April 26, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gone Fishin'...

Back soon!

April 9, 2006

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Life Lessons: The Scent of a New Day

Walking out each morning to pick up the newspaper is a perfect time to greet the new day and appreciate the fresh start it brings. I listen to, I look at, and I certainly smell the awakening world. The fragrance of an early morning is often fragile, faint, requiring a little more attention than the looking and listening do.

First of course, I always smell the weather. Coming rain, an approaching snowstorm, even the hot dry heat of summer, each has a subtle scent. If it's precipitating, that mositure, too, has its very own perfume, and during an unusual early morning thunderstorm, you can certainly smell the ozone of the lightning. On some frigid winter mornings, the cold itself has a clean and clear breath.

But richest of all are the ever-changing scents of the seasons. In the winter, there's often a waft of woodsmoke, sometimes the evergreens, especially the fir balsams, give off a wonderful scent, and there's also occasionally the all-too-obvious odor of the cat spruce! The air often seems especially pure in winter, making those man-made smells such as the diesel fumes from snowplows and gas-and oil combination from the neighbors' snowblowers even more... intrusive.

In springtime the earth exhales its own perfume, long before the trees bud or the flowers bloom. It is the smell of green, of freshness, of a crisp clean. I often wonder in April... does hope have a scent?

There are not words enough to describe the bouquet of a summer morning. Now remember, this five-senses centering is only a very few minutes each morning, but smell most of all can saturate your very being in those few moments. The lilacs, the roses, the sharp sweetness of the tall bearded irises all stand out. But one of my most favorite summer scents is the the dusty-attic smell of bridal wreath. Sometimes I just close my eyes and try to pick one flower's fragrance out of the hundreds and hundreds in the garden. Heliotrope is... delicious!

The days begin to cool, the mornings start to dawn later and there is the nutty smell of the drying leaves in the fall. The air is redolent of apples hanging heavy on branches or becoming tangy on the ground. The smell of the earth itself is as strong as in the spring, but it's very different in this season. First it's the ripening smell of harvest gathering, then in late fall there's that hint of death and decay perhaps. While, to me, spring smells so... new, autumn mornings smell so ... melancholy. But later in the day, standing around a small mound of burning leaves, sipping fresh cider, I take a deep breath and realize that each new day, no matter what the season, brings to each of our senses... great promise.


April 5, 2006

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

This In-between Time...

The ground is totally bare, not even a small pile of lingering snow under the evergreens on the north side of the house. Small shoots of green are popping up and buds are beginning to swell.

It's been unusually warm, and the strong sun is very enticing. It certainly looks as though the gardening season has arrived, but the reality is that the soil is still frozen deep down and that the cold earth is very hard on the hands.

I have lettuce and radishes started in the unheated greenhouse but it's much too early to put anything more fragile out there. I'd planned to put some peas in the garden last weekend, but then decided that was really pushing things a little too much. So, I sit... I'm ready, but the garden isn't!


April 2, 2006

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Life Lessons: Look! Look Until You Really See...

Several weeks ago, we talked about starting the day with five-senses centering, a way to anchor yourself, at least for a moment, in the here and the now. When I walk out my short driveway to get the paper first thing in the morning, I listen to the sounds of the world waking up. I also take a look at the new day dawning...

I'm always truly stunned when I read studies, statistics, of all that our eyes take in during the course of each day. That is NOT to say what we look at, or what we see, both very different from what our eyes scan, a myriad of images that may be imprinted on some snippet of our brains.

In the early morning, after I've listened to the world waking up, I start to look around, always checking the rising sun and night/day sky first. I so, so love light that the first day-rays are terribly important to me, to say nothing of reveling in the glorious, ever-changing colors of the varying seasonal sunrises. Often the second half of the old seaman's adage, "red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" comes to mind. In the winter, the sun may not even have cleared the tree-line of the horizon, while in summer it may already signal a blazing hot day ahead.

Are there any clouds this morning? Low, thick, billowing ones, maybe heavy-laden with rain or snow? Or high , thin cirrus clouds heralding a fine, fair day? Gilded by sun? Moving in what direction? Are there any stars still visible? Oh, usually Venus of course, but in the dark-dawn seasons, I check for old favorites Orion, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Pleiades.

And remember, it's taken me far, far longer to write about this part of five senses centering than it's ever taken to just pause... and... look!

My gaze comes down to earth, to the yard, to the trees, to the flowers in their seasons. Believe me, no matter what the time of year, in this place where I've lived for over forty years, there IS something new to see each and every new day! Sometimes, I'm just noticing that a piece of rain gutter has come loose, or I make a note to trim back the gone-by lilac blooms. Or maybe I realize the neighbor's dog is coming to visit me. No matter what I notice, it's always the evidence of the passing seasons that makes this piece of the morning ritual so very... rich!

The incredible glory of the slanted winter sun on diamonds of snow, or on shimmering ice-encased branches never, ever grows old. The uncountable shades of... white. The shadows of blues and purples and grays, so, so many subtle and delicate tints.

In spring, every single morning brings new greens, thickening buds, unfurling blossoms. More and more birds darting about. The sometimes-reluctant awakening of the perennials. After a Maine winter, the light now seems clearer, stronger, richer, deeper, yellower!

Glancing around the yard on an early summer morning sometimes brings an almost blinding abundance of beauty ~ every imaginable color and shape, combined and mixed, just strewn about in a new way every day.

And then, there's fall... First the goldenrod in August whispering, "autumn, autumn." Then, there's one particular maple tree with a small cluster of leaves that almost always turns red in late August, w-a-a-ay before any other leaves in the yard. There's the heart-filling, Jack-Frost foliage of October, and the few tattered leaves lingering in late November winds.

Just as listening through the layers helps to center us in the here and the now, so, too, can looking, truly looking until we see, not just with our eyes, but see the wonders, the gifts, of each new day with our hearts and souls.