Autumn Leaves are falling down

Autumn Sunrise with low fog
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My alarm goes off around 7.30 am, regardless of what day it is at the moment. I know mum does not get up for at least another hour, so this is MY time, time to reflect and time to enjoy the splendour of nature at my own pace.

 

It has been a hectic, sometimes stressful and confusing year for me so far. Hence why you have not seen much action here either. After a fairly uneventful Summer I travelled from Australia, into Spring in the Netherlands mid March, where my cousin was waiting for me to help her get organised, in case a bad situation would eventuate with my elderly mum, to be prepared for everything. We found a fitting nursing home with a large garden and arranged as much as I could fit in the 4 weeks I stayed, like meal deliveries, meetings with care staff, doctors etc., to keep her living independently as long as possible, along with spending time with mum as well.

Upon returning home in Australia late April I got a phone call the next day, still groggy from jet lag, after which I found myself working an extra 5 nights a week, while trying to catch up in my garden at home and get that ready for my absence during Winter and work in the nursery part time! Well, no rest over Winter either, with record snowfalls, more lodge guests than ever, and keeping my promise from last year to my manager then, of attending more ski training this season! I had to leave a week before closing of the lifts, to fly back to the Netherlands for mum, who had deteriorated badly over their unusually hot Summer.

So here I am, finding myself utterly confused after Summer followed by Spring, followed by Winter and now in Autumn, but thankfully healthy and well. Something I unfortunately cannot say about my mum, who is physically doing very well, but mentally in need of full time support.

 

I swiftly throw on my ‘trackies’, hoodie and sneakers, over my pyjamas to keep the chill of the early morning out and quietly sneak out of the door. I am so glad mum chose to live at the edge of a small town in the Netherlands, from where it only takes me a few minutes to walk the street that brings me to the paddocks showing the Sunrise in full glory. I savour the wide open space, still in peace and quiet this early in the morning, especially during the weekends when work traffic is absent.

When I walk I focus on my surrounds, nature waking up along with myself and my body. It is easy to get sidetracked during the day and fall into bad habits in regards to posture, but during the stillness of the morning it is easier to focus on walking with a straighter back and shoulders relaxed in the right spot, arms swinging loosely in harmony with my stride. It feels so good to take a deep breath full of life’s most important energy that somehow feels more rejuvenating at this hour than the rest of the day.

 

I take many deep breaths during the day as well, but most are for the purpose of keeping my sanity and composure while mum asks me the same question for the 30th time in an hour and still fails to understand my calm explanation. She easily gets upset when this happens and I find myself repeating to her many times that it is ok and that all is organised and will work out just fine.

I know she just hasn’t got the synapses to connect the dots any more as dementia is slowly stealing her mental abilities. I also know that giving her an answer calmly with love is important, despite the seeming pointlessness, because she will ask me again in a few minutes. Important, for it gives her a feeling of being heard, loved and respected. I am sure she feels that I care for her as she still treats me like her daughter, even though she gets confused and thinks I am still in Australia, and much younger than in reality, lol, if only… Occasionally she believes me, mostly she puts her ‘stubborn hat’ on and is convinced I am telling her fibs. Reality does not make the same sense to her as it used to.

The way I mentally deal with the current situation is reminding myself of the old quote a Buddhist monk told me, that if I CAN do something about it there is no need to worry and if I CANNOT, why worry? Another one that helps me mentally is from Wayne Dyer, that it is NOT the situation or circumstances that stress people out, but the thoughts created about it. I take one step at a time and file my upcoming responsibilities in my phone, which gives me a beep when something pops up that needs attention.

 

The one thing that still cheers her up and takes her away from her worries and suspicions that everyone is out to deceive her is Nature. She really calms down and comes home a different person. I am so glad about this, as it is so good to see her marvel at it’s beauty too when we go for an afternoon stroll in the nearby forests on the milder days. It is ‘nature therapy’ for both of us! We stop and look at the many mushrooms showing themselves and we walk the leaf covered paths surrounded by old deciduous trees in beautiful Autumn colours. Something I have not seen much of in the last 15 years when I have always visited around her birthday in Spring.

Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

We pick up a few treasures to take home and arrange in a shallow pottery dish on the table, acorns, pine cones, a few leaves and a tiny feather she found with the most vibrant blues. I take photo’s of the mushrooms, better left in peace where they are. Besides, my knowledge of them is insufficient to know which ones are safe to pick, let alone any names.

She still walks unaided and really well for her 87 years, but I am carefully monitoring her gait to see whether we should keep going, or returning to the car soon. Surprisingly she generally knows her way around quite well, despite being bad in many other ways. It is a blessing now that she moved back to the area where she grew up when dad was still with us, because she retained a lot of her older memories so far.

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

I am always fascinated with these little surprises of nature, here one day, gone the next. Perhaps it is the shortening days and decay all around that makes me feel melancholic. For a moment I think about the issues at hand and cannot help but see the fleetingness of all we take for granted. A hint to make the most of, and be grateful for each day we are blessed to experience.

Mushroom covered tree trunk

Mushroom covered tree trunk, found off the beaten track

Red and white mushrooms

Spotted these red and white ones only on passing a second time, surprisingly, as they are quite striking

I ponder about memories, which are not much different. As we walk along our lives we collect and grow them, we treasure and share them, but when decay sets in with old age, they are like the falling leaves of Autumn, we drop them slowly one by one on still days, or many at once when a storm hits….

I am so GLAD that my own ‘tree’ still has many leaves that, for now, are securely attached.

Leaf covered road

Leaf covered road

Feel free to comment 😉

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

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How annoying mobile messages saved my life

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Skikes in action

Skikes in action

In Autumn last year I decided to check out a new bike trail along a freeway close to home. I had purchased a pair of “Skikes”, which are like cross country ski’s on wheels just before Easter.

It was a beautiful Autumn Sunday after a period of cold weather and rain (this is Australia). I had to do quite a few chores on Saturday and had not been able to really enjoy the last of the sunny days before Winter, so by mid afternoon, after a few internet distractions, I could no longer delay the urge of boosting my vitamin D stores and put my Skikes, poles and the dog in the car to drive to the new trail. I realised that I only had a short window of time left before the sun would set, so a sense of urgency crept in.

Next my phone beeps with a message. This does not happen frequently, because I am a bit old fashioned and still use my landline more than my (“ancient”)mobile, which I only carry for emergencies. I waited till I got to the car park to look at it. It was a friend for whom I was looking after her place while she was away. She was helping a friend of hers clean up a rental property and everything was a lot worse than expected. She felt that this was putting a strain on their friendship. She was stuck there with no other transport options back besides her friends car. I suggested to look into bus fares or catch a train, via texting, which takes me a long time with the old phone. Then I proceeded to strap on my Skikes quickly.

The dog was very keen to go for a run with me and showed the typical signs of impatience and anticipation. Next, my phone beeps again! I look to see another message from my dear friend in need and am starting to get annoyed by this delay. Looking at my watch, I now have only an hour or so before dusk is going to set in! I did not plan on taking the phone with me because of the risk of it getting damaged in a possible fall, so I had to finalize this conversation quick. I text her back as fast as I could (not very) and locked the car to get going.

The wind had picked up a lot during the afternoon, which usually happens when there is a change in the weather on it’s way, but it was still not very cold. I did not have a lot of experience with my Skikes yet and there was a fair bit of debris from the huge pine trees on the path to watch out for. Cautiously I tried to find my rhythm, whilst keeping my eyes peeled for obstacles that could possibly trip me up (I have since learnt that when I am zipping along that the large pneumatic wheels on my skikes will actually roll quite easily over sizeable sticks, stones and even small tree roots, without a hiccup). Being such a nice weekend there were a few families out riding their bikes giving me smiles along the way, probably because they had never seen a cross country skier without snow before!

My dog was having a ball, running along and sniffing here and there. Next I hear a sound, not too far ahead, as if a bulldozer knocked down a tree. I remember thinking how strange it was on a late Sunday afternoon, that they were still working on the new trail!

I happily kept on going, feeling really good about the fact I was finally out here doing my training for Winter. After about two to three hundred meters, there was a little rise and as I got to the top of it, I suddenly realised that in front of me across the path was a massive old pine tree, that must have come down just moments before! It appeared that the wind had blown it over. With quite a bit of effort I managed to bush bash around it to continue down the path as fast as I could to get out of the pine tree lined area. Then slowly, as I recovered from the shock, the realisation set in, that I could have been right there, under that tree, if it had not been for my dear friend with her “annoying” messages!

Next time I am annoyed by something, the first question I ask myself is: I wonder why this is happening? I can’t wait to see and am so glad for being alive!

PS My friend resolved the issues she had soon after and everything worked out well for her too.
Also: For people interested in finding out more about Skikes, check out their website: http://www.skike.com.au
(There is even a picture of me having fun on my skikes at http://www.skike.com.au/gallery.html )