Posts tagged ‘winter’

Creek Watch, Day 3

Day 3 of  Creek Watch, of seeing it anew,  my struggles with getting thoughts to paper, my mind swirling with ideas as I cross again and again, Cascadilla Creek.  Six years and what have I seen?  How can I feel like this is the first time I’ve noticed it?  Probably five of those years are lost, invisible impressions that flit in and out of my mind, quick as my crossings.  Some events jump out at me, like the carp spawning, stacks of fish churning in the shallow water, huge females dwarfing the eager and abundant males.  They gather slowly, their numbers growing, sometimes hiding under the bridges, sometimes in the bright daylight, spanning the width of the creek.  And then one day they’re just gone.  I watch for the young, but I never see them.

Then there’s my returning duck couple who make a nest and have a few bobbing young every year, their nest disappearing in a spring flood, later their little family cuddled cozily on a sunny rock.  Summertime blackbirds with yellow eyes sit on the rocks, dipping their beaks and tossing back the cool water.  They clamor for the mulberries that shade the creek next to the Buddhist temple. 

Another day in the summer when all life seemed tucked away, the only living things I saw in the water were a snake, a rat and a crawfish, each reminding me of how cruel hemming in a creek in with cement banks can be. 

I’ve watched the water turn into a slurry of creek soup, slushy globs of soft ice that look like fat, the rocks, sticks, and society’s trash simmering underneath.  Watching the sinuous, liquid ice floes form and change, is like visiting the aquarium and identifying the different fish, dolphins and penguins that grab out attention.  It’s water cloud watching, the steam from my own breathing adding to the circle of water and air.

I vow to never not notice the creek again, thankful for the reminder of how fast life can go by.   I know though, that I will forget, lost in my head, thoughts of good days or bad days at work, what’s for dinner, happy in the warm evening air, and then I will be brought up short by the cool, damp air held by the creek and it’s memory of winter.


March 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Color Me Winter

Sitting here in the light of the pre-dawn morning, only the contrast of black ink on white paper is visible.  The snow and air are blue and there is a waning moon with frosty edges just touching the trees.  This has been a rare sighting this winter.  Last night’s orange and purple sunset was enough to make me stop my car mid-road and take a picture. 

Our southern cousin La Nina brought us weeks of snow showers with only the occasional day of sunshine, so I have missed the blinding sparkle of sun on snow, and the purple and blue shadowed snow at sunset. 

Thank goodness for the artists who can see the green in the sky as the blue of the day gives way to the yellow and orange in the evening.  They know snow is a superior canvas as any bought in an art shop, with its ridges and valleys, its sheen, its angles, the light bouncing from each individual crystal.

The sun is up now, the birds are attacking the feeder and work beckons.  While I have diligently hung on to taking Snow Days since Kindergarten, I may need to rethink this and consider taking Sun Days, too.   But not today.

March 4, 2010 at 7:34 am Leave a comment

Paying Attention

I’ve heard the Universe gives you lots of chances to practice what you’ve learned, or at least could have learned if you were paying attention. That’s the unstated test – were you paying attention?  Happily I was, because I got my test just 3 hours later.  I give myself an A for noticing, but execution was a B- at best. 

I had attended a coaching session earlier in the afternoon and an issue the presenter focussed on was getting through a tough situation.   A quick 4-parter, even I could remember it.  Mostly. 

1. Breathe

2 Acknowledge your feelings

3 Ground yourself in the present moment

4 Make peace with the situation or accept to do something about it another time

All good and I bet it even works better when I get all the steps in, but for now, I am happy to recognize that I am stressed and that I can do something about it. 

It’s winter in Upstate NY, so of course it’s  snowing  just as everyone is trying to get home, roads are untreated and slick and traffic lined up like a parade.  I skid past my turn, turn around for a second go and slide again.  I am not a happy winter driver, except during Camelot winter, when the ground is sparkling white with snow and the roads are dry.   As I am creeping along to errands I don’t want to go on, my mind is racing towards my daughter commuting over the poor roads, the company that may beat me to my house, the bed to be remade, the cat hair clinging to the sofa, and yes, that I am stressed, angry, afraid, and that I just learned what to do about it. 

I would like to add Recognition to that previous list, because I know it would be a relief  just to scream at someone, go home, and be mad about the weather.  Trouble is, I would not like myself.  So let’s hear it for Recognition, knowing – paying attention – that emotions are high and that there is a better choice than just reacting in a pre-programmed way.

So, I started Breathing.  Simple, you say?  No.  Unconscious?  Yes.  My shoulders are hunched, my body is tight, and I’m not processing what’s going on right now, only a multitude of possibilities that probably won’t happen.  Just taking a breath and loosening up created space for productive thinking to enter my brain. It worked so well I tried it again.  Feeling better, I tried another step, Be Present, focus on what’s in front of you.  I’m in my car, it’s snowing, there are lots of other cars, check my speed, my brakes…okay…I’m feeling in control, the screaming urges are leaving and I know what I’ll need to do should an emergency arise.  I am all of a sudden a competent driver and I only did two out of four tasks!

Sitting in my warm office now, I can now accept the situation and check off #4, and I might even remember to do this whole exercise before I start driving in ugly weather again.  I look forward to the time when this whole process is automatic and that practice sessions come farther and farther apart.  I may still mix up the order or skip a step, but it will still work and I will be proud of myself.  I think I’ll put that as #5.  Give credit when it’s due, especially to yourself.

February 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Peace Feet

How sweet to come home to this on a winter afternoon.  Whatever the day’s trials had been were whisked away when I saw this and it brought me instant joy.  I have no idea what else happened that day, except that I got this gift of an invisible presence that had graced my home.  In a NY Times article, Amy Bloom said that part of the beauty of happiness is it’s transcience.  It’s these moments of joy or beauty or happiness, that can erase all woes.  String them together and it’s a wonderful life. 


February 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

Up in the Adirondacks…

Up in the Adirondacks in front of a fire…waiting to head out to nose freezing weather for a little snow shoeing.   I haven’t been out in too many Adirondack winters yet, and I’m slowly getting my wardrobe established.  I was surprised at how many different clothing needs I had to face Upstate NY winters.  Dry cold, wet cold, slick-as-snot frozen mud cold, cold dank rain, refreshing just blown in from the ocean like in Seattle rain, so many options!  I read recently that women’s affection for shopping was linked to our ancient foraging past, the root of our survival.  Obviously some of us have more survival needs than others.  So the winter shopping is part of survival, being comfortable outside for once.  I got to lay out in the snow recently with my favorite 5 year old, a light snow coming down tickling my face, a multitude of snow angels decorating the yard.  It was a revelation to do all that and be comfortable.  I think I’ll do more of it.

February 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

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