The start to this year wasn’t so great (understatement). I fell down, metaphorically and actually (hello pavement, this is my face) but I am on the move headed for some island breezes. Escaping the brown winter. A broken nose (you can barely tell now), the stomach flu, life troubles be damned. Traveling is a funny thing. I have done some master class grown up things since the dawn of the new year. Been sensible at my day job, cleaned out some emotional habits that did none of us any favors. My feet have been in my cow town but my mind has been climbing mountains. Looking forward to toasting what’s to come this weekend. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. And an airplane ride doesn’t hurt the process either. Thank you readers and good friends. Here’s to 2016. Just a few months late.
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Even if I didn’t write about them, I did have some lovely adventures and I love a sunset all over the world. Here’s 2015’s collection.
California for some calm and a birthday, Mexico for some chalupas and time with my cub, Michigan for a coney hot dog and some love, Cape Cod as a constant, rounding out the year with cafes in France, Costa Rican coffee and life in my cow town too.
Happy happy new year to all my loves.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss,
I went to visit some cows this week. When missing lions, sometimes a gal just needs to be with some cows. You can all connect the dots to a deeper meaning but trying to get back to basics after this long winter and challenging spring. Get outdoors.
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke
Slushy, snowy, gun metal grey skies…. March is a tough month here in the Massachusetts Berkshires (just in case anyone thought I meant English Berkshires, alas, no). I don’t have much magic to share today. I loved my trip south to Tulum and Mexico. I ate my fill of fish tacos, topped off my Vitamin D in the sunshine and vacationed to the max.
March – the march to warmer weather has begun… the forecast today: snow. In like a LION, out like a cow, please!!
Full moon fever. Perhaps that was it last week under the cold snow moon of February. It was a brilliant night, crisp and freezing. Moon shadows galore, the moon so bright, like day out. Even though it was below freezing and after midnight, I went for a walk, with my twelve coats on of course.
Winter in New England is a choice. After my recent trip to California’s sun and sea, been thinking of a life with out the adversity of cold weather – earthquakes and fires seem less real to me than frostbite and the pain of forgetting my gloves I guess.
My New England childhood filled me with loads of cold bravery. Icy weather, like life’s ups and downs, does make me stronger. This comment from a girl who didn’t wear socks until she was well over thirty and battled through her teenage and college years in clogs (not always the wisest move).
Back to the full moon…..The snow was sparkling. My boots squelched and squeaked as I walked alone in the still and silent night. I can’t properly put words to the feeling of a really really cold winter’s night – too many have come before me there. The silence, well, it fills me up – it settles me down – my pulse must slow, the only sound my own breathing in and out.
In a field nearby, two deer surprised me and I them. Stopping to just stare at each other before moving on. Magical nature moment. My worries, my life, slipped to the background in my mind. I exhaled my thoughts, like a cloud of smoke into the air.
Asked a friend in paradise, how was it going, this frosty time of year… was told the counter point story to my freezing middle of the night walk = cafe con leche outside, sunshine, palm trees and bamboo, parrots for company, a deep breath inhaled.
Odd how life sometimes lines up with meaning to – maybe in summer one inhales the warmth to hold it in our hearts, maybe in the winter one exhales to push some warmth into the heart of the world that surrounds us. Maybe the message is just keep breathing in and out and peace finds us all in these moments.
Full moon winter nights do lead to summer sunny days. North and South. A yin to a yang and all that.
Happy February wishes to all. Cold or warm – keep breathing and dreaming.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer
Watching the snow fall and thinking of sunshine and trade winds. Florida, I am coming for you! Even so, it is a magical fairy forest outside tonight.
Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. – Mary Oliver
As the land around my cow town goes to sleep for a long winter’s nap, November is my hardest month being here and yet, I never quite manage to be away long enough into the month to spend it in a curry haze in some other land. I miss my father who left this land in November. I miss the sunshine on my face and fresh air that doesn’t sting and I know I have a while to go before that’s over around here. I miss the many months of the year that I had to achieve something this year as we crash on to the new year. I miss. I miss. I miss.
I worry that this turn around the sun, I didn’t see enough, write enough, do enough to make it last through the winter months, when I most likely will be here, because reality is going to ground my wandering for a bit.
What’s a gal to do? Remember and make my way back in time. Memory can make the light shine like a million suns on the darkest day. So down I go, into the rabbit hole of grim gray skies, looking down across the years for that one magical November that came before loss, reality, missing ruled the month and I find it.
I left for my year abroad late that summer. I was 18. I knew just enough to not know a thing. I was thousands of miles from home. Before the cell phone. Before email. Before the internet practically. Letters came on onion skin paper. Calls home were made from dripping phone booths across the street from where I lived, the phone card beeping down until it would just cut off and the USA would seem so very very far away.
No one made me eat dinner, lunch or breakfast, so as most 18 year olds would have done I lived off of tiny European sized cokes, sandwiches sold in plastic sleeves from the store called Open All Hours (really just some of the hours and no Muslim holidays) made of weird combinations like pickle and cheddar and bags of salty prawn crisps (shrimp flavored potato chip – not for everyone or even me) and cadbury chocolate bars – no one would have nominated me for any health awards. I drank warm beer and cheap wine, learning just how many pints I could drink before the next day became an incredible chore, danced until down to house music in clubs filled with real Euro-trash and ate kebabs made of mysterious meat in the wee hours of the morning.
My father had asked but three things of me when I left: never get into a stranger’s car, never accept a drink you haven’t seen be made and always have cab fare to get yourself home. It took one Saturday in September at the Bar Escoba to break all rules – away in the cute boy’s car, where was this drink made, why who cares and long long after the subway/bus/taxis could be found, with no money in my wallet, one very long walk home and I thought, well, that’s done.
That fall brought wider world sights too. I saw my first American flag be burned in protest and rage filled faces chanting slogans death to the west – being from the USA in Europe right then was not 100% the best. Margaret Thatcher was still prime minister and there was a lot about poll tax that made a lot people riot one weekend. Everything was sliding into recession. There were IRA bomb threats on the tube, always on the cranky Northern line. The Berlin Wall came down and Eastern Europe all of a sudden was a place you could actually visit again. For goodness sake, the Cold War was about to be over and that winter, Nelson Mandela would get out of prison. The world was unsettled. Sort of like today, in so many ways.
Let’s get back to being 18 though as I don’t think I did much thinking about any of that political stuff really – I wish I had been a deeper, smarter teen. Along with my great pint drinking skills, I learned one just doesn’t speak on the subway, tea is drunk with milk and all those place names that trip up the tourist soon didn’t expose me as other and my 1989 pants needed to be wider leg than any American peg-legging teen would have considered. I started reading the London Times every day. My sentences started going up at the end, cadence matching my fellow shoppers, promise it was subtle and I didn’t even realize it until I heard a phone message I left someone back at home. I knew what a boot, prawn, lorry, aubergine, lift, loo was. And music. That could be a whole post. I learned a lot about music in post punk, new wave 1989.
November really kicked off with the thrilling Bonfire night in Battersea Park, all through the month the inky black early evenings came with their glowing welcoming shop windows, even though the rainy cold damp days came, well, it all worked for me that year. All the way to holiday lights on Oxford Street. With no Thanksgiving to hold Santa back… it’s straight into the season as soon as possible and all at once I was falling in love with London at Christmas and all her many neighborhoods, faces and places.
My homesickness faded in the face of it all and one day, probably either close to or in the middle November, I woke up and I realized I was happy. Really, really happy, that kind of sparkling, new love happy that one gets just once in a new place or with a new person. I used to climb up to the top bathroom window and look out at all the rooftops and think about all the people living their lives out there and how I was just temporarily one of them and I wanted to be one of them forever. I never loved a place on my own before. I’d never lived outside of the USA for any length of time when I wasn’t pigeon chasing toddler. London was my first foreign city of my very own.
And, I am the type of person that never forgets her first anything. First new love has the kind of timeless magic, that these twenty five years later, I close my eyes and I am back, I am 18 again and starting my traveling life. November is not so November after all, an unexpected destination I’d be glad to visit again and again.