It is important to recognize one chapter as it closes and a new one begins, to carry forward that which is recent past. Wellbeing springs from the small things, duly experienced, identified and remembered.
Today I am uncharacteristically undisciplined. At least that is the word some would use; I prefer to use words like structure, organization, commitment, etc. when I speak of my work and practice, my habits and lifestyle. In any event, it’s what I am, or am not, today. It is the day before I drive back to Vermont from my month’s relocation (another word I use instead of vacation which somehow signifies that I am still industrious, still doing something useful and not lounging around ineffectually – I guess).
Will I never learn? I counsel clients and write about the value of rest, recovery, regeneration. In my faith I strive to be silent, even if only for a few minutes. I read favorite writers who encourage me to do so – writers like Kathleen Norris and my newfound favorite Anna Quindlen. Yet I resist. At the hint of success, I become apologetic. But today I am giving myself over to mixed emotions that are wheeling around inside me like bumper cars in the boardwalk arcades of my childhood.
My to-do list is crowded: write my pieces for next week’s “Active Vermont” page, post a blog, do loads of laundry (but be careful of the whites that will turn orange with the rust in the water), pack a month’s worth of living on the rocky shores of an ocean Sound, clean and clean the cottage so there are no remaining footprints (or rather white hairs) from my two little old Jack Russells who have already indicated that they are as loathe to leave as I am, pick up trinkets for the kids and Christmas presents for friends, fill the gas tank, say goodbye to new friends, write thank you notes to old ones, take one last walk along the water and one final search for shells and seaglass.
I was meant to do a tempo training ride today. Not happenin’. It’s cool, overcast, windy and, most of all, I lack the motivation to do so. So my final ride for this summer as well as my final paddle are over. Missed already. I love to ride here. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to share these roads and surprisingly challenging hills with Teague and Tara or with my summer riding companions of Merrymeeting Wheelers out of Brunswick. Sometimes I ride alone but those rides, too, are satisfying and joyous. The roads here in mid-coast Maine are constantly being repaired and, though there is often no shoulder, it does not matter as the surface is good and drivers SLOW DOWN and observe the Maine 3’ safe passing LAW. The coincidence of good paving and considerate drivers is a blessing for which I am daily thankful.
Paddling is pure pleasure. We try to start in the morning before the wind picks up and often find ourselves heading out with the tide. Put-ins are plentiful if you look for them, and any starting point marks the beginning exploration of shoreline, cove, islands, rocky coasts, and a few beaches. Working dories and lobster boats, pricey pleasure and more pricey sailboats, a daily cruise boat from Portland and an authentic schooner (chartered) create my neighborhood as I remind myself with each stroke to engage my core, sit up and try to look like I know what I’m doing. I can’t resist pausing when I see a suspicious head in front of me that turns out to be a seal or to whip out my ever-present, waterproof camera to take a shot of a quaint cottage, a lobster buoy that catches the light, an osprey or once, and eagle. Today, however, I can only think about these things.
After saying goodbye to my husband who drove away this morning, I took the girls for a ride, or so I told myself. My car ended up parked in front of a store in downtown Brunswick and later at the tip of Bailey’s Island. Back at the cottage I unloaded my bags of goodies and realized that I wanted yet another cup of coffee and eat bagels loaded with peanut butter. (OK, I did stop at one organic, multigrain bagel topped with freshly ground almond butter from a wonderful natural foods market charmingly named Morning Glory.) I sat down to write and somehow ended up talking with my daughter and arranging shells and bits of sea glass that I have carefully collected over the past four weeks (paltry; how DO people find this stuff by the bag full?) and filling an antique replica glass jar to bring a bit of the coast home to my studio.
I think of my Maine friends: Sue, my favorite realtor anywhere; the owner of my cottage with whom I connect on important levels; the neighbor across from me who has the mind-bending job of working with the memory impaired and elders facing an already forgotten end; Jenn who tirelessly organizes and befriends each of us as cyclists and Pam. I just met Pam and she amazes me. There is no doubt that our paths were meant to cross. Pam exudes energy, generosity, kindness; a woman whose beliefs and trust have seen her through some tough times; a woman who does not shy away from very hard work or the needs of those around her, and, those around her happen to be her family. What a privilege it is for me to live briefly on the edges of an entire community that is comprised of various members residing somewhere on the proverbial family tree; a community that lives and works together and supports each other. (You might want to check her website: http://www.pamsmainewreaths.com. )
So I’ve given it up for today. The washer is going and my things are finding their way into piles to stuff into duffels and load up for an early departure tomorrow morning – but NOT until after I watch the dawn break over the Sound and have my morning coffee on the deck as the sun rises, watching the ducks dive for food and hearing the occasional slap of a fish who enters the water leaving expanding ripples on the surface. In a few hours I will walk the dogs along the shore of Potts Point as it juts into the ocean. I will go at low tide so they can walk on sand and not shoals. I’ll time it so that I can see the sunset and hope it will be a blazing orb quickly descending below the tree line on the opposite shore. I was here when the moon was spectacularly full. Now the last phase of it will appear late.
These are moments I will remember. I still rock slightly with the rhythm of my boat in the water. I hear the whirligig spin and watch the sailor in his yellow slicker row like mad to keep up. A distant buoy clangs, a hummingbird hurries past, a noisy squirrel sits in a tree next to the deck and taunts Lucy and Lola, the incoming tide splashes against the rocks and a snake that I do my best to avoid camps out on the steps to the dock when the sun is warming them. I did not read as much as I had planned, did not complete online courses that I hoped to finish, did not write or train more than absolutely necessary and did not really sleep late as I never wanted to miss fishermen in lobster boats motoring out to set traps. I did spend every possible minute outdoors, riding, paddling, walking, hiking and giving myself over to my family and the uncomplicated experience of being here. And why cannot I do that in Vermont? Vermont is the perfect bookend to Maine. Mountains of strength and spectacular beauty join an ocean of possibilities accompanied by reassurance that there is balance in the natural rhythms and continuous movement. Life between these two is sustained by heightened awareness, dreams to be dreamed and the promise of “thus far and no farther.” I CAN take it all home with me; take it home to be savored and shared; home to be lived and practiced; home to be loved; the essence of well-being.