In the Dead of Winter

I mentioned in my previous post that I have persistent thoughts of death in the winter. I don’t mind because I think it’s natural. Historically winter has universally been interpreted as the dead time of the year.

Every year I contemplate the lack of plant life and the hibernation of animals at this time, but more than that I think about human death. I tend to focus on loved ones who have passed on and re-mourn their loss. I would say that my definition of ghosts is the occurrence of re-experiencing someone or something that is gone so as to feel as though they are still present and further to feel the absence as a presence itself. To me ghosts are our own feelings. That’s why I think those ghost hunting shows are hilarious. Why hunt our own feelings? (Although a lot of us spend time doing it in therapy). And as an aside, how would the dead, who have moved on to a totally new reality, spend time here. Can you or I go back in time?

Anyway, I think about that every time I look at pictures or movies of people who are gone. I know they are gone yet it feels to me; it registers on my emotional scale as though they are still here. I couldn’t watch any of my favorite old movies if I viewed the actors as a bunch of corpses or ghosts. I was thinking about it today while I was listening to one of my favorite Curtis Mayfield songs. I could hear him inhale in the recording and yet he was not inhaling. The time of the recordings are “ghosts” themselves. That particular time of that song being sung that particular way is gone yet I am experiencing it now. Just as the plant life and animal life appear to be gone at this time of year yet we experience them anew but what feels like again in the spring, are we humans ever really gone as long as someone can re-experience us in some way? Ghosts, ghost images, ghost songs, ghost feelings. .. Ahh, but spring is less than a month away (March 20th).  The full snow moon is behind us and sunsets happen later now. As always, the added light prompts in me thoughts of new life. I hope it does in you as well.

Check Your Larder

I make sure I have my share

This winter has been mild where I live in the northeast. Although that’s cause for concern in terms of conditions come the spring and summer, we’ve had it easy compared to the residents of some parts of the U.S. northwest, southwest and Europe.

Still, I’m not a big fan of winter and this year is no exception.  The cold and lack of light weigh me down.  I was curious about the timing of Groundhog Day because of the whole prognostication of spring thing. Last week I looked into it’s history.  (I found a nice little article about it in mentalfloss.com.)  It evolved, in part, from so-called pagan observances as so many of our holidays do. Apparently it falls in between equinoxes, in mid-winter when ancient folk used to think about their food stores. They’d check to see if any critters were stirring. If so, they could breathe easy because it was a sign that the growing time was right around the corner. If not, they worried that they wouldn’t have enough food for what was left of a long winter, “Grandpa, get away from the root cellar. We can’t afford snacks!”

It all makes sense to me because I find myself thinking about food A LOT at this time. Maybe I reflexively follow the natural cycle, maybe it’s my body’s way of convincing me it needs some fat or maybe it’s a comfort device I use to relieve the discomfort of the persistent thoughts of death I have during the winter.  Whatever it is I’ve learned to make sure I have my share of food at the beginning of the season, indulge in hearty fare throughout, and check my larder right about now to make sure Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t make a fool out of me.

On my Recipes page I have added some dishes that are favorites of mine for winter health and happiness. Please check them out and enjoy!

Summer Meditation

I read “The Bow” this morning (please see 1st post 12/25/10) and then went for a walk. I just got back. It was wonderful and I want to share my thoughts without my usual two-day  editing process. So here goes…

Starting out with newly downloaded music dictating my stride.”Tinariwen” singing from “Water is Life”.

It’s the kind of July morning I wait for all year. The cloudless blue sky, the sun hot on my shoulders until I wipe them with dew from heavy, ivy leaves that cling to stone walls. What’s Nicki saying? “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.”

Smiling at the bunny gazing at a front yard garden contemplating “what to have, what to have….? Sharing the bunny smile with passing drivers who smile back. And sharing those smiles with dog walkers who really do look like their dogs. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.”

Reaching the cemetery I feel the pain it takes to put loved ones to rest and the love that remains.  Grief is the place in our hearts where those loved ones live and it’s good to know where that is. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” 

Geese fly low overhead and I suddenly realize, this is Yoga! I’m so grateful for this breathe. I’m grateful for all of it. I’m grateful that I continue the 20 year walk away from my demons. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” 

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And now a note about the music mentioned in this post. I enjoy exploring “world music”. Among many other great finds, this year I was introduced to the music of the Tuareg people of the Sahara. Tinariwen is a Tuareg band. (There is a song on my “I Saw God” playlist titled “Ansari”. It’s by the group Tartit. They are also a Tuareg band.) I strongly recommend checking the music out. It’s a great genre with a very interesting history. Although I was familiar with the music, I found out about Tinariwen through the organization “Playing for Change”. Their stated mission is “Connecting The World Through Music”. Please check the website, http://playingforchange.com. You’ll be amazed at the music you’ll discover. National Geographic also has a place on their website entirely dedicated to world music. The web address is worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com. Lastly, for those of you who haven’t already figured it out, the Nicki I refer to is Nicki Minaj, rapper extraordinaire, the song , “Moment 4 Life”.  The details on both references is on my Music page.

Peace and Love.

Moon Mania II

I guess I’ve been thinking about the moon because at this time of year it’s “going and coming” is so important to how we human beings mark cycles. (Maybe that’s why it seems so natural to me to factor the moon into my personal cycles.) For instance, Easter is next month. Do you know how the date of Easter is determined?  Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon date for that year. In June 325 C.E. astronomers approximated astronomical full moon dates for the Christian church, calling them Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. From 326 C.E., the PFM has always been the EFM date after March 20th (the vernal equinox date in 325 C.E.)

Today is the waxing gibbous moon. As I mentioned in my previous post, the best time to clean is right after the new moon but anytime during the waxing phases is good. Now, we could argue all day long about the need for clean. But to paraphrase character Marie Barone of the old “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV show who was speaking about those how argue against cleaning; you know who says that, people who don’t like to clean. And so you’re just going to have to give me that cleaning is good and I’m going to give you some great (organic/natural) cleaning recipes, applicable only if you’re the one responsible for cleaning where you live. Don’t blame me, blame Marie Barone and please go to the Recipe page.

Today is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. I remember the March I was introduced to Irish soda bread. I’ve put the story and the recipe on the Recipe page.

Spring starts this coming Sunday, March 20th . Although the moon doesn’t determine the seasons, the sun does, it’s worth noting that this month’s full moon is on Saturday. Spring equinox marks the first day of the spring season and the beginning of a long period of sunlight at the North Pole. In the northern hemisphere, usually March 20th, the sun crosses the equator moving northward. March 20th seems to be a circled on the moon and the sun’s calendars!  And spring is like that, isn’t it. The factors that were dormant or distant last month are acting on us at a fever pitch now. I can see it where I live. The crocuses are coming up and today marks the start of 12 hours of sunlight in my area. And oh, that moon. Is there anything more beautiful than a spring moon after a long day of sun? What a blessing! And that’s why I have moon mania.