"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blueberry Meditation



The soft soil under my bare feet is both damp and warm. I stand rolling plump purplish pearls between thumb and index finger, one at a time, dropping them into the bucket belted at my waist. The one lone chickadee whose lunch I interrupted when I came out into the garden has long since flown. My mouth is full of blueberry nectar. My teeth wait patiently for the next frosted orb to pop.

One of the gifts of this strange summer is a very late crop which has somehow fooled the robins into leaving me the first picking of blueberries. Every other year I've had to wait until they got their fill and make do with the second or third round of ripening. I never mind sharing, but still enjoy the rare treat of the best my blueberry bushes have to offer.

The sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds, and the wind seems to be in on the game in gusts that reveal the light in increasingly long stretches. I absorb the heat into my skin, through the top of my head, like parched earth soaking up rain. And for the first time in days, I'm able to release my breath fully.

The reality of the next chapter of my life grows larger and more certain with each day that falls away. I look at the bright side, count my blessings, don't borrow trouble. I embrace each new day for the gifts it brings. I focus on the positive: being with kids, an income, the fact that I'm good at this thing I thought I'd never have to do again. And still the sadness works its way to the surface, and it will be heard no matter how hard I try not to give it power.

In the stillness of my blueberries I remember a June day two years ago when I was so full of joy and hope and determination. I was surrounded by an abundance of love and support; there was no way I wasn't going to fly where I meant to go, and beyond. I remember a year of adventure: agents queried, classes taken, classes taught, learning about the world of publication, making new friends, writing every day and feeling like a real writer to my bones. I remember a second year, this last one, that held as much darkness as the first year did light: realizing it's going to take longer to write this book than I'd ever anticipated, coming face to face with economic realities, a series of deaths, and now living with the impending loss of both freedom and the original shape of my dreams.

Popping a handful of blue sugar into my mouth I recall the long conversation I had yesterday with my friend and new teammate Kelly. Her presence in my life is one of those incongruities that leave no doubt about the presence and intervention of the Divine. Our story started this way. And now she's my guide back to a place I don't want to be. I couldn't ask for a better companion for this leg of my journey. We talked about kids and calendars and projects. She answered my many questions with patience and humor. We laughed—a lot.

My fingers gently tug berry after berry into the bucket. Wind stirs the tops of the trees and the clouds are magically gone. Sun keeps me company. Earth holds me, grounds me. I hold it all in this moment: gratitude to my generous friend, grief at one more loss, a flicker of anticipation at what the unknown future might hold.

76 comments:

DJan said...

Your writing in this is so spectacular, Deb. I read it twice, then went and read the links. You put so much pleasure into my life with your posts, how did I get by before?? :-)

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

I believe that anticipation is hope. Even if it is just a spark, that's all you will need to get yourself back. Fan it, don't douse it, my friend.

T

Stacy Crawford said...

Ah, I know this feeling you speak of. Getting ready to go back to school. Bittersweet. I hope you get you dreams even if differently than planned. (That seems what always happens to me.) I also love blueberry picking. It's nice to pick a berry without the thorns.

Lilith said...

I always chafe when I have to do things, even if it's something I'm good at and enjoy. Somehow the "must do" takes the spark out of it for me. Something I'm working on of course because I am a freaking work in progress forever. I think I'll have that written on tombstone. "She is a work in progress", not past tense.

I seem to have gotten off on a tangent here. I hope the fall goes well for you. Wish I'd had a teacher like you. Just saying.

Retired English Teacher said...

Deb, I hear the sense of disappointment and dashed hopes in this post. I understand. Teaching is hard. It drains. It takes your lifeblood at times. The days filled with creative giving of yourself and your talents leave one nearly unable to do anything else. I understand not wanting to be in the classroom when one want to use talents and abilities in another endeavor. I do understand all this. I hear what you are saying.

I also hear you expressing the necessities of life that teaching provides. I've learned not to discount these gifts of teaching. Relationships, both between students and colleagues enrich a life in a wonderful way. And, the other reality of life is: teaching pays a living wage. For me it also provided a retirement I thought I would never have. These are things for which I have learned to give thanks.

yaya said...

Any time we can be in nature having quiet thoughts and a delish snack ripe for the picking is a good day. I love your posts because your writing just speaks to the soul. I'm having similar thoughts and feelings about doing something I'm not looking forward too...I guess God has other plans for us! I can't wait for my blueberry bushes to get to the point of producing fruit..it will be many years I'm afraid!

Wanda said...

I so look forward to reading your book...and the one about this year.

Sandi said...

Oh Deb, I feel your sadness, and wish that it didn't have to be. Yet, I am reminded of something you sent me, about trusting that I am in the exact place I am supposed to be, and of course, that holds true for you as well. I know you know that.
As always, your eloquent voice is such a pleasure to hear through your words.
And don't you just love blueberry season!

Julia said...

Deb,
A wonderful post. I too feel you are right where you are supposed to be. The reason the universe has place you there will be revealed with great splendor to you when you are ready to know. With much love.

patricia said...

Deb, you and I are both in such a transitionary place it bring tears to my eyes. We will get to this and through this. We will get to the other side with blessings we now know not of. But for now, just uncertainty.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb, Often, I think, life is not an either/or situation. And with this posting you reflect that.
You need to return teaching this year but you need also to delight in your passion for writing. And who knows? Perhaps out of this year will come the seed of possibilities for future writing.

Last week, in a comment on your blog I quoted two lines from a Blake poem. Here's the rest of it. These words so apply to your approach to and appreciation of life and nature. "To see a world in a grain of sand/And a heaven in a wild flower,/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour."

Richard said...

You express your feelings with tremendous ease and gracefulness. Maybe, writing in your blog is a form of fulfilling your dreams. And how many blogs have been turned into books and movies? More than one.

Mark Lyons said...

I remember the June day...and simply want to remind you that this small hurdle doesn't diminish the FACT that you are an amazing writer. I don't know why you have to enter this next season, but I do know that it will only make the publication of your books and your career as a writer even more fulfilling. Always find the time to write...for you, and ALL of us.

I love you
Mark

Desiree said...

Deb, there is no debate about your skill as a writer. You ARE a writer! You are incredibly talented/gifted...don't ever lose sight of this FACT!

Your writing has such depth and richness. You express yourself with so much poise and grace. No one reads your words without feeling profoundly touched, altered at the core. Your time WILL COME! Never lose heart!

LauraX said...

Wanda..... said...

Whatever the future holds, you'll be doing it well, all the while providing beautiful serene writings...which resonate sadness is bearable, disappointment is endurable and somewhere, joy is there for the taking.

Charlene: the Polarblogger said...

I also find such times as picking berries great moments for meditation. It's kind of therapeutic too. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts in this delightful blog.

Linda Myers said...

Your blog is always a gift to read. Thank you.

Our blueberries are about a week behind you (and 180 miles north). Hopefully our birds have forgotten as well.

kario said...

You amaze me, my friend. I am always thrilled to see a new blog post is ready, if only because it allows me the time to sit quietly and feel your words eddy around me.

After a rough couple of days, one of the lessons of a previous post of mine came to me clearly: do not add energy to what you don't want by railing against it. Instead, direct your energy to what your heart desires. That is what you have done this year - written your heart out. And your writing will find its place. As will your teaching. I'm so excited for what this year will bring for you and Kelly and all of those students who will benefit from your love and wisdom.

Love.

LauraX said...

I just wanted to say hello Beautiful ♥ I am but want you to know I am thinking of you.

Out of My Mind said...

I was right there picking along with you. You have such a gift. You paint with your words. I am so glad that I found your site.

kt

Katie Gates said...

This post reminds me of the temporariness of everything. Times of great light are often followed by times of darkness. But there's always light around the corner, even when we can't quite see it yet.

Barb said...

I have a feeling this will truly be your year to bloom - like the blueberries, ripe for the picking. I'm busy in the summer, Deb, and behind on reading my favorite blogs. I hope you know I wish you well. I was a teacher, too , and know the consuming work load. I hope with your writing skills, you'll engage your students in journaling or quiet writing time. I did that once with 4th graders, and it was a most productive and joyful process. (It helps if you have volunteer adult readers for their writing! Not to "correct" but to guide and ask questions to take the children to the next level.) Good Luck to you!

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