A wise man will know what game to play to-day, and play it. We must not be governed by rigid rules, as by an almanac, but let the season rule us. The moods and thoughts of man are revolving just as steadily and incessantly as nature’s. Nothing must be postponed. Take time by the forelock. Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, April 23, 1859)
Thoreau wrote these words when he was only 41 years old. (He died at age 44.) When I was 41… Let’s just say that after a childhood of ‘finding my eternity in each moment’ I found a way to squelch that way of being until I was into my 40s. But ‘living in the present’ has been coming much more naturally to me in the past twenty years. It’s a blessing to be alive.
This summer has been unbearably hazy, hot and humid. So many heat advisories and air quality alerts. I cannot remember the last time we turned off the air conditioners and opened the windows. I am crazy with cabin fever and going outside offers no relief.
But, I had some good news yesterday. I had an appointment with my oncologist and he found no sign of cancer recurrence! So I don’t need to see him again for a whole year!
Come, autumn. Please! Time to curl up again with a good book. To ‘launch myself on a new wave.’
Little Katherine and her mom, Larisa, visited us for a few days during a 10 day heat wave in July. It was miserably humid as well. One morning Larisa and I took Katherine to the aquarium where she was delighted to see so many fish and beluga whales and sea lions – all rescues I believe. And she got to touch a sting-ray! It was so much fun watching her discover so many new creatures because she is definitely an animal lover.
It was so humid outside we didn’t make it over to the penguin exhibit but even so, a penguin is what she picked out for a souvenir of the day. 🙂 She named him PB and even had supper with him. But the best part of the day was yet to come. When Grandpa Tim came home from work we all went down to the beach. Katherine loved chasing the bubbles her grandpa blew for her.
Not sure why some pictures came out blurry but they still capture some of the fun they were having. 🙂
Back at home I caught Katherine sitting in my spot, using my laptop. (If only I had thought to remove the bowl from the shot, but that might have disturbed her concentration.)
The next day Larisa and Katherine flew home. But we will be flying down there to visit them in September, so we still have another visit to look forward to. So many good-bye hugs and kisses. After they finally got home – there was a cancelled flight and other delays to deal with – we got this picture in an email from our sweet little granddaughter.
Dear Grammy & Grandpa, Thanks for the lovely visit. PB the Penguin and I had lots of fun. I’m very tired. Airports are only fun for a little while. But Mommy played with me a lot. People were nice to me too. *kiss* -Katherine
The enjoyment of the choicest natural scenes in the country and the means of recreation connected with them is thus a monopoly, in a very peculiar manner, of a very few, very rich people. The great mass of society, including those to whom it would be of the greatest benefit, is excluded from it. In the nature of the case private parks can never be used by the mass of the people in any country nor by any considerable number even of the rich, except by the favor of a few, and in dependence on them.
Thus without means are taken by government to withhold them from the grasp of individuals, all places favorable in scenery to the recreation of the mind and body will be closed against the great body of the people. For the same reason that the water of rivers should be guarded against private appropriation and the use of it for the purpose of navigation and otherwise protected against obstruction, portions of natural scenery may therefore properly be guarded and cared for by government. To simply reserve them from monopoly by individuals, however, it will be obvious, is not all that is necessary. It is necessary that they should be laid open to the use of the body of the people.
The establishment by government of great public grounds for the free enjoyment of the people under certain circumstances, is thus justified and enforced as a political duty.
~ Frederick Law Olmsted
(America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents)
I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide [her], it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put [her] on a diet of facts [she] is not ready to assimilate.
~ Rachel Carson
(The Sense of Wonder)
A child, her wayward pencil drew On margins of her book Garlands of flowers, dancing elves, Bird, butterfly and brook. Lessons undone, and play forgot Seeking with hand and heart The teacher whom she learned to love Before she knew ‘t was Art.
~ Louisa May Alcott
(Louisa May Alcott: A Biography)
For the first weekend of spring we decided to fly down to North Carolina to see Katie and her parents. Old man winter sent us off in the middle of a storm, a wintry mix that required de-icing of the plane. But we made it safe and sound and spent a relaxing Saturday hanging around the house.
Katie was happy to see us, and I like to think she remembered us since she had just visited us the previous weekend. Her parents have lots of weddings to go to in Connecticut this year so we will be having Katie staying with us for quite a few weekends!
Saturday evening, a friend of Dima & Larisa introduced us to a cooperative game, Hanabi. It’s a new genre to us. Our family loves playing all kinds of games, but a game without competition is a delightful idea to me.
Cooperative games contain one simple concept… all players work together to attain a mutually desirable goal. Strategies, resources and decisions are shared. The challenge and enjoyment are in the teamwork and the story and setting of the game.
~ Suzanne Lyons
Sunday we had a great brunch at Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill, and then we were off to a game store in Durham, Atomic Empire, to pick up our own set of Hanabi cards. While there we also found a cooperative board game which we are looking forward to trying out at home.
Later in the afternoon we went to North Carolina Botanical Garden to see Patrick Dougherty‘s stickwork sculpture, “Homegrown.” Some readers may remember that Janet and I visited one of his installations at the Florence Griswold Museum back in October 2011. This one was just as fascinating.
Another pleasant evening was spent playing Hanabi and then Monday morning Dima took us to drop Katie off at daycare and then dropped us off at the airport. It was in the 50s that morning. When we got back to Boston it was 22°F! Brrr… (But I still love you, New England…)
The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb-time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.
~ John O’Donohue
(Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)
For some reason I’ve been sleeping very well this winter. After the excitement of the holidays drifted away the days now seem very peaceful, the nights long and restful, and my dreams full of sweetness. Perhaps I am creeping back into my own nature. I’ve been “pruning” my family tree by day because it needs a lot of editing every once in a while.
A few Alberta clippers (fast moving snowstorms that seem to originate in Alberta, Canada) have passed through, leaving delightful snow flurries and light coatings of powdery snow. The bitter cold snaps have been more remarkable. The lowest temperature we’ve had here by the shore so far was 2°F (-17°C). Inland has been much colder. Today I will start putting away the solstice decorations. It would be nice to have at least one big snowstorm, a nor’easter, this winter…
I am somewhat afraid at night, but the Ghosts have been very attentive, and I have no cause to complain. Of course one can’t expect one’s furniture to sit still all night, and if the Chairs do prance – and the Lounge polka a little, and the shovel give its arm to the tongs, one doesn’t mind such things! From fearing them at first, I’ve grown to quite admire them, and now we understand each other, it is most enlivening!
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to Elizabeth Chapin Holland, March 2, 1859)
Not too long ago my friend Kathy, over at Lake Superior Spirit, looked around her little house in the snowy Michigan woods for colorful or meaningful objects to take outside and put in different places in the snow for a photo shoot. She suggested I might try it sometime.
Well, sad to say, it hasn’t been snowing much here in southeastern Connecticut since the winter of 2011, which was the snowiest winter we ever had. But I decided to carefully pack up the most meaningful of my objects, a large doe figurine, and head out to hunt for a little patch of relatively unspoiled snow.
We wound up at Haley Farm State Park and chose a few spots on a crumbling, lovely old stone wall. For the first picture, which is my favorite, I positioned my doe on a stone that had fallen in front of the wall. For the second spot I put her up on top of the wall so she was a little above the camera. Tim suggested the third setting, placing her on the ground in front of the wall. The little birds came from home, too, as they are usually perched with the doe on a special shelf in my room.
It was fun, Kathy! Then something wonderful happened after we had packed up my precious doe and her little bird friends. A few people came along with their dogs, who were off-leash. Some of my readers may know that I’ve been afraid of large dogs ever since one bit me when I was a toddler. But I watch Cesar Millan on the Dog Whisperer all the time, trying to understand dog behavior and overcome my deeply entrenched fears.
With my deer totem safely in my bag and my husband by my side I watched in awe as three dogs, who seemed to belong to several different couples, greeted each other and asked each other to play. All agreed and a fast game of chase ensued! I suppose dog owners see this kind of thing all the time but for me it was amazing. The dogs were running like the wind, making huge circles around a tree, and barking for the joy and thrill of being alive. Their energy was boundless, and they whooshed close by us several times. I wasn’t afraid! I could interpret their behavior correctly! Tim took the camera and tried to get a few pictures. I will never forget this experience!