Pelicans. Have you seen one? These prehistoric- looking seabirds populate the island.
I know I’ve arrived when I see a pod flying overhead. It’s quite a sight. I usually notice their shadows on the sand first. Looking up, there they are, twenty or more, lying in their classic V formation.
Why do they fly this way?
“During flight, an updraft is created by the upstroke of one bird’s wing and the following bird can take advantage of this wingtip vortex to save a significant amount of energy.” (Bay Nature Magazine, April-June 2012, by Michael Ellis)
I wonder where they’re going so I decide to follow along. The day is blustery. A strong northwest breeze chills the air. Since they fly faster than I walk, I soon lose sight of them. I continue walking in the direction of the Inlet, hoping it will offer some protection from this strong breeze.
As I near the rock jetty, I don’t see the pelicans anywhere. In fact, I don’t see a single seabird. Where did they go?
I walk along the top of the jetty, the ocean to my right, the inland waterway to my left. Surf churns and crashes onto the rocks, spraying into the air in geyser- like fashion.
Wow. Water power is real.
The jetty leads to a sandy path bordered by hibiscus and seagrapes. I follow it to the Inlet Beach.
Looks who’s here!
Pelicans and...Seagulls, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants and a few birds I don’t recognize….. all perched on the rocks, out of the wind, basking in the sun, enjoying themselves.
Seabirds are wise teachers. They know how to live in balance, how to conserve energy, how to protect themselves, how to work together and live in harmony.
Their presence brings me great joy.
May they find healthier meal choices than plastic on the beaches!
I say the color of goldenrod and marigolds, afternoon sunlight and the gentle touch of yellow on maple leaves.
It’s the afternoon of summer, the turning of the seasons.
Endings and beginnings…
Letting go, making room for something new…
How does a leaf know when to change color? How do the raptors know exactly when to head south? How do the monarch butterflies know when to hatch?
They seem highly attuned to the slightest change in temperature, light, sound and scent. Clearly, they’re guided by an inner knowing.
It’s afternoon as I write. A catbird calls from a nearby branch and receives a distant reply. A rabbit quietly munches greens at the edge of the yard. Crickets are beginning to chirp. The sun is already dropping below the trees, casting a golden glow across the yard.
“The lighting is beautiful right now,” says my 19 year-old-son Noah as he walks by, journal in hand.
He’ll be going back to college soon. He’s recently discovered that journaling can be an effective way to process all the conflicting thoughts and feelings that arise as he prepares for change.
He searched his room and found the empty journal with the soft black leather cover his grandfather gave him. Now he’s off on a new adventure with a new friend.
“How do you feel after journaling?” I ask him. “Great, clear,” he says.
I’m always amazed by what happens when I put pen to paper.
I had a whole different plan for this month’s blog and then nature drew me in!
Nature as teacher
Writing as a tool to lead us back to the power of NOW
I highly recommend putting pen to paper this month. Inspired by my son who was inspired by his friend Xander, I’m going to commit to journaling each day during September.
Would you like to join me?
All it takes is a pen and paper. Perhaps one day you’ll write pages, another….. a sentence or two, another…. one word.
Simply putting pen to paper is enough! See what happens!
Imani once knew her way to the garden, but she’d forgotten. The path zigzagged before her, twisting and turning in dizzying patterns. She stopped, sat down on the soft, mossy earth, and closed her eyes. “Where is the magic?” she asked herself, “I can’t feel it.” She lay down on her belly and buried her face in her hands. Tears dripped onto her arms, dampening her sleeves. Imani opened her eye just as a cloud was covering the sun. She buried her face in her hands again. A gust of wind rattled the branches nearby, a chill running up her spine. And then all was still. “Imani, is that you?” A familiar voice called her name. “Imani?” She looked up. “Ila! She jumped to her feet and ran to her dear friend. Ila wrapped her great silver wings around Imani and hugged her. Her scales shimmered in the returning sunlight. Her long, powerful tail swished from side to side. “So, you were the cloud covering the sun!” said Imani. “Yes, sorry,” Ila replied. “It was only for a moment. My wings have grown so big that they’re sometimes a bit hard to manage. You’ve grown, too, I see! You still have your long, golden hair and blue eyes and freckles, only you’re taller. I’m so glad to see you. Welcome back! “Thank you,” said Imani. “I’m so glad to be back!” “I’ve missed you, Imani, Ila told her. Her name echoed in the air. “Imani”, she repeated “Imani,” speaking her name like her grandfather used to, calling to herself. It was then that she remembered her dream:
After our ceremonial lunch, I stepped outside. I was immediately drawn to the Gazebo.
Entering it, I understood why. The screened octagonal structure provided a subtle boundary for me. I could see through the screen and at the same time I was alone.
A rectangular table and chairs stood in the center. A white cloth covered the table.
I smiled, sat in a chair and put my head on the table to rest. I could feel the gentle breeze from the nearby lake caressing the back of my neck and shoulders, relaxing them. Closing my eyes, the chorus of birds lulled me into a deep rest.
Some time passed.
The soft sound of a bell roused me, calling us to the afternoon session of this beautiful meditation retreat.
As I lifted my head I noticed a large insect on the inner side of the screen.
The Queen Bee!
Impressive! How did she get in? Can she get out? She has enough air to breathe but she’s without food and her tribe. How long can she last? I turned to go. I’ll check on her later, I decided and share what I’ve seen.
As I walked back to the meeting room, I remembered seeing two bumblebees tumbling over each other inside a beach rose, earlier in the day. I giggled at the thought of their joyful play.
Tribe. Food. Shelter.
The Queen Bee’s visit offered me a precious gift.
She reminded me that retreat is a necessary time to rest and restore but not a place to reside indefinitely.
I also require food, shelter and my tribe in order to thrive.
I’m walking along a dirt road with my young daughter Maria. It’s a sunny day in early June. The sky is deep blue. A gentle breeze keeps the air temperature comfortable. I’m a glorious 38 weeks pregnant.
We’re on a mission.
Maria is selling strawberries for her school fundraiser. Her new friend Tara lives at the end of this road. We’ve decided this would be a good place to start. We’re skipping along, singing our favorite songs, happy and free.
As the house comes into view, a large, ferocious German Shepard charges down the hill toward us, barking loudly. Instinctively, I take hold of Maria’s hand and we run into the nearest building, a barn, with the dog on our heels.
We dash into the first empty stall and bolt the door. The dog bangs on the door with his paws trying to get in.
Maria and I move to the back of the stall and sit down. The dog continues to bark and growl and bang on the door. “What if he gets in?” Maria asks. “I don’t think he can fit under the door or jump over it. Let’s stay very quiet and maybe he’ll forget we’re here.” The dog continues to growl and bang ferociously. He then sits down outside the door.
We’re trapped in a horse stall.
A wave of fear moves through me. No one knows we’re here. We don’t have any way of contacting anyone. My belly tightens. I’m aware that a sudden fright so close to birth can bring on labor. My heart is racing. I look at my daughter. I look at my surroundings. NO. This isn’t in my birth plan.
I’ve got to pull it together fast.
Breathe, Breathe, I remind myself. I begin to slow my breathing, taking long breaths in and out. My belly relaxes. My daughter relaxes.
A rusty colored hen trots through our stall, clucking merrily. I smile. We begin to notice other sounds in the barn, the baaing of the sheep, the bleating of the goats, the grunting of the pigs, the whinnying of the horses. Beautiful animals are welcoming us!
In a few moments, we’ve moved from fear to peace.
Maria and I continue to sit quietly, listening to all the beautiful sounds. The dog is still parked outside our stall door. We’re ok. Maria dozes off, her head in my lap. I doze on and off.
When we awaken, the light is dim and there’s a chill in the air. We’re both ready to go home, but how?
I quietly bend forward and look under the door. No dog! He’s gone! We tiptoe to the stall door. I look over and down the aisle. No dog! I open the door and listen. No dog!
Maria and I creep to the barn door. No dog to be seen! I point to a large bush in the yard and holding Maria’s hand we run to the bush and hide behind it. No dog! “Ok, to the gate,” I whisper. We run and keep on running past the gate and down the road until the house is no longer in sight. “We’re safe! I say. Let’s walk home!” “But we didn’t sell any strawberries,” Maria says. “No, we didn’t, not today. Let’s go selling again tomorrow,” I suggest.
Aaron was born at home two weeks later on the Summer Solstice, surrounded by loving family, loving friends, loving midwives.
This was the birth I envisioned!
A few days later, we were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by the gentle sound of mewing. Maria’s cat, Coppelia had given birth to five kittens under our bed! A touch of barn living came with us.
And when Tara’s family heard of our adventure, they bought a whole flat of strawberries!
Happy Summer Solstice! I wonder what magical moments the longest day will offer this year?
Wouldn’t you love for your next trip to bring joy for everyone?
It seems like too much to ask doesn’t it? Isn’t it enough to just get there and hope for the best?
I hear you! I’ve often planned in the same way.
And then…when something works year after year for everyone, across three generations...Wow! Let’s find out why.
Why would a group of born and bred New Englanders flock to the tropics for the Christmas holidays every year?
I decided to ask some of my family members a few questions:
“Why do you love going to Florida for the holidays?” “What was one of your favorite moments this year?”
In their words…
Mom (age 88) “The best part of all of you visiting is catching up on news and happenings in your lives.” Favorite moments “My favorite moments are when each of you arrive and the look of joy on your faces just to be here. Also, the boat trip Marty so generously provides.”
Marty (age 32) “The best part of gathering in Florida for Christmas is undoubtedly having everyone together. Although we see individual family members throughout the year, it is very rare to have everyone gathered in the same spot for an extended period of time. I love the change of pace. Whereas life in New York is usually hectic and spent racing around, Florida provides a sense of tranquility. It also doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by beautiful, blue waters!” Favorite moments “It is very difficult to choose a singular favorite moment, but I loved my early morning walks on the beach with Bear. Most mornings we had the beach entirely to ourselves and it was the ideal way to start a day.”
Noah (age 18) “I love our family vacation in Florida because for a week or so we are the happiest we are all year. The festivities and excitement surrounding the holidays combine perfectly with the heavenly weather and it is simply magical every year.” Favorite moments “Having Pooh Bear puppy there!”
Maria (age 31) “I love having Christmas in Florida!” It’s low key and easy and relaxing. We can all be outside in this amazing beauty and warmth. It’s so nice to have everyone together and be out of the cold!” Favorite moments “Spending our first Christmas with Bear and watching him make friends with every dog in the colony and cover himself in sand!”
Aaron (age 22) “Just give me the sea, sand and sun any day, I’m there. I love beach living!” Favorite moments “Playing with Bear, riding the waves, playing Can Jam on the beach.”
Deborah (age 63) “Seeing my children and extended family so happy, all in one place!” I love that we all share a love for the sea. Here, the ocean becomes our program guide. The tides, breezes, the sunrise and sunset, the moonrise set the pace for our days. I call it falling into “ocean time”. It’s a time and place to simply be, surrounded by exquisite, breathtaking beauty. I love that we return to this same beach year after year. As my son Noah says: “It’s both old and new at the same time.” Favorite moments “Being on the beach with everyone, my feet in the sand, the sound of the waves, delicious food, being by, in and on the sea!
Now, I’d love to hear for you! Do you have a great Family Vacation that you’d love to share?
Are inspired by this Blog post? If so, I’d love you to share it!