"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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Capturing Color

Gray has returned to us, just in time to provide the perfect backdrop to fall colors that are more vivid than any I can remember in recent years. I wandered into my yard yesterday morning, camera in hand, determined to capture as much of the color as I could. It's an annual ritual. I have probably hundreds of pictures of the dying flames of summer, and none come close to actually reproducing what my eyes see and my heart feels. Yet that doesn't stop me from trying.

As I snapped the sunset maple and the parrotia and the sumac and the blueberries and the burning bush my mind kept going back to the colors of last weekend. Then I found a perfect rose in the midst of all the fall splendor and that took me straight to memories of the women I shared the weekend with. 

A group of blogger friends met at an incredible house on a sweet island. We knew each other through our words, and the instant bonds that were formed in real life were absolute proof to me that the written word exposes both heart and soul in ways we might not ever realize. 

Some of us had met previously, but this group of six women, all in their sixties, with uncanny life connections, had never gathered as a unit before. A bystander would never have guessed from the nonstop chatter, the endless smiles, the frequent laughter. 

We all got lost on our way to meet each other. Two of us weren't technically lost, but thought we were, which turns out is pretty much the same thing. The other four had gotten really lost, the result of too many directions and a number of wrong turns. What was amazing was that our first contact of the weekend happened while two of us were on a ferry the rest of the group was waiting to catch. 

Fall was in full glory on Vashon Island, and we had a ringside seat to its beauty, illuminated under unseasonably sunny skies. Our home for the weekend was a three story, fully-restored, 1930s farmhouse. The air was redolent of the scent of lavender. Mt. Rainier stood faded and majestic in the distance like a sentinel watching over us. Water surrounded us, a soothing and envigorating presence, blessing us at every turn. 

I spent some time one afternoon wandering the grounds of Lavender Hill Farm, camera in hand, determined to capture the color and beauty of the place. I picked an apple and ate it, savoring the crisp and juicy wildness. I picked late raspberries and ate them, too, delighted with the pops of summer tartness on my tongue. I cut lavender, stopping often to look back up the hill to the porch where the rest of the women sat. 

As the youngest of the group I felt their presence above me like a protective shield. Wisdom, love, understanding, acceptance, curiosity, openness - all radiated toward me. Wandering in solitude, seeking color and magic, held in the larger hand that is the gift of aging women whose light shines as brightly as the fall colors do against the backdrop of graying skies. 

When I downloaded the pictures from our weekend, not one really captured the friendships, the color, the powerful energy our coming together created. They will, however serve to refresh the vivid splashes of memory I've carried with me all week, when they fade, as they inevitably will. 

I see DJan, the oldest of the group, just a few weeks left in her sixties. Beautiful, serene, and incredibly fit, she hikes and jumps out of airplanes and writes about all of it. She makes aging something to be looked forward to, to be envied even.

I see Linda, whom I'd met once before, and felt drawn to instantly. Since retirement she's traveled more than most people do in a lifetime. She says she's not adventurous, but shows no fear about facing any challenge before her. She inspires me to pursue  my own travel dreams with more intention. 

I see Jann, whose dry wit is even sharper in person and whose irreverence and honesty had us all laughing to the point of tears. She reminds me that truth does not have to hurt, but instead can bring light and lightness to any situation.

I see Sally, traveled the farthest from Colorado, the one whose words had offered me healing comfort in the weeks after Kathleen died. Fellow members of a terrible club, our bond all stronger for that, we found our sisterhood went beyond the deaths of our daughters. 

I see Sandi, my dear dear friend and sister of my soul. A fellow member of that terrible club, yet she is one of the most generous, open and loving people I know. We traveled together, coming and going, our friendship somehow strengthened through our contact with the other women.

All women in the fall of life, yet all full of flashing, flaming light that radiates both heat and the brightest colors imaginable. 

So while my camera cannot quite capture the full palette of fall, and my words will not quite capture the magic of our weekend, the woman that I am radiates more fully, more brightly, because of my time with five women whose vivid colors will shine forever in my heart.

Sandi, Sally, Jann, Linda, DJan


#1Nana said...

You captured the feel perfectly...damm you write well! The glow has stayed with me. Today I shopped for a frame for one of our group pictures and the Lavender Hill card. I will keep it in the room where I write to remind me of the power of words. It is magical that words brought us together.


What a lovely get away. Thanks for sharing your words and photo.
The rose resembles a beautiful painting and not a photo at all. Just too beautiful to be real.

Mrs Catch said...

So beautifully written. Amazing that you first met through the written word. That's just magic!

DJan said...

I suspected that the lyrical prose you write would capture the feeling of our magical weekend. I was so very right, Deb. Who you are, who all of you are to me, is captured in the word "Sisterhood." I have a set of angel cards and I pull one out every once in awhile to give me a sense of where I am today. That was the one that I pulled at random before the weekend. Thank you for this, and the pictures, Deb. I'm... (searching for the right word)... blessed. :-)

yaya said...

I envy your lovely weekend with great friends! The area looks so beautiful and you captured it without pictures because your words brought it all to reality. I'm so happy you were all able to enjoy it and each other.

Linda Myers said...

You make us all sound wondrous! Your words usually do that.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love that last photo! #1Nana said it best, "Damn you write well." You are able to put into words what I cannot. "The written word expresses heart and soul in ways we might not realize." I know our hearts connected through the written word. That is why we connected so deeply when we met.

Thanks for this beautifully written narrative about the special time we all had.

Barb said...

What a fabulous post on friendship and sisterhood, Deb. I "know" some of these women from their blogs, so I can imagine the laughter and stories and hugs you shared. Sounds like you all made some special memories.

Linda Reeder said...

What a beautiful post, about amazing and beautiful women.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Since I follow four of you, I have read many wonderful accounts of the weekend. I suspected yours would be eloquent and touching, and I was right.

Sandi said...

What a lovely, lyrical, magical post! You are so right, that the photos simply cannot capture the moments we shared, but oh, your words did exactly that. I will always treasure this golden weekend, wrapped in beauty, wisdom and laughter. Thanks for putting it all in words so eloquently! You are a master writer, my friend.

Donna said...

It sounds like an amazing gathering of incredible women! I would have enjoyed being a part of that sisterhood. I see what you have in common and am often wishing that I could meet fellow bloggers when they have written intensely comforting things in is cancer journey I am going through. They feel like friends...and they ARE, I just haven't met them yet. Good for you for being proactive and having the experience!

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

You're right, as I look at the photo I see that each woman's spirit stands out as a hue of her personality.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

This is so well expressed. I think you were all very fortunate to have had time together.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm so jealous. Sounds like an incredible weekend - like minds coming together in a beautiful place. A writer friend of mine worked on a piece for years about Vashon Island. Seemed like someplace everyone should visit.

Glad you had such a good time. Great photo.

kario said...

I am so pleased that your writing has brought you to this - the friendships, the revelations, the beach. I wish for you many more such adventures with wonderful friends.


Pam said...

What a great bunch you are - and all the richer in blessings for having met each other. Enjoyed your post Deb.

Amber said...

Wonderful! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.


Dee said...

Dear Deb, because I follow the blogs of DJan, Sally, and Sandi, yours is the fourth recounting of that magical weekend that you four and Linda and Jann spent together. Each of you has rejoiced in those days and shared with all of us the wonder of having blogger friends whose words have spoken to you through the ethernet and suddenly you were hearing those words spoken to you on that lovely island. It all sounds so magical.

And now I must visit Linda and Jann and discover for myself Linda's adventurous spirit and Jann's dry wit.

Thank you for your musings here and for your lovely words about the vibrancy of growing older and how it will flame out, as Hopkins would say, as "shook foil." Peace.

Anonymous said...

aaahhhh, what magical memories you have created, at once glue and oasis to draw from for a long, long time.