Roar with excitement
Let your cares fall away
Create your own music
Immerse yourself in nature
Make a splash
I love it!
What might you add to the list?
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.
Map or GPS, which do you prefer on your meanders?
I am inland helping a friend today so cannot be at the beach. But I thought I would share some thoughts on a recent sunrise.
one lone star in the dark sky
a hint of rose on the horizon
the promise of a new day
the sea, like molten pewter
flowing toward the shore
the wet sand stretches out ahead of me
like a sheet of glass
seashells, dotted here and there
sea birds catch an early morning snack
glow on the horizon grows
orange ball rises from the sea
Late winter dreary, cloudy and cold
Driving toward spring
Endless prairie, dotted by white barns and farms
Thin sliver of light hints at promise of sun and warmth
Rivers and lakes – water sparkling like diamonds
Meander through forests – sun flickering through the trees
Eagles soar overhead as red tailed hawk eyes me
Clumps of daffodils nod to a coming spring
Wiggle and waggle southward
Narrow roads with no shoulders
Houses with wide porches, doors open, folks rockin’
A church on every corner like gas stations back home
Signs of spring – grass greening
Apple and almond trees shimmering white
Wild plum and redbuds – splashes of color amidst dark, leafless trees
Creeks tumble over rocky beds, rushing with snow melt
Over Mont Eagle, down toward Nickajack Lake
Warm sunshine entices, stop to hike
Cloudland Canyon, home of the Cherokee
Waterfalls over ancient rock faces – awe inspiring
Winter fingers reach out to nip at fingers and nose
Run, run, run to warmth
Georgia stretches on and on at break neck speed
Florida at last – slow lane once more
Cracker style houses, horse farms, and forest green
Live oaks drip with Spanish moss
Wildflowers paint the roadside – purple and pink, yellow and white
Pines and palmettos
Give way to salt marsh and sawgrass
Ocean views and beach stretching on and on
In a favorite book of mine, “Blue Highways: A Journey into America,” William Least Heat-Moon wrote, “Had I gone looking for some particular place rather than any place I’d never have found this spring under the sycamores.”
That describes the beauty of taking the scenic route, getting off the Interstate — typically miles and miles and miles of straight, flat, and boring — and onto secondary roads, county highways, or better yet, those thin, wiggly lines on the map that wind around a lake, over a river, or through the forest.
Case in point, if you drive the Interstate North to South through Indiana, you travel through miles and miles of ancient lake bed, now flat land, however, go a few miles West and you traverse hills and rivers, past huge rock formations, Amish farms, and small towns — a wonderland that the average traveler, bad mouthing the boring drive, never realized existed.
At the beginning of his journey, Heat-Moon wondered if “Maybe the road could provide a therapy through observation of the ordinary and obvious, a means whereby the outer eye opens an inner one.”
I can attest to the truth of those words. Instead of flying past everything, seeing nothing, “meandering” the back roads forces you to slow down, see the hawk soar over the trees, hear the water babble in the creek, and snatch glimpses of another slice of life — horses grazing, children playing, the old folks rockin’ in the shade of their porch.
Instead of billboards advertising gas prices or the next fast food restaurant or tourist attraction, homemade signs announcing “maters and taters” or asking “Are you willing to take a chance with your soul?” You literally go over the river and through the woods, whether to grandmother’s house or not. And you breathe — not only slower, as the stress of everyday life melts away, but cleaner, filled with the scent of apple blossoms, fresh grass, crunchy leaves, tumbling water, or pine.
Heat-Moon shares his father’s philosophy that “any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he’s going to get,” that a man’s (or woman’s) observations and curiosity, make and remake them.
Taking five full days to travel from Wisconsin to central Florida may seem like an eternity to some. “I could do it in 2 ten-hour days!,” they boast. This isn’t Name that Tune, so I will not respond with how fast I could drive it because for me, it is the journey that matters.
This was not a true meander; I had a particular place to be in a “reasonable” amount of time. That time expectation and the cold, blustery weather kept me moving southward, hundreds of miles a day. In the end, it was more like Heat-Moon describes as “turning the windshield into a movie screen in which I, the viewer, did the moving while the subject held still.”
Since each day, I took time to stop, look, and listen — watching wildlife, lunching by pristine waters, hiking trails past awe-inspiring rock faces and to roaring waterfalls, sitting by the campfire, and star gazing — I did not mind watching the movie that unfolded before me at times. In the end it was a good journey.
“Home is where you hang your hat.” So said someone.
Yes, we hang our hat at “home,” but what is home? To some, it is a set place in a house, condo, or apartment, even a mobile home — some physical structure in a set place. To others it is a physical structure, such at a tent or motor home, but the set place changes at least from time to time.
But what really is home? I like to think that “home is where the heart is.” (Another idiom, I know.) Yet, truth be told, we do not need a physical structure to have a home. All we really need to be home is shelter from a passing storm, food to satisfy our hunger, and love to warm our heart. If we have those three essential things we can hang our hat most nanywhere.
Though I am technically “home,” I am leaving again tomorrow to be with baby Isaiah and family. That will be my home for the next several weeks, as Taxco has been my home the last few.
Home to me, truly is where I hang my hat.
So crooned John Denver many years ago.
It is 9:30 am and my bags are packed, except for a few toiletries. Family dinner is at 2:30 when I will officially say “Good-bye” for this trip. Between now and then, there is little I can do — Taxco “doesn”t wake up until 11 am” so the people I want to see before I go are not available until then.
So here I sit, reminiscing about my time here. About Irma, who so generously opened her home to me and promptly stole my heart. About her family — Carlos and little Natalia; Fany and her girls, Carla and Barbara; Alejandro, Fabian, Ana, Frida, and little Fabian; and Rojelio who all became my family as well. Also about Irma’s other children whom I met briefly, or not, but came to know through her.
I think about the friends I have here, both old and new, and how hard it is to leave everyone behind for half a year or more.
I think of all the wonderful adventures that I have had this visit — walking dirt paths of Cerro Gordo and San Juan, climbing mountains in Tetipac and Taxco, festivals, and fireworks, making new friends in Cuernavaca and San Miguel de Allende, and of course, that crazy slat bridge! (There are so many more adventures that I have still to share with you.)
Yet it is time to leave, and though the leaving is difficult and filled with sadness, I know that the coming back will be and is always joyous.
As I head into the deep freeze that is the Midwest, and from there to the Northeast to welcome, Isaiah, the newest (1 day old) member of the Blue Bear family, I do so with mixed feelings – joy for what lies ahead and sadness for what I must leave behind.
As another old lyric says, “Breaking up is hard to do.”
So go the lyrics of a popular song.
A friend recently sent me a moving piece about body image (that is fittingly captured in the lyrics, by the way.)
A real woman responded by commenting on how whales are surrounded by family and friends, they are tender with children, travel far, sing beautifully, and are loved by many.
A mermaid on the other hand, does not exist but if it did it would be sad and lonely and probably need therapy to resolve its split personality issues. (“Woman or fish?”)
After concluding that she would rather be a whale, the writer ended by saying:
“We women gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated. Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I ?!”
This piece and the accompanying photo of a beautiful, voluptuous woman, got me thinking about how warped the American idea of beauty is.
In Mexico, I feel so much more beautiful. Perhaps, because of all the walking I do to get from here to there every day, I am a few pounds lighter, or at least trimmer, my skin definitely glows, and since the food is fresh, there are fewer additives and preservatives to cause me to bloat; but it is more than physical.
Those few pounds really do not make the difference in how I feel. It is the attitude of everyone around me — whatever size or shape you are, however old or young, you are you and you are fine (wonderful, beautiful, marvelous, fantastic, amazing…) just the way you are. There is no better or more beautiful way to live.
So, cultivate being the amazing and beautiful person that you are, inside and out.
Well both Jimmy and Phil are in agreement. Looks like 6 more weeks of cold and snow back home. I picked a good winter to be here rather than there.
Unseasonably cold here too, (Yes, that is snow on the volcano, near Toluca) but that just means lows in the 40s or 50s (except San Miguel that got down to just above freezing). Being a Northerner, I just grab a sweater or wrap to ward off the late evening chill; if you are Mexican though, it is “Muy FRIO!!!! and you bundle up like an Eskimo.
And to think all this unseasonable cold is due to global warming! True! Believe it or not. According to the scientist who study these things, it is too warm to keep the polar vortex intact and so it split and is flying around the globe bringing the deep cold with it.
Thing is, no matter how you look at it, winter is half over, so instead of grumbling about the groundhogs’ predictions, do what the Mexicans do and CELEBRATE!
A Canadian I met in Florida sent this wish “for a brand new year to start doing things just right because this closing year has provided you with all the experience necessary to do so. Not?”
That really got me thinking. How often do we punish ourselves thinking about when we made mistakes — “if only” we had done this differently or we “should have” done that instead? Why do we humans have the tendency to look backwards and beat ourselves up over all the little (and big) things we could have done differently? The past is past, and as Alwyn so astutely pointed out, it gives us the experience to make the future “just right.”
So be like Goldilocks, put the big mistakes behind you, forget about the shoulds that weren’t, and look forward, concentrating instead on what is best for you here and now that will make your life “just right.”
Oh, and don’t let the turkeys get you down!