Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Suburban Diary of an Autumnal Lady

"What did you see, Mom?" They're catching on pretty quickly, these children of mine. It's happened often enough now that they anticipate me. It used to be that I'd return from my walk around the pond with a merry holler, "Ask me what I saw!" They'd humor me by saying (in unison, the dears), "What did you see, Mom?"

But I don't need the intro anymore. They cut to the chase, they're ready to see through my eyes, to hear through my ears. "What did you see?!"

This simple routine has forced me to be more alert, appreciative, and sensitive to my environment, even though I usually walk the same route every day. It fascinates me that I still manage to see or hear something new virtually every time my Nikes step onto the wetland path. And so I walk in eager anticipation, ready to see, ready to hear.

As I walked the other day, my mind returned (as it often does) to the beautiful 1906 nature journal of Edith Holden, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. Her faithful recording of frequent jaunts through the English woodlands and hillsides along with stunning watercolor paintings of the flora and fauna she discovered along the way have been an inspiration to me ever since I first admired the volume on my friend's tea table. Several years ago I found my own copy, and I continue to bask in the loveliness of each page, finding delight throughout each season of the year.

So as I was walking, I found myself wishing I was an artist, wishing I could keep a journal of these little sights and sounds around our neighborhood pond which never cease to bring a thrill to my nature-loving heart. I can be slow at times, but it finally dawned on me (I think it was around pond lap three) that perhaps this journal didn't need to be created with a paintbrush and pen. Perhaps it could be created . . . with a blog. The posts could be brief . . . perhaps with a photo or two . . . a poem or verse here and there . . . yes, it could be my very own modern nature diary.

And so this journal began to take shape. The timing was perfect, really. My husband had been challenging each one of us to think about some goals we'd like to work toward over the new school year. Among my goals are a desire to spend more time outside and the determination to be more diligent about getting exercise (especially when winter hits). I'm hoping this space encourages me -- and even forces me at times -- to do that.

Further inspiration took hold of me when I casually referred to "my pond" as "The Lake of Shining Waters" in a facebook post the other day. (Anne of Green Gables devotees will recognize the name.) A friend sent me a quote that suited the occasion beautifully:

Everything in the landscape about them spoke of autumn. The Lake of Shining Waters was blue -- blue -- blue; not the changeful blue of spring, nor the pale azure of summer, but a clear, steadfast, serene blue, as if the water were past all moods and tenses of emotion and had settled down to a tranquillity unbroken by fickle dreams.
~Anne of the Island~

Part of the beauty and hope in this struck me quite personally. Just a ripple or two more on the pond and I'll be forty. I sense that this means I'm moving toward the autumn of my life. But I'm okay with that. You see, I want to be like the autumnal Lake of Shining Waters: clear, steadfast, serene, settled, tranquil. I want the autumn of my life to be characterized by a peaceful, beautiful spirit of joyful contentment . . . even if the winds are whipping about me, even if the days are grey, even if the skies are dumping buckets.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee.
S.T. Coleridge 

Again, I'm hoping this space encourages me to do that. I'm hoping it reminds me to chase the beauty, to gaze in awe at the glistening tokens nestled in the common, to keenly discern the reassuring murmurs in the overpowering tumult.

I read a poem once that resonated with this desire. I can't find the source (please tell me if you know where it comes from -- google has failed me), but it somehow stayed with me and became the theme of this blog:

Whether you look
Or whether you listen,
You hear life murmur,
Or see it glisten.

And so I'm off to look and listen, to seek joy in the discovery and contentment in each season's rhythms, to delight in the things of our Creator which ever so faithfully "murmur and glisten."

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