Blue Heron

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The day proved long, as Monday’s can often feel. A late afternoon rain had cooled everything down and I left to walk the marsh and smell the clean air. I traveled sans electronics choosing to hear cicadas, starlings, and gossipy red-wings rather than risk a phone call or hear a song I’d heard many times before on the iPod. It’s curious how silence has slipped into me. Over the last year a hunger for quiet has grown up in me more fertile and prosperous than dandelions. I love music and dance often in my home, but the days of ear buds and sounds other than nature along my trails seem more past than present these days.

Movement atop the tall stand of trees to the west caught my eye and reminds me why I came out this evening. I won’t say I regretted my lack of camera as he began his circling decent onto the pond, but my hand reflexively traveled to my pocket looking for something to capture his flight. Without any gear to speak of I was left with nothing but my awareness to capture the moment and that, in the end, was my good fortune. He circled twice before landing on the far side, adjusting his wings briefly before slowly strolling through the reeds to the water’s edge. They are, in every sense, magnificent birds. Large with bold markings and yet they move as Buddhist monks on a walking meditation – slow, deliberate, thoughtful. I slow to share in his mindfulness while watching his head turn slightly to catch the sight of fish below the surface. He sees far more in that water than I and so I bow as I pass, one sort of master to another.

The day’s chaos has already floated off and I am struck by what an extraordinary life I lead. I walk in beauty with funds to meet my needs, food in my belly, good use for my hands and time to ponder what has been given me. As often happens when I give my strain to the twilight air, I have been set right by a heron with the grace of flight and sunset water.

Seaside

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

Someone’s Coke had exploded on the window; no telling how long ago, but it looked old and crusted. The waves fill in the scene between the running, brown spots telling a tale of holidays and luggage, children eating crushed sandwiches with chips and foamy soda. My nieces are giggling in the booth behind me and I pretend to read my book. In truth, the ocean moving beneath my window is far more intriguing. The girls launch off to the outer deck leaving the Coke and me and the dark green sea. Such a vast ocean full of life and dancing seagulls that laugh at soda and women longing for their vacation not to end.

I breathe deep and feel the sand still embedded in my sandals rubbing against my heal. The vacation may be over but my morning walks are alive within me as I sail for home.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Some mornings the temptation to lie in bed would be great, but the island is a haven for bird migrations. The dawn is full of winged song and chattering old maids. Plus, I knew few walked the beaches in the morning leaving it mostly to myself. By nine o’clock people would be staking out their spots for the day, especially close to the water, but at the crack of dawn it’s a random dog walker and one or two folks likely fallen asleep on the beach from too much drink the night before.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

As I walk the surf rolls over my feet, a tempting lover, but hard to get. It’s in the way she pulls at my ankles then drifts back into the sea as if she could careless at my response. I chase her, as any sun-drenched lover would and she covers my legs with love. She could beguile the hardest soul winking delicately in the new dawn and makes positive beggars out of crabs whose claws outstretch demanding she return them home.

I collect stones and fill my pockets, smooth and black or mica-covered quartz the favorites. I walk, rubbing them, committing to a seaside rosary of sorts as I speak to spirits that pull my hair into the wind. Salt graces my lips and I lick it off for breakfast, smiling at the seagull who hovers wondering what I dine on. “The same as you, my friend. The same as you.”

Mohegan's Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Mohegan’s Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I came upon a stingray, likely dead, but his eyes were still open and partially covered by a pool of water. I pulled him back into the seaweed thick surf and he quickly disappeared under the rolling garden. I could not tell if he lived or merely vanished in a tangle of kelp, but for some reason I felt very satisfied. After a time walking the beach I wondered at my need to deliver him from his death. We all must leave this plane at some point. The sight of death rarely disturbs me and I am at peace with the beautiful eco-system that has a purpose for even the decaying body. I sat on the sun-warmed sand and watched the surf for a long while. Clearly that day, I did not want either him or myself to be anywhere else but with the sea.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Enchantment

Lazy Sunday: Photo by Noelle

Lazy Sunday: Photo by Noelle

 

I run my finger along the skin of my thigh. It is surprisingly smooth and soft. Knees bent the skin pulls taut and I can see the shape of the bones. I lay my hand flat over one knee and imagine I can feel the marrow alive and thriving at its center. These are my pieces. Pulled out of a toy chest and assembled into this form, specifically for this ride. I breathe in my good fortune, relishing the sound as the lungs fill with an expansiveness I had but all forgotten.

I remain still, my heart beating steady as spring rain – my breath slows to hear it.  Each chamber opens the door to my life blood, as the grandest of hosts in a burgundy castle. “All are welcome here!” they call out and my blood flows in as giddy guests.  The veins in my arms talk of banquet tables and vast dance floors where all life is on display. Fat oxygen molecules swinging as if ballerinas in and out of capillary beds hum my existence into life. I am humbled by the grace of single blue line mapping the tale of me.

The moment is brief as my senses remain tied to the dark chocolate I’d eaten a few moments ago. More bitter than sweet and rich as gold across my tongue. I feel the smile more than any facial change as I fall under my own enchantment. Beguiled by sensory facets that change as diamonds in sunlight. I wonder I had not noticed my beauty so thoroughly before. I cannot be disappointed, though. After so long a wait to make such a discovery now is pure magic.

I have lived inside this body for many decades and she surprises me still. Come close and I will show you the stone that has lived in my hand since childhood. A fall on a gravel driveway in the dark of a Halloween night left her there. Closer still and I will show you the scar where glass cut my back in a car accident and the place the surgeon’s knife lay fast upon my skin. Here you will see how my fingers bow slightly and over here the freckles that call to mind a constellation in a faraway galaxy. Let me show you the hands that age as all artist’s hands must. Weathered and wrinkled, traces of life beneath their nails. At this distance the green-gray pupil that has seen mountains and oceans fall beneath my feet will be readily apparent. She will, in all her extraordinary clarity, look back at you with immense openness.

Inch close enough to hear my whisper and it will thread the needle you have held out for me, magic upon your ear. For what am I, if not the very grace spirit is made of…

Hometown

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

I pass through her shadow much like passing through a lake spring. I catch a glimpse of her in baggy shirt and jeans by the State theater, but it’s only a ghost that passes into the shade of an elm. I felt her pulling my steps into the same sixteen year old’s rhythm on Washington Blvd and I forced myself to pick up the pace. She haunted me at the corner of Summer and Broad where the old Caldor’s Department store used to be. Just thinking about that old five and dime throws my thinking back forty years. I shiver as the closed in feeling of a girl’s bathroom swims into view. Children laughing and pulling at my clothes as they shove me into the stall door. I dressed in hand-me downs and cheap clothing that all the kids knew where it had been bought. I stop walking and let her ghost drift past as I turn my face into the sun on Atlantic.

Caldors marketing stock photo circa 1970

Caldors marketing stock photo circa 1970

I look in boutique windows that I would have never looked in as a child and her ten year old shadow hovers at my hip. We were too poor to buy clothes in such places. Now I dally vaguely window shopping, I suspect because I can, but I need nothing. As I walk past the first McDonald’s in our town I remember my mother bringing home fries once when I was sick. Probably sounds like a curious luxury to a world gone wild on fast food, but in the 70’s it was a big deal. I had strep throat for the umpteenth time with fevers that got as high as 105. She packed me once in ice to bring the fever down and would lay with me running her fingers through my sweaty hair until I’d fall asleep. I often slept on the floor with the fans because it was the only cool place to be in the summer. Even now I remember how unbearably hot I felt and the gallons of ginger ale I drank. As the scent of the fryers comes to me on the street I remember the taste of the salted fries she brought home. She sat with me by the sliding glass doors where a breeze came in and we shared them. It makes me weep to think about it. The ten year old shadow takes my hand and we keep walking.

This is my hometown and yet I could not feel any less at home. Walking along is an immersion in a time capsule. I no longer run from my previous selves, but I feel their weight here. I feel the lack of self-worth and fear she had. So much confusion of how to act or how to be. Loneliness. Isolation. I am a thousand light years from here and yet I find I want to find her on the next street. Take her shopping. Hear her laugh and see that lightning smile. Tell her, as Dr Seuss told us all, “Oh the places you will go, my love. Oh the places  you will go.”

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

 

Muir, Thoreau and Spirit Wood

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

Storm

Storm coming over a local community church

Storm coming over a local community church

The storm was as violent as my thoughts. Thunder cracked against the house with a shotgun blast. Hail pelted the roof and bounced out of the gutters like popcorn, as the Hogbacks vanished in the torrent of rain. A house darkens as bleak as the mind that is filled with rebellion. Is there no bottom to this work? How many layers of darkness can one body hold? The lightning flashes through the windows, as the Universe replies. The storm just as quickly shifts direction and rain pummels the windows as I let loose my reply. Whose violence will last longer, I wonder?

There is nothing fresher than the atmosphere after a thunderstorm. All that ionization makes the air crisp and clean, no matter the temps. Is it possible if we hold nothing in – we let it all go as sheets of rain, that we, too, become crisp and clean? If we hold onto nothing are we washed clean by the storm, as well?

All storms run out and exhaustion consumes as surely as the east wind moves the thunder heads out. Finally, sunset peaks through casting light on my hands that now lay open in my lap.

Between Two Storms

Apex: Photo by Noelle

Apex: Photo by Noelle

I walked between two storms today. Clouds built menacing and bleak to the north, while another storm front raged gray and wild to the south. I wished a walk in these beautiful spring temps, but what to do?

I made a decision.

I am master and creator of my Universe and today I command the sky, and too, I shall command the rain. I will rule the earth. The heavens may fall, but on my east to west trail, nothing will fall upon my head. No dew will touch my skin. No puddle dampen my shoe. Lightening will heal to my call and thunder obey my leash. I am my own weather front. I am an ionic gulf stream that holds all violence at bay and forges a dry path. I am Goddess Divine and this moment my kingdom.

Be still!

And so it was….

Off the Deck: Photo by Noelle

The Platte: Photo by Noelle

image Off my Deck: Photo by Noelle