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, October 18, 2020

Gearing up for winter

Mushroom village

I am constantly surprised by the green forests I visit here in the Pacific Northwest. They never stop being green, even in the winter. Just look at this old tree, cut down sometime in the past, sawed into segments that are now a village for moss and mushrooms. And although in some places the ferns die back in the winter, here they are still around to grace the forest paths all year long. They do sprout new growth in the spring, but they never seem to totally die off. Maybe it's because it doesn't get cold enough during our winter season.

Rain fell last night. We sleep with our window open, even during the colder months, and bundle up with warm blankets. When I woke in the middle of the night, I could hear the gentle sound of rain and fell back asleep to the sound. It is still raining a little this morning, but now I've closed the window and turned on the heater. I've opened my laptop and am now trying to think what to write about today. Sometimes I've got a good idea of what is coming, but not today. It's early in the morning and the day is still quiet; other than the tapping of the keys as I send out a message to you, there is no other sound. 

We are likely to have a dreary winter, since the pandemic is surging all across the country, and we are being admonished to continue our limited activities.  When I learned last week that my gym is open for business, if you make a reservation and join the very few people allowed inside, I was looking forward to it. But then I thought about whether it's really a good idea or not. I was given a chance to take a look at how much they have changed the layout, with cavernous distances between equipment setups, and the use of all the large workout spaces now filled with stationary bikes and treadmills set far apart. Only five people are allowed inside at a time in some rooms. No, I think I'll wait awhile longer before I return to exercising indoors. It's going to be necessary to take my walks in the rain, wearing my rain gear and hoping for the best.

We are now only a few short weeks away from the election here in the US. I will be glad when it's behind us, when I will no longer be subjected to the endless political ads on TV, the enormous amount of campaign literature that builds up in our post office box, or to the sense of anxiety that many of us are feeling. As I watch the news for signs of hope, I realize that in this particular time in the history of the world, we are caught in a collective sense of change that is coming to us all. Change in our daily lives for the foreseeable future, a change in the direction of my country, and a hope that we will emerge from this time of upheaval stronger, more coherent, and with us being more united. 

I was born during World War II, and no one could have imagined how the world would evolve from then until now. And this means that no one can really predict how our world will be in another fifty years. It won't look like today's world, of course, and I can only hope that by then we will have given up war and conflict and found a way to coexist on this tiny planet, caring for each other, caring for the environment, and having decided to limit our population so that all the other creatures on the earth can thrive. It could happen, and if I can imagine a peaceful world, I know it's possible. 

Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.' —Neil deGrasse Tyson

Yes, a different world indeed. And how does one start gaining empathy? Well, part of it is looking around at my own little world and figuring out what I can do to make other beings happier. There's the neighborhood cat that has been hanging out for months on my front porch. I have discovered that he belongs to a nearby family, but he wanders around with an imperious air and doesn't seem to want to be "owned" by anybody. We enjoy each other's company without having to do anything about it. He brings me joy, and I provide a place for him to feel safe from predators. At first I thought about feeding him, but he seems to find plenty of food without my help. So we are simply fellow travelers who acknowledge each other's existence.

Every morning when I set out in my car for the coffee shop, I know I must be careful of the deer that might appear in the road. Almost always I see at least one of them, and yesterday I saw an entire family: father, mother, and two fawns. They emerged from the shadows and set off in the direction of breakfast, whatever it might be. They looked healthy and well fed, where in this part of the country there is plenty to eat year round. They also bring me joy, just seeing them doing so well.

The squirrels around here have been frantically stashing nuts for the coming winter. Our neighbor has a walnut tree, and the nuts barely have a chance to hit the ground before the squirrels come to haul them away. I saw one enterprising squirrel with a nut in each cheek as he hurried by. They are getting ready for winter in the only way they know how. But isn't it curious how well they do? Nobody taught them but they still know from genetic information passed along through instinct. At least that's what I think, but I don't know for sure. Perhaps there are little classrooms set up inside old trees where the grownups impart knowledge to the little ones. (smile)

We are all gearing up for the long winter ahead, one unlike any other we will see in our lifetimes. Mostly because of the pandemic and its effect on everybody in every country. I feel very blessed to be in a relatively safe environment, with enough food to eat and a dear partner who shares the burden of living with me. He is doing quite well, by the way, shopped for veggies yesterday and prepared lots of steamed kale and broccoli for us to enjoy for the next bit of time. He now has doctor appointments regularly, and I am also feeling gratitude for our ability to have health care that we can afford as we age. I wish I could wave a magic wand and give that blessing to the entire world.

And now I am gearing up for the rest of my day. I will go to the coffee shop, although my friends won't be there (but I still need my caffeine fix). In the late morning, I will go to a favorite place to share breakfast with my friend John, who will be driven there by his lady friend who has been caring for him since his shoulder surgery. I haven't seen him since the operation, but he is doing well, he says, and although we won't hug or anything, I will be happy to lay eyes on him today. 

I have so much to be grateful for, and it's such a wonderful thing to count my blessings and share my life with you, dear friends, who are more than just friends but my virtual family. I hope that you will find some time to count your own blessings and gear up for the coming winter surrounded by only joy and gratitude. Along with a nice warm blanket, too. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things. Be well.


gigi-hawaii said...

I am so glad that John is doing well after surgery. That is a blessing. I was amused by what you said about the squirrels. Haha.

Linda Reeder said...

Nice to know that, while you are sharing your empathy with the furry creatures in your environment, they all seem to be doing well. :-)
I got up this morning after a shortened night's sleep (couldn't get to sleep but then slept till 8:15) thinking I had no purpose for today or in my life. Same old routine of taking care of my body and my health. But then I had no pain as I got up and showered and got dressed, which I marveled at, and then I thought I would come to the computer and see what DJan had for me this Sunday morning.
Empathy. Counting my blessings. The beauty of our part of the world. Yes to all of that. Now I will start my day with a bit more purpose.
And the Sounders play on TV this evening!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan
“I realize that in this particular time in the history of the world, we are caught in a collective sense of change that is coming to us all.” You are so right on the mark with those words. I’ve been studying the works of Eckhart Tolle, author of Power of Now. He is going to be starting some live streams called “Being the Light”. You may watch an introduction on YouTube if you wish at this link
He is going to be talking about current challenges on our planet and how these turbulent times present an opportunity for humans to evolve toward a greater existence/way-of-life. Thank you for another fine edition of Eye. Good to hear that SG and John are doing well. Take care, be safe, and have a good week ahead.

Elephant's Child said...

How wonderful that you will see John this morning - and that he is doing well after his surgery.
Empathy is a powerful (and sometimes a painful) thing. And yes, the world would I think be better with more of it.
Enjoy your week dear friend.

Marie Smith said...

Since last Thursday it’s been warmer than average here. We have been out walking and cycling, taking in as much of the great weather as we can. Winter sets in soon enough and it will be impossible to cycle. We have a lot of miles to do before the snow comes. I think keeping going at what we love is how we get through.

The Covid anxiety across Canada is high these days as a second wave has begun. Here on PEI, things are chugging along in our bubble. We still take all the precautions though.

Hi to your friend John. It is good he can get out and about. Speedy recovery to him.

It is good to hear your husband is doing so well.

Take care,

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad SG and John are doing so well. Two neat blessings there. Got a chuckle out of the animal school house in the trees. Love the image.
I guess if hate can be taught, why not empathy. Pretty sure I learned that at my Mother's knee.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Say Hi to John I do hope he is doing well. Good to hear your Smart Guy is doing alright too. We are all in this together and have to be as supportive to each other!! Who knows what will happen next in this crazy world. Stay safe! I thought of you this morning as my husband did his 30 minutes of biking on his pedals under his desk as he watched old music videos! :)

Gigi said...

The squirrel classroom made me laugh! If empathy were taught in school this world would be much better place. I'm so glad to hear that SG and John are doing well! Have a great week!

Betsy said...

Your squirrel comment made me laugh. They have been very busy here this fall and that makes me think winter may be a long, cold, snowy one. It will be interesting here in the RV, that's for sure.
I certainly wish more people would have empathy and love for each other, and the animals, around them. So many people seem so angry these days.
Wishing you a wonderful Sunday and I hope your breakfast was a good one.

Red said...

I look forward to changes in our world...changes for the better. Yes, there have been many changes in our short lives. There are some ups and downs. I think the 1950s were a great time.Only the last few years have we had some worrisome times.

Anvilcloud said...

I like your weekly reports. I hope you enjoyed your coffee visit.

Rita said...

So glad you will get to see John! We all wish him well.

I think staying away from the gym for a while is a good idea--even though you miss it.

So glad you and SmartGuy have each other. Stay safe and well. :)

Rian said...

I guess we are all gradually becoming accustomed to this new normal. And yes, we should be taking this time to learn to be more empathetic. It's easy with the animals... as they seem so appreciative. You can learn a lot from watching them take care of themselves and each other. We watch the adult male cats back off from the feeding dishes and let the kittens eat right under them. We watch the mama cats take the offensive if the raccoons get too close to their kits, etc. Yet as a whole, they all get along well - sharing the yard, food, water, and respecting each other's territory.
I'm so glad both your hubby and John are doing well. Do enjoy your outings, but please don't let your guard down. It may be a while yet before we can do that.

William Kendall said...

The new normal is irritating, but it has to be done.

Margaret said...

We are fortunate to have lots of green and generally mild temperatures. With the right gear we can almost always walk outside. Getting together with people will become more difficult this winter and hard decisions will have to be made. (like holidays) I don't look forward to that.

Linda Myers said...

When I first arrived back in Washington on September 19, I bought a five-month membership to the nearby gym. During the tour I saw more than a dozen sweaty men. I decided to keep the membership but not attend. I wanted to use the treadmill but "those covids" would have a field day. So I walk in my neighborhood when the weather permits. It's probably good enough.