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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No preocupado

Everybody here is always saying, “Don’t worry.” “Don’t worry.” And I always think, what is there to worry about? I finally figured out that “No preocupado” (Don’t worry.) is used in the same way that we say, “No problem.”

So don’t worry, be happy!

Fanciful frogGo ahead and smile. You know you want to.

No worries! Now doesn’t that feel great?

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.”

 

Calor

Studying Spanish in a hammockCalor is the Spanish word for hot when you are talking about the weather or climate.

April and May being the hottest months of the year – the sun is mighty strong at this latitude and there are few if any clouds to deflect its rays. That means that afternoons get very warm, well into the 80s.  However, houses are built to deflect the heat — it truly is 10 degrees cooler in the shade, and unlike August in Wisconsin, cool breezes come down from the mountain at night and make sleeping tolerable.

Many people here are complaining about the heat. Apparently no one remembers a year when it was so warm this early. Yet they still wear long sleeve sweaters and wrap their babies up in heavy fleece blankets with winter hats on their heads when they take them out. I don’t get it.

I could understand, light, long sleeved clothing to protect the skin from the sun’s rays, and even a light blanket swaddling a newborn, but if it is 80 degrees and you or the baby are sweating, let’s lighten up in the clothing department!

I know I am different. I come down here in the middle of winter, when it is truly FRIO (cold) for them, and I wear short or sleeveless tops, with perhaps a long sleeve shirt over my shoulders in the early morn and a sweater at night. I come from a much colder climate though and the mid-60s of December feels warm to me. Only two or three times did a cold front come through where I needed to put on socks, a fleece, or once, for the first time ever, even don a jacket to protect from the cold rain.

I go barefoot and sleep with my door open for fresh cool air. To the typical Mexican, this behavior is asking to develop a cold. They always wear shoes because the tile floors are “muy frio,” and sleep with their rooms closed up to avoid drafts.

This is just another one of those cultural differences (though it doesn’t necessarily apply everywhere —the children of the indigenous people run around barefoot most of the time even in the snow) that makes life interesting.

One culture’s customs and traditions are neither right nor wrong, they simply are what they are. To me, the differences are what makes life more enjoyable. Do you agree?

Word Play

Tools for learning SpanishLast week I wrote about Spanish words that are confusing. I seemed to have struck a chord (Huh? Hope you didn’t hurt yourself.)

The responses are rolling in — with examples of words and funny expressions that we use to liven up our language but actually make no sense to someone from another county.

One friend wrote, ” Getting your head around a language is understanding the culture.” I agree. Only by understanding the background of the speaker can you truly understand what they are saying. For example, the adage attributed to Native Americans about walking a mile in another’s moccasins. To understand that, you first have to know what moccasins are.

My friend shared her frustration with learning Kayah, a tonal language native to Southeast Asia, spoken by a group of refugees where she lives in Texas. She wrote, “TOE is both yes and no. Yes is said high and no is said low. NGO is both tears or word. PREH can be person or again. If you use the wrong tones you can be telling them, “no again word,” which gets very confused looks, when you are trying to say, “Yes the person cried.”

Spanish has its share of tonal variations. Si‘, with an accent, means yes, but without means if. El with an accent on the e means he and el without the accent means the. Vino can mean come or wine.

Esta means this; accent the first syllable though (ESta) and it means this one (not that one), but place the accent on the “ta” and it is a form of the verb to be — esTA mal (it is bad.)

English has a fair share of tonal, or just plain confusing, words also. Read, for example — I read (reed) a book today, but I read (red) it yesterday. You, can mean one person or a group of people; with the exception of the deep South, we have no word for you all. And then there is here and hear.

And if you really want to have some fun, analyze the meaning of common idioms. What in one language is part of our cultural heritage and perfectly understood, makes another wonder “Que?”

Here are just a few:

Right now — How is now right? Can it be left (or wrong) too?
I’m under the weather — Do you need an umbrella?
He’s over the hill — Which hill?
See you — Well, of course, I am standing right here.
Time will tell — Time talks? Do you have a talking watch?
Hit the books — Why? What did they do wrong?
Feel free — At no cost? Great! But feel what?
Knock it off — What do you want me to knock off?
Go figure! — Figure what?
Get on the ball  — It keeps rolling out from under me.
Go fly a kite — But it’s storming!
Day in, day out — How is that?
Look up (something) — If the book is on the lower shelf do I look it down?
To each his own —Own what?
Polished off — Your plate needs polishing?
Stand corrected — And if not corrected do I sit?
Run over — Won’t that hurt?
Cut him off at the knees — That must really hurt!
Noodle on those for a while.

Played this classic Abbott and Costello skit for my English students this week. It is the perfect example of how confusing the English language can be.

Don’t die laughing!

“Toto, we’re not at the beach anymore”

Blue Bear needs a directionI followed the signs toward Myrtle Beach but somewhere around Charleston have to take a left turn.

As I leave the ocean and  beach behind, I will miss the smell of the salt air, the cry of the sea birds, and most of all the beauty of the sunrise accompanied by the music of the waves, whether soothing or stormy.

The interior of our country is filled with beautiful, majestic, serene, and exciting places and I enjoy all the variety, yet being at the ocean shore at sunrise is pretty hard to beat (though the shores of  the Great Lakes come close.)

The salt marshes of Georgia, the antebellum vibe of Charleston, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smokey Mountain National Park await. Adventure on.