The Stillness of Water

On Friday I seek silence … and in early April the soft snow dampens the earth and soil, quelling the sound of bird and voice … 

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But quickly dissolves into sand

and on Sunday the silence with it…

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The snow is faded into the ground, the sun is bleaching the clouds away, and I, walking along the beach pass a young boy hollering at his dad who asks,

“Are you in acting class now?”

Yet the boy is only thrashing his frustration at his parent’s playful teasing…

 

I keep walking even as the young voice echoes inside me … away and away from the humdrum of human noise

Remembering the silence I seek.

 

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What I want is to listen for the water tinkling as it winks upon the shore

What I want is to feel the sound of sand crunching under my sneaker sole

The wind push past my face

Or rub my hood against my hair

Or rustle at my coat sleeve as I swing my arm, as if asking me a favor…

 

I want to hear the birds, confused as to whether spring is here or winter will return again

The bugs burping out of their winter homes…

 

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I walk and watch two fishermen, take photos, wishing I was on a boat, in the middle of the pond, watching the stillness of water all around…

I wave and ask them how the the fishing goes…

“Two” they say…

“Enough for dinner?”…. I give them a thumbs up. 

We chat, (they like my accent, they say) and I wonder if they have read the latest scientific research that shows that swimmers, peeing in Walden Pond are killing their dinner. ***

I wish them well and we part as friends…

Walk on, to the silence of the wind

Around the shoreline to the beach and watch the sun shed her color in the surface of the pond.

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*** to read about the article dated 4/5/18 go to

The Boston Globe … Stop Peeing in Walden Pond

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Wandering Around Walden

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She never knew this place
Had never been here
But somehow
I think she knows it now…

 

They don’t allow dogs here… though that doesn’t mean I never see them… even this morning, a small black faced thing. Not a Shih Tzu like she was, but similar…
I keep my mouth shut, half jealous of the young couple cuddling their pup.

She left me to be with Jesi four days ago now. Yet I know she is still with me.
I feel her, just as I feel Jesi with me at times when I need her most.

Even as I close my eyes, she sits watching me as she would…she, on the other side of the glass door of our apartment, me in my chair
…yet, in my dream, neither of us are outside in the cold.
She is sitting on the carpet, warm and cosy.
I am comforted.
I know what this means.

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Today I celebrate Kari and Jesi’s birthday.
I call Kari on the phone and hear about her plans for her special day. For Jesi…
I put a post on her Facebook page.
“I sent you an early gift for your birthday Jesi…”

 

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So I wander around Walden; my thoughts in confusion.

Jesi, her birthday…trying to focus on who she would have been at 20 had she lived till today ….Would I have called her at school just as I had Kari to wish her a happy birthday? …..Would she have been here, walking around Walden or at the vet’s office on Tuesday holding my hand as we said good bye to Mimi?

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I haven’t walked the full circuit around the pond in weeks, months now…not wanting to be away from my little love that long when I needed to be caring for her.
I’m not sure I want the luxury now.
Perhaps standing on the main beach as I have many times, or walking just a little of the shoreline would have been enough…

In the silent stillness as Walden’s great strength and love holds me up….

She holds me still
While I stand here
Realizing that all that is precious
Crumbles and fades
As we all must…

And that is the way of it
In acceptance
Of being human.

Walden through Eye and Lens: A most unusual week in winter.

From Sunday to Friday, from Winter to Spring not only has Walden surprised us, but my rumination has surprised me…

Sunday 2/18/18

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Wednesday 2/21/18

On this record breaking 70 degree February day, I did not have time to stop at Walden. I drove past on my way to and from work …but slowing down in passing, as I always do, I gazed out across the pond…

Today I widened my gaze…

The car park is full and the beach, as if summer …people ‘parked’ on the sand near the water’s edge (yes..water) …even one tent…. or perhaps it is an umbrella… …bare legs in February ..only that I am from Australia and am used to summer in February this would seem bizarre…
Yet I have been going to the pond and enjoying its solitude during these past winter months  …and I feel a pang of sadness…

I love the solitude of the pond and am not ready to give this up for the return of the summer crowds…yet…

Now I understand when I hear the saying ….Every Season for a Reason

 

Thursday 2/22/18

Today is quite different … quiet and cool and raining. I stop and walk down onto the now vacant expanse of sand…
I find it beautiful even under a shroud of cloudy grey sky
….a channel of open water extends all the way down the right side of the pond
So exciting but too cold for my aching joints to plunge in as yet
The stillness though….
It is magnificent.

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Friday 2/23/18

Another surprise … and totally irritable to my eye and lens.

An unscheduled stop on the way to work… after a dusting of snow and under a sprinkling of sun the magic of Walden in winter returned at week’s end.

Yet she reflects on her week of contrasts…

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note to viewers: the photos in the slideshow were taken within 10 minutes of each other

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Wondering about Walden

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You would think by this time in Winter’s ice and snow I would be accustomed to the stillness…
Yet every time I descend the ramp, the steps to the sand and come upon Walden
Her silence surprises me anew.

I am hushed by her motionless, as if she comes to stone.
Her permanence, the message of her endurance
While all things around her change …

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Tomorrow she will be changed again,
Under snow.
And later this week when temperatures promise 70
Who knows what she will do…

I wonder
And she keeps me wondering…
Walden.

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12 Inches of Ice

It is the ice fishermen that tell me Walden lies under a foot of ice. Despite the fifty degree day, the puddles forming the pond, a thick crust that makes it safe to walk upon, that separates the fish from them, the pond from the sky …

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I chose not to walk on the ice. I head out around the main beach, the crust of remaining snow from last week’s fall crunching under my boots, melting and draining into saturated sand.

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I come to Walden for photos and to be with myself … yet it seems that each time I come, I meet someone(s) and find myself uplifted by the happen chance conversation. Today, the fishermen, them telling me about the ice, their experience of fishing, “I remember one mid February, paddling a canoe and catching a fish this big” one of them motions to me a fish a third the size of his canoe…and I, trading stories of cold water swimming. “My last swim here was the end of November, and there are plenty others more hardy than me that continued to swim, only she froze a couple of weeks later” I call out to them across the divide of ice.

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By the time we head back toward the ramp, them across the pond and me across the sand, we know we have met here before, them fishing while I have been swimming in the fall. We part ways saying we hope to meet again.

 

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A week ago as I stumble along the shoreline on the opposite side of the pond, I run into a man striding along the ice as if it is solid and un-slippery ground. I ask “What are those things on your boots that you can grip like that?” We stop and he shows me the sole of a boot. They are micro spikes like the ones my friend advised me to get the previous week.

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Before long we are heading off together, chatting. We talk about the friends we know, cold water swimmers, their bravery and their youthful antics, how hardy they are. He continues to stride out on the ice while I walk alongside the frozen pond.

When the sun deserts us back at the man beach I think how enriched my visit has been for our meeting.

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I leave grateful to Walden for showing me these parts of myself…and knowing I will return for more…

A Glimmer in the Sky

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Perhaps I ought to have known when I looked up from the puddles in the ice and saw the late afternoon sun peeking through the heavy weight of clouds that something unusual was about to happen …. those iridescent silver threads spun with gold sent forth across the puckered puddled pond… But I was in no mind to predict it. The past four weeks has sucked the strength out of me, my capacity to see beyond the very act of putting one foot in front of the other, my resilience finally beaten down. Two days before I had commented to a friend … you know that saying …what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger … this time I think it’s finally beaten me.
Falling on my face, bruising my ego and my knees, the abscessed root of a tooth after dental work causing a week of migraines, and then this past week yet another migraine, nausea and so ill I could do nothing for four days, all due to fasting for a medical procedure…

I had begun to wonder if my daughter in spirit had been required elsewhere in the celestial heavens and I had been left to manage as best as I humanly could. Which clearly, was not very well…

So here I was at Walden… head bent watching one foot as I placed it slowly in front of the other.

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I was hardy game to walk upon the ice. It was 50 degrees and dotted with visitors near and far. I did not feel I had the power of Jesus walking on water like I imagined they had. Even further toward the middle I could make out the tiny figures of the ice fishermen, a sure sign that Walden was a safe haven. Yet I desperately wanted a photo. But when I stared at myself in the puddles which nestled in her icy cover I seemed such a fragile figure. Could I risk it?

I stepped carefully onto the ice. with each step I made my way out to the puddles and slowly bent to take a photo. I did not stay long or go far. Just enough to feel a swell of terror and an inch of bravery return.
Back on the the squelchy sand I continued, lips zipped together, at a brisk pace around the pond. It felt so good to be moving; walking strong and powerful. Striding out on solid ground. I remembered the third anniversary of Jesi’s death on September 11 when I hid her prayer card in the grasses so she could watch over the pond. My heart warmed with my secret. Perhaps she was not gone from me even if this morning I had felt so low I let go of her entirely.

By the time I had walked half way around the pond I was considering turning back. I could see the south shore and track above the sand were icy. I had stopped to talk to a young couple who had confirmed this and also decided to turn back. Then my cell phone rang. The call sent me into a stress spiral. Immediately I finished the call I felt the muscles in my head tighten and grip at my temple. It was uncontrollable and the way migraines begin. I needed to breathe. BREATHE. I told myself.

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I turned around and watched with intent two younger women begin to climb the stairs to continue along the icy side of the path. I made a decision. I actually – consciously – thought – I’ll – follow – them. But my brain remained obsessed with anger and irritation at the phone call. I couldn’t shake it, no matter how much I tried to distract myself, focus on my breathing, breath into the tight muscles of my forehead … Nothing was working.
At first the path was easy… I began to wish for ice, for something to focus on, to concentrate on, to take my mind off the irritation I was feeling.

I didn’t have to wish for long …

The path soon deteriorated into a sheet of grey ice.

At first I was able to grab hold of the wire fence to pull myself along, or find a foothold of mossy ground or stone, however that soon became impossible. I managed to catch up to the younger women. They were chatting and laughing as they shuffled along the ice in their wellington boots.

“Boy, this is fun,” I called out.

We chatted about our choice of footwear. I was wearing hiking boots, which I had recently decided had less grip than my sneakers. I joked how I had left my yak traks were in the trunk of the car. One of the women (I later learnt they were sisters) told me she found micro spikes better than yak traks. Before long we were immersed in conversation. Everything from where do you live, to what do you do, how many and how old are your children until I was talking about Kari’s recent experience at Peterborough NH working as an admin assistant at the McDowell Artists Colony. One of the sisters knew of the colony because she had lived in Peterborough for many years before moving further north.

When you speak about McDowell, you notice an immediate shift in the energy of people familiar with it. For Andrea, her already deep dark eyes seemed to open wider to reveal what had already attracted me and totally engrossed me in her. I had been entranced by her soft spoken voice, the way she seemed to carefully choose each word before she uttered it. She was grounded and at peace, everything I wanted to be but was far from, especially at the moment I had attached myself to her and her sister Hillary. Hillary, on the other hand who continued on perhaps twenty feet ahead of us, every few minutes would let out a raucous laugh. She seemed so content and amused with the task of negotiating the difficulties of the icy path, even if it wasn’t humor that caused her outbursts, they landed on me with a light gaiety which lifted my mood.

We continued, Andrea and I deep in discussion, me lost in her deep dark eyes, and Hillary almost dancing with delight, slipping and sliding all the way along the south side of the pond path until we reached the boat ramp.

It was almost 4.30pm when we arrived back and the parking area was about to close for the evening. We hiked along the road toward it before saying our farewells. When we did, we hugged and Andrea slipped her business card into the palm of my hand. “Give this to your daughter if she is ever back in Peterborough,” she said. “Oh, I will,” I replied glancing down it.

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It wasn’t until hours later when I was recalling my experience to Kari that I realized what had happened. I suddenly stopped talking and stared off into space. Those eyes, those deep dark eyes… Were they Jesi’s eyes?

Once, three years ago, just after Jesi had passed away, her eyes had smiled at me out of the face of an unknown woman. A shaman had warned me this might happen. I thought about it a minute. Andrea’s eyes were not Jesi’s, but there was something there…

Perhaps Jesi had not taken off into some unknown realm of the celestial heavens after all. Perhaps this chance meeting was really meant to be…

A Photographic Tour of Winter at Walden

It’s been too long since I have written, and too many aches and pains… from falling on my face on concrete, no breaks, except my glasses, just bruised and scratched and my ego battered, to a abscess following dental work. I’m already looking forward to 2018 getting better!

And already two weeks have skimmed by and we have come from the deep freeze of the arctic (and possibly going back into the freezer…eik!!!!) to enjoy a couple of days when the sun peeked through and the temperature almost registered 50 degrees. At first I felt uncomfortably hot. (Perhaps it was that tooth infection that did it!) Then I bathed in the comfort of not having to don layer upon layer of clothing and unwind my neck from circuits of my scarf when I went from outside to in.

Looking back over the past month, and yes, back to the last year, I want to share with you some of the more pleasing aspects of winter …from the first of the snow for the season to the Bombogenisis, (a snow hurricane ..a new word we on the east coast of the US added to our vocabularies just over a week ago) and to the most recent January thaw.

The dates are noted before the groups of photos
…and you can click on them to enlarge them!

 

December 9 2017 …. During the storm

 

 

December 10 2017 …. After the sun returns

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December 17 2017 …First ice forms on the pond

 

 

December 27 2017 …. More ice on Walden

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December 30 2017 … Another snow fall and Walden under ice 4 inches thick

 

 

January 6 2018 … After the bombogenisis …. Walden’s waves of snow

 

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January 13 2018 … Thawing out in mid January

 

 

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