Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Letting go

Buddha has been whispering in my ear––attachment, appeasement, illusion, longing.

I m p e r m a n e n c e . . . .  remember?

The cutesy note card on my desk tells me to pull up my big-girl panties and get over it.

Even the bullfrog chorus is singing an old Blow Monkeys hit, You Don’t Own Me.

Truth is, though, I’m not really feeling all that Buddhisty about leaving this place.

I know, I know, I really do know.

    It’s not mine. It never was.
    I was lucky to be here for a little while.
    No matter how good, when it’s over, it’s over.
    It’s always going to be a part of me.

Things and ideas are as ephemeral as a dragonfly shadow.
I guess . . . . .

Simple gifts duly noticed

There is considerable comfort in knowing I soaked it all up, never took one minute for granted.

And as advised, I have not avoided the pain of letting go; just schlepped right through it.

A million good reasons to stay~~

And one good reason to go.

Thanks for blogging with me these past 100 days!

For some absolutely irritating advice on letting go:

You Don’t Own Me sung by the Blow Monkeys:

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Surface-layer dweller
Didn't make the cut
On this, the penultimate day of the Iowa County Almanac, I think of the things I hoped to write about but never quite got around to: the wonders of algae; our neighbor, Don; beings that live completely within the surface layer of the pond; fireflies; adventures when the electricity goes out; building a post-and-beam house; hummingbirds; having dogs in the country; privacy versus being alone versus isolation versus loneliness versus solitude.

I also think what on earth possessed me back in February to casually commit to a hundred days of writing? I did not get out the old abacus and figure out that a hundred days would end halfway through the month of May. Such a commitment is not like having a monkey on your back; it’s more like having King Kong, J. Fred Muggs, and the entire the fleet of bonobos from the  Great Ape Trust in Des Moines on your back. But good. . . . . 

Monkeys and all, I now have a diary of my time in the wilds of Ioway. Thank you to all who have shared in this reminiscence.

I finish with two days of lessons learned in “country school” over the past 16 years. Most of them are pretty portable, not at all confined to the countryside or even the out of doors.

Lesson One ~ Make gentle entrances.

Approach slowly. When you rush in, things skedaddle, and you may never even know what you've missed.

 Lesson Two ~ Roll focus

On a camera, you roll focus from a close up to a telescopic or wide shot.  The full landscape is breathtaking. The fine hairs on moss are equally delightful.

Lesson Three ~ Pay attention

Being there is not about location, location, location. It’s about allowing your senses to do their thing and then noticing what they bring to you.

Lesson Four ~ Know your prejudices

Know what grabs your attention. Things that move attract us; check also for things that are still. Colorful things attract us; appreciate the neutral tones. Size gets our attention, whether huge or microscopic. It’s easy to miss the middles.

Lesson Four ~ Leave your preconceptions at the door

What you’ve always believed can blind you. I always thought algae was disgusting and a sign that something was amiss in a pond. Turns out algae is very interesting and beautiful. And, it’s vital to life. To quote my firstborn, “Mom, algae coming and going means your pond is alive. If there’s no algae, it’s like a dead swimming pool.”

Lesson Five ~  Appreciate

What seems common or mundane is likely miraculous on further reflection. Just because I've seen the mother sparrow fly out of the cow's eye a thousand times doesn't mean I don't appreciate it.

And it’s okay to express appreciation even if it’s not understood. I have thanked a turtle for letting me put a hand on her shell, all hot from the sun. Didn’t do much for her, but I felt fine.

Lesson Six ~ Luck

There is such a thing as random, coincidental, accidental, arbitrary good luck. Some things are not earned, not deserved, not owed, not planned for nor cleverly arranged. They just happen, and you are there to reap the benefits. Accept your good luck.

Lesson Seven ~ Receiving gifts

Sometimes it’s okay to receive gifts of unimaginable size.

Lesson Eight ~ Waiting

Patience may or may not be a virtue, but it pays off in the woods and on the water. If you wait, more often than not, something worthwhile will occur.  Let things come to you when they are ready.

Lesson Nine ~  Nature ain’t always nice

Nature can be unkind, even unnecessarily cruel. Okay, hawks have to eat, too, so they kill rabbits. Why must they do it so violently? How does that improve the system? And things don’t always work out for the best. Mothers abandon babies, fathers may dine on them even when there are other options. Nature isn’t necessarily right or wrong, good or evil. It just is.

Lesson Ten ~ Back off

Don’t be too compulsive. Everything’s not ruined if you don’t catch sight of every single kind of woodpecker or warbler. Life will go on if you missed one day out of thirty days the herons were on the pond. Once can be enough. (But, damn! I would love to see that pileated again…)
Some days there’s a good view, some not so much. Move on.

Lesson Eleven ~ Impact

No matter how quiet and soft of foot, we make an impact. Even a small ripple washes away tiny animals and plants.  Just because beasts tolerate me doesn’t mean they aren’t disturbed by me.

Lesson Twelve ~ You’re not the boss of nature

Instinct and experience tell many wild critters we are hell bent on harming them. Our intentions do not matter. Our good acts do not count. Critters decide who their friends are, and we likely aren’t on the short list. We’re all just another hunter to a deer.

Lesson Thirteen ~ Sit still

Amazing things happen when you learn to sit still for hours. Sometimes we begin to recognize the amazing in the mundane when we sit. Sometimes the amazing actually happens.

esson Fourteen ~ Put in the time

If it’s valuable, it takes time. It’s not easy to sit in a kayak in the shallows for four hours. The rewards are worth the leg spasms and bug bites.

Tree defies death by beaver

Lesson Fifteen

Life is not easily discouraged.

Lesson Sixteen ~ Tolerance can be improved.

I am not fond of feeling a spider crawl up inside my pant leg. This is especially true when I'm wearing shorts. But if the Great Blue Heron hasn't caught wind of me, I won't risk scaring her off by dispatching an arachnid. I can take it.

Seems I've joined the York Township  S.W.A.T. Team:  
Sit, Wait, Appreciate, Tolerate

Tomorrow: The biggest, baddest, hardest lesson of all. . . . .