I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

In Annie Get Your Gun, Annie Oakley sang about all the things she did not have, but she had the sun and the moon to brighten her day and was glad of that.

Life really is not about how much money we have or the things we accumulate, it is about the intangibles like love and friendship and of course starting the day like this.

Sunrise over Taxco de Alarcon - PanoramaWant to watch this morning’s sunrise unfold? Here it is

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And what day would not be complete without the moon at night.

Moonrise over Taxco

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Enjoyment

Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity.

Paul Goodman

A couple years ago, I copied that quote from somewhere. It just rang a bell inside me for some reason. At the time, there was not much enjoyment in my life; I had lost my job due to an illness that isolated me from a real life. Enjoyment was a spattering of this or that here or there, it was certainly not ongoing.

These last few months, living in the woods, though I believe I understand better what the author meant by those words. And it has affected my desire to communicate in this forum.

It is not that there is nothing to write about; this is a new community with many lovely and interesting places and activities for sure. The sheer beauty of my surroundings is fodder for contemplation and expression.

Somehow though, the activity of communicating via the written word via computer has become less important as I simply enjoy the everyday miracles of my natural surroundings. Getting the computer out and sitting inside to work on it, just does not compare to walking in the sunshine and listening to birdsong.

Electronic communication is cumbersome, awkward and time consuming. You have to be “plugged in” if not literally, at least figuratively. Connecting to the outside world requires time and effort, and the reward is a connection that is often slow and sometimes non-existent.

Forgive me, if I prefer the immediate gratification of the sun in the trees, the wind in the leaves, the babble of the stream, and bird song punctuated by the occasional “gronk” of a bull frog echoing over the pond.

I tell myself I will save computer time for later when it is dark and I cannot do anything else, but then there is the moon glowing white or crimson, bright or hazy, and the stars, and perhaps a campfire flickering and glowing. By the time I come inside I am satiated with all the sights and sounds, and enjoyments of a full day.

I am tired, not the tired of hard work or a stressful day but that feeling of fulfillment of having spent a day well. Outdoors tired from fresh air and exercise which leads to a good night’s sleep. I have no patience for firing up the computer, connecting it to the phone, and adding an artificial glow to the end of my day.

Tomorrow, I say. And then tomorrow comes and I wake up to the sun shining through the trees, the birds singing, and the babble of the stream and rustle of the wind in the trees, and, well you know — enjoyment.Blue Bear paddling at Mirror LakeI have important ongoing activity to partake of here.

Maybe I will tell you about it one day — when it rains.

 

Rain

It has been a rainy spring in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where my summer home (trailer) is located. Though a long, cold winter with little snow ushered in spring drought conditions, the rain, and rain, and more rain over the last few weeks has alleviated any trace of drought warnings, filling the aquifers to overflowing at times.

A rainy day in a trailer in the woods is much different than the same rainy conditions in a house in an urban area. In the woods you can almost see the trees slurping up the rain — the leaves turn greener as the dust of drier days is washed away. The branches seem to bend to the storm, then stand straighter and taller as their feet absorb the wetness around their roots. Puddles and rivers form revealing a more specific lay of the land than the grasses would otherwise let on.

Then there is the sound. The birds are quiet, all tucked into a place of safety, their song replaced by raindrops on the roof — sometimes a light patter, other times a pounding that would barely be heard in a house with its shingles and attic to deflect and muffle the cry of the raindrops as they splatter.

The stream goes from a tinkling babble to a rushing roar as the water rises and each drop tries to push past the others, over the rocks and through downed branches in their rush to bigger waters, along the way washing out banks and carrying lollygagging sticks, stones, and plants away, even sometimes running over rather than under the bridge in their haste.

Depending on the day, watching and listening to the rain can be soothing; an invitation to lie by the window and let the sights and sounds roll over you. Other times the rooftop dance is so deafening that you cannot “hear yourself think”; the constant pounding can irritate and annoy like the neighbors hip hop music blasting at full volume.

Thankfully showers may be plentiful, even an all day affair, but the storms come and go giving respite to jangled nerves and a chance for the stream, the trees, and wildlife to recover. Almost immediately, the birds are singing again.

As with many things, living in the woods enhances the senses. So as the Eddie Rabbit song says, “I love a rainy night day…You know it makes me feel good.”

 

A Natural Rhythm

When you meander, you are not forced into an artificial schedule (work, school, meetings, appointments, sports practice, dance lessons, etc.) Life takes on a rhythm that is attune with you and your surroundings.

I find I naturally awaken to greet the sunrise, then I get some natural exercise, walking a beach or forest trail. Later in the day I will tend to work or projects, then I might head into town for a little culture or a citified lunch. I always try to end my day in natural surroundings, so I can do it all over again tomorrow.

I find this lifestyle to be very beneficial — I walk a lot and fill my soul with the beauty of the world around me. I stress less and thus eat less (a cooler of provisions lasts and lasts.) I thoroughly enjoy my days and fall into bed tired but content.

Who could ask for more right?

Well it turns out that living in the woods offers many of the same advantages. I wake naturally, no alarm clocks to disturb the sound of rustling leaves and bird song outside my window. My eyes open to a forest of green leaves and never ending sky. The stream babbles, sometimes tinkling a happy song, others a rain swollen rush. An early morning walk fills me with wonder. Stretching on the bridge over the stream eases any tension. A paddle plies and smooths tight muscles.

As the sun goes down, a campfire can take away the chill and mesmerizes– slowing, calming, readying the body and mind for deep, restful sleep.

Life is good.
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Gotta love ’em

It’s 9:30 am. My hair is standing on end, yesterday’s mascara rings my eyes like a raccoon, my shirt is covered with pear mango smoothie, scrambled egg mash, and snot.

After finally putting the usually happy but teething, and thus cranky and snotty nosed, toddler down for a nap, I just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and go back to sleep myself. But wait, I can’t — my bedding is rolled up in a wad at the end of the couch protecting it as best I can from the cat hair and dog slobber.

Such is life in the house of my one and five year-old grandchildren. Will I survive the rest of this visit? Does it get easier with time?

My daughter seems to breeze through early mornings with a crying toddler and a preschooler, long days at work, supper time, bath time, story time, and a little late night time with her hubbie, all with apparent ease. She amazes me.

I know I did that once — two under the age of two and then another 5 years later. I remember the non-stop schedule, the constant making meals or snacks and cleaning up. I remember the bundling and unbundling, and strapping everyone into their car seats, the chasing after a toddler when the older ones were doing more grown up things. But it has been a loooooooong time since my life was so multi-multi-tasking.

Living alone, I have been in the” slow lane”, navigating life’s meandering road for so long, it is hard to adjust to being in the middle of rush hour traffic — ALL DAY LONG!

Yet I love the time spent here — chaotic as it is. Drooling hugs, simple stories, playing games, singing songs, going to the playground, the children’s museum, the park, beach, farm, or library. It is all a part of life’s adventure. And truthfully, despite the non-stop run, run, run, a lovely part.

Children grow so fast. They are only little once. You have to take the time to enjoy every moment. Each is a gift.

Ezrah and ZayLove y’all!

Shocking

Returning to the US after 5 months in Mexico, means adjusting to some significant changes.

First, the weather. It is c-c-c-c-cold – going from 85 degrees to a high in the 40s or 50s is a shock to the system. As my grandmother used to say, “You’ll get used to it.” That is true, but “hurry spring!!!!”

Second, though it is only temporary, the pitter patter of tiny feet and all that goes with them — the tumbles, the tears, the tantrums, the snotty noses, the sweet smiles, the sticky hugs, and, of course, the constant clatter. Shocking and sometimes a test of endurance. Being with my grandchildren (and their parents) however, is something I would not miss for the world.

Most of all though, I have to get used to the sticker shock. Twice now I have gone out to buy ingredients to make a single meal for four, only to reach the check out and be flabberghasted at the cost. In Mexico, I could buy a whole week’s worth of groceries for what doesn’t even fill a single bag here!!! I don’t think I will ever get used to that.

Blue Bear and tomatoes

Beach Personalities

As I turn west and trade coastal communities for mountains, I reflect on the beaches I leave behind.

One thing I learned on this trip is that not all beaches are created equal. Each is unique in its own way —

some are smooth,                                             some are littered with shells,

some are wild, untamed,                                 and others are urban retreats.

Some slope gently into the water while others drop steeply behind large (protected by law) dunes. Each has its own personality.

Though I have been on many beaches in my days, exhibiting all of the qualities listed above, I was totally unprepared for what I found at New Smyrna Beach.

A speed limit!

img_8086-qprI was told by many that New Smyrna Beach  was the “prettiest beach” on the East Coast of Florida, because of its relatively shell-free white sand and tidal pools for the little ones to splash in. Now maybe I did not visit the best part of the beach; it does stretch for miles, but when I got there, I found condos built on seawalls almost at the water’s edge, and in their shadow, a very shallow beach area with a “speedway” taking up two-thirds of the available space.

OK, so the speed is only 10 mph, but when it is between  the beach goer and the water, that is about 10 mph too fast in my opinion.

No traffic beach area, New Smyrna Beach , FloridaThankfully, every mile or two a section of the beach is declared “traffic free.” Be sure to look for the “traffic free” signs.

Or do as I did — drive to the far end of the barrier island into the northern section of Canaveral National Seashore and find miles and miles and miles and miles of beach with only foot traffic allowed.

Misty walk, Canaveral National SeashoreWhat’s your beach personality?

 

Perchance to sleep

I am a simple bear. When I travel, I like to just throw the sleeping bag in the back of the van and hit the open road. I have the freedom to go where I want, when I want to go, and stop or change directions whenever it suits me.

I also prefer this type of travel because of my chemical sensitivities. Hotels, in addition to being expensive, are filled with the residue of cleaning chemicals.

Because of the extensive storm system I have been dodging, I have been rained on at times. Other than the raindrops falling on my roof, which can actually be quite soothing, a little rain is only a mild annoyance, sometimes requiring me to wait out a shower before getting out and enjoying the clear light and fresh smell of a newly washed landscape.

With the concerns of loved ones and threats of thunderstorms last night, I opted for a hotel room. The storms never materialized, at least here, and I feel like a truck ran over me while I was sleeping, but I got the benefits of a hot breakfast, a hot shower (even if I did have to go to a different room to take it), and this view when I opened my eyes.

Morning forest view Almost as good as camping. Next time I will opt for the real thing though.

Map vs. GPS

Shortly before I left to head back North, I started to look at the map and pick a general direction. Lamenting that I did not have a North Carolina map, someone suggested that I didn’t need a map, that’s what GPS is for.

It is obvious that the person who said that has never meandered. A GPS may work just fine in telling you how to get from point A to point B, but that assumes that you know where point B is. If you are meandering, there is no point B only a general direction so GPS is virtually useless.

I do use it to tell me what road I am on and the speed limit, but face it the map on the GPS does not give enough detail to be of much use other than navigating around a strange town. It is handy for those times when I am “making time,” usually in the dark, on the Interstate because it lets me know how many miles it is to my exit so I can read all the fun town names on the road signs, not wondering where I am, and just drive.

A map gives you a big picture of where you are heading. Whether a state map, which shows those blue highways and other off the beaten track roadways, or my multi-state maps that give me a general view of options to choose, a map is something you can hold in your hand and consult without opening up a computer. Although Google works very well, it is dependent upon a signal on the phone, which is not guaranteed off the beaten path. Unplugging and meandering just seem to go hand in hand.

Salt marsh, St George Island, FloridaSalt Marsh, St. George Island, FloridaI read somewhere that only people over 40 have maps in their cars. I guess that makes me an old bear huh!!?

Map or GPS, which do you prefer on your meanders?