A day full of family, catching up on things, and enjoying the last hurrah of summer (with some sizzling SoCal temperatures).
How was your day?
With temps reading 100-105 degrees, it seems like the weather is all everyone can talk about. But I’m not complaining about the heat. It seems that finally summer is here, and my garden is loving it.
The cats are all sprawled around on furniture and floors in the path of the hallway fan, lazing away the warm-ish afternoon.
About a year ago, when I was on an adventure in Boston, I met up with my friend Sara. Or rather, she met up with me–waiting eagerly at the train station at 6am-ish as I arrived not-so-freshly from a cross-country red-eye flight.
We spent a magical day together, filled with good strong coffee & bundt cake, napping on the couch with the rascally Sam-kitty, visiting Author’s Ridge, and then the very best part: we spontaneously decided to go canoeing down the Concord River. Let me just say why this was kind of an odd idea. Me, I’d been seriously ill for the previous six months and had just had surgery three weeks earlier. Sara had also had a rough year herself(!), including surgery for a brain tumor and metastasized cancer in various places around her body. Oh, and we both happened to be missing our right legs, too (that damn cancer, taking both of our legs many years ago). But we did it anyways. It was a gorgeous autumn day on the river, straight out of a postcard. We paddled for an hour out and about as long back in. We talked and she joked about my awful steering (ha! the irony!). I hadn’t been canoeing in years and it meant so much to me to be out on the water with Sara, in that very special place.
Fast forward a few months…when I learned that Sara had died. Within hours of hearing the news, I was out on the water paddling with my outrigger canoe team. I wanted to tell my new teammates about how sad and empty I was feeling, but I knew I couldn’t hold it together to even speak the words. I just paddled and felt my gut wrench with every stroke. At one point we paused in the mouth to the harbor and I looked out over the waves and the rolling sea and connected with Sara one last time and said good-bye.
There’s something special about the space between the open sea and the calmer channel waters. The boat floats differently there, as if it’s eager to get out on the ocean. The anticipation picks up, along with the current and the cresting waves on the rocks. While there I find myself gazing out to the ocean, feeling its pulse and sensing my place in all of it.
I don’t pray anymore and I don’t believe in divine intervention in my life. But if there was a place where wishes could come true, where I could believe for a moment that I really was connected to something cosmically bigger than myself and my hopes could be made manifest, it would be right there in the harbor mouth. And that’s how I felt again tonite, too.
There must be a way
to retain the nobility of trees
and the surefootedness of rocks
If we could sing always from here, canyon:
From here where the gold makes up to the green for staying,
Perhaps we could say what we must
Tell them of the gold in the leaves
and the leaving that summons
the compounding of everything shaped or shaping.
Sing of the consummate gift of being used.
Go with sureness of wondering
and the keenness of being in touch.
Take on the buoyance of birds
Take root in the crevices of the world.
Hold to the rocks. Speak of reverence for being
And be in favor of trees
~excerpts from “Speak of Reverence for Being” by Emma Lou Thayne
I’d intended for today to be a day of peace and serenity. I got up fairly early and had the first few hours of the morning to myself. Lovely.
But things didn’t go so smoothly from there on out. I went to Quaker Meeting, but had some things on my mind that made it difficult to relax into the silence. I felt disconnected and had a sense of urgency about some pressing matters that made me second-guess my being there. As soon as Meeting closed, I got a call from John that his bike had broken down about 40 miles into his “century” (100 mile) trek and he needed my aid.
Of course the freeway between him and me was moving at 6-10 miles per hour. Sigh. Eventually finding John was joy, even if I wasn’t a happy camper along the way there.
Some days don’t go as we planned, do they?
I got home from the bike shop and had a bit of nap, puttered around in the garden, and was just plain lazy for a few hours.
I still haven’t regained that sense of serenity that I’d started the day with and hoped to carry with me all day long, but I suspect that it will return again tomorrow morning. And we’ll see what happens from there…
Sorry to burden you all with another paddling post, but….
Today’s race was in many ways my hardest one yet. I’ve been ill and struggling to keep in shape, I’ve been leery of the demands of the later summer races (where the course lengths jump from 6 miles to 16 or 26 or 36 miles), and I haven’t had much experience with 9-man steering. The steering is different because every 20 minutes or so, we switch out 2-3 paddlers to freshen up on a support boat. So I’ve got to maneuver to pick up paddlers bobbing along in the open ocean, all the while being mindful of calling the right moment to have the outgoing paddlers jump out of the boat, keep us all aright in the waves, and keep the boat away from all those dozens of other boats following the same course (oh, and this is even harder when the waves are so big that I can’t see much of anything, much less my teammates in the water ahead!).
But it’s not all me, doing all this work. It’s a team effort, and that was made incredibly clear to me today as I watched each and every person in our crew keep it together. From Captain Ron on our support boat who helped me sight the turn buoys that were miles away, to the change coach Mike who made sure that everyone was rotating in and out of the boat correctly, to each paddler who gave 100% on every stroke.
This race was challenging not only because of the added difficulties of the paddler changes, but also because of the huge storm headed straight to Oceanside. There were currents flowing in two different directions, causing huge swells (reportedly around 8 feet). We watched boat after boat tip over or swamp with water. And we just kept going. My team listened well and worked together beautifully. Due to safety concerns the race was cut short, and while I have to say that it was a bit of a relief to finally pull into the harbor after many miles of fighting such extreme conditions, I kept thinking “that was it???” :)
There were two moments out there when I had our boat a bit off course and my team helped me figure out which way to point again. I’m regretting those sidetracks now, and hoping that next race I can do an even better job of keeping us headed straight into the turns and finish line. Every race I learn new things and conquer new challenges. I love it.
Pictured here with me is Aimee, another awesome steers(wo)man. Like the other gals on the team, she makes me feel like an amazon because I look so tall standing next to them!
This bee had the most intense rendezvous with one of my squash blossoms. He stayed at the flower for more than five minutes, never seeming to get enough of its pollen-y goodness. He didn’t even mind when I brought the camera in for a close-up–he was far too involved to notice.
I have to say that I love seeing critters who look like they’re having so much fun. Can’t you just imagine that he was loving being covered from antenna to toe in yellow?
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly, dilly, set them to work
Some with a rake, dilly, dilly, some with a fork.
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly, some to thresh corn.
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.
Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,
If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play;
We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm’s way.
I love to dance, dilly, dilly, I love to sing;
When I am queen, dilly, dilly, You’ll be my king.
Who told me so, dilly, dilly, Who told me so?
I told myself, dilly, dilly, I told me so.
The mossy greens in this scene from the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library are so relaxing and inspiring. The Huntington is not only a place for repose, but also supports my dissertation research. As a Fellow, last Fall I spent nearly every day working in the ‘inner sanctum’ of the Library.
The Collections at the Huntington aren’t accessible to John or to my children. Someday I hope I can point out my favorite study carrel in the old reading room, or show them some of the manuscripts that I’ve enjoyed (such as a few volumes of Emma N’s journals and other treasures). It’s hard not to be able to share that with them.
But I am glad that we can stroll the gardens together, anytime.
CatGirl doesn’t let me take her picture very often anymore. Like a typical teen, she’ll put her hands over her face or turn away when I point my lens in her direction (although she always seems willing to pose for John!)…
So I was so thrilled when a friend’s Mom recently took some pictures of CG & her friends at Crystal Cove. I love the way she captured the girls’ innate beauty and curiosity…