Category Archives: Nature

The Pain of Thawing

Snow in New York City Photo credit: Emilia Navarro

Snow in New York City
Photo credit: Emilia Navarro

I remember. The crisp clean air, cutting through you like a knife, the painful jolt of it as it burns through and hits the lungs. The brittle blue sky dome stretching tautly overhead. The bare tree branches wrapped in brilliant crystal, nature’s luminescent ornaments. The quiet of the icy day, for though there are other’s sounds, the cold has blocked your ears.

I remember the slush on the roads, the slipping and sliding away, sideways, along the street hoping no one crashes into you while you work to concentrate, turn the wheel into the skid, yes, into the skid, pump the brakes ever so lightly. Think, think, think, in slow motion, yet it all takes no more than several seconds.

Then back on the road again, like nothing happened, until it does once more. Boots crunching on the piled snow along the sidewalks. Boots slipping on the ice, oops, bottom hitting the cold, glassy surface with a sudden sting. Bounce right back up like an Olympic gymnast. No one notices; all too busy keeping their own feet safely on the treacherous ground.

Covered from head to toe, parka snapped and zippered shut. Crocheted scarf wound tightly around neck and mouth and nose. Eyes alone braving the frigid air.

Step by step, you stealthily make your way to the warm enclosure.

And then once inside, the pain of thawing.

***For my daughter, a dear friend and all who are currently braving this brutal winter.



My hair is too long, my nails are too long and I think maybe my teeth are too long. Well not so much my teeth, but is that not what they say when you are getting old? That you’re getting a bit long in the tooth?

I will do something about my hair in a couple of weeks. I don’t know how or when it decided to get so long. I had no intention of letting it grow to such lengths. Seems it snuck up on me. It could be that the feel and weight of it against my back and neck hypnotized me into feeling like yester-me.

My nails I will take care of tonight. For some reason, I find it soothing to care for them, to shape them and apply color. Maybe it’s because that makes my hands appear more like they used to. Seems time has left its mark upon them and now RA is working on leaving a trail as well. This week brought the news that I have an enchondroma on my right index finger, a benign tumor that forms in the cartilage that lines the inside of the bones. My rheumatologist said he was leaving himself a note to speak with the radiologist who read my hand x-rays. Won’t that be a thrilling conversation.

And as to getting old, this morning I realized with a start what today was. The first of December. The first day of my birthday month. I will be turning a number that I can’t truly get my head around. For one thing, I don’t feel that old, for another, how is it possible I am coming up on six long decades?

59 doesn’t seem so old, but 60? And yet, I feel 40-something. I feel younger than I have in over a decade. A dichotomy perhaps, between the calendar and my body. It was really my brain that started to feel younger first. And then my body followed suit. I became more active physically, and spent time doing the things that brought me joy, peace. And what resulted was that my odometer started rolling backwards, metaphorically speaking. Time gave me the gift of time.

So in recognition of this upcoming birthday, I decided to try something. To post every day for this birthday month. And right when I thought it would be a good idea to try it, the image of Yoda popped into my head. Telling Luke (paraphrasing): “There is no try, there’s only do.” He goes on to tell Luke other things, like we must unlearn what we have learned.

Yoda’s words were few and maybe not in the correct syntax, but he was always so profound. His words ring true to me now. I must not try, only do. I must unlearn the pain that I have known and accept the gift of time that has been given me, up to now and yet to be.

Life is Rich

After having spent the last four weeks traveling, to the country in the Deep South and then to the southernmost point of the country itself, I’m tired. Tired but grateful I was able to spend time with my family, and time away from the rut and routine one falls into. Almost without noticing.

These photos serve to remind me not to forget. That life is rich, if you make it so.

A view of Key West. What a beautiful island.

I was shocked to see how long my hair had gotten. When did that happen? This picture was taken at the Botanical Garden. The bell is made out of an oxygen tank, they say, and was donated by Yoko Ono.

At Papa’s. Hemingway Home and Museum. It was surreal walking through it.

One of Papa’s 45 six-toed cats that own the place, descendents from his cat Snowball. I wish I had caught this one’s name. The cats don’t allow the roaming tourists to disturb their naps. You find them curled up in all sorts of places.

Of course, the Atlantic Ocean. Gives one pause. I picked up some washed up coral rock. They will make perfect paper weights. And weigh my thoughts as well.

Sunset at the southernmost point. A wondrous sight. And then it was back to reality. I suppose I had to return sometime.

While my turkey roasts, and the cooking smells suffuse my house, I am able to enjoy a few minutes of quiet before my kids descend on me. And gives me time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Something I try to do every day, give thanks that is.


Soft and Sweet

Why is it that Mother Nature makes something so good for you and yet so hard for you? And I mean literally hard. Rock solid, almost. I refer to the sweet potato.

Lately I’ve been on a quest, though my rheumatologist doesn’t encourage me. Western medicine, being what it is, relies more on chemicals than natural substances. And that’s fine up to a point; I prefer to control my RA with diet and exercise as much as possible.

From the research I’ve done, I’ve discovered that the sweet potato is especially nutritious, and after eating them I’ve found that they are especially delicious. But, and it’s a big but, after preparing them I also know they can take a toll on my hands and wrists.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to slice through the bamboo cutting board.

Here they are dressed in salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and olive oil, ready to go into the oven. I gave up struggling to cut them the size of French Fries and accepted that leaving them in larger pieces would be kinder and gentler on my hands. After the struggle of cutting them, it’s almost a pleasure to dig my hands into them and toss them around in the spices. Take that!

And after their metamorphosis, having gone from orange to almost red to golden. Soft and sweet after 20 minutes in the oven, give or take a few. They are so pliable now you can smoosh them with the lightest touch of the finger.

I make them about once a week and they go with everything. This time they accompanied the mahi-mahi, yum. But I am nothing if not a realist and if my wrists or hands are acting up, the sweet potatoes stay in the fridge for another day.

It just makes me wonder why a little tuber makes us work so hard. Maybe it’s to let us know that Mother Nature rules.