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|