Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A RIVER METAPHOR

The river was up this morning. Four or five feet higher than the near-normal level I noted at 9:30 p.m. last night when I finally made it home. Up—and, of course, muddy. A surprising rise because yesterday was bright and clear, reminiscent of an Eric Sloane landscape—with cerulean blue skies and only the occasional puffy cotton-ball clouds.
The reason for the river's rise had to be caused by a Sunday storm which arrived late, just as dusk was fading into dark. Myladylove and I were at my daughter's home, south of town, where we'd spent an enjoyable evening visiting family and friends. Someone happened to glance out the kitchen window, noting how the trees were tossing and swaying. A better look revealed a malevolent front heading our way from the west. In only a minute or two, a thick dark blanket was drawn over the horizon, blotting out the sky. Lightening flashed. Thunder boomed and shook the building. The dogs were terrified, while many of us crowded close to the windows for a better view, oohing and ahhing with the delicious glee of those who are safe and snug from any uncomfortable elements.
Like a lot of summer storms, this one seemed to be more show than substance—one filled with ear-splitting thunder-claps and blinding flashes like carpet bombs signaling the start of Armageddon…but in fact merely a histrionic drama of feigned violence; sound and fury and stroboscopic lights, but not much actual rain. At least not that we saw while at my daughter's, nor minutes later, when we were smack in the midst of it on the Interstate during the drive home. And not much evidence of its rough, drenching passage afterwards, in the northwestern precincts of the county, as we tooled along the backroads leading the final few miles to the cottage.
Judging by this morning's high water, the storm wasn't nearly so benign elsewhere. Upstream, probably a couple of counties away where the headwaters are gathered, it obviously rained quite hard. Thinking about that later on, when I pulled off the road in order to photograph a milkweed in velvety-pink bloom, I realized this was just another excellent example of the stream acting as a metaphor for life.
We never know what's heading our way from upstream. High water or bad news…either could already be bearing down. Skies may currently be blue and untroubled, with no hint of what's in store, even as a muddy torrent roars in our direction.
Worrisome? Sure…but don't forget that tomorrow's surprise can just as easily be good, the swift current carrying a blessing to deposit on our banks.
That's the point—we just don't know. We can plan and schedule, prepare in every way possible—and then we look up and the unimaginable is knee-deep in our dooryard. Rivers remind you of that and personally, I'm grateful. Too often I get to thinking I'm in charge, the master of my small universe. A regular reality smack does me good.
What I do know is this: to find courage, you must first know fear; that hopelessness is the field where faith is born; and that an empty heart can always be filled with love.
To all who've wondered over my absence (and those who, until this moment never realized I'd gone missing) let me assure you I'm fine…and back, blogwise. I've been out making photos, and as I always do, listening to the wise old river. Consider yourself warned…
———————

25 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely thoughtful post, as always. We've had much rain, but at the lake and up on a hill, it is different. Our home is for sale, and it is poignant for me. My world includes dragonflies, and other critters, not just My Muskoka lake! I anticipate charting course in a different direction.
Cheers

George said...

Welcome back, Grizz. Glad to see that your brief absence from blogging has not dimmed your vision of what nature has to teach us. Isn't it great that we never know what's coming our way from upstream? Would life be exhilarating and worth living if it were otherwise? In life, as in that beautiful milkweed you photographed, there is always this wonderful mystery to be experienced -- not understood, just experienced. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Bernie said...

So glad to see you back....love your metaphor of life and I do agree with you. We never know what may be coming at us and in my humble opinion I think it is good that we don't......that is what makes life so wonderful.
We have had storms the past two evenings and we desperately needed the rain....I love a storm of any kind as long as I am warm and cozy inside......:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Life is an ongoing process…and things change, including the places we choose to call home. I know you'll miss Muskoka, but there is adventure (and fodder for a blog) to be found everywhere. Family is important. Personally, I'll miss those winter views of your lovely lake—and all the critter reports.

Good luck finding the right buyer for your home.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

It is, indeed, great not to know what tomorrow holds in store…and for just the reason you've pointed out. I believe in that attitude absolutely. Life's adventure is life's uncertainty; the treasure is what you unexpectedly discover along the way. And it is also wonderful that mystery exists—exists and may be experienced without understanding or solution. Life needs both mystery and adventure.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I agree fully…good or bad, I DON'T want to know what's coming. I like the uncertainty. I want life to come at me full-bore, so I know I've been alive. I want to be a participant, not an observer.

The rest of this week looks like bright sun, clear skies, and not too hot. I'm looking forward to it! And in case you were wondering, the river—while up—is not too high; not scary or anything, just (drat it!) unfishable. :-)

Wanda said...

Our days do come and go just like a river, some flow gently by, while others are like the rapids, but rapids can be ridden!

Beautiful milkweed photo!
...Wanda

Bonnie said...

Nature sets her lessons before us daily, if our eyes are open to see.
Living so intimately on a river bank for these years should surely have earned you a post-doc degree in 'River Metaphor'.

It really is a joy when we can embrace the mysteries of life instead of trying to solve them. Take away the mystery and we would lose so much of the magic.

Glad to have you back and know you are well, Scribe.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Time and the river wait for no one…true, indeed, and also true that we either sink or swim as we're carried along—though as often as I can, I try to allow the stream to hold me up and just enjoy the float.

Not only a lovely milkweed, but wonderfully scented, too.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

I don't know about a post-doc degree in " River Metaphor," but I've surely been doing graduate work in "The Deleterious Effect of a Riverine Environment On the Human Work Ethic."

Mystery is magic's handmaiden—and you need the former to have the latter. I never want to spoil the show…

KGMom said...

While I noted your absence, I didn't wonder at it. We all need the occasional break from blogging. There are only so many hours in a day, and a veritable Chinese menu from which to choose for life's entertainments.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Perhaps that's what I should chalk these past two weeks up to, a sort of impromptu time out. Though my entertainment card is rather simply filled by the routines I enjoy—and I enjoy blogging. Still, I do return oddly refreshed.

Kay said...

So nice to see you back! Your riverside wisdom--and the way its expressed in both words and pictures--always makes my day!
Hurricane Alex is bearing down on us right now, but in a way I look forward to it as an interesting natural phenomenon. I and the natural world will survive and have stories to tell, images of nature to convey.

The Solitary Walker said...

Good to see you back, Grizz. That river can sure teach a thing or two!

Tramp said...

"to find courage, you must first know fear; that hopelessness is the field where faith is born; and that an empty heart can always be filled with love."
Isn't there something about a strong wind making strong trees ?
...Tramp

Scott said...

Welcome back. Grizz. I did wonder where you'd been; I missed you. Nice thoughts about life-as-a-river.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kay…

Sorry to really s…l…o…w in getting this up and replying, but I've been rambling about a prairie all day—and I have something like 1100 photos to sort through as a result. However. I've needed a day-long getaway for some time, and this, while tiring, was refreshing refreshing.

I've been through a few tornados, and some humdinger tropical storms, but never a real hurricane. Though if I knew I could hole up safe and sound and be able to see something of the storm, I'd love to experience one. Life is no fun playing it too safe all the time. You don't want to be plumb foolish, of course (I've done that, too) but new experience and adventure is to be embraced—and heavy weather is exhilarating, making the blood zing! Stay safe—but have fun…and blog about it afterwards.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

You walk…I watch the river. I don't know that it makes either of us wiser (you can disagree) but it helps us understand ourselves, and probably accept what we find. And it sure beats looking a four walls in some office!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tramp…

Well, I wasn't quoting anyone—just making it up and writing what I thought and felt as I went along. But something about trees could certainly have been worked in there; just didn't think about it that way.

Of course, strong winds tend to misshape many trees, turn them into wizened bushes almost—while others survive by bending, giving into the wind.

Being of Celtic blood, with perhaps a drop or two of old Druid still in my veins, I love oaks—big, sturdy, ancient oaks, standing alone, indomitable, and battle-scarred on a high ridge or the middle of an old field where grass turns yellow in the fall and hawks soar overhead on midday thermals.

But…look close, and you see these oaks have paid a price for their attitude.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Scott…

Thank you, truly. I'm glad to have that bit of life's road now in my rearview mirror—and glad to be blogging. I honestly always think of those who read these posts and take time to comment as friends…and it is always good to be back among friends.

Rowan said...

Glad to see you back again, it certainly is true that we don't know what is lying upstream waiting for us. A good thing too, I like nice surprises and if the surprise isn't so nice then I'd rather not know in advance thank you! The US seems to be getting a wet summer this year from what I can gather, you must be getting our share I think, it's been a while since we had anything like proper rain in my part of the UK.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

We have had a lot of rain, plus early heat—many upper-80s days and a few breaking 90 degrees! But yesterday and the day before, plus today and for the next several days, predictions are to be nice—bright sun but temperatures under 80, which is my kind of weather.

I'm with you on not knowing too much of what lies ahead—good or bad. Better to live in the now, to take life and the day as you find it, and do with it the best you can. Anticipate the future, make loose plans, remember the past and us it to inform and caution…but live in the moment.

George said...

Hi Grizz,

No need to publish this comment, but I thought I should tell you that I have been trying to get to your most recent posting, "Beautifully Common," but when I click on the site (which appears on my "blogs I read" list), I get a note that says the page doesn't exist. If you go to my blog and click on the title "Beautifully Common," you will see what I mean. Hope this helps.

Brenda said...

"What I do know is this: to find courage, you must first know fear; that hopelessness is the field where faith is born; and that an empty heart can always be filled with love."
Beautiful, thought-provoking words, Grizz. Life is complicated, but rich, and it is in being open to courage and faith and love that we can keep moving toward the next bend in the river. Thanks, once again, for your beautiful post and photos.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Brenda…

Thank you, for such a lovely comment. And you're right…life is a mystery and more uncertain than we like to acknowledge. But fear can rob of us joy, so it is only by "being open to courage and faith and love that we can keep moving toward the next bend in the river."