I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Last day of summer

Misty late summer scene
The autumnal equinox happens early tomorrow morning, in my part of the world at least. I took this picture last Thursday, and I like the mood of it, along with my true happiness at having been able to complete this favorite hike. I've missed so many this season, because of one injury after another. I guess it comes with the territory: you don't get to be a septuagenarian without having aches and pains.

That said, there are two people in this picture, both dear hiking friends, who both will be celebrating their eightieth birthdays early next year. I am a few years younger, but I am not far behind them on the aging spectrum. After having missed several hikes this summer, I had hoped my knees and back would be healed enough to accomplish this one, and sure enough they and I did. Even though one does take longer to get over things, you still do, given enough determination and help with exercises and, in my case, acupuncture.

I am wrestling with whether or not to go on next Thursday's scheduled hike, one of the more difficult ones: long with lots of elevation gain and plenty of rocky trails to navigate. In past years it's been, if not easy, at least well within my ability. Now I am not so sure, but I will probably go anyway, depending on the weather. As the days grow shorter, I want to be as active as I can while there is sunshine to enjoy. I feel so much better at the end of the day when I've had a chance to move enough to get my steps in. It's a good kind of tired, then.

This has been a very full week. Last Sunday I woke with a sore throat and cold, and I had to make my way through that, feeling pretty terrible for two days. When I realize how miserable I can be with just a simple cold, I'm reminded that I'd better go get a flu shot because I sure don't want to multiply that misery. A distant memory of my last bout with the flu is not a pleasant one. I've also been considering getting the latest shingles vaccine shots (there are two of them, six months apart), because that's another way to prevent or at least mitigate that awful virus.

 After recovering from the cold, I began to feel good again, and it was possible for me to have the energy I needed to complete the hike on Thursday. In fact, I've noticed a sort of rebound effect that happens after illness: I feel ridiculously happy and glad to be alive. And it helps to have plenty of good books to read, especially ones that give me a chance to ponder what makes one person thrive, while another experiences nothing but difficulty and unhappiness throughout life.

I usually have at least one long book on my Kindle, and I will read it for a few minutes before retiring. Sometimes it will be longer than a few minutes, but mostly that's all I need before drifting off. One book that I've been making my way through gives me plenty to think about: Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life by George Vaillant. I think I've written here before about the book. Last night I finished it, and I realize I've got to find another similar one to take its place. George has also written another that looks interesting, so it's probably going to be my next one. I'd like to share the last part of Aging Well, because it's something I'd like to keep uppermost in mind.
Besides my sister, my favorite teacher is a two-inch-tall mouse named Stuart Little. Stuart told the children to remember three important rules: (1) Be a true friend. (2) Do the right thing. (3) Enjoy the glory of everything. ... 
A person who is looking for something doesn't travel very fast, and waving farewell to his childhood and boyhood, that secure and sun-warmed past that is over and done with and gone for all time. Yet Stuart knew this: "If a flower blooms once, it goes on blooming somewhere forever. What is changed is never gone unless we let it go."
This is a quote from a valedictory address by Timothy Coffeshall. He mentions E.B. White's character Stuart Little, a very human modern mouse. The above quote ends the valediction, and George uses it also to end his wonderful book.

Today will be a very full day. After heading off to the coffee shop, I'll join my friend Judy to see the new Downton Abbey movie. The reviews suggest that it will be enjoyable for fans of the series, but not so much for those who don't know and cherish all those characters. Since I'm one of the former, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Afterwards, I'll join my dear friends here at the apartment complex for a birthday party. Because I'm someone who needs to go to bed rather early, it's starting at 4:00pm and will end no later than 7:00pm. And of course I can enjoy some wine, because my walk back to the apartment doesn't require driving. Yes, another full day.

I just checked the weather and, as expected, it's raining right now and will continue to rain all day long. I probably won't get a walk in, but Sunday is my usual day to relax and not worry about getting my steps. I can do that, but it's not easy. Instead, I'll enjoy a day filled with lots of companionship and joy. Just thinking about it all has brought a smile to my face. My dear partner still sleeps next to me, the tea is long gone, and the day beckons me out of bed. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things and truly hope that you will enjoy lots of smiles. Be well.


jo(e) said...

I love that photo -- and all that it represents. The hikes I take with my friends are gradually becoming more like walks rather than hikes but the friendship and conversation on the trail make up for the lost of youthful vigor.

Rian said...

I like that photo also. It does capture ‘something ‘... not sure what, but it made me smile. And I will check out that book as I really do love that Quote.
Still bedridden - with a new compassion for those who have back pain. I guess I knew - but never fully understood how debilitating it can be.

Linda Reeder said...

The rain this morning is very gentle, slowly weighting down all of the leaves outside my window, leaves that are still green. Autumn is arriving, and it will be a busy season for us. That's a good thing, and will help with the melancholy of missing summer. I found this quote of mine on Facebook from a previous year: I don't hate you, Autumn; I just love summer more.

Rian said...

Also love Downton Abbey! Have all the seasons on DVD... and will eventually see the movie.

gigi-hawaii said...

This post makes me want to read books again. I might take a look at the local library soon.

Marie Smith said...

My husband and I just arrived home from a hike on some of the trails of the Bonshaw Hills. A glass of wine is in order here too. It was a marvellous hike, temperature of 22 C, the golden grand-dog keeping us company. We had a lovely picnic too of course. Life is wonderful! Staying active and doing the things we love are high priorities here too.

We had the new vaccine against shingles this past year. Flu shots will be around shortly!

Arkansas Patti said...

So delighted you are almost back in full form. Sometimes we need to be denied a pleasure to know how important it is to us. Seems you have found that once more in hiking. Keep enjoying and I was impressed with those 80 year olds. Proud of 'em.
Just had my flu shot--no reaction like I had last year at all. Just a little sore and itchy arm. Phew. Don't recommend getting two vaccinations on the same day like I did.

Elephant's Child said...

Love your full day - and life. And a big yes to celebrating the glory, the beauty and the wonder.
I hope your week is filled to overflowing with excellent things - and am sure it will be.

Red said...

I keep hearing about aging well. I'm going to have to get this book and read it.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am certain you will make the right decision to hike or not but it sounds like a hard hike. Be careful! Perhaps you should start your own group:0

Rita said...

Slippery rocks would cause one to pause if it is raining or misty with that next hike. I know you will choose wisely. I can hardly wait to see the new Downton movie! I read that if the movie does well enough they may have another! :)

William Kendall said...

A beautiful shot.

I had the shingles when I was in grade seven. I remember the pain.

William Kendall said...

I can see the snowflakes on your next post- but oddly the answer icon does not work.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for naming the book. I'll see if the library has an e-copy of it. Like you, I got to see the Downton Abbey movie this past week. I enjoyed it as did my niece. She had never watched the series, but she pretty much caught the undertones. I was glad that Tom had a major part in the film! Peace.