Awake before 5 and my restless mind couldn’t get back to sleep. When I tried to get up at 6:30, I collapsed into anxiety. I sobbed at the thought of having to leave this beautiful home in the mountains in just a few hours.
I begged the universe to come to my aid. Is anyone out there? Anybody, please help!
I still have a few Valium tablets left from December, but I didn’t want to take one. I wanted to try, instead, to keep moving through my day’s plans, and find other ways to soothe my frayed nerves.
After a while, I managed to get up, make my coffee, eat a little fruit. I went out to the deck and ran my fingers over the herbs, smelled their minty oils fresh from the rain. I took deep breaths of it.
I sat and wrote for a couple of hours. I edited my photos from Ohio. Writing is great therapy, and the beauty captured through the camera was a sweet solace.
About lunchtime, I got a call from Unknown. Normally I don’t pick up for calls from unfamiliar numbers, but something spurred me to take this one.
It was my friend Jane, calling via Skype all the way from Burma.
We haven’t talked in many months. It’s hard to catch her because of her travel and work schedule, but we have been friends since Kabul in 2003, and any chance to speak with her is a gift.
She’d followed my blog posts about Tom’s stroke, and really wanted to know how I was holding up.
It was a huge relief to talk to her. Jane’s a friend who can handle any level of straight talk, and she herself is very direct. So I poured out all the anguish and frustrations that had piled up.
By the time we hung up, I was starting to feel almost normal. But I needed more time in the mountains. I called Tom, who generously said, “Stay! You don’t need to rush back here.”
I gathered up some paper bags and a pair of garden gloves and drove to Twelve Stone Farm where my friend Jerilyn works. They have a horse field where the most wonderful passionflower grows wild, and since it’s just a weed to them, they let me harvest all I want.
Jerilyn looked fabulous. She’s been fighting for her life in the past few years, but she doesn’t let her health problems bring her down. She appreciates every single day. Her eyes sparkled, her skin glowed, her hair laid in soft waves. It made me feel better just to see her looking so good.
I wandered the field with my paper bags, clipping the tender tops and flowers of the plants, and the passionflower fragrance filled me. I began to feel sleepy, but kept going. I let the relaxation float me through the field for an hour.
On the drive home, with the car full of that sweet scent, I sank into mellowness.
After eating a quick salad, I went to kayak. The hot sun was not so strong now, and a cool breeze danced over my skin.
It was a magical couple of hours. As I pushed off from the dock, I saw a young green heron hunting at the edge of some reeds. I held my breath and paddled as softly as I could so that he wouldn’t fly away. Later, I spotted another green heron up in a tree and sat beneath him to admire his yellow feet and lovely neck.
The falling daylight sang and whispered among the loose clouds. The lake water winked as it cradled me.
I coasted right up to the shore where a tiny fawn stood, looking at me with a curiosity that hadn’t learned fear, while her sibling watched from a few feet away.
Then as I rounded a corner, a great blue heron stood upon a submerged log directly in front of me. I slowed the kayak and drifted. He didn’t fly away until I was nearly on top of him.
Back at home, I cleaned the passionflower and separated leaves from stems. I felt completely at peace. All the anxiety was gone.
Nature had come to my aid once again.
Today’s penny is a 1978. In the 1970s, Valium was the most-prescribed drug in America, according to the obituary of its inventor:
Valium topped the list of most-common pharmaceuticals from 1969 to 1982, with nearly 2.3 billion pills passing into consumers’ hands during its peak sales year of 1978.