave me a welcome back present. It seems there’s been more rain here than in town, and my slow crawl up our mile of driveway – windows down, radio off and eyes open wide – was rewarded with large patches of coral and orange on the road bank.

At sunup this morning, I walked down to that section of the bank. Slowly. Appreciatively. And I picked tiny cinnabar chanterelles, one at a time, savoring every moment until the sun and I reached the end of the bank at almost the same time.

Yes, I still have a list of things to do, emails to write, phone calls to make. All of them are important, grown up type chores. But they are made pleasurable by the fact that I’m sitting on a screen porch in the middle of the woods listening to the hum of insects as I write and call and figure. The “grown-up” house, the garden, the yard are far away and they will be there, calling for attention, when I return home.

But I have crossed many things off a list today.  A list I hadn’t written down, didn’t know how badly I needed to make until I realized I didn’t have any of the things on it:

1. Spend an hour picking tiny mushrooms.
2. Take a cold shower outside .
3. Walk slowly.
4. Breathe.