An Earth Day blessing

Sometime when I’m walking
the breeze shifts, blowing from
the mouth of the universe
Whispered waves of indigo
and bluebonnet perfume
seeping into every pore
Lifting my heart into bliss and
flowing back to the sea of flowers
in a waterfall of love

Misty morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving the peace of this misty morning
fragrant with the scent of winter grass
Clouds, caressing the field
sail north on a balmy southern breeze

Raptors riding thermals,
seeking mice born underground
where roots are tingling
in anticipation of spring
Peeking over the horizon
whispering to seeds
waking from winter sleep

Flowers shrug off their drab shells
bursting into rainbows
Heeding the call to spring
and the promise of gentle rains

Sauntering the Austin Central Library

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Central Library, an evolutionary leap into the future of community reading and reflection.  To get the most from my visit, I walked from the hike and bike trail, a luxury I truly enjoy.

There is always construction in downtown Austin, an eager beaver metropolis bent on eliminating the very things that made it so delightful.  The new Central Library, however, is an investment in our collective soul.  It’s shiny and new, but mindful of our need to find a shared sanctuary.  This is  a cathedral of libraries, a stadium among warehouses. The reading rooms are varied, the design flows aesthetically and there are good reading nooks everywhere.

Art and music spaces and rooms to write and collaborate are sprinkled throughout. The Lance Letscher and the Armadillo Art Squad exhibits were authentically weird and brought back fond memories of great Austin eras in music and art.

With so many nooks and crannies to explore, the Austin Central Library is a perfect place to rediscover your joy in reading.  For many screen junkies, this will be a great way to fall in love with a good book and get off the endless cycle of bad news.  Saunter over, it’s a beautiful day.

 

 

What will catch the sauntering eye?

It’s impossible to resist the allure of a sunny autumn day, so I took my camera with me to the hike and bike trail at Ladybird Lake. Since you never know what will catch your eye, I started architecturally and flowed into the colors of fall vegetation. Rest in joy Chris, remembering your sweet smile and SRV tearing it up at Auditorium Shores.

Yachats, beautiful gem of the Oregon Coast

From Cannon Beach, I headed south to Yachats, often referred to as the Gem of the Oregon Coast. The beaches got rockier and towns dotting the coastline smaller and more picturesque.  Depoe Bay, where grey whales come to graze along the shoreline, is a magnet for tourists. I caught a glimpse of a whale back nearby and two spouts offshore, which I heard was a mother and her calf.

In Yachats, I stayed at the Fireside Motel, up close and personal with the spectacular, rocky ocean views that make the Cape Perpetua area such a draw.

You can’t have too many transporting moments on a nature trip. But, it was at the Drift Inn, while enjoying a rare offering of Mediterranean mushroom crepes, that I experienced that special feeling of connection. Maybe it was the waitress with the blue hair, the murals keeping it weird, or Richard Sharpless on guitar, but I felt a gemutlichkeit as I listened to the music and watched people of all ages and kinds enjoying a communal meal. Nothing like a warm, golden glow and friendly people to make your visit memorable.

Another beautiful sunset greeted me on my way back to the hotel.

The next morning I was off and sauntering, in search of tide pools and sea creatures. The wind rippling the water created some fabulous painterly effects, an unexpected bonus.

All in all a wonderful, rejuvenating jaunt. When one experiences major life changes, it always helps to pause, recenter and find your compass. Between the ocean’s roar, the towering forests and the gorgeous beaches, I found mine in resonance with the beauty of the Oregon Coast. I’ll be heading back, sauntering north along Washington’s Pacific Coast trail  and looking forward to taking the train into Vancouver.

The Rock of Ages

I didn’t really remember the Pacific Ocean’s booming, rowdy surf and immeasurable depth.  It’s very different from my usual haunts in the Gulf of Mexico. The vast horizontal embracing the towering vertical of mighty spruce trees resonates through the coastland in a deeply grounding spiritual wave.

This is what I came for – to put my tap root into the earth – to remember that I am.  My reset begins in Forest Park, on the way to the Oregon coast.

The drive to Cannon Beach on Hwy 26 is an easy ride, rolling through sun-dappled forests, reminding me of biking through the woods as a kid in Germany.  The breeze is cool, the forest fragrant with earth and the sap of evergreens, and the sun beams through the trees painting my skin with warm and cool stripes. The joy of being a kid – the energy, the excitement of discovery and delight – kindled a light in my bones that flowed out into the woods in waves of gratitude and love.

My first view of the beach in Seaside reminded me to play.

When I got to Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock was just outside my balcony. It is a beacon to people from all times and traditions. The ancient ones abide.

The moon rising over Haystack rock
the waves caressing the shore
bring me back to Center
where I am

Meditation in Portland’s Japanese Garden

So much green, lush old growth forest and elegant, unobtrusive meditation paths in Portland’s Japanese Garden park.  The Bonsai Garden is exquisite, with trees ranging in age from 35 to 500 years.  Beautiful.

Retired – surfing waves of time and change

http://sites.la.utexas.edu/utaustinsoc/2017/08/30/a-fond-farewell-to-my-beloved-community/I’m lucky. I retired from a community I loved when I was ready to with a basic monthly stipend.  After 21 years at the University of Texas (thirteen managing the graduate program in the Sociology department) I can now grow a business that I already started developing. This gives me direction, an opportunity to explore new social networks and collaborations (skills that I honed in my former job and the part I liked best).  Will I be as staunch an advocate for myself as I was for others? We’ll see. In the meantime, I am two weeks out and slowly unfolding in the immensity of space and time.

The day after I retired I was sitting on my back porch staring into a meadow of swaying, native grasses and tall clouds sailing a big, blue sky.  I was facing north, in the direction of the university and felt I was in a vacuum, like a tree that had been uprooted. I imagined my mind’s projections into all the relationships and collaborations, the structure of the yearly cycle, as roots torn from the earth. I had a frantic last few weeks, but this feeling of being bone tired was heavy with a feeling of loss.

So much of our identity is framed by “What do you do?” Loss of income, status and relevance can follow quickly, and suddenly we are no one.  While some cultures honor their elders, the good old USA values productivity, not wisdom. Extended family and friend networks help a lot; feeling useful is good at any age.

But why rush through an existential moment? The feeling that I’m a raft floating in an ocean of time will go away soon enough. I can let synchronicity be the current my raft will follow.  That spirit animated my youth, led me down many light and penumbral paths, to dreams that would foreshadow events or people who offered advice or an opportunity. With intuition as my guide, I can once again become a pilgrim in search of the wholly spirit.

I had such a moment while visiting the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center the other day.  Part of my plan is to encourage people of all ages to saunter, a reminder to see the beauty in the things that often go unnoticed.  Clearly, it’s something I go on and on about, so no problem making this my mission.  Connecting with the earth, resonating with the vibrancy of life in simple ways promotes well-being. Engage a child’s sense of discovery and let them lead the way. The fox boy I met on the trail agrees.

Synchronicity led me to the wildflower center, the first place I’ll volunteer.  It was not my plan, just looking for a good place to walk in Southwest Austin.  My camera and I are headed west in search of  . . . ? Let’s see what Portland and the Oregon Coast will bring.