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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

To Every Thing, There Is a Season

Looking up Nagonaba from marina

The shift from Saturday’s heavy traffic, in Leelanau County and all around Grand Traverse Bay (my sources report), to empty parking spaces all up and down the streets of Northport comes accompanied by a change in the weather. Balmy, light-filled, summer-like fall mornings have given way to leaden skies, blustery winds, and whitecaps on the water. Zip the liner into your trench coat. Go outside. Test the temperature. Go back inside and look for a vest to wear under the coat. Even knitted cap and mittens are not amiss. But the color goes on, and I saw a shaggy mane this morning by the side of the road. Autumn is not over. This shift is not as sudden as it seems, either: it’s been in the works for a while, caterpillars and birds on the move and plants making and scattering seeds.

Black walnuts on the ground

If last weekend was peak color, how quiet will the bookstore be this week? When I couldn’t get Sarah an appointment with her regular groomer on Monday, I threw caution to the winds and set up a session on Tuesday morning, and while Sarah was being made prettier than she already was, David and I took in Jean Larsen’s show at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City. Yes, I had three days off in a row – Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! And look at the improvement in Sarah’s appearance! Can you say “criminally cute”?


Inspiration struck on Monday, thanks to clouds that kept interfering with the sun, discouraging me from committing to projects in the yard, and instead of digging up the garden I did a major overhaul upstairs, from clean sheets on the bed to moving furniture. The old mission desk (missing center drawer) on the upstairs landing had never done anything there but collect junk. I never had used that corner as a writing studio, a fond dream when we first moved into the farmhouse. So now the desk is in the back bedroom upstairs, looking out over the meadow in the direction of the sunrise, and it’s set up as a permanent drawing station, inaugurated with a session that very afternoon. I tried it out this morning for an hour, too, and it was dandy, even before sunrise.

Flowing lines, object contours, contrast of light and shade – so wonderfully wordless! No, I certainly have not given up reading! What I have done in the last few days, however, is to shift over to books that focus on nature, re-reading Tom Brown, Jr.’s The Tracker (one of my old favorites, and I have his book The Vision close at hand to read next) and an equally inspiring book I discovered more recently, Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape, by Robert Hart.
The essence of life should be continuous creativity: in working out creative and comprehensive solutions to one’s problems, one rises above them. They become smaller, less tormentingly insistent, until, perhaps, in time, one realizes they have just faded away.

Are problems tormenting you? Wouldn’t you welcome a meditation practice or a book that let those problems fade into the background, even if only temporarily? Forgive me for repeating myself – I’ve recommended the title before – but Frederick Franck’s The Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation combines both approaches. If you never pick up a pencil, simply holding this book and turning the pages slowly as you take in the author’s words and drawings is a calming meditation.
I draw a leaf . . . Still it is moving. Still the birds are on the wing. Still I can hear the silent falling of the snow . . . Some of the grasses are long, others are short . . .

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. The noisy campaigns will not last forever.

P.S. Another good idea is music, so if you are free on the evening of November 3, come get a ticket from me for Tristan Eckerson's live performance in Suttons Bay. I also have a few of his CDs left, "Leelanau Night," his original compositions on solo piano.


Dawn said...

Just reading this post made me feel peaceful. Perhaps cleaning my guest room would do the same for me. Though I am not willing to risk it will not.

We still have quite a bit of color here...and today it is already in the 60s. I wish it would stay like this until spring..and that spring arrived in February. Wishful thinking, similar to every end of fall I guess.

Have a happy weekend Pamela. Sarah looks marvelous.

P. J. Grath said...

Peacefulness is a feeling I must actively seek out in these days of social turmoil.

We have a lot of color left, also. It's really been a beautiful autumn out in the Michigan natural world.