Friday, December 19, 2008

Before the Storm

Last night schools began issuing closings for today. A storm is on the way, they reported. But I am more the "I'll believe it when I see it" type. The snow from last week's storm had finally shrunk to a few islands of ice. Roads and sidewalks were finally clear again. When I drove my son to school this morning the roads were clear and dry. I ran some errands wondering if the Holiday Party our church had planned for the local Kid's Cafe would need to be canceled. I walked to yoga, but a sign on the door said class was canceled in anticipation of the storm. Still no snow. I went home, rolled out my yoga mat in front of the window in my study, and the first few flakes drifted down from the sky. "It begins" I thought. I am so glad to be here in my warm home with no place I need to go.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The first big storm of the season started Thursday night. The drive home from my son's soccer practice was tedious, as a steady line of drivers white-knunckled their way down the winding 2 lane road where rain had recently turned to a steady snow. The great thing about living downtown was once we were home we could put on our boots and mittens and walk down to the commons to see the ice-show lit up as the perfect white flakes came steadily down hour after hour. By Friday morning when the Snow Day was declared, all signs of last night's snowball fight were covered in 8 inches of fresh powdery snow. When we heard the clink of our neighbors metal snow shovels on the sidewalk, and the crunch of snow the whole family bundled up and went outside to clear our sidewalk and our car. Thank goodness we have just a short strip of sidewalk, because the snow was heavy and wet, and even with that little bit of shoveling I woke sore the next day. Having a small yard, my son and I used every inch of fresh snow to make snowballs and snow angels before returning gratefully to the warmth of our home.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In the Present

When my son was very little, he would open a gift, and become so engaged he would only emerge a half hour later from the bliss of a new toy. As he grew up I noticed how adults encourage kids to open them all at once, because our adult attention span cannot sustain the hours it would take to open all the gifts at a birthday or other holiday if the child actually used and appreciated each one. "Aunt Martha has to go, quick, open her gift" When my son was very young he actually went on strike "no more gifts!" We had to save some for the next day. Now standard Birthday protocol at it's most polite is that all gather round, rip of wrapping, display gift, say thank you, set gift aside. It is rude to open a gift as it is handed to you. It is rude to play with a gift right after opening it. One delays gratification so one's guests don't get bored.

Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful book called Miracle of Mindfulness in which he writes..."[Jim] popped a section of tangerine in his mouth and, before he had begun chewing it, had another slice ready to pop into his mouth again. He was hardly aware he was eating a tangerine. All I had to say was, "you ought to eat the tangerine section you've already taken."

How would opening presents look if we were really mindful? If we really "ate" each one as we opened it? Might our children feel "full" after unwrapping their pile of gifts? Might Aunt Martha not be proud to see her nephew enjoying his gifts so completely, even if hers was still in it's wrappings waiting? How might American culture be different if we taught our children to enjoy the present mindfully, instead of teaching them to consume?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clip of the day

Wow, who knew Prop 8 was so hilarious. And when did Jack Black go political?


I was trying to explain to my son the theory of buying local. I did a bad job of it. I should have just said "the less gas it takes to get from where it's made to you the better." I tried to explain how if you buy things that are locally made you are putting money back into the local economy, and he asked me confused questions all the way through our trip to the co-op grocery store. Today I stopped at the brand new Silk Oak shop, and it made shopping local so clear. The lady who makes the beautiful silk screened clothes and bags lives here in my town. She could be the mom of one of my son's class mates. She might be in my yoga class. By having her store here on this corner, I get to look at something lovely as I walk by, instead of a boarded up building like the ones I find on the next block over. I feel the same way at the Co-op where there is local honey and local maple syrup on tap. Maybe my son will understand if I show him the flats of local eggs- they might come form a chicken we know!