Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekend Gratitude. . . In the Garden

Do you know that great Steve Earle song, "Coming Around,"the one he recorded with Emmylou Harris and sings with his wife-at-the-time Allison Moorer in this YouTube video? (Paul and I were lucky enough to see them perform it together, live, a few years ago. Brilliant!) Fortunately, I've never experienced the sorrows and challenges that might have inspired this tune, but I couldn't help but think of the lyrics this weekend as I felt myself "laying my burden down" -- or, at least, taking deeper, longer breaths. And smiling.

























Strolling around the garden, watching Autumn move in, Summer still packing up a few items (the Darlow's Enigma roses, top photo, some honeysuckle, hardy fuschia, nasturtiums still blooming madly). Rich, deep, warm colours as the leaves play their swan song, shiny berries, swelling rose hips...
And it wasn't just the garden that made me happy. A stellar afternoon nap, a beautifully restorative yoga class, a just-tough-enough long run with a friend in sunshine, baking up three apple pies (two are in the freezer, ready for a last-minute dessert some weekend when we invite friends over), preparing one good lecture, several class workshops, re-reading material I'll be teaching next week, reading the weekend papers in the sunshine, the waves lapping at high tide, the overpoweringly fish-musky smell of a mink family's hideout nearby, a kingfisher chittering.
I caught up on some emails for work, had lunch with a friend after hearing a colleague from our Creative Writing department trace the path of her erudite and moving exploration of British poet Edward Thomas's World War I death.
Equally important, I caught up on laundry, sorted out the wardrobe switch that will have to be made as temperatures drop and rains return with a vengeance over the next few weeks, as they must inevitably do.
And I read, defiantly, a mystery novel, knowing I should save all my reading energy for work, but also knowing that I needed to be easy on myself, if just for this one weekend. In the same vein, I sat and knit while watching a newly discovered show, Rectify, on Netflix. With Pater, in the name of couple time that helps strengthen a marriage (oh, the justifications!), I watched a few episodes of Homeland and we happily caught the first episode of George Gently's Season Five. We generally watch these as we eat the beautiful meals he's prepared while I read to him (at the moment, Sue Hubbell's wonderfully meditative A Country Year: Living the Questions -- natural history and memoir combined).
























I also made plans for a few posts over the next few days, uploading photos, considering possibilities, writing a word or two.

In fact, when I look over this catalogue of my weekend activities, I would have to acknowledge the rightness of my Grandpa's well-loved saying, "A change is as good as a rest." Funny, isn't it, that some kinds of Busy can replenish and restore. For me, stepping back and being conscious about my choice-making from time to time, even if I exert that Choice with a certain amount of defiance, lets me feel better about stepping back into the rushing stream. Which I will do first thing tomorrow morning (honestly, I suppose I've been dipping a toe all weekend as I write out notes for classes and underline my way through pages of reading I've assigned -- but because I felt that was my choice, it somehow felt energizing rather than tiring).

And you? Did the weekend refresh? I'm curious, too, about those of you who are retired -- does the weekend still influence the shape of your days? Or is it all weekend, all the time? Or a mix from active to resting, work to leisure in a healthier ratio than the Monday-to-Friday gig?


14 comments:

  1. I love these photos - and your day sounds like it was awesome. There was an interesting news show on last week (Steve Paiken - The Agenda on TVO, you'd likely be able to find it on the website) about retirement and the toll it takes on people for a variety of reasons - not least of which is the loss of routine.

    Much as I think I'd make an awesome rich person :-), I know I will make an awesome retired person. I am innately structuralist. I will simply create new routines around totally enjoyable activities that don't call on my need to earn money (but don't necessarily avoid it).

    I was amazed to hear about how many people were struggling in retirement. You are healthy, interested in the things around you, rich in family commitments, married to someone similar (at a time when you can truly benefit from the hard years). I say, retire soon!

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    1. I know that I will need routine and structure myself in retirement, and I suspect that if I'm not careful, I'll be at least busy as I am now. That's the case for my husband (serves on a few boards and commissions, works on a few contracts, runs, does yoga, paddles, and has now taken up sailing). I have a long list of things I'd like to spend more time at and might even decide to go back to school -- who knows? But it's all a few years off yet, and I think the first year will be full of celebration and resting!

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  2. Of course, what do I know. I always say I'd retire tomorrow if I didn't need the money. But I do enjoy my work and I love having a workplace.

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    1. Yes, for me it's complicated -- I find the rhythm of my work really frustrating -- the all-or-nothing of the schedule is nuts, but I like the intellectual stimulation, the social contact, and the clearly delineated space away from family, quite honestly. . . It marks out something of me that I will have to find other ways to hang onto. . .

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  3. I love the colours of the autumn garden! I really enjoy George Gently. We've been watching him at dinner too. Since we are both retired and my daughter works shifts, week-ends are not really different from other days. I have adopted some routines during this last stretch at home as it seems that I require some regular planned activities to avoid the blues.

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    1. You have fit so much into your first few years of retirement, and I know you have many adventures ahead!

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  4. What a lovely post, Mater! You've enjoyed a wonderful variety of activities this weekend. Ours was full of restorative activity, too - the first weekend in a long time that wasn't packed with events to attend and things we really had to do. Instead we puttered about clearing some of the garden, and this afternoon went kayaking in Saanich Inlet. Ah, such beauty.

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    1. I loved reading about your kayaking. It's quite different from other kinds of boating, isn't it? (As you'll really appreciate the first time you get up close and personal with a sea lion!)

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  5. What a lovely post and I too adore the colors of the autumn garden. It seems my weekends are often far busier and more hectic even than my weekdays, and I look forward to a bit of a respite on Monday. Otherwise I have no trouble keeping my days full and scheduled, the problem seems more often to be allowing for those all-too-precious restorative periods.

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    1. Somehow we never seem to fill in a day on the calendar with Sit and Read, 10-2, Nap 2-3, Putter 3-6. . . . and sometimes I really think we should!

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  6. I absolutely agree with you that some practical activities (like baking, doing laundry, even cleaning the oven etc.) can be very satisfying and restoring, as long as I don't have do to them in a hurry. It's the material result that is so satisfying and that is often missing in teaching work. I did something like that myself last weekend, as the outing on the lake that I had planned had to be canceled. It was raining again....
    Oh yes, and knitting in front of the TV (my son and I are still catching up on Big Bang Theory) and then some reading before going to bed (Elizabeth Speller: The Return of Captain John Emmett).
    I sometimes wonder what retirement will be like. Will I have more time for the things I am neglecting now? Or will new obligations crop up and consume the time now taken up by work? I find it hard to imagine.

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    1. I think there's something to that -- it's often hard to tell just how we're doing in our teaching but even though the apple pie might be gone in an hour, we can tell it was enjoyed!
      I need to schedule a Big Bang Theory catch-up binge. . . good idea! Let's not save all the fun for retirement!

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  7. How timely. I'm at the beginning of a two-week break between terms, and although the list of things I've been doing every day is enormous, and I haven't actually sat down and read or done any knitting, it's been both satisfying and relaxing to be organising my day as I please ... I always think I'll take a day 'off' and do nothing, but in fact I'm happier doing things like cooking or weeding or purging cupboards or organising photographs (etc etc etc).

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    1. I think catching up on so much of the domestic work is relaxing, as well, because when it's undone, it occupies mental space -- I know there's a little part of my brain (and my shoulders, apparently, which are currently parking by my ears) that can't stop fussing about the things that need doing. Imposing a bit of order on the chaos means I can let go a bit . . . So glad you found a minute of this precious time to check in here -- I do miss your blog! ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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