Orchard in Snow

Winter morning, sun low on the horizon, orchard mostly in shadow.

Long fingers of light stretch between the outbuildings toward the trees, the trees half draped in snow like scantily clad nudes, curving and lounging voluptuously, branchy fingers lifted in exultation toward the cloudless blue above.

Two mornings ago I rose before dawn, pulled snow clothes on over pajamas, slipped out into the orchard and tramped a winding circle around each tree. The full moon bore down, an unblinking eye, making tree shadows beneath my feet.

Compelled, I stamped out a spiral maze beneath the oak tree. Retraced my spiral back to the outer whorl. Perhaps I am part witch. Perhaps the moonlight has made me mad.

I end beside the bare blueberry bushes, facing the moon. Hands stretch high, sweep the snow, down I go: moon salutation: a prayer.


The moon, the stars, the snow

 4:00 am. Full moon. It casts a clear, unblinking eye between the branches of the ancient maple (which is slowly rotting from the inside out, it lost a branch the size of a large tree itself one windless night last summer; a whump in the still night and a rustling sigh of leaves who wouldn’t know for days that they were already dead, cheerfully photosynthesizing away–but such is the nature of leaves, and me). 

The snow fell three nights ago and it has stayed cold since. – cups the moonlight. Not even the neighborhood cats have walked in the snow under the orchard trees , where the moon casts cold unbroken shadows, still. I could walk there under the trees, under the moon, under the farthest stars. 4:00 am, 18*, the snow, the snow, snow. 

My best friend Dorothy died five months ago. My favorite author Bryan Doyle, will die soon, his brain–his elegant eloquent funny brain that makes you sometimes break out into great guffaws, and sometimes weep–consumed by cancer. Go, they whisper, leave your bed, nights like this come once in a decade, in a decade you could be dead. Go outside with the moon, the stars, the snow the snow the snow. 

100 days of yoga

Yoga: I love the stretch that hurts so good.

This morning I searched “yoga relaxation” on YouTube and lo and behold: the list included guided practices of all different lengths, from 10 to 30+ minutes. A revelation! I could choose a short practice and lure Mark in with me…

And it felt so good.

And I thought to myself, if it feels this good today, imagine how good it would feel if I did it for many days.

What would it be like to practice yoga for 100 days?

How would I change? How much stronger / more flexible would I be? How much more intentional about many aspects of my life would I be? Would I be able to get my sweet tooth under control?

So yes, today was Day 1. And tomorrow, I hope, will be Day 2. I am setting a goal, an intention, for myself to practice yoga every day for the next 99 days. And I hope that in trying this experiment, more intentions and practices will unfold themselves to me.

I can open myself to this. I can open myself like a flower bud, loosing petals one day at a time, revealing the hidden depths that are closed off even to me.

The Word

It is there in the quiet tick of pine needles dropping onto the tent. Except they are needles of fir, not pine, because this is Oregon, the Cascade Mountains, and while pine trees do shoulder their way into clearings, the Douglas firs predominate, their thumb-sized cones littering the trail around the lake. In the night, in the tent, beside the still and quiet lake cupped in the hands of the mountains, there is a quiet tick against the tent, and one says to oneself, needles, because one so much does not want it to be rain, but there it is again, and again, a snare drum pattering against the rain fly, and one sighs and rolls over because yes, of course, it is Oregon and it is rain. And in that sacred dark inside the tent beside the lake it is there–in the patient sigh, the quiet waiting for the grey of dawn, the breath of wind ruffling the rain fly, the quiet lullaby of the snare drum rain that lulls one back beneath the surface of sleep.

It is there again in late winter, when the weather forecast calls for three glorious days of sunshine, and that silly neighbor three doors down goes ahead and plants her beans, even though we both know the rain will come, the cold rain slanting across the sky like hash marks, blotting out sun and warmth and rotting every last bean seed except for a handful of indomitable little fellows that insist on peeking out of the earth 16 days–16 days!!–later, past all hope and good sense, wearing their first tender leaves like jaunty silly hats at a new years party. And two months later darned if she isn’t the first one on the street to harvest beans from that gap-toothed row, gloating over her fortune in green beans, suddenly the wealthiest woman on the street with that squeaky bite of fresh green beans plopped into boiling water with barely a swish to rinse them under the kitchen sink.

Have you heard it in the river’s green flow? Not the Willamette, not the Columbia, those dignified senior riverine citizens, but the ones that pop and burble like the Clackamas or the Salmon–the ones that rush headlong and willy-nilly from glacial snowmelt, racing along beneath the nodding alders and dancing maples, tickling the toes of ancient cedars and pushy Doug firs. If the rain plays snare, then the smart-aleck rivers play jazzy bass, clunking stones along their gravely beds in rhythms that punctuate the slow dance of a salmon’s tale, flicking that muscle of a fish upstream, up the green river home.

You must hear the word for yourself. I cannot tell you. It will come to you beside the mountain lake, in the garden’s mud, through the cadences of the river flowing green and fast through fir-clad mountains. The salmon speak the word; the word is written on a banner borne triumphantly by greening beans; you may sing the word, you may pray it or cry it or whisper it, and it will carry you gently home.