The winter rains have again come and gone leaving behind brilliant blue skies and cool temperatures. The air feels lighter, more crystalline and fragile. I go to the park this morning and set up my summer lawn chair at the edge of the big field where I saw fifty or more sea gulls resting the other day. It is quieter here than my location by the stream and playground, and less busy than the dog park.
The area is the size of several football fields and ringed with small groups of trees, like family gatherings. Today I sit with a stately pine on my right and a light-hearted birch on my left and the winter sun overhead and before me. I tighten the scarf around my neck and pull on my gloves, then settle myself comfortably in the chair.
Soon my eyes close and behind my lids a lush red curtain descends. My senses are delighted as my attention turns to them, leaving behind the demands of the thinking mind and importunate thoughts. From the distance I hear the irate honking of geese and nearby the rustling of a squirrel. The deep breath I take tastes sweet and the winter sun is warm.
I enter a state of – what? Meditation? Contemplation? Bemusement? a state which I have visited many times before. I remember thirty, forty years ago, bundled in a coat and lying at my ease on the wooden swing on the front porch of my childhood home. With one foot I pushed against the metal chains of the swing setting it in a rocking motion while I looked at the old maple tree black-barked and proud surrounded by the deep snow of a Pennsylvania winter.
The maple stood like a sentinel in the front yard all the days of my youth and for many years before. In spring it was a bright chartreuse green with airplane seeds that swirled to the ground; in summer it wore a deep green gown. But it was in autumn that it broadcast its brazen beauty, heaping the ground with a hundred thousand golden leaves. Many years later when it was finally felled the front yard, robbed of its queen, looked naked and destitute.
On those porch swing days I felt the blue kiss of the winter’s sun on my face and now I feel it again, delicate and warm and clean. Today I look through the same eyes I had in childhood; my heart is innocent and unafraid, my spirit willing to dare. There is something inside of us that never changes over the years, that never ages, that is always the same. I take a deep breath and feel timeless.