Evenings this winter, when I’m ready to turn out the reading light and go to sleep, which comes after David and I have watched our evening movie or a couple of episodes of “Ballykissangel” (a BBC series set in a small Irish village), I bring on sleep by revisiting in imagination the outdoor places where I sat quietly during the year past. My stated goal was to take an hour each week for what I thought of as my “stillness project,” and recalling those hours puts my mind in a relaxed and peaceful place.
I did fairly well with the project until toward the end of the year, when back problems curbed my enthusiasm, so my memories begin in the cold of January and circle through the seasons to the cold of December. My sketchbook is full of trees, weeds, old farm buildings, and a couple of away-from-home days, one in Arizona and another in the U.P. I remember winter hours of cold toes and fingers and summer hours filled with humming insects.
When I look at the stats for this one-year blog, I see that one post garnered almost no visitors. It was not an “exciting” outdoors day—but then, none of my days in this experience were “exciting” in any grand, headline-grabbing sense. No eagles landed in my field of vision, no white-tailed deer browsed close by, no turkey parades filed past. Mostly it was just me and the trees and weeds and wind and insects, chickadees and old buildings nearby and sounds of crows and traffic in the distance. Sometimes a squirrel.
The lessons of stillness began the first day. The challenge was to be quiet and patient and to welcome whatever came along. Even if there was only the breeze and a few snowflakes, it would be enough. Every day, every hour, however little it held, would be full and enough. And it was. It filled a treasure chest of memories for me.
Will this new year bring a new project? If so, it has yet to reveal itself to me.