Inspire. April.

Standard

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

– NIDO QUBEIN

As I contemplated this month’s Inspire post I began with the discovery of this quotation, which led me to the three photos that appear below.

I think this quotation is perfect for this time of year, especially in this second year of pandemic as things are slowly returning to some semblance of normal. Some of us have been lost in a fog of uncertainty and some of us remain in that fog as we await our turns for vaccines, for the return of jobs, the new rules for openings, community gatherings as it becomes safer, and yet, we still wear masks (as we should), we still wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitizer (as we absolutely should), we continue to maintain our distance (as we should), and we’re in a space of feeling the year is passing us by (again).

We need to look at our present circumstances, and then start.

The Easter season is upon us, spring is springing up all around us, Ramadan begins this evening. It’s as if a new year is dawning, and there’s no reason not to treat this time as a new year, setting goals, making choices, smelling the flowers on a few new paths.

The photos below are three places I never expected to be. Having taken the photos is proof that I was actually in those places, but to me it still remains extraordinary that I was actually, physically there. Gazing at these three photos show me the magic that can happen and the magic that is inherently in a place.

The first photo is of Glenariff Falls in Northern Ireland. We found it quite by accident while looking for a place to eat – there is a restaurant behind where I was standing to take the photo. What was remarkable is that our cousins had given us directions to this very place, only we hadn’t realized it until after we’d eaten and went to look for the falls they’d recommended. These woods have a fairy feel and there are reminders of fairies throughout them including in the falls themselves. It was very peaceful and soothing just standing and watching the water fall from the top.

Northern Ireland.
(c)2017-2021

This second photo is just a road sign; however I was glad to get it when we couldn’t get to the town. We were running late to get to our hotel, still about an hour or more away, and it was raining, and at the beginning of a trip we always think there is more time to return than there really is. The sign depicts the longest town name, shortened for the sign as: Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll; also known as LlanfairPG, but known in its full glory as:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrnwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Small town, long name.

Ynys Mon, North Wales.
(c)2017-2021

This last photo is of the Menai Suspension Bridge. We drove across it from the island of Angelsey (known as Ynys Mon in Welsh) to get to mainland Wales and on to our destination. When I traveled alone to Wales in 2009 this bridge was the source of my greatest anxiety. I had truly wanted to go to Angelsey; I had heard of its beauty and there was an ancient cairn that I wanted to visit, but I could not make myself drive over this bridge. I could see it from my hostel along the Menai Strait, and I thought about for the entire three days I stayed there. I’d walk out to the Promenade and stare at the water below the stone wall, and then stare down the strait at this bridge. Every time I thought I might I didn’t. I just couldn’t do it.

As with the ferry that got me to Wales in 2017, this bridge got me to the mainland where I could complete my pilgrimage. I wasn’t driving, but it was still a monumental achievement and it’s part of one of the places that I started.

This mid-April is another new starting point.

Menai Suspension Bridge, Ynys Mon to Bangor.
(c)2017-2021

March: Blustery, Green, Wet

Standard

​Blustery.

Green.

Wet.

No longer does March come in like a lion and out like a lamb. It is just as likely to come in like a lamb and go out like a a lion. What is happening with our climate and climate changes? Back in 1997, my son was born on March 21st. He had to stay in the hospital for a little less than two weeks, but while he was there, during the first week in April, we had what amounted to a blizzard. In April?

Last week in upstate New York it was seventy degrees. Two days ago it was fourteen. Today it is thirty-five. The sun is shining, the sky is blue after two days of rain, freezing rain and snow. I wear my capri pants year round now.

But despite the wind, the rain, the leftover snow, and of course, mud season, we think of March as green. It really isn’t, but it still has that perception. I think St. Patrick’s Day has a hand in that. We’re also wearing our bright colors before we have to don our duller and sullen Good Friday wear. Even for non-Christians, the feelings are there: attempted brightness and joy until we look outside and see the mud, the carnage in the snow. Right now, my backyard looks like a Bil Keane cartoon.

(c)2018


Courtesy of The Comic Journal, 2011. (c)Bil Keane, Jeff Keane, 2018


But after a couple of weeks of forgetting that February is over, and with the wind dying down, we plan our gardens, we don our green apparel, we prepare our palms and our matzo, and at the end of our holidays and feasts and prayers, we remember that spring always follows winter, and in twenty more days, we will have spring and I will have a twenty-one year old.

The climate may change, and we need to change with it, but the seasons will set their own agenda, and they will arrive like clockwork.

Blustery to green in twenty-one days.

17/52 – May

Standard

​May.

May Day, my mother’s birthday, Mother’s Day, visits to Grandma’s, Cinco de Mayo, Free Comic Book Day, my name saint’s feast day, retreats and writing, and the April showers have brought the May flowers.

As I get ready in the mornings, I look out the window. I like to check the sky and the breeze, and smell the fresh spring air. On many of these mornings, I’m reminded of one of the reasons that we bought our house, and that I do love many parts of it despite our buying and maintaining experience.

The beautiful garden.

Parts of it really come alive in May. May is when we looked at the house, before the lies and the problems that lie ahead. Our first view was of the forsythia trees in front of the house, the bread and butter hostas, the lilac tree in the expansive back yard. The smell of spring was everywhere. All the natural aspects of the house, the ones you can’t fake, you can’t improve other than weeding, what will remain indefinitely after the sellers leave and we stay in our new home.

The row of forsythia trees that line one side of our property in particular. The bloom opposite the pine trees on the street border. Along the upper garden are three other forsythia trees, not to mention the four in the front of the house. I call it the upper garden because it is a two tiered planting space that comes alive every year, hiding the broken pots and decaying fall leaves. We always mean to get rid of them, but fall turns into late fall, and the first snow envelops them in a pile of white fluff. The garden is separated by a small stone and slate boundary wall making it one of the more unusual gardens in our neighborhood.

We really do have a beautiful backyard.

The forsythias are blooming their bright yellow petals, and shine in the sunlight.

Adjacent to one of them is a lilac tree. It may be a bush, but it seems too tall to be a bush, and so I call it a tree.

At the moment, it is barely budding; the green poking out of the bare sticks of branches that will soon be weighed down heavily with the purple petals that gather themselves into natural bouquets.

It is the one time a year that I grab my chair and sit out in the backyard, close enough to smell the fragrance that is overpowering in its appeal.

I would estimate the purple, lilac color to begin in about two weeks.

May is most colorful and bright.

It will fill out the tree, and brighten the yard, but unfortunately will only be present for the month of May, maybe the first week of June.

I’ll go out with my camera, and post to Facebook and Instagram. I’ll look out of the window and smile every time my eye catches the hint of lilac color, and even though I’m far away from the tree itself, I can almost smell it.

So many senses alive, and to think it’s one little tree at the top of a two tier garden.

But it’s also May.

9-52 – March

Standard

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.

Except maybe this year. We’ve had some really warm weather. I stopped wearing a jacket and put on my warm weather capris. And then it was twenty degrees. At least I had my gloves. I can usually get away with just getting in and out of the car if I have my gloves and my snood to cover my neck.

My March has a full calendar.

My oldest baby turns twenty. Twenty!

I have several spiritual retreats that I am looking forward to participating in, including a weekend retreat with artist Brother Mickey McGrath, a wonderful inspiration and teacher.

Our parish is having a parish mission for lent, which I’ve never done before, so I’m very excited for that.

Daylight savings time, and spring are both coming.

This month is no longer than any of the other thirty-one day months, but it has always felt like the longest month. It seems to go on forever, and sometimes that’s okay, but sometimes I wish it would just end. There are also no school holidays in March so that may be where the feeling comes from.

March has only begun and it is here to stay.