In the midst of chaos, what transports you to simpler times?
I was struck by the synchronicity of my two favorite blog challenges this week. Both numbering 91. It seemed quite natural to combine them together.
To be honest, the current – as V.J. so aptly describes it – chaos has made me want to crawl into a corner and wait for “this” to be over. However, that only momentarily happens in my imagination – and as tempting as it sounds, I realize it is not a tenable solution.
Being trapped. Isolated. Cut off from what I love to do and who I love to be with will never be a “new normal” no matter how long “this” lasts. I know the confusing uneasiness hovering everywhere isn’t unique to me. So there is solace in knowing…as is written with colored chalk on town sidewalks and on “Closed for Now” signs taped to store windows…We’re All In This Together.
Yes, we’re all in this together…at least six feet apart.
It’s far from simple or easy to understand. Too much change too fast. Too much horror for too many around the world.
So I try to remember nature’s simple pleasures.
My favorite spots…unchanged by the invisible invader lurking in all of our lives.
Where I am transported to “before.”
Whether it be the familiar soothing sound of the surf.
Over 20 years ago I received a Christmas cactus as a gift. I was encouraged by the fact that cactus plants have a reputation for survival.
In other words, it would be hard for me to kill it. As I often did with houseplants – unintentionally – much to my continuing dismay.
I think it flowered that first year, but rarely did it bloom as advertised…supposedly at Christmas time. So there it sat on a living room shelf…near the window…or away from the window…for years. I pruned it. Or I didn’t. No matter what I tried, my cactus remained…well…green. Dusting the branches didn’t help either.
But thankfully it stayed alive. For the most part.
When we moved several years ago, it mysteriously started showing signs of color and bloomed gloriously at our temporary beach rental that November. I thought the placement by a sunny window made it happen. Or perhaps it was waiting for us to downsize. I’ll never know for sure.
This October, I pruned my aging cactus and pumped it full of plant food at its spot by a sunny window. And I waited.
Waited some more.
Until one day I noticed buds…sprouting on the tips of almost every branch.
My visiting grandson was dutifully impressed (as only a 3 year old can be) when I announced: LOOK! Buds! They will turn into flowers! This is so exciting!
Another week passed.
I watched and waited. Carefully watered. Not too much. Not too little (just guessing at how much “enough” really was)…
Then, last weekend I noticed an explosion of sorts from one of the buds.
Explore with me, if you will, the concept of waiting.
Was this the spot? Where it waited for me a couple of days ago? Before the first frost on the horizon could put it on hold.
Camera in hand, I had waited until late afternoon to catch the sunlight filtering through the trees. I thought I was dressed appropriately. Jeans. Sneakers. Jacket. It wasn’t really very cold. The woods were deserted. The path well covered with leaves.
However, I needed to go deeper into the woods to catch the best lighting. I carefully stomped around tree branches, prickly vines, decaying logs…my feet briefly disappearing into layers of damp leaves and grass. Making my way towards the light.
Despite the roar of the nearby highway, I enjoy the peaceful pull of these woods. Bordering my condo development, the local utility company owns the land and has left it virtually untouched. The smell is comforting. Familiar. Summer camp. Vacations with my kids at a lake in the mountains.
And now…retired, nest emptied, I have all the time I need to grab the camera and explore. Taking all the pictures I want to. Standing still in the damp leaves. Waiting for the light to shift. Crouching down. Looking up. Quickly focusing.
Time passes. The light moves once more. And so do I.
Maybe it was here.
They say you should tuck your pant legs into your socks. This never occurred to me. My woods feel safe. A sanctuary of sorts. Like I said…peaceful. I’m alone, but not really. A lone chipmunk scurries out of a fallen tree trunk and sits feet away, unafraid. A hawk swoops overhead alighting on a top branch…before taking off seconds later – too fast for my amateur photography skills.
There are also the deer I’ve encountered over the past few months…
The mama and her two baby deer who stand motionless when they see me at the end of the access road to the woods. We briefly stare at each other before she turns, babies following, and trots away…disappearing through the trees.
This time, when the light started to fade and I headed back home, I unknowingly transported more than my camera full of new images. After dinner, I transferred the photos…got ready for bed…
And that’s when I discovered what else I had carried home. It was actively feasting on my right thigh.
A deer tick.
After much freaking out (this was my first tick), I removed it – with some difficulty. Apparently the little critter was hungry. (full disclosure: my husband assisted)
There is a high risk of Lyme disease transmission where I live in the Northeast so we deposited it in a tiny plastic bag for testing.
The next day, I spent hours…waiting…for the doctor to call me back. Will she or won’t she agree to follow the (current) protocol for antibiotics to hopefully prevent the onset of Lyme. A potentially disabling disease which I could not fathom dealing with on top of the other health challenges I already face.
Waiting for phone calls from doctors takes on its own anxious energy. Unleashing wild imaginings, which I admit are worst case scenarios. However, when you repeatedly hear how you are the exception to the usual rules of medicine (that doesn’t usually happen…I’ve never seen that before…), that’s where your imagination – unfortunately – goes. Waiting that sucks the time right out of your day. Right out of your life. I hate spending precious time this way.
After six hours, the doctor called back (the nurse, not actually the doctor – since that rarely happens) and, yes, I can take the antibiotics.
Now I wait to see if they work.
(I couldn’t resist a macro shot of this unwanted guest…safely secured in its plastic resting place)