Instead of oppressive fire, smoke and excessive heat, this week I’ve chosen four positive cooling, refreshing topics: air, rain, clouds and movies.
“Her arrival on the scene was like a breath of fresh air,” wrote W. Somerset Maugham in “Cakes and Ale” (1930). Being so described is most certainly complimentary. It is easy to relate to “The Free Dictionary” definition of the idiom — pleasantly different from what you are used to — in relation to the actual air we have been breathing.
After day after day of yellow/brown, smoke and ash filled air, finally a breath of fresh air rolled in this past week. Like a dog with its head hanging out the window sucking in fresh air, we all inhaled and savored the clean, fragrant breeze. Finally, it was safe to venture outdoors for a walk, hike, bike or horse ride, even a river float. Carpe diem!
Never did the pitter-patter of raindrops sound so good as it has on a few occasions this past week. The rainfall made me want to run outside barefoot, lift my face to the sky, catch raindrops, and come inside dripping wet — just like in the movies.
Fresh rain cleans the air, washes away dust, leaves greenery glistening, and, hopefully, dampens some of the wildfire heat.
With the difficulty of remaining in the present when circumstances weigh heavily, a mindfulness practice with the acronym RAIN is a process to press the “refresh” button, halt ruminating, and enjoy the present: recognize, allow, investigate and nurture.
When I was 9 years old, I submitted a poem to Grit, a weekly newspaper that targeted small town and rural families especially in the 1950s when it carried the subtitle, “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.” The poem was published and a tattered copy of it lives in my scrapbook:
“Clouds are here/Clouds are there/I think that clouds are everywhere.
I saw a cloud that looked like a fish/I saw a cloud that looked like a dish.
The fish jumped into the dish/That’s all I saw of the fish.”
Corny, yes, but clouds are still wondrous in their variety, beauty and impermanence. The clouds that appeared when the smoke moved on were a welcome sight; seeing real clouds and not a smoke plume was reassuring.
I have always considered going to The Barnyard Cinema a real treat in our rural community. It was fun to see familiar faces, enjoy a beverage, popcorn, comfy seating while watching up-to-date movies. Then, along came COVID, consuming so many of our entertainment sources. It was a pleasant experience to go to my first movie in months (albeit a sad recounting of a valuable life lost too soon: Anthony Bourdain, “Roadrunner”) and look forward to many more.