Living Well

My Adirondack Soundtracks

To say it has been a wet Spring is a bit of an understatement. I think I can count on one hand the number of sunny days we have had . . . or even sunny parts of days. So Spring gardening has been hard to get to.

Finally, this week, there was an afternoon of sun, and I took my opportunity to get in the garden and pull out the weeds and debris that had gathered since last Fall. To keep me happily engaged in the project, I decided to listen to some music. But what would it be on this afternoon of sun and abundant Adirondack beauty? It would be Paul Winter Consort’s Missa Gaia. Composed in 1981, the Missa Gaiais a stunning intertwining of sacred texts and sounds of the created world – whales, wolves, waterfalls – in a jazz format. “All the Earth forever turning; for the skies, for every sea; To our Lord, we sing returning home to our blue green hills of earth.” Yes, this seemed like the very soundtrack for the day. To dig in the earth, to look around me and see the blue green mountains and hear the sound of the rain-swollen river nearby – these were the very expressions of the music, and of God.

My Adirondack SoundtracksToday, I awoke to another foggy, rainy day. After some morning errands, I arrived home to another small window without rain. No sun this time and another garden to weed and clean. What would carry me along? I began to think about my family roots here in the mountains, going back at least 150 years on my dad’s side of the family. And I thought of my dad. He is 100 years old and lives in a nursing home. He doesn’t have dementia, but his thoughts and his conversation are an interesting, humorous, and much-of-the-time fictitious mix of his life’s experiences. While he’ll engage in a conversation of sorts for a little while, what he loves more than anything is listening to music on his MP3 player. He has a running set list of jazz and big band music from the 1930’s and 1940’s. So, in honor of Dad, and the life I treasure here in the mountains, today I listened to Benny Goodman and his orchestra. It was a different connection to the earth – to roots of a family sort; deep, sometimes tangled, old, firm.

I wonder what the soundtrack will be tomorrow . . .

Living Well

Inside the Blue Line*: Spiritual Reflections on Life in the Adirondack Park

The first day of Spring was a few days ago. And like many (or most) people, I’m hungering for warmer days, lots of sun, and an ease that comes with release from the cold. That said, there is still a part of me that will say goodbye to winter with sadness.

SpringDespite the joy and relief that comes with Spring and all of its primal energies, there is something about winter that is deeply ‘home’ for me. In the dead of winter, when the air is icy and the ground is white, there is a quiet and peace that prevails for me. Sounds are muffled by the blanket of snow. Colors are sharply diminished to white and various shades of grey and black. Rather than being distracted by sights and sounds and smells, I breathe deeply into the simplicity of vision – shapes and shadows, light and lines, softness and stillness. I can gaze endlessly into this monochromatic scene and receive it with wonder. How many intricate and detailed ways can the complexity and diversity of creation be expressed in black and white?

Spring’s joyful exuberance will come. The snow will melt, the trees will leaf out, the wildlife will make itself known in sight and sound. I will celebrate with the best of them when this happens. And even still, in the deep recesses of my soul, I will nurture a quiet longing for the peace of winter, trusting that for it to come, Spring, Summer and Autumn will have to show their glory as well.

*The Blue Line is the term used in New York state for the boundaries of the Adirondack  (and Catskill) parks, within which can be found the state’s Forest Preserve. The state constitution requires that any property owned or acquired by the state in those parks “be forever kept as wild forest lands” and prohibits it from selling or transferring them in any way. It is so called because blue ink was used when they were first drawn on state maps.