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Some observations and reflections from a summer day’s walk: Each day as I try to walk farther along on this path, I am mindful of what is now, what is before me, beside me, behind me, an exercise I am finding comforting. (I did try a “walking meditation,” but I found I needed to be mindful of where I stepped, so I walked with eyes wide open.)

IMG_6356Even hot August days show deep blue skies, and cloud watching is meditative. Cumulus clouds, I think, look like the puffs of cotton my daughter used so generously to surround the ceramic Christmas village houses and bookstores and libraries and churches.

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Today I pause at a memory tree for a baby son of someone I’ve never met. The tree, like the Kwanzan cherry friends gave in memory of my daughter, grows sturdy. The leaves will be orange, yellow and red in a couple of months, and in the spring, pink cotton candy blossoms will cover it. I think of the seasons of the tree as I pass, and I think of the seasons of their grief and wish them well in the journey.

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Fall Webworm nests in the trees: Some of them have spun silken nests around branches with golf-ball sized green walnuts encased inside the bags. And from someone who is not a nimble-fingered knitter, I am impressed at the fine construction. I give a wide berth to the ones overhanging the trail though. Years ago an Eastern tent caterpillar nest stretched thin and rained caterpillars on me while I played under an oak tree. One deluge of squishy insects was enough.

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Tiny orange butterflies—frittillaries, maybe—fluttered in front of me as I walked.

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More butterflies visit cutleaf coneflowers.

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One nibbled cutleaf coneflower.

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Sounds of bubbling water in the creek in concert with cicadas.

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It’s August and Joe Pye weed is blooming. One story of its name is that a Native American medicine man named Joe Pye used this plant to treat typhoid fever. Another name for the plant is Queen of the Meadow. I like that name. Monarchs like the plant too, whatever we call it.

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Near the end of the walk cumulonimbus clouds loom. In my head, I hear Joni Mitchell’s “I’ve Looked at Life from Both Sides Now”—I know it’s cheesy, but clouds have been the first and last of my notice in today’s walk. Oh, but Joni, it’s not “life’s (or clouds’) illusions I recall,” it’s the moments, nibbled or glorious, and how they have grounded me or helped me soar.

 

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