Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm Alive

Something sweetly mysterious is happening this week. Perhaps it is the unseasonably cool weather or the passing of the full moon, who knows, but every cell in my being is set to 'on.' The skies, and particularly the clouds, are gorgeous, beckoning me to stop by the side of the road and snap photos on my way to work. And home from work. And to and from the store also. The senses are alert, and some lovely old memories are floating in from a long-forgotten attic in my head.

Great morning commute
The high temperature today was 74 degrees. July in northern Arkansas is normally closer to 100 degrees, but at least -- at least -- 95. This arctic blast, described as being knocked loose by a typhoon in the Pacific, is not only welcomed, but celebrated. Convertibles are losing their tops and windows are open. I have driven three days with the sunroof open, an action usually reserved for spring and fall. But the weather is too beautiful to leave outside so it simply must be invited in through whatever entry possible. The cool wind whips around the car and floats out again, leaving me one happy driver in its wake. Even our local hot air balloon pilot could not let the unseasonable weather pass without celebration, and he took to the skies for an early morning flight. Pure bliss.

Days like this remind me of fifth grade when I attended a small school in west Tennessee. Directly outside our classroom stood a huge tree that towered over the building and provided shade for a large portion of the cool grass below. Often, when the weather was good, the quiet voice of one child saying, "Mrs. Walker, can we have class outside today?" was all it took to see our classroom empty onto the open grass and settle under the shade of that tree. Today was a lot like those days, and I found myself remembering those quiet voices asking Mrs. Walker for a day outside.

Hannah and me,
in the motel gardens, of course.
This weather always sends me back to memories of working at a motel years ago where our property was known for extensive gardens, rivaling those of botanical gardens only seen in cities. Yet, our humble motel in the middle of small town America burst alive with greenery and blooms every year, and each petal seemed to sing a tune irresistible to anyone who passed. It was here at this motel where I gained an appreciation for the landscape arts practiced by the family who owned the motel. The owner's granddaughter and I formed a sweet friendship, me in my navy uniform and she in her toddler shoes, and I cannot look at a bank of flowering shrubs without thinking of her. She is in college now, but to me, she will always be the happy sweet soul, toddling through the plants. (Sidebar: Favorite part of my wedding? Hearing young Hannah say "Reeeeetah", in her traditional greeting for me, when I walked down the aisle. Best moment ever.)

This feeling of late, this heightened state of my senses, has been a few weeks in the making, beginning with my vacation last month. Nothing can cure my ills faster than a handful of days spent in comfortable conversation with my aunt and uncle, and this year was enhanced with stops to see friends in Chicago and more family in Missouri. The open road, coupled with audio books and good music, punctuated with regenerative stops, never fails to restore what was worn to new again.

I've been cruising at that speed of calmness ever since.

It hasn't gone unnoticed since two people at work have asked me if I'm alright, noting that I have been quieter than usual lately. I assured them both that I was fine, in fact, really great. I have been quieter because there seems to be so much more to hear -- birds, breezes, leaves rustling, even the dogs wrestling in the hallway -- all of it is music to my ears and so my voice is still. Unusual for me, true, but nothing to cause worry. I assured my colleagues that I was fine, just more calm. As I said the words, the Jackson Browne song, "I'm Alive" began playing as the soundtrack to my words. At least, that's what I heard in my head.

That's just it, I feel alive. Every fiber of my being is alert and ready to listen to the what the world has to offer. I am calm and energized, happy and serene, inquisitive and creative, and dang it, I'm alive. And it feels so good . . . . 


  1. You think a day like this couldn't possibly get better? Well, about 8 hour after posting this, it did. Big time.

  2. Reeetah! I'm playing catch up on my reading. Great story as always, my friend!

    1. Thank you, SheRah :-) I'll admit that since the concert, all I have listen to has been Jackson Browne music. I believe I am now addicted and may require a 12-step program. I connect his lyrics with nearly every moment of my day-to-day life, which of course, may be a sign I need to break from the habit. Hey! There's step 1 -- Admitting I have a problem. :-) xoxo


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