Monday, June 22, 2015

a lightness of being ...

Somehow, I ended up booking three trips to three coasts in one month's time. Hence, the travelog nature of these postcards from the edge. While Cowgirl and I jet around, the Husband has been tending the home fires - or rather, the garden and Moose boy - for which I am ever-so-grateful as leaving home is bittersweet for me. I love travel but ... I love the rhythms of homey summer days. Early mornings watering the thirsty plants in my garden boxes, my pots of herbs and flowers needing pruning and deadheading; and then there is the dog who is even more a creature of habit than I am and that is pretty immense.

So recent travels took the girl and I back East to Cape Cod to bring my mother's ashes to be buried with my father's. Things started off comically: do I pack or carry mom on the plane? I packed her and then warned the Delta agent "Don't you lose my mother!" He wasn't quite sure how to respond to me. 


Cape Cod is a place that holds many memories for me. My parents bought a home there when I was in college and it became the summer retreat. Later, when living in Boston, the not-yet-Husband and I would travel out there every weekend to get away from city living and our tiny, one bedroom closet of an apartment. Twenty seven years ago we were married on Cape Cod and when Cowgirl joined our family, it was to the Cape that we took her for the first five years as a family. 

It has been three years since I was last on the Cape and while I have missed it, I hadn't realize just how much it is part of who I am and what I love: the gentle wildness of the landscape; the wide and long beaches; the rough and unruly Atlantic ocean and the icy cold water that shocks and invigorates me; and the wildlife that is visible if you know to slow down, be quiet and pay attention. Seals, otters, turtles, egrets, herons, hawks, fox, coyote, and many vocal and riotous birds.

Traveling to the Cape, I was returning to my heart's home. I love the openness of the prairie but my soul aches for the ocean. And not just any ocean, but the crashing tumble of waves that is the Atlantic. The pulse and rhythm of the earth is most present for me when I stand ankle deep in the frigid waters of Nauset beach, stones and shells tossed unmercifully against my feet and shins, skin turning fish belly white from the cold. The rawness of life apparent in this place of sea, sky and sand.

While I was surprised by these feelings of homecoming, I was even more unprepared for the sensation of weightlessness, an unbearable lightness of being and deep and tender vein of grieving that opened up with what I now understand as the completion of a journey.  This trip back to the Cape was the bookend to the trip made between snowstorms 5 1/2 years ago when I brought my mother West to live near us. Now I was taking her home and, after a lifetime of so many travels and adventures, this was the last trip we would make together. 

Having fulfilled so many daughterly duties over the past few years, the weight of responsibility has been lifted off of me and while yes, there is a sense of relieve and ease, there is also an unfamiliar and disconcerting emptiness or lightness. The space that was held by my mother is now gone. I stand again on a stark edge: there is my life that was - as a daughter, caregiver, friend - and the life that slowly pools around me, the tide turning from emptying of grief towards the filling of what I cannot yet know or name.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

off the grid

We slipped away for a family vacation ... dropping my phone prior to departure resulted in me being completely off the grid as it sometimes would work, but more often would not. Turned out to be the best gift ever.

While the global is always just a click away, I am aware that what is missing in my life is intimacy with what is local. My sense of the world is a fractured one. I am reminded of my experience living in London during a semester abroad: I was fluent in the Tube system and had a patchwork experience of the city. I knew areas around the tube stops, but my sense of how it all fit together was wonky at best. 

A week with just a suitcase of belongings, my camera and my loved ones was the perfect medicine to help me recalibrate. I am in that place of long-rambling in my head dialogues and am feeling the urge to let it all spill out upon the page. Time this summer for long stretches of writing and painting, soaking up sun and cooling breezes, and allowing a stillness to assist me in spiraling deeper within. 

Grateful to Hali Karla's Spectrum 2015 which kicked off in May and the guidance of Julie Daley in her contribution How to enter the Creative Unknown, Entering the Sacred Temple Within in which she offers the image of the labyrinth as a guide for entering into creative space. I cannot explain it; you have to experience it. But the image of the labyrinth has been a potent one for me and one which I am turning to in support of my own process of an inner spiritual/creative journeyI am ready to surrender myself more fully to this process after a week of sea, sun, wild life and sacred time with my family.

We were greeted by the neighborhood iguana (often having to stop the car and wait for him to scurry across the road ... he was busy the entire week trying to woo a fetching femme fatale deep green iguana ... she didn't seem very impressed ...

While my Celtic heritage means I wilt in temperatures above 75, Cowgirl is pure Ocean Merchild, loving the warm water of the Florida Keys.

This was her first time snorkeling ... the Husband's gentle inquiry into her possible interest in learning to scuba dive.  The result? He has a very eager and willing dive student and partner.

I determined that while I enjoy the water, I am better on land. It was a rocky day on the boat and I was greener than the iguanas back on shore. I am proud to say, I got back on a boat the next day for some fishing (sorry, no pictures ... all on the Husband's camera which awaits downloading) and caught some snapper which we ate for dinner that night. I also caught a barracuda, a moment both horrifying and thrilling for they are ugly and mean looking fish!

We caught our own supper (Cowgirl landed the other half of our meal) 

 She gave the meal 2 thumbs up

Scenic dining was the norm all week long 


Love was definitely in the air ...

And wildlife all around ...

And these diminutive Key Deer were a treat to meet ...

Although we loved both the exotic and the domestic creatures that came our way.

We spent a steamy day in Key West, visiting the Hemingway house, home to fifty cats which trace their ancestry back to Hemingway's own cat, Snowball.

 Wouldn't you like your own writing studio with nearby pool and gardens?

 We wandered the city and took in the sights and some necessary refreshment

But what struck me was this new person in my life ...

When did she turn into this preteen creature? How did I miss this transformation?

Thankfully, she still is happy to hang out with her parents and is always up for an adventure.

Of course, no beach vacation would be complete without the usual but still always thrilling sunset shots ...

And while there were flashes of things to come and a girl with attitude, it was refreshing to see bubbles bring out the playfulness in us all.

Now that I am home, I am resting in the fullness of all that is This Life and so very grateful and determined to stay presence for each jewel-like moment.Off-the-grid and back into life ... that sounds like a good mantra, don't you think?