In A Flash

As I sit at the kitchen table staring once again at a gray sky and winds whipping leaves around the driveway I am reminded that although the calendar says spring, the thermostat says, well…something else. 

Spring is revealing itself daily

 

Feeling more like Thanksgiving than Passover/Easter, it is nice to see that despite the brisk temperature, spring is revealing itself daily.  And today, as we celebrate Earth Day, I relish the fact that I am privileged to be spending it in the country with Irwin, our youngest son and especially with Charlie. 

Charlie is delighted to be welcoming spring with us

 

Last Friday Irwin, Charlie and I left the Gallery in the early afternoon and headed for the country.  Although it was too cool to drive with the top down, I was just happy that the temperature was above freezing and no precipitation was in the immediate forecast.  The first blooms of the season were making their debut and we were anxious to spend some time drinking in the glorious weather.

After dropping our bags and putting away the food, we grabbed a couple of frosty beers and headed out.  On the way, as is my ritual, I checked on the nest outside our front door and was beyond thrilled to discover it had a new addition already built and a lovely expectant couple preparing it for the season.  This was a good sign. 

A new addition on last year's nest

We settled into our weathered Adirondack chairs and were transfixed by the cacophony of sights and sounds of the season.  I was struck by the seemingly simple yet extraordinary fact that each spring season, like a snowflake, looks the same, but in fact there are no two that are exactly alike.

Irwin enjoying communing with nature

 

A perfect place

 

Heading inside for a refill, I walked by my laptop and wrote:

 

And at that very second I heard Irwin scream “Charlie, come back here”.

What was just a serene moment of enjoyment and reflection was instantly transformed into one of absolute panic and chaos. As I headed to the porch door, I caught a glimpse of Irwin running across the lawn and reversed directions heading out the mudroom door to the driveway.  While in hot pursuit, Irwin screamed that Charlie, our senior dog with disc problems, had taken off after a fox.  Charlie was nowhere to be found as Irwin headed past the future location of our garden and into the woods screaming Charlies name. 

into the woods

 

Thinking that Charlie might be headed for the road, I flew down the driveway, still in my heeled boots screaming his name, hoping that the approaching car did not hit him.  But there was no Charlie in sight and at that moment, the all too painful reality struck me like a boulder.

a long way in heels

 

I continued to scream Charlies name and Irwin’s as well because I could no longer hear him.  I ran up the steep grass covered hill thinking that perhaps Irwin, who had been having chronic back issues, might have injured himself while hunting for Charlie.  As my breathing quickened I hoped that my ascent would compensate for that morning's missed cardio session while not give me a heart attack.  Amazing what runs through your mind at moments like these.

the path of my troubled ascent

 

 

these boots were made for Walking NOT running

 

When I reached the top of the hill and still could not hear or see either Irwin or Charlie absolute terror set in and I had difficulty catching my breath (which I must say, in retrospect could have been caused by my poor cardio skills) and I felt almost as if I was having an out-of-body experience.

Back in the driveway, I was welcomed with silence and my panic ensued.  I continued to yell Irwin & Charlies names in vain while conjuring up painful images in my mind.

Just at that moment I heard Irwin shriek: “You get back here right now” and saw Irwin and Charlie emerge from the woods.  What in reality was less than five minutes seemed like painful eons.   It was hard to imagine Charlie, who has difficulty jumping on the bed sometimes, taking off at lightening speed, but nevertheless, he did.  It was even more difficult to comprehend that he could have been lost or worse.

 The lessons learned are plentiful and obvious but still worth repeating.  Savor each moment rain or shine.  Life is finite and even the best laid plans can change in a flash. 

As I sit here typing with Charlie at my side and our guest snuggled in her nest, the sun has made a brief appearance and the Magnolia is on the cusp of blooming.  And I am grateful to be able to share this happy ending.

Our guest in her nest

 

our beloved magnolia

 

Happy Earth Day, Passover & Easter!

 

As the moon set I set the alarm for two am, yet by midnight I was still awake.  I could not shake the events of the past few days and I could not get this phrase out of my head: “More being, less doing.”

 

The moon setting over "our" mountain

 

It is no secret that we love our life in the country. We have managed to rebuild a slow home that we have furnished with vintage and mid century pieces and live an intentionally slower life that we fully embrace.  We even held off bringing internet into our home for over ten years, fearing that it might inhibit the quality of life we enjoy here.  I write about it all the time, the slower pace, the thoughtful lifestyle, paying attention to the little things, making memories, taking the time to smell thethe rebirth of spring, but never had the importance of this lifestyle become clearer to me than this past week.

I attended the memorial service of a friend’s sibling, an extraordinary individual who passed away too soon. Although the situation was tragic, the celebration of his being was stunning and I walked away wishing I had known him in life. His wife’s words resonated in my head as she reflected upon their life together, wishing that there were “more being and less doing”.

More Bee-ing

 

So simply stated, it was profound: More being, less doing. Which brings me back to Friday night.  Setting the alarm and getting up at 2am would probably have not been a priority two or three years ago.  I would have probably set the alarm with good intentions and then shut if off and gone back to sleep.  I now know better.  Given the finite amount of time we are privileged to be here and how quickly it flutters by, every day & every experience is a gift to be savored. The time spent “being” is why we do all the ”doing” in the first place.

Life Flutters by

 

Although I know that inherently, and write as well as talk about it, I often forget to do it.  My children remind me of this all the time and to be honest, I am not always the best at practicing what I preach, but I am going to try each and every day as I chant my new mantra: More being, less doing.

So, Irwin and I took a blanket outdoors after 2am and lay under several more as we faced the Northern sky awaiting a five thousand year old event that did not disappoint.  We spent over three hours gazing at the meteor shower and the enormity of the heavens; just being, not doing.

Perseid Meteor Shower

 

The Best Nest

When we awoke yesterday morning and saw what a glorious day it was, Irwin and I were excited to hit the road for some R&R in the country.  But after dallying far too long, and with the expectation of bad weather the following day, we toyed with the idea of blowing off the two-hour drive and just chilling in the city. However, when Irwin and I realized that obligations the following weekend would probably not allow us any retreat time, we grabbed a bag and headed out despite the late hour because the idea of missing two weeks of seasonal transformation in the country was more than either one of us could accept.

We could not wait to get back and see what had transpired over the previous six days and we were not disappointed by the array of changes that welcomed us. 

As we pulled into the driveway a single daffodil that had bloomed by the magnolia greeted us.  Further up the driveway, our fragrantly blooming cherry tree welcomed us right outside the mudroom door.  We found a new guest preparing for residence in a sweet nest located in a burning bush next to the porch while another feathered friend was considering a flat in an architectural trellis.

Daffodil

 

 

Cherry Blossoms

 

New Guest

 

Architectural Trellis
  

But the most profound change was the drastic addition to a nest that seemed complete last week and was in fact last Monday’s Photo of the Day, "Perfect Project".  A once neat nest had been transformed into something much more extravagant and I couldn’t imagine why.

 

the nest last week

 

The nest when we arrived this week
 
 

This morning the explanation was revealed .  Last week's guests had abruptly departed and ownership of the nest had flipped.  The new nesters were a pair of robins who, despite the wet weather, were busy making some additions to suit there own needs and tastes; not so dissimilar from what we do when we want to make our homes our own. Fortunately for the robins, they were left a nest with a solid foundation and good bones to build upon, which made the transition easy.

New Nester

 

The rain continued to fall throughout the afternoon as the robins maintained a low profile, making it difficult for me to capture their DIY project in action, but the lesson that they shared with me was very clear.  A solid foundation is the key to good design.

The latest incarnation of the nest

As we create and personalize our living spaces it is important that they be built on a solid design foundation that can adapt to both our changing needs and tastes as well as the needs and wants of others who may inhabit our nests after we leave.

Who could argue with the simple truth that a little birdie shared with me?

 

 

Another Season

As we turned into our driveway and caught sight of the magnolia in bloom, I took a deep breath and let out a sigh; another season had arrived. While all of the seasons are breathtaking in the country, spring is by far my favorite.

Our Magnolia

We had planted the magnolia five springs ago in memory of Irwin's father who had passed away the year before. Magnolias were his favorite and this little fledgling has been a source of inspiration to our entire family. So to see it in bloom with daffodils at its side practically brought tears to our eyes.

Beautiful magnolia blossom

 

Daffodils

Irwin and I first became acquainted with our country home in the springtime ten years ago.  At the time, it was a decaying house and acreage.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that we were able to envision any existence in this place, yet ten years later we continue to marvel at how life affirming this plot of land on this mountain can be.

our mountain

As the house was in the process of a rebirth, so too was the surrounding land, which began to revive itself and offered up new surprises almost daily.  There were the apple trees that revealed themselves the first fall, the shock of lilacs the following spring, rosebushes that seemed to appear out of thin air several years later, and the countless other miracles of nature that we have been privileged to witness, including the appearance of our beloved Charlie, who too was a gift of our mountain.

Lilac in bloom 
 

our sweet willow

charlie, our greatest gift

When spring arrives on “our mountain”, as we have come to think of it, the simplicity of rebirth and renewal make almost anything seem possible.  As Irwin and I took a walk out into the woods, signs of spring’s resurgence were all around us and the profusion of new growth was awe-inspiring.

A walk in the woods

 

rebirth on the forest floor

 

 

Greenery abounds

We were greeted at breakfast Sunday morning by our first guests of the season, who were up bright and early working on their new home right in the elbow of the gutter outside our kitchen window.  Seeing those birds made me smile because they were confirmation of spring’s return and with it the proliferation of new life. I was duly impressed by their fortitude; they were not deterred by our removal of all the nests last fall in order to repaint the house.  They returned and began to build anew in the very same spot they had built their nest last year.   

 

our 1st guest

foundation is built

All of the creatures, both large and small have been busy preparing for springtime on our mountain. There is much activity, some of which is easily observed.  Other activity cannot necessarily be seen, but signs are all around.

the smallest creatures

 

Paw prints courtesy of our friends down under: raccoons

That is the miracle of another season.  No matter how severe the winter, no matter what happens on Wall Street, when spring arrives and the creatures of our mountain that share our house and land return, we know that literally, hope springs eternal.

Even the inanimate objects have embraced the season and have found ways to come to life.

 

mossy turtle 

And if the sights and sounds that surrounded us were not affirmation enough, what we stumbled upon on the path leading to the back of the house confirmed what we already knew: We are extremely lucky.

 

lucky penny

Whether we realize it or not, nature is our greatest collaborator each and everyday.  So while we should celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2010, we must cherish our Earth and it’s miraculous beauty every single day so that generations to come will be able to bask in the sheer joy of… another season.

 

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