Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘nature’

RECOVERY YEAR ONE

Last summer, I wandered the streets and nature trails of Woodhaven Lakes with a great deal of sadness and hope for the future. Most of the shady streets were now bathed in sunshine. Many of the nature trails opened up to bare landscape or fallen — twisted trees. The devastation from the tornado was every where.

A year has passed and the landscape has changed. Most of the tornado damage has been removed — trailers, sheds, porches, decks and trees. The nature trails no longer are bare — wild flowers and other plants have filled up the spaces. Some new trees have been planted.

New trailers, room additions, porches, sheds and decks are every where. Many new trees have been planted on the owners lots. It will be a long time before they provide the missing shade but progress is being made.

It is still very easy to determine what areas have been affected by the tornado. Shade and huge trees are missing. Some huge trees have remained, either because of stronger roots or the direction of the winds so the terrain isn’t bare.

I asked a real estate broker if there had been a large change in the population. Her reply was that although some owners have left, many new people have arrived. They came out to look at the after effects of the tornado, liked what they saw and bought property.

We lost more than nine trees at the front of our lot and many more on the sides and back. We now have sunshine and a new deck with a roof to provide the missing shade. The roof even has a fan to provide some air movement when the breeze is missing. I have to admit that I am spending a lot of time out on the deck.

I didn’t realize how much the tornado had affected me. I had a deep sadness that did not want to lift. It was very hard to explain, in fact I wasn’t even aware that it was there. Now that it has lifted — I DON’T MISS IT. Seeing all the new growth — the new changes must have helped.

Fall has arrived. Soon we will close up the trailer for the winter. Many years ago we spent time at the camper in the winter. Cross country skiing, walks in the high snow, Christmas shopping all were part of our winter. I had a small Christmas tree, wreath and lights to decorate the trailer. We haven’t wandered out there in the winter for years. Wandering in high snow is no longer as easy as it was when I was young. Staying inside, sitting in a warm camper doesn’t have the same draw as when I was younger. Lets not even talk about the ice that forms on the roads over night.

This year the small tree and wreath will stay packed away. We will turn off the heat and winterize. We will bring all the food home. I will admit that I miss the days when we left stuff out for the occasional weekends away.

VIEW FROM THE PORCH

When we bought our property at the campground, we knew we were on the edge of the property. We didn’t realize how lucky we were. In the early days of the campground, cows were in the pasture across the road. I often walked across to visit. Various dogs of ours also crossed the road to visit the cows. I don’t think the cows were impressed. Time has passed and the cows are gone. Market conditions might have been the cause. Now the fields are planted with crop — grass, corn, beans, hay depending on the season and year. Our resident deer love to cross the road to graze on the various offerings. This year a mother and two fawn are going out for dinner.

Sometime along the way, a small park was installed across from us. Even though it is very small, it is a gathering place for many of the children. Last year when the tornado struck and demolished many trees, the second day we were allowed to return, I heard children’s voices coming from behind the trees. I wrote a speak up sheet asking that the park be replaced. I learned that the park hadn’t been in their plans but the speak up sheet worked. The park is even smaller — only a baby swing and a bigger swing, with a slide set. Last weekend 10 children were there at one time followed by other various groups. A red haired teenager took advantage of the swing and the quiet to have some quiet time of her own.

Our property faces south from which a breeze comes on most days. Thanks to the tornado, many of the trees are gone — the breeze isn’t blocked. When the temperature was in the 90’s, the breeze was a very welcome addition. Another advantage for us is that we are not close to the pools or the lakes. Even on busy weekends, our place is not crowded. Not having other campers across the road is also a blessing. Since it is so open, we can watch the lightening and the storms further south. Farmers cutting their crop. Once or twice a summer we are treated to crop dusting planes.

Recently we had the opportunity to purchase a self propelled used lawn mower. We have a service cut our lawn but not our son’s. The weed whacker my husband used was becoming too much work — equipment was needed. In the course of our conversation at the store, we learned that an antique tractor run was scheduled for the next day. Imagine our surprise when we saw the tractors on the back road, right across from our porch. I didn’t realize what I was seeing at first, so I didn’t count until 10 tractors had passed but I did get my camera for a couple of close shots.

STUCK

I hate to admit it but I’m STUCK! It is not a pleasant place to be in. I really don’t know the reason for this feeling — but I’m guessing its a combination of things. First my weight — which is up — stress, depression, the winter, the summer(?). This has been an interesting summer — cooler temperatures, less sunshine, and FALL seems to be arriving earlier. Trees are already losing their leaves — I guess they don’t like the weather either.

I love the Fall but I tend to get depressed. My birthday is in October — I’m a year older and I do a life review — What have I accomplished, etc. This year I’m feeling my age or more than my age. If I’m successful in losing some of the extra weight, I might feel younger. It would be lovely. Normally I don’t feel my age — 10 or 100, varies from day to day. Messages keep coming through that my life expectancy is long. In order to age gracefully, I need to be able to have a good quality of life.

Some how I need to break out of the mud — start a food plan to lose weight, exercise regularly. Etc. It doesn’t matter how often I tell myself these things. I resolve to start tomorrow. But someone said that tomorrow never comes. I planned to start today! But someone laughed and my plans changed.

We planned to be in the country last weekend. Plans changed, rain was predicted. We decided to stay in the city. I was able to go to the Mind, Body, Spirit Expo which I totally enjoyed. Finances are low right now so although I visited the vendors and the readers, I exchanged ideas and saved my money.

A new deck of cards revolving around trees has been created. I chose one, but didn’t write down the message. The face of the deck are trees: rendered in shades of lavender. I like trees. I was very upset when we lost our elm. It had sheltered our house for many years. It escaped the Dutch elm disease but was attacked by the Asian beetle. We kept the tree company as the city cut it down. We learned that it had the largest circumference of any elm tree in the city. We missed the tree and the shade it provided. When the city offered to replace it, we chose a locust tree — because it was fast growing.

Many years ago a Native American Indian counseled to hug a tree and I must admit that I have, many times. So when I had the opportunity to attend a lecture on the sprites that live in trees I did. The presenter has developed a technique to capture the image on film and has written several books on the subject. She passed around a box of rocks and told us to pick one. I close my eyes when given this opportunity and was amazed when I chose a quartz crystal. At the end of the presentation, we were told the best way to ask the spirits to appear and learned the power the rock we chose had. I discovered I had the king of the crystals and it has the power to communicate with all of the sprites.

To end the day, I attended the workshop of the designer of the Soul Trees. She encouraged each member of the audience to choose a card — the words on my card is Inner Power. As a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother plus author and painter, I’m sure that I have an Inner Power. I looked through her deck for the card I picked the day before without any success. At the end of the presentation, there was a meditation, with questions. I have trouble meditating — my mind is too active. But I closed my eyes and was given a gift. I “saw” a rock shelf, similar to a waterfall, in lavender with streams of silver, or white on the rocks. (??) Does that mean the blocks are lifting? I won’t mind.

JAPANESE GARDEN

I don’t know where my love of flowers and gardens comes from. My mother’s mother always had a garden with flowers and vegetables. Many of my aunts on my father’s side always had lovely flowers blooming in their yards. I inherited their love of flowers and when I learned of the Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois I knew I wanted to go. A short announcement on a television program brought it to my attention. There is something about the sound of falling water mixing with the stones and trees in a Japanese Garden that sets it apart from other types. We planned to go on Thursday until I saw the weather forecast. Just for fun — I was going to wear a kimono type dress that I bought in Oahu.  Thursday’s temperature was forecast to be 94 and humid. We left very early on Tuesday morning, the temperature was already 73 degrees heading for 92. I wore a tank top and shorts. I’ll leave the kimono for another time.

We were at the garden by 10:30. We received a map detailing the various statues and buildings on the site. The garden is divided into two parts — the first is ancient Japan, with bamboo chairs and buildings, the second is modern — metal chairs, umbrellas for shade. Luckily there were many shaded areas and plenty of benches and other resting places. A light breeze was blowing as were made our way around. A few clouds passed by providing more shade. When I looked the garden up on the internet, their website had many lovely pictures of the garden which I thought were taken in May when azaleas were in bloom. I was very happy to see many flowering plants in various places in July. I loved the rocks — I saw a laughing face in one when we started our tour.

We heard the tall waterfall by the tea house before we saw it. I tried to meditate in a shelter near the waterfall but meditation has never been my strong suite.  It is no longer possible to climb to the top bridge by the waterfall because of insurance. Sitting on a rock in the middle of the pond were 8 yellow and brown bundles, little ducklings snuggled together while their mother swam near by. A lovely gift. I wondered if they were meditating.

The map referenced a raccoon husband and wife. Although I looked for statues and rocks I had not seen the pair. While my husband rested, I retraced my steps without any luck. Luckily a workman was nearby who knew where they were hiding — and hiding they were. The wife sculpture was next to a bench, the husband behind the leaves of a tree.

I would liked to have spent more time in the garden but the temperature was already rising. I learned that it is also very pretty in the Fall when the leaves are changing. We will have to go back. Maybe then I will wear my kimono.

HOME AGAIN

Fair warning. I try to keep my rambles around 500 words but this one is a bit longer.

The last time we visited Hawaii , the trade winds were also on vacation and it was very hot. I packed for hot, not cool temperatures. SURPRISE — the trade winds were on vacation, the surf was flat and the sky was cloudy, and the temperature was on the cooler side. But you see, I have friends in high places that take care of me. Saturday, our first night, my camera stopped working. I took the battery out, wiped it off and replaced it. The camera worked but when my husband phoned and I told him about my camera, he strongly suggested I get a new one. I thought we would visit Costco on the rainy Sunday and check out cameras. Lost, wandering the streets via car we found China Town and the Ala Moana Mall. I was told there was a Foodland Grocery store in the Mall and I wanted a couple of items. Huge Mall, many high end, expensive stores. As we were leaving, I noticed a sign that the Sears store was closing — 50% off. An hour later, I had cool weather clothes — a new sweater, long slacks, a terry cloth hooded jacket and a long sleeve shirt — all at an amazing price. Thank You! We found the food store too, it was tiny but I got a couple of things.

Monday, another cooler, rainy day. We headed for the International Market. I won’t bore you with my purchases, let’s just say I’m learning how to bargain. A Post office is located in the Market. I bought stamps and mailed my post cards. Monday evening we chatted with a couple from Canada that drove the whole island in 2 days. They didn’t see any sea turtles on the North Shore, even though they stopped at four beaches but they found a shrimp truck that served delicious food.

Tuesday — sunny skies, we headed for the North Shore, hoping to see turtles. My son pulled into a tiny parking place off of a small beach. When we climbed down to the shore, a sea turtle slowly made his way up from the water. He was expected — two turtle watchers were on guard to make sure he was safe. I learned that Brutus came on shore to rest and warm up. Once he stayed 50 hours. One of the watchers shared stories with us, including how they knew his sex and name. THANK YOU!

While on the North Shore we visited Waimea Valley. Before leaving for Hawaii, I looked at my Hawaiian cookbooks. I decided that I only wanted to buy a new one if it had nutritional information and the recipes were on the lighter side. Even though I looked at the Mall and the Market, I didn’t see any cookbooks. At the store at the Valley I found what I was looking for. Thank You!

A shuttle is available to take visitors up to the water fall which is 3/4 of a mile up the trail but my son wanted to walk. It wasn’t too hot — since my energy had increased a bit, I thought I could walk it too. Right place, right time — as we headed up the trail, a tour just began. Needless to say, we joined the group. The guide told us she was known as the “bird whistler” when I asked if she knew the identity of the bird that was calling. An ancient village was located on the site — she was very knowledgeable about the culture of her people. Sadly, the tour ended at the end of the village and we still had a long way to go. The waterfall was smaller than I expected, the pool of water at the base was 30 feet deep, but we didn’t bring our bathing suits and now it was hot. I took the shuttle back down.

We didn’t find the famous shrimp truck but found another along the highway. On the North Shore I found a real supermarket. I wanted apple cider vinegar. I didn’t bring some from home and my tummy was acting up but I was able to restrain myself and only buy a couple of items. I kept reminding myself of all I had purchased on Sunday and how many days we had left. We got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way back to our hotel. Abandoning the highway, we got lost again and found Costco. Which was extremely crowded, but we also found Quiznos — sandwiches for a late night supper.

I call Wednesday  TEACHERS DAY. I gave the attendant at the small store in our hotel information on compression stockings, since I was wearing mine and he noticed. My son shared computer information with the owner of a store at the International Market whose computer was down.

Thankfully, I was able to go in the hot tub and the pool. My son went for afternoon walks without me and saw sea turtles feeding. Our last day — I went for an afternoon walk with him and saw turtles too. On the walk, my cell phone rang. It was a friend who was inviting my husband for dinner. I have no idea how I got included in their conversation. Neither phoned me.

Traffic was horrible on the drive to the airport. Luckily we had plenty of time but we had to find a gas station. My son turned off onto a side street which also had horrible traffic. He drove through the parking lot of a library and I saw a gas station a short distance away. Hawaii is supposed to have the worst traffic in the Nation. I believe it — our pilot and airplane personnel were late for take off — stuck in traffic.

Did I have “help” on this trip. Let’s see —  Lost — but found  — sale on clothes I needed; meet and greet a turtle; find a cookbook; join a guided tour; enough energy for most of the walks; saw sea turtles feeding; an interesting phone call; on time at the airport; — and I only mentioned the highlights, leaving out all the interesting people we talked to and meals I enjoyed. One last thought — I took over 500 photos, no more problems with my camera. Did I say Thank You?  –DAILY!

IT’S BACK

Yesterday was the anniversary of my father’s passing. I have to admit that I didn’t remember. Lexie, our energizer Pug, woke at 4:30 – barking for assistance. I hate to admit that I didn’t come to her aid. The temperature outside was predicted to be frigid, in the single digits with zero wind chill. It was early and I could hear the wind howling. When I finally surfaced at 5:30, I had clean up to do: her blanket, her pillow and herself. Not her fault, she asked for help.

The wind continued all day — my husband strongly suggested I stay inside and for a change I listened. I took advantage of downtime and made chicken soup. I ordered a few books from Amazon. I began to pack for our trip to my youngest daughter’s to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. I pulled the bag from my closet and took out the sunscreen and other ointments — they were not needed in frigid temperatures. I have used the bag many times since our trip to the Wisconsin Dells in October. Not only have I used it many times since October but I have completely emptied it many times!

Why am I going on and on about the bag? I am still amazed. In October, I lost a cash card. Not only was the cash card lost, but the receipts for purchases that we made on our trip were with it.  It was very important to me that the envelope was found. I guess you can surmise that it WASN’T! I looked in our car, I looked in ALL the bags I had with me. I looked at our camper. I looked and Looked and LOOKED without success.

Yesterday, the anniversary of my father’s passing; the cash card and the receipts were returned. They were in the bag that I always use. I HAVE NO ANSWER! The envelope WAS NOT there before! NOW IT WAS! Thank you! THIS WILL REMAIN ONE OF THE MYSTERIES OF MY LIFE. I’m glad it was returned.

I might have mentioned that a vascular surgeon is putting a soft boot on my leg to get the ulcers to heal. Although the boot is working, it is causing other problems. The skin on my heel cracked. On my dresser, I had a couple of tubes of ointment for dry skin. One of them was Carmex healing cream. I didn’t remember where I had purchased it. But it worked. In fact it worked within TWO DAYS. I WANTED more. The pharmacy at the hospital didn’t have it, and couldn’t order it.

I tried CVS by our house. They had the lotion but not the healing cream. They phoned a store that is about a half mile away. They had one in stock. Rain was forecast but I thought I had enough time. Instead of returning home for the car, I walked. Moisture was in the air and I didn’t have an umbrella. It was 52 degrees under cloudy skies. After purchasing the cream, I started for home. On the way, I found SIX PENNIES on the ground. Thankfully, the rain held off until I reached home.

WINTER STARTS TONIGHT

The temperature has been up and down, mostly in the 40’s, with a cloud cover that has hid the sun. Finally temperatures in the 60’s with sun was promised. Except, Sunday, in time for the Bears night time football game, rain, dropping temperatures and possibly SNOW was forecast.

Our youngest grandchildren were in town for the weekend. We planned to visit Brookfield Zoo — we had the car packed for the short trip, then our oldest daughter phoned. She lives about 25 miles West of Chicago. She thought we should know that a thunderstorm was over her house. Just as quickly, plans changed. We visited the playlot at McDonald’s instead. We stayed dry, the kids had fun.

Sunday, a high wind advisory  from 10:00 AM till 8:00 PM was forecast. Our youngest daughter and kids left early in the morning to beat the weather. I have wanted to go to Botanical Gardens for a few weeks — today was the day. Some sun, warmer temperatures, lots of clouds and even more wind — not a bad day.

I was surprised by many things. First the colors. Autumn colors were everywhere. Weeping willow trees danced, golden in the wind. Grasses in gold, orange and rust added their own color. Many, many varieties of roses were abundant. Mums and asters — autumn flowers were everywhere. I even saw a couple of gladioli and some pansies. I was very surprised– the waterfall was still running. I spent some time, sitting on a bench, enjoying the sun shine and cascading water. When I asked a female Mallard duck if she was all alone, she turned and swam under the bridge and reappeared with the male.

Families with young children were everywhere. A young girl sat on a bench, an array of colored pencils in her lap, and worked on a drawing. Her mother mentioned that her daughter’s first grade class came to the garden to draw a couple of years ago. That is when her interest in drawing began.

I watched a young Chinese maiden, dressed in yoga attire, pose for pictures at the waterfall and on the bridge to the Japanese Garden. I learned she writes articles for a magazine on the Chinese Internet.

Walking down a path, I noticed a couple of people taking pictures of a tree. Looking up, I spotted the object of their interest — a brown tailed hawk watching from its high perch.

I almost finished walking the garden, when my camera refused to take any more pictures.

Leaving the garden, I passed a short, heavy-set, white-haired, older woman pushing a walker, the basket overflowing with stuff. I couldn’t see if it was a coat, a sweater, or a blanket, or all of the above. No one was walking with her.

Questions rose like bubbles in my mind. Was she alone? How did she get to the garden? Did she drive?

She reminded me of my maternal grandmother whose birthday is this week. My grandmother didn’t drive, but she didn’t stay home either. In a safer world, living in rural Wisconsin, she hitch hiked.

It was a normal weekend —  but then, wandering with Spirit usually is.

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