Our visit to the farm in the mountains was truly wonderful until the second day, when, standing too close to the edge of a porch, I was knocked off balance by an over-friendly farm dog. Suddenly I flew through the air, landing flat on my back on the ground after a four-foot fall. My sudden transformation from visiting grandma to instant patient took a lot of the fun out of our trip to visit our grandboys. It did not compromise the love I felt from this family who are so dear to me, but it made the family experience harder to fully take in.
After safely traveling home, I’ve spent the past number of days alternating ice and heating pads. The swelling stretched from my tailbone to my neck from the impact of the fall. It could have been much worse; I was very lucky not to have broken my neck. Literally.
Some days have been better than others, and self-care has taken on a much different meaning; getting my hair brushed is a major accomplishment, fixing a simple breakfast is difficult. My husband’s faithful support (and the wonderful books he brought home from the library for me) have eased the hours spent “on ice.”
We live only one street away from Silver Lake, so although I can look out an upstairs window to see the water, I must walk to the end of the street to get a real sense of the beauty of the area. Over the past days I managed just two very short walks to the edge of the lake, but this morning life felt a bit brighter even though the clouds were scattering raindrops from above.
There has always been something about light rain that feels very comforting to me. Perhaps it brings back sensations of my tropical south Florida childhood, memories of looking out onto a rain-swept street, the sheets of water lit by the nearby streetlight. Feelings of being safe and snug inside our home return easily on these overcast, rainy days. Today it hurt less to climb out of bed, so despite (or because of?) the light rain, I strapped on my boots, carefully grabbed my raincoat and new hiking poles (the ones I had were bent into pretzels in my fall at the farm) and headed out.
The overcast day seemed to delight the migrating waterfowl that visit Silver Lake in spring and fall; they were venturing much closer to the shoreline than they usually do. I spied at least 35 scaups, lesser or greater. It was hard for me to tell, a single inch makes all the difference. Their funny, sloped heads make them otherwise rather easy to identify. Ever wary, before I could get close, these wild migrating birds had moved off from the shoreline, making their way across the water to the safety of the island that perches in the midst of Silver Lake.
The mute swans that take up residence each year responded very differently to my presence, moving toward, rather than away from me, hoping for a handout. Disappointed (I had nothing for them), they slowly paddled away, on their way to find something of more interest than my shiny, yellow-slickered self.
Red-winged blackbirds perched in the cattails of last fall. The cattails are all puffed out and wind-blown, they’ll soon be replaced by new growth this spring. It’s early still; so much of the landscape still looks wintry. But the birds tell a different story. They know, for sure, that spring is here.
And so healing comes, returning me to health just as the birds return to Silver Lake each spring. Quicker than we might imagine, but slower than we’d like. The rain picked back up and I headed (slowly) home, but not before taking some last glances at the lake. The swans were bullying a visiting Canada goose and leaving the grateful scaups alone. Red-winged blackbirds were filling our neighborhood with their raucous calls. I paced slowly up the hill to my home, grateful for healing. At whatever speed it occurs.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, Easy Walks in Massachusetts, and More Easy Walks in Massachusetts. A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! New England Regional Chair for the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://marjorieturner.com