It has been a magical last week in the Berkshires. We have had hot, humid, firefly-twinkling weather interspersed with drenching rainfall, thunder and lightning. I have a renewed sense of purpose, an excitement building inside, new dreams and goals blossoming, and a firm conviction that I am meant to be here even as I leave for a few months.
I took a hike in Kennedy Park in Lenox after a rainy morning. I saw small, orange specks along the pathways, which turned out to be my darling, juicy companions all afternoon. I stopped a lady walking her dog to ask what they were, as my count had built up to 42 of the little creatures. “They are salamanders.” The ones I saw were anywhere from a half-inch to 3 inches, fat, skinny, speckled or not. I had to be careful not to step on them and squish them beneath my shoes and I was reminded of the preciousness of all life and how I learned about leaving a small footprint on the world back in Biodesign in high school (see One Touch of Nature). We went to the Mendocino Coast in CA and learned about the minuscule life in the tide pools. Our teacher was adamant about where we put our feet as we could be destroying whole cities with each step. Tread lightly is appropriate for the woods as well.
Overhead the birds were going crazy with a symphony of twittering and chirping, adding a woodpecker for percussion and a hooting owl for, well, hooting. What a day!
I have written a few times about author Edith Wharton’s mansion, The Mount (see Make believe meandering at the Mount), that is just down my street. Every Wednesday in the summer they have professional actors read her work on the lovely veranda. This week I read the short story Mrs. Manstey’s View to about 60 people on a beautiful, still day. The audience was attentive, my roommate was there snapping pictures (all of the beautiful Mount photos on this blog are the property of Meshell Bordeleau). It was a delight to perform again. A television station out of Boston was also filming a few clips for a segment they are doing on Berkshire cultural events. So it was a wonderful affair that made me feel doted on and praised for doing nothing more than reading aloud like I have done a million times with my own daughters. I would do that every day if I could!
Later in the week I was out for my daily neighborhood walk and I saw my 96-year-old neighbor, Larry, who also walks everyday. We always stop and chat and he is hard of hearing so I listen, nod and smile. He always says how walking is what has kept him alive this long. This week he added and “now I need sex” and I looked at him with eyes wide, giggled and responded “what?” He repeated, “I need sex.” In shock I pondered if this 96-year-old man could be propositioning me? Then it dawned on me that what he was actually saying was, “I am ninety-six”!!! I resumed my walk laughing out loud with relief that it was only my sassy mind, and not the soul of this sweet man, that was looking for action. Though who knows, maybe sex would be just the thing to keep him alive another 10 years!?
As I continued I saw a deer, a chipmunk, a baby bunny, and two beautifully striking yellow goldfinches. I danced to my iPod music and embarrassed myself as the UPS truck caught me mid-boogie. I just smiled and waved.
My world is so green right now, not only the physical space but emotionally as well.The bright verdant landscape and the animals seem to welcome me. I am burgeoning with ideas for my future and wrote out new goals for my next 20 years, after brainstorming dreamy ideas on a huge piece of butcher paper with colored pens.
At the end of my walk as I was 5 minutes from home the skies opened up and drenched me in a baptism of pouring rain. I felt washed and cleaned by Mother Nature and I remembered a few lines from the short story I had just read at the Mount…
It was raining, but even through the slanting gray gauze the scene had its charm-and then the rain was so good for the trees. She had noticed the day before that the ailanthus was growing dusty.
I had been growing dusty too, but the rain, the night sky, the fireflies, beautiful words, writing, singing, dancing, friends and animals have washed me and given me a shiny, squeaky glow. I picked a little forget-me-not growing wild along the street and wore it on my finger to remember these magical moments.
“Make one’s centre of life inside oneself, not selfishly or excludingly but with a kind of unassailable serenity — to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone.” Edith Wharton