Bluebird Bathing

Soundless splashing
Wings catch water
Waterlets catch sun
Sunlets catch leaves
I just breathe

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Hiking in My 70s

I took two small bottles of water and an extra shirt. I took sunglasses and a sun hat. I wore long pants and sturdy shoes. But I forgot my daypack – even the small string one that I take to yoga class. Neither my pants, nor my shirts (the sleeveless one I wore and the long-sleeved one I carried) have pockets.

So I decide to just carry my phone, for its camera and my safety, up the trail. And one small bottle of water, not both. And the small pack of Kleenex. Oh, I might need the Wet Ones, you never can tell, and the small foil packet with the lens cleaning tissue for my new glasses. What about the drops for my dry itchy eyes, the antihistamine pill, the small nail care kit I got for free from an organization I had donated to – that could come in handy. But I have no pockets, no daypack. And anyway would my purse be safe in the van even locked? I guess my purse is coming with me up the trail. I’ll extend the strap and wear it as a cross chest bag. That won’t be so bad.

Eight-tenths of a mile, that’s all. And just about everyone I know, young and old, has walked it. Today is perfect. Sunny and breezy with enough tree cover to keep me from burning since I also forgot the sunscreen. And enough wind to keep the bugs off since I forgot the bug spray. I will be fine, this will be fun. I remember 30 years ago, laughing and paying no attention as we caroused up the trail with our children flitting around us like those dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. All we want to do today is slowly stroll up and back down, careful of aging bones and dicey cardio fitness.

The trail is broad and inviting until it isn’t. Log-defined steps, dry washouts, uneven rocks and always uphill. Soon, too soon, I feel old, I feel unfit, I feel anxious, I feel weak, I feel unwell, I feel my heart beating unevenly. Should I go on? Could I have a heart attack? Is this physical stress or just anxiety? How could I let myself get this unfit? Where now my trail walking skills, my climbing experience, my years backpacking? I was the one who ate hills. I count my breaths, matching them to my steps. Inhale for four steps, exhale for four steps. Until my steps are so slow that my breaths are two by two steps. I pause to study a pebble.

Ahead of me, Woody has found a bench. From bench to bench we go on, sitting as long as walking. Across or around those deliberately placed cross-path logs, over rocks, up steps of wood and gravel. From bench to welcome bench and then, when the trail becomes too narrow, too rocky, too steep for benches, from one sitting rock to another. Watching, helloing joggers with dogs, young couples with babies in backpacks, overweight walkers, sleekly dressed hikers, families, a toddler with an older brother and parents. Like rain to a parched plant come the words of a passing woman, “This is an eight-tenths mile trail and I have a one-tenth mile body.”

We reach the end. Well, not THE end but our end. On the final rocky switchbacks, we say enough. We declare victory and withdraw. It’s an American tradition after all. But withdrawal simply means facing the challenge of the equally long downhill trek back. I remind myself that the way back always seems shorter. And so I am surprised when it doesn’t.

I hear traffic. I glimpse a strip of road through the trees. I see the beginning of the parking lot. I remember running with the children to the treats in the van. Woody and I continue our slow careful walk to the tepid water in the van.

We talk of the effort itself being the achievement. We vow to return again next year, as this year, in the week of his birthday, and compare what we can do then to what we have done now. I resolve to spend more time on the stationary bike at the gym.

We drive to a winery and have Chardonnay, cheese and crackers. Sitting, sitting gratefully still, at a table overlooking vineyards and horizon hills.

“I don’t know much about growing grapes,” says my horticulturist husband.

“Here’s what I know,” I respond, “grapes don’t grow in ugly places.”

We finish our wine and snacks, drive home and take naps.

A Hopeful Paraphrase of Today’s Lesson from Acts 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
the women who had been called by the Spirit got up and said to the Curia and the Cardinals,
“My brothers, you are well aware that in these later days
God made her choice known among you through many mouths
that women could hear the word of the Gospel and be called.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting us the Holy Spirit
just as She did you.
She made no distinction between you and us,
for by faith She purified our hearts and called us.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of women
a yoke that neither you nor your ancestors have had to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are called
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as you.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while these women described the signs and wonders
God had worked among women.

After they had fallen silent, the Pope responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
We have heard and witnessed how God concerns herself
with acquiring priests and deacons from among women.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the women on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to accept the priesthood of women who are called by God.

Shadowfacts

Awakening life
ravenous and bold
devours dawn’s long shadows

Amber lit noon
too busy to pause
hurries forward shadowless

Afternoon light
evening’s shy seamstress
quilts lengthening shadows.

250 Solitaires

250 solitaires
are not exactly
100 years of solitude
except when they are

250 solitaires
of different varieties
offering the illusion
of diversity

250 solitaires
in one app
for one person
to live within

250 solitaires
instead of writing
instead of reading
instead of sleeping
instead of talking

250 solitaires
interrupted by a phone call
from an old friend
(all my friends are old,
like me)
a friend from years ago
work years

250 solitaires
forgotten
as soon as I hear
her hello

Driving to Bremo

Tall – five, six foot tall
marshmallows bake in the
grass bottomed
tree bordered
road edged
sun fired
oven
Awaiting giants
with chocolate mud slabs and
granite graham crackers
who need
some more treats
for gargantuan appetites

Tall – five, six foot tall
“Marshmallows” Woody had said
as we drove past the
mown field
with scattered
white wrapped
bales
Awaiting harvesters
with giant gray trucks
wide wheeled behemoths
that bring
some more food
for bovine appetites

Words after the Voice & Movement Workshop

Pushing, pulsing, pulling,
pursuing, pummeling, puckering
words, images,
thoughts half-formed
theories unborn
wisdom unlearned
truths untaught

O listen to my speak
Speak to my listen

sway together
say together
lean together
learn together
group together
grow together

Closer closer closer still
touchingly close

Wordless now, I call bawl
yodel throatal
nasal playsal

Hear my echo
through your world
bounce back
to me

Arise now
Glimmering shimmering sun
Sparkling crackling leaves
Mouth mobile
Lips luscious
Ears wide

Say sing listen move rest refresh
Together