Still Point

Here’s something I wrote five years ago, as summer slid to an end, just before I started blogging. Our first year of Trump, before the city of Portland spiraled into chaos and was covered in graffiti, before the pandemic, when our summer visitors were plentiful, not knowing what the coming years would bring. I was still feeling new to Portland (three years in), and my grandkids were far younger, and not yet homeschooling.

My feelings about the change of seasons haven’t changed. The shift comes as an affront to my sensibilities. I seem to write this way every fall equinox. I’m always sad to bid goodbye to summer. I love the heat, the fewer clothes, the lush garden; the carefree part is a visceral memory of childhood. I’m still adjusting to the seasons here, and perhaps always will.

It’s my five year blogiversary, five years of writing here, not sure what I’m doing or who is going with me, but still I plod on, synthesizing the hours and days to help me come out right.

I put one foot in front of the other
stepping into the here and now
I’m not sure just where I’m going
but I will get there anyhow.

Tim O’Brien

Grappling with each shift, wrapping my mind around change – it takes effort for me to be appreciative and welcome the next phase with generosity. But in the words of TS Eliot, “except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only dance.”

~ ~ ~

September 13, 2017

It’s a bittersweet transition as I put on my fleecy clothes in the mornings, feel the relief of the early cool breeze through the windows; I am already missing the summer heat. The garden begins it’s slow but noticeable demise, offering a last frenzy of strawberry blossoms and bean tendrils. The newest basil plants double in size every time I look, hinting at the frenzy of pesto manufacturing to come. Alan starts his third soup production this week, so many carrots and beans to process, but the zucchinis are tired, ready to get pulled. The pumpkin is already bright orange, and a new blossom on the long winding stalk foolishly grasps at a last chance at life. (“The optimism of nature,” says Alan). The breeze is enough to pull down the first brown leaves from the magnolias, hinting at the mess to come.

The sun rises a little later, and I welcome the extra half hour of sleep in the mornings as my internal clock slowly adjusts. Yesterday I saw Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens for the first time in several weeks, the smoky haze now drifting eastward, along with the fire, still only partly contained. Our first smattering of rain broke a record several month dry spell, and revealed a sparkling city ready for more, promised next week.

Fall brings school and the latest in runny nose strains. Rosa started kindergarten and loves going to school, where recess is already her favorite. Her full days there means less time with us, and I miss the generous time we’ve had until now. Ezra loves preschool and coming to our house but when he arrived without his sister he commented, “Rosa is somewhere where I can’t find her.” While he often refers to all of his family members as his “best friend,” most often it’s his best friend Rosa that comes up in conversation. I love that when I sing or play music he suddenly stills, listening with his whole being.

Our long streak of beloved summer visitors has subsided a bit, and we head to Bend for a last bit of summer hiking and kayaking before the snow changes which clothes and equipment we bring. We’re wondering whether there will be enough snow to force us to invest in an all wheel drive car for the winter, or if the past winter will stand alone as unusually cold. Wondering if all the drain work done inside and out will hold off the raging waters that pour down the hills around us, funneling into our yard, or if last year’s rains were really hundred year storms.

The precipice between seasons, as the earth slowly tilts us away from the sun, is more marked here up north in our new (yes still new) home. Every day, every month is different, and I try to breathe in the present to stay grounded, even as politics, world madness, plans, dreams and events catapult me forward.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

TS Eliot 1952, 119

8 thoughts on “Still Point

  1. This is beautiful, Nancy πŸ’• And, while my feelings for fall run counter to yours, I want you to know that I am with you every step of the way. Eagerly following where your words lead and looking forward to another walk with you to discover every little change as the air thins and cools. Congratulations on five years! I know what a labor of love it is … it’s there in every word.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for joining me in my craziness. I try so hard not to dread change, and not to dread fall because it brings winter. I think the pandemic has done its work on me and I’m just trying to catch up with myself. I’ll get there. I do hope to walk with you this fall!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here in California, I notice that it is suddenly darker in the mornings when I get up. This does not feel like a creeping change of lost minutes. But yesterday I went to a picnic in a local park, sat under the trees in short sleeves — lovely to have all that time outside. And now I am back in the cocoon of my house. Every day a tomato ripens and every day some beast eats it before I can pluck it for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I grew up with Bay Area autumns, which was a little bit of a shift, and then Santa Barbara autumns, which was barely noticeable sometimes, except it meant fire season. There must be some sort of inner core that one grows up with that knows that these shifts are something different and strange. I hope you get a tomato or two. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Ah, it seems so little has changed. I am eagerly awaiting Wednesday’s rain, hoping it doesn’t crap out. Everything is so crispy. The too rainy June seems far away. My mother, a child of the deep south, hated autumn, the harbinger of winter. I, a transplanted from northwest to southeast for too many years, count autumn as my favorite season (it was hard for us to live together!). It is hard to be a transplant, for sure. Our childhood is our DNA. Thank you for sharing your blogiversary archive. And happy Rosh Hashanah, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, hard to to transplant, and change everything at once. Or even over the 8 years I’ve been here. πŸ™‚ It’s more about saying goodbye to summer than not liking fall. I know there will be much beauty to come, and I will love it. This bit I wrote before I even had a blog. Maybe it was the catapult that made me commit. Change drives me to the notebook. Thank you.

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