Wild Yellow Flag Iris with ivy-covered ghost cabin in background. Phall Photo 2014
Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study, Part 1
A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.
After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life.
Excerpts from my first few emails in late August to early September 2009 to our family and friends:
I’m watching the deer on the hill & the chickadees are singing their evening lullaby. There are many things I should be doing, but I will probably go back to bed. I did finally turn the soaker hoses off…after 3 days!
I woke up to a longggg, LOUD roll of thunder this morn. The pounding rain on the roof woke me several times last night, still pouring now. Bring on the ARK!
Oliver (my cat) is curled up next to me on the porch swing, dreaming of the good old days when he could get around better and we still had Paul and Jake (our dog) with us. I know what Oliver’s dreaming, cause that’s what I’m dreaming…
Earlier I described a gloomy, rainy day. Now, however, the sun has come out, the rain stopped, and a mist rises from the grassy field on the hill. I’ve been watching a fledgling red-tail hawk learn to fly. He’s resting on a high, thick fir tree branch, his wings drooping at his sides. Trying to balance his heavy wings, he follows the branch towards the center of the big tree; I think it is siesta time.
A light breeze just came from the south and swept away all of the dark clouds, leaving some bright white ones on the horizon, pushing the others to the north. The porch chimes are singing and one of the ducks on the pond is yakking. People, this is amazing! I’m listening to all sorts of birds singing about the sun coming out after nature’s shower.
I keep wanting to turn around and knock on the window to get Paul to come out and see these wonders; he never failed to show his enthusiasm for my discoveries. He never told me to wait a minute. He would put down whatever he was doing and mosey on out to see what I had found. He usually grabbed the camera too. Now, that makes me cry–how could we lose someone that special?
Pretty crazy weather day. That same breeze just filled the sky with more dark clouds and I’ll be damned if it isn’t raining again! Yesterday I finally planted the thyme, moss, and ornamental grass that have been sitting by the side of the house in their original store pots since May. I salvaged most of them and planted them in a big round bowl-shaped pot and sat it in the tall pot with dead things in it on the back porch. Another new rose bloomed in the temp perennial garden. This one is a large, fluffy pink one. I cut it yesterday and added it to a vase with a pink and light lavender gladiola. Collected and stored seeds from a cool Canterbury bell-like flower yesterday; one was light lavender, the other a deep purple. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more dry spells to collect more seeds, she says, as it pours buckets of rain on her garden… “What wild hopes lie here.” author unk.
Part 2, excerpts from beach cave notes and conclusion of my tongue-in-cheek “study” will be posted on June 23rd.
The Memoir Monday feature will be posted every other Monday.
Pursuits of happiness include gardening, walking the desert, reading, writing, photography, traveling and genealogy.
June 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm
Time really does heal. Slowly. But it does eventually. Glad you have come to so much better a place 🙂
June 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a note, Marilyn. I am a work in progress, as we all probably are. I hope your body is healing and that you and Garry are able to enjoy some of this warmer weather.
June 9, 2014 at 6:52 pm
Beautiful writing, Patti – to go with that gorgeous photo! Love that ghost cabin:)
June 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm
There you are, Ellespeth! I made it by your place and hit a bunch of like buttons, but few, if any, comments. I will make up for that soon.
June 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm
Patti, What a beautiful account of your early days of grief. I remember when not much worked to slow down the bleeding of my cracked and broken heart except the strong webbing of nature. How similar Elaine’s, yours, and stories are in that we all turned to this for the solace that nothing else could offer. After Harold died in 2008, I would sit in my back yard and watch birds configure messages in the sky or walk the beach for hours until I spied a pod of dolphin or an osprey to carry some of my sadness away. I planted trees, azaleas bushes and other flowers in my yard to keep my heart strong and connected to organic growth and recovery. I don’t know how you’ve made it through the past five years with the multiple losses you’ve endured, but I do know you are one strong woman.
June 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm
Nice to see you stop by. Thank you for your kind words, Jenna. I’m not surprised that the 3 of us have this in common, as it’s one more of those connections that we keep finding. Also, thank you for giving us a taste of your experience with the gentle healing of nature.
The multiple losses have been hard on all of us, and the loss of my grandson has been the hardest one for me to come back from…still working on it. It is bittersweet to see so much of him reflected in his little cousin’s personality.
Love & Hugs,
June 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Loss is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with. You’ve been hit by so many hammer blows in such a short time it’s amazing you’re doing so well, but your mechanism for coping through your dealings with nature is wonderful. For me the dealings with friends all over the world like this was what gave me strength to get through as well. Not necessarily using the support, but knowing it existed was great too. But at times I did need it and was immediately lifted by a comment by someone I’d never even met.
I don’t know if we ever adjust fully to loss but I know eventually we start to accept. We just have to carry on as best we can. I hope you’re in a place of strength now Patti.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
June 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm
Thank you, as always, David, you are ready with generous sharing of your own journey and thoughtful words about mine.
Yes, just knowing the support is there has been huge. I never thought of it like that, but even if we never reach out to them, knowing that they are there for us has been a great help.
“…a place of strength…” sounds like a good goal.
Hugs and more hugs,
June 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm
Look at the journeys you are taking in your life that are making you the strong and beautiful woman you are. And your growth as a writer, too. xo
June 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm
Thank you, Luanne, I always appreciate your support.
June 14, 2014 at 6:02 am
As you know, Patti, Nature came to my rescue after Vic’s death. This was where I found beauty, comfort, peace, and a sense of belonging in the cycles of life and death. It’s still true. I think of Mary Oliver’s grief poems. Here are a few lines from “After Her Death”:
The trees keep whispering
peace, peace, and the birds
in the shallows are full of the
bodies of small fish and are
content. They open their wings
so easily, and fly. It is still
I’m glad we share Nature’s Love.
June 16, 2014 at 8:16 pm
Perfect, Elaine, I love that one. I think you mentioned her grief poems another time, and I read the whole thing then.
I hope more people can find solace in nature, because it has helped so many of us keep going when we thought we couldn’t.
June 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm
Love your strength, perseverance and beautiful words. 🙂
June 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm
As always, I appreciate your kind words and support, Debby!