Yesterday I was able to break out of the new normal routine to get a nice balance of holding counsel with the frogs and the butterflies and dragonflies at a “shack simple” experience and also have a lovely catch up session with some friends.
The shack simple day was coordinated by a friend of mine, Michelle, and hosted by the naturalist school out somewhere near Waubonsie in Iowa and the guy who leads that organization/effort, Jack. I honestly don’t know exactly where we were because Michelle drove me and two other MFA friends out around 8:30. It’s somewhere near the Loess Hills scenic byway which is across the Missouri River and about an hour south of the metro area.
I’d never even heard of a “shack simple” before but apparently the concept has been around a while. In my interpretation, it’s kind of an escape from all the havoc of life to live a simple life for for a while. Someplace to get clean and re-connect with nature. Get back to basics and discover what is lost from spending too much time trapped in the gridlock.
This experience was just a taste. Just a lazy morning rolling over like an old hound, into the afternoon. I can see where by itself, one day isn’t quite enough. My mind is often so wound up, it takes a while to settle down and relax. Once we chatted for a bit and the concept and amenities were explained to us, he turned the 5 of us loose to wander around and find our own way.
I personally wandered around a little getting my bearings with the building and the path to the nearby pond. I was emotional and fidgety and restless and had anxiety that I wasn’t going to be able to settle down to get something out of the day. Within the first hour I found two isolated places where I just sat and thought about stuff and let the tears come. It was a nice release.
I’ve been holding so much inside. It just needed out.
When I walked down to the pond Jack was there with the other gal from the Naturalist School that I had not met before. I sat with my notebook poised for brilliance and my water bottle at a picnic table. I was ready and waiting for something to come to me. But sort of distracted by what the other folks were doing.
I engaged Jack in conversation, asking questions about the school and his experience. I got good intel on a few of the butterfly species we were seeing and what his connection is with the MFA program.
Did you know that you can tell a butterfly from a moth by looking at their antennae? Butterflies have a little ball at the end of their antennae and moths have more of a feather like antennae. I never knew that. It feels like something everyone should know.
Jack is a cool guy and I really dig the fact that he had a flip phone and didn’t even assume I had an email address. Technology makes it easier to communicate with people but it was so lovely to daydream for just a second about how life would be without all that. It really would be more simple. There’s a longing inside of me to return to that kind of life and the shack simple just highlighted that.
I truly never did settle down. I wandered back to the shelter and put my yoga mat down in the cool dark basement and did corpse pose for about 20 minutes. Cried again. It wasn’t really crying, though, just letting the emotions leave my body and the path they chose was tears. They gathered on the surface of my eyes and softly ran down the sides of my temples.
I focused on my breathing for a bit but I would hardly call it meditating.
After that I went back to the main level to get a snack from my daypack. Stepha was there and so we chatted for a bit. The last time I saw her it was January and we were at Res together. That was all pre-pandemic and the focus was on the semester ahead. It’s crazy to think about how much was crushed by the virus and how it’s not only changed our daily lives but also had a huge impact on our mental health.
People don’t talk about it much but I’m sure the Covid has put a lot of folks into a depression. I was in denial about that until this past week but now I’m more aware that that is what I’m experiencing. People need people and I miss people. I miss all my people and meetups and conversations. It’s my lifeline, you know, to a better life. It’s a key component and you take that away and it leaves a void.
And Zoom doesn’t cut it. I feel like Zoom actually makes it worse. But that’s probably because we spend all day on Zoom and the last thing we want is to sit on a screen longer looking at ourself or a picture of ourself. I think I’m gonna change my Zoom profile pic to one of my cats this week. I digress.
After that shack simple introduction we packed our belongings back into the car and headed back home. Arriving back at Michelle’s place, we walked to get Tacos and margaritas (water for yours truly cuz I’m still off the sauce for at least the rest of this month). We sat at a table outside in the shade and talked about all sorts of stuff.
That was the bonus plan. It was actually better to have conversations and really connect with people than it was being out alone in nature. I mean, nature is great but the real value is sharing it with people and making memories.
Today is the actual Summer Solstice so there’s a lot of daylight to work with. I’ve got some serious weeding to do in the garden and also some planning to do for my upcoming week. There will be dentist appointments, mammograms, and mini-Road trips— oh my!
I’m keeping a paper calendar to keep track of my ailments and meds. I’m planning to abstain from the alcohol and keep the caffeine to a minimum. I’m feeling the urge to make a to-do list for the remainder of June. That must mean I’m seriously on the mend!.. That’s good news!!
Time now to get on the Sunday Solstice Train.
With Peace and Love and Gratitude,