Yesterday, fully immersed in summer reading and a hammock, I finished my first book of the summer. Upstream by Mary Oliver was so much of what I needed and didn't know I needed. I hugged this book when I finished it.
Right before the hug
I've had a yearning to escape from the city recently. So much so the BF and I have talked about buying some land and building a tiny home so we have an escape whenever want to hear crickets instead of sirens. Don't get me wrong, I am still a city person but my heart also belongs to the smell of mud after rain, cool grass, and gentle breezes.
The cats love Summer Meg
When Nate passed away and we went home to bury him on the farm where I grew up, there was a part of me that just wanted to stay there forever. I wanted to lay down on that grass where once upon a time I spent my summer vacations barefoot and cartwheeling. Land that held the barrels we stood and raced on. The expansive lawn where we roasted marshmallows over a camp fire, laid down blankets, and woke up to the heavy dew and morning sun on our cheeks.
blurry but important
When I was growing up on the farm, I was so desperate to get out and see the world. And now I look back and see the world that was always there. The world of innocence and freedom and frogs and wild leeks and a welcoming cool woods on a humid day. On the day we buried Nate there I wanted to lay down on that grass, on that land, and say, "Thank you." Thank you for carrying me then and for carrying me now. Thank you for being my foundation and for sharing your strength with my family. Thank you for holding this dear boy who had his own adventures on your gentle green. Thank you for keeping him safe and for being a place where we can always come back.
I have felt a part of my heart wanting to be out in the woods. Maybe it is a need for quiet and contemplation. So when I started reading Upstream it was as if the woods came to find me instead. Where have you been, Meg? Let's have another summer visit, shall we?
I can't be there right not but in the pages of Mary Oliver's collection of essays, I found my calm, quiet, and space.
doing the best we can, the BF and I escaped the city
for a motorcycle trip to the wilderness
In yoga and meditation, teachers often say to "notice" what you are thinking and feeling. Don't attach any value or meaning, just observe. The purpose is to slow down, to appreciate that some things just happen. Mary Oliver uses Upstream to do just this. She makes observations of the world around her. She sees the turtle laying it's eggs in the sand, knowing they are subject to a host of prey. She does nothing to prevent this. She notices the eggs, notices the turtle, notices the prey. She, in fact, becomes a part of the circle of life when she digs up some of the nest, taking a few eggs for her breakfast. It wasn't a good or bad thing to do, it was just a thing to do.
So many big feels after this one. What ARE we
supposed to teach our kids?
And then some
The book contains essays previously published but put together here for the first time. Some mostly about nature. Some mostly about authors who have inspired her. One about her hometown of Provincetown and the undeniable present that is change. She speaks of authors as her "friends." Friends she has never met because they lived only in their writing. You may have heard of them: Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, to name a few. Reading her words about them made me want to be their friend too. And hers.
cried on this page. yep, page 4.
Don't resent the change. Just notice it.
I found myself taking pictures of many pages in this book and I sent them to friends, read them aloud to others. I need to return the book to the library but I think this one will make it's way on to my shelf permanently.
urban oasis. from my morning jog
preach, Mary Oliver
Upstream was the perfect beginning to my summer. It was a reminder. "You must never stop being whimsical," she writes. "And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility of your life."
Look back, with depth of heart, and look upstream, with courage.
side note: I recently discovered this song on Spotify and I am thinking of making it my theme song for the summer. It belongs with this book.
Post a Comment