Friday, June 14, 2013

The Pursuit of Contentment

I raised my vintage roller blinds to a bright and brilliant morning. The air was dry and fluffy clouds scuttled across the clear blue sky. It was so uplifting that I barely noted the peeling wallpaper and the crack in the antique window glass.

I was glad to see the dry weather. The day before, strong storms had swept through communities from Massachusetts to South Carolina. In our valley, rain had fallen steadily all day, swelling creeks and rivers to the flood stage. My friends and family in North Carolina sustained significant damage along with widespread power outages. It was Mother Nature in an irascible and grumpy state.

I clumped down the creaky wooden stairs to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. The dogs greeted me with wildly wagging tails, silently asking to be let out. I walked with them to the rear of the yard and looked at the beautiful meadow that spreads out to back our property. I took a deep breath, listening to the birds sing in the trees. What a lovely day!

I started to prepare the dog's breakfast, quickly realizing that there was not enough food in the bin -better make a run to the store. I quietly grabbed my keys and crept out of the house; the children were still asleep and it was early.
Getting in my car, I rolled the window down and felt the cool breeze blow across my forehead. The sun was bright; I dug out my sunglasses and put them on.  I glanced to my left and was amazed to see that the West Canada Creek was rolling heavily through it's banks and sent a thankful prayer that none of the creek's residents had seen any flooding with the previous day's storms.

The highway was busy, log trucks and big shiny milk trucks rumbling along the highway as they made their rounds. I turned off the main road and took a short-cut through the rolling farmland that blanketed the valley floor. Green pastures were surrounded by fluffy hedgerows and row after row of spruce and other evergreen trees formed multi-hued green borders against the fields. Meadow grasses waved in the wind, undulating like waves in the ocean. Cows and horses grazed together, some laying peacefully- the tops of their heads the only partially visible through the vegetation. I pulled up to the one and only stop sign on my route and paused to look around. Fluffy balls of color decorated round peony bushes which grew next to spiky lupine flowers. Clumps of wildflowers studded the pastures and edged the heavily flowing creeks and streams. The trees near the stop sign cast cool shadows on the warm pavement, their branches murmuring and whispering as the wind blew through them. Tender new leaves fluttered to the ground, unable to withstand the torment of even the most gentle breeze.

I turned right and continued on my way. As I topped a low rise, on a narrow road with no painted lines, I met a young Amish boy at the reigns of dark carriage horse which was pulling an open buckboard wagon. I slowed down and waved. The boy cheerfully returned my wave, his straw hat pulled low on his head against the stiff breeze. He was leaning casually back on the bench seat, one arm draped across the back. The boy held one of the reins loosely in his free hand, the other long leather reign lay unattended at his feet. He was in no hurry and seemed to be at peace with the world.

I finished my errand and returned to Appleside Cottage. The front garden shimmered with new growth and looked refreshed. I was thankful for the wisdom of nature. Nature has it's own agenda. It's up to us to work around its whims and temper tantrums. If it were left up to humans, it might never storm again, which would have a slew of it's own repercussions.

The dogs settled down, bellies full. The house was quiet. I sat on the back porch in my big rocker and cradled my hot coffee in my cold hands. The wind blew. Birds warbled and trilled, flitting and dancing through the trees. I took a breath of clean, fresh air. Smelled the scent of nearby plants. I rocked.

A sense of happiness and satisfaction washed over me. Then I realized that "happy" may not accurately describe the feeling. Happiness seemed too fleeting, too intangible. This feeling was strong and  marbled with gratitude and independence.

It was contentment.

And it was good.

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