Category Archives: Weather

Just-Doing-That-Moon: Everyday Magic, Day 893

Snow, do you forsake the forsythia?

This land’s Osage Indians, like many tribal people, named each month for its ecological context, bestowing upon March the name of “Just-Doing-That Moon” If it rains, it’s just doing that. If it tornadoes, it’s just doing that. If it’s crazy wind and wildly hot, it’s just doing that, and if it snows, it’s of course just doing that.

Today, after a week of thunder storms, hot and wild wind, balmy breezes, and an explosion of magnolia, daffodil, hyacinth, forsythia, and all manner of blooming trees, it’s time for snow. Here is a poem I wrote about this stretch of the season from my book Landed:

Just-Doing-That-Moon

The cupboards licked clean by grief,

I open the front door anyway.

Ice wind, hot sun – too much or too little.

I close the door.

Give me an hour, and the cupboards

fill again with cans and boxes ready

to warm the belly, add weight

to the thin blue glass dinner plates

while the wind turns balmy,

the sky seamlessly white,

both of which scour the ground

which wants something planted

but not just yet.

Close my eyes, the dreams bleed

and quicken, just like this March weather:

a rush overhead as if the bare sycamore

is a canopy of faces, all the ancestors

at their tea party. Open my eyes,

and I can’t remember anything

but this old dog grief, chasing rabbits

Yup, the blossoming peach tree

in his sleep, always hungry.

When I open the night door to the

Just-doing-that moon, I forget all but

the surprise of snow at midnight

that falls so lightly, it can rest on

the lip of the first daffodil.

Tucked into the Clouds: Everyday Magic, Day 888

img_2966For days, it’s been overcast with an active sky varying hews of gray in between tossing out ice pellets, a bit of sleet and freezing rain, a lot of regular rain, and a smoky sense of being. Although we avoided the potential big ice storm in this town, thankfully keeping our electricity and most trees intact, there’s no sunshine to be found for miles, which doesn’t cheer me.

But what there is: a dog napping on the couch behind Christmas lights adorning shelves for the cats to climb and sleep on, skillet corn bread baking in the oven, and Ken typing on his computer to my right, and classical music on the radio to my right. The ice-encased tall grasses around our house are free to shift slightly in the warming air, and for the first time in days, there’s some variation of gray with darker clouds on top and foggy horizons lightening up to almost white. There’s also hot tea in the mornings and warm piles of quilts at bedtime, piles of books, a happily-used simg_2965ewing machine and lots of colorful fabric, and a lovely time to pause and watch the junos and chickadees eat the birdseed on the deck.

Eventually, the clouds will dissipate, but for now, here we are despite whatever human-made turmoil rolls into and out of form close by or far away. In the distance, here is also a lone great blue heron winging her way back to the water as whatever is changing unfurls in its quiet and active ways.

Right Before the Storm: Everyday Magic, Day 869

The sky is steely blue and getting steelier as the silver-gray of the coming storm flushes the expanse from horizon on up. The hummingbirds are strangely quiet as they balance-dip their beaks into the feeder. The wind is almost still on one side of the Osage orange tree, and ruffling itself to distraction on the other side. The car windshields are a bit wary, having heard the predictions for 60 mph winds and penny-size hail.

It’s been a while since a big storm came my way, mostly because I was out of the way in Vermont and Maine where, beautiful as it was, summer weather is tamer. Not quite enough heat or space, particularly that big spread of land between here and the Rockies where a line of storms can pick up a lot of energy and speed. The radio tells us what exits of the interstate are affected as well as the long list of counties.

Although the storms may not get here for two or more hours, we all know it’s coming, the gravel driveway, the hungry flowerpots, and me. As the temperatures drop and winds pick up, we exhale, happy to be here.

Insomnia with Stars, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning Bugs: Everyday Magic, Day 866

There’s something to said for seeing in the dark especially when the first rain in weeks makes both a dramatic and gentle entrance, adorned with lightning bugs filling the fields, stars to the south, and lightning flashes turning on and off the vista of clouds.

There’s something also to be said for listening closely when thunder echoes within echoes, opening up caves within caves of the sky, the wind barely trips leaf against leaf, and filling it all are thousands of tiny pings of rain.

It’s a still life for the senses, only instead of a canvas, it’s life being life in this place at this moment. A crooked bolt shines on down before vanishing. The car hoods glow metallic every few moments. Inside, the dog stands up very concerned, then lies back down. Outside, the tomato plants out back and hostas out front drink it all in, me too sitting on the porch, awake when I should be asleep.

Sometimes life rocks us into its beautiful cradle, and eventually, I hope, toward refreshing sleep. But for now, this is enough.

Charles Is A Force of Nature: Everyday Magic, Day 862

IMG_0873Just now, the wind picked itself up and gusted up to 40 mph after the very still, humid and over-the-top hot day of Charles’ death. No rain, no storm, no big wind expected, but as I write this, in the dark on the porch, the sky flashes all directions in dark purple and curls of lightning, a lone cricket sings his song, and the wind is moving some of the furniture just a little. Thunder rumbles to the west, some young trees go horizontal, and I know this force of nature has a name: Charles.

Charles was one of the first Lawrencians I ever met, in about 1981 when I was a member of the Kansas City Sufi community, where Charles and his wife Khabira would sometimes visit. I was dazzled by Charles’ exuberance about Dances of Universal Peace and, as I learned over the years, most things. It’s an understatement to say he’s one of the most enthusiastic people on the planet, embracing many paths and many communities. Charles was a Jew, a Sufi, a Shaker, a Quaker, a Buddhist, and likely felt kinship with many other spiritual traditions. He dealt in Volkswagen repair, real estate transactions and management, mentoring men, and lots more. A father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was especially excited about his family, and he bowed with his hands together at heart center whenever he saw us as if we were each his favorite human.

Charles died this morning at our local hospital after years of cancer and months of an especially difficult end. I was going to visit him in the afternoon with Ken, but because of a mix-up regarding differing news of his condition, I went over earlier to find Khabira and the lovely hospice people sitting quietly. I plopped myself on the stool next to Charles, and asked how he was doing. “Oh, did you not know?” Khabira asked. When she told me, I burst out crying, shocked that a long-time-coming death could actually come.

Sitting by Charles, I was struck by what I’ve experienced at other deaths, including my father’s: how death seems strangely ordinary. Dying? Not so much, and especially not in Charles’ case after weeks of intense pain, love, holding on, letting go, and the combination of uncertainty, morphine and cancer that spins everything into a vortex. But death, this fresh and close-up, as many remarked over the day, is so surrealistic. How could someone alive be dead when life titters on its meanderings, noise and heat all around us?

IMG_0875The time in the hospital was infused with peace and sadness, forms to fill out, calls to make, and puzzling over what of our collective vehicles was the best way to get Charles from hospital to home where the family was doing its own home-grown funeral direction. We settled on a van even though seats had to be removed, and soon, some of us were carrying Charles into his office, a separate building behind his home. We had a cardboard insta-coffin to fold together after deciding to put the “handle with extreme care” side on the inside so that tomorrow, friends and family can decorate the outside with messages and images of love and goodbye.

In little time, off the cuff and steering by the heart, we made a ceremony of washing the body, moving Charles into the cardboard coffin, and with lots of hard work and engineering (and a pair of scissors), getting him into a beautiful robe he’s worn for many religious occasions. Ken and one of the hospice people lifted his head and shoulders enough for me to wrap his Tallis, a Jewish prayer shawl he had for years and that Jews are customarily buried in, around him. I even wound one of the fringes of the tallis around his finger, a sign of active prayer. Throughout the work of our hands, we sang one of my Charles’ favorite Sufi songs — “Listen, Listen, Listen to My Heart Song,” read some blessings for the body and four directions, burned sage, sprinkled holy water and rose petals on him, and learned how to activate bags of dry ice. The whole thing was simple, spontaneous, necessary and tender.

UntitledNow Charles the Storm envelopes us, breaking the heat wave for this moment with cool wind and sweet rain. “I’ve never seen a storm on radar like this one,” Ken says right now as he sits beside me in the dark.

“What is this storm like?” I ask.

“Indescribable. It’s like there’s a mega storm with a huge center, just west of here spinning off all these thunderstorms.”

We look at radar, and see a wheel of weather, sending change many directions at once. Not an ordinary storm but a force of nature, like Charles: original, life-giving, exuberant, and full of magic. All around, there’s lightning bugs and lightning, wave and particle, a big fireworks display across the clouds in the shapes of fast-moving rivers or tree branchings, and in the fields, thousands of small lanterns blinking on and off like heartbeats. Dance in peace, dear friend.

Yup, It’s Hot Out, But It’s Also Kind of Lovely: Everyday Magic, Day 861

It’s hot, and it will be hot for the foreseeable future with highs in the 90s through most of the rest of June. Then it turns July, when it’s 100 degrees most days, and the nights not much cooler. So it’s a time to adjust expectations, walk quickly through the heat, and always carry a big hat. I’m falling in with accepting that it’s hot today, it will be hot tomorrow, and any sudden shivers won’t likely show up for months. I’m also remembering how to do summer:

  • Dinner? Something cold, unless the air-conditioning is powerful, like half a cantaloupe and some smoked fish, or even better, sorbet with chocolate sprinkles. Crackers are also good.
  • The pool. The water will feel bathtub-temperatured after about a minute, but that first minute is divine. The air feels lovely and cool to the face lifting out of the water.
  • Iced water, iced tea, iced smoothies, iced coffee, iced coconut-flavored fizz water.
  • Movie theaters: summer is why they’re here.
  • Gardening early in the morning when it’s only about 88 degrees and o0% humidity.
  • Shorts, light dresses (with shorts underneath), sandals and more sleeveless shirts no matter how much the upper arm under-jiggles jiggles.
  • Splashes of cold water on the water and occasionally down the back.
  • The freezer: a great place to stick the head.
  • Lingering in overly-air-conditioned spaces to better experience the sauna of stepping outside.
  • Accepting that sweat is a part of life.
  • Flowers ecstatic in bloom and fragrance, plus the rise of the berry family coming to a supermarket near you.
  • Ceiling fans and all other kinds of fans to blow the hot air toward us.
  • Being very slow to get anything done but very quick to take an air-conditioned road trip, like drive 80 miles to try the pie in a small town.
  • Night lifts to a new level of lovely especially with the stars out and wind up.

The Growing Pains of Wild and Woolly Too-Muchness: Everyday Magic, Day 859

IMG_0984The grass of our lawn is so high that I can’t find our push mower, but since it’s likely broken, what’s the use ? Another thunderstorm pushes toward us, and once again, the humidity soars and the wind picks up energy. All night I dreamt of my dying friend after a weekend that includes many varieties of the wild, the woolly and the too-muchness.

This Memorial Day weekend, I wrote and revised an obituary and memorial service after meeting with my friend’s family, organized some of the tools in the basement, shepherded ingredients for a barbecue to my dying mother-in-law’s house and occasionally tried to get her to engage in almost saying “yes” as she becomes increasingly non-verbal, swam in the too-luscious but also too-warm pool waters with my delightful sister-in-law, hauled a bunch of boxes of broken things to the trash, spent inordinate time on the interwebs to find one great b &b in Kansas City for an overnight escape next week, made mashed potatoes, talked to several people about the close ones dying in our lives, watched videos of otters eating cereal, wrote a letter to a student, swam some more, and entertained bouts of “when-will-this-too-muchness-end?” despite the futility of wondering. I almost cried, almost wrote a poem, almost started a mosaic with newly-found old tiles (nothing like cleaning out the basement), almost finished the top of a new quilt, and almost freaked out (or maybe I actually did that).

There are times when everything grows exponentially from the lawn, to the sourdough starter our son is making, to us, but like most growing pains, it can be crazily confusing, uncomfortable, and over-the-top intense in how long it takes to get footing on new ground. It’s also hard to imagine a day of low humidity, clean-cut grass, and the dying loved ones dead and missed, and what it will be like to walk through that next life. I look out the window for a reminder of how much the scenery changes, one seasonal tilt at a time.