Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Water and redemption

It has been a few weeks since the last post.  I have learned a lot in the last two weeks about myself and this process.  As predicted there is a stage in grief that includes a charming dose of anger. I liken it to those ancient sea creatures that lived just over the horizon when the world was flat who would lash out at the unsuspecting sailor and eat them up. Or the sirens luring the Greeks into the islands only to dash their little brains out on the rocks and turn them into pebbles or prisoners .   It is terrifying, seductive and righteous. 

While most of the people I know live on planet earth, I  live on my husband is dead planet and my  kids live on  I no longer have a dad planet. . On my planet their is an overwhelming desire to run over all those people who are eating french fries, sucking down buckets of coke and smoking cigarettes and along with them it would be swell to knock off all the mean people and  probably a few members of the tea party. Not exactly the spiritual path i had planned.  How can they all be romping around planet earth when my planet needs so much more  energy and compassion and grace than I have.

 On my kids planet the over arching question is what the hell do I do now?   On their planet Mr. Fix it is gone. There is no one to help with your soul, your taxes, your car engine, your apartment lease,  your life choices your  anything.  The person who was always going to be there just took a powder and they are pissed. Regardless of the layers of civilization, anger is primal and it pops out in the strangest and most fragile times. We all get it .

This week though I have returned to water and to  Maine. I began sailing this coast at age 4 and have come here off and on but mostly on my whole life. Water is the constant that eases pain, encourages bravery and can with enough time change the very face of the planet.   The sea in Maine is the color of jade and it is equally as cold.  The big swells come in from off shore and they roll with a measured relentlessness that is similar to breathing from some distant and mysterious set of lungs.  I have sailed every inch of this coast in fog, hurricanes, foul weather and fine - the skipper a huge pain in the ass but no better a sailor ever was.  Now I paddle it in a light weight sea kayak which is the only boat I own and can lift. It is black.. hence the name black magic. I have had her out in screaming seas just to see if I can keep upright, thick fog just to practice my navigation .   Now i paddle her just to paddle three inches out of the water and in those three inches there is redemption.

It is water that in many ways makes us whole. It is too hard to be angry on the water because you have to be present or you will drown. You can not rail against the injustices of the universe because you are in fact in the universe itself.  Water is life .

 The light is different here. It floats and refracts off the mica in the rocks, the pines on the shore and the horizon that bends the light off the edge of the world. Perhaps there really are dragons.  To be on the water is to be of the water and in that one can find a measure of peace that is not readily available on land.  I will savor this small respite from the grief spiders and the anger demons just to spend as much time floating three inches about the surface of the sea as I can breathing at the same rate as the rollers coming in from Spain and in that breathe connect with all that really counts.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Tomorrow is the 4 month mark.  I have begun very slowly the task of tidying up.  My thought is to begin with the symbolic rather than the intimate.  I also decided to include my own stuff in the mix so it is a joint venture - much the way we lived. It seems like this process should be fair .   If Tom's stuff is getting sorted then so should mine.  Whiddling life down to the useful, the loved and the present. The over worked word "down sizing" comes to mind- one that I don't particularly like because it subsumes needless accumulation of stuff rather than the idea that life has different phases and with it different tools. 

I am beginning with business suits - mine and his and academic regalia. So what do you do with PhD. academic robes? Tom's is much nicer than mine as his degree is from Cornell so his robe is a fabulous red. Mine is blue and black with an orange cowl as it is from Syracuse.  I wore mine all the time over the last years parading around at graduations, convocations and of course at Halloween when dressed as a wizard handing out candy and questions on our front porch in NC.  The robes are pretty great actually from a costume standpoint but they are also serious.  It takes work to get one of these things. They  have roots in the rituals of the middle ages . They are mysterious and conjure up drafty halls, stones and well Harry Potter.   They also represent solid accomplishments in our lives .  Respect for that is important but the fact remains they are probably not all that useful.  The act of sorting is also an act of remembering and that in and of itself is a good, if not painful process.  Oddly enough the business attire is an easy fix. Who really cares about that stuff but the academic robes are another story.  It remains to be seen what to do with them.  It is a start that is all .  

Monday, July 8, 2013


This has been a week of milestones.  July 1 was our 42 wedding anniversary followed by our favorite holiday which is the 4th of July.  My birthday is coming up but that is not such a big deal. The anniversary and 4th of July were something of a test of stamina in this new life marathon.  We always celebrated our anniversary regardless of extenuating conditions - usually it was a project, a raised glass or a picnic but the day did not go by without notice.  We loved the 4th of July because it meant great food and blowing things up.  The kids were usually home and they usually brought their buddies.  Last year Tom was building our stone terrace which is stunning.  This year I spent the day the way we would have which basically involves farm machinery, and bubbling batches of fruit.  Strawberries are in just now and as we have a 52 foot row that is 3 feet wide of berries we had a "few" on hand.  I got a chance to tool around on my new tractor picking up stuff in the bucket loader and dropping it off in other places around the farm.  It rained of course.  There were mosquitoes of astounding size and ferocity but all in all it felt eerily normal. 

That fragile balance and probably another milestone were disrupted by two events.  The first was the most astonishing rainbow I have ever seen.  It came on the 4th just after a downpour. The kiddos and I were standing on the porch after a full day of moving stuff around including getting ready for the pheasants. Hot, tired but generally okay we looked out over the field and a rainbow very low to the ground started at the beehives on one side of the property and ended in the orchard on the other side.   The three of us just stood there arms locked,  lips tightly shut keenly aware of the beauty and utter loneliness of that moment.  Some would say it was a sign,  I like to think that. 

The second event that tipped the balance in the other direction was the arrival of the Japanese beetles. They come every year - ready or not- to New England.  I hate them and Tom hated them even more.  We worked out all our subliminal aggressions by drowning them in kerosene.  This year I was suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of warding off these insects. So overwhelmed that when I went out to the orchard and found them munching on the leaves I just burst into tears, cursed the cancer demons,cursed the leaking sprayer, cursed the weed whacker that I can't start and cursed those GD beetles -  it was simply a meltdown. It was also cathartic and instructive. This is a marathon and it is not flat course .  People can give good intentioned advice, make suggestions but like a marathon you are the one running.   The milestones are the  water breaks some are better than others but like any marathon - patience and resilience win the day .  Balance is a relative construct - another milestone.