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, June 13, 2021

A day in the life

Waterfall in Whatcom Falls Park

Last time I walked through Whatcom Falls Park, I saw this smaller but very beautiful waterfall away from the main falls and was enchanted with the sun shining perfectly on it, dappled sunlight on the trees. Just beautiful. I have been saving this picture to use when I couldn't find anything else to open my Sunday blog with. Today is that day.

Yesterday five of us ladies walked six miles together in full sunshine, walking from downtown to the Fairhaven ferry terminal and back, along Boulevard Park and the South Bay trail. Warm temperatures and full sun also brought out most of Bellingham, it seemed. People were everywhere; the pandemic is no longer keeping people indoors. It's been a long time since I've seen so many pedestrians, bikers, kids and dogs out for a stroll.

Things are opening up: I went to pick up a book at the library, which is now open to the public from 10:00am to 3:00pm. It's been redesigned and was refurbished during the lockdown. The computer systems are not up and running quite yet, and not too many people were inside while I was there, but it's looking good and will soon be swamped with users. Masks are required for the moment. I took a look around and was pleased to see such an improvement throughout the entire facility.

The Senior Center will open the first of July. For now, we are allowed to use the parking lot where the Senior Trailblazers can now gather to carpool for excursions into the High Country. On Thursday, three full cars went up the highway to Church Mountain, while another car of four made the long drive down to Maple Grove. I was in that car, and I wrote about the wonderful eight-mile-long adventure we shared last Thursday on my other blog. I learned that the High Country group made it all the way into the meadows, with plenty of snow still to navigate. Everyone did just fine, though, and both groups enjoyed themselves, even if clouds obscured the views. It didn't matter: we are back together and will enjoy a summer of great hikes. Last year's absence of High Country hikes is now in the rear view mirror!

After yesterday's full sun, today is forecast to be cloudy and rainy, which might be one reason why so many people were outside yesterday, enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures (well, relatively speaking: it got all the way up to 70°F (21°C)! I see that many parts of the country are sweltering in a heat wave, so I'm really glad I get to experience mild Pacific Northwest weather. I'm just not good when it gets above 80. Late July through late August around here we have some hot days, but not many, and I am grateful for that. 

We saw someone out in the bay who was kitesurfing. We thought at first it was a paraglider, or maybe a windsurfer, but after looking it up online, I discovered it was someone who was on a small surfboard and was dipping and swaying with the wind under (and alongside) a parachute. It was quite a sight to see, and the person was very accomplished, tacking back and forth along the bay, using the parachute expertly. It's a very different looking canopy than those used for skydiving, but it brought back memories of learning how to fly my own parachute. Ah, those were the days, gone now, but not forgotten.

I made my last skydive and parachute ride almost seven years ago now, but those times will never really leave me. I still notice the direction and intensity of the wind whenever I see a flag fluttering in the breeze. Every once in awhile I'll think of what it felt like to jump out of an airplane and enter into freefall. Even though each skydive only lasted around a minute in freefall, and another four or five minutes under canopy, those moments are part of me. After all, I have accumulated more than two-and-a-half days of time in freefall, one minute at a time. No wonder I haven't forgotten it.

These days, I get a thrill from being out in a forest setting, seeing all the gorgeous old trees and abundant ferns and flowers, with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Even though I have old knees and hips, I manage to keep myself going, even when I'm feeling some discomfort. On the walk yesterday, my left foot bothered me for much of the time, but it wasn't enough to make me turn around or stop. I wasn't alone, as I noticed Lily favoring her left foot, too. We talked about our various ailments but also shared our gratitude for having the ability to be out and about. She's in her mid-fifties and a generation younger than me, but also is aware of the need to keep our bodies in good shape if we want to keep going.

I talked to my brother yesterday, and he told me that today is a very special milestone for him: a while back I calculated the number of days I've been alive, so he did the same. He found the exact number of days that our father was alive, and today he will meet that number himself. After today, he will be older than Daddy. Once a person dies, they enter a new dimension of time and will always remain static in our memories. It's interesting that when I think of my son Chris (who died at 40), he is a young man in his late teens. I wasn't around him after he joined the Army and went off to Germany, so that might be why I think of him as being younger. When he appears in my dreams, he's a young man.

I'm sorry that I haven't been very inspired with today's post. I wasn't sure what I'd write about when I sat down to begin, and it's become just another "day in the life." As I age, my days and nights fly by, so quickly one week passes, a month, a season, a year. As I listen to the rain hitting the roof, I know I will enjoy walking around in my rain gear as I face the day ahead. But for now, I need to find some quote or poem that will summarize the way I'm feeling right now.

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

 He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth,—the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

 And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

 Many, many years ago, I memorized this Emily Dickinson poem, because it spoke to me directly, and now with so many more of my dear friends and family on the other side of the grass, it is even more meaningful. And it says what I wish I could say myself, that as I sit here composing, it is the same as us talking between the rooms with like-minded brethren. I hope that as I move along in life that I will be able to continue to remember those who came before me, and give thanks for all who will come after.

And with that, I find myself ready to join the rest of the day. My dear partner still sleeps quietly next to me, my tea is gone, and the coffee shop beckons. I truly wish that all good things will come your way this week, and that you will find some beauty in your days. Be well until we meet again, dear friends.


gigi-hawaii said...

Beautiful poem! What a treasure. When I think of my deceased mother, I see her as a woman without dementia, something that plagued her in her later years.

Linda Reeder said...

I missed my sister Ilene today as we gathered as assorted families and friends to honor grandson Isaac on the day of his high school graduation. This is a big milestone in his life and that of his mother and grandparents too. It is with sweet sorrow, or at least tear streaked happiness, that we marked this life passage.
The sun shone upon us and made us glad.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, The Emily Dickinson poem is so touching. Beauty and truth are one … I love that. And they are both in your Waterfall photo. Great capture! Thanks for another Eye on the Edge. Wishing you and SG a happy week ahead. John

Rita said...

So glad you and Lily are out and about again together...and all your hiking friends.
Yes, the older we get the more people we know on the other side. :)

Rian said...

Love the waterfall pic... enlarged it to see it even better. And so happy that you and your friends are able to continue your summer hiking... and share the adventure with me.

Arkansas Patti said...

How peaceful and inviting the little waterfall is. Sounds like your area is really waking up to our new normal with more freedoms and actually getting out. It has been so long.

Elephant's Child said...

Keats wrote (and I am paraphrasing) truth is beauty, beauty truth in his Ode on a Grecian Urn. I much prefer Emily Dickenson's poem, which I did not know of before.
Thank you dear friend.
Have a wonderful week.

Marie Smith said...

I often wondered about the sensation of free fall. I enjoyed your reference to it today. The sensation must be such a rush…yes I actually wrote that. Lol. An experience of the beauty of the physical world that a walk through nature creates horizontally in a way, more slowly. To absorb the essence of the experiences we have is what life is all about.

Far Side of Fifty said...

That is a lovely waterfall photo! Send some rain this way!! Not sure I liked the poem...seemed a bit sad to me. Six miles is quite a hike!! So glad Lily enjoys that walk with you!

William Kendall said...

Inspired or not, well said.

Red said...

It's good that you have a busy week. We keep occupied , busy and happy that way. Time is an interesting concept to think about. For the longest time I was wanting to live as long as my Mom. Now I have lived 22 years longer than her.

ApacheDug said...

A nice read DJan, it’s good to hear that things are returning to normal around you. I was fascinated of your memories of skydiving, I have nothing to compare it to. A minute in freefall vs 4-5 minutes under your chute, is it a constant sensation of falling? I’ve seen enough clips of people doing it, it always seems like they’re out there…. I dont know, hovering for awhile before the plunge begins. Maybe someday those virtual reality headsets will come far enough along for a scaredy cat like me to… nevermind! Anyway, good to read you’re spending time with more of your old gang again, enjoying that Pacific NW weather and yes, even reflecting on memories of passed loved ones. I hope your week ahead is more of the same.

Barbara Rogers said...

I love Dickenson's works, and don't think I'd heard this one before. It's precious. Many of my relatives and friends have gone to the other side, and sometimes I salute their lives. And I do a lot of ancestry tracing, so I feel very close to at least 10 generations. I love hearing about your "flying" memories. I am enjoying walking either early or late in our North Carolina area...but no longer hiking in the mountains...and avoiding the heat of the day. Thanks for sharing here!

Glenda Beall said...

Great photo of the waterfall. I am amazed at your physical ability but I can tell you are in good shape. Although I am working hard to keep my strength I feel myself falling behind.
Hope you had a wonderful day today even with the rain. It was over 85 degrees here today and I stayed in and cleaned out file drawers.

Anvilcloud said...

It all seems so normal there. We are inching along.

I just want to say that I seem to be younger in my dreams, that is if it is me at all. Sometimes, I seem to be other people.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for sharing your day! And I hope your Sunday was a lovely one spent doing all those things that delight you.

My Mom died when she was 58, so I have now lived 27 years longer than she; Dad died at 69. So I've lived 16 years longer than he did. I have so many memory pictures of them--Mom in the large vegetable garden in summer: Dad reading the newspaper each night. Both of them and my younger brother and I sitting on the stoop listening to the Kansas City Blues (a farm team for the Yankees) play a night game. What a gift age is--that we can look back and see the span, the arc, of our life and see that all turned out to be goodness. Peace.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I just went back and read your postings before this one. How sad it is that your friend Heidi died and that you know so little about the event. I suspect that makes grieving even harder. But knowing you--through our blogs--I'm sure that you are simply being grateful that she chose you for a friend and that you came to know one another through the years of living in that same complex and sharing the adventures of your lives. To have a friend is to know the gift of joy and the value of gratitude. You and Heidi and her husband, too, are in my thought. Peace.

Buz said...

Poetry has always been like a foreign language to me, and I have always admired your ability to absorb it fluently. This one speaks to me more than most, and I wonder if something in me has finally opened up now that I'm older than Dad was. :-)