Autumn enters on golden rays of sun and
fills the house with the promise of pies and
long lazy evenings with a good book.
In some systems, there are five seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer and the Little Summer — or the Second Summer. It is a time of promise and activity.
The promise of a time of rest, yet time still to finish the last of the gardening, the housecleaning, the shopping.
The promise that all things come to an end — easy times as well as terrifying will cycle through and die, as the grain browns in the fields, as the child becomes an adult and the adult becomes a corpse.
And we remember…
As we remember the sun and the heat, the dry and the growth of the First Summer we also look forward to the dark, the cold, the wet and the silence of the season to come.
We celebrate the times of abundance, we bring in the harvest and we prepare for the time when hearth and home are our refuge, our haven against that storm outside.
The seasons change, the stars roll along in the heavens, and we know… this too shall pass.
How many times I have been surprised, when meeting someone new, to discover that we have known each other all along.
I had that feeling again this last weekend, when I met up with a fellow Babbleholic at the Whidbey Kite Festival on Saturday. We drove for two hours, and another half hour on the ferry to get there, and spent a lovely afternoon with new friends enjoying the ocean breeze and the wonderful kites.
Earlier this year, a similar feeling, driving up to a different Babbler’s home, to be greeted by a smile that belongs to my grandmothers, my cousins, my family.
Feeling instantly safe, completely at ease, perfectly accepted (strange ideas and all) — what a gift! And how sadly rare in this world. I am generally ill-at-ease with people, even (or especially) with those I already know.
So, I don’t expect to be instantly comfortable with everyone. With anyone, in fact I am always startled when I come home to a new place, a new person. That sense of recognition of me in the space between myself and others…
Yet, there is a part of me that seems to know there is something in common… between one and another, between the other and my self.
How sad it would be to find myself always lonely with people — at odds with them, seeing only differences.
Perhaps the beginning of Peace is that point where “other” becomes “self.” Perhaps the essence of Peace is being comfortable enough with another person to both celebrate their unique qualities and point out their errors and strangeness… with humor, with love, intending not to chastise but to learn and support.
And the goal of Peace? Not merely an absence of war — absence needs to be filled.
No, the goal of Peace must be, ultimately, to fill the space between us. To know who someone is, and then to let the undeniably dangerous concept of Love fill the gap.
I have today, now, this moment to treasure. And then nothing.
This time, this place, these people (or this person) — or never, nowhere, no one.
What do I value? See what surrounds me, where I am, what I do, who is with me.
What do I believe? My work, my life, my heart express the essence of my in-most thoughts.
Do I do great things? Or little things? And who decides what is worthy? Do I count as success only that which brings accolades — or that which pleases me?
I walked out in the garden this morning, pulled a few weeds, admired that last rose on the persistent shrub with its self-made nosegays, counted the spiderwebs hanging like solar diagrams on the buddleia (four) and threw a ball, a stick, a toy for the dogs.
I picked up the litter from the drive. I wandered through the house, putting this thing away, setting this other aside for later.
I checked through the mail — a note from a friend, unsolicited recycling materials, a bit of news.
I deconstructed a little more of the water-damaged wall in my office and disturbed a small (maybe a few month’s old) ant nest when I removed a bit of insulation. I set the window open to push the dust outside — or does it push it further inside? No matter, the house was cooler.
I read, I played, I cleaned, I rested, I dreamt.
Today, here, with my dogs at my side, I waited for my family to return home.
It finally rained. A good, long soaking rain all Wednesday.
I sat inside and worked on projects. Putting the story I have been writing online mostly…
It rained, and the ground was damp with moisture.
I stepped outside and the air was clean — no smoke, no dust. Just air.
The rich smell of good soils and the sound of the water pushing the air out of the ground were intoxicating.
By yesterday, the skies had cleared completely. And the bright blue over the sparkling clean leaves gave life a crisp new look.
We drove up the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend and took a ferry to Whidbey Island for the kite festival. The winds were brisk and constant out of the west, shifting to a more northerly breeze in mid-afternoon. There were kites of all sizes and shapes flying, floating (and only occasionally falling) as demonstrators and contestants enjoyed the first full day of Autumn.
And soon, I hope, we will have rain again. But not until I spend some hours in the garden…
They promised me rain two weeks ago.
Not a drop.
Then they said rain one week ago.
Nary a sprinkle.
Then they said rain this week.
It grew cold and cloudy and threatened all manner of precipitation.
Most of which, predictably, fell to the north, east and south of us.
Still, over the last three or four days, it has drizzled enough to keep the surfaces of the plants moist through the day, and already the grasses are beginning to perk up. It hasn’t even come close to soaking the ground though — a few millimeters down and it’s as dry as if it hadn’t rained at all. I am still waiting for my promised rain…
I didn’t write anything on September 11, 2006 — worked the entire week and month before about what I might write, wanted to write, should write. Then didn’t. Started pulling things together on September 12. It is obviously going to take a little longer than I anticipated. So I am starting a new category and will post in small amounts as I manage to find the words for this difficult subject.
I will pull a few threads together that have been consistent for me over the last few weeks, months, years… my lifetime.
Let’s start with re-stating the obvious. The events on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001 were appalling. They were painful to watch, even for those who knew no person directly involved, whether lost or helping in the rescue and recovery efforts. No other attack on primarily civilian targets had ever succeeded on such a scale in this country. With the exception of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, there had been nothing in my adult life that even approximated this event.
That said, let’s talk about what it actually meant at the time. Obviously, it meant that there are some people in this world who care so little for other people they are willing to commit mass murder just to make a point.
But that isn’t news.
It meant, also, that the United States government was not listening to its sources and following up on leads to prevent this sort of attack. It meant, perhaps, that there were just so many leads — real as well as false — that sifting through them took more hours and people than the government could provide.
But that isn’t news.
Obviously, it meant that the United States was a target, but so too was the world — it was, after all, the WORLD trade center, and huge numbers of the dead and injured were born outside the United States.
That isn’t news, either!
And it meant that, somewhere, there was a degree of desperation, or madness, or both on the part of the people who planned and carried out the attack.
And neither was this truly newsworthy.
Finally, it meant that the United States had entered the modern world as seen through the eyes of people the world over: never knowing if the young boy riding home from school, or the grandmother entering the bus, or the car parked across the street might be carrying a bomb. Never knowing when, or where, or for whom, the next bomb would be detonated. And yet knowing there would be another…
This was definitely news!
My thoughts moved from what that single terrorist incident to the many incidents in the world before and since: bombs in Indonesia, Spain, India, Yemen, Israel, …
The United States is not alone — as a nation or as a people, no matter how isolationist its policies, nor misguided its actions.
Not only does the United States not exist in a vacuum, but there are many many countries that deal, on a truly daily basis with crimes and tragedies of this type and on nearly this scale.
So the question becomes:
How do we deal with these new (to us) fears and remain the same open, optimistic, outgoing people we imagined ourselves to be on September 10, 2001?
Maggie was a dog.
I first met her several years ago in our front yard. She was staggering and drooling — sort of foaming at the mouth. I shooed the kids inside and got as close to her as I could. She was clearly in distress, and didn’t appear threatening, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. And because she didn’t know me, I backed off so she wouldn’t feel threatened.
A few days later, she came into our yard again, friendly and happy (her tail went a mile a minute), and I was able to read the name on her collar tag: Maggie N.
She became a daily visitor, and soon I saw her on a walk with her owner, and learned the reason for her peculiar behavior the first day: seizures.
Poor puppy was on medication, but they hadn’t figured out the right dosage yet.
Over time, her face gradually twisted into a crooked snarl as one seizure after another affected her.
But her personality remained as sweet as anything, and she kept me company as I gardened when the kids went back to school; and when we brought our new dog home last summer she welcomed him in the way only a friendly, happy dog could: a massive running romp through my flowerbeds. It was repeated daily until the rains came in the autumn.
Surprisingly, they never really damaged anything aside from the large rosemary plant which probably needed those extra branches pruned anyway.
Sometime in the last few months, she stopped coming by, but when I saw her “around” she would always come up for a pet and a quick lean against my legs.
And then a week ago a Lost notice was posted on the stop sign to our street. And in the evenings, her family walked out with her new “little brother” calling her name.
Yesterday when I was picking the last of the summer blackberries, a smell. Then one of the boys came home from giving some of his outgrown toys to Maggie’s family with the news that one of them had smelled a dead smell coming from our yard.
A part of the yard I rarely visit because it is overgrown and tangled.
And there she was — had been for some time — and I couldn’t do anything but walk over to her family’s house and show them where she lay.
So today, my thoughts keep returning to Maggie, to her family and to our world. We mourn openly when humans die, but we also mourn when those happy, simple creatures that accompany our journey pass on.
Rest, Maggie. You were a good dog.
The boys were ready to go, but stopped to pose for one pic…
and then another.
6 September 2006 was a lovely sunny day, with just a touch of autumn in the air. My first order of business: breakfast!
I sat with my tea and some spice cake and almonds while I played Babble (see sidebar for the link) for an hour. Finally, I was ready to start my day and spent two hours happily looking through the garden, taking out the garbage and doing laundry. No different from most days, but nice because it was at my own pace.
And for a change — perhaps because I was moving at my own pace — my body cooperated. My knees didn’t rebel, my back didn’t give out, my eyes stayed focused and my head didn’t hurt. It was nice to be able to sweep the floors and clean the kitchen a little, with only dogs underfoot.
All that said — I missed the kids and will be glad when they step off the bus in a few minutes. Ice cream sandwiches are waiting!