The Arbor Vitae 2013

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Jean's Blog (Check out links to Guest Blogs in lefthand Column)

Building My Winter Burrow

October 1, 2014

Tags: Winter Burrow, High Holidays, fall, squirrels, hibernating, winter

A Hibernated World

The months of early Fall whirl into focus amidst the beauty and turbulence of a rising wind dancing the leaves, and the pressures and pleasures of the High Holidays. These months also bring echoes of my losses. My two beloved maternal grandparents died during the High Holidays many years ago. My father died on the second night of Rosh Hashana in 1971, my mother last October. It is difficult not to view this time of year without a creeping apprehension that goes beyond a fear of the ice and cold to follow, the possibility of a winter as long and hard as the last one.
But as we come to terms with grey skies and the sudden assault of a day of wind and chill reminding us that summer is past, along with the squirrels, the woodchucks, the chipmunks, and the bears, we, too, set about building our winter burrows. Only our burrows are built of schedules and commitments, school routines for the young and their parents, shorter days, more demands, and a pace to match.
I have always known that I am a hibernating animal at heart, longing to curl up in warmth and sleep the winter away while others ski the slopes and run in marathons. This year I plan to let that hibernating creature take over.
To that end, I am now busy gathering my acorns and nuts, renovating my environment, whittling down my commitments and possessions to an organized clarity, preparing to use the winter to focus on my new book from the comfort of my home. I have tucked away as many distractions as possible, and have filled the shelves of my writing room with books relevant to the period and location I plan to explore in my novel. I am warning all my near and dear that my transitional year will end when January begins.
Small flares of the energy building in my subconscious are already bursting to the surface, and when they do, I write their messages down. But in my hibernation to come, I will open myself to doing the nothing that leads to something when it contemplates a blank computer monitor day after day after day, while nature rages outside the window.
Maybe the winter will bring cabin fever and nothing more. Maybe the pages I hope to write will never reach out into the world, but no matter how it goes, I am resolute.
If not now, when...?


FLIP OF THE SWITCH

September 4, 2014

Tags: story, switch, fall, time

The Pond

I am quite amazed to note where these past months have led me. Slowly but surely I have become aware that a life-change is taking place. There has been a flip of the switch and the lens through which I view my world has shifted undeniably into a new perspective, a need for completion, a new close-up, a new set of urgencies: the final playing out of the story that is my life.
Priorities have shifted suddenly and seismically. I am caught up in an urgent need to simplify and clarify, to pare down, to label, to throw out, to bag for the thrift shops, to re-order all the minutae of my 50 years in this apartment..
Time to let go. Time to make order out of chaos. Time to lose everything that has found no place or significance in the lives of my children and grandchildren, and that no longer has a place in whatever time I have left. Time to make up for so many years of benign neglect of daily trivia, as I raced through my life, leaving so much unfinished, so many books unread, so much undone, clinging onto the streaming days by my fingernails in the hope of not missing a beat or falling off the radar.
Time to revel in the beauty of the world.
Fall has come early this year. Up at the country house, there are flutters of gold and scarlet among the leaves. Rust will come later. Last weekend a flock of nine very large black turkeys ambled companionably in the far field, majestically oblivious of the humans watching through the kitchen window. The visiting heron stalked something invisible in the pond. Squirrels, suddenly bursting with purpose, scrambled up and down trees. Summer's breath is still heavy with August humidity but September has arrived, and with it, promises of glory and intimations of winter to come. Grandchildren are back at school in their new grades. Our eldest grandson has started his first year at college. Business lunches jostle with other appointments in the calendar, playing hide and seek with various medical check-ups and the High Holy Days, looming in the middle distance.
Not too far ahead, in November, Thanksgiving offers its magnanimous promise of the old stone house rich with family and fragrant with food and wood smoke once again. Love fills my heart. I contemplate the long trail of years behind me. Still so much left to read, to experience, to complete... to begin.
Whatever lies ahead, I am ready.


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