This morning, I was feeling reflective, as the dog and I made our way around the 3 mile loop through our lovely little town in North Jersey. The gardens were starting to awaken, and patches of color were catching my eye, yard by yard. The sky was lapis blue and clear as crystal.
The temperature was chilly, having plummeted back to the upper 30s after a weekend of temps close to 80 degrees. Welcome to Spring in the North East.
This winter was long, with temperatures hovering in the teens for much of the duration. So very long. There were moments when I wasn't quite sure it would actually end. Winter can be like that, so stuck and so barren, so seemingly endless. And, yet, the temperature started to rise, and the snow eventually melted. And now we have green shoots and colorful blossoms in the garden.
What a relief.
Except that, right when the weather started to turn pleasant, I got hit with the flu. It's been years since I have been laid up, with an illness so leveling as this one was. I was in bed for more than a week. On day 7, I started wondering if I would ever feel better. Again, it felt like it might go on forever.
There are a few things that I hate to feel-- 1. Weak 2. Needy 3. Lazy 4. Incapable 5. Dependant
That damn flu hit all 5. Hard. It had been a terribly long winter, followed by a terribly long flu, and I started looking for the lesson. There's always a lesson, right?
And then, after a prescription for a steroid inhaler brought me back to life, I figured it out. What I landed on was the idea of impermanence. It's a toughie, in the same kind of way that it can be a real godsend. Mostly we tend to like things to stay just the way they are, unless the way they are is becoming unbearable---like the winter or the flu.
Change can hurt and change can free. Change can upset and change can relieve. It just depends on what happens to be changing. And, things are always changing.
We adopted the pooch in early December, this goofy little dog whose mother was a Golden Retriever and daddy was a Basset Hound.
As we trotted along today, I thought about how my trip around this route had changed over the past few seasons. It used to be my running path, my place to open the channels of inspiration, while blowing off the steam of my life. But, since I have slowed my pace to a walk, I have decided to invite him as my daily companion. We stop a lot more than I like, sometimes. He sniffs and pees, and runs after a bird here and there. It's a different walk. But, I enjoy his company.
When we came to the half-way point, at the park, I looked up to see the two Magnolia Trees that flank the entrance sign. Two days before, they were breathtaking, but since the frost, many of their lush white and lavender petals have turned to rust. It made me wistful, like Spring can do.
There is so much beauty in the rebirth of the world in Spring---like the flowers are opening their souls to the sky to commune with the sun. The pinks, yellows, purples, whites, and all of that green--the colors touch me on a heart level. They make me think of my mother, who I lost 7 years ago.
Every Spring, she'd call me up to tell me the daily flower reports, which ones had come up which ones she was hoping to see next. I miss those calls. But, I see her in those colors, and I hear her voice when I call my children to: "Come & look at what came up in the garden!!! Can you tell what's new? Aren't they GORGEOUS??? Look, the other tulips are about to go! The Cherry Tree is going to be even MORE beautiful next week!" I really get into the flowers. But then they die. And I get sad. There's that impermanence again.
When we got back home, I clipped the dog onto his long leash, and we got to work in the garden.
Every time I start to dig a hole in the dirt, I expect it to be an easier task. It's simple enough. But, I never expect that so much dirt ends up falling right back into the hole where I just dug. Does EVERYTHING have to be a microcosm of life??? There are rocks down there under the soil, the black dirt gets under your nails, and sometimes you fall down on your butt while doing your best not to trample the flowers that are already growing. But, the end result is so darn pretty---I mean, it's really beautiful, while it lasts.
After I watered the new flowers, and got the dirt out from under my nails, I did the next logical thing a mom whose kids are both in school at the moment would do. I checked my Facebook. And, darn it if it wasn't Throwback Thursday. I recently reconnected with a friend that had been integral to my life in early childhood. Her dad was the pastor of my childhood church, and my mom was his secretary. Our dads coached baseball together. And when Eric and I were married, her dad officiated the ceremony. The photos that she posted really touched me. They were just one more reminder on how things just keep on changing.
Then, I went into my own family albums, which I inherited when my mother passed, and let my eyes wander over all of those faces.
The faces of my siblings & I, as we grew and changed. The photos of my parents, who divorced long ago, but are still together in those yellowed sticky pages. My mother and my grandparents, alive and smiling. Captured moments, frozen in time, in a world that keeps on changing.
Impermanent. Fleeting. Beauty.