Seasonal Transitions

I love the transition between summer and autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. A respite from the heat, but not yet miserably cold. A sense of enjoying the sun as the days perceptibly shorten. A slight frisson because there’s an ancestral fear of not surviving the winter. An appreciation of abundance while it lasts. A feeling of being on the brink of an adventure.

This started me thinking of other seasonal transitions.

Autumn to winter is a time to hunker down, muddle through, and try to stay warm. It’s also when you take a deep breath before diving headlong into the exhausting holiday season. It’s a time of conserving your resources. The horizons seem to shrink. My instinct is always to stay closer to home.

Winter to spring! Excitement! Birth! Beginnings! Flowers! Pent up energy just bursting to come out! The end to hibernation! The overuse of exclamation points!!!!!

Spring to summer, for me, is a little fraught. I love the lengthening days. I adore the vacations. It’s nice to have less bulky laundry to do. It feels good to be outside, enjoying all that nature has to offer. But it’s also freakin’ hot. And you have to mow. I don’t do hot and I’m a resentful mower.

Regardless, I am so grateful to be living in a climate of seasons again. You don’t really get spring or autumn in Florida, and I felt their absence keenly. I enjoy marking the passage of time. I love the variety, the anticipation, the change.

Life, man. Nature. It’s incredible.

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Nature’s Personality

When I lived in Florida, I avoided nature at all costs. For me it was a place of spiders and snakes and mosquitoes and lightning strikes and fire ants and tornadoes and floods and, increasingly, forest fires. You couldn’t even jump into a pile of leaves for the scorpions. (How does one get through childhood without jumping into at least one leaf pile?)

Status quo was heat and humidity and sweat and sunburns. Mostly, I hid indoors, and went into full-blown panic if my air conditioning broke down. In fact, life was hopping from one air-conditioned oasis to the next. All my windows were painted shut. Having that contentious relationship with the great outdoors, I kind of had the mindset that I was surviving in spite of, rather than because of, nature.

It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Here, I don’t even own an air conditioner. During the warmer months, my windows practically stay open. I have a new-found love for fresh air. During those same months, I have dinner on my back porch every evening. I’ve yet to encounter a mosquito, let alone anything else that might bite me. I don’t even own any bug spray.

Here, I get outdoors every chance I get. I’m starting to look at the rainy, grey winter months (which I confess I’ll never get used to), as the penance I have to pay for the exquisite gifts of spring, summer, and fall. This is the first time I’ve experienced seasons in 40 years. They’re magical.

Perhaps nature is more than one entity. I like its personality much better here than I did in Florida. Here, we’re friends, not enemies. And I didn’t realize how much my life lacked for not having that friendship until it finally came along.

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Potentially Hazardous

If I were a package, the post office would refuse to mail me. I should be encased head to toe in bubble wrap and surrounded by bright yellow caution tape. Seriously. I’m a danger to myself.

As if it weren’t bad enough that I have a brace on my arm due to a recent bad fall, last night I fell yet again! I was going down another set of stairs and trying not to grip the railing with my “bad” hand, all the while fumbling with my umbrella, when I took a tumble on a bed of gravel and landed in a very large, muddy puddle. No harm done this time, other than a scraped knee. But as I lay there, “empuddled”, on a dark deserted street in a very bad neighborhood, my half-opened umbrella threatening to abandon me with the next gust of wind, I thought, “I’m a human train wreck.”

I seem to go through phases of clumsiness. I’ll have several bad falls spaced closely together. Or there’s the time I spilled boiling soup down my chest and legs within days of setting my hair on fire. And then I drove a splinter not only under my fingernail, but also all the way up to my first joint. Children should run screaming in the opposite direction when I approach.

Granted, so far I seem to only put myself at risk, but who knows what the future holds? Someday my containment field might be breached, and then woe betide you. It might not be pretty.

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[Image credit: safetygearonline.com]

The Painful Truth

Recently I wrote about my “great” fall. It turns out it was greater than I thought. As the pain in my wrist kept increasing, I could no longer ignore it. In the morning it would make crunching sounds as if I were cracking a walnut, and the pain was excruciating. And it would hurt throughout the day if I accidentally twisted it certain ways. I went to see my nurse practitioner, and she ordered x-rays to see if I had broken something.

Unfortunately, this was the day before Thanksgiving, so it was two days before they could squeeze me in for that x-ray. And then, once it was done, I was told it would be two business days before my doctor got the report. And it was a Friday. I know that this isn’t as high a priority for everyone else as it is for me, but for crying out loud, I’m in pain here!

I suffered through the weekend, not getting much sleep because every time I’d toss and turn, the pain would wake me up. Monday afternoon I called my doctor’s office to see if they’d heard anything. Indeed they had, but my nurse practitioner wasn’t in that day. Seriously? Can’t someone else look at the report? They had my doctor call me back a few hours later. Good news. No bone breaks!

But was it good news? I was still in pain. What was going on? Would I need more tests? Well, the doctor couldn’t say without seeing me. Great. So I made an appointment for the next day. Another night of discomfort.

She saw me, and based on her evaluation she suspects I dislocated it, and popped it back in on my own, hence the crunching noises. And all that caused a sprained tendon. Now I’d need a splint. But not just any splint. This splint will have my thumb sticking outward, which will make writing and typing and driving and, well, everything awkward. And I’ll have to wear the thing for two to four weeks.

But of course, this unusual splint isn’t something you can just pick up at the corner pharmacy. Oh no. She had to write a prescription, and I had to set up an appointment for, you guessed it, the next day, at an orthotics place for a fitting.

I went to the orthotics place, and they measured me for the splint, but of course they didn’t have one on hand. They had to special order it. And I could pick it up, yep, tomorrow.

For heaven’s sake, if I were a starfish I could have grown another limb by now. And the pain wasn’t going anywhere. I’m afraid to take too much pain medication for it because the pain is what warns me that I’m doing bad things to the tendon.

Once I finally got the splint and could no longer oppose my thumb, I could just feel the IQ points dropping. You have no idea how much you use your thumb until you can’t anymore. Typing this is taking ages. But I have to say I’m in a lot less pain while trussed up like a Christmas goose.

It’s putting it mildly to say I don’t do pain well. When I had major surgery many years ago and they put me on a pain medicine pump afterward, I sat there with the button pressed the whole time. The nurse said, “You do realize it will only dispense the pain meds periodically, don’t you?” “Yeah, but I want it the second it is ready to take pity on me.”

I suspect this is going to be a long month.

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A Great Fall

We’re told that Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Well, what was so great about it? I suppose “horrible” or “nasty” or “painful” have too many syllables for the purposes of the rhyme, but still… great?

(And incidentally, one of my frequent readers once pointed out to me that there’s nothing that says Humpty Dumpty was an egg, and yet we all pretty much think of him as one due to a long ago illustrator. I can’t get that out of my head. But as usual, I digress.)

The other day I had a “great” fall. I was at the top of a flight of stairs and my feet actually flew up over my head. I came down with all my weight on the point of my right elbow and felt the jolt the entire length of my spine. I then slid all the way down the stairs and landed in a heap on the landing. (I think they call them landings for good reason.)

I lay there for quite some time. The wind was knocked out of me, and my brain kind of went white for a bit. I’ve only had a few “great” falls in my lifetime, thank goodness, but each time it was like my brain and lungs sort of shut off and had to reboot. I didn’t lose consciousness (I don’t think), but it was like I wasn’t able to process information for a split second, including how to breathe. Very disconcerting.

And then when everything came back on line, so to speak, I was afraid to move, because if I had broken anything, this would be the last few precious moments I could savor as someone who wasn’t broken, if that makes any sense. And I also had this irrational fear that I’d get up, look behind me, and see my dead body lying there. And then what?

Times like these it really sucks to live alone. Sure, my dogs were at the top of the stairs, looking down at me with great concern. I am, after all, their only meal ticket. But they couldn’t have called 911 no matter how well trained they are. (And they aren’t.)

I figured I’d really be hurting the next day, so once I determined that nothing was broken I took a hot bath and an aspirin and went to bed. I had totally forgotten why I was going down the stairs in the first place. Fortunately everything was fine when I woke up, except my elbow. I think I bruised the bone. It only hurts when I lean on it, which I do a lot more often than I ever realized.

So I guess the fall was great after all, in terms of the fact that I’m still alive. Yay me!

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[Image credit: shrek.wikia.com]

The Little Things

On my drive to work today I got tears in my eyes; tears of gratitude. I came around a curve and saw a tree with flaming red leaves. You don’t see too many trees whose leaves change in the fall in this Emerald City of Seattle, but you see enough. Enough to make you appreciate them even all the more. I am back in a place where leaves change color! I can’t explain how much that means to someone who hasn’t seen it in 30 years.

There are so many other things here that bring me back to the climate of my childhood. Moss. Rocks. The smell of rich, dark earth. Soft grass. Water that actually tastes good. It’s all so precious to me. Priceless, because it took so much for me to get to this place of abundance. So forgive me for being maudlin, but tears are bound to flow.

Here are a few more pictures of little things that have made my heart squeeze.

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Plants that I’ve never seen before.

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Sunlight sparkling through crystal clear rippling water onto smooth stones.

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A large snail in a city lake.

Abundance is mine!

Leaps of Faith

Every once in a while you find yourself standing on a precipice staring down into a deep abyss of change. You may have a strong idea as to whether this change will ultimately be good or bad for you, but you can’t be sure, and that’s what’s terrifying about it. You may very well stand on that crumbling ledge for a long time. Some people are there for a lifetime. Agonizing. Second guessing themselves.

There are options. Leaping into that abyss isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes it’s better to back away from that precipice of change entirely, and focus instead on making the best of what you already have.

On the other hand, it may be that the best thing to do is to cross your arms, close your eyes, throw your head back and let yourself fall. It might kill you, or you might land in the most amazing place you’ve ever been. The whole experience might just be a hard lesson you need to learn on the way to the next change, or it might bring you joy that you never thought you’d encounter. Either way it’s the next step. It’s progress. It’s life.

So, step back and reevaluate or take that leap of faith? No one can make that decision for you. But either way, the answer is within you. On some level you already know that.

Just don’t stay on that ledge doing nothing. That’s a form of living death. That’s hell on earth. I don’t know how the abyss became a metaphor for hell. The abyss is just the unknown. Hell is the precipice. Hell is the hesitation. Do not linger there for long.

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[Image credit: roughguides.com]