A Shifting

I’m writing this on Friday, the Autumn Equinox. It’s cold this morning and we’ve had freezing rain the last two days here in the valley that Reno is tucked into. Up on the mountain tops, that rain has been snow, and they are sparkling just now as the early rays of pink sun reach them.

When we arrived here in late May, the air was crisp and the snow was still so deep on the mountains as to make them impassable in some areas. We watched as the snow began to melt away and fell in love with this place in the warmth of the long summer days. The elms in our campground grew lanky and lush, and the river, my first in more than a decade, taught me its rhythms as it went from swollen with snow-melt to emaciated after a long, dry season.

And now, once again, there is snow on the mountain.

Today the dark and the light sit in equilibrium, balanced here for this single day before we tip into longer nights than days. Today marks the shift in season, the days growing colder as we move toward winter. This is our last week in this place we’ve grown to love and Monday marks our own shift as we pack up and begin our journey east for the winter. 

Maybe it’s the drizzle falling as I write this morning. Or maybe it’s the news I just received that a dear friend’s father was just diagnosed with aggressive, late stage cancer and is likely to be so suddenly gone in a few devastatingly short months. Or maybe it’s the connections I’ve made to this place, the ways I allowed my roots to begin to dig in deep. But there is a tiny catch in my chest as I move to embrace these many shifts, a tiny pull of resistance to change and the inevitability of time, the loss that inevitably balances the gain.

Seasons change and time marches forward. I know that resistance is, as they say, futile. So I must set it aside and allow myself to be here in this change, to live in the longer nights and to embrace the colder days as we prepare to move on again. To grieve for and with my friend and her family, and not shy away from the rage I feel at the injustice of a life stolen too soon. To remain rooted in the gratitude I feel for the unexpected connections I’ve felt for this place and the people who have shared their lives and love with us here.

So it’s goodbye for now…to long, warm days, to this many-faced town tucked in among the mighty mountains, to the friends we’ve made here. On Monday, we’ll settle our little home into her winter storage and point our truck east, sure in the knowledge that goodbyes are always followed by hellos, that each new season brings its own gifts, that pain can break us open to love even more deeply.

 

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I’m not precisely sure what to expect over the next few weeks as we mosey across Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, etc as we make our way to New Hampshire. I have images from our ten days in the PNW that I want to share with you, so I *hope* to get them finished and scheduled here for the weeks we’re on the road…we shall see! But follow along on Instagram if you are so inclined, and know that I will be hoarding memories and experiences and beautiful images for you as we spend my favorite month in some of my very favorite places on earth. In the meantime, here are a few shots from the magnificent Lassen Volcanic National Park…oh how I want more time there!

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Equinox

Today marks the autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere, one of two days per year where there is a balance between the light of day and the dark of night. After today, that balance will tip towards night, the hours of darkness outweighing the hours of light until reaching equality once again in March.

I take a deep comfort in this, in knowing that we are entering the six months of more night than day. I take comfort in the cycle of it, knowing that the darkness brings with it a time of deepening rest and reflection. By this point in the year, after the pace and growth and outwardness of the summer season, I feel so very ready for a quieting to begin. For the evenings to draw close earlier, when (if I can forego the temptation to stare at a screen, with its artificial stimulation) I can feel my body beginning to align with the rhythms of this season and the repose it asks for.

I crave slow mornings this time of year, sitting with steaming mug on the steps in the pre-dawn chill, melting into the fog that's so ubiquitous of Septembers here as cool night air meets the warmth of the rising sun. I crave root vegetables and chunks of nutty bread. I crave long runs in the woods and the crunching of freshly fallen leaves underfoot. I crave cider and pumpkins on porches and the first wafts of woodsmoke on the chilled evening air. I crave Jane Austen and golden candlelight and fresh, spicy, springy gingerbread. I crave home, whether that is a stick-and-stone proper house, or simply our little camper and the small ways we've made it our own.

Today is traditionally known as Mabon, and is celebrated as the second of the three harvest festivals. It is a time to reflect not only on the balance of dark and light (in season, in nature, within ourselves), but also a time to take special notice of the abundance in our lives. As Americans, we tend to save this gratitude for Thanksgiving, but I happily embrace any reminder to reflect with deep and genuine gratitude on the many, many blessings in my life. It is also a good time to notice what I am "reaping" that I perhaps didn't mean to "sow"...areas of my life where this is disquiet or conflict or jealousy or smallness...and to take immediate action to remedy where I have allowed pain or anguish or misunderstanding to flourish.

As the earth continues its cycle of dying back, of moving into the deep dormancy of winter, I can feel a primal and intuitive pull to align myself with that rhythm. To heed the necessity of allowing that which must die to die so that new life can burst forth  in the spring. To allow ailing ideas or dreams or relationships to be released in order for space to be created for new ones to abound and to welcome that release with a genuine gratitude for all that those old ideas and dreams and relationships taught me and added to my life in their prime.  

So I go forth this day with gratitude and release, with an acceptance and welcoming for the inward-turning nature of the darkness and for the season of rest and reflection that must happen in order for new life and creativity to grow with health and heartiness.

Happy Fall, y'all!!

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I can't wait to share more of my recent trip to Greece with you guys next week, but in the meantime, here are a few quick favorites from my whirlwind trip! 

As Summer Passes

As August draws to a close and Labor Day looms as the official end of summer, I feel a shock that the season has already come to a close without my ever having felt as though I’d sunk my teeth into it. That shock of time racing past is no less jarring for it’s familiarity, no easier a pill to swallow.

I find myself increasingly beset by memories of summers past, perhaps my subconscious’s attempt at recovering some part of it all. Days spent pedaling beat-up bicycles to swim practice in the dewy morning, or playing rousing games of Marco Polo or Sharks and Minnows in the deep end of Kingswood Pool. Mat in trouble (again) and made to sit “time out” under the lifeguard stand where the high school boys charged with guarding our collective lives dropped peanuts or M&Ms through the wooden slats into his open, laughing mouth. Dinner on paper plates at a wobbly picnic table, fingers sticky with carmelized bottled bbq sauce and dripping with the melted butter from boiled corn on the cob. Watermelon for dessert and spitting the seeds at each other the moment Mom’s back was turned.

When the sun dipped low on the horizon and aloe had been applied to overly sun-kissed noses, the frantic search for batteries commenced as the neighborhood kids young and old gathered for flashlight tag. Climbing the neighbors’ fences, racing across lawns, sneaking through the dark woods, and screeching in terrified delight when caught, there were no beeping cell phones or bright screens to remind us of the world beyond, and we halted only when a parent called out or used their trademark summoning device (the Conrads had a cowbell and the Tates an old dinner triangle…my Mom had a voice that could always reach us, no additional apparatus necessary).

We fell into our beds, teeth and faces scrubbed, shoulders in six stages of peeling, and we slept heavy and deeply, in the way of bodies spent to exhaustion in joyful abandon. We didn’t know yet what a “beach body” was or whether we had one, we didn’t realize yet that dangerous things could hide in the dark. We ran on strong legs and swam with lithe strokes and we used the gift of long sunlit hours without yet being haunted by “should."

As August wrapped us in the last throes of hot summer, the final weeks of that month would begin including classroom assignments arriving by mail and the purchase of new backpacks and lunch boxes and shoes. The frenetic, energetic freedom of summer would subtly begin to shift toward routines and the potential of new learning. When Labor Day officially tipped the balance into fall, it was once again school nights and bedtimes and homework, and there was a sort of relief and comfort in that as well.

And here I am, again in these same hot summer days of waning August touched with the cool nights of September on her way. I missed summer this year. I spent it packing and purging and scrambling to create a new life and when I looked up, it was slipping toward the horizon. I can accept that…but just this one time.

I will greet September as my old friend and breathe in her promise of freshly sharpened pencils and unmarked notebooks waiting to be filled with ideas and thoughts and wonderings. I will slough off the feeling of having been cheated over the missed summer and pay extra attention to the season I am in, watching carefully for the moment the leaves begin to change hue and gathering apples from trees in my shirttail-turned-bushel-basket. Heck, maybe I’ll even attempt an apple pie in our tiny toaster oven.

These days fly by in the cliche-for-a-reason blink of an eye. I was lucky to have childhood summers full of wild freedom and exuberance. In my adulthood, I must seek that kind of abandon out, take responsibility for creating “summer” as it was meant to be for myself, balanced against the standard obligations and encumbrances of work and home and family and a life that is mine to mold.

Here at the end of this golden, bright August, I inhale the last of these sweet summer days and welcome the chill that harkens the next season…of the year and of my life.

PSSSSSSTTTT...don't forget that today is the last day for early-bird pricing on The Art of Noticing Retreat! Registration closes September 10, so be sure to sign up soon!