Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Some Thoughts on Nature, Summer Heat, Sweating, Memories and Family Love

I spent some time today sitting on the front porch mid morning into early afternoon, reading from Drawing From Nature by Peter London. These words prompted me to do some journal writing:

“…the entire body has intelligence…The body is constantly, critically, truthfully, telling how it is functioning. But we were never taught how to interpret its form of speech…Holistic education carefully, explicitly, constantly, cultivates the multiple intelligences embedded throughout the body.” (pages 307-308)

Responding to this I wrote:

I think of Hali Karla and Christine V. Paintner when I read this. They often ask, “how is that feeling in your body?”: or “where in your body do you sense this is true?” and other questions like that. I don’t know how to answer those questions. I only hear my body tell me that it is hungry, thirsty, tired or in pain. But yesterday and again today, my body has been telling me that it wants to experience time outdoors. In the heat. The heat feels good. I don’t want to escape to air conditioning. I don’t mind sweating a little. The sweat and breeze cool me off. I can somehow sense that my body needs to feel this penetrating heat. Not by physically working and getting over-heated, but by passively soaking it in. In addition, my nose has been enjoying the scents of the earth. The pines, the grass and mulched leaves, the lilies and nicotiana, the smell of my salty, sweaty skin. My skin is enjoying the gentle breeze, as are the wisps of hair that fall from my ponytail. My eyes delight in seeing the butterflies flitter through this space of air on the front porch, not noticing or seeing it as a boundary or separate from the rest of the space around it. A vole came out in plain sight, not knowing I was there to observe it. I had guessed she was living in the tangle of Laminastrium vines by the hydrangea as I had heard it a few times in the past week. And I remembered her voice. My body has also been telling me that it wants lots of cold water and fresh fruit and vegetables.

So many people I know ask or exclaim - “how can you live without air conditioning?” I do appreciate having the option to spend time in it, but I do not like how it cuts off the natural world. It is so artificial. I am so not artificial!

I recall the summers of my young childhood visiting my grandparents and other relatives in Putnam Lake. It was hot and smelled so good. Smelled like this. There was no agenda - no work that must be accomplished except for the necessities of washing clothes (which would then be hung on a line) and dishes, and the cooking/preparing of meals. The rest of the time was for sitting in lawn chairs in the shade of the maple tree and drinking iced tea. Or sitting in the screen house playing cards. Or for Pete and I, to walk the dirt road into the woods and visit the small stream there.

I was young then, younger than eight, as I am remembering a time before my father died. I can remember being surrounded by family - grandparents on both sides, my parents, Uncle Bill, Uncle Mickey, the neighbors. I was loved by all these people - I can feel that. So the feeling of being loved, cared and provided for, along with the bright, hot sun, soft breeze, sweaty skin; the scents of pine, maple, privet and grass; butterflies; and the sound of blue jays, are all wrapped up together. Wanting in my present life (and for all my adult life) to sit and be with nature is to sit again in that circle of love. I don’t remember words that were said. I do get a sense though that my mother was content and happy at that point. My life changed when my father died. My mother cracked up, first suffering from depression, then progressing through the other stages of undiagnosed bipolar disorder through the course of her life. PopPop Franz died one year after Dad, then Grandma Franz developed Alzheimers and was placed in a nursing home. We were disowned by the remaining Franz family because of conflicts with my mother and never went to Putnam Lake again. Grandma and PopPop DiFulvio got divorced. Uncle Mickey had a stroke and Mom refused to see him. All these loves of my young life left me in just a few short years!

No wonder then, when I spend time in the garden or on the front or back porch, I want to share this experience with others. I want to have that circle of loving companions around me again. It is when bittersweet memories like these arise that we often say,  “we will see each other again in heaven.” Do we say that as a measure of comfort? Do we hope it will be so? Do we know, even though we don’t know how, that it is true? I choose yes to all of the above. Lord, may it be so.

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