Poems for my daughter, or…

The Ecology, Part 1

I’m an outdoor girl, always have been. My parents weren’t the most hardcore environmentalists – we didn’t sleep in tents – but they got me outside; walking, hiking, skiing, swimming or just sitting in the grass and hanging out.  In every season, in the city and the country and in our own backyard, we found green places, rocky places and sandy places to spend our time; and we “carried out what we carried in” before the phrase was coined.  And I brought that love of nature into my adulthood, managing not just to carve out a career in the outdoors, but to embark on so many remarkable experiences – on water and mountains, at parks and beaches, in forest and desert – experiences who’s feel and taste are etched into my memory.

At Sedona, AZ: the photos from the visit were lost and only the poems remain

I have also managed to surround myself with others who not only share this love, but couple it with a passionate knowledge that has allowed this very unscientific girl to glean a deeper understanding of the natural world in which we live.  My friends Tara, Ally, Chris, Sean, Brian and Maija (among others) all combine the creative with the scientific in unique and inspiring ways. They maintain a joyous awe of the natural world, but can distill the information into a shape and form that speaks to everyone and leaves young and old just a little smarter than when they started – sometimes without even realizing it.  I consider them to be among the ranks of more well-known figures of whom you may have heard:  like Rachel Carson, who’s “Silent Spring” audiobook was my companion while driving cross-country – her chapter on soil is still one of the most intriguing and beautiful pieces of prose I’ve ever seen; and E.O. Wilson, who said, ” Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”; and indie-pop stalwarts They Might Be Giants, who were not only clever enough to write us a song about The Sun, but were respectful and creative enough to write a follow up when they found out they were wrong.

Today we simply took the dog for a walk at the local creek, but the day and the smell was pure autumn, a true delight.  And I like to think that my friends would be proud that I was cognizant of the fact that detritus – the organic matter left over from the decaying of the leaves falling from those gorgeous autumn trees – was the reason for that rich and timeless scent in the air.  There will be more blog posts forthcoming on this cherished subject, and I believe that it is this attitude towards nature that allows us to find the extraordinary moments in our ordinary routine amidst the urban and suburban landscape.

Without beating a drum, my parents and my friends planted a seed, fed it with care and taught me respect  and understanding for our outdoor spaces that has grown into something much more profound.  I hope that I may pass this on to my daughter as seamlessly as they have done for me.

As Mr. Wilson states, it may be the closest thing to religious spirituality that I know.

At Redwood State Park, Crescent City, CA


Go Figure

Perhaps attitude is everything.  Perhaps mind over matter really does work.  Perhaps all it takes is a change in mood.  And perhaps one song can do the trick.

As my mother and I headed over to Georgetown, the afternoon’s goal was to find me a new pair of jeans. For many of us “Baby Got Back” girls this can be a frustrating effort, it certainly has been throughout my life, especially being 5’3″ as well.  Add to that a little more baby weight and a little less yoga and the task seemed daunting at best and truly hateful at worst.

Though I was enjoying the beautiful day walking around D.C. with my mom, my mood was one of low expectations.  My skepticism only grew as my mom innocently suggested we check out the sale at American Apparel.  While I respect the ‘Made in the USA’ label of the company, I have long known that the apparel is for Americans of a much slighter and taller build than this Boston girl has ever possessed.  And that’s ok, it just compounded my  belief that I would not be strutting home in a new pair of jeans.

We walked in and manoeuvering the stroller amid the tight layout of retro clothes did nothing to assuage my concerns.  And just as I was starting to feel my patience waver, the music changed and it was like a cool breeze blew through the boutique. I am fairly sure that the young, hip staff minding the store were my daughter’s age when P.M.Dawn was making music and they certainly betrayed no knowledge of the song that proved so soothing for this cranky mom.  But they gave me a friendly smile as I visibly let go of my stress and started grooving to “Looking Through Patient Eyes”, a gentle and complex song with a great beat.

In the very talented company of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, P.M. Dawn was an early practitioner of the melding of Hip-Hop, R&B and Rap, accompanied by the sampling of some very excellent pop tunes. They were definitely the most mellow, with sweet mixes to soothe the savage mom, a task which I never envisioned necessary when I heard their first single, “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”, so many years ago.

And just like with all good music, it holds up all these years later.  We walked out of American Apparel in a light, happy mood bound for another throwback to my youth, Urban Outfitters, and found a great pair of jeans. That fit.  Perfectly.  Skinny jeans. That fit.

Mind – no, music – over matter.  Go figure.