Grace

Grace

 

A few years ago, a friend of mine, 44 years old at the time, told me that he had just returned from a meeting with a team of medical specialists in Philadelphia, where he had received definitive diagnosis of his health condition that had eluded the regional medical community for many months.

His diagnosis was not good. Left untreated, the tumor in his chest would exact a fairly swift, painful death. Treat the growth with radiation only, and expect to die within the next 21 months. Have the lung upon which the cancer was feeding removed, and maybe live up to 150 months.

“The worst news of my life.” he told me.

He had two young sons that he adored. In 2 years, they would be barely in their teens. In 12 years they would just be of the age to marry, and begin a family of their own.

He recounted sitting quietly alone in his SUV in the cold, echoey, parking garage of the doctor’s office, ruminating over the news he had just received.

It was contrary to his nature to avoid a challenge. Before leaving the meeting, he had already decided to undergo the surgery, and subsequent radiation treatments if necessary.

Collecting himself, he figured the next right thing to do is to get home, make some phone calls, and schedule appointments and housing in Philly for his prescribed surgery and extended battery of treatments.

The decision made, and now anxious to execute his plan, he turned the key in the ignition, and rushed the big SUV toward the exit, squealing tires echoing against the cold, gray, concrete walls of the garage.

Just as he reached the exit, a sun-glass clad fellow in a business suit, walking on the sunny sidewalk outside of the garage exit, stepped into the path of the SUV so quickly that my friend almost hit him – stopping so close that only the chest and shoulders of the pedestrian remained visible above the black hood of the vehicle.

The fellow in the suit continued his leisurely amble in front of the car, refusing to acknowledge the near collision, or make eye contact with my friend.

Never known for his patience, my friend lowered the passenger side window so he could directly vent some well deserved rage at this apparent idiot who walked in front of his car, almost got hit, nearly adding injuring or killing a person to the day upon which he received “The worst news of my life.”

As the window lowered to it’s fullest extent, my friend could hear a gentle “click, click, click” from the sidewalk. He then noticed that the sounds corresponded to a subtle movement of the man’s shoulder. An instant later, the white red-tipped cane became visible as the man progressed past the SUV. My friend remained silent as he pressed the button to raise the window.

As my friend watched the man continue on his way down the sidewalk,  he thought to himself “I’m not having such a bad day after all”.

Kevin shared these thoughts with me years ago, and said “There, there is your next Wanderlist story”.

Optimistic about his situation, I thought that we would share at least a few more years of friendship. I’d flesh out the notes I took, and finish the story “someday”.  As is human nature, I never really knew when “someday” would be; apparently, “today” is “someday”.

I believe that Kevin’s story is an example of compassion. Every day, we are all challenged or suffering in one way or another. Sometimes our afflictions are obvious to ourselves and others, sometimes not.

Being occupied with one’s own difficulties, real or imagined, can callous us to the suffering of others, thus worsening our collective situation.

On the day he received “The worst news of my life”,  it would have been understandable, though no less tragic, had Kevin been so distracted with his own difficulties that he pressed the brake an instant later,  injuring or killing someone else.

Strength of character, grace, and mindfulness allowed Kevin to rise above his understandably negative emotions,  be present in the moment, and bring to mind compassion for others, thus not making worse an already difficult day.

Thank you, Kevin for sharing about the day you received “The worst news of my life”. I hope my words reflect your thoughts.

Rest well. Peace be the journey, my friend.

 

 

Sleepy Susans

sleepy_susans

With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer, it is time to begin putting your garden to bed for the upcoming winter.

After a glorious summer display, the garden may now be looking a bit thin and worn. Late bloomers including shrub roses and the
black-eyed Susans will continue on for a while, but the end is in sight and it’s time to pull out the list.

The Garden To-Do List

– As vegetables and flowers fade, rake out beds and leaves; add to the compost pile.
– Purchase spring bulbs for October planting.
– Keep lawn mowed to two inches and water well.
– Start to divide and transplant perennials and shrubs.
– Discontinue fertilization of most flowering shrubs.
– Plant new trees and shrubs – though not too deep; water well and add mulch.
– Seriously hydrate your flowering shrubs and trees, preparing them for winter.
– Get outdoor houseplants ready for indoor life – make sure they are free of disease and insects by cleaning with a mild diluted soap
and water.

Labor Day

geeseIn one field, one can see hay bales, evidence of work completed, and geese resting en route to their winter homes; a scene of work in progress.

Geese, whose only work seems to be to fly north or south dependant on the season, often frequent this meadow throughout the summer,
though they generally take to the small pond across the road in small families. Early in the summer, goslings follow their parents around this small pond, eating, growing and strengthening, preparing for their first migration.

This time of year, however, the field hosts large gaggles, probably not locals; visitors on their way to their southern home.

This weekend, along with Memorial Day, are the holiday bookends of the Summer season. It will be hard to wander around The Hill for
the next few days without running into great food, music, and festivities.

And if you feel the need, enjoy the La Festa Italiana Scranton – more food, more music, and more festivities, before retiring to the
bucolic quiescence of The Hill.

Change

change

It seemed like Summer would never end, but on a recent hike up Elk, with careful attention one could see that the most subtle of the
first pale golds and reds of Autumn have emerged amongst the vibrant greens of Summer; harbingers of the change of seasons.

“The more things change, the more they are the same”. “The only constant is change”.

Observing change does seem to bring out the philosopher in folks. Some believe that absolutely nothing is static – everything is
always changing. People are either growing up or growing old; seasons are either coming or going; the moon is either waxing or waning.

On the annual solstices, after steadily progressing across the horizon for months, there is a moment when the days are no longer
lengthening or shortening. The earth reaches the extent of it’s tilt and the sun appears to stand still, even if just for
an instant.

It often seems that many of us succumb to the illusion of stillness as we go through life. We see things as concrete, immutable,
the same today as they were yesterday, and so, logically, they must be the same tomorrow.

If one abandons oneself and embraces constant change, the world takes on a very different character, one ripe with previously
unrecognized possibilities.

To comfort her child, a mother told her son, what her mother had told her: “Things change. If times are difficult, have faith,
things will get easier. If you are having a great time, live it up, because, well, things will change to when times are not so good…”

The son took these words to heart, and, while pondering, applied logic to this wisdom, and found that when one is
having a good time, things will change; however, not necessarily to the bad.

It is logical, and possible, and with mindfulness, probable, that things may get even better than one could have possibly imagined.

Black Eyed Susan

black_eyed_susan

Wikipedia reports: “Rudbeckia hirta, commonly called black-eyed Susan, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the

Eastern and Central United States. It is one of a number of plants with the common name black-eyed Susan. Other common names
for this plant include: brown-eyed Susan, brown Betty, gloriosa daisy, golden Jerusalem, Poorland daisy, yellow daisy, and
yellow ox-eye daisy.

The plant also is a traditional Native American medicinal herb in several tribal nations; believed in those cultures to be a remedy,
among other things, for colds, flu, infection, swelling and (topically, by poultice) for snake bite (although not all parts of the
plant are edible).”

Twilight Buck

twilight_buckSilhouetted at the meadow crest near sunset, this fellow returned my gaze for quite some time, though with very little interest.

As his antlers have only 2 points to a side, he’ll not be considered fair game this deer season, and will be left to develop his rack
for at least one more year. Soon, he’ll rub against trees and scrape the soft velvet from his antlers, backlit here by the fading sun,
leaving them white and bony.

Maybe it was the sultry evening weather, or perhaps the time of year, but this young buck, along with his harem, maintained a
demeanor of calm disinterest despite my presence.

The rut and colder weather, harbinger of hunting season, along with the necessity of foraging beneath snow, is not far off.

But today, this evening, there is nothing to worry about, nothing to do, but nibble the best grass of the season, amongst
family and loved ones, and swim in the soothing twilight of August.

Forest City

forest_city“So named being settled in heavy forests” is the phrase that greets residents and visitors as they enter Main Street

Forest City, also known as a “mile of hospitality”.

Tonight and tomorrow is the perfect time to come out and explore Forest City during it’s 150th anniversary celebration.

From local sculpture, art, and literary events to pierogi eating contests – there’s something for everyone!

Check the Wanderlist for events, and click the link below for a printable schedule of events to take with you while
wandering about this wonderful town!

Pear

pearDespite having lost it’s mate several years ago, this pear tree is bearing fruit this year. This pear will cling to it’s branch and continue to grow until the first frost of Autumn, at least a couple of months away.

Of more immediate interest is the abundance of raspberries and blueberries that are now, or mere days away from being ready for harvest.

The Clifford Fireman’s Picnic starts tonight, and continues on Friday and Saturday nights with food, music, fireworks and friends. Forest City’s week long 150th Anniversary Celebration begins Saturday with Christmas in July Sidewalk Sales, Flea Market & Farmer’s
Market on Main Street, and continues with events and programs of interest for townspeople and visitors alike.

It comes to mind now, how last Spring never seemed to want to arrive, leaving us dwelling in a landscape of seemingly endless cold,
dark, and gray. Today, a near perfect Pennsylvania Summer day urges us to make the most of the days and weeks ahead. Whether you’re on the Clifford or the Forest City side of The Hill, or as some of us do, visit both regularly, this is the time to enjoy the bounty
of life.

Fruits and vegetables are ripening – fresh tastes that just aren’t available in the Winter. Folks are out and about, wandering along the streets of the town, or ambling about the picnic grounds, all with a festive demeanor, seeking out old friends and new looking to share stories that begin with “I remember when…”, as well as “How was your day today?”.

Yup, this is it; the peak of the Summer. Stock up now on good food, delicious tastes, and exuberant camaraderie. The days have already
begun to shorten…