Effects vary for each soul
Joy comes in many forms and Nature is one of them.
I hope you have found yours during these uncertain times.
Effects vary for each soul
Joy comes in many forms and Nature is one of them.
I hope you have found yours during these uncertain times.
Working in daylight
Bright petals to buzz about
Syrup to honey
Lauren Scott (c) 2020
Photo from our garden
Harmony lives in each flow of a breeze
In each gentle embrace of evergreens
The clear blue enchantingly shields
Let nothing stay concealed.
Blooms tender their affable smile
Leaves listen in for awhile
Birdsong soothes the whirling mind
A landscape perfectly designed.
Nature’s lessons are plentiful
Shall our choices be flexible?
We are not ignorant to her offerings
Receive them for relief of suffering.
A painting of beauty and brilliance
Mesmerizing even in distance
Can you deny the splendid view?
Allow serenity to fall into you.
Lauren Scott (c) 2020
Photo: from our backyard
Since my husband and I had yesterday off for the holiday, we took a drive on the back country roads, stopped at a deli along the way for takeout sandwiches, then headed to one of our favorite parks. Our morning began early because we wanted to dodge crowds due to Covid. We were prepared, though, ready to social distance and sport our masks when necessary.
When we arrived, the park was already half full with patrons eager to enjoy this beautiful day – temperature in the mid-seventies, perfect. We pulled into a parking stall, and before enjoying lunch, we ventured onto the trails for a good walk. Surrounded by Redwoods and all that nature offers in this outdoor playground is nothing short of magical.
We embraced serenity while walking along the creek, but were saddened by the deserted camp ground. Empty sites dotted the road – the new reality. Aww, but look at the Redwoods and how tall they stood: Proud and Majestic! Soft ferns sprinkled along the trail provided visual sustenance. Oh, but if you don’t watch where you’re going, among the beauty lies something wicked: poison oak! Don’t let its radiant red bursts of color fool you! If you aren’t wise, you’ll pay the price. We gently moved past the pretty red leaves, careful not to let them reach out and grab us. Then we stumbled upon a Bay tree adorned in woodpecker art. Look closely at the trunk; isn’t the texture interesting?
The comfortable side note was that not many people were out. We donned our masks now and then when needed, but we felt safe to brave the outside world and visit this park before the holiday crowd showed up later in the afternoon. The sandwiches were delicious and time together outdoors is always special. Time for reflection and a chance to chat about life without distractions – only the trees bend to listen to our whispers, and the leaves sway in the breeze, as if to wave when we walk by. This was a wonderful prelude to our Independence Day festivities this year when things are so strange and surreal.
To celebrate today, we’ll take a walk in the cool morning before the sun warms us up. We’ll enjoy the deer as they saunter by in the neighborhood. We’ll give thanks that Covid hasn’t touched anyone we know and love. When the clock strikes five o’clock, we’ll enjoy wine on the patio and our son who lives at home will join us. I’m thankful to have at least one of my children home to hug, even if he is 6’2” and 25 years old. Then Matt will perform his grilling magic for dinner. We’ll make it a good day because we’re employed and healthy. We miss our daughter and son-in-law in TN, but thanks to Facetime, we’ll see them this afternoon. Will this July 4th be memorable? It sure will, but not in a way that was intentional. And we’ll think of those who have perished and whose families are hurting and struggling to make sense of it all.
I wish you all a Happy 4th of July, too, in spite of the pandemic we’re living in.
Love and virtual hugs,
In these unsettling times, it’s important to find joy in each day,
even if digging a little deeper is necessary. Anxiety, fear, and sadness
have certainly been fueled this year, which is reason enough to find things in life that make us happy. Throw in a dash of fun and a sprinkle of silly – bring on the smiles and laughter! It’s important for our mental and physical well being to find a balance so that all of our energy and focus isn’t directed only to the negative. I’m sure you’ve heard of a gratitude journal, so let’s count this post as one of my long journal entries, but first the visuals:
I’m grateful for another drive through the majestic redwoods and then onto Bolinas Ridge where the view of Stinson Beach was stunning – no fog or wind, just a glorious June day. I find joy in receiving fun gifts like the musical note earrings my daughter gave me because of our shared passion for music, and then the socks from her that tell me “I’m gorgeous, don’t change.” Wearing this kind of encouragement throughout the day is definitely a mood-booster.
I’m thankful for how I followed in Mom’s footsteps as my family indulges in sweet decadence once in a while, as well as baking for gifts. The plate of cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip, so don’t be shy! The cake was for a birthday: lemon with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting (all homemade). I also look forward to our relaxing patio time where we can talk about the day, make plans for tomorrow, and clink our glasses to celebrate being healthy and employed in these Covid times.
And then there are books! Can’t live without the exciting and adventurous worlds they draw me into. My son gave me “Little Fires Everywhere” not knowing anything about it. It turned out to be an engrossing and riveting read, and the mini series starring Reese Weatherperson and Kerry Washington was just as captivating. I found “Nineteen Minutes” listed on one of Stephen King’s book recommendations and am half-way through it. Can’t put it down either, but I must so that I can write this post! I highly recommend both books.
You see Copper lying on the bed…he was also enjoying “Little Fires Everywhere.” He is diligent in practicing how to relax and has become very good at it. 🙂 The love and joy this big puppy gives us is priceless. Oh, and look at Mini! As a child, I lived in Anaheim with Disneyland in my backyard. So, Mickey and Mini will always have a special place in my heart.
Nature provides serenity. It calms and emboldens us to look deeply within ourselves. It is a teacher of simplistic living, especially while backpacking. The sunset was taken at one of our favorite campgrounds, Look Lake – a gorgeous body of water in the Sierra without the crowds. The other photo is of Spider Lake that is a higher elevation, and I’m happy to report not one spider was found! Both destinations were perfect to take in the beauty around us, to spend time together, and to simply be. No technology, just a tent, a couple of chairs, and a picnic table. This is what we love to do, and we hope to venture onto the trails as long as our bodies will allow.
I hope you enjoyed these samples of some things in life that bring me joy – the list is never-ending. What do you lean towards in these times of uncertainty? What brings you calm? What turns your frown upside down? What makes you chuckle? Do you find that some of these photos bring you joy, too?
Wishing you a wonderful Friday and much joy in your days ahead,
As Copper and I enjoyed our morning walk this morning,
I couldn’t help notice the vibrant blooms along the way. Whether they blossom in our garden or in the neighborhood, they have served as an exceptional balm during this time of sheltering in place. Copper even knows when it’s time to slow down
and smell the flowers…
“Miss Bougainvillea, luxuriant and sturdy,
unaware of her magical attributes.”
“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Love is a flower you’ve got to let grow.”
“The flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of today.”
“After women, flowers are the most divine creation.”
🙂 Christian Dior
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
Lady Bird Johnson
“Bloom where you are planted.” Anonymous
“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never
crave the rose.” Anne Bronte
“Their colors bring infinite joy
as they are cared for with pride.
The thorns do not lessen their beauty –
not one delicate petal is denied.”
Yours truly – an excerpt from one of my poems
“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child
who knows poems.”
Rainer Marina Wilke
A Cup of Spring
Miss Spring sips her tea
as we anticipate
She says, “Be patient,
I will soon bring you
colors so pleasing
and new life, delightful.
But first, Mr. Winter
must finish acting
out his scene.”
The inevitable is happening – turning sixty is only a few years away, so what better time to experience a new adventure? When my children were young, my husband, Matt, often took them backpacking, teaching them about his lifelong passion. I, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever to carry a pack on my back. But since birthdays seemingly arrive faster and getting older is a sure thing, I was inspired to try something new. When the summer of 2017 came around, I told him I was ready to wear that pack and leave my footprints on the trail. I had enjoyed listening to my family’s tales of their past trips, but now I longed to be the narrator of my own stories.
Their trips were weekend get-a-ways, and although Matt had gone on two 50-milers in the past, these short outings were a subtle way of introducing backpacking to his family and much more manageable for his family. And so, my first trip was on a weekend in July, backpacking in Point Reyes not far from home. After pulling into the parking lot on a Friday afternoon, we “suited up” and I almost toppled over, feeling a bit like Lucille Ball in one of her slapstick scenes – although I managed to find balance eventually.
When we found the trailhead, I had to document this new beginning with some photos, then we were on our way. The trail was fairly easy with a few minor inclines and dips. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but I was fixated on each step in my what-felt-like “moon” boots. The bulkiness took some getting used to, but it was humbling to carry everything I needed on my back. After just over an hour, we arrived at Coast Camp, sweaty and slightly dirty. Our site was nothing fancy, but it came with a picnic table which proved to be convenient. We set up the tent and made our wilderness bedroom as comfortable as possible. The trip was off to a great start…
We hiked around local trails, reveling in the beauty of the wildflowers – shades of yellows, reds, pinks, and purples – while the bees serenaded. We trekked down to the beach a few times where the temperature had dropped and the wind lost its temper. The ocean inhaled then exhaled, greeting us with a palpable roughness as if to say, “Don’t you dare come in.” We wouldn’t dare, but the sight was beautiful just the same. After trekking back to our campsite, we had a reaffirmed respect for the ocean.
Our dinners were convenient consisting of freeze-dried backpacking food such as beef stroganoff and chicken and dumplings. Occasionally, we indulged in our favorite desserts – raspberry crumble or apple crisp. All we had to do for hot meal preparation was heat water, pour, stir, wait a few minutes, and dinner was ready. In the morning when the sun rose, we had oatmeal and that cup of coffee, which hit the spot. Fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes, a little salami and crackers served as lunch. We definitely did not lack in nutrition or hunger.
We appreciated moments of sitting together in silence, reading, enjoying nature’s entertainment, or watching other hikers pass by. Everyone offered a familiar wave as though we were all members of the same backpacking club out for a weekend. Other than an unexpected allergy attack, the trip was a success. When Sunday morning arrived, knowing it was time to pack up and leave, I was sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end, yet I was eager for a hot shower. The drive home was picturesque on the quiet country roads with only the cows lifting their heads to see us as we drove by. We drifted into silence, absorbing the wonderful adventure we had together. A few days later, we jumped into the planning stages for our next adventure to Shealor Lakes in the Sierra for the following month.
Sometimes though, plans do not always work out. Soon after our July trip, my dad’s health suddenly weakened. He began having heart trouble, which initiated a much-needed hospital visit. Dad was ninety-seven years old, but surprisingly, he had never suffered through any major health issues. My family had no reason to believe he would not get the chance to blow out ninety-eight candles in two months. The only pain we knew he felt was missing Mom – his wife of sixty-seven years who had passed away five years prior. Dad was poked, prodded, and x-rayed, and after only three days in the hospital, he peacefully passed away.
It was all so strange – losing my dad, and at the same time having planned the trip. After talking to my sisters, they encouraged us to stick with our original plans. “It’s what Dad would want,” they said. I was unsure, but after much thought, we took my sisters’ advice. Yet, the slight guilt of going while it was all so fresh could not be ignored. If Dad was still in the hospital, I would have stayed, but he was at peace now, no longer suffering. In some otherworldly way, I felt his approval.
We began our four-hour drive a few days after Dad’s passing. After arriving, we unloaded our stuff and “suited up” just like on our first trip. While we prepared and packed, as well as on the drive, Matt repeated to me, “It’s only a mile and a half to the lake!” What he failed to mention was that the hike entailed an ascent over a huge granite dome. I stared at the dome that I was about to embark on and became anxious because I did not feel physically prepared. But Matt’s confidence in my ability was apparent, so we began the uphill hike. What was I going to do, back out now?
After hiking for forty-five minutes, we reached the top, and when I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, quenched our thirst and souls with water that tasted better than ever, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I felt relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and rested on a nearby log. I was so overwhelmed that I did not fight the tears. I let them roll down my cheeks with purpose. I cried for the loss of Dad and I cried for having completed this hike that I did not think I was capable of. I would have wiggled out graciously had I known the details much earlier.
Once the last tear had fallen, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water was a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough, but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.
This Sierra adventure provided a chance for hiking and granite-rock hopping. The sun was our alarm clock, bidding us good morning and night as it rose and faded behind the hills. In the evenings, we sat mesmerized by the campfire’s dancing flames and were enchanted by the dark, star-sprinkled sky. No matter where we explored, magic wrapped us in its warm embrace. This trip challenged my mind, body, and soul. I gained insight into my deepest being, learning not to limit myself. This amazing destination and experience proved to be the best medicine.
I approached that summer with enthusiasm for a new adventure to backpack and I am proud of my ascent over the granite dome. I often wonder if my grieving process would have been more difficult had I not agreed to go on the second trip. I will never know, but I believe I made the right choice at a time when my life unfortunately shifted in a hard-to-process direction. I thanked my sisters for encouraging us to go; their intuition knew it would be the right thing to do. Now, I can honestly say that my footprints are embedded in Point Reyes and the Sierra, and I am grateful to finally be my own narrator. I know Dad would be proud and I can not wait for a new story to emerge on the horizon.
Looking into the future
it is a vast horizon –
one of hesitation
one of beauty
It is an ocean
of varied emotions
like the rolling waves
with their uncertainty
as they commingle
with the mystery
among them –
to catch my breath
of a spectacular sunset
the future requires
so that this moment,
this very moment
without being noticed
Lauren Scott © 2018
Photo: Taken by my husband,
north of Bodega Bay
on a motorcycle ride