Moving Forward

The Holiday season brings mixed emotions each year.  I imagine the longer one lives, the more mixed it becomes, as losses accumulate. Such is life.

Many years ago my mother passed just before Thanksgiving. Many more years ago my infant son died of crib death at three months of age, just before Christmas. The season can be redolent for me with memories of being very outside the circle of celebration that the world surrounds us with at this time of year. The memories become less weighty as time goes on as does the realization that the season can be viewed as a construct or a launching pad. It too will pass, so I try to enjoy and celebrate what feels real and ditch the rest that becomes cloying.

The annual acknowledgement and assessment of Time passing is sobering as well, but this year, looking back at memories has brought me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  The relationships I’ve managed to sustain have brought distinct pleasure and meaning to life.

With that in mind, I want to share with you one of the most joyful moments of my last year.  Of course, it has to do with dance.  For our last and past season of DANCEworks,Doug Varone revived “Lux,”an astonishing work that touched me deeply,created during an earlier DANCEworks residency.

It left me spellbound when I first saw it and continues to work its magic. I felt privileged to be able to commission it and am so happy to continue to share it, even if on a small screen.  I think it’s a tribute to our shared humanity.

LUXURIANT. LUX IS ALL ABOUT FREEDOM. IT IS WHAT DANCING REALLY FEELS LIKE, THE KIND OF DANCING I MIGHT DREAM ABOUT: LOOSE AND SWEEPING IN A SPIRIT OF EXULTATION. VARONE PUTS THE BEATING HEART AT THE CENTER OF HIS WORK. BEGINNING WITH VARONE’S MEDITATIVE, RESILIENT EXPLORATION OF THE SPACE AROUND HIM, LUX SEEMS TO PROGRESS TOWARD OPTIMISM, AS A PROJECTED MOON SLOWLY RISES ON THE BACKDROP, AND THE PERFORMERS TAKE PLEASURE IN THEIR RICHLY CONVIVIAL CELEBRATION. LUX SATES YOU WITH DANCING, BUT YOU’RE STILL RELUCTANT TO LEAVE THE FEAST. -THE WASHINGTON POST

I look forward to living in a kinder, gentler world again soon where we can treasure the earth that’s been given us and give it and its inhabitants the respect and love so deserved!

https://vimeo.com/50294427

Countryside Intoxication

It took me a few minutes to identify the intoxicating scent that was, frankly, intoxicating.  It was tea olive, or osmanthus, first encountered when we lived in Athens, Georgia.  It took me several days to figure out where it was coming from, because it’s an unremarkable shrub with a tiny flower with an extremely powerful fragrance.  The unexpected fall sweetness seems to say pay attention, soon the landscape will wither and you won’t be la dee da-ing through it.  You’re here for a special and brief time.

I rediscovered osmanthus while I was in Japan many autumns ago.  Here it was again, almost shouting that spring will come again and life is very sweet.

osmanthus

Yesterday, we strolled a small part of the oldest road in Japan.  Suddenly my nose was twitching again.  I soon discovered osmanthus, doing its thing, once again.  Now that I know what to look for, it wasn’t long before I found the source of the fragrance.  Bring it on!  Japan’s shrub has a yellow-orange flower rather than the white ones I originally discovered in Georgia.  The shrubs are more pervasive here as well, so that the scent can surround and seem to follow you.

Finding the trail, enjoying the scent.

After three hours of train rides and walks we finally found what we were looking for: The Yamanobe no michi trail !  Once again we had misjudged the amount of time it would take for us to find it.  I never could have found it on my own. My husband is generally undaunted by such challenges.

The online description was accurate in that the trail seemed far removed from the 21st century, but getting to it, was a bit complicated. Once we found it, the setting was dreamy, complete with scented air.

The rice harvest is now about half complete. Being out in the country in autumn, we were surrounded by rice fields and many persimmon orchards.  The recent rains have made the countryside lush and very green.

 

The entrance gate to Chokakuji Temple, established 824AD

We investigated the  ancient Chokakuji Temple just off the trail. The pathway up to the temple was lined with late blooming wild flowers.  A smiling monk ushered us into the small temple garden, and I gasped at the profusion and abundance in this small enchanting space.  It was unlike any other temple garden I’ve seen.  Deliberate design or a result of some neglect, I’m not sure, but you had to praise Mother Earth for her lush abundance, breathe deeply and attempt to take it all in.

Nature left to its own devices is  breathtaking in its vitality!

 

 

As usual, I slow to a snail’s pace when an environment in Japan catches my attention.  My husband breezes through these spaces at a more vigorous space, urging me to hurry up, because we “don’t have much time.”  I vacillate between wanting to tell him to get lost and awareness that he speaks the truth!  I reluctantly pick up the pace.

The countryside idyll

The trail leading from the temple became a dirt path flanked by rice fields and pomegranie orchards.  I pictured myself living in this gentle paradise, probably in an old farmhouse, brought up to date, of course.  My reverie was interrupted as the path incline grew steeper.  I reminded myself that approaching age 80 with chronic asthma meant that some daydreams were just plain ridiculous.  My immediate goal was to get to the top of the moderate sized hill, so I could then easily coast down the other side.

Disappearing Acts

A noun is the name of a person, place or thing.  A sock is an article of clothing pulled onto a foot. Why mention them together? They both seem to take joy in disappearing just when needed.  Add reading glasses to the mix too.  For many years, reading glasses and socks seemed twined in a disappearance conspiracy.  Sock learned the trick early on.  Reading glasses must have been a quick study, because one day, she pulled the same stunt, although obviously not in the washing machine. Even if bought in multiples, they all  cleverly figured out how to vanish at the same time. Somehow signals must have been sent to each other. Continue reading “Disappearing Acts”

Going Home!?

It was was dark outside.  All I could see were small clusters of lights as our plane came in to land, but I knew the unseen rural New England landscape well. In years past this landing meant I was coming home from college or in later years for a  visit with my ageing parents, my young children by my side.  Feelings now, as then, were a mixture of anticipation and melancholy.  The melancholy was from the recognition that time was closing in on the remaining time left between me and my parents. Those disturbing feelings are a visitor that accompanies advancing age, deepening recognition that the clock is ticking and adding a bittersweet quality to events that were once never given much thought.

cheesy dec

The empty airport concourse signalled immediately that no one would be there any longer for my homecoming. It had been decades ago, but happy images of my mother and father waiting for me remained alive, however impossible. The Christmas decorations on display looked a little cheesier to me than they had in my youth. Mounds of dirty snow were the only remainders of last week’s early snowstorm.  The cold air seemed colder than I’d remembered.  The winter coat I’d brought with me in defense of the cold warmed me, but felt heavy and oppressive.

I’d come to visit a dear relative who is being treated for a grave illness.  I was relieved to finally visit, but apprehensive too. Continue reading “Going Home!?”