Street Life

Rather begrudgingly, over the last three years, I adapted to the car-based lifestyle that is the common way of getting around in modern, U.S. communities.

It’s not that one cannot ride bikes here. In fact, many do, but our home’s location relative to the places we elect to go has not presented many opportunities for purposeful riding. That and circumstances: moving through a second pregnancy towards toddlerhood was not so fancy free as to allow for bike rides.

I say all this because I relish nearly everything about being a bike commuter: the breeze on my skin, the freedom from non movement, gas use and traffic, the revolutionary act it still seems to be.

In Brooklyn, biking was cake and cars were to be rented or borrowed to get out dodge on the weekends. I was one human, there were well marked lanes everywhere and there was a flow that one could drop into: buzzing past cars parked on the Belt Parkway and heading to the freedom of the Rockaways or gulping the fresh air of Prospect Park’s forested heart on my way to or from P.S. 93. Those days were golden. Oh, and the drinking and biking as opposed to drinking and driving-way better.

Then, we moved onto Boulder, which now seems to me a mecca in terms of alternative transportation. One of my first days there on a bike, I pulled out without signaling (in my defensive NYC style) and was aggressively chastised by a motorist who didn’t want to kill me. A change of attitude was quickly required on my part.

We two had become three and eventually acquired a car for grocery trips and hiking outside of town, but other than that, I biked, he biked, we all biked. And there the bike paths run alongside of creeks and tunnels zip you under the roadways. A bicyclist is respected and cared for by the, pre-dominantly Prius and Subaru, driving population. I biked my toddler to school and playdates, I biked to work and yoga myself. It was rather divine.

Now, we are four and working our way up to family bike rides and family bike commuting. Last week, I biked 35 commuter miles by my self, after three years of relative un-biking, and I felt just like myself again; cool mornings headed to teaching in Brooklyn and Boulder and now Santa Fe, breeze rustling up the sunset grasses along the Maah Daah Hey Trail. My knees are still readjusting, but my legs, heart and mind have been thanking me wildly. I am back and it feels quite good.

 

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And the skies did open.

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We are rounding out our third year here and the landscape has been revealing itself to me in slow time: gazing, walking, dreaming. The mountains arc around us, embracing little, old Santa Fe and it’s spread. I had a bias to see the peaks aligning north to south, my Front Range frontal lobe imprint, now my perception has shifted. Recent long coveted acquisition: a map of the Pecos Wilderness, and subsequent daydreams; myself wandering peak to peak, lake to lake, all summer long, Gary Snyder-like.

Quel printemps! This spring has been a tempest-tossed affair, veering from sunny days to hailstorms and back again, snowing on every garage sale we have attempted and requiring woolens and boots more days than one would expect in May, but mostly consisting of low cloud cover, gusty winds and enough moisture to put the curl back in my hair once in awhile.

Our yard is a bounty of iris blossoms, baby grape clusters and flowering weeds. I mowed the lawn (yes, we have a small, inappropriate and luxurious lawn. what can I say? it’s our “existing landscape conditions” per our rental agreement); it felt like a natural extension of my daily sweeping. Set me right back to dreaming about adventures in landscape design, an herb covered hillock here, a shaded fountain there…

I have spent vastly more time weeding then planting foods this year. My cat is a garden terrorist and thinks every tilled bit of Earth is his new litter box. The deterrent that I am trying is making the surface of the garden as unwelcome as possible for little feet, which means sticks strewn about every which way. (you’ll see these elaborate measures if you peer behind the iris blossom; isn’t she purdy?).

There are more shades of green than I can shake a stick at, so I employ the boys for stick gathering, shaking and tossing. Mud up to our ankles and the big one is convinced that we ought to all be outfitted in waders. Puddles and lushness, get it while you can.

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What’s blooming by you and in you this Springtime?

 

 

 

Put a poem in your pocket

(untitled)

Of all the things I

could choose to tell

about this morning

 

The one I most

wish to remember

today

and someday further on

 

Is this:

kneeling under the cherry tree

In her full bloom-

the wind whipping,

bright bloom against blue sky rockets by

the wind gusting,

petals fluttering in clear imitation

of the butterflies

 

And

 

If not that

 

Than this:

sitting in the shower stall

my toddler

stilled at last-

and silent

Warm water pouring down upon us

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Season of dry grass upon the socks, then trailing over thresholds

Recently, I climbed one of my mountains in the spirit of camaraderie with self and world. The way was snowy, muddy, icy and baked dry, all these things on one path. I am sure there is a metaphor there if you’d care to pick up the thread.

As I walked, counting the weekly cycles since winter solstice, I thought to myself: we are more than half way back to summer, but spring sure feels a long ways off.

Funny, now, a few waves of  snowstorms later, I have spent every beautiful afternoon of the week in my yard. I have been on hands and knees in the front yard, clearing beds of damp pine needles and last year’s flowers, listening to the sweet stories of my young narrator and his toddling sidekick. Under it all, of course, already I find the crocus tips peaking up along with the effervescence of freshly uncovered mint leaves.

I am dipping into reveries of herb gardens, fountain shrines, tree wisdom and the birds are singing right along side of me. To know it’s all rising once again, we are blessed with the inevitable and unavoidable changing of the seasons.

Blessings on your weekend, friends!

First Gearin’ It

Give a woman a snow day and she’ll milk it for all it’s worth. I love days like these that serve as impromptu holidays, a reminder to celebrate exactly what I am blessed to have.

My day included early sledding, mid day book browsing, a brisk solo hike to get my head back on straight and now, sweet blessing of a sunny afternoon at home, alone, during which I aim to make soup, write here and hopefully catch up with a sister. I have already done a Tasmanian devil-like dervish in the living spaces.

In some respects, I am always striving to break free of habituation. It shows up in traveling, devouring stories, expanding my palette and tending home where I am always looking to freshen the spaces, improve the flow of where and how we gather, turn out new baskets of toys or books. A bogging down quality I have noticed is in my bodily self-care, which I imagine sounds rather typical: easy food choices (read: chocolate), increasing amounts of caffeine and alcohol, a falling away of regular exercise and staying up too late in the evenings.

I am feeling dreadfully grateful for this slow, cold season that we are in. There is loneliness to this season and this piece touched on it so well, but I am reluctant to let that be encroached on much right now. Staying at home (rather than being out in the work world) means every day is loaded with potential and the shadow side looms long: “wine at lunch, why not?”, “clean all day for distraction, isn’t that all to the good?”. A lot of the days leading up to Winter Break seemed as though I was steeping myself in one distraction after another. I feel better in so many ways when I check my email once or twice a day, but the urge for instant feedback and interaction surges strong when home all day with the semi-verbal.

Habits form easily and with the new year, I try to shake them off and start anew, fresh slate-like, in that supple space we can also find after a journey, going on retreat, unplugging from the intergaze, ingesting modest amounts of psychedelics and the like. For me, for us, it is sticking to more mindful, moderate approaches to what we consume and making sure to add daily doses of fresh air, movement and connection.

Not that Now is perfect, nor do I judge anyone wrestling these same noonday demons as less than-in fact, we should talk and compare strategic notes and chocolate bars. But, there is a light filled energy to this new-year season where changes in approach and habit seem within reach and that is where I am diving in headfirst.

The housework mania in me is finally settling like water, finding the low spots, which for me is knowing the best time to get the most done and that shifts with the sun and the clock and my mood, so I am trying to honor the tidal pulls within me, as long I have this freedom to do so. There is that funny compulsion in women of my generation, it’s a cultural wave we’re riding: to get it done, to be productive, etc. (See Homeward Bound, then we can go on all day together. I’ll bring the tea). I came across the idea of giving over five minutes per room per day to tidying and I like the finite quality of this approach, but find I need many fewer rooms…

Names and labels hold weight for me and I recently revised one of mine from Stay At Home Mom to Be Outside More Mom (ahem, making me the BOMM, you see). Remembering, I am not beholden to my home and it’s ceaseless chores is darn refreshing. For me, good medicine is to be drawn out of doors again and again, connecting me to myself and to my children in a way that doing chores with boys under foot infrequently does.

This brings me back to housekeeping, which in many ways is where I began this blog account. I have been known to geek out over order, beauty, freshness and the like. It was recently reflected back at me that not too long I was “sick of touching things” (a housewife’s lament), but as I ease back into tidying my ship I am reminded that in some ways I am soothed by this work and so choose it both out of habit and from keen interest in the possibilities realized. It is, after all, concrete and immediately enjoyable in contrast with the often subterranean work of soul growth, marriage evolution and parenting young children.

And, it has arrived in my home at last, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which speaks to my minimalist soul. It is a hot trending book of the moment and the process is being well documented around the web, so I won’t add to that fray (I’m following along here at RootSimple) except to say that I am eager to implement her protocols for moving to simplicity and the falling away of constant “tidying”. In keeping with this first gear season, I will wait for that high tide housekeeping urge to come surging in before I start strewing socks, old letters and kitchen gadgets all over the floor.

For now, it’s back to the soup pot for me.

Where is your attention drawn these days?

 

Walking in the Woods

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After a fun holiday season where solitude dropped nearly to zero, I took myself up a mountain to commence my birthday season. (A girl needs to plan and play ahead of time when her birthday falls on the Monday that signals the new year doubling down on last year’s routines).

Reverence is in my every cell when I am moving at my own pace in the fresh air. The pounding of my feet on the earth and the lack of needful direction choosing or conversation maintenance allow me to drop into my own deep listening posture: heart in my voice, words flowing through me and to me. Insight and inspiration fill the pauses between prayerful attention given to big trees, diving birds, animal tracks. Not every revelation will be easily integrated into daily life when I come down from the mountain, but I do come down the mountain knowing myself better all over again. The gesture, the attitude carry over into my pedestrian life. It’s good medicine, simple, clean and free.

This particular day, the snow was bright, then later blue or gold or rose as the sun set itself down in it’s southwestern pocket. I perched on warm rocks on the ridge-top, aligned my legs and spine with the trees support and spent some quality time engaged with a woodpecker. I climbed like mother tortoise, slow and steady and then careened down wildly like brother coyote was hot on my heels.

Full Spectrum

I want to be full spectrum, baby, because that’s how I feel when I breathe deep and take it all in with wonder and love, but baby, it breaks/ me/ down/ when I strive to set up beautiful systems for everything and then some.

***

Of course the light here has shifted again, the chiming which draws me back to the page because, lord knows, the calendar dates start flipping and flopping right on by at this time of year. The sunshine has lost the warm golden hue of mid-Autumn and in it I see so much white; invoking the idea of crystals in the air, smoke from neighborhood chimneys perfumes the air.

I sit with the sun warming my back. I am dressed like a stay at home yoga mom (and have the funky half-frog pose to match). My workspace, this writer’s cafe of a sort, was the first space I reimagined following Caleb’s birth. Today, I see again: it was a fine impulse to sweep the porch, to bring out the bright yellow table and chairs and to arrange the plants just so.

We traveled for the Thanksgiving break and will again for the Winter Holidays. The turn around time between the two adventures is brief and I see now that the landing back at home after the journey’s complete must hold equal weight in careful planning, nourishment in gentle returns as well as exuberant departures.

This time of year, the winding down of the natural year and the settling in of long nights points to inner work, time round the fire, contemplation. Of course, our lived experience, our cultural inheritance, our restless hearts and minds ask of us more: to plan, create, gather and all the rest. All of it good, but hard to hold all at once, I am finding.

It is the start of my season now: the time of childhood hopes smashed into holiday build up, new year’s clean slate and the two fold reflection intention of an early January birthday. I have held heavy ambivalence around the holiday season for a long stretch of my life and for now, I am striving to move in time with my soul, to be deliberate with my days and evenings.

Blessings on your journey into darkness and back towards the light, xo, Dev

How do you keep your love light set to a steady flame this time of year?

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