Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time.
Not this waiting room of the world.
~ Sir Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis in “Shadowlands”
I walked the loop last Saturday morning at 5:00a.m. It was a great walk. Here is an excerpt from my journal:
Standing on the front porch in the dark, I can smell the rain coming, feel the negative ions in the air, against my skin. I drink them in with my breath, along with the scent of sweet wood smoke. I use the headlamp until I’m down the private road, then switch it off as I reach the highway, content to walk in the dark as long as I can follow the white lines in the road.
The wind thrums in the treetops. And then the sound changes. I hear thousands of tiny crystals falling through the leaves. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never truly remember how it sounds. I don’t feel damp, but I know by this sound that it’s hailing.
As I reach the turn in San Antonio Falls Road, I look down to the valley but see only huge dark clouds lowering over the east ridge. My face is freezing with the onslaught of the tiny ice crystals. My hands ache when I remove my gloves to switch the lamp on, then off, so I can see in certain sections of the road.
On the way back to the cabin, I hurry, almost jogging, as the hail turns to fat drops of rain which soaks through my sweatshirt and jeans. But I stop when I hear rocks falling on the opposite side of the canyon. I know there are Big Horn Sheep there, making their way back up the slope. I stand on the edge of the road, listening. When I realize they are waiting to see if the noise they heard, this intruder in their habitat will move on, I do.
At home, there is much to record as this walk proves to be, like many, a walking meditation.
And this is what I thought about as I walked:
I thought about how hard I work to keep to a regular routine--which holds the sadness at bay. That thought led to this: What am I sad about? And so much emotion rolled in it was like standing on a beach one moment, contemplating the ocean, then being toppled by a knee-buckling wave. I started to cry as I walked, then pushed it all back--with my super-hero powers--and laughed at myself for crying. I lose perspective when I'm sad, forget to smell the scent of the rain in the air, to see the glow of the moon through the clouds, the light from my headlamp refracting off the thousands of tiny ice shards falling around me. I forget that when I get home, I will drink an incredible cup of tea and enjoy the privilege of eating a seemingly inexhaustible supply of food. I forget that I have two strong legs that are carrying me through the forest, eyes that see the beauty, hands that will later skip across a keyboard and maybe, just maybe, compose a paragraph that will touch the heart of someone I've never met.
I'm trying hard--knowing that we are in this time, this waiting room of the world again, when we watch the light wane and the darkness creep in on us--to follow my routine, to eat well but not gluttonously, to give my body all the sleep it needs, to exercise every day, to stop the onslaught of negative energy from the world outside with my super-hero shield (which is energized, by the way, by the love of my friends).
I hate the time change because it signals the coming darkness. I’m counting the days till the Solstice, as I do every year, trying to be centered on what is good and present, not what is absent in my life.