Monday, December 16, 2013

Time of the Long Night Moon

Downtown Ashland, Oregon in December snowstorm. Photo by Mark Arinsburg
Over a week ago, we had an unusual snowstorm that dropped 4-6 inches on the floor of the Rogue Valley. We are accustomed to snow in the mountains, but that amount of snow on the valley floor is rare. Temperatures fell to 4-6 degrees for several nights. Snowplows were unable to make a dent in the icy snow.

Even attempts to strew cinders on the dangerous surfaces did not succeed, with cinder loads sticking together, making them useless. Road conditions were quite dangerous for 5 or 6 days.

Schools were closed, and if they could people just stayed home.

Not a Christmas tree, but a festive jungle cactus
What in the world is up with her?
It was very beautiful though, as this photo of the downtown area shows. It was a good respite to stay at home for 5 days. Finally, there was a thaw, and everyone started to move around in the world again.

I've lived in the Ashland area since 1977, except for 4 years spent in Portland in the mid 80s. I never consciously intended to stay here that long. It just happened. I love it here. It is familiar. I have many longtime friends and connections. Yet I am feeling that it's time for a change.

I bought a house 2 1/2 years ago, a place I call the flower cottage. For years, I dreamed of having a house like this with a beautiful flower garden, and I have been enjoying living here. My younger daughter did a beautiful job painting the walls when I first moved in. It was such a loving gesture on her part. Still, it is feeling like time for  change.

Here we are at the end of year holidays. It will be full moon in two days, the "long night moon." I'm a Buddhist, and now that my kids are grown, I don't much celebrate Christmas. But it is the darkest time of the year, and that darkness calls out for some ornamentation to offset the long nights. So I found a few festive objects to decorate the jungle cactus in the kitchen, and that is my version of a Christmas tree this year.

I'm going to put my house on the market in January and I am planning to move to Baja. I want to be near the ocean. I want to be in a different culture. In letting go of the flower cottage and moving to Baja, I want to create a lifestyle that is simpler, slower and more affordable.

I have some friends in northern Baja. They are a large Mexican family who have grounded a meditation center in Ensenada for many years. I am hoping that they will help me find my way past the gringo ghettos. I have to learn Spanish. I keep telling myself it will not be that difficult, because I know French. But really, I have to get with it.

I wonder how I will dispose of the many beautiful objects I surround myself with. When this seems too impossible, I remind myself of all the beautiful clothing, chairs, tables, houses, pets, and lovers-- not necessarily in that order--that I have enjoyed and left along the way. Like the orange wing chair I had when I was 19 and lived in NYC, or the blue and white checked gingham pinafore I loved so much when I lived at Cherrymont in the Pennsylvania countryside. Or that thick beaver coat, which was so warm and stylish. I won't get into the lovers at the moment, though the beaver coat reminded me of them somehow.

Accumulating and dispersing. I've already started to take books off the shelves in order to donate them to the library. I will have to be careful not to try to dismantle things too fast. I want to keep the ceramic pomegranate from Italy and the bright blue butterfly. But many things will get passed along to be enjoyed afresh by others. This time of life is a time of letting go. It's good to practice letting go. I am looking around my house and thinking of who among my friends would enjoy certain objects and implements.

 I just read an article about hygge, which is pronounced  HYU-gah.  Hygge describes a way that people cultivate happiness in Denmark, which is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, despite the fact it is so cold and dark in winter. They seem to have a good thing going, so I thought you might like to tune into some of the ways the Danes cultivate their happiness.

Hope your holidays are full of happiness, warmth and love. May this coming year bring beauty, delight and richness of all kinds into your world.

1 comment:

  1. I like Ashland in Christmas lighting and have enjoyed it several times having family in Medford. I hope you find what you are looking for with your move.

    As for wanting happiness, it's never really been one of my goals. I don't often think about whether I am happy or not. I also though don't ask am I unhappy? I just am. I have happy and unhappy moments I guess in every day. Maybe I should be analyzing it more but not sure if I ever really did think about that.