Recharging


                                    published in the Tillamook County Pioneer

                                                By Neal Lemery

A rainy Sunday has turned into a time of recharging.  The cat is in her usual place, snoozing through the afternoon, replenishing herself for the evening forays and gearing up to remind us of her dinner time. She is, perhaps, our resident chaplain, leading us by example to recharge and renew ourselves.   

Batteries for several of my electronic devices sit in their chargers.  Tomorrow, the electric weedwhacker will be put to use, bringing order to my sister in law’s yard.  And, the camera battery will be tasked in photographing this fall’s amazing display of foliage. 

            The earth itself is recharging, after a hectic summer.  The lawn is slowly turning green from the welcome rain. Mushrooms are emerging where only a few weeks ago, the dead grass crunched and the ground was more like oven-fired clay. Even the raspberries have put out a new, unexpected crop, adding yet another layer of winter delights to the freezer. The final round of crops from the garden finish their ripening, spread around the house, as we all prepare for winter.  

            The garden cycle continues, as I add leaves, grass clippings and the kitchen compost bucket offerings to the compost maker. Its resident earthworms are happily overwhelmed with new-found abundance. 

I plant new garlic cloves, knowing that next summer will bring abundant fresh garlic to summer vegetable stir fries and pickles.  I enjoy the garlic growing to not only satisfy my love of garlic, but also because garlic is a rebel, wanting to be planted in fall and harvested in early summer, out of kilter with the other crops. A new crop in the garden, filling the spaces left open by harvest, is my celebration of hope for the future, and sparks the making of my new wish list for next year’s garden. 

            The neighboring farmers are recharging, too. They’ve finished their corn harvests, followed quickly by new harrowing and the planting of their winter grass crops.  What was once an experiment in planting has now turned into part of a year-round planting and harvesting cycle.  I’m told this variety of grass adds nitrogen, protects the soil from the pounding of the winter rains, and is another food source for cows.  I celebrate my neighbors’ curiosity and willingness to be innovative.  That spirit of curiosity, boldness, and scientific curiosity serves the community well, and inspires me to live more like a farmer. 

            The quiet morning stillness, and the first sounds of raindrops from the incoming front, offer me renewal, and space in my life for some gratitude and peace.  The natural cycles of this place call us out to pay attention, to take a breath and pause. As the earth recharges, as I recharge, I seek to follow that example, readying myself for new ideas, and new perspectives in this time of challenge and change.  

10/17/21

Being Mothered


                                    

                                                By Neal Lemery

            Mother’s Day is a tough holiday, a maudlin remembrance of Mom, who has passed on, but still figures in my life.  With any family relationship, it is a mixed bag, an often-confusing mix of emotions, feelings, and memories. Popular culture tells us to be adoring, grateful, and praising offspring, yet other thoughts and patterns of grief keep the emotions in what I often envision as being a whirlpool as I navigate through life. 

            This year, I’m feeling the need for nurturance.  Perhaps it is my long-term response to the pandemic, and the range of lockdowns, quarantines, and the emotional rollercoaster of coping with this contagion that seems to be a never-ending disruptor. I’m emotionally drained. I find myself seeking emotional sustenance, comfort, and the gratifying tenderness of a mother’s love.

            Ever since I’ve had a car, I’ve carried a blanket with me.  It goes back to when I was five, traveling with my mom and grandma through the mountains. We ran into a freak snowstorm, and almost slid off the road. Waiting for the snowplow, my elders made sure we were warm, underneath the ever-present blanket in my mom’s car, sipping hot tea from my grandmother’s trusty and well-worn thermos.  The disaster turned into an adventure, comforted by the blanket, hot tea and family stories I’d never heard before.

            A few years before my mom passed, she gave me a new car blanket. The hand-me-down old Pendleton blanket of my grandmother’s had finally succumbed to several generations of picnics, beach trips, and the occasional unexpected adventure. The new blanket stays behind the driver’s seat in my pickup, ready to wrap around me on a chilly evening, or become a picnic tablecloth or a dry seat on a log at the beach. When I pull it out, I am reminded of my mom, and her continual work to care for the family and keeping us safe and warm. Mom being Mom.

            This week, as Mother’s Day looms with all of its swirls of emotions and expectations, and no address for me to send Mom a card, or a phone number to call, I found myself wrapping the blanket around me, feeling its softness and its warmth. That sensual comfort chases away the emptiness, the grief that often haunts these holidays that are hyped as overly joyous events, the Hallmark moments that can easily drag me into a canyon of treacherous emotion. 

Feeling the fuzzy blanket around my shoulders is almost as good as a hug from Mom, and I can feel her presence in the room as I share a meal with family, and we tell stories of life’s adventures.  

I’m missing those times with her, sharing a pot of tea, telling stories, and planning a fun event with family.  Her blanket wrapped around me is a poor substitute for that, but I’m getting through this weekend with some much-needed sustenance and comfort, taking time for some self care and quality blanket time.   

5/8/2021