I did it – I went back to the beach all on my own, only about three weeks after that last trip. Because I didn’t arrive until the afternoon, and I could only afford to spend a couple of hours at the most, I thought that time pressure would make the minutes fly.
But somehow, the opposite happened. Time swelled to be as big as the ocean; it was as vague and undefined as the fog. I walked and walked, lost in it, and when I checked my phone, I couldn’t believe how little of my allotment I had used. So I walked some more….
Believe it or not, I have the plant above, with the whitish leaves, in my garden. I bought it a the native plant nursery years ago, and knew it was a beach plant, but I’d never seen it before in its natural habitat. I recognized it immediately. I won’t worry about my plant anymore. It looks more spindly than these but otherwise … yeah. And I don’t know its name.
The sun never came out, but the air was pleasant. I wore a thin linen shirt, and carried my Teva sandals so that my feet could get the full sand experience. A girl spun cartwheels in the fringes of the incoming waves. Fathers with their children dug holes to catch the water. Bodies huddled like seals in driftwood teepees.
On my favorite shortcut road home I stopped many times to take pictures, and wished I could take scents. The masses of eucalyptus trunks and leaves exuded their distinctive aroma, which mixed with that of the cypress trees and the drying grass. Probably the coyote brush contributed to the heady perfume that was part of the afternoon’s fog on that particular hill.
My app said that the little tree below was in the rose family. It had fruit looking like cherries, but didn’t resemble a cherry plum tree. I guessed it was a volunteer/escapee from an old farm nearby.
From the top of the hill I could look back and see just a bit of the bay and the hill above, through the fog and mist — and the barbed wire.
A wind came up and whished the slender eucalyptus leaves into a loud whisper, and they were still telling their secrets when I had to drive away. So I must go back soon for the rest of the story, right?
The rain continues, glory to God! But… it’s hard to get enough endorphins to keep in a good mood, when the rain keeps us indoors. A few times I’ve put on Celtic music and danced in order to get muscles exercised and my whole self warmed and enlivened. Yesterday I went for a walk that had to be shortened when the weather forecast proved wrong, and in spite of my longish raincoat I came home drenched.
But a few minutes previous, I had just got on to the creek path when I came upon a eucalyptus limb that had fallen the night before, when there had been no significant wind. Those of us who stopped to analyze the situation finally saw where the tree (on the left below) had broken, higher up than this picture shows. The log must have bumped lower limbs that forced it to flip over before it hit the ground. We thought it likely it was so waterlogged that it snapped off from sheer weight.
One day neighbor Kim and I walked her dog between showers and I saw this friendly face on a cactus. My own garden is looking fresh and clean; asparagus are pushing up and the fava beans getting taller.
This morning a couple of ladies were coming for tea, and I found one calla lily with which to decorate the table. Last night when I thought to bake a cake for the occasion, I remembered these Brazilian Cheese Rolls that I love, and made them instead. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand, too, and since I’m still working on Using Up, they worked out perfectly.
The only starch in the recipe is tapioca flour, so they are grain-free. The first stage of dough containing hot milk, butter and tapioca is gluey. After it rests a few minutes and egg and cheese are added, lumps of the soft dough are pulled off and baked. This time my rolls were smoother on the outside than I remember. The inside is always moist and chewy with that dense mochi texture.
My remodeling project is not making much progress, because the architect seems to keep my small job at the bottom of his stack. I can’t apply for a permit until I have certain drawings, and who knows when they will ever be done. In the meantime I have plenty of work to do on my end, all falling into the broad category of Housework, but not so much that I can’t enjoy the rather restful pace I have fallen into, in my waiting. Lent begins on Monday, and especially in that first week I’ll be glad the house is not yet filled with sawing and hammering and men in boots tromping up and down the stairs. By the time construction starts the rain will likely have stopped, and in every way we will be feeling the lightening of springtime.
Not only did I see a rainbow this afternoon, but egrets, and a flower that looks like a sea anemone. A hawk on the power line, and a feast of rosemary blossoms.
When I returned from my extended trip — eight weeks away — I was flattened not only by jet lag but by various other ailments that kept me from even thinking of the creek path until the last couple of days. Today I had taken care of enough business that I could envision and plan for some walking in my afternoon.
At first, I thought I had waited too long, and that the rain would catch and soak me. My first few pictures I took through some falling drops, and at one point I turned around to come home early, but then I turned around again and had a proper long meander. I didn’t dare go faster on my legs that are much underused these last many weeks.
Neither strolling around the garden or worshiping in church had made me feel so fully “back” as walking my usual route along the now-muddy stream and singing “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” in the proper setting. Somehow, when I get out there I get quickly in touch with my contingency, and that puts me in my proper setting.
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28) Being alone in my room does not so strongly impress upon me my aloneness with God and my utter dependence on Him for life itself. For Life itself. My familiar walk is like a familiar prayer that lets me forget the particular words or interface, and go straight to the heart of the matter.
Years ago a man named David Dickens was writing a poem almost every day which he published on a blog. I saved some of them because whether or not their form was polished, their spirit called to my spirit. Like this one, which because it includes images of rain and paths and walking, in the context of exuberance, seems about right for today. Thank you, again, David!
Praise him who rains scorn upon the scornful, and Let him who gives grace to the humble be praised. Extol the one who shames crafty men in their schemes And seeds the garden of those without guile. Listen to the word, the father’s instruction; Be attentive, the mother exhibits a watchful heart. Beautiful are the paths of the maker, Keep to them and live.
Shout for joy, you who know the one you speak of, In the house preserved eat a feast with hearts glad. First in all the spheres of heaven is love The second is wisdom which uphold the third, peace Fourth is faithfulness made perfect in suffering Fifth the gift of tears with her sixth sister, joy The seventh and last humility, the fortress of all goodness
Great is he who walks unhindered, and to The one who makes fleet your steps, give glory. The sky is always clear to shine as no branches cloud his path. Refreshing waters flow beside and the fawn drinks deep the cool water. Fear not the wicked forest though it encroaches, But praise him who keeps the wolves from the camp at night. Lord and master grant us safe passage, And rest in your home.
Even before I had left my neighborhood, the day before I was scheduled to fly out of San Francisco to Washington DC, I had “adventures.” In the morning, my back went out. After church traveling prayers were said for me, and I paid close attention to the request that my journey be healthful. Would God heal me overnight? That afternoon I took a walk in the neighborhood, because my chiropractor told me once that when you walk, every step is like a little adjustment; I know from experience that walking is healthful, and I hoped that the kinks would work themselves out, and the spasms cease.
While I was walking I admired the eucalyptus trees; they caught my attention by the loud hum overhead, the noise of hundreds of flies and bees of every sort working at the blooms. Blooms? Indeed, in November. Some of the species of this tree do bloom in the fall, as I found by first-hand observation, and when I got home and read about them online. The flowers were mostly too high up for me to get a good picture, and the leaves were prettier, anyway.
While walking I got a text message from daughter Kate, whom I was going to see at the end of my journey the next day. “My” bench was close by, so I sat down to type a message back to her. Yowie! A beast I never saw stung me on the finger, and it filled with biting pain. I cut my walk short and started back the way I had come, thinking I should hurry home and take my wedding ring off before swelling could tighten it and add to the discomfort. Then I realized that my flesh was already puffing up, and I managed to remove my ring with the help of some saliva.
My back was feeling a little better, but my finger was stabbing for several hours, anytime I took it out of the ice water, and that distracted me from my final preparations — but I guess I did at least pack what I needed, and I went to bed hoping for a better tomorrow.
I don’t think often about my wedding bands. I have one on each hand since my late husband and I bought new ones for our 40th anniversary four years ago; at that time I had the original band resized and I wear it on my right ring finger. When I became a widow I had no desire to take off my rings – I feel that in my heart and soul I am still married.
But before I set off for the airport the next morning, when I tried to put my newer ring back on, the finger was still too swollen, and I had to leave the ring behind and go naked on that finger for the first time in nearly 45 years. So that was the first new thing I experienced on my trip.
My back seemed to be fine when I woke. I was taking the usual NSAIDs, but it remained to be seen how I would do sitting in buses and airplanes and cars for the next nine hours. Sitting is typically the opposite of walking as far as back health goes.
When I was planning for this trip I was looking forward to uninterrupted reading time on the plane(s), ten hours or more, plus reading for a few minutes in bed each night before sleep. I wanted to read on a topic somehow connected to the people or sights I would see, and one obvious one was India. No, India was not on my itinerary, but one big reason I was making a trip to visit Kate right now is that she and her husband are moving to India next year for work. They will be there two years; since they are very important people to me I’d like to know something about this place that will be their home. Also, I hope to visit them there!
So as soon as I settled on to the airporter bus, I opened my Kindle and began to read Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie. I had brought along a fat fleece neck pillow, tied with a ribbon to my backpack, and I tucked that behind me for back support, and was good to go. For a while I talked with my seatmate, a woman much older than I who was traveling to a North Carolina wedding brave and cheerful in spite of having just recovered from a broken hand, and not quite recovered from the death of her foster son. She was encouraging just by being herself.
Nothing eventful happened on my flight east. My naked finger never stopped feeling odd; it was Something New the whole week. I had extra legroom on that nonstop flight, the seat next to me was empty, and I enjoyed the quiet and solitude. The book was good, and my back hurt not a bit, thanks be to God. I spent a few hours in India, and then my plane touched down in Washington, DC.
“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.” – Roman Payne