Life’s Vexilar

Column 20 – Published in the February 16 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

A comfortable settling-in happened here at The Angle just recently. Seismic shock waves of normalcy have this roller-coaster-ready girl reeling in unexpected surrender. Surely others must have felt it. Surely it’s the reason fishing is so slow.  The steady drip, the slow, evening out of life, now that I see it, seems about as dramatic a change as the world turning white with the first winters’ snow.

I usually can’t predict when a shift is about to happen because I’m mired in the blackness that precedes it. It’s as if a trip around the dark side of the moon is necessary in order to fully appreciate the beauty and the light of our blue green planet.

Full blown depression gets me good still. It has for decades. But being at the über wise medium age of 40, the means and ways I’ve learned to work through depression seem a lot more purposeful, more productive.

It isn’t until I’m on the other side of it that I can come to understand why I needed to go through it. Still, I look forward to the day when the signposts are clearly visible, and instead of slogging right on in to the middle of the slush, I can cautiously and quietly walk the edges, placing no blame on potential stuckness, holding no judgement over that which teaches me.

Dealing with depression at The Angle isn’t all that different than dealing with it elsewhere. Only here, when I need to be still, I can watch the deer instead of pedestrians. I can walk in silence for an hour before meeting anyone. I can melt into the backdrop of our white world like a painted pony in a Bev Doolittle piece. Of course, life’s chores and now parenthood keep me functioning and moving forward, but the pace simply isn’t as frantic. On a recent morning commute, I met four cars. A record high so far this winter season.

And so, this shift, this settling-in feels as refreshing as our well water tastes after a weekend away in some fluoridated, chlorinated city. I went to sleep one long night ago as a girl, and somehow, woke up as a wellspring of a woman with a voice that isn’t afraid to be heard, with hips that suddenly remember what it is to walk as a woman should, with shoulders thrown back in soft readiness, and eyes that need only wait and see.

It doesn’t feel like “settling,” not in that loaded definition of the word. It’s not a slumping into an easy chair, but rather the rightness of good posture, a lengthening of the spine until I feel a tingling in the crown of my head, as if I’ve suddenly grown up into new air. And indeed I have. How does one go through life measuring 5’2 and ¼ inches and then suddenly in my late 30’s grow nearly another inch?

The patient parent that is The Angle has been steadily, almost stealthily, nourishing me with a diet of fresh air and black earth, old sorrows that are the sweet manure of change and growth, and a surprising abundance of new and good people and experiences waiting in the ready for when my eyes could finally see them.

The challenge it puts forth now is to help me slow down even more. To not rush head long into the waiting vigor, but rather saunter with gaining confidence. I read a quote by the Persian poet Hāfez recently: “Run my dear, from anything that does not strengthen your precious budding wings.”

And I found truth in the thought of this settling-in actually representing the growth of wings. “The Angle will provide,” as we like to say, anyone with any opportunities that anywhere else can. It may not take the same form or shape, but the lesson to be learned is as sharp and useful, gentle and healing, wholesome and all-encompassing as the ones I would have learned had I chosen somewhere else to usher in this shift.

But no, I won’t run, as Hāfez counsels. Running from something has meant that I’ve had less time to understand and choose where I was running to.

No, I think I’ll walk. I think I’ll make a snow angel or two along the way. I think I’ll learn to sing. I think I’ll stop from time to time to string words together in composition celebrating that which I find beautiful, joyful. I think I’ll sway a full-hipped sway and relish being a woman in this unbalanced masculine world. I think I’ll learn to look at men differently, with gratitude and honor and respect for what they go through. I think I’ll settle-in and get to work.

But first, I think I’ll go fishing.

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Change is the only constant

Column 5 Published in the June 30th, 2015 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

Synchronicities. Gotta love ‘em.

I braved the mud of the garden to snip cilantro this evening and noticed that my sorel/kale/arugula/spinach mix has popped up nicely but is as lacy looking as a new bride’s underthings. Something’s been eating my greens!

After dinner, I relished a few quiet moments to read a bit from “Birch Waftings,” a collection of old Warroad Pioneer columns written by Oak Island resident Joyce Newcom in 1969-73. A dear neighbor had loaned it to me just that afternoon. One of the first entries I turned to was an anti-pest recipe: “1 strong onion (or 2 less potent ones) chopped; 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed; 4 Tbsp cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil in 1 gallon water. Strain. Pour into spray bottle and apply to plants….spray often and watch your garden carefully.”

I’ll be making this tomorrow and likely pinching my nose with a clothespin, as Mrs. Newcom suggests.

“The Angle provides,” my friends and I are often caught saying. Usually it’s in reference to a fabulous dump find at the Angle’s community shopping mall. But just as frequently of late, the Angle has provided in many different ways and even in advance!

Two gargantuan felt display boards came my way after several exchanges of hand a few weeks back. I had no idea how I would put them to use but hung on to them just in case, as any practical Angleite would. That use presented itself shortly thereafter when I needed a medium for the Northerly Park vision board to bring to the Lake of the Woods County Commissioners meeting.

Northerly Park, you ask?

There is a small, small group of devoted residents who are working through a grant application to build the most northern park in the lower 48. We have a grand vision and an even grander bureaucratic slog ahead of us, but we are optimistic. My FYI community outreach about the grant application may or may not be complete before this publishes, so if your lacy underthings have just bunched up, Fear Not. Everyone will have a chance to weigh-in.

That said, our application is due June 30 and we won’t know anything more until late fall. It makes me smile to see that the state government runs on Angle Time as well.

The new airport is all the talk these days. Even a border agent grilled me for several minutes about the Commissioners meeting and the likelihood of it all coming to pass. The car in line behind me surely assumed I was getting the third degree for the muddy state of my vehicle.

Yes, the airport is a reality, moving slowly forward on Angle Time of course—not unlike the grading of our gravel roads—but it is happening. A site has been selected just south of Jim’s Corner, away from most residential areas. We’ll still wake up to the throaty bugle of sandhill cranes instead of the buzz of a twin prop. Our little ones will still point skyward at the anomaly that is a passing aircraft, and we’ll finally have faster access to medical attention when emergencies arise.

Change is the only constant, as Heraclitus said some 2,500 years ago. But at least it happens at a snail’s pace here at the Angle. Even the crankiest of us have time to get used to an idea.

The June rains have not disappointed boaters and gardeners alike. Fishing has been great until the recent lightening, which does something inexplicable to their appetites or just plain spooks them. The bugs seem to have been beaten down a bit by the consistent rains, but I hear a menacing forewarning about the coming month in the ever-present buzz and hum.

Better add extra cayenne and garlic to that lettuce spray.