Peace amid the stormRead Now
It has been a summer of unexpected connections and unexpected losses. Protesters of all colors filled the streets, and hope tempered horror. Families said their last goodbyes from afar, watching on a screen as loved ones took their final breaths. Our nation’s norms and conventions and our most reliable institutions remain under assault. It’s as if the world has tilted too far on its axis, and we’re breathlessly waiting to see if it can right itself again.
Amid all the disruption and uncertainty, all the sadness and grief, I turn to nature, as always, for solace. I drop my little boat in the water and paddle to the most remote cove on our tiny lake. There I tuck myself amid the fallen logs and the loafing carp, and I watch the sun dapple the trees. I listen to the Great Blue Heron screech as it escapes my intrusion. The deer look up, and just as quickly return their attention to the new foliage near the woodland floor. The turtles wait until I float by, and then drop into the water, long after any imagined threat has passed.
I position my boat so I can gaze up the sloping hillside to my left. Then I turn my attention to the cove’s vanishing point and listen for signs of other creatures. I pivot toward the right and watch the grazing deer or intentionally spook the giant carp to engage in a little bumper pool.
This is where I go when I need to turn the world off. When the cacophony has battered my senses and I crave calm. When my thoughts are bumping against each other, creating friction and heat that prevent me from clearly discerning one from another.
The realities of our world this summer have presented most of us with more solitude than we are typically allotted. As engagements and events and opportunities to gather with friends and family have fallen off the calendar, those of us fortunate enough to be beyond the worries of work and child-rearing and aging parents have had the opportunity to assess our lives and how we live them—what we prioritize, how we spend our time, what nourishes us and strengthens us. While many have struggled with this separation or its attendant sense of isolation, I cherish it. I welcome the slower pace. I revel in quiet time for contemplation without the buzz of constant busyness. I can focus on what’s important.
You may not share my affinity for this sudden interruption of our normal activities, but I hope you, too, have found a way to embrace the unwelcome changes. That may require ceasing fretting long enough to clear the voices in our heads, or accepting that we can’t control all the forces shifting around us. Amid this tumult, we all need a place of respite, whether physical or spiritual or imaginary. I’m so lucky that mine is just a short paddle away.
8/20/2020 08:59:23 pm
If I'm not mistaken, Sallie, the cove in your photo is the one where I snagged a decent-sized largemouth from underneath some low-hanging branches the one time Rick and I fished along your lake. (The rest of the time was all dorky casting and tiny bluegill.) You are wise indeed to take advantage of every inch of silence and serenity that setting has to offer. Then again, I'm not surprised, as you're the biophile that once told me you picked your current residence, at least in part, based on seeing a Scarlet Tanager on your first trip to the neighborhood. (An excellent criterion, by the way.)
8/20/2020 09:29:41 pm
That is correct, David!
8/23/2020 01:40:34 pm
“This is where I go when I want to turn the world off. “ Maybe, just maybe you are turning the world on, by getting in touch with Mother Earth.
8/23/2020 01:45:53 pm
8/26/2020 09:29:27 am
Listening to Vivaldi as I read your piece. We give a kind of meaning to Vivaldi's sounds. I wonder what meaning he gave them? Your quiet is filled with your musings. My quiet is sometimes stuffed with memories and sometimes with worries. Peace is sometimes noise filled. Thanks for your reflections.
8/26/2020 09:50:38 am
Vivaldi makes any moment better. I would even suggest that his music helps calm our heart rates--even at its most joyous.
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