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Autumn Reflection

This is the post excerpt.

Leaves falling

A gentle breeze

Memories soaring

Through golden trees

 

An infant’s grasp

A lusty cry

A peaceful slumber

A sweet goodbye

 

Seasons turning

From age to age

As one book opens

We turn a page

 

A dear friend of mine recently celebrated the birth of her granddaughter, a little girl named Georgia. Within a month’s time, this same friend was grieving the loss of her 95 year old mother. Birth and death- the reality of life. One life begins as another passes on.

The autumn is nature’s way of reminding us of the passage of time. The leaves turn from summer green to vivid shades of yellow, gold, and russet, and soon carpet the forest floor. With winter’s arrival, a blanket of snow covers all.

Though it is sometimes sad to witness the falling leaves and the barren trees, we are heartened to know that with spring will come a renewal of life. Those same bare trees will again burgeon with verdant shades of green.

On a recent visit to Grandma’s, my little grandson and I walked to a nearby stream. The air was pungent with the aroma of decaying leaves as we trudged along, our shoes sinking in the mossy ground. We had to stop at least once to retrieve a little shoe, lost in the muck.

The noisy chatter of squirrels filled the air, as they scampered through the leaves, burying nuts for the upcoming winter. Apparently, the Eastern Grey Squirrel, like one of some 200 varieties worldwide, play an important role in what is known as seed dispersal. As winter approaches, squirrels carry their food and bury it in several locations. They hide more food than they will ever recover or eat. The buried seeds and nuts sprout and begin to grow in these locations the following spring.

That being said, when my grandson wanted to pick up acorns, I knew it probably wouldn’t matter to the squirrels. Our pockets soon full of acorns and nuts, we reached the stream. I held tightly to his waist as he tossed the acorns into the inky water. “Bye, bye, acorns!” We watched them slip below the surface, then headed home for cupcakes embellished with sugary frosting.

A seemingly insignificant interlude, yet one that reminds us of the precious aspect of time: like the autumn, all is fleeting.

autumn-reflection

Flower Power

I didn’t pen any words today

Instead I planted flowers

Instead of writing in the cool, still house

Nature filled my hours

 

Potting soil and watering cans

Geraniums and asters

Garden gloves and daffodils

In shades of alabaster

 

Bird songs and gentle breeze

Clouds and sudden showers

Grimy hands and creaky knees

A sense of nature’s power

 

Brilliant hues and fragrant scent

In intricate profusion

A mystery of frame and form

A magical illusion

 

I didn’t pen any words today

Instead I planted flowers

Overshadowing the written word

Nature overpowers

Visits to the Park

Some of the warmest and most cherished memories of my childhood center around visits to New York City to stay with my Aunt Alice. As I remember, Aunt Alice was a dear, charming lady in her late fifties. Plump and grey-haired, she always wore red lipstick, rouge, and nail polish.

She was a generous woman who laughed a lot despite the many hardships she had endured. To my child’s eye, she was glamorous and full of life.

Never married, she nonetheless loved children, and, fortunately, all of her sisters had married, providing her with numerous nieces and nephews upon whom she could lavish her affections.

Aunt Alice took her vacation during Easter week so she could take us on a springtime tour of the city. One of our daytime excursions would invariably be to the Central Park Zoo.

The day chosen for the park visit somehow managed to be one of the first warm, sunny spring days that touch the soul and imagination with joy. I can still see the long rows of red and yellow tulips, the young green buds on the trees. I can still hear the shouting laughter of children playing on the large boulders in one section of the park.

We girls were dressed in our Easter finery: puffy cotton dresses with Peter Pan collars, white anklets with lacy trim, and white Mary Janes. The boys sported slacks and white shirts that refused to stay tucked, and suit jackets that would be tossed over their shoulders as soon as the day warmed. Thus attired, we made our way along the sidewalks, past old men sitting on park benches soaking up the early spring sunshine, past crowds of laughing children. We toured the animal houses, fed peanuts to the chimps, clapped our hands at the seal’s antics, then collapsed, exhausted, with drippy ice cream cones at concession stand picnic benches.

My new shoes would hurt me, not being broken in properly. One of us would always get lost, if only for a short moment of panic. We usually managed to overeat enough hot dogs, cracker jacks, and ice cream pops that we couldn’t eat the sensible meal of pot roast waiting for us back at our grandmother’s apartment.

I couldn’t realize then, that decades later, I would think of those Eastery spring park days with such tenderness and fond recall. Still, I am convinced that Aunt Alice, gone now for many years, somehow knows that I remember and is pleased.

Birthday Blessings

“You say it’s your birthday? We’re gonna have a good time. I’m glad it’s your birthday! Happy birthday to you!”

Thanks to the Beatles from the White Album, 1968!

Yes, I just passed my birthday.

My daughter surprised me with an impromptu visit. There she was at the front door, armed with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and impossibly beautiful and decadent birthday cake. My husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren soon arrived.

A family celebration ensued, complete with wine and Italian take-out. The grandkids ran amok, and I realized how blessed I am.

No fair to ask my age! Suffice it to say that I remember in detail events from decades long past.

In the tumultuous ’60’s , my school years were punctuated by the heart-rendering assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.

In the disco era of the ’70’s, college, marriage, career, and a first born child had my head spinning.

By the Reagan era of the ’80’s, I was so busy with child birth, child rearing, and homemaking that I hardly had time to notice what was going on in the world!

As Clinton was elected, it was back to the career, and as the ’90’s morphed into the 2000’s, we were faced with the horror of 9/11.

Those years also brought the sadness and anguish of dealing with the aging and passing of dear parents.

And now, retirement and the joys of grand parenting.

“Sunrise, sunset,

Swiftly fly the years,

One season following another,

Laden with happiness, and tears.”

(lyrics from “Fiddler on the Roof”, 1964 Broadway musical, and 1971 film)

Although the seasons ahead are a mystery, I know my life has been a blessing.

Happy birthday to me.

My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses

And whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles

And warm woolen mittens…”

My apologies to Julie Andrews, but on this cold winter’s day I thought I’d make a list of MY favorite things.

 

CREATURE COMFORTS

  • a warm fire on a frosty night
  • a nice glass of Pinot Noir
  • cozy flannel sheets in a soft bed

YUMMY FOOD

  • perfectly grilled lamb chops with a hint of mint jelly
  • a large slice of pizza, dripping with cheese, sauce, and veggies
  • two layer strawberry shortcake, covered with whipped cream

TRAVEL

  • a trip to my favorite shopping center, preferably with a fat wad of cash or credit cards
  • a bus trip to New York City, complete with a knowledgeable guide to show me around
  • a round-trip ticket to a fabulous tropical destination, featuring a gorgeous, ocean-front hotel noted for its delicious cuisine

FRIENDS

  • a good friend to walk with on a silent, frosty morning
  • a friend to share a bottle of wine with on a sunny back porch
  • friends to discuss books and life with, while savoring snacks and desserts

FAMILY

  • Grandchildren to play hide and seek with, read books to, take walks with, and kiss and tuck into bed
  • Adult children to get technical advice from, go out to dinner with
  • a husband to sit with while watching our thousandth episode of NCIS

SEASONS

  • Winter to watch the snow fill up the back yard
  • Spring to marvel at the soft, creeping green covering the countryside
  • Summer to soak in the warm rays on a cushioned chaise lounge
  • Fall to smell the burning leaves, taste apples and pumpkin pie, and glory in the changing colors that cover the hills like a quilt covering a bed

FAITH

  • Peace in worshipping One who has me in His care
  • Hope in an afterlife where I will be reunited with loved ones
  • Firm belief in my soul’s eternity

…..These are a few of my favorite things!

 

 

 

 

Practicing Pilates

It’s the dead of winter, and surfaces are ice-covered and slippery, so there will be no walking on the Rail Trail.

What to do to combat that roll of flab that has inched on since the holidays?

Head to the YMCA for Pilates class!

What is Pilates, you ask? My google search claims it is “a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.”

That’s a mouthful!

It’s true that Pilates exercises improve strength, flexibility, and posture- and may even enhance mental awareness, but we have no special apparatus at our local YMCA! A mat on the floor, a warm, dimly lit room, and comfortable exercise clothes are the only requirements for our exercise routine.

More than a decade ago, I arrived at the “Y” to take my usual aerobics or kick-boxing class, but, tired and weighed down by work and family issues, I found that I lacked the energy and desire to participate. Then, I came upon a Pilates class about to begin. It looked peaceful, calm. Soft music, a mat on the floor.

I loved it that day and have, ever since.

It turns out that Pilates has quite an interesting history. Joseph Pilates, born in Germany in 1883, suffered from asthma as a child. Turning to exercise to combat his ailments, he developed a unique physical fitness system.

In 1912, he traveled to England where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War 1, Pilates was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals.

Puts me in mind of the internments of Japanese American families during the Second World War!

During his internment, Pilates trained fellow internees in his system of exercises. When the flu epidemic of 1918 killed thousands, not one of his trainees died.

After the war, Pilates returned to Germany but soon emigrated to the United States where he opened a fitness studio in New York City. Among his clients were dancers George Balanchine and Martha Graham.

By the time of his death in 1967, Pilates had gone mainstream, and today 10 million Americans practice Pilates.

So, how does one practice Pilates? As I mentioned, it is a floor exercise developed to improve flexibility and build strength in the “core” or “powerhouse”- consisting of muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips.

The 45 minute routine consists of such poses as “the hundred,” “the roll-up”, “the one leg stretch”, “the scissors”, and “the bicycle”. Other poses carry such humorous tags as “the teaser”, and “the seal”.

Our accomplished, enthusiastic instructor takes us through the poses, enhanced by relaxing music, often classical. Though not aerobic, the poses are surprisingly challenging.

My classmates and I leave with the realization that we have experienced a real workout.

In the doldrums of winter, it’s great to have the opportunity to engage in such a valuable, satisfying, and calming activity.

Thanks, Joseph Pilates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking the Rail Trail

It’s 6:50 a.m. and my alarm goes off. In the dark and quiet, I don my exercise clothes and head downstairs for a cup of coffee. A short drive later, I meet my friends for our daily walk on the Heritage Rail Trail.

Once the site of the Northern Central Railroad, the Rail Trail, completed in 1999,

extends more than 21 miles, winding through the scenic vistas of Southern York County from York, Pennsylvania, into northern Maryland.

Our daily walk consists of the trek from New Freedom to Railroad, a 3 mile round trip.

The Northern Central Railroad boasts an illustrious past. Once a vital link between Washington, Harrisburg, and upstate New York, it was a target for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Before the Battle of Gettysburg, rebels cut telegraph wires and destroyed bridges in an attempt to isolate Washington from the rest of the Union. Lincoln traveled these rails to Gettysburg to deliver his famous address.

Fitness experts consider walking to be the best exercise, and we couldn’t agree more. Fancy exercise attire? Expensive sneakers? Not. All we need are good walking shoes and comfortable clothes to suit the weather. On this morning, we are dressed to combat the freezing temperatures with coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. Eskimo fashion. In the dog days of summer, it’s shorts and tees, hats and sunglasses.

The scenery is endlessly awesome, from the first shoots of greenery in the spring, to the leafy ( and often buggy) expanses of summer, to the brilliant colors of fall and the bare branches of an icy winter.

The company we keep along the way? On cold days like today, nary a soul is crazy enough to brave the icy winds, but on more moderate weather days, we meet a contingent of dog walkers, runners, walkers, and bikers. The bikers are supposed to warn us of their approach from the rear by announcing, “On your left!”, but we’ve had a few close calls when they either forgot or were uninformed of the rule. No matter. We are just happy to be outside, enjoying the pleasures of nature.

So, walking and talking, whether with the young mothers pushing strollers, the speedy runners, or the slow but steady retired folk, we traverse the miles, appreciating the beauty and grateful for the freedom to walk the trail.