Hoopla and Hullabaloo

Those are the words I use to define the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. No matter how well prepared we think we are for the rush of three holidays that span roughly 5 weeks, as we move from one to another, the pace quickens to the point where we seem to get one holiday over and stress to prepare for the next one. And then, finally, January 2nd comes, and our rushed pace, except for the dis-assembly of holiday decorations, is over.

While I don’t appreciate the stress created from moving so quickly from holiday to holiday, gathering and preparing for each one, it’s almost like, after it’s over, the adrenaline rush just dies. We don’t slow down, we simply stop! It’s like being in your car, traveling along a highway, then seeing a sign that says “reduced speed ahead” so you slow down just a little and then, from out of what seems like nowhere, there is a traffic light, on red, stuck up in the sky in front of you. You stop and however safely you do so, you come to a full and complete stop and just sit there. The light will eventually change and you’ll keep moving along, but it’s a long time traveling on a rural-type road until you get to another highway where you can speed up.

For those of us who live in areas where winter is one of Mother Nature’s nasty moods, we all begin to think about what she might have in store for us, just waiting around the bend in the road. No one makes any serious plans to see or do something, never knowing when she will strike with fury. We tend to muddle along the road, anticipating her wrath because it WILL arrive at some point, and hoping that her tempestuousness will be mild.

For the winter season we are in right now, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted that December wouldn’t hold a lot of coatings of white blankets on the ground, which turned out to be true. But it also forecast that January and February is when she will unleash her outrage upon us. For me, the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for weather are like daily horoscopes – I don’t really believe in the actual forecast of either, but I still pay attention with a “just in case” attitude.

Oh, how sometimes I wish I could return to my childhood each winter – when joy erupted for a “school closings” day announcement on the TV/radio and we were so excited to bundle up like the Michelin man and go play in the white stuff for hours, ignoring wet feet and runny noses and fingers that felt like icicles! I miss that innocence with which I could appreciate the snow because I didn’t bear the responsibility to clear vehicles, shovel walks, try to travel to work on treacherous roads. We’d come back in after hours of play, shed the wet clothes, climb back into our warm pajamas, and have either tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or hot chocolate and toast. All of the goodies we’d gotten for Christmas were still new to us, so we could laze around reading or playing games.

Now, no longer children, we see snowfall as an inconvenience, no matter how much we enjoy its initial beauty. And we have no adrenaline left from our hoopla and hullabaloo holidays, so short daylight hours and cold winter temperatures mixed with no big holidays to prepare for makes the winter seem to last forever…

I’ve been trying to think about ways in which I could create a little bit of that excitement, if not every day, at least once a week, to get through what feels like that forever of winter. It shouldn’t be a hard task, since even having a list of errands that need attention gets me out and about. I’ve become a bit lazy in that regard, planning all of my errands for the same day, figuring I’d do everything while I was out and about. Maybe it’s just as simple as splitting them into different days so that I have cause to be out and around people more often. Maybe getting some fresh air, no matter how cold that air is, will be enough. Maybe remembering that the snow didn’t kill me as a child and going out in it to play will help.

Any ideas from any of you???

Autumnal Equinox

Harvest reaping has been done

The nights are cool at last

We wait for leaves to vibrantly color

Though too soon they will be past.

This autumn season rustles in

With respite from the heat

Though winter follows much too soon

And shoveling’s such a feat.

Do not miss all the changes

Enjoy each sight, sound and smell

Let them not pass by without pause and praise

Before winter’s savage hell.

Autumn paints in colors

That summer has never seen

Rustling leaves traveling in the wind

To places they’ve never been.

Take time to stop and notice

All of Mother Nature’s glory

Each season has a reason,

Each season has a story.

And still she rambles on…

Words – sounds that feel good to our tongue and lips – by conscious decision we choose the right word – – is the season fall or autumn? Both capture the same image, but autumn rolls off the tongue like a vision of its splendor. The word brings forth the thought of the sober and careful nature that is the capitulation of spring and summer now gone “mad” – colors everywhere – leaves on the trees are now more like tethered balloons – nature at the circus with fun and visual delights. No more the solid green of the trees and lawns but a true vision of the palette of life foreshadowing the glory that will lead to the rest and dormancy that is winter. And why not? After such an outburst and display, nature must recover herself and prepare for the explosion that will come with each new spring – thrusting all of her energy into the composition of a new creation. But in autumn, the energy has been expended and the rewards evident in display – nature’s last chance to show off and strut her brilliance and dazzle us for one more time like the fireworks at the end of the show. In the brilliance, we ignore the tomato plants now bent and drooped, frail and withered and having outlived their purpose, or the raspberry vine which long lost its fruit and now becomes only a bramble to shelter rabbits and other critters foraging for safety and nourishment before the final freeze… the freeze that is the sound of the word winter – say the word and its syllables bite like Dante’s final circle in Hell – Satan is frozen in a lake of ice and his wings flap to create a hurricane while his tears are frozen to his face – the Earth wrapped in her cloak of white and slumber with the starkness of contrast of the naked trees – stripped like Christ before the crucifixion, head bowed and fate heavy upon His face. In these moments, the promise of the new Genesis of spring – the absolute renewal and all its implications – something we only believe by faith will occur.

Words and ideas – the importance of all those synapses firing and jumping – playing with the meaning and shadings – to admit only generically at the meanings… being allowed to explore the meaning that we at first only hint at and then, amazed by the truth of the situation, we begin to understand the full ramifications of what our words and ideas reveal of ourselves to another. How often do we wish we could “take back” our words – syllables said in the heat of a given moment which are at the core of the truth inside ourselves – – realizing that we have said too much only because we have been totally honest – and the light of absolution does not come from the other’s eyes – the ramifications of our deepest fears that we cannot undo the damage that has been done, while simultaneously knowing that speaking our truths are damaging to ourselves if left silent… the struggle to validate ourselves to be accepted as just who we are against the believe that no one will be willing, much less able, to accept us at that place.

I like words, the magic and the promises they convey – to explore or explain their sense of being and meaning- but I use them too much in an attempt to explore or explain my own sense of being and meaning – trying so diligently to come up with the “right” answers to life’s questions. For example, during a job interview, one is asked if one could trust someone who had lied to him/her… How can one answer in a simple “yes” or “no”? We as humans set out with good intentions, and no one else but each of us can be the scale by which we measure ourselves – to say that I wouldn’t trust someone would suggest that I have never lied — but to say that I wouldn’t trust that person is also to impose my own values on a situation of which I do not have full knowledge. And so, one hedges his/her bet by a rash of words explaining the thought process – because the words beyond “yes” or “no” are needed if we want to accurately convey that we just don’t know the answer, rather than admit that we don’t know the answer. Explanation and justification are rationalization at their best… rather than admit that we are more than the sum of parts known by a single answer…

Friday’s 5 Takeaways – 5/31/19

It seems impossible that we’re at the last day of May!

  1. Living in a small town in a rural area, the crowds come out for the annual Memorial Day parade. This year’s crowd was not as big, probably because of the weather. While not rainy (at least for the morning) it was cool nonetheless. There is charm in a small town parade, and watching the gleaming faces of parents as their children parade by always makes me smile.
  2. I had an opportunity to be with friends for a holiday celebration. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled baby lobster tails, pasta salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs and chocolate cake frosted with the creamiest peanut butter icing I’ve ever tasted (you should know that I’m not particularly fond of either chocolate cake or peanut butter frosting!). Most of all, we had a great visit together.
  3. Here in PA, we’ve had an interesting week of weather. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all days in which there were heavy rains with high winds, multiple tornado warnings across the eastern part of the state, and several tornadoes reported. While it’s quite scary to be in an area with a tornado warning, there still is awe watching the mighty power of Mother Nature at work – sheets of rain blowing sideways, long bolts of lightning piercing the sky, and slap-you-in-the-face winds. We’re looking forward to a break from it today.
  4. Now that temperatures are warming, full-fledged midday naps will be a daily event. I’m not blessed with central air, so I rely on two window units – one in my living room and one in my bedroom. During the hottest part of the day, I tend to spend time in my bedroom, where I can close the door and keep all of that cold air circulating around me (with the help of a table fan across the room). I like naps anyhow, but this makes a decent excuse to take one without the usual guilt!
  5. This will most likely be my last weekly takeaways post. While there is so much joy to be found in living a contented, simple life, it doesn’t give me much fodder to recite exciting weekly happenings! Hopefully, you’ll still enjoy my random posts along the way.

Meanwhile, have a relaxing weekend and a productive week ahead! And stay cool (and dry!)!