Iduna: Keeper of Apples

“Brita as Iduna” by Carl Larsson

According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)

A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Now’s the time when children’s noses
All become as red as roses
And the colour of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow…

~ Katherine Mansfield
(Autumn Song)

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
(The American Note-books)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)

“Apples & Leaves” by Ilya Repin

Larisa in Norway

August 2010 – Larisa, Johanna, Erin

In August our daughter Larisa had the opportunity to travel to Norway with her cousin, Erin, to visit Erin’s friend, Johanna. Larisa gave me permission to post some of her pictures!! One of my passionate dreams, when circumstances allow, is to visit Norway, the land of some of our sea-faring ancestors. Although Johanna didn’t live by the sea, the mountains offered more than enough beauty and scenic vistas to satisfy my curiosity for now… Larisa brought me a treasure: one of the flowers she picked in the field (below).

Larisa – Norway.2010 – “The hills are alive…”
Larisa, Erin, Johanna – Norway 2010 … Amazing how blue the water is!
Norway 2010 …nature…

According to Wikipedia: “A stave church is a medieval wooden church with a post and beam construction related to timber framing. The wall frames are filled with vertical planks. The load-bearing posts (stafr in Old Norse, stav in Norwegian) have lent their name to the building technique.” There is a replica of one at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT in Disney World, which I have visited four times.

One of Norway’s stave churches – 2010
…Erin in the graveyard of a stave church…

Raised by a genealogist, Larisa knows that pictures of cemeteries are essential souvenirs to bring back from any country visited.

Show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Norway 2010 …feels like home…

The first time Larisa showed me the picture above, I got butterflies in my stomach because it seemed so very familiar. I saw that same reaction portrayed once in the movie The Motorcycle Diaries. When Ernesto “Ché” Guevara took in the spirit of the ruins of Machu Picchu, he wondered, “How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?” I knew exactly what he meant. It is the same feeling I also had when I walked into the stave church replica at EPCOT.

And of course it also made me think of Sigrid Undset and her books Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken. And the Kristin Lavransdatter movie directed by Liv Ullmann.

Thank you, Larisa! You have given your mother a most wonderful gift!

except for the wind

"The West Wind" by Winslow Homer
“The West Wind” by Winslow Homer

There’s a Mary Chapin Carpenter song, Zephyr, that keeps tugging at my heart the past couple of months. The lyrics may be about romantic connections but they stir up feelings about family ties for me. (Some of the lyrics included in italics.)

Why do crickets chirping in August sound so sad to me?

I don’t know nothing, nothing today…

“Good” stress vs. “bad” stress. How do we know which is which? When Tim was going through his cardio-rehab program I attended the group discussion about stress with him. The nurse moderating the discussion stressed that if something seemed stressful to you then it is stressful, no matter how anyone else might feel in the same situation.

“Good” stress: Tim came home from his trip to England with an assortment of cheeses and wanted to have a cheese tasting party. An incentive to clean the house!!! The party was wonderful!!! Our home is so clean!!!

“Bad” stress: unrelenting for the past few years… I used to be known as a meticulously clean homemaker, who often rearranged furniture and redecorated, but I no longer have the energy or the inclination to stay on top of things. A homebody by nature… Well, that’s not entirely true…

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel yourself tied down
Hide-and-earth bound
But there’s no tether, on a zephyr

Because my father’s and my aunt’s situations are so distressing to me, when I find myself with “free” time I usually read or blog or redecorate my blogs, which is so very soothing and relaxing. Forget the housework. But it has been nice writing this today in a house a good deal cleaner than it’s been in a very long time.

I tried to be constant just like a star
I tried to be steady and yar
But the storms keep breaking over my head
I’m aching for blue skies instead

What is “yar,” Mary Chapin? Sounds like a sailing word… She must mean yare, which is pronounced “yar.” I love looking things up! An adjective “describing a boat that handles with little effort. A good sailing design, quick and capable.” I have the feeling I should have known this. It sounds like a word my grandparents might have used. “Steady as she goes,” I do recall. Steady and yare, steady and yare…

Wish I could handle things with just a little less effort, because

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel your heart tied down…

…All of the wings I’ve ridden back home to you
All the things I’ve given I’ve wanted to
All that you see has always belonged to you
Except for the wind…

Yes, my dear family, little ones, elderly ones, and dead ones, I’ve freely chosen to give them all I’ve had in me to give. Even if it’s hard, love keeps me from flying away… As Louisa May Alcott once wrote, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Steady and yare…

Love is all there is and time is just sand
And I might just slip through your hands

I took Auntie to the surgeon for a consultation again. More skin cancer to be removed, this time from her leg. It makes me remember when my children were young and Auntie was newly retired so she came to our lovely little beach with us all summer long. Time is just sand on the beach, and time often stood still on those endless days.

Those were good times, watching the kids’ swimming lessons, reading novels, chatting, soaking up the sun, damaging our skin.

The time a seagull pooped on our umbrella and us laughing at the antics of the kids dragging the umbrella to the outdoor shower in a futile attempt to clean it off with water… The times the gulls stole our fries or those scrumptious $1.50 each kraut-dogs… Melting ice cream dripping down sticky, salty bellies and legs… “Watch me swim out to the raft, Mom!” Marveling about the fact that we could hear their conversations out on the raft but they could not hear us calling them from the beach. Sound travels only one way over the water. I can still hear their voices sometimes…

The outdoorsy kid always in the water. The creative kid, drawing on or sculpting in the sand. The future social worker coming for frequent cuddles and eating all the slices of cantaloupe when no one was paying attention. The time Grandma & Grandpa came for a picnic and we all took a walk and saw three baby swans riding on a mother swan’s back as she swam around the salt pond… The year the kids were interviewed by a newspaper reporter about the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish population explosion…

Larisa K. Rodgers, a sixth grader, became a victim Monday. “All I know is, it hurts,” she said. Larisa was swimming at Eastern Point Beach when she was stung on both thighs, dashed out of the water and ran to the first aid room. “It rashes up really big,” she said, though she needn’t have explained. …. “I’ve noticed more,” said Larisa’s brother, Jonathan, who has his own method of measuring the jellyfish problem. He says he gets stung about once a summer, but this summer he’s been stung three times.

[Source: “Beware of the blob! Jellyfish numbers increase,” by Steve Grant, The Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, 13 August 1992, page 1]

As I’ve been for many years, I’m still grounded, but…

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel your life tied down
Hide-and-earth bound but there’s no tether…

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
(Zephyr) ♫

adolescence in reverse

Egyptian migraine therapy

My body-mind is miserable.

I’ve had a “background” headache since July 8. It’s making me crazy, lurking around under the surface, waiting for a chance to break through and incapacitate. One dose of Zomig left to last me until the prescription can be refilled on August 7. I rail against insurance corporations, who think they have more right to decide what a patient needs than her doctor does. And who think $60 a month is a fair co-payment for six doses of a needed drug.

Appointment to see sympathetic doctor on Monday. Keeping my fingers crossed… Woke up this morning, head still stabbing. Should I beg my sister to give me some of her Zomig? We’ve helped each other out in the past. There have been times when I’ve only needed as little as one dose for a whole month. I call and put her on standby. Sisters understand…

Lately I’ve heard what I think is a very misleading commercial for Excedrin Migraine. While it can work sometimes, I don’t see how they can dare to guarantee that it will always work in half an hour. It might, perhaps half the time. And that bit about being #1 recommended by neurologists is hogwash. The first thing a neurologist will insist on is that you stop using Excedrin because people wind up taking it daily in increasingly futile attempts to treat rebound headaches.  When Excedrin Migraine first came out I checked the label and it’s the same acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine that is in regular Excedrin. Do they think we’re really so gullible? Or were my parents unique in teaching me to read labels thoroughly before taking any medication?

Caffeine. Well, I’m weaned from it for almost four years now so maybe it will work? Worth a try? I made myself a cup of black coffee and took my ibuprofen, which works better than acetaminophen or aspirin for this patient. It worked, for the most part. I can still feel the headache wanting to materialize. Maybe this will be a stopgap measure to keep most of the pain manageable until Monday so I won’t have to raid my dear sister’s stash. Still, I should probably get my eyes away from the computer screen to be on the safe side.

Pondering my predicament. I’ve been so careful to avoid triggers. “Why is this happening?” I cried out to Tim Sunday night, utterly frustrated. Slowly gathering my wits about me. I connect a few dots and recall that hormonal fluctuations are my biggest triggers and they (along with fluctuations in atmospheric pressure) I simply cannot control. Now I think this is perhaps some sort of menopausal last hurrah.

If you want to know where your power really is, you need look no further than the processes of your body that you’ve been taught to dismiss, deny, or be afraid of. These include the menstrual cycle, labor, and, the mother of all wake-up calls, menopause. The years surrounding menopause are a time when most women find themselves in a crucible, having all the dross of the first half of their lives burned away so that they may emerge reborn and more fully themselves. Menopause can be likened to adolescence in reverse – the same stormy emotions we experienced during puberty often return, urging us to complete the unfinished business of our early years.
~ Christiane Northrup
(Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical & Emotional Health & Healing)

I remember reading somewhere that the way a child handles the emotional work of toddler-hood will be the same way she handles the emotional work of adolescence. And now, adolescence in reverse. The mother of all wake-up calls. Must be what this nightmare is all about. A crucible. A month-long hot flash. Unfinished business. I wonder…

This morning I found a quote that spoke to me…

Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive him to do. Even I would not write this article were not the publication-day hard on my heels. I should read Hawthorne and Emerson and Holmes, and dream in my armchair, and project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun.
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Household Papers & Stories)

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe

I have so many lovely unwritten stories. I need more exercise. I feel lazy writing this, I “should” be doing more to help with the elder-care or even doing my own chores. I think we all feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times, but that’s not laziness in my way of looking at things. But do I really believe my own assertions about this, deep down inside? Harriet Beecher Stowe includes “everyone.” Somehow that comforts me to know that others need incentives to get certain things done, too.

And now, as I write this, a song comes up on my iPod playlist shuffle. Still can’t listen to it without crying…

Now, I’m sailing on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I’ll drag them all down to hell and I’ll stand them at the wall
I’ll sell them to their enemies
I’m trying to feed my soul with thought
Going to sleep off the rest of the day
~ Bob Dylan
♫ (Working Man’s Blues #2) ♫

It’s been a very long haul since Dad first fell in 2000. It’s getting harder and harder. And Auntie is needing more and more attention, too. Sometimes I think having to deal with menopause while caring for my elders is a double whammy and has made me more impatient and persistently irritable.

I’m tired!!! So often I “sleep off the rest of the day.” So often I fail to “feed my soul with thought.” I don’t have enough energy for elder-care and the “stormy emotions” of menopause!

Okay. That’s enough self-pity for one day. This too will pass, right?

beneath the trees

7.2.10 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum
New London, Connecticut

…Cool, verdant spaces
Beneath the trees
Secret empty places
Nobody knows…
~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (I Have a Need for Solitude) ♫

Last week we had a spell of absolutely perfect weather. No humidity and comfortable mid-70 temperatures. One morning Janet and I went out for a lengthy walk deep into the woods. We were beckoned off the paths a few times and got a little lost, well, not terribly lost, just a little confused… As far as I can tell, we only went around in a circle once, and only had to retrace our steps one time.

I have only recently learned that stone walls, which I see everywhere I go, are almost completely absent outside of New England. The first European settlers to arrive here started clearing the woods for their farms, and the exposed topsoil began to erode. Rain would soak deeper into the subsoil, which was full of rocks. When the moisture froze and expanded, it pushed these rocks to the surface, and they began to call them New England potatoes. What better thing to do with the “crop” than to clear them off the fields and build them into stone walls?

In the 1800s people began abandoning their farms to live in cities or to move out west as pioneers in the westward expansion, and the woods came back to much of New England. And so it is that one cannot take a walk in the woods without encountering at least one of these ubiquitous grey stone walls.

7.2.10 ~ wondering who built this stone wall

On this day the sky was bluer than blue and the sun was so bright, its light penetrating through the tree canopy wherever the leaves let it through. The contrast between the splotches of bright light and dark cool shade was striking.

7.2.10 ~ to see the summer sky

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee –
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1491)

Sun-stone’s kiss, midsummer pleasure,
Welcome all and some.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

7.2.10 ~ sun-stone’s kiss

The stars speak through the stones. Light shines in the densest matter. Earth and heaven are one. Our physical beings and our heavenly souls are united in the mystery of being.
~ Philip Carr-Gomm
(Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century)

Beech Forest Trail

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
red squirrel
5.10.09 ~ Cape Cod National Seashore
Provincetown, Massachusetts

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Walking)

Yesterday Karma was blogging about red squirrels. Now seems as good a time as any to pull out this old blog and post it here. The picture above is one of my rare successes (in my humble opinion) photographing wildlife.

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
chickadee

One of the things we did on our anniversary was take a walk on Beech Forest Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore. It felt so peaceful and invigorating being out in the salty fresh air and filtered sunlight… At one point a little chickadee flew very close to me and landed on a branch at eye-level, just inches from me. I put out my hand but he declined to land on it, disappointed because I had no seeds for him. But he stayed close and talked to me for a bit, posing for pictures on his little branch. Unfortunately the pictures came out blurry! However, a little farther along the trail, someone had put out a few seeds for the birds on a stump, but an adorable red squirrel was hogging that feast! He wouldn’t pose for my camera, but didn’t mind if I got close and tried to get a few shots with the “children and pets” setting. I’m now thinking perhaps the chickadee was asking me to shoo the red squirrel away from the seeds…
~ Barbara Rodgers
(Gaia Community, 12 May 2009)

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
chickadee

But indeed, it is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
(Essays of Travel)

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

fledging mourning doves

mourning dove family ~ source uncertain
mourning dove family ~ source uncertain

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.
~ Charlotte Brontë
(Jane Eyre)

The above picture I found on the web… Had to use something to illustrate what I saw this morning!! There are a couple of mourning doves in our neighborhood who love my garden. (Or perhaps even me?) They are so curious and they will often look for seeds, coming very close to me, studying me while I’m weeding. When other folks are about they zip up to the power lines, their wings whistling, and then sit and watch to see what develops in the human world.

This morning when I opened the door and stepped outside there were four birds in the garden. As I was trying to figure out what the two smaller birds were I slowly realized that they must be baby mourning doves! And then the whole family took off together!

Wikipedia says that the squabs “stay nearby to be fed by their father for up to two weeks after fledging.” So, if I’m calculating correctly, they could be about three or four weeks old! We’ve been living here for 17 years and this is the first time I’ve noticed the little ones.

What a wonderful morning!!!