Thursday, August 28, 2014

Does Anyone Know What Happened to August?

Maybe it's because Labor Day is so early. Or maybe time just flies when you are having fun. No matter what, something happened to August -- it flew by and now it's gone, faster than a bunny can hop!

What a whirlwind! There were days at home, working my herbs and tomatoes -- and enjoying plenty of gazpacho.

There was a terrific folk festival with wonderful music under the stars.

And plenty of farmer's market visits -- this little girl was savoring the sweet black cherries at one vendor's spot, much to her mother's chagrin!

Rick and I enjoyed some wonderful dinners outside -- at least the grill will keep going for awhile, even if the chillier evenings bring dining inside!

Rick was volunteering at the bike races held in Lansing -- some of the races decided state championships.

It was great fun to watch lots of bikes racing for glory. Not quite the Tour de France, but it would have to do!

Then there was a visit to Columbus to visit friends Lin and Larry. Of course, shopping and lunch were involved!


So was making art with Lin's two grandchildren. We did drawing, journal making and tag making...

... and topped it off with Scrabble!

It wouldn't be summer without art camp. That's when my friend Kate heads to the lake and we create  all the art we can manage in a few days.

Lots of it is prep -- I worked on canvases, journals and a swap. More of that to come! We both did plenty of gelli-printing!

On the last day of art camp, the sun came out. And, we noticed a beautiful heron had shown up more than once.

I wonder if he is related to Harry? The distant cousin from the north perhaps?

After art camp, I returned home, repacked my bag and headed to Cleveland to celebrate the upcoming wedding of my cousin's son Mark with the lovely Ms. Katie!

Yes, count down is right!

The tables at the shower were lovely with a bird house motif.

If you look at the mason jar favors, they were cupcakes, layered with delicious icing. Katie's mom made 80 of these with her elf-helpers. And they were fabulous and wonderfully cute, tied with colorful ribbon and a wooden spoon for easy eating!

The best part, of course, was being with my family, both just hanging out...


...and at the shower.

And I definitely enjoyed the wildlife in the cousin's backyard.  I'm not sure they are so enamored with the deer eating birdseed and hostas as I was!

It wouldn't be a visit to Cleveland without catching up with my friend Jane. We did so in style at a Japanese restaurant.


And then home and back to the lake again -- with you know who expressing her displeasure in being confined in her travel box for the better part of the road trip. She looks so sweet and innocent with that cute face and big purr -- but trust me. She knows how to rattle the cage.

It's time to savor the last minutes of August, make more art and wait for Rick to arrive from his bike ride.

Where did August go?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reflections on a Labyrinth

I had never walked a real labyrinth before. The closest I had come was one that friends had made in their field. It was a "real" labyrinth, to be sure. And a lovely experience. But one could never quite see the center through the tall grasses, nor could we see where we were or where we were going. So when I learned that New Harmony, Indiana, had a labyrinth modeled after the one in Chartres, I knew I had to go.

And I knew I had to go alone. I wanted to walk with no distractions, not worry whether I was slowing anyone down and be able to contemplate whatever came to mind during that time. So, on an early Saturday morning, I walked the few blocks down the street to have the experience.

Labyrinths have been used for more than four thousand years in many cultural traditions. The New Harmony "Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden" was completed "as the new millennium began with the hope that many will walk the ancient path well into the 21st century."

The accompanying brochure explains that as one walks the path, they purposefully enter a space where there is order and reason. There are no deceptions on the path or tricks or dead ends. One follows it in faith, having the opportunity to look within while moving toward the center, then retracing the way to the beginning.

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. How hard is it to follow a path to the center and walk out again? What could possibly come to mind. But I'm game, and -- with shoes off, as suggested -- I set out, somewhat mindful of the suggestions for the walk that the brochure suggested -- essentially bringing one's self to a personal center or intent. One of the suggestions was to "think of the labyrinth as a methapor for your life with its many turns and winding nature."

But initially, all I could think of was how the granite felt under my feet, how it changed temperature from cool in the shade to warm in the spots kissed by the sun. I was incredibly aware of my senses -- the morning stillness, broken only by the birds trilling their early morning songs and the sound of the Orpheus Fountain at the edge of the labyrinth.

As I moved through, I was struck by the patterns, the sense of closing in on the rose center but then being pulled back into the perimeter. I was in awe of those who created this symmetrical pattern -- a puzzle without a trick.

But then I began to realize that this was not unlike life. We have a goal -- the center of the labyrinth, if you will. Perhaps that is happiness or peace of mind, perhaps something more tangible. We move forward toward the goal -- and yet for whatever reason, circumstances take us away from it, back to the perimeter, back to a maze that appears far from the desired end.

Consider the right professional path, for example -- studying to learn, applying for jobs, getting one, but -- perhaps the wrong one or having the wrong boss, perhaps you advance -- or are laid off. You may switch career paths to begin again. And if you are very lucky, you find the right thing.

It could apply to relationships as well. Actually, to just about anything in life. Getting closer, the challenge of being pulled back, coming forward again. Reaching the center.

But, it is only if you keep on the path, ever mindful to what is in your heart, what is around you and what centers you that you ultimately reach not only the center of the labyrinth but the center of your soul, of what gives you the greatest joy.

I've lived that walk every day. Many times I thought I was close to the rose center of my life and then things might happen to pull me off track, cause me to grieve, to rethink past choices, to evaluate. And ultimately, lead me toward a new center, the one of deepest happiness. That's where I am now. It is the greatest gift I've ever known.

Did I need a walk on the labyrinth to realize that? I don't think so. But it certainly helped clarify it. The experience was so profound and deep, it's been difficult to speak about and to share. And yet, now I can.

I don't know if the wedding couple Allison (Rick's niece) and Brennan walked this labyrinth during their wedding weekend. I suspect they had plenty of other things on their mind. But I hope they walk it someday, maybe even someday soon, as a reminder that their life will go in circles sometimes, that they may be far from the center, even though only shortly before they thought they were almost there. But to keep on the path, for it does lead home.

That's my wedding wish for Allison, that her joy be great and her heart fulfilled, that as years go by, she has found the rose center of her own labyrinth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Walking the Ditch

I realized that I hadn't posted much about walking the ditch this summer. There's a reason for it -- I haven't been going as often as sometimes and when I do, I've missed Harry almost every time. I only saw him once in the early spring, though other ditch walkers say they have seen him often. Must be the timing. I think I need to park myself on this bench and wait till he shows!

But I have had some lovely sightings this year! Take these deer for instance. I rarely see deer there, only once before (though again, ditch walkers tell me it's a fairly common sight.)

I loved their quiet, gentle grazing -- and the sweetness of the young fawn.

I was pretty far away, but I'm loving my new camera (not so new anymore!) and sweet zoom!

Bunnies about, too. This one was cautious but knew we were up to no harm.

Nonetheless, he remained tremendously alert!

Of course there are the ducks -- Laverne is back, eager to pose!

And so are her fellow quackers!

 This turtle wasn't out for an aerobic day!

 But it was fascinating to get a close-up look at his beautiful face and lovely shell.

 Of course there are lovely flowers...

...and beautiful views. One can gaze at the Monet-like lily pads.

Or, look at a wooded area where nesting boxes are placed on some of the trees.

And the woods evoke peace and quiet.

Peace and quiet. Clearly this ditch dweller found the spot a peaceful place to write in his journal. When I spoke with him, he said he comes nearly every day.

I don't blame him.

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