Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Good Day Is When...

1. You get your hands in the dirt. Now that spring has sprung in Washington, the toddler and I have been outside nearly every day this past week weeding out the garden beds in the back to get them ready for planting. It’s the one-year-old’s first time getting her hands in the soil and although she has a miniature garden hand shovel and hoe of her own, she, of course, prefers using all her strength to poke and prod the earth with the adult-sized versions. Uncovering the richer, darker soil beneath the surface is beautiful and therapeutic, clearing the mind. Now that the beds are cleared of weeds, I dug, watered and planted the first produce of the season: cilantro, garlic and red cabbage. Here’s hoping the bunnies leave my tender little leaves alone!

2. You get to walk in the sunshine. Take a break. Let your mind wonder and your legs stretch. Enjoy the blossoms on the trees, and the sights and sounds around you after being cooped up in the house all winter. Enough said. 

3. You clear out your closets or your cupboards and donate your items, hopefully to a good cause. Clothes that you don’t fit into or just don’t wear anymore, give away! Children’s items that you never used and never plan to use because you have better ones, donate to the local pregnancy aid center’s baby boutique and help other first-time moms. Leave the bags behind and go away feeling lighter, because in the end, less is more.

4. On the other hand, when there is something you need, a good day is when you can shop for just about anything on the amazing Amazon phenomenon online and have it delivered for free and straight to your doorstep within 2 days! You never even need to leave the house or drive from store to store and search through numerous store aisles to compare and select the best quality or the best deal but can do so from the comfort of your couch. Needless to say, as a new mom, I fell in love with Amazon when shopping meant packing up a diaper bag and baby formula and bottles and getting the infant in the car seat and lugging everything into a store and back to the car again. Thank you, Amazon.

5. A mediocre day can turn into a glorious one when a stranger stops to offer you help or to say a kind word. Today a friendly passerby in the Fred Meyer parking lot saw pregnant me holding a toddler and unloading bags into the back of the car. His smiling face appeared suddenly out of nowhere beside me and offered me a hand loading my bags and boxes of starter plants I’d just purchased into the trunk. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for being so kind. Or the other day, as I was going about my business filling the gas tank, not thinking anything inspiring of note, the customer lady behind me shouted out, “You look beautiful!” She was commenting on my final trimester pregnancy glow – of all places, at an ugly gas station– and so out of the blue we shared a lovely little chat about babies and kids, and she sent me on my way saying, “Many blessings to you!” 

Many blessings to you...yes, when I start to count the ways a person can be blessed in one day, I feel happier and lighter. A plain old day that may seem as insignificant as a one-cent penny in your coin purse suddenly takes on worth because that one-cent is gleaming so newly minted, shiny, coppery bright.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

An Island Vacation Taken on a Whim

Orcas Island in the last days of March is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is in the summertime. A one-hour ferry ride off of the coast of western Washington, this lovely and rustic island is one that we find ourselves never boring to return to year after year since honeymooning there. This month, when the forecast predicted a sudden upward turn of temperatures into the 70s, my husband and I decided on the spur of the moment to make a getaway for the island. After a few fast and furious text messages back and forth, we booked a room for two nights at The Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast, a place we’d never been to before, and were thrilled to get a very reasonable price because it’s the off-season. Less than 48 hours later, the two of us plus the toddler were buckled into the car and driving north past the snowcapped mountains to catch the ferry. To this unplanned vacation taken on a whim, the people we met there, and the place we stayed in, I owe the following not-short-of-amazing, I think, life changes in the week after we returned home:

·     Stirrings of the spirit to write again after a 15-month lapse of time away from my blog
·     The purchase of a new, bigger and better bed for our master bedroom 
·     Resolutions about writing, risk-taking and the state of my personal life

Everyone should have a place like this, a haven to fly to and be restored in, where the pace of life slows down, slows way down. There are no traffic lights on the island and no hurrying through intersections. There are long, winding roads through peaceful pastures where sheep, cows and goats, along with their young, graze lazily under the sun. Deer linger at the side of the road and stare as you drive by. Rabbits hop across the way. Birds sing. In the farm houses and the cottages that dot the countryside, you see antiques like old boats, a carousel, old tractors and farm equipment, rusting and falling apart in people’s yards, and rusty old tools. This contrast between rotting structures and green wild growth and the abundance of animals is a paradoxical scene of the slow passing of time and of death and life all at once. Even while we age, new life is forming.

Yes, the island is teaming with life, hemmed in on all sides by a vast body of water filled with living creatures hidden under the deep. Sometimes they make their appearances, like the orca whales it’s named after. Meanwhile, my belly is filled with life too as we expect our second child, but it holds this like a secret just as this island is a secret to so many. Those who find the island, like the fellow companions at our bed and breakfast who came all the way from Germany, are startled by its beauty, but many will never discover it. Nevertheless, it is constantly giving life to all who abide here.

Including the peacock. When we spotted a sign for a Peacock Crossing, I looked all around but only saw sheds and fences in the nearby yard where they must live. Lucky and happy the man who actually sees the peacock cross the road. We were not so lucky. 

The island folk are such open and friendly people that you do not feel alone. They live in community with each other and tied to the nature that surrounds them. They run the natural foods co-op, the shellfish farm, the bookstore and boutique shops, the resorts and restaurants, or many are simply retired. It is a young artist and her author husband and two sons who run this bed and breakfast. She paints the colorful nautical animals from the island that decorate the walls of the house. Talking with them and sharing our stories, listening to the waves lapping against the shoreline, swaying the toddler to sleep on the outdoor patio under the night sky, my own writerly soul begins to stir, to cry and yearn for something more.

It’s been 15 months since I last blogged. That time has been filled to the brim with happiness and tears, learning the art of mothering in our daughter’s first year of life. Caring for and nurturing our daughter, cooking meals, cleaning up messes, doing laundry, and working a part-time job from home have zapped my personal writing energies but have blessed and filled my cup in other ways. I feel I am only now beginning to find myself again, just when we are expecting our second baby this spring.

As it is a time of new beginnings, the island scenery and change in temperature has filled me with a spirit of whimsy, joy and new energy. Why not start up a little writing again and let some light shine into my barns that have been storing up so many memories over the past seasons of mothering? Why not indulge ourselves that a bigger and more comfy bed is the change we need to sleep better and be happier? Why not risk it all and make a few sudden decisions on a whim that will change our lives for the better, instead of being stagnant or settling for what has always been? 

The island teaches me to live boldly. Open the doors and let the breezes in. Turn the rusty handle of my mind and pen and let in the light. Come, reader, come, and revel in spring and island time with me.