We were driving to the coast a couple of weeks ago. There are a few different routes we could take and since my husband and I differ in our choice of the ‘best’ way, we tend to go one way and come home another. The thing about living so far from a major highway means there are a lot of miles to cover on country roads. Although I wished we lived in a place where we didn’t have to travel an hour and a half to get to a road that would take us somewhere, one of the aspects of this situation is the space it allows for transition between the country and somewhere busier. That time and distance allow the space to prepare.
The other thing I like about all the distance on the country roads is the sense of a time that has passed. A glimpse of memory of a time when life wasn’t moving so quickly. You are given these snapshots in time.
On our recent trip, we drove past a derelict looking entrance to what I can only assume was a rather large estate. In its time, this entrance would have been grand. And it would have signified something. It would have been a welcoming onto a property worthy of its craftsmanship.
You couldn't see the estate from the road so I have no idea whether the grandeur of the estate went any further, or deeper, then the entrance. But I imagine the house and grounds matched what the entrance suggested.
South Coast boat (c) 2013
First day of autumn. And with it - rain. All through the night. Such a welcomed sight, sound, smell. In between the gusts of wind and shaking leaves, a collective sigh can be heard. A kind of 'ahhhh' as the water soaks into the trees, flowers and earth.
The temperature has also dropped. Being a born and bred New Englander, I don't go much by the southern hemisphere's idea of seasonal change dates. Here, the new seasons are heralded in on the 1st 's- 1 June; 1 September; 1 December; and 1 March - autumn. In my bones I know the seasons change on equinox and solstice dates. So when people here say things like, 'This isn't much of a day for the first day of summer!' I hold my tongue and think, 'Give it three weeks.'
Old timers in the parts where I grew up used to say that if you look at the weather on the equinox, you will get an idea of prevailing weather for the next six months. I have got to say, the times I took note of this, it proved eerily accurate. What no one wanted to see on March 21 or September 21 was the weather blowing a strong nor'easterly gale. The old timers also used to say that winter wouldn't come until the ponds were full. In other words, if there wasn't sufficient autumn rain, then the winter would be mild. Another observation which proved its truth many times.
These bits of Yankee wisdom were told to me by old timers who lived their lives on a small island, 14 miles to sea. There is a reason why talking about weather is a commonality - it is something we all live with every day. And when you live in a small community, buffeted by weather, wind and tides, you develop keen observational skills. The weather determines your livelihood. We come from agrarian societies - the weather meant feast or famine. Being able to read the weather patterns, and intuit what they meant, could be the difference between life and death.
We live now in a society where other people tell us what the weather is. Sometimes, listening to their forecasts, you have to wonder if they have windows to the outside or if they have ventured out of doors. They rely on computer mapping to tell them what's coming, instead of their senses, memory and intuition.
Sound familiar? Sometimes we can get so far from our own selves that we believe what others tell us instead of what we intuitively see, feel and know to be true - in our bones.
The old timers didn't have the technology we have today. Yet I would listen to their observations every time over what a weather report on TV might tell me. They listened and felt what was going on around them. They were connected to nature and to community. They took the time to listen and observe. And those skills allowed them to sense things 'in their bones'. They put trust in what their surroundings were telling them.
We have had a very hot and dry summer and throughout it all my husband has been saying, at least once a week, 'I think we could be in for a cold winter.' To which I think, 'Yeah. Not going to happen unless we get rain.' So, as I sit here on the first day of autumn (southern hemisphere time) and the weather is cool, blowing a gale and raining, I think it could very well be a cold winter. And I am thankful for my husband's persistence in getting us set up - there is already wood in the shed and a new, hopefully warmer and more efficient, wood stove waiting for installation.
I will be noticing the weather again on the equinox but for now, I am listening to my intuition which is saying, 'My husband might just be right...'.
Bright blessings for this transition between seasons. Remember that all you need to know is within you, if you are able to still the mind and listen. If you are feeling out of touch with this, step outside. Immerse yourself in nature. It will help you to hear and feel what you need to know. It will ground you back into your body; back into your intuitive self. Happy autumn/spring.
My idea of home is tricky at the best of times. I live in one place, in the southern hemisphere, while having a place in the northern hemisphere which can pull strongly on me. I was born to this place in the north, and it is my heartland. But I choose to live in Australia because I love it and it has always felt like home. It's tricky having two places which I call home because they are mutually exclusive - opposite sides of the world sees to that. And I don't imagine I will ever be able to live in one place and not be homesick, at least on occasion, for the other place.
It is to this latest bout of homesickness that I now find myself shrouded in fog. And I am feeling my way through how similar fog and homesickness can be.
I arrive in America this time in the dark. The morning after arrival, I head to the ferry, which will take us passengers to the little island I call home. We embark in fog; sail through fog; disembark in fog. I think if I didn't know this place intimately, I would find I don't like it. It's uncomfortable, this fog. Not being able to see more than a few yards in front of me requires an immense amount of trust. I really have to trust my own navigational skills and trust that there isn't harm, just out of view. And depending on where my head is mentally, this can either be liberating or inhibiting. Will I trust my safety? Or fear unseen dangers? It doesn't take much to tip it either way.
One day, then a second day, of fog and I start to question myself. It's hard to gain clarity when you can't see the path. From experience I know the path is there but do I want to fight my fears to feel safe to walk it?
And then, in a New England minute, the fog rolls away and the most divine and glorious day is unveiled. I breathe a joyous sigh of relief. I can move forward with a sense of direction. There are wide expanses before me and so many directions I can't count. Everything is possible. That night, the sky is filled with a million stars I can't see most of the year. All is well and I am so happy to be home.
The next morning, the fog is back. And while it's still wonderful to be here, it's not as wonderful. Being in fog can be very disorienting. From experience, you know where things are - certain landmarks, for example. But you can't see them. It's back to trust. Trusting yourself and your own memory and intuition to guide you.
And it's a bit like homesickness. Needing to see those people and places that you remember, but time and space have relegated to foggy recesses. You know they are there, but just out of sight and reach. For me, it's about trusting that beneath the fog there is always a glorious day. If I can trust that, I can enjoy the beauty and stillness of the foggy days.