Monday, September 27, 2010

The First and Last Morning of Vacation

(Enjoy two simple vacation stories, bookends of sorts, which despite their mixed verb tenses carry much meaning. Sandwiched in between was backpacking in the Grand Canyon and that's another story.)

The first morning of vacation I came outside early hoping to find 'my' chair at Sky Ranch Lodge empty. For several visits I've made my way to a willow chair on the grounds where I can usually get in-sync writing wise and find the rhythm that often eludes me during vacation thanks to beds, bathrooms and coffee pots that aren't mine as well as living from a suitcase.

Outside our room was a cluster of evergreens and just beyond them the hot tub where I finally succeeded at Bean Sight after having failed miserably on the flight out. (That's another story.)

The evening prior we sat in the hot tub hoping to wash away jet lag as well as reminiscing about the desert quail we'd previously seen as they ritually made their way to the largest shrub in the cluster. I wondered if they were still on the grounds.

Previously the quail arrived at dusk. They'd waddle walk single file to the base of the shrub where each would then give a hop to the first limb. The shrub would shimmy as an entire group of quail made their way up the staircase of limbs before nestling in for the night.

The first morning of vacation I rushed out the door determined to find 'my' chair. Instead I noticed the shrub trembling and heard the familiar staccato sounding like shy hiccuping sopranos warming up.

Then the ritual began. One at a time they hopped from bed, sixteen of them, in the shrub to the ground where they congregated before making their way to another part of the motel grounds.

Earlier in the week while still in Nashville, I heard my friend Ernestine visiting from NYC impromptuly sing a song from the Seventies (I think) that included the line: "Everything changes."

As I sat, not in my anticipated chair, but in the perfect one from which to be mesmerized by the desert quails descent that song came to mind. Everything does change except as the lyrics go: "...the sun in the sky and the rain that falls."

And at least for now I would add the desert quail who find protection and rest in the evergreen at Sky Ranch Lodge. Theirs is a deeper ritual that touched my rhythm and magically overrode my physical discomfort, allowing me to sink into the Present without ever making it to 'my' chair.

Amidst life's inevitable changes, Nature's rhythms weave quiet threads through our lives providing a constancy of pattern and ritual, a haven of renewal if we're listening and watching. That Shift is all around us. See. Hear.

The Last Morning of Vacation
The last morning of vacation I came to my chair, the one I started in search of the first morning, the one in which I've spent many mornings over the years.

while in the Canyon, I sat in this chair each day last week as the sun
its trek across the sky. As in prior visits, I photographed the nearby cactus with which I'm mesmerized and watched the birds feed under the juniper as curious bunnies came around me.

Unlike prior visits, I came to this particular spot on my last morning to express gratitude for this literal place on Earth where this chair, tree and cactus still stand (testament to other things that haven't changed). I had previously not consciously held intention this deeply when sitting in the chair.

Unfortunately this morning I found an addition to my spot - a tour bus awaiting its guests with an engine idling. While moving from bench to bench, distancing myself from the noise and fumes not to mention my chair, I hoped to enjoy the sky just the same. I then realized I do not do my sitting ritual even in Sedona for the sky view. Although I tried to find another place where the constant grumbling, mumbling of the engine was less, I realized I must return to my spot. No, I wanted to return to my spot, the spot to which I am accustomed, in which I feel connected, to offer gratitude to the cactus, tree, animals and yes, the chair. Last year there were two chairs. This year there's one, a reminder of yes, change.

I nearly allowed a tour bus to steal from me my ritual and this place of stillness, within and without. The noise represented everything that distracts me or causes me to disconnect, to forget how grateful I am to be walking Earth as well as Earth's gratitude that I am here.

So I began my ritual. I said 'thank you' to each plant around me while feeling a reciprocity between this circle of living things and me. I needed them as they needed me. They reminded me of the importance of the internal, of the stillness that comes through staying present and connected while I hopefully reminded them they are noticed and loved.

And now I am many miles away in yet another chair writing, grateful to be connected here as I was there to all around me, sleeping cat in my lap, papers strewn about, hands and heart busily wanting to convey Mother Earth desires our gratitude.

Practice gratefulness this moment, today.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse - 27 Sept. 2010

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