Stormy Weather


My word for the year “light” has already proven a constant quest and comfort in this first month of 2019. In the last 30 days I’ve experienced an eight-hour power outage during an ice storm with high winds, and the coldest day of my life so far, at minus 14 with wind chills of 42 below. And through it all I’ve relied on beacons of light and rays of warmth from my neighbors and my own stash full of flashlights and candles.

With weather like this, I’m grateful for a gas stove, small house and good windows. Back in the suburbs, everyone could easily become isolated inside their own personal igloos, garages shut tight and windows hidden in the back. This time, after about five hours in with no power, a welcome knock at my door from community members ready to hook up a generator to run my furnace in the pitch black with howling winds was a mission of love and sacrifice. I felt safe for one of the first times in my life because many cared enough to check on me since I was home alone for that particular storm.

I fear that weather and life will grow more extreme in the months and years to come, causing old systems to crumble as they become unsustainable. We can no longer afford to remain isolated in our private worlds with carefully segregated daily routines. Connection and community with our chosen families, neighborhoods, towns, cities, country and world is crucial to surviving the big shifts and fearful uncertainty that are looming in the shadows. We all have something to share, gifts and talents that will help us weather the storms together as we stoke the fires of caring and cooperation to warm our hearts and keep the lights on.

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Where Has All the Rain Gone?


Naturally, or unnaturally it seems, we’re experiencing a drought where I live just when I’ve started to garden again. Community members scour the skies, and hunker down in front of the computer weather sites while keeping their phones tuned to weather apps. Time and again I have watched a promising storm split within a mile or two and circle around us. We water incessantly, nearly every plant has already peaked before June, new temperature records are set daily.

This is life in the new climate, I fear. The art of growing food becomes more than a practice in sustenance, it becomes a leap of faith. I can only plant the seeds, and hope our well doesn’t run dry. Water becomes more precious than gold. The guidelines set by local county extension offices are now meaningless. A seismic shift in seasons sends us all reeling — even the wild ones who are frantically trying to raise their young feel fast-forwarded by weather extremes.

And yet, I wake early every morning anticipating what I will find growing in the garden and what has pushed itself up from darkness, not caring whether it was watered from a hose or the sky, the will to live overriding all.

April’s Foolishness

The tulip’s version of the “jester hat.”

As a gardener, April has been the most challenging, frustrating and puzzling month so far this year. I have enjoyed it immensely. There’s nothing more “in the moment” and strangely invigorating than carting 164 tomato plants to safety amidst gail-force winds and snow, or protecting 260 lettuce seedlings with 16 sets of cotton sheets kindly donated by a fellow gardener.

I remain in debt and awe to the remarkable recovery witnessed in plants and the kindness of community in helping to grow food, plain and simple. Looking forward to Beltane and May’s gentle (non-freezing) breezes.

Here’s to the merry month of May!

As Above

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While I really enjoy the month-long photo prompts that are prolifically offered on Instagram throughout the year, sometimes you just have to go maverick and wander off on your own. All the storms and fast-moving weather fronts during the past two months in my neck of the woods have led to plenty of drama in the skies, so I’ve found my camera tilting upward daily (when I’m not cowering in a first-floor hallway while the tornado sirens wail nearby).

After the first two days of sky photos in September, I said what the heck, why not a month of skies, unfiltered, shown just as they are, or as much as my limited but convenient iPhone camera can capture. I wasn’t sure whether thirty days of sky shots was sustainable, but I found ways to incorporate them as reflections on water (or car hood), and as metaphors for a mood to match the front-page antics of the country I live in.

Indeed, with all the drama manifested this month in both sky and earth, I can’t help but think that the ancient adage “As above, so below” is still a very relevant one.

The Downsizing Dozen: Travel Time

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Bougainvillea, honeybells and manatees greeted me on my first trip to sunny Florida, where I discovered that most of my relatives have either retired or vacation on the Atlantic side. This year my spouse and I were determined not to spend another winter like the last one. And confident that our little apartment would be safe in management’s competent hands, we headed south last month.

Only to become stranded in northern Georgia by one of the worst ice storms I’ve ever seen. Just like last year, we slept in all our clothes by the fireplace, and assured our mortified hosts that we were used to this sort of thing. Twenty-four hours later, the power finally came back on, and we had already given up on a side trip to frigid Myrtle Beach in favor of any terrain that still remained ice-free. We continued our quest southward, cold records breaking as we went, until we finally reached the Florida I’ve always imagined (and temperatures above freezing).

Two years ago, adapting and changing a travel schedule, or prolonging a trip heaven-forbid, would have struck dread in our hearts. We needed to get back to our jobs, or school or dog kennel. Even when we became freelancers a year ago, worry about the power going out or pipes freezing made us afraid to stay away too long from our homeowner responsibilities.

Now, as apartment dwellers we can be confident that however far we roam, and no matter how many detours and weather delays, we will return to salted sidewalks, a clear path to our door, and hopefully a running furnace.

Once a month for the next twelve, I’ll feature another step in the downsizing journey that didn’t just begin when we sold our suburban house and moved to a small walk-up apartment in June of 2014. This shift to a simpler life has been years in the making, and I hope you’ll join me in my family’s quest to get down to basics. My inaugural post entitled Giving It All Away was featured in July, Make It Stick in August, Following Your Feet in September, Case of the Missing Mac in October, Diminished Drumsticks in November, Dwindling Decorations in December, Finding Focus in January, and Forgotten Food in February.

Shine On

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Something happened during the last full “super” moon of the summer, with her extraordinary harvest light beaming down from the watery skies of Pisces, my birth sign. All that I’ve sown in the last few days, months and even years is coming to fruition. Now, I can replenish those empty coffers in my creative cache, confident that I will never lack again.

In cahoots, two days later, the moon in her wane summoned a fall-like front that cut through resistance’s last hazy gasps with cold vengeance, dumping wrath from Neptune in the streets, and washing away any doubts I’ve had about embarking on the beautiful new artistic path I’ve chosen.

Since those tides of change departed, the dreamy eye of the Fish remains upon me, watching from the bright seas of a freshly scrubbed sky.

Gonna Be A Scorcher

DAY 25: LITTLE
DAY 25: LITTLE

I took the photo above at dawn on a Monday, acknowledging that this would be the smallest version of the sun I’d see all day, tipped off by meteorological gossip at the weather water coolers that our solar boss has big plans the rest of the week. Don’t know about you, but I’m staying out of his way, preferably with a cool drink and some AC.

This month I’m taking a photo a day and following the topics of Susannah Conway’s August Break 2014. And why don’t you join me? I double-dog dare you!