Category Archives: Spring
Daylight Savings time is hard on the body, especially in the spring. I spent much of the weekend indulging my own body clock. That was great, but since I’m more of a night owl, it made the spring forward adjustment even more difficult.
I am doing better than I expected under the circumstances. I attribute that to taking some time out for a Sauna.
Sauna is a social/spiritual/cultural event. There are sauna/sweat practices in many northern cultural traditions. In the Twin Cities there is actually a club, the 612 Sauna Society that was founded to explore and share the Norse sauna traditions.
This month they’ve set up in the courtyard of the Swedish Institute. A good friend decided she’d like to try sauna (she’d never done one) and I got an invite. I chose to see this as a continuation of my birthday celebrations. Especially after last week’s snowstorm I’ve seen lots of people succumbing to the “is winter ever going to be over blues”. Part of the reason I maintain the “older you are longer you get to celebrate” philosophy is to combat that.
It was a perfect day to spend the afternoon sweating. In a Scandinavian setting sauna is usually done in cycles. You warm up to the core and then come out into the cold and cool all the way down. The “rinse repeat” can mean coming out of the sauna and jumping into the snow or a cold lake, doing a cold water splash, or just hanging out. We did three rounds, and mostly skipped the “rinse” part of the program, although it was certainly an option.
The 612 volunteers actually recommended a slower cool down. The quick splash, or even a brisk breeze at colder temperatures, can make you feel ready to return to the sauna before the core has really cooled. We drank a lot of water and cooled off by the fire. Being outside in swimsuits at 30 degrees Fahrenheit was quite sufficient, and quite pleasant.
The time in the sauna was social, but it wasn’t small talk. In many ways the sharing was as much a release of toxins as the actual sweat. There wasn’t a “timer” we were told to listen to our bodies and come out and go in as we would tolerate it. We brought water bottles and the 612 Sauna Society provided water for refills so we were very conscientious about staying hydrated throughout the experience.
It was a time without time. It was a ritual without a lot of ritual. It was an opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of sauna and about each other. It was an opportunity to get in touch and in tune with my own body rhythms. It was cleansing and healing. It was delightful.
Even better is that I can tell the cleansing and healing effects have stayed with me. My desire for just water continues to be high. My appetite is good, but not overwhelming. My aches and pains have eased up considerably. I slept really well. I’m still grumpy about the time though. It shouldn’t be this late yet!
Previous, perhaps relevant, blogs:
This is me still not feeling much like writing. At least this week I’ve been doing the part where I write my blog in my head. That’s an improvement, and better is better.
I watch everyone I know sink into the cabin fever, long winter blues at this time of year. The longer brighter days are great, but they’re not enough when we get yet another 6″ of snow. I’m grateful to have a birthday this week. It gives me something to look forward to and it gives me a reason to get out and celebrate.
I’m grateful for the neighbors, who are Karina’s age. I haven’t had to lift a shovel all weekend and I was able to get out of my driveway to spend Sunday with a good friend wandering through the Como Park Conservatory and Zoo. We are very fortunate to have this haven in the depths of winter.
When you walk in your skin celebrates. There’s moisture in the air! Your eyes delight in the variety of shades of green. The conservatory staff is very contentious about rotating the small plants though so there are always some manner of blooming orchids.
This time I was delighted by how many things were in fruit. There were limes on the lime trees, chocolate pods on the cacao, star fruit and prickly custard apple. (Now I am on a mission to try prickly custard apple or Brazilian paw paw.) We found odd buds and blooms everywhere. In the conservatory hope for spring thrives.
Thursday was an adventure. Karina had the evening off (a rare occurrence) so we’d planned for her to take me out for my birthday. Then her whiskey distributor invited her to a launch party for Jameson IPA. (They age their whiskeys in beer barrels (caskmates) and brew their Irish Pale Ale in whiskey barrels). I was game and we had a good time. It was not too big a party, probably because of the snow (the first 4″ was Thursday, the 6″ was Saturday).
We critiqued the drinks the same way we often have dinner. Debating the merits and downfalls and discussing how to use or adapt the idea. Mostly we were pleasantly surprised. Neither of us are big IPA fans, but the mixed drinks were well balanced and the caskmates added a level of nuance to the whiskey.
I’ve always maintained that the older you are, the longer you get to celebrate your birthday. I started last Thursday and I’ve got plans (so far) through most of March. That’s something else to be grateful for!
Here are a few more photos from the conservatory, in case you needed your own touch of spring:
I’ve written about the Como Zoo before:
Happy May Day! We’ve been having snow flurries, which makes it a little difficult to get into the spirit of the season. I suppose I could go on about the history of labor unions and all the benefits we take for granted because of the work that they did back in 1886 and beyond. But you all have Wikipedia for that.
In Wicca this is also Beltane and a celebration to bless the animals and the fields with fertility. Wicca tends to work with a male/female balance honoring the fact that union is how we all came about. In this day and age that makes much of our ritual look particularly heterosexist and decidedly gender binary.
The thing is that many of the Gods in the Pagan pantheons are rather gender queer. There is room in Paganism to express and celebrate fertility in many other ways. But working in a tradition, and a Wiccan tradition in particular means honoring and holding to rites and ritual formats that, when they were written, probably do have an intentional hetero-cis bias.
Like snow on May Day, the reality is often a lot more complicated than the theory. In Minnesota a May snow, or at least a frost is not at all unusual. Our “late frost” date is May 15th. But in Wicca, and through much of Paganism this is a festival about flowers and early fruits.
Traditionally, this festival is not a calendar based festival, but one that honors the actual season in the area. It is a time when the fields are ready for planting – not the same date every year at all. It is marked by the white blossomed trees (usually rowan) coming into bloom (also not a calendar dependent event.) In Minnesota this year we are having a remarkably early spring. The ground has been thawed for some time. In microclimate areas some of the fruit trees have started blooming. Historically that just doesn’t happen until mid May and even that is early.
So snow is unexpected this year and seems out of place. Our weather reporters carry on about “below average” temperatures. Technically that is true, but if you graph 100 years of spring temperatures and do the statistics you get at least a 15 degree standard deviation. That means that “normal” is plus or minus 15 degrees. To really be “below average”, remarkably warm or cold, we’d need to be outside of that 30 degree swing and we are not. At least not today.
I have actually put some things into the garden already. Cold hearty crops like radishes and peas. I did sprinkle some spinach and lettuce seeds and I’m trying my hand at carrots again. Tomatoes and basil are still a month out. The weather is supposed to get warmer from here out so I’m hoping to get back into the dirt later in the week. That will be a celebration in itself! In the meantime, I’ll just take things as they come and enjoy the cool while it lasts.
Previous Posts on May Day or Beltane:
It was a grey and cold and rainy week. I’ve got a chill that I can’t seem to shake, even when the sun peeks its head out. I’m doing all the “celebration of spring” things you might expect, but I’m still not feeling it.
This is actually the hardest time of the year for many traditional peoples. The stores are gone and the new food, spring’s promise, has not actually arrived. Pulling the sap from the trees was probably originally an act of desperation. Weather transitions are not easy either, and in Minnesota those transitions can swing very broadly and with little warning. 60 degrees one day and snow the next is not unheard of here.
I’m trying to pay attention and really honor the small things. The little delights and surprises in my days. I met a friend last week and she said, “Do you want to go out for lunch?” YES! I made a lovely venison stew and brought it to share for dinner with another friend. I threw colored eggs in the river (a magical act that’s part of my Tradition’s practices for the season) and came across a lovely shrine. I think it’s Hanuman the Hindu God who represents devotion and intellect. Hmmmmm……..
I also saw a bunny in a knot of wood. It made me smile, after all it is the season. I picked up my pastel colored M&M’s the last time I went to the store and I’ve been eyeing the Cadbury eggs.
This morning I went to http://gildasclubtwincities.org for the Euro Cafe Social. What a treat to have breakfast made for me. This is an occasional event for members to meet and get to know each other. The origins of the Euro Cafe were with a member, who most of us knew as Uncle Jack. He lobbied for more social events and cooked for the first several Euro Cafe’s.
Uncle Jack loved to cook, had a great sense of humor and always had a hug for anyone who needed it. He was the one who noticed the day I got my diagnosis of endometrial cancer. He didn’t ask what was going on, just if I needed anything and gave me the hug I asked for unconditionally. Working at Gilda’s we do lose members to cancer, but Jack’s memory will live on and I’m honored to have known him.
That sweet bitter sweet is very much my mood of late. It’s how I’m feeling about the changing seasons and about the world in general. Talking to people it seems like it’s a feeling that’s going around. How are you coping?
It is the spring equinox, when day and night are of equal length. We’ve had such odd weather I’m not sure if spring is coming or going. I’m looking at the celebration of new beginnings and feeling like I need a little inspiration.
I spent the weekend going outward for inspiration. I went to my writers group and listened to these amazing women talk about their plans for their books and their writing. I left feeling better, but it was St. Patrick’s Day and that seemed to be what filled the air.
I also went to Paganicon, the local convention. I saw old friends, attended a few workshops, and escorted Orion around. I didn’t present this year. He really wanted to go, so this year it was his convention. One of the unique things about Paganicon is the exhibition of Pagan artists, sponsored by the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists. There were some beautiful pieces this year.
I left the convention with some ideas about things I’d like to plant in my life this new year. I just don’t have clarity about how I want that to work. On the way home the weather turned again. The sun was shining and it was 55 degrees out. It really felt like spring.
I decided to follow an impulse and stopped to buy flowers. I brought them home and put them around my house. They are my inspiration. They are a little sign that spring is really on its way. They make me smile.
What is your inspiration?
Previous blogs about the spring equinox and about Paganicon:
Daylight savings time is kicking my ass. I am not a snooze alarm fan. However, given the opportunity I will occasionally go back to bed for 10 minutes, or 20, or 40……. This morning I still want to go back to bed even though I’ve been really up for over an hour.
Daylight savings time is a great example of our country ignoring the facts in favor of a belief. With daylight savings we don’t even share a common belief! We just all have our rationalizations. We have daylight savings because it’s better for the school children to wait for the morning bus in the light. We have daylight savings because it save energy. We have daylight savings because it’s better for the farmers. We have daylight savings so that there is more daylight during our waking hours. We have daylight savings because it “saves” daylight.
I call bullshit! Sure it’s better for kids to wait for busses in the light rather than in the darkness. But weigh that against bus drivers whose internal clocks are all messed up and whose sleep schedule has been disrupted. Maybe daylight savings saves energy, maybe it doesn’t. Turning off the lights when we’re not using them probably saves a lot more. How much energy do we waste making our kids drive over to change the clocks on the electronics for us because we can’t figure out how to do it ourselves?
As for “the farmers” there are centuries of farmers doing what they need to do when they need to do it, regardless of the time of day. Furthermore I know (and so does anyone whose pets expect to be fed at a certain time of day) that animals are not cool with us arbitrarily changing the schedule. Frankly, humans are not cool with this arbitrary change of the schedule. The entire nation has jet lag. Coffee shops across the country have sales because they know the regular one cup isn’t going to cut it today.
I’d say it’s probably worse because of the weather. We got a blanket of snow yesterday. But spring and fall weather is always variable! The stress of the seasonal changes aren’t enough, so let’s add another random factor into the mix? Does that sound like a good plan?
But we stick with Daylight savings, because we’ve “always done it that way” (also not true) or because we believe one of those crazy rationalizations. I’d say “wake up people” except that I can’t wake up. My sleep schedule’s out of wack and all I want to do is curl up and go back to bed.
I skipped my blog last week. No notice. No excuses. No nothing. Just didn’t write.
I hit that overwhelmed point. I had things to say. Too many things it seems. I couldn’t find a focus. I couldn’t find a focus in the rest of my life either. I missed a doctor’s appointment. I discovered I hadn’t gotten in my time card when no check came in the mail. I had laundry (and water) in the basement. I had boxes (empty) all over the house. I was a mess.
In all fairness, I’m probably still a mess, but it’s getting better. I got out the calendar and started writing things down (rather than relying solely on the cell phone, which seems to drop appointments for no good reason.) I let go of an obligation that was the “one thing too many” that sent me on this spiral. I got the boxes out of the middle of the living room and into a “staging area” so I can fill them one at a time and put them back.
I’m working on my sleep schedule. At least I’m sleeping, even if the hours are still a little odd. I’m putting away laundry and watering the poor, sad plants. I had my corn for Lammas* and decided I am not in a hurry to dig out the harvest season decorations. I’m trying to be kind to myself – one step at a time.
Last week I got a notification from WordPress saying “Happy Fifth Blogging Anniversary!” My goodness, has it really been that long? I spent some time this last week wondering if I was done, if I needed a serious blogging break. I decided that I’m still good, as long as my readers will forgive an occasional dropped post like last week.
Having a weekly blog is one of my touch points in a rather unstructured life. I need those now and again. Once a week is not so high pressure I can’t handle it. It’s not so infrequent it doesn’t matter. It holds me accountable to take time to reflect on my life, my choices, my spirituality, my vision. Those are good things.
So, dear reader, I may be a mess but if you’ll still have me I’ll still be around on Mondays.
*Previous Lammas posts:
The solution to the problem in the kitchen is clearly to do a remodel.
2 [ no obj. ] decide firmly on a course of action: [ with infinitive ] : she resolved to call Dana as soon as she got home.
That means calling contractors and getting bids to take to the bank to get a loan.
3 chiefly Chemistry separate or cause to be separated into components.
Components: Contractor, Banker, Clear the deed, Subordinate city loan, housing for Orion and I while the work goes on.
So far, so good.
• [ no obj. ] (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns.
Contractors don’t want to waste their time writing up a bid on work that I 1. May not be able to afford or 2. May hire someone else for
The season is upon us and contractors already have work (with a GO) lined up.
There is probably more to do than I can afford and I have to prioritize.
This isn’t going to happen quickly.
The contractors who could do the work faster have larger teams/businesses and also larger prices.
Resolve: noun firm determination to do something: she received information that strengthened her resolve | she intended to stick to her initial resolve.
The only way this is going to happen is if I just keep plugging away at it.
Actually my whole life seems a little like this right now. I put the gardening on hold, not knowing what will be torn up. I can’t take it so I spent the weekend planting. I’ve mostly got things in containers, so they could be moved. But if this isn’t going to start until August I want tomatoes and basil!
The lawn has been mowed. That required having the tractor overhauled. The blades needed sharpening and there was a nut that disappeared.
The hose has a huge hole in it. It actually has for sometime. I bought a new hose long enough ago I can’t remember. I dug it out of the garage and hooked it up. It actually reaches everything! (Bonus, it doesn’t leak.)
Bills still need to be paid, and credit cards paid off – going back to the issues with the bank. I need to find time to write, time to garden, time to tend to Orion, time out for myself.
It all comes down to resolve.
When the sun is shining and the breeze is keeping the bugs away I have to remember not to play hookey from my life. I also have to remember to take a minute and appreciate the day.
I resolve to do both!
Definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary
It’s always bittersweet coming to recognize that it is time to let something go. Drawing the line in the sand and saying, “enough” takes courage and strength. Being able to walk away when something you care about is no longer willing or able to receive help from your presence is heartbreaking. Moving on, knowing you’re doing what you need to do, and being free from those obligations that have become burdensome is freeing. Being grateful for what you have, what you’ve left and learned, what opportunities that freedom opens up, is healing.
For whatever reason I seem to be participating in various stages of this process this month in multiple arenas. I have friends both walking away, and unable to walk away from toxic relationships. I have friends in desperate need of medical support some choosing to get it, others in vehement denial. I put lot of volunteer hours with an organization shutting it’s doors, and more hours with another involved in a large fundraising drive. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and my Mother was out-of-town. It was the weekend the family chose to celebrate my ex-father-in-law’s 90th birthday.
This appears to be a year of transitions for me. The slow process of getting my house in order is the physical manifestation of what seems to be going on in my spirit. I have opportunities. I’m writing another book, I’m looking for speaking engagements, I’m trying to figure out what a career will look like at this stage in my life. I’m also struggling with letting go, setting boundaries and managing my time and resources.
It’s all up in the air!
I’m grateful that it’s spring. Although my gardening is going on “hold” again this year, the season still carries all that potential. The lilacs and apple trees are blooming. The birds wake me up in the mornings.
I’m setting seeds into my life. Some will sprout, others won’t. Some will come up, and then need pulling. Others will thrive. That is what I’m hanging on to.
One of the aspects of spring, easy for urbanites to ignore, is the culling. The birthing season for many farm animals means deciding which of the newborns will live, which will be sold, which will be food for the family. With gardening, the sprouts need to be thinned, the weeds need to be pulled, bushes are pruned and flowers are picked or left to bloom and eventually seed.
Part of the process of dealing with my kitchen cupboards falling off the walls is preparing to have my house torn apart for months. This isn’t just a kitchen project. It also involves the bathroom, the basement, the driveway, and some of the yard. I have water issues, mold issues and years of neglect.
My basement has been the land of denial for more years than I can count. I spend as little time as possible down there (because I have massive allergic reactions if I stay). There’s a lot of plain trash. Paper and fabric and wood that has been ruined by water and eaten by mold. I haven’t been able to deal with it because I can’t:
- touch it (without breaking out and/or having an asthma attack)
- haul it up the stairs
- stand to be there long enough to see what is salvageable
So, in fits and starts, I have someone (equipped with gloves and a respirator) doing steps 1 and 2 for me. Step 3 is a little more difficult. There is a lot that I never have to see. It’s undeniably trash. It walks out my door in a bag. I may sigh at a loss, but mostly it’s good riddance.
But there is plenty down there where the distinction is not so clear. Mostly that would be books. The books in bookcases are probably a little (or a lot) moldy. The bookcases themselves are falling apart. But the books look okay. The books are my references, my treasures, my comfort. They’re books!
If I’m a hoarder, it’s about books. There is always money for food, and books. There is always room for food, and books. There can not be enough bookcases. As soon as I get a new one, it’s full. I’m a writer, which means I’m a reader. My basement is full of books.
They come up the stairs box by box. They are no longer in any order, packed more for viability than placement. I have to sort, and cull. Do I really need 3 large boxes of children’s picture books? My children are 23 and 27 and I have no grandchildren on the way. How many herbology books do I need? When do the mythology references just become an indulgence?
There are memories in those books. Some of them survived the house fire when I was a teenager. I open them and smell the smoke, but they also hold the memories of childhood escapes. I spent late nights under the covers with a flashlight, long afternoons in hammocks, curled up on the limbs of a tree with these books.
“Declutter” is the catch word of the day. But this is not clutter. The books without places went out in black trash bags, damp and falling apart. These are the ones that had places on shelves that will no longer support them. These are the curated books that survived multiple moves and life stages. This is culling, and it’s necessary, and it’s hard.