Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Rain

We are so happy when it happens, ideally on a sleepy morning cuddled under the covers. First, there is the sound, that gentle splashing of water on roofs, decks, lawns.

It begins slowly, and perhaps you think it's drippy fog. But no, this morning it was genuine, grade AA raindrops. Then, an hour into the moist symphony of sprinkles, the rhythm picked up and it is Rain, Blessed Rain, for real.

Little birds wake up and trill their delight, fluffing their feathers between splashes, feeding on freshly washed seeds. Each drop lands with a perfect still note, a precious daub of wetness touching earth, stream, tree and flower.

Precipitation is protection here, the beginning of the end of late summer when we review our valuables - packing them into boxes next to the front door for a quick exit in case of forest fire.

So the rain means freedom from worry, as well as a time to reflect on yet another turn of the seasons.

I sit up in bed, drink coffee and pet my cat, relishing a moment of domestic bliss. All the beings in the garden rejoice in the refreshment.

Now I must sacrifice comfort for adventure. Out the door to dance on the grass, to lift my head to the heavens, to wash my soul in the freshest, purest water there is.

and from e.e. cummings:

...nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands -- from W, 1931

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What would Kipling do?

It's an odd phenomenon that when friends go away, we can find ourselves integrating into our lives what they have taught us by example. It's a kind of psychic sloughing, where special cells merge, and some of their essence lives on in us. 

Our animal friends revel in the moment, which is their great gift. Their core simplicity can show us how to live and love, with compelling presence. 

Free of human passions like envy, deceit, avarice or doubt -  unworried by image, how many toys they have, or what it all means, they live full and contented lives. Sometimes you can see they are bored or maybe lonely, but they're always willing to respond to your attention.

I miss my four-legged friend Kip in the mornings when he would go out in the garden to gaze at the sea, or in the evenings when he would greet me with a big wet kiss. I miss him on long road trips when he'd rest his nose on my forearm as I drove for miles and miles. His soulful eyes are always with me, as is his canine smile. 

Once, when arriving at an exclusive spa south of Partington, that place with the sulfur baths, what's it called again ? ?  We were stopped at the entrance with a scowl, and were told that I could come in, "but not the animal". I looked at Kip in the back seat and I swear he did a double-take as if to say, "Who, me? An animal?" And then the guard recognized him, granting us access after all. "Oh, it's Kipling," he said happily, and that was all that was needed.

My goal now is to embody Kip's enthusiasm, simplicity and trust in life. His ability to drink in the beauty of where we live, his playfulness and his glowing, deep loyalty to those he loved. And Kip loved everyone. Some more than others, of course, but everyone was of interest to him, an opportunity to love and be loved. If he followed you with his eyes, greeted you with a lick, or sang out to you when you appeared, jumping up and down with joy, then you knew you were special. 

The mantra I use to keep him close is WWKD? What would Kipling do? And then I must act honorably and simply.

I still see him at the end of the driveway when I come home; in profile, his royal white ruff fanned out below his gently inclined head. Waiting for me. My most profound hope is that I get to see him again someday. We'll take a lovely stroll to our favorite spot, then sit in the sun on the grass together.

Kipling Rowland-Jones 1999 - 2013