Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Mountains - Colorful!

We are not officially moved into the house in Farmington.  It happens this weekend.  And the house isn't officially ready for us.  We'll be living in a construction zone for a bit longer once we are moved in.  But Dave has done an amazing job, worked his buns off to get this place torn apart, insulated, new plumbing, wiring, windows and pulled together so we'll be able to call this new house a home.

Mt. Katadhin (not the new home, but gorgeous still)
We still drive the thirty minute commute from the Belgrade area towards Farmington.  There are a few heights of land along this commute where this western mountain range spreads out in front of us offering an expansive view of our new home.  The other morning we left early and as we were driving to the house the sun was cresting the horizon behind us.  There had been the first real snow storm of the season the night before so everything was sugar coated and glistening.  And the purple mountains in front of us were turning a rosy pink with the rising sun.  Every branch and blade of grass also was reflecting this morning light and glowing in the most beautiful hues of pale pinks and rose.

Such amazing color!

Farmington is a small town with a population of about 7,760 (2010), but it boasts a great deal of activity with the University commanding a high profile in the town and a busy and robust downtown (OK, so "downtown" is only a couple blocks long!).  But it's the people of this little town that drew Dave and I here.  They are warm, open, inviting and excited to have us moving into their village.  There is a diverse group of folks up here; some old hippies who moved here in the '70's and never left, carving a niche out of these hills for themselves and continuing to show up in town looking like .. well, old hippies.  There are white collar business people who are dressed in suits and ties and, before the snow, dresses and high heels and students bustling to and from classes.   There is also wonderful community of fabulous artists of potters, sculptures, woodworkers, painters and photographers who have several different venues here to display their crafts.

This array of so many types of people in a small town makes for a very colorful population and diverse community!

We'll be moving into the house just before Christmas this year.  As you know, I love the Christmas season of singing carols, gathering with friends and family, the festive parties and the display of lights that brighten homes as I drive the commute in the evenings.  I use to find the light choices in my town of Falmouth to be a bit on the boring side;  everyone had white candle lights in the windows, white lights on their shrubs, and white spot lights hitting the wreaths on the doors.  I admit to having put only white lights up on my house down there too.  But last year I began to bust out of this paradigm and went  radical ... with colored lights!

Up here the "tasteful white lights" are few and far between.  Here the people go for color!  And they don't care what they put these lights on or around as long as they are visible and very colorful.  To date I have seen lights strung around a bench, a large boulder (I'm not kidding), children and small dogs (I might be kidding) and what appears to be tossed up onto the roof where the lights lay in a clump ... but still very colorful.  Some houses are outlined along the roof, doors and windows with wonderful colors that blink and flash and are horribly gaudy ... I love it!  And there was a fascinating nativity scene that I spied as we traveled along these back roads one day.  I got a glimpse of the half moon arrangement of a plastic Mary and Joseph as well as a Rudolph and Santa a caroler and what might have been an elf.  And I'm not sure but I think baby Jesus might have been a reclining Frosty the Snowman ... but I could be wrong about this.


The light is different in the mountains too.    Light across the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean is reflected by the mood of that great body of water.  It might be gray or a vibrant blue, glistening and refracted.  Here, the light is held on the tops of the distant peaks, or spilling into the valleys as the mountains hold back the black storm clouds so the valleys are flooded with the golden light of the sun rays bursting through those black clouds.  Oh, it's hard to capture it with words.  But it's different. And I find myself just soaking it in and feeling really good about being in this whole new light.

Many folks have asked me about crows.  Yes, there are crows here.  But there are far more raven families.  Ravens are really big birds!  And their call is a guttural "gawk" verses the distinctive "caw" of the crow.  There is a family of crows that I hear around the new house in Farmington, but I probably won't invite them to the backyard.  I'll wait until we find our acreage and build our house with fewer neighbors.  If there are crows or ravens in this new place I will ask the family to adopt me then.  I miss my Falmouth crows, but I hear they are well and still very much a presence in that 'hood.

In addition,  there are a lot of Bald Eagles up here in these hills.  I may not see them daily, but I certainly see them frequently.  Usually along the river.  I have yet to determine how many mated pairs we may have but I look forward to watching for them.  When I do sight them I find myself gasping in awe and I will send a silent prayer to the Gods whenever I see them;

"they carry the prayers up; they hear and see the help that's needed; they see real clear man, they see almost right through you.  They're looking at your soul, not your body..."
Stanford Addison, Arapahoe medicine man.

I feel I need to ask for less help these days.  I feel very supported, loved and blessed.  And I'm excited about starting the new year in a new home and adding my own colorful hues to this new community.

Let the next adventure begin!

Loving you all back,

View from Mt. Abraham

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks Giving

Another tequila sunrise
I recently revisited an article that a Hospice nurse had written.  She compiled the five most common things said when a person is close to their death.  I won't list them here, but certainly we all know that "no one has ever said they wished they spent more time at the office".  And indeed, this was one regret that was shared by, not surprising, most men.  They regretted not spending more time with their children and feel they missed out on all the most important moments in the life stages in their children's lives.

But the one that really struck me was that many people said they wished they had chosen to be happy.  Really?  As though, in this final moment here on this earth, all these people recognized that happiness is a choice.  One can simply choose to be happy.

From the day I met Dave he had told me "I choose to be happy for the rest of this life."  And these are not empty words for him; he truly does wake up with a smile (most days) and tends to turn the bad in his day around and finds the positive in it.  He chooses, every day, to be happy.

I love him for this.

I have never stated it this way, but I realize that I am a person who also chooses to be happy. I have always labeled it "grateful."  Because I truly am grateful for so much in my life and in my every day.  And it is this attitude that seems to allow for the worst experience to become an opportunity for growth.  The little shitty things in the day become a "test" ... "OK Mary, you going to cave to this shitty little thing or you gonna take this and understand what's in it for you?" ... and with this decision, to take the bad as a chance to recognize my mistake, I try to grow from it.  This, in many ways, is choosing to be happy,  because ultimately that shitty little thing has become something to be grateful for as I navigate the "test" and move on.  The belief that things happen for a reason opens a whole new approach to the negative.

I just need to state that I understand I am blessed because I have the ability and the resources to be able to look at my life like this.  There are those who walk among us who have been dealt a lousy hand in their life. I never take for granted all that I have.

On this eve of Thanksgiving day I hear many people stating what it is they are thankful for.  I know that no one feels this only one day in the entire year, but it's not such a bad thing to take this long weekend and really note what it is we are grateful for, happy for, in ones life.

And so, I'm going to share just a few of the things on my gratitude list today:

Today, I'm glad it's raining.  It's pouring actually.  A part of me wishes it was snow, but that makes traveling treacherous for everyone.  And because it's so miserable out there I really don't feel the need to go for a trail run ... my knee is hurting me anyway and needs the rest.  So this rain gives me the permission I need today to take it easy.  I can stay inside and bake and cook my contributions for the family feast tomorrow.

I'm grateful for this little thirteen year old dog who is smelly and has ugly fatty tumors popping out more and more.  Who has a lot of joint pain and moves slow and hobbles across the room at times.  But she has been here for me through some of my darkest days.  And even now, as arthritic and crippled as she is, if I ask her to go for a walk she lights up and with a big smile she will journey out with me down this camp road.  I have needed her company on some of these days, and she offers it freely with no conditions.

The last few days I have been a bit .... shall we say, moody?  There is much in my life to be moody about; feeling a bit homeless and out of sorts with the house still under construction, trying to navigate the wishes and routines of working within the practice of  another person after running my own private practice by myself for 16 years, not being able to find anything when I want/need it.  But this morning I also realized that some of this sadness is, once again, related to Jim.  He creeps in when I'm not really expecting it.  This morning it's been nice to label it as, "OH! the grief beast is here again!" And I know it's OK, it's OK to still grieve the loss of this man.  But today I am also incredibly grateful to him.  He taught me how to really love.  He showed me that it didn't have to be perfect, or pretty, but if it was honest and open then love would thrive.  And because he taught me how to love another human being so deeply and completely I was able to recognize it when it knocked on my door this second time.  I knew what I should feel when I told another person, "I love you".  And I am so grateful for this, and to know that I did not turn away from this gift of Dave Lovejoy who has walked into my life and understood that he and I could choose happiness for the rest of these days we have together.

I'm grateful that I have never bowed to what "should be done", and always listened to my own spirits calling.   And today, thanks to Jim, I live by the code, "no regrets."  When I know these days are done for me I want to be able to look back on it all and know that I took that risk, I said yes more than no, I played as much as I worked, I stopped and took the time to connect with others and that I chose to be happy.

Today, if more tears should fall, I will be grateful for them, for all that they mean to me and all the love that flows with them.

Perhaps being happy really is a choice we can make.  And, perhaps, it really is this simple.

Loving you all back ... and be safe in any travels you embark on today,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Lake

Sunset, Great Pond
I have not spent much time on lakes except to be invited to go "upta camp" in the summers with friends who have camps on the various lakes in Maine.  I love the feel of swimming in fresh water .. it's silky flow through the hands, it's bathwater temperature and the fact that you don't have to shower after swimming in fresh water; there's no salt, stickiness to flush away down the drain.

When I was young I would go to the lake with the family sometimes and delight in leaping off a dock, inspecting the outrageously huge dock spiders and cringe thinking there were snapping turtles somewhere beneath me.  Times when a boat would pass by close to shore the other kids swimming would leap up shouting, "A WAVE! A WAVE!".  I would stand up perplexed ... where was the wave? This was a young girl who had learned to body surf before she learned to swim.  I'm sure in today's world this could be considered some kind of child abuse, but the fact was, my dad was an amazing body surfer and taught all 5 of us the joys of catching that wave and riding it all the way to beach .. until your nose scraped the sand!  So when the wake of a passing boat went by I found it a tad difficult to get excited about "the wave!".

Sunrise on Great Pond
This fall we have been living here at the camp on Great Pond, and I am gaining a whole new awareness of the changes of this landlocked body of water and all it's flora and fauna.  The sun climbs over a distant hill and ignites the sky in the early  morning with fuchsia colored clouds, while the tall pines on the distant knoll stand  back lit and silhouetted by this amazing morning light.  In the evenings we get the reflection of the setting sun behind us bouncing off those hills with the pines turning bronze and gold.  There have been more than one time when in mid-conversation with someone on the deck I have had to stop and just proclaim, "OH! WOW!"  and  all conversations would stop while we all  looked out over the water and watched the day recede in a brilliant display of changing colors.

Unlike the ocean the surface of a lake is not in constant motion; it's at the whim of the wind.  Yesterday I looked out and saw white caps on the water and realized the wind was blowing a gale.  In this little inlet the trees weren't really moving much, but the white caps told me there was a mighty wind out there.  A few hours later the caps were gone and the lake's surface was calming down.  By the time the sunset the water was like glass and reflected the rising moon as a perfect mirror image.  I have loved watching the moon through her cycles on this lake.  With no streetlights here or neighbors who must "light the night" with their porch lights burning all night long the moon's silver light flows across the water and seeps onto the floors of the cabin.  I wake frequently, just to see the moon dance.

I wrote about the Loons call in my blog, Wildness, on June 11.  Spending three seasons on this lake I have come to appreciate the many voices of the Loon.  Their communication system is as intricate as my family of Crows that I fed, observed and loved down in Falmouth.  Last spring Dave and I came up to the lake to open the camp for his mother's arrival.  We decided to spend the night, a little get away for us back then.  Late that night I was unable to sleep so I hauled pants over my sleeping shorts and walked out to the point.  I sat gazing at the reflected image of the stars in the lake; tiny fire crackers of light above and below me ... and I heard it ... a Loon?  But it sounded so different, the call was not the lilting, octave break of a Loon.  It was deep, guttural, masculine and aggressive.  The males come in to the lakes first in order to establish territory and wait for the ladies to arrive later.  This was the males territorial voice I was hearing!

During the summer there is that haunting sound as the mated pair talk to each other through-out the day and night.  And I now recognize how that song becomes a warning screech if a boat comes too close to the nest or the young one is separated from the parent.  Late summer we began to hear the call over head, not from the surface of the lake!  It appeared that the Loons were testing their wings and helping the fledglings get stronger for the winter migration to the sea.  They would fly past the camp for short distances at first, lengthening this flight over the course of a few weeks.  I could swear the call of the Loon over head as it passed was joyous as this water bird took to the air and spread it's wings .. literally .. again.

This morning the lake is steaming, warning of the colder air temperature as winds from the North begin to descend on us, bringing winters first frosty breath.  We will be moved out of this cabin by the time the lake has frozen.  Moving to a small and intimate town in the mountains.  I'm looking forward to this next step.  It's time.  It's time to take on this whole new life.  It's time to be in the mountains that will become my back yard now.

Sugarloaf Mountain
It's time.

Loving you all back,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I've found myself thinking a lot about this transition I've leaped into and how it has me experiencing life in three distinct ecosystems ... all beautiful but very different; the ocean, the lake and soon, the mountains.


Having grown up on the beach there are sounds and smells that instantly take me back to the care-free days of being a little girl in the summer.  The cry of a seagull that ricochets  off the buildings and careens down streets of the Old Port in Portland.   Storms on the ocean were never just wind and rain, there was always the background noise of crashing waves against the rocks or the sucking and tinkling sound of those storm waves receding from the beach as they drag sand and beach stones with them.

After these big fall or winter storms the beach would be carpeted with  Surf, or Hen, clams that had been hauled out of their deep-sandy holes just off shore only to be thrown up onto the beach and abandoned as the tide pulled away.  At those times my siblings and I would head down to the beach with plastic white and blue buckets banging against our shins as we picked these clams, the size of a diary farmer's hands, from the sand, inspecting them for their liveliness (if they pull their shell closed tight when lifted they're still very much alive) and drop them into our buckets, leaving the dead ones for the gulls who skittered ahead of us.  Taking our prizes home we'd wash them as best we could, dad and my brother would shuck them and mom would make them into clam chowder.  This is a very big, tough clam so they are only good if chopped up fine and put into that stewing broth of milk, butter, and potatoes.  

The Maine coast has it's own unique smell.  The west coast beaches do not have this ripe, salty-brine aroma to them.  I don't know what it is, the cold waters harboring more life and thus more decay at their low tides?  Maybe.  But that smell of rotting seaweed is so sweet to me,  so much a part of beach combing, body surfing and long walks on the beach.  Many years ago my good friend from Boston, who went to acupuncture school with me, moved up to Portland to begin her practice in the same office suite with me.  Rather than being competitors we were a wonderful support system to each other as we learned how to market and grow a private practice.  Nancy found a little cottage on "my" beach  where we would frequently meet to go for walks together.  One day after a big storm there was a lot of detritus left rotting after a particularly low tide.  Nancy gagged and said, "God, that is such a horrible smell!"  This might have been the first time I realized that not everyone likes the smell of rotting seaweed! 

Or the time she and I were walking that beach in a pea-soup fog, unable to see more that 2 steps ahead of ourselves.  With the tide low we couldn't see the houses that sit high in the sand dunes, nor could we see the waves that we could hear lapping somewhere off to our left.  There were no landmarks of any kind.  I told her how much I have always loved walking in the fog on a beach at low tide, without the ability to see forward or backward it was really a moment of being very present; unable to see the future or what lies ahead and equally blind to where we had just come from, thus no past behind us.  The only thing that existed in the gray mist was just her and I and the next step taken in the sand.

I'm trying to be present like this now as Dave and I work on renovating this big, old house, as I enter into an established practice that belongs to another acupuncturist, as we live beside the lake and commute thirty minutes to and from our small town in the mountains.  Unable to see the future we keep taking steps without any land marks to guide us, just our own knowing that this is the right direction for us to be going in.

Loving you all back,

To be continued ... THE LAKE

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Wedding

Dave's niece made our wedding cake.
The wedding was September 13th.   A Friday.  Yup, Friday the 13th.
But as my good friend, Eva, told me, "NEVER be afraid of the number 13!   One plus three equals four and four is the most stable number in the Universe; 4 legs to a table or chair, 4 compass directions of our earth."
I liked her reasoning ... and the fact that she was one of a few people who didn't make a negative comment about this date.

Besides, it's my sisters birthday and she has had several Friday birthdays in her life time and she's not an unlucky person at all!

Though, it did rain.  Poured actually!

For those of you who don't know Dave, he's a very accomplished outdoors man.  He has the ability to make everyone camping with him comfortable at the campsite, so the boy is fabulous at putting up a good tarp.  He is known in his circle as "the tarp master".

So, with the help from his brother, Steve,  Dave put a tarp over the deck where we were to be married and we had white umbrellas for those who couldn't fit under the tarp.  It was actually pretty sweet.  And quite honestly, Dave and I never really noticed the rain.  Our reception was to be the next day.  With, possibly, 200 people attending.   I felt that if it had to rain it was far better that it happen on the wedding day and not on our party day.  And it was beautiful on Saturday September 14th.  Thank heavens!

Dave and I had agreed we didn't need the traditional maid of honor or best man.  We just wanted the ceremony to be us, our friend (who is a minister), Bill Gregory, and witnessed by our families.   But, between the two of us we have five grandnieces,  so we decided to have five flower girls!  I spoke with the families about our wishes and everyone agreed that this would be wonderful.  The girls could wear whatever was their favorite dresses, there was no color theme.  My oldest grandniece, Linnea, wore her "flower girl" dress to the family Easter gathering last April and let it be known that this wonderful white, full-skirted-satin-sash dress was her flower girl dress.  It was sweet and I was surprised that she was already considering her role for the wedding five months away!

Linnea is Jerry Sanders granddaughter, and at Easter Jerry was very ill with the cancer that would consume him within a very short month.  Linnea understood all that was going on and told her mother she understood about cancer and death because of Uncle Jim.

Last May, when Jerry passed, friends and family gathered for the weekend for making dinners, being present and participating in the grieving process with the Sanders.  It was a time with lots of tears, laughter, sharing good food, singing and dancing and honoring the loss of the wonderful energy and spirit that was Jerry Sanders, or, Bee Bah, to his grandchildren.

Linnea had been gifted with one of Jerry's favorite caps that he had brought back from Alaska.  Every so often she would take the cap off and, with tears in her eyes, offer any of us to "smell it, it smells like Bee Bah."  I did this with Jim's hats too, quite honestly, it seemed to be the only clothing that had maintained any sense of his smell, so I totally  understood what Linnea was doing.

It was one of these evenings that Linnea called me over and said, "Aunt Mary, what do you think of my being a bridesmaid instead of a flower girl?"

"Wow! Linnea, talk to me about this."  She looked up at me and from under the brim of that cap and said, "Well, I've been a flower girl a couple times already but I've never been a bridesmaid." Then she sat back, waiting for my reply!

Here we are mourning the man who,  for this little girl, the sun rose and set on and yet she was thinking about this upcoming wedding.  I realized that if this was something she could look forward to, be excited about and perhaps help in some tiny way to get through this difficult time .. then of course she could be my bridesmaid!  When I told her, "yes, I would be delighted to have you as my one-and-only bridesmaid" she leaped up and ran over to her mother to tell her my answer was yes!

So,  we had four flower girls who danced and bounced out ahead, throwing flowers ... over the railing into the water, at each other, or just up into the air.  And I had one bridesmaid, who stood 4 feet tall, wore white, looked absolutely adorable,  held my bouquet for me, and was very grown up.

It is one of the many cherished memories from this weekend long celebration when Dave and I united our families as well as our large circle of friends.

Loving you all back,

PS ... we also sang Happy Birthday to my sister, Jayne.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A New Book

Many people have turned to me lately and said, "Mary, it's a whole new chapter for you".

I say, "Hell, it's a whole new book!"

I've always seen my life as being in chapters; there was growing up in Maine in a small town with a minister for a dad and spending glorious summer days on Scarborough beach.  After high school graduation I bolted from that small town and entered a new chapter that took me to the mountains, first Vermont to work and ski, then to Colorado for the same thing but with higher adventures to match those higher peaks.  The next chapter I went back to Maine to nurse a broken heart, eventually meeting Jim and a series of new chapters began with adventure, love and becoming an adult.

But now ... holy cow, now!  Let's see, there is a new house, in a new town, with a new office with all new clientele, with a new husband and a new family and starting to meet new friends.

Yup, I would say this is a brand new book entirely! And it's been an incredible whirlwind that has lifted me and my old life into that spinning cyclone and deposited it all in a new world, with my things spread all around in different places, still in boxes, not really organized anymore, and impossible to find something when you actually need it.  There's a lot of sorting out to do in the next year!

But the dust is settling now as I sit in this wonderful house on Great Pond, our interim spot until we can get the house in Farmington ready for us to move into.  As I write this I listen for Loons and their changing songs that speak to each other of moving on before the lake freezes.  And with these calmer moments I have time to reflect and actually take in all that has happened in a very short period of time.  And it's all good.

Dave's mother, Joanna, asked me after the wedding if I felt any different?  I thought for a minute and responded that yes, yes it does feel different to now be married to this man ... her son.  Many people in my life wonder "why marriage?" ... and without going into my list as to why, I just say it is different.  Joanna said, "I feel different too.  You are now my daughter-in-law and part of the family.  Before you were just a girlfriend."  My mother greeted Dave last week with, "Well, it's my new son-in-law!" ... and thus he feels he is now part of the Lello clan as well.

A very important difference .. being brought into each others family.

All the differences that are now becoming a new book are important for me to embrace now.  I wasn't ready to end the old book, but the Universe had plans for me and Jim.  For whatever reasons Jim was not going to be hanging around long enough for us to grow old together.  So I was thrown into change that I did not initiate ... and yet I realize that this new man, house, town, life is completing the circle and it's OK to close the last cover of the old book and to open into this new one.

Does this mean I no longer remember?  No.  I think of Jim frequently, but not everyday now.  I miss him often, but not every day now.  I will love him forever .... but I am finding the human heart is capable of expanding and loving another equally as deep and completely.

This new book started out fast and furious and swept me into it very quickly.  I've always been a sucker for a love story laced with high adventure ... it might just prove to be an amazing book!

Loving you all back,


Thursday, August 29, 2013


As we pack and move things out of this house a song written by my brother-in-law, David Mallett,has been going through my head these days.  The opening line especially:

I knew this place, I knew it well,
every sound and every smell,
And every time I walked I fell
for the first two years or so.

David's song is about the family farm and being a boy growing up there.  Not quite the same scenario for me and this house I've been in for 22 years, it's more the lure of this big body of water that I've watched the changing colors and seasons of my entire life.

As we embark on our next journey and move this new life to the mountains of Maine I am slowly getting hit with the reality that I will no longer have summers by the sea.  I grew up in the foothills of these mountains, went to school there, spent the winters in the snow country in this small town in Oxford County.  But summers were always back to the ocean and long, lazy days spent on Scarborough beach body surfing or exploring the tide pools.  Except for the few years I lived in Colorado I have always spent summers by the ocean .... and "every sound and every smell" ... is deeply rooted in every cell of my being.

This is going to change.

People ask me if I'm excited, if I'm feeling sad, if I'm ready?  Quite honestly this has been such a whirlwind that I haven't had time to stop and feel anything.  This may be a good thing, but maybe not!  I know I'm tired of packing and moving boxes, a tad worried about the disorganization we will have to live in for the next  few months with all our stuff stacked high in the barn of the house we are moving to.  I know that last waxing moon caught my breath as I was hit with the reality of just how much I love to see the moon on the water ... and this will no longer be my view.

One evening when that moon was full and spreading her silver light across the bay, spotlighting the boats in the harbor, I sat staring out at this amazing scene and started to cry. I turned to Dave and said, "we won't have this view in Farmington" ... "no", he said, "we won't.  But I am going to build you a beautiful house on a hill that overlooks the mountains and we will be able to sit and watch the moon dance on the snow capped peaks."

And with this I knew that this man loves me beyond this earth and all the way to that big moon!  

And maybe home is where the heart is, in which case, with all this turmoil, all this upheaval, all these boxes and uncertainty ... I am home regardless.

Loving you all back,

Here are the lyrics to David Mallett's song if you choose to read.  He is truly one of the best poets I know.

I knew this place, I knew it well,
every sound and every smell,
And every time I walked I fell
for the first two years or so.

There across the grassy yard,
I a young boy runnin' hard.
Brown and bruised and battle
scarred and lost in sweet illusion.

From my window I can see
the fingers of an ancient tree.
Reaching out it calls to me
to climb its surly branches.
But all my climbing days are gone
And these tired legs I'm standin' on
would scarcely dare to leave the spot upon
which they are standin'.

And I remember every word
from every voice I ever heard,
Every frog and every bird,
Yes, this is where it starts.
A brother's laugh, the sighing wind,
this is where my life begins.
This is where I learned to use my
hands and hear my heart.

This house is old, it carries on
like lyrics to an old time song,
Always changed but never gone,
this house can stand the seasons.
Our lives pass on from door to door,
dust upon the wooden floor,
Feather rain and thunder roar,
we need not know the reason.

And all these thoughts come back to
me like ships across a friendly sea,
Like breezes blowing endlessly,
like rivers running deep.
The day is done. The lights are low,
the wheels of life are turning slow
And as these visions turn and go,
I lay me down to sleep.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Keep Walking

3:30 a.m.  ... such a bewitching hour.  Such a familiar place for me.  I didn't wake with the thought of getting up, getting the coffee going, siting here to write, but as I blundered around the house as quietly as I could so not to wake Dave it has dawned on me ... ah, here are the emotions I've been watching and waiting for.  Here they are bubbling to the surface a little bit; fear, anxiety, melancholy. 

Change is never easy.

But this change actually has been easy and this is what I remind myself of on this dark morning with rain coming in.  From the moment I met Dave I knew that there was another big love here.  It was so easy.  It's not perfect, trust me.  As we learn more about each other there are the typical spats; learning what buttons shalt not be pushed ... but learning this only after the manhole cover-sized-button was stomped on!   And some of my friends and a couple family members have struggled with the speed of all this, struggled with the change of this new guy, struggled with their own unprocessed grief around Jim.  But even they are coming around and beginning to understand what I knew from that first "coffee date" ...  that this is a match.

And the Universe continues to say, "Next step Mary, here it is, take it!" So I take it.  Lately, that step  feels like I hopped onto one of the airport escalators that flows along the corridors of the terminal and allows you to just stand in place with your bags as you're whisked along.  A human conveyer belt.   In the Chicago airport there is a section ... a tunnel actually ... that has neon lights flashing and the 'conveyer belt' travels under this neon haze with a female voice that sounds like a voice right out of the Sci-Fi movie, Bladerunner, that informs you to, "Keep Walking" ... over and over this computer voice says, 'keep walking, keep walking, keep walking".  

This year I feel this is what the Universe is telling me to do; to just "keep walking".

The new plan with Dave was, in a few years, to move to Farmington.  I sat with it, we explored the town a little bit, looked at houses on line on Saturday mornings over coffee.  I began to warm to this idea ... cute town, a college town with lots going on there, in the mountains, easy access to the north woods and all it's lakes and rivers, great real estate prices!  Last winter I looked to see how many acupuncturists might be in the area .... one.  ONE?!  I contacted her via email and explained that I was planning to move to the area in the 'near future' (nebulous can be a good thing at times, but our timing was nebulous!), would she be wiling to discuss the climate for acupuncture?  Her response was .... "I was going to put out a search for an associate this spring to join my practice.  I'd love to meet with you and discuss your plans.  How soon can you move up? "

The conveyer belt just sped up as the "near future" became the VERY near future!

So we began to look in earnest for a house in Farmington.  The plan being to find something in town that can be converted into apartments.  While we live in one apartment we look for land that we can build our "dream home" on with gardens and fruit trees and no GMO's.   Eventually renting both apartments of the 'town house' to UMF students.

Next step.  Find the house to fit this plan!   We'd had our eyes on this house for over a year and the price had dropped!  This house was a doctors office for many years and thus has no kitchen and no real bath.  But it's huge with a big attached barn and we could create two apartments in it (especially with this guy whose been a carpenter for thirty years)!  How could we secure this wonderful old house?

We simply asked ... and a contract was signed with a deadline to be able to buy this house by the end of September, contingent on the sale of my house.

Keep walking, keep walking.

So, full steam ahead to fix up my little house and get it on the market.  The little house I've lived in for 22 years.  The little house Jim and I bought not believing we'd have money to even paint the damn thing, but we put on an addition; learning carpentry skills as we went along, learning the difference between eggshell and semi-gloss paints, learning we were home owners and real adults. 

Now, under the hands of the master carpenter, Dave, we have done some renovations to  this little cottage that has created quite a wonderful home.  We've painted and hammered and spent many weekends working on the house and not going off on any summer adventures.  With this has come some early relationship "tests" ... we have our flare-ups,  talk it out, laugh and move on ... and we grow together a bit more from it all.

Keep walking, keep walking.

We wanted to sell the house ourselves without the added expense of a realtor.  People gasped, this isn't how you do it when your time line is so narrow!  Ah, but I've always been a risk taker and it's one of the biggest attractions Dave and I have to each other, both being 'risk takers'. 

Within three weeks of being on the market we are under contract.  I know, nothing is done until the closing is all signed .. so I'm not popping that champagne bottle yet! But holy Toledo, this has been one very fast conveyer belt!  With my head down I haven't really looked right or left, but just plowed ahead working on the house, informing my clients that after 16 years my office will be closing within weeks, meeting and greeting folks in the new office in Farmington, working out the details of that new partnership.

And did I mention the wedding?  Yup.  And of course the big celebration of joining our two lives together with all our friends and our families is going to happen just as all this house stuff and moving stuff is coming to a head!

Keep walking, keep walking.

And I wonder why I woke at 3:00 a.m. this morning!   But, here's the important point ...  not once have we banged our head against any kind of wall.  We've knocked on a door and three have swung open!   I truly feel the Universe is saying "Keep walking" .. and with this comes real validation that this whole thing must be the right thing.  I'm a firm believer in being able to recognize when the spirits are working with you and not against you.  Trusting this is not easy, but when I give myself over to this, when I truly trust  and let go of trying to control too much, I find myself on that conveyer belt. 

Oh, I have to put out the energy, take the steps, knock on that door, and move my life forward. 

But the more I do this, the more I trust and give myself over, than the Universe is carrying me .. and all my baggage ... along much easier.  

Loving you all back,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


This past weekend I was up on Great Pond in the Belgrade Lakes area.  This time of year the Loons are nesting and talking with each other.  I can never quite get a handle on whether these birds are nocturnal creatures or prefer sunlight; they seem to call to each all night long and yet are ever present on the surface of the lake during the day.

That call ... it always hits me in the solar plexus ... it stirs the imagination and, like the octave jumping of the wolf's moan, the loons song also speaks of wildness.  Unlike the mournful wah-hoo of the Mourning Dove or the sharp, static, conversations of the Crow, you must go to the quieter fresh water areas of our world to hear the Loon's song.

I have never had the gift of hearing a wolf cry into the night.  I know that it would raise the hair on the back of my neck as well as have me burst into a smile from ear to ear.  It's a sound I truly hope to hear some day before I leave this place.  But I have heard the yip and yowl of the coyote while on a cattle drive in Wyoming.  Being hearing impaired I'm never sure what range an animals voice will be in and whether I'll actually be able to hear it.  So, while on this cattle drive so many years ago, I had asked those with us that if they heard coyotes singing to let me know so I might focus all my attention to that one sound and grasp that bit of mountain wilderness.

One evening, while sitting around the nightly campfire, one of the wranglers came out of the darkness into the small circle of light and motioned to me to join him.  I jumped up and followed him into the blackness away from the fire.  The stars were brilliant above us with a tiny sliver of a moon just beginning to hang over the distant rounded shape of a mountain.  Buck looked at me and simply said, "listen" as he walked away.

Buck had a little black and white cattle dog, Lily, who was one of the most unfriendly dogs I have ever met.  She tolerated people but she had big boundaries.  If you walked too close to her she would lower her head and, like the rattler of the rattle snake, she would give a low menacing growl to warn you to back off.  You knew she meant it and you also knew that she would never back down, she always expected you to find a broader track around her!

So as I stood there this night, under that brilliant star-pricked sky with the sage brush dotting the landscape, I closed my eyes and turned towards the coyotes singing ... and I stood stalk still, willing that mournful, ancient howl to drift over that dry land to my compromised ears.  Just as I heard the first high carooning song I felt the lightest touch of little feet on my thigh.  I stood still, listening with my eyes closed to the yipping of a distant pack, fully aware that Lily was standing upright with her small front feet on my leg listening intently with me.  After many seconds I heard Buck in the distance say, "Well, I never!  Never saw her do that with anyone but me!"  I felt her little feet disappear from my leg and as I opened my eyes I watched her wiggle and wag her way over to Buck.

Buck looked at me and just shook his head with a big grin on his face, "not sure what you were doing but Lily was pretty attracted to it."  I'm not sure what I was doing either, accept trying to connect with my own wildness, trying to block out the campfire behind me with a small group of people gathered around it, who couldn't see the stars through that brighter fire light and who weren't needing to listen so intently for the song of the coyote.  Perhaps Lily was connecting to her wildness with me.  I don't know, but she went right back to being a little bitch who wanted nothing to do with me!

I'm getting ready to return to a wilder place than where I live now.  Ready to claim a larger piece of land and turn that earth into my own herb and vegetable garden and turn away from the GMO's that everyone is screaming about these days.  Ready to live where the Loons call, the coyotes yip and the stars offer enough light to see the trail without a single back porch lamp lighting the night.

Lobster Lake
I'm ready to join this man of mine whose wild heart matches my own and who has woken me in the middle of the night while in our tent and whispered, "listen" ... and I turn my full attention to that lonesome wail from across the lake.

Loving you all back,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Mystery

"We don't know what's going on here ....
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf ... "
Annie Dillard

Jerry passed on May 23rd.  He was in hospice about 30 hours.  To say he was ready and willing is an understatement.  As he lay on that bed there were moments when he seemed awake and aware, other moments he was deep.  I would sit beside him and watch his slow, shallow breath and wonder where he was, what was going on inside his mind, what was he seeing?  I whispered to him, 'you're going to learn all the mysteries before me aren't you?  How I wish you could share them all!'

I believe it was Jerry's deep faith that had him pass through the Kubler-Ross stages so quickly.  He spent very little time in the denial stage, seemingly going straight to acceptance ... and then he embraced it.  He knew there was no fighting this.   As he had said,  "I feel I'm being chopped down by the master woodsman" .. and indeed, he was.  But he took this card he was dealt and turned it into a dance.  He went with grace and dignity.  He was actually looking forward to this next adventure ... that great beyond.

Those with near death experiences tell us there is something beyond this earth; it is stunningly beautiful and euphoric.  I like to believe it is pure Love.  The BIG Love, the one that is ever lasting, it exists in all beings, in all hearts, leafs, rocks, wind, sky and earth.  I think Jerry believed this too and he gave in and embraced it's coming.

Oh, that I might go with as much of an adventurous spirit as this man did!

Oh that I might live on this earth with this adventurous spirit and take each day as a gift and not squander my time, aware and awake to the mystery that presents itself to me; the small, red cardinal singing so loud from the roof next door,  a spiders web, the birth of a child with perfectly formed little hands and feet, the caterpillar emerging as a butterfly ... such mystery!

The morning of the 23rd Dave and I got the call in the wee hours of the morning.  We dressed and headed to my sisters house where her daughters and our niece had gathered after dealing with the final stages at hospice.  I planned to stay with Karmo for the remainder of the morning/day, going to bed in the spare bedroom at about the time I usually get up for my first cup of coffee, 4:30 a.m.  As I lay in bed, with tears streaming down my face I felt something.  I wiped the tears away and realized I was laying there smiling for I was feeling pure joy ... real joy.  And this joy was coming from the presence of two beings in the room with me; Jerry Sanders and Jim Daniels were there and informing me that all was fine.

At first I thought I might be hallucinating since I had only gotten three hours of sleep and had been up most of the night/day at this point.  But I was wide awake, I was lucid and I got a knowing that was deep and true ... this was real.  I had been asking Jim to come down to the veil, to come close for all of us, to be there to greet Jerry when he passed .... and by God, I believe he was!

Later in that day I shared this experience with the family that began to gather.  With tears in our eyes but smiles on our faces we all began to enjoy the thought of Jerry and Jim together again laughing their assess off and doing just fine.

It's us who must remain here, who have to soldier on without these loved ones with us, who suffer.

And who knows if any of this is true or not.  But if this thought helps any of us to get up tomorrow and get on with life .... then there is no harm in this belief.

But I remain a believer in The Mystery.  I want to be open, awake and aware to those moments. For this mystery exists all around us.

Loving you all back,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Hill

Many of you reading this may know that Jerry has laid down the gauntlet and chosen the fast track to ascending from this world.  He has stopped eating and drinking.  We are counting days now, verses months.

Bleeding Heart
Monday the family gathered and there was a bit of magic sparkling for all of us.  Jerry was having an incredible day.  Many of us canceled all appointments on this Monday and gathered, the grandchildren were brought over and filled the day with laughter as they played on the swing that Jerry and Dave had built last spring.  Jerry was up and engaged all day.  It was, simply, a wonderful day.   

Someone reminded me of this saying, "God only gives you as much as you can handle" ... I say really?  Then God is running things a little heavy handed lately!  And "if it doesn't kill you it will only make you stronger", right?

I could probably take on Atlas by the end of all this then.

This really is a bit too much for one family, I feel.  And yet, there is grace and there is joy and there are some really wonderful family dynamics starting to bloom that had felt like they might never flower again.  This is a bit of what Anne Lamott calls in her book,  Traveling Mercies, the miracles in the everyday.  

And I guess it is this God that I acknowledge and can turn to.   The one that still offers these miracles in the everyday, the tiny little moments of joy out of all this grief.  With this too-large bag of shit comes the smaller gifts that one can feel and recognize because the breast bone feels cracked open and the heart feels unguarded and vulnerable .... but wide, wide open. 

It is this moments that grief is turned to joy ... and back again.

Jerry was sitting in the sun in a hammock on Monday with his morphine pump always with him now.  It was just he and I there for a brief moment and he looked at me and said with a smile, "if it wasn't for this cancer I'd feel pretty good".  We both laughed and I replied, "if it wasn't for your cancer I'd feel pretty good too".  He looked over and smiled a knowing smile at me.

"Laughter and crying,
you know it's the same release... "
Joni Mitchell

My dad died in May.  Jim died in May.  My friend Reg also died in May.  And now Jerry.  My sister, Sara, reminded me of "May Hill".  There is an old wise tale that if you are sick, weak and/or elderly if you can make it over May hill you will have a bit more time on this earth.  My dad had said, he wasn't going to make it over that hill.  Jerry said the same thing to me on Monday, "May hill .. I'm not going to get over that hill".  

As the world blooms, the earth warms and softens, it calls those who are weak and tired home .... I guess.

The tears offered, again, this May are enough to water the emerging flowers.

Loving you all back,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Karmo and Jerry in Alaska

I first met Jerry when I was thirteen years old.  My sister, Karmo (a.k.a. Martha), who is six years older than me, had left the small town of Norway, Maine for the wild land of Oklahoma to go to college.  She returned with a long, lanky, slow talking man, Jerry Sanders.

Jerry brought a whole new world into the Lello family with his knowledge of horses, open range, big sky country and how the Oklahoma wind would blow.  Jerry seemed to do everything slow, his accent is  a western slow drawl, and he walks by throwing one long leg out in front of him, planting it firmly before throwing the other one out ...  and he takes it slow.  Back then I commented to Karmo that he even drank water slow!

One of my very first memories of Jerry was when mom served chocolate cake with white frosting for desert.  Jerry got up from the table and sauntered to the cabinet, pulled out a big glass and filled it half full with milk.  When he returned to the table he sat down and picked up that wedge of cake that was on his plate and jammed it into the glass of milk and proceeded to eat it from the glass with a spoon.  I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the dining table, but mom grabbed my arm in warning.  I looked at her with eyes popping out of my head ready to say something and she gave me a look that said "NO!"  In my family you didn't say "ew" or wrinkle your nose up at food, you just said "no thank you" to it.  And you didn't comment on how other folks ate their food.  But this move of Jerry's, well, it took the cake!

Of course, days later, I tried this method before that cake was all gone.  It's really good.  And his two daughters have done it since they were small.  And, yes, we're seeing the grandchildren do it now too.  It's an Oklahoma thing and I find it incredibly endearing now.

Jerry speaks about one of his first memories of meeting my youngest sister, Sara.  When he walked up to our summer house in Scarborough Sara was tied to a rope that was tied to the porch post.  Karmo gave a little nervous laugh and spoke to Sara between clenched teeth, "Sara, get up!"  Sara barked at her and started to pant.  Sara, at 6 years old, wanted a dog so badly that she decided she would just be a dog since she couldn't convince the folks to get another one.  So frequently we found Sara tied to the porch barking and panting.  Karmo pointed at her little sister who was on her hands and knees with her tongue hanging out and said, "Jerry, this is my little sister, Sara."  Jerry walked by, patted her head and said, "good dog" on his way into the house.  Sara wiggled her butt ... er ... wagged her tail and barked again.

Jerry was exotic with a huge beard, long hair and the ability to play almost any instrument he picked up.  He'd sit at our piano in the front room in Norway and compose amazing music.  We were use to hearing the scales or chop sticks coming from this old stand-up piano, but when Jerry sat down to it there were whole new melodies to be heard and not one sheet of music in front of him.  He plays the guitar and the drums, the spoons and the harmonica and just about anything else that will create a good sound that you put in front of him.  He composes wonderful songs for the kids to dance to.  I guess I grew up hearing all this music and watching my nieces dance all around the kitchen.  There are new songs now for the grandchildren to wiggle and hop to.  So many original songs.  So much wonderful music composed by this man including the score of a musical that he and Karmo wrote together and was professionally performed in Anchorage, Alaska in June 2012.

Jerry is also a gifted healer.  It was Jerry who introduced me to a system, or rather, an intelligence, twenty years ago that assists me in my acupuncture practice now.  When Jim was so sick Jerry came two times a week to do his healing work for Jim.  The magic of Jerry may have contributed to the fact that Jim survived twice as long as predicted.

Jerry singing with Jim and two other friends
Jerry has a calm, quiet presence about him that  has everyone in his aura relax a little bit.  During the 18 months of Jim's illness any kind of function, family or otherwise, that Jim and I would attend  I found that if Jerry was around I could relax knowing that he had stepped in.  Jerry would take such good, attentive care of Jim and would stay with him and help him with whatever was needed ... and I was allowed a little bit of breathing space.  When we discovered that Jim could sing songs perfectly, even though he couldn't talk, Jerry practiced Bob Marley's song with Jim, I Can See Clearly Now ... and the two of them sang this song at a fundraiser event put on for Jim and I.  I can't hear that song without tearing up anymore.

Jerry has always moved beautifully.  He studied Mime under Tony Montero in South Paris, Maine.  He has taken that discipline and become a dancer, participating in, as well as conducting his own, dance classes in the Portland area.  He's a gorgeous dancer.  One of my favorite images is of Jerry and his daughter, Jennywren, at her wedding reception dancing on the lawn that spread down to the beach.  Someone handed Jerry a fedora hat and he suddenly became Fred Astaire as Jenny hiked up her wedding gown and she and her dad circled and twirled around each other using all that open space as their dance floor. We all just stood back and watched, smiling and clapping.  This father and daughter dance was unique and wonderful!

When my family wigged out a little bit over this new love I have found ... well, Dave and I have moved very fast as we both have just known from that first meeting that this was incredibly special .... it was Jerry who looked at me and said, "I have one word to say to you Mary ... Joy!"  And that is the one word I have clung to as friends, and some of my family, questioned my relationship with this new guy earlier on.  Joy.  Jerry understood.  Jerry got it.   Jerry saw a lot of what went on in my world while Jim was so horribly sick and dying.  Jerry saw how I slowly caved in and lost the sparkle of my being.  And Jerry saw how that sparkle returned the moment I met Dave.  Joy.  Only Jerry could see it so clearly and sum it up in one word.

Jerry in Alaska
And now my family must again dance this cancer dance as Jerry was diagnosed only a month or so ago with stage 4 colon cancer that has metastasized to his liver and lungs.  None of us can imagine what our world will be like without him.  It is this man, the rock of stability for this Lello clan, the calm, gentle force of his own growing family, who we must accept losing.

How the hell does this happen?

And I know, too well, how terrified Karmo feels.  And there's nothing I can do to help her really.  We can all tell her how we are here, and will always be here for her, but the fact is, she does have to go through this alone.

And my heart just breaks for my nieces and those four gorgeous grandchildren who will lose their Beepa and his music to dance by.

We all are losing his music ... to dance by.

This is Jerry, and a few of my memories that I share with him now, while he's still here to know of them and to tell him ...

... I love you man,

I'm hoping you can click on this link below and see Jerry singing one of his many songs.  Karmo and Jerry hope to have time enough to get his songs recorded and put onto CD's that can be bought in the very near future.  Enjoy!  And go ahead and dance!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's April ... once again.

Since 2011 April has proved to be a very difficult month; that ol' cellular memory kicks in sometime during the showers and the May flowers.  This month the beast started to show its' fin a full month prior to Jim's anniversary.  Still catches me by surprise too;  I can't really explain why I feel cranky and irritable, or get caught staring into space or have tears flowing down my cheeks for what seems like no reason.

What?  Really?  Oh, sorry, not sure what's wrong with me.

And then it begins to dawn ... oh, right, it's April.  It's weeks before May 7th.   It's April ... once again.

And this April the beast has practically crawled into the boat with me and tried to swamp my entire vessel.  My brother-in-law has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.  My entire family has been brought to our knees .... once again.  Another very fast train with no luxury of preparing.  There are treatment options but we all know that these will simply kill you slower and what's left of this sweet life will go down the toilet too.   Not much of an option at all.

And the beast circles.

Some days it just nips at the achilles and I falter in my step for a moment, regaining my balance quickly so that most don't even notice.   This past Sunday it grabbed me and dragged me deep.  I was expecting it.  I've learned to just ride it down, close my eyes, keep breathing, sink into that darkness before bobbing back up to the surface a little worse for wear.

And this whole cancer dance is too familiar.  My sister tells me she is exhausted.   They had family from his side visiting at their house.  People gather to just be together and, perhaps, to say good-bye. She tells me, "It's wonderful, it's all good but... and it's ...  exhausting."

 I know.

I know.

And I'm back to walking outside and looking to my crows and the morning sunrise and asking why?  Even though there is no answer, there is no comprehension of this, nothing that my little Being can grasp.  I hope there is a bigger plan than I can ever understand.  It is this belief that allows me to keep resurfacing  ... once again.

 "I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."  Maya Angelou

I guess I've learned this too.  But sometimes that "better tomorrow" feels like forever.

And it's April ... once again.

Loving you all back,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"My year of bad behavior"

March 19th and we're in the middle of another Nor'easter with blowing snow and an expected foot or more of this white stuff covering the tiny crocus's I saw poking through the earth over the weekend.  It's not an easy pill to swallow for those of us ready for spring in Maine.

My year has felt a bit like this crazy weather we've been having ... storms blowing in and out with some calms between the storms ... on the emotional front anyway.  A lot of these storms have come from unexpected people.  Change is not an easy thing for anyone and there has been tremendous changes in my life!

From December 2008 this train of mine has been moving pretty fast.  Five years since Jim's diagnosis, three years since his death, over a year and a half with Dave ... if you didn't get on this train you've been left at the station.  I understand this has been hard for folks.  Me too.

But the fact is, there is good in my life now and I have found happiness again.  And yet, there has been some real hard lessons and difficult interactions with a few people of my world.   I've had some time to reflect on this a little bit.  I was talking with my good friend, Kristine, about some of these interactions and she said to me, "Mary, just remember the year after Jim passed you were still deeply in grief and this can bring out the worst in people.  Allow yourself some space around the fact that you may have been a little difficult to be around at that time."

Oh.  I didn't understand this.

Another very good friend, T, who also lost her spouse to cancer told me, "Mary, I call that year after E died 'my year of bad behavior!'"

OH!  It isn't just me?

I have ruminated and looked deeply into some of the behaviors that a friend called me out on.  Yup, I went into some shame around this too.  But after hearing from these other two women I've started to give myself a break .... and yes, there was a period of "bad behavior" from me.  But maybe it's part of the grieving process.

So why do I share this?  Because this was new information for me.  If you are recently grieving the loss of someone in your life you might need to understand that you may not respond to situations in your normal way.  Perhaps you've gone a little deeper into yourself and come across as selfish to others.  Well, maybe you are and maybe you should be.  You need to go deep, there's some healing in that place for you.  No need for shame around this at all!

And if you are a friend to someone who is in this place, I share this so that you may understand that your friend may not be quite like themselves for awhile ... a long while.  Be patient with them, come to understand that they will resurface at some point in time.  But during this time of "bad behavior" just let some things roll off your back.

It's not an easy place, for the one grieving or for the friends of that person.  But, a little understanding goes a long way.

Loving you all back,


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

Mount Katadhin
If you're going to live in Maine, and stay here through the winter, than you might as well embrace these months of cold, snow and ice.  This past weekend is exactly what myself and thirteen other people did as we headed into Maine's biggest state park, Baxter ... home of Maine's tallest mountain, Mt. Katadhin.

A friend, Alice,  put out an email asking about interest in doing a trek into the Katadhin Lake Camps months ago.  She proceeded to make all the needed inquiries and reservations in advance to secure the  number of cabins necessary to house all those who planned on going.

Getting to this lake is no walk in the park mind you!  We all needed to be prepared to ski the 14.2 miles into the cabins on Katadhin lake bringing all our winter clothing and gear,  our own food and beverages and any other needed winter recreational apparatus, i.e., snowshoes or climbing spikes.  We were offered the choice of hauling our own stuff - done by hauling sleds behind you, much like a Draft horse pulls the plow - or have the owners of the camp take our stuff in with their ski sleds for a very minimal fee.  Hmmm ... let's see ... what-to-do ... all of us opted to have our gear transported for us!

The plan was to ski in on Friday morning, leaving early enough that even the slowest skier would be able to make it to the camps with light still in the sky.  This entails getting out of Portland and being in the tiny town of Millinocket on Thursday night in order to be up at the gate to the park by 9:00 a.m.

On Thursday I saw a few clients in the morning and Dave and I planned a 3:00 p.m. get-out-of-Dodge departure time.  This would put us at the hotel in Millinocket by 7:00.  Thursday, while at work, I couldn't seem to get warm and found myself actually shivering at times.  And my stomach was a bit upset, I had a little, tiny headache and .. uh oh, my whole body ached!  Is this the flu?  Really?  After all these months and months of planning, all the people I treated all winter long who were sick and I did not catch one virus ... now?  I was going to get sick NOW?!

I got home and explained my symptoms to Dave.  He felt my forehead and said, "you have a fever.  Mary, what do you want to do?" I said, "I want to drive up there".  His eyebrows went up in a severe question.  "What if I wake up Friday feeling just fine?  I want to be up there to decide on Friday morning how I feel."  Dave thought I was crazy but he agreed to go.  He also agreed to drive the entire way to allow me to sleep, which I did, nestled and shivering under a big-guns down jacket that a friend was lending me for this trip.  I gave myself a couple little mini-acupuncture treatments on the drive up and went straight to bed when we got to the hotel.  No dinner and socializing with the crew as they arrived for this gal!

Now, on the drive up I had said to Dave that I thought he should go on this trip regardless of how I might feel on Friday morning;  I could drive home alone and he could hitch a ride with someone on Monday.  His response was, "Yes, I think I probably will!"  I admit, this was not the response I had been hoping for!  I almost broke down in tears at that point.  But instead, I resolved to get better.   I thought about Jim; who had the will of ... of ... I don't know what of, but his will was so, incredibly strong.  I saw this when he was sick and crippled, but still he would push himself to do things that no one ever thought he'd be capable of in his condition.   I witnessed this will of his countless times over our years together.  He would not let much stop him if he had his mind and heart set on something. After a pretty severe cycling crash,  that cracked a couple ribs and turned his thigh into hamburg, he still wanted to make a four hour drive to see our God-daughter graduate from Smith College.  Oh, and he drove the entire way too; as long as he didn't sneeze or laugh he felt OK.

 So I thought about this as I shivered under that down jacket.  I thought about how Jim Daniels would have decided to go, even if he was sick.  He would put his head down and not complain and just do what he could regardless.

At 6:00 a.m. Friday morning Dave woke me and asked, "how do you feel?" The fever had broken in the night, the body no longer ached, my stomach needed food but I didn't feel sick.  "I feel pretty good! I'm doing this trip!"

Some of the crew and most of our gear
I don't know what the magic pill was that had me beat the flu within twelve hours; acupuncture?  Maybe.  Latching onto a bit of the Jim Daniels will?  Maybe.  My own resolve and my own will to just do it?  Maybe.  I honestly don't know.

What I do know is it was an amazing weekend with good friends.  The wildness in me needs to be out under stars unadulterated by any kind of electrical lights.  It needs to look at a mountain and watch the clouds swirl around the peak.  It needs to connect with the wildness of my world and get recharged.  So I'm grateful for whatever magic there was for me that allowed me to be healthy enough to get out there and connect once again.

I believe in magic!

Loving you all back,