Out of a Great Need
We are all holding hands and climbing
Boozhoo, indinawemaaganidog! Aaniin! That is to say hello, all of my relatives! Welcome to another edition of An Irritable Métis. It is a beautiful morning and I have been up for a few hours and I am of a mind to head out for a riverside saunter, even a short one, but I’m convinced the propane truck is going to show up at any moment and I need to wait for it so I can wrangle my always ravenous and relentlessly bloodthirsty dogs just so the poor driver can complete his delivery and get on with his own miserable day unmolested by canine fury. I also feel compelled to warn the driver that the hollow old laundry line post right next to the gate to where the propane tank is is likely full of wasps. The first summer I was here I learned the hard way that they like to nest there when I bumped it with my shoulder while mowing the lawn and they came boiling out, one choosing to fly straight up my nose to sting me inside my nostril. That was startling. And a little rude, if I may say so.
You know what isn’t rude, if still mildly startling? Subscribing to this newsletter! You might be startled to learn the actual immensity of my gratitude when folks choose to, despite all my mewling about this and that. I’m never going to take any of this support for granted.
Autumn weather has arrived practically overnight and it makes me happy. Chilly mornings, warm afternoons, and those moments in the evening where just a few weeks ago it was the hottest, most miserable time of day, are now the beginning of the rapid cool-off cycle. I may love the world the most this time of year; mist off the river in the morning getting tangled up in the ponderosas yonder, the leaves on the cottonwoods just beginning to turn, and all that magnificent, slanting light. Peaches in roadside stands, geese in the sky still trying to remember which direction is which and, if you know where to drive, elk bugles echoing from distant hillsides. What’s not to love?
It’s hard to imagine though that in just a few short days it will be October and I won’t be able to shake my fist at all the Halloween garbage for sale and snarl, “It’s too soon!” I’ll have to save that irritation for the Christmas decorations, which have been on display at Costco for a few weeks now, haven’t they? Does anything say, “Let the world burn!” quite as much as the American obsession with giant inflatable bullshit in their yards for 25% of the year? Do you really need a half-inflated Santa-on-a-motorcycle balloon lurching to and fro like he’s drunk driving across your lawn? This is a rare occasion where I’m actually siding with Jesus in my indignation.
Dagwaagin is when I emerge from the mild version of seasonal affective disorder that I wrestle with in Niibin (summer), a time of year when so many others are grimly facing theirs. Yet I love the shorter days, the darkness, the cold. Even the clouds don’t bother me; I can handle multiple days of overcast better than I can those of unrelenting sun. I prefer a mix of both, of course … but if I have to choose, I thrive in gloom. I thrive also knowing that winter could arrive, even for the briefest of visits, in a matter of days too. I’m reminded of an evening just a couple dagwaagins ago driving home from the Swan Valley just as dark was beginning to fall, along with the snow that had threatened all day, which drifted down among the towering pines lining both sides of the highway. It was stunning.
“I welcome the returning dusk, the cooling air, the falling leaves, the first sign of snow, the returning pause of twilight and darkness falling. Too soon it will overtake both morning and night (the greedy surfeit of high latitudes), but for now I am grateful for the balance of equinox, the hush of dusk, the blurring of what’s visible, and the quiet assurance of night.” — Freya Rohn
My friend Freya Rohn, writing from her home in Alaska, recently delivered an excellent piece about the dark via her wonderful newsletter, The Ariadne Archive. It’s reminded me lately to consider every time I reach for a light switch to ask myself, do I really need to? What is so wrong with the dim, or even the dark? This morning, before I jolted my computer awake, before I turned on the desk lamp – before I even went out to the kitchen for my coffee! – I sat at my window in my dark room and watched Jupiter descend below the western horizon.
This followed the better part of thirty minutes outdoors just gazing skyward. With the moon hiding her face and the air crisp and cool, the stars were brighter than they have been here for some time. I walked around to get different view angles from beneath the trees scattered across my, and my neighbors’, yards. I was barefoot and the grass was cold and wet. I use an app called Sky Guide to tell me what’s what because I’m pretty ignorant of the night sky. I like it, and slowly but surely I’m starting to learn a few things. It wasn’t so long ago that all of us knew the sky with the familiarity we know the home screens on our phones and that bums me out. The irony is not lost on me though that the very tool that I feel is heaping fuel on the flames of our ultimate burnout is one helping me rediscover what has been lost. Still, I’d like a good book to accompany it. We had one at the bookstore a few years ago that a local astronomer said was the best one he’d seen yet and I somehow failed to acquire it then and now I don’t remember what it was. I’m open to suggestions here, friends.
A reader once said I was the “Pollyanna of Winter” because I sing so much praise of all the dark seasons. That could be true. Maybe I’m just trying to gird my emotions for the looming months, I don’t know. I still have so much to do and the anxiety is real. For now though I intend to revel in the gifts of beauty the universe continues to bestow on us every day. I hope you might consider finding ways to embrace them too.
Can You Help?
I can’t remember really how I came to know my friend, Andō. Mutual interests as fellow contemplatives, poets, etc. All the ways the internet can actually serve us when it comes to extended community that I am often grateful for. I admire her wisdom, her calm, and her view of the world. Her daily newsletter Silentium offers little snippets of encouragement that often get my day back on track before it even begins to derail.
Andō is battling cancer. She nearly died when her body reacted against chemo treatment some months ago. Now she has had surgery and is simultaneously forced to move into a new home. I will let her speak for herself:
I’m moving home.
On 1 October.
From furnished to unfurnished.
We have no furniture, and funds are currently tight.
I had major surgery for cancer a week ago. I can't drive, lift, or carry for several weeks, so items need to be bought online and delivered.
This move was not intended in this way. My current home is no longer to be rented out, we tried to extend our tenancy, but it is not possible. Another furnished rental home fell through just six days before my surgery. This unfurnished home will provide me with a stable base from which to continue my treatment for cancer into mid 2023 and beyond.
I need some help.
My family are helping out, friends are helping out, our new landlord is helping out, Macmillan cancer support are helping out.
You might be able to help too.
If you’re in a position to do so, you can help by sending a donation via PayPal to me at https://bit.ly/donatetoando, or by buying and sending something from my Amazon wishlist at https://amzn.to/3BB40Pj.
Any help whatsoever can make a big difference. No item, and no amount is too small.
Donations will be used to help buy larger items of furniture via Ikea's most basic ranges, for essential items such as a bed, chests of drawers, a wardrobe, etc.
Thank you for reading.
Friends, this is a request for mutual aid. If 10% of my paid subscribers contributed $5 – $10 to Andō it would make a huge difference. Please consider donating. To sweeten the pot, I have five copies of my friend Tony Burfield’s new book of poetry, Seeking the Button Rock Hermit. I planned to do some kind of giveaway for these books (Tony and his wife Laura are two of my absolute favorite people), but given that Tony’s work is something I think Andō would appreciate, I feel this is appropriate. That and his books arrived in my mailbox the day of Andō’s request for help so it seems the universe is giving me the nudge. So the first five of you who send me proof of a donation I will happily send a copy of Tony’s book. You’ll love it. And if more than five of you contact me for them, not only will I get more to send you I’ll tack the cost of those books onto my donation to Andō. So please, consider this request….
This from the great Sufi poet Hafiz seems particularly profound today….
Let us hang on to each other, my friends, my relatives. We are all we have. Miigwech, always.
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