This is partly of my own doing since I have been out adventuring as much as possible in recent weeks. I stayed home Saturday to clean my house and did too much in a single day. Yesterday, I volunteered for Patriot Day, dragging myself home tired and sore after a day of physical labor.
So, yeah, I have been asking for it.
I continue experiencing symptoms associated with my thyroid and suspect that some of my trouble is related to this ongoing issue. But I try not to think about that as I’m actually sick of life revolving around the whims of this obnoxious little gland. I would make a terrible hypochondriac given how I prefer to just ignore an issue than dwell on it.
So, here I am. Thinking that this needs to be a quiet week. Hoping that this will be a quiet week.
I badly want to go back to this place pictured above. It’s a trail in Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania. It’s incredibly peaceful, stunning in its beauty. Restorative.
Luckily, I have plenty of forest nearby where I hope to go this week to mend my mind and soul. I believe in the healing power of solitude in wilderness. If I can walk without cringing tonight, I plan to be out on the trail amidst the trees and birds and meandering streams. At least for a while.
Sometimes we need to simply give ourselves a break and do the thing that gives us peace.
Twelve years ago, my parents noticed that many of the older graves in our family cemetery no longer receive flowers for Memorial Day or at any other time of year. Even the ones that traditionally had been decorated every year no longer received visitors. I imagine that those who traditionally cared for them were people like my grandparents who have passed.
My dad commented on how lonely some of the graves seemed. Forgotten, he said. These aren’t just stone slabs in the ground. He pointed out that each grave represents someone’s parent, sibling, child, friend. Each grave represents someone who walked this earth, breathed air, lived and died. To someone at some time, every person buried in that cemetery was the most important person in the world.
My folks had this conversation the day before Memorial Day 2010. The two sprang into action — my dad heading to the garage and my mom to the dollar store. Dad constructed simple wooden crosses using lumber he had on hand. My mom purchased inexpensive silk flowers to attach to each cross. And by the following day, they had enough wooden crosses adorned with flowers to place at every grave in Garrett Cemetery where some of my immediate family is buried.
By the following year, they had painted all those crosses white, echoing the simplicity of the famous white crosses in Arlington.
Sadly, we lost another one of our own this year. My aunt Maryann left this world in August, joining her parents, husband and child in the little cemetery down the road from my home. My dad went back to the garage to assemble another white cross.
Thirty-five souls rest in that cemetery and thirty-five white crosses have been lovingly placed by my parents again this year.
They are modest people and don’t do it for the attention. It is a simple act but one with great impact. It is a moving sight, these white crosses. My mother insists that if every person who takes flowers to a grave would take an extra bouquet for someone who doesn’t receive visitors, the world would be a better place. I think she is right.
I wish I knew more of the stories behind the headstones but I do know some. My grandma’s brother died of influenza, just a toddler in 1922. My aunt and uncle — two of my favorite humans ever — each died young, leaving behind a hole in our family like none other.
My great-great-uncle Hobart Garrett was a farmer who died an old bachelor. There is an empty space next to him that I presume was for a wife who he never met living out here in the country. Hobart’s sister was a school teacher who had no kids of her own and who seemed to not really like kids. I have a small hand bell she used at the school as well as a handful of postcards, textbooks and even a purse that belonged to her.
All 35 were people just like you and me. All of them had a story to tell. Even if we don’t remember their stories, it’s nice to honor their memories.
My parents seem to think that no one else notices their crosses but I notice and I’m glad they do it.
If you’re out and about decorating graves this Memorial Day, perhaps consider taking extra flowers for a neglected grave or at least take a moment to brush the grass clippings off some headstones. Small gestures such as these may not change the world but you never know who is watching and besides, you’ll know that you did something nice for someone who can offer nothing in return.
A roller coaster has had nothing on our politics for the last few years but never more so than this week. We clearly are witnessing history so I have labored to balance my desire to stay informed with my need for peace of mind.
Today, sanity needs to win. It’s Saturday. Let’s try to have a good weekend.
Turn off the news. Shut down Facebook. Stop listening to the rantings of conspiracy theorists.
We can’t fix the world and if arguing politics with your neighbor for the last five years hasn’t changed them yet, today won’t matter either. You can, however, help yourself. So go do that.
Take a deep breath.
The forecast today is for thirties and maybe some sun. Good enough for me. I’m going to find a place to walk or take a hike in the woods.
Afterward, maybe I’ll clean out a closet or curl up in my new chair with a book and hot chocolate. Maybe I’ll listen to vintage records while making pancakes to freeze for some other morning. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is in my LP collection somewhere and reminds me of this image above. It’s from a walk at a local park last month.
I could play with the watercolors I got for Christmas or make some sweet potato chips and have a movie marathon with the cat. The shower needs cleaned and it wouldn’t hurt to clean out the fridge.
I know I won’t be shopping and spending money as this is just day nine of my No Spend Challenge. Luckily, the list of possibilities for a winter Saturday around home is endless!
Take care and enjoy this day. Our problems can wait till tomorrow.
You’ve likely seen dragonflies but did you know they symbolize transformation and self realization? They are said to help us on the path of discovery and enlightenment.
I have also read that when you’re among dragonflies you’re in the company of angels. If that’s the case, a chorus of angels surrounded me for much of my hike Sunday.
Dozens, if not hundreds of dragonflies flitted in and out of my path, amongst the wildflowers and weeds along the lake shore.
In this world, there are about 5,000 species of dragonflies. In Ohio, we have documented 165. On Sunday, I saw several although I cannot name them for you. I can tell you that I very much enjoyed standing on the trail watching these mysterious creatures dance in the sunlight.
With some patience, I was able to capture a handful of pictures and am grateful for each one.
It’s a comforting idea that these colorful insects with their oddly shaped bodies and translucent wings represent more than we can see and that we are among angels.
If nothing else, they give me the feeling and even the hope that I’m on the right path.