Monthly Archives: September 2017

September 29 – Seasonal Prompts

by Marilea Rabasa

 

I love observing the seasons and the months they represent. They are the embodiment of the natural flow of life and a constant reminder of change and renewal.

I was a high school teacher for twenty years. Summers were times for me to breathe, relax, and get off the treadmill. Then in August the anxiety and excitement would build, as I felt hungry to return to school and start using my skills in the classroom again.

Just as our lives change and new routines replace old ones, our feelings about the months of the year change as well. Bright red chili festivals have replaced pumpkin cutting in the classroom for me. Life is never static, and I do well to remain open to new opportunities as they present themselves. Change is good. Change is very, very good.

Now, some months are times of remembrance. I’ve been retired for nearly a decade, and August/September has a new meaning for me. August 16 is the birthday of my mother, who died eight years ago. And August 23 is the birthday of my estranged daughter, Annie. But now I celebrate my granddaughter Emily’s birthday on August 9 by going to Seattle to see her. I never miss either of my granddaughters’ birthdays. In focusing on my blessings, I feel a sense of abundance every day.

September/October start to herald in autumn for me. In Albuquerque the leaves change color from the frosty night air. This is a welcome change from the oppressive heat of the summer. But here the leaves turn yellow, not the reds I used to see in New England.

In New Mexico, autumn is a gorgeous and productive lingering well past Thanksgiving. It’s harvest season and the farmer’s markets overflow with abundance from the ground. Many holidays come in autumn and on the cusp of winter. These are always poignant times of the year for me, but now more than ever they are times to take stock and savor all that I have.

Winter drops like a curtain, in some states more than others. A couple of weeks before Christmas, Mother Nature lowers the boom. Winter is bitter in the high desert. Where I live, there’s very little snow. Sandia Mountain, across the rift valley from my farmhouse, attracts all the “weather.” At nearly 6000 feet, the air is cold even with the sun shining, though the temperature rarely drops below freezing.

Winter rings in differently state to state. But universal, in the areas where cold weather does settle into our bones, is the wish to smell spring in the air.

Many of us enjoy watching the trees coming out of dormancy and preening like peacocks, their colorful buds in bloom. We thrill to see the first flowers peek up from the ground. And gradually, though differently from state to state, we see the resurgence of nature, in all its glory. It is the season of renewal, of new beginnings.

Life goes on, and we with it.

Marilea Rabasa is a retired teacher and the award-winning author of her first memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Her recovery blog is published at www.recoveryofthespirit.com. She and her partner have an orchard in New Mexico. Summers are for grandchildren and salt air at their home on an island in Puget Sound.

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September 12 – Just Lily and Me

by Susan Weidener

A beautiful sunny afternoon, the cicadas singing, and I am bathing Lily. She seems a little cowed when I pull out the hose and tie her up to the porch railing, bracing herself for the spray of water, the shampoo which I lather into her short caramel-colored fur. She looks at me as if to say, “why” and I tell her that it’s to get rid of the smell of something she’s rolled in―smelly dirt, maybe the remnant of a dead rabbit―and that it will be over soon and “you, my beauty will smell wonderful.”

She is the perfect dog for me after raising two strong-willed male children. Sweet, gentle, willing to do almost anything I ask. I had always wanted a yellow Lab, maybe after reading Old Yeller and having some sentimental version in my mind of what Labs are like―loyal, steadfast, a companion and protector―or in my case, protectress―until the end.

She is truly my dog. I don’t have to say I got her because the boys wanted a dog; they’re grown now. No, I wanted a dog for the love and companionship; to ease the loneliness of my life as a writer, a woman alone. And the thing is, with her by my side, I am never lonely.

She is also the smartest dog I’ve ever had. Chin up, ears perked, eyes alert, she listens to my every word and picks up on them right away: sit, listen, good girl, puppy dinner, let’s go for a walk, bedtime … and upstairs she bounds into my room.

I look at her now lying on the deck, drying in the August sunshine, one paw tucked under her chin, keeping an alert eye on her backyard for the errant squirrel or baby bunny that she loves to chase.

Lily and I bonded when she was just six weeks old.

A certain serendipity accompanied her entrance into my life at the tender age of sixty-three. Our black Lab, Lucy, had died just three months before. As I visited friends who had a sweet black Lab named Millie, their dog made me miss Lucy even more.

Lucy had been my son’s dog. She bonded early with him; dogs do that when they know who is responsible for them being there and it was Daniel who had begged me one spring day to go up to the middle school with him.

“Mom! The principal has Lab puppies in a laundry basket in his office and he is giving them away! Can we just go and look …” and at my slight frown … “please, Mom? Just look.”

Right. Famous last words.

About a week after the dinner with Marcia and Norm, the phone rang.

“You still looking for a yellow Lab puppy?” Marcia asked. And so, one phone call changed my life―and Lily’s.

I stroke her head, consider her expressive brown eyes. “What do you say, girl? Time to go inside and do a little writing?” Without hesitation, she follows.

Susan G. Weidener is a former staff writer with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written two memoirs and a novel based on a true story. She teaches memoir and fiction to adults and facilitates the Women’s Writing Circle in suburban Philadelphia. Susan lives with her yellow lab, Lily, in Chester Springs, PA. Find her online at http://www.susanweidener.com/