Spring Is Here!

The first day of spring arrived yesterday and here in C’ville the temperatures are pleasant. The gardens are way ahead of schedule and many of the more tender blooms were killed by last week’s cold spell with night time temperatures below freezing and a wind chill on top of that. All of my plants seemed to survived but most of the fruit trees in the area lost their gorgeous blooms and there will be less than an average crop of fruit this coming year. I got to wear the down coat I bought on sale in early December. I’ve only had a few chances to use it and love the cozy warmth it provides on frigid days when the wind is whipping about.

The big concern now is a lack of moisture. We’ve had next to no snow this winter. Maybe two inches in early January and a dusting of sleet last week. And rain has been minimal as well. We’re in the early stages of drought and unless the weather patterns change in the near future, I’m afraid the farmers in this area will suffer. I’m really tired of winter vegetables at this point and have been looking forward to the opening of our local farmer’s market next month. But will there be the usual bounty of fresh produce that this farm to table community relies on?

Many of the restaurants in the area serve food that is raised locally, including grass fed meats, fresh eggs, mushrooms, and beautiful vegetables and fruit by the bushel. I feel very lucky to be living in a community that takes it’s locally grown food so seriously. And I love cooking best when I can use produce that has been tenderly cared for by people I know.

I wrote the following poem back in 2002 when we were living on the banks of the South Fork Rivanna River and were beset with a horrendous drought. I’m praying and crossing my fingers that will not be the case this coming summer.

Waiting for Rain

Mid August
the river shrinks
exposing rocks stumps
relics from another world
grass burned brown
crunches under foot
yellowed leaves spiral
to the ground
as if it’s October

I sprinkle wilted hydrangeas
a treasured viburnum
with water saved
from washing dishes
delight in a feather-worn cardinal
a brazen titmouse
preening in the birdbath
I keep refilling
just for them

I mourn as lime
moss and bottle green leaves
recede into memory
like the clatter of rain
on windows
the way thunder showers
puddle on the street
splashing as I drive
through a favorite place
to sail a tiny ship

jzr
8/27/02

HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!!!

What? Me Worry?


If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. Alternatively, if there is no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you cannot do anything about it anyway.
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I’ve always been a worrier. I’ve worried about almost everything including what other people thought of me, what would happen if I didn’t do what I was told to do, and how much snow would fall overnight rendering the following day a disaster because I couldn’t get to my doctor’s appointment or my yoga class. I seemed to think that worrying would make the bad things I was expecting to happen disappear, never to be seen again. Fortunately, worry is no longer my constant companion.

It seems to me that worrying has a lot to do with control issues and fear. As a child I felt there was nothing in my life that I could control. I never knew when my parents were going to be mean to me or when they would give me a hug and tell me I was a good kid. From the beginning I had the imagination of a creative and could come up with the most amazing, wonderful stories in my head or the most terrifying. The scary tales were often encouraged by my grandparents who told me that if I didn’t eat everything on my plate, the wolf that lived in the pump house across the street would come and take me away. For a long time I believed them and ate all of the disgusting spinach that was piled on my plate and the extremely overripe banana that made me want to puke. I watched as my grandfather cracked raw eggs into his coffee and then drink it. I worried that he’d make me do the same thing as soon as I was old enough to drink coffee. Thankfully I was never forced to follow his lead.

I slowly discovered that worry was caused by anticipating what was ahead, fearing that I would fail and/or get into deep trouble. When I made the earth shattering discovery that I have little or no control over anything I figured out it was a waste of time. I would never be able to stop my father from being in a rotten mood, or keep lightening from striking my house. The world was way too huge and chaotic to fret about. Why waste my time feeling anxious and watching my back, which always ruined gorgeous, sunny days?

Being mindful is my goal these days. Sure I still worry about things when they feel wobbly, but once I realize what is happening it is fairly easy to let go, labeling my thoughts as fear or expectation. Surely there is no problem hoping for the best outcome of any situation, but letting it direct every moment of our lives is being wasteful of the gift we have been given. And fearing the worst is even more destructive.

Sam, my fourteen year old dog is getting very old, is deaf, and having difficulty with his rear legs. But he is happy and I can’t worry about how much longer he will be with us. I can only enjoy having him with me right now and the moments when he is feeling exceptionally chipper and can run up the driveway, chasing Lilli, his cat. I’m having too much fun right now getting up each day and smelling whatever flower is opening up for me. If the end of the world comes along while I’m at it I’ll deal with it when it happens. Why waste even a minute of this wonderful life?

Coming Back To Life

Spring is here a whole month early. Like many other locations it’s been a warm winter. Some one told me they found a tick on their dog yesterday. We’ve had several near 80 degree days, but mostly the warmest have been in the low 70’s.

Forsythia and magnolias are blooming, along with pears and cherry trees. The last two nights have been well below freezing and there was an article in the paper about how this freeze may effect the peach harvest here in Virginia. Local growers are using fans to keep the air moving around their orchards, but they admit there’s little they can do except pray since climate change is here to stay. I can’t imagine a summer without the sweet juice of peaches running down my arms as I consume them nonstop. Peaches are the best thing about the warmest months and I look forward to them all winter long.

My hellebores are blooming spectacularly this spring. On these frosty mornings they sometimes keel over looking like they’re dead, but once the sun is up and warms the air a bit, they stand taller than ever. They are one of my favorites because they bring color to the garden in February when I need a sign that winter is almost over. At this time of year I do a quick garden tour every day to see which plants are slowly rising above the thick layer of mulch that was put down last month. Orange breasted male robins are fighting over females and on my early morning walks the air is filled with birdsong that brings me joy. Tis the season of rebirth.

On my afternoon walk yesterday afternoon I noticed that someone in the neighborhood had tapped one of their maple trees hoping to gather enough sap to boil down for maple syrup. My brother Reid, now deceased, used to tap a grove of maples in New Hampshire every year when the days warmed above freezing and the nights brought freezing temperatures. He boiled the sap down in large pans over an open fire, coming indoors at the end of the day smelling of fresh air and wood smoke. My pantry was always filled with mason jars of his maple syrup. One year he supplied me with so much that I put it in the freezer thinking it would last longer that way. This past fall I used the last of the pint jars of his amber gold and when it got down to the last quarter of a cup, I wanted to tuck it back in the freezer as a way to keep him near me. Reid has been gone now for seven years. I felt that if I used the last of his gift up, he would be gone for good. But then I made a batch of buckwheat pancakes and used it up, knowing that if I carry him in my heart he’d be with me forever. Those last few drops were a celebration of his life.

Along with the plants, I’m coming to life again too. My burn out is easing and I’m longing to be out in the garden every day. I found myself writing a poem last week for the first time in years. I’m thrilled to be at it again, adding to my series of poems about Mrs. Heartwell, who is part me and every other woman in the world. She’s vulnerable, brave, strong, sensitive, and filled with love. I plan on working on this collection about her that I started almost twelve years ago and make it into a chapbook some day. I may start sharing a few from time to time but for now am sending out some of the series to see if I can get them published in a literary journal or two. Although I enjoyed writing my memoir and using well constructed sentences, I absolutely adore using words sparingly to paint short writings that are free of garble, yet full of power.

Do you find yourself coming back to life at this time of year?

Arguing With Myself

Like tiny gnats darting around my head, life can get annoying. I lash out trying to swat irksome obstacles away. But like those minuscule beings, vexing issues keep buzzing until I can’t stand it anymore.

When life gets difficult I tend to complain and try to fix things I have no business fixing. I get stressed and rather than take care of myself I leap into matters that are way over my head.

Here is a conversation I have with myself on a regular basis.

I’m sick and tired of ….

Release it!

Yes, but I ….

Let it go!

But who will ….?

It doesn’t matter!

Well, somebody has to ….

Release it!

I can’t!

Then live with the consequences!

But, you see if I don’t, then ….

I can’t hear you!

Yes, you can! You just responded!

I can’t see you!

Well, what if I ….?

See ya!

Wait! Where did you go?

jzr
9/23/06

Do you have arguments with yourself? See if you can get one down on paper. It’s fun!

Thinking

 

Thinking

Snap of ice on the river breaks
chilling silence frozen thoughts
come to life like startled fish
darting for cover in a tangle of reeds
a hidden pool

I try to stay with my breath
label the fear as it comes and goes
storm clouds followed by sun
the constancy of weather
my human mind

As snow dusts the meadow a cardinal proclaims
the season’s shift with frenzied song
I conjure restless seeds sprouting in fecund earth
the release of light slowly climbing northern skies
like summer morning glories
unfolding

But cold wind calls me back the ticking
of dry leaves on glass the migration of sun
moon stars the coming and going of breath
then is now becomes when
muddled thought continues

jzr
2/4/03

I just discovered Pandora, and am spending lots of time listening to music. It helps to free my mind from rants and other thoughts that keep me captive.

What do you do to tame your restless mind?