Secret Magical Places

I had one of those places in a wood behind the house I lived in when I was 14. It was county park – a large well maintained woodland.  Not particularly mysterious or dangerous.

But deep inside of it was a stand of very tall pine trees, who through many years of shedding pine needles had smothered away all the underbrush. There were giant lower branches that had sagged down in spots so you had to duck under them.  But once you were in there and under the pines, it was like being inside a house made by trees.  I would sit down on a towel on top of the pine needles and read a book.

It was very far from the path and I got lost several times going to and coming from it. But I adored it, so I kept seeking it out.

I wish I could go to visit that magic place now.  Although, I wonder if I would even be able to find it now.  Or would it still be as magical?  Perhaps it’s magic was connected to the person I was in those moments.  A day dreamer.  A awkward teenager, looking for solace.  Actually.  Maybe I am still the same, just change teenager to 55 year old and…

 

 

Surprise Turtles

img_20200515_104316
That is a turtle on the path. Just hanging out. Being cool. Like a turtle.

Three mornings a week, I walk with my friend in a local park.  Last weeks we walked right up to a turtle, who apparently was going to cross the path at some point, but had decided it needed thinking about as we approached.

img_20200515_104349
If you look closely you can see he has red eyes. Which, apparently, is not a sign of a zombie turtle. So There You Go.

That is an Eastern Box Turtle, for your information.  A male of the species. You can tell that he is a male because he has red eyes.   She said all eruditish, because she googled it and read half an article and looked at lots of turtle pictures.

There is something utterly delightful about seeing an animal in the wild.  Particularly one which you rarely see.  We have often seen deer in this wood.  Last year a doe had twin fawns.  They were so beautiful and lovely to see.  I’m afraid my picture of them isn’t great.

img_20190715_103520
There are two fawns there. the one on the left is fairly obscured by the foliage.

The walk was initially a prescription by my doctor for stroke prevention.  Because I had the stroke and didn’t know it.  It turns out that’s bad and a sign of poor choices and a good indicator of future strokes.  So instructions were given to start moving.  I started to walk.  And it has been such a boon to my mental health.   Honestly, I have quite forgotten that I’m doing it to prevent strokes.

Balcony Gardening has BEGUN!

I spent many years in an apartment without any outdoor access and when I moved here there was a marvelous south facing balcony.  And I immediately started a tomato. It grew like a marvel but had terribly disappointing tomatoes.  Just slightly bigger than a cherry.  They were OK tasting.  But just not quite anything size wise.

The following year – a friend gave me one of her seedlings and it got a fungus and was generally not producing anything due to the disease.

The next year I fell into a mental health hole and my cats chewed my seedlings to bits and I just didn’t have a tomato.  It was a sad year.

So this year I bought seedlings online from Laurel’s Heirloom Tomatoes.  She has a 4 plant minimum so I bought 4 and gave 2 to a friend as a housewarming present.  They arrived yesterday.

img_20200523_163135

It’s all VERY exciting.

I know what you are thinking – what does one person need with two tomato plants.  But it’s OK.  They are different tomatoes.   One is Green Zebra and one is Paul Robeson.  So.  Don’t judge.

Anyway – today I started to clean out the pot that I grow tomatoes in.  And there was a damn volunteer!

img_20200523_162721-1 So now I’m going to be growing 3 tomato plants, which I admit, is perhaps a bit much for one person.  But I can share.  Everyone loves tomatoes.  It’s a pandemic, dammit.  Tomatoes are the only good thing a person can look forward to, you know.  I’m just saying.

The real question is – where I am going to put the third one?  There’s one good spot for sun on the balcony because it’s a covered balcony.  There’s a second reasonably good spot and everything else is basically very bright partial shade.  It’s a dilemma.  It’s gonna take up some of my thinker space to figure it out.

I consider my volunteer to be an excellent omen.  It’s going to be a very good crop of tomatoes.

 

Reading old friends

There are a couple of authors whose books I have read so many times I know some passages by heart.  Georgette Heyer is one of them.  Pulling out one of these books is like sitting down with an old friend.  They are comforting and good company.

I know what is going to happen, but it doesn’t matter, I’m never bored.  I’m just happy to feel the familiar company.  To visit places I love.  To hear the words in my head, that I’ve read so many times, is a delight.

I’ve spent the last couple of weekends reading these books again.  It’s like being cuddled in a down comforter.  Warm and snuggly.

 

Snow in May

It did not snow here, but did snow a bit north of my location.  In the 2nd week of May.  On the one hand, it’s does seem like Mother Nature was showing her Schadenfreude at watching us all wither under her whim of a virus. A small smug smile on our collective misery.

Some Southern New Englanders see snow in May | WJAR

But I’m a bit perverse.  I find the oddity of a snow in May quite charming.  Mostly because I haven’t got any plants out yet, so I was not disconvenienced by the dip in temperature.  And of course it didn’t actually snow in my location.  So I could just lean into the marvel of a late snow.  Lots of pics were posted.  We live in an age where one can enjoy a thing without actually experiencing it.

I did worry a bit about FC.  But since he was out and about, eating hearty meals, I tried  to remember that he is in fact a feral cat and must have managed with far worse weather. But not this past season.  That’s when he was allowed into the apartment downstairs during cold days.  sigh.

Yesterday he let me get quite close but still refused to be pet.  He still limps but it seems to be improving.  Perhaps just a sprain from a bad jump?

 

It’s rainy and blowing.

I  love to be cozy in bed when it raining and am extra delighted by the wind.  It’s just a feeling of cozy safety to be inside and warm in such weather.  It touches on that deepest hindbrain feeling that comes from ancestors who had to deal with weather directly, living out in it.  To know I am not out in it, but safe inside is lovely.

I have a tin roof over my balcony area.  Rain on tin roofs is also a lovely sound.  It seems to hit a note in my head that resonates nicely.  Happily the place I work also has a metal roof and so I get that lovely noise quite often.

I had a lot of anxiety dreams last night.  And woke up to one that kept it’s hand on my chest even after waking.  In those moments, finding a thing I can deliberately delight in, is a path away from from the anxiety.  I usually have to look for it.  Because my mindset was already in anxiety, a significant portion of my brain wanted to consign the noise of this rain into the anxiety.  But I know that I have always enjoyed that noise while in bed.  So I recalled and considered that past delight until it arrived in the present.

This post is part of the process.  Sometimes the delight does not come spontaneously.  Sometimes it needs to be pulled out of the ground like a paleontologist pulls out a dinosaur bone.  Much digging into my memory, much slow and deliberate brushing off of that remembered feeling, much consideration of where the delight belongs in the moment I’m living right now.

It doesn’t always work.  But it seems to have done today.  The pressure is off my chest.

 

 

Music in Headphones

There is something transformative about music when you listen to it in headphones.  I suppose it’s because there is no other noise that can come in.  But it seems to make the music so much richer and deeper.  If you didn’t want to dance to  an upbeat song, put on your headphones – it will slip inside your brain and you will be nearly unable to stop the movement your body wants to make.

I love how headphones just wall off the world.  When I’m experiencing anxiety I feel like I am clawing out of my skin. But I can put on headphones and my brain will recalibrate.  It doesn’t have to be music, but music is best.  A podcast or novel will also work though.  I think a great deal of my anxiety is triggered by sounds.  Happily, it can also be silenced by sounds.

I recall reading an article about how you can see the rhythms of music in someone’s brain MRI (or perhaps it was a different sort of scan) But they could see the brains activity sync up with music.  It’s an actual thing that’s happening in my brain when I retreat into the headphones.

I think when anxiety is crawling around inside me – it’s like my brain is experiencing the static that used to be seen on TVs back in the day of antennas and 4 or 5 local channels.  When you turned the dial to a channel that didn’t exist locally – the screen would be this garbled and skewed grey scale chaos and the noise was a harsh static.

TV_noise

But when I tune into music through the headphones my brain is adjusts itself to that and the static disappears.  And that uneasy crawling of unreasonable aprehension ceases.

beautiful beauty blue bright
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

I am lucky to live in a time of headphones.

Saved by the Gravy

I decided to make a meatloaf.  Not my mother’s meatloaf, which is officially the best meatloaf on the planet, but a made up one, because I can’t remember my mom’s recipe.

It was fine.  It was saved by the gravy, which honestly, what isn’t?

img_20200408_181256

I’m considering how to fry it up for a nice meatloaf sandwich tomorrow.  I sort of recall my friend’s mom used to slice hers up cold and then do a breading on it and fry it.  Which…. hmm.  Maybe?  Anyone have leftover meatloaf ideas?

My mom’s meatloaf was not conducive to that sort of thing.  It was juicy and crumbly and while it generally hung together it wasn’t committed to it.  But this mess I made is probably going to meld itself into hard pieces when cold.  And so I think it should do fine in a bit of a fry up.

Still.  I’m glad I made it.  There is a good sort of satisfaction to making a true and full meal.  I rarely ever do it.  The closest I come is curries or casseroles.  Usually I just have my potato and veg.  Or a burger.  Or a sandwich.  But meat, veg and starch is not common for me.  It always feels like too much bother for just me.

So I guess, despite it being a fairly meh meatloaf, I’m rather pleased with the meal.

In search of Delight

I’ve been doing a variation on gratitude journal.  I’ve been blogging about things that delight me.  I started doing it just before the world began to implode.

It’s an interesting thing because it requires attention.  Delight I find to be a fleeting thing.  A quick moment that makes me smile, or a moment where the brain grenades recede because I found some sensation that overwhelmed them, like the soft fur on my cat or the smell of bread baking.

I think the attentiveness of it is part of it’s therapy.  Of trying to notice those tiny moments of delight that exist but are often as quickly forgotten or not given the importance they deserve.

It’s becoming a bit harder as the numbers of infected increase.  I have a tendency toward hypochondria, so I’m just waiting for the symptoms.  No.  I’m looking for the symptoms.  When I’m home I take my temp 5 or 6 times a day.  I’m not helped by having spring hay fever.

But as I look at how my brain has been dealing with this pandemic, I’m fairly pleased.  I have not fallen into a stillness.  The brain grenades have stayed mostly at a distance.  The worst part is the hypochondria.  And I am wondering if some of it is my attention to delights.  Of course Spring is here and that presents me with lots of moments of delight.  Walking outside to sunny skies and 60 degrees is just a rush of delight.  Seeing flowers growing all over the place when I take my walk is lovely.

I have had times in my life where I went through the whole spring without paying the slightest bit of attention to the white puffs of pear trees and cheerful dandelions and laughing daffodils.  And I think it’s not good for me.  I’m glad I’m noticing the delights of life.

img_20200327_103914

The Ephemeral Delight of a Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloon flying under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you had one arrive suddenly above you?  If you live in an urban environment that can be the feeling.  One day, you are working in your backyard garden and you hear conversation.  Above you.  And there it, floating impossibly above you – it’s colors screaming delight, it’s passengers happy to wave and join your wonder from their, possibly happier, perspective.  And then a sudden muted roar as the flame is ignited to give it some lift and your momentary delight floats away like the happy dream.

How can it still be so wonderful?  Hot air balloons have existed for more than 300 years. Indeed, if you consider the (unmanned) Chinese Sky Lanterns, they’ve been around nearly 2000 years.  They shouldn’t be anymore gawkable than a car or a plane.  And yet they are.  And I think they will be forever.  They have an ineffable quality that makes them continue to inspire awe.

Like all awe inspiring things we create events and images and stories around them.  Most cities of size have some kind of hot air balloon event.  You can buy countless calendars with dedicated to the hot air balloon.  Coffee Table Books, Websites, Pintrest Boards, Balloon Chasers and finally and perhaps most telling – advertisers.

The moment of magic they provide everyone who sees them is one of life’s delights.