Love and Rainbows

“By the way, how is Valentine’s Day this year for you kids?” I asked. This year, with Covid, Valentine’s day celebrations seemed to be muted too.

Valentine’s Day in elementary school can be fun. Though I will carry on and on about the commercialization of love etc, I do love the way the occasion has made its way into elementary grade classrooms. There are manifestations of love everywhere – from painstakingly drawn cards to candy for their friends, the love can be overwhelming and just as it should be at that stage of life: I feel all of life is there to make cynics out of a few of them, romantics out of a few of them and hard-core pragmatists out of another few and fools of us all 🙂

“Oh! It is awesome! Rem-em-ber I told about you the slideshow and the decorations we are making?” I vaguely uh-huh-ed. A lot of things are told, and un-huh-ed at. “Well…we are making slides for each of us, and we get to write our cards out for every person on this.”

I liked the idea very much, and said so. “What a marvelous idea?! Was it your teacher’s?” The fellow beamed.

I really like how the younger children get to see love in its more wholesome form. They love their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, friends, siblings, caregivers and pets. It all gets a bit wearying when they want to make cards for them all, but I prefer that to the more narrow interpretation leading to conjugal harmony( or not) one day.

The week-end had a loving vibe throughout. The mater, a stoic sort of person, has also seen year after year the hoopla around Valentine’s Day, and sent a note wishing them a happy Valentine’s Day. (“Maybe we should have paati checked – is everything okay?” said the snarky teenage grand-daughter, but beamed at the approval she got from her grandmother for the brownies she had baked and decorated with cherry blossoms for the occasion. ) 

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This Valentine’s Day started off with me heading out with some of my girl friends for a lovely brisk walk that morphed into a saunter at places, and breath-taking gasps at others. As we made our ways past the suburban built up areas, past the railway tracks and the main roads, the spirits lifted with the scenery around us. The creek side, lakes, and green mountains in the distance made for a lovely, if long-ish walk.

As we headed back to civilization after mooning about the fields, we found ourselves walking along side a rainbow. Why do rainbows have a way of assuring us that all will be well? That magic exists in everyday droplets of water and the play of light.

“So, Ladies, Happy Valentine’s Day!” I said flourishing my umbrella against the rainbow. 

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I headed into the house and told the children and the husband how I thought of them and missed them when I saw the rainbow.

“What a poetic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day huh? We were happy snoozing in late, and you were thinking of us and sending us love seeing the rainbow and all that?! Life is as it should be!” said the philosophers, and I rolled my happy eyes.

I couldn’t help agreeing as I enjoyed the sidewalk chalk drawing made by some children outside.

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Autumn 🍂 🍁 🍃 of Hope

T’was the week-end of gifts. I had no idea how much I yearned for the promise of hope, till I felt the nimble feeling in my heart again.

I stepped out into the autumn 🍂🍁🍃 day with the children after a bout of dancing in the kitchen. The day was beautiful. Overnight, the Earth seemed less harsher, with the summer heat replaced by a nippy feel in the air, and a blue, blue sky with wispy clouds lilting away their day. I bent every now and then picking up a autumnal bouquet of sorts. Yellow, maroon, red, greenish-yellow, yellowish brown, greenish-red, and everything in between. 

“Don’t you feel like dancing 💃  though?” I asked the daughter, and she said firmly. “No! Not out here.”

“Oh – its okay!” Said her little brother coming to my defense. “Everyone knows she is a bit of a nature kook, it should be alright!”, and I laughed. My reputation was intact with the children.

The gingko trees were waving their golden green flags in the air – proudly proclaiming the daily joy of living to those who would stop and take a moment to take it all in. I stood there thinking, that the day is a wonderful one indeed if we have within us the power to pause and wondersavor the simple act of Shoshin, and marvel at the sheer audacity of life. Every night reminds us of the cosmic wonder that is our life. It affords us a peek into the darkness in which we float, the bleakness of it all, if there were no light. Yet, there is light, and more importantly, there is life!

“Remember the gingko tree my dears?!” 

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“Yes! We do – we missed it last year, but if all the leaves don’t fall at one shot, you’re in for a rough time!” Said the daughter, her voice ripe with indulgence.

I stuck my nose down the yellow lilliums on the path, came up with a nose of powdered pollen, and promptly wanted to sneeze. 

The children gave me pitying looks and the daughter said, “Look at you! Like a little dog sniffing at flowers and raising that long beak of yours into the air!”

I had no idea dogs had beaks, but setting that aside, I said, “Behaving like a puppy?! What greater accolade could a mother get? I am a very happy puppy 🐶 indeed!”  As soon as we came home, read out to the family in one rapturous gasp a poem written by Mary Oliver in the book, Dog Songs:

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Luke

I had a dog
who loved flowers.
Briskly she went
through the fields,

yet paused
for the honeysuckle
or the rose,
her dark head

and her wet nose
touching
the face
of every one

with its petals
of silk
with its fragrance
rising

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen

hovered—
and easily
she adored
every blossom

not in the serious
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom—

the way we praise or don’t praise—
the way we love
or don’t love—
but the way

we long to be—
that happy
in the heaven of earth—
that wild, that loving.

Shortly afterward, I headed out on another walk. This time, because the day promised rain, and as the first droplets pattered down, I listened to the music of the heavens. How parched our dear Earth was, how bereft our souls without hope?

On the way back from another gorgeous walk, a rainbow 🌈 peeked out. Hesitantly at first, and then with pride, with conviction, the universe’s assurance of not just light, but light with wavelengths between 380 and 700 nanometers on the visible light spectrum.

That is Hope. Hope is Joy. Joy is Peace. Peace is Love.

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The Wonder Formula

Someone told me once that we lose the joy and wonder in things as we knew more and more about how things work. If we knew the conditions were right for a rainbow to form, or the planets will shine in the evening skies brighter than usual, we seem to expect them, and then lost the magic of it all.

I have pondered on that often – could adding a pleasurable anticipation make up for the lost serendipity? As we watch the bleak skies of the winter, we can wait and feel the weight of the buds in the spring snowflake 🌱 plants, or watch the tulips bulbs shoot up from the Earth admiring their sense of timing, can’t we?.

While, waiting for the rains to subside, we can nurse a secret longing for a rainbow – I know I do.

Aside from all else, what isn’t lovely about a World that has rainbows? Maybe on other planets, with different atmospheric makeups than our own, rainbows themselves manifest differently or not at all, but it is comforting to know the colors of the rainbow and their perfect arc will be this way on this Earth as long as the suns rays can diffract the light in the moisture laden droplets.

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One day during the Winter holidays, I got to sit in a beach. It being the rainy season, there weren’t as many people around. There were a few beach lovers, so we curled up our beach towels and all set to greet the noisy seagulls. There I sat watching the Atlantic ocean with my umbrella open, sitting on a Mickey Mouse towel with a book in hand.

It was a few minutes afterward that we discerned the rainbow forming in the sky. How marvelous and wondrous an experience to watch the rainbow go from a faint smearing of smudged colors as though making up its mind whether to come out in all its glory or not; and then watch a colorful, bright rainbow full of the conviction of Being play on the horizon. The son came running across from where he was playing, flush with excitement pointing at the rainbow -🌈 “I knew it will come now.”

Sometimes, I wonder why we cannot be like children. Even though, they know the hows and whys behind things, they still retain Shoshin: the Zen concept of wonder as in a beginner’s mind. I smiled and patted him to sit next to me and take in the rainbow 🌈 with me.

After a while, he went back to playing in the ocean waves with his sister. I sat there, nourishing my musings with whimsy. I remembered some drawings of the daughter when she was much younger. Dolphins leapt out of the seas, with a rainbow arc-ed beautifully around them. Of course, children imagine the best possible things together – there isn’t any dearth or rationing in their imaginary worlds, is there?

Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.” as Anne of Green Gables would say.

The dolphins may get to see rainbows, but the fish do not. But maybe their world is marvelous enough with a thousand prickling and tricks of light that the water medium presents to them.

Musing in a world of rainbows is nothing short of magical even if I do know the concept of light refracting and producing the colors of a rainbow. My heart still lifts.

I had been traveling during the past few weeks. One such time on my sojourns, I left my home amidst brown hills. The summer sun had toasted the hillsides, and I yearned for a little respite to the eyes. In the two weeks that I was out, the rains had lashed the area liberally, and when I came back, the hillsides had turned a marvelous green. The rolling hills lifted their misty veils every morning, and I felt my heart pound with the magic of it all. Yes, I knew the rains make the grass grow, but the transformation is still a miracle that my heart waits for every year.

When I watch the dew drops glisten on the spring snowflakes,
When I watch the rainbow makes up its mind and throw itself like a garland across the skies
When I watch the eight-legged marvels creations catch in the sunset
When I watch the waves lap and play with the sandpipers

I feel hope stir in the spirits
I feel decisive and conviction in Being
I feel solitude’s gift can be tangible and needs to be nurtured for its fragile state
I feel engaged with the planet and all its gifts

I recently read a book bySasha Sagan, that is full of the joy of being. Titled: For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World, the book immediately caught my attention and I savored its many truths and facts about our rituals and festivals – the meaning behind life’s celebrations.

“My parents taught me that the provable, tangible, verifiable things were sacred, that sometimes the most astonishing ideas are clearly profound, but when they get labeled as “facts”, we lose sight of their beauty. It doesn’t have to be this way. Science is the source of so much insight worthy of ecstatic celebration.” – Sasha Sagan

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I was also reminded of Richard Feynman’s meditations on 🌺 flowers.

Ode to a Flower – By Richard Feynman.

There is beauty in knowledge, and wonder in anticipation. We just need a formula linking the two now.

Rainbow Dash

I was waiting to break into my new running shoes. Like a child waiting to play in the rain, I cast loving looks at the shoes every now and then and vowed to get up early the next morning and go for a run. Maybe my excitement rubbed off on my toddler son, but he was up before the lark and waiting for me by the shoes before my run. “Amma. Thum Amma Thum. Thunning Amma Thunning. Shoos thunning.”

(Lexicon: Thum: Come, Thun: Run, Shoos: Shoes)

My shoulders sagged a bit, but he had an enthusiastic-puppy-look about him and so off we went. The pair of us running with a stroller in hand. It was my plan to bundle him into the stroller a little way in and then run. But the fellow had plans of his own. He ran with his little steps by my side. I could walk, but he insisted I thun with him. So, I than. For this pace of running I needed no running shoes, but it was wonderful.  He kept running, then squealed and stopped to see a passing truck. We ran again. A few feet on, there was a pile of dry leaves. We both jumped in there, squashing the leaves and listening to the crackle under our feet. This run was not going to be measured in terms of distance, that much was certain. We crushed the leaves underfoot till a yeti couldn’t have gotten a crackle out of it anymore. We ran some more and spotted a children’s park nearby and made for it. We chased birds, played in the swing and walked back – the toddler a spent force, but still refusing to sit in his stroller.

 

Rainbow Dash
Rainbow Dash

As we walked back that beautiful day, the sun burst forth with a few well chosen sprinkles of rain and we walked home under a glorious rainbow that the child said was ‘Ennow Tash’ (‘Rainbow Dash’ is the name of a pony princess or some such thing that he is forced to watch with his older sister. This famous Rainbow Dash has a wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Dash#Rainbow_Dash) I am sure this will become  a  problem later, but for now he is proud he knows about Rainbow Dash, the pony princess.

When I read this article about an artist collaborating with her 4 year old son, the story warmed my heart. It reminded me of that run that became a rainbow dash and how what I planned turned into something far more meaningful just because I was willing to let go. Maybe, if we relinquish control more often, we will find joy in different ways.

http://busymockingbird.com/2013/08/27/collaborating-with-a-4-year-old/

 

Gold @ End of the Rainbow

I love my cell-phone, but do not want to tell it that. You know…keep it in its place, before it gets ahead of itself and starts interfering with my life more than normal kind of thing. So, I bemoaned the constant need for the cellphone that fell on deaf ears because the husband was on the cell-phone and I went out for a walk with the infant. Just the stroller, baby and I.

The day was beautiful. The temperature was just right, the rain-bearing clouds had parted just enough for some sun rays to peep through, and put some rainbows our way. A few birds were tapped on their shoulders to cheep and the snails were up and about. All in all magical.

I passed a corn field and I stopped. The clouds were still gathered rather low over the fields and the farmer, being a hard-working sort of bloke, had started harvesting in a haphazard manner. He had just cut a path out in between some pretty tall corn plants. The rain had done its bit of good work and left a muddy, sloshy trail. Just looking at that made the heart come down a notch. The gloomy clouds, the muddy slippery path that one has to walk through…. But ….behind the fields, the hills provide a backdrop. The hills were flooded with sunshine – the golden beautiful kind of light that comes at dusk. I was admiring the whole ‘dark-difficult-path-leads-to-light-later’ thing and reached for my cell-phone. The picture was perfect. I didn’t have it on me. I tried cooing to my baby, but he had taken in the beauty of the thing and fallen asleep.

The need to expunge this profundity engulfed me and I found the first man walking – a wizened old Mexican man, who, I am pretty sure did not understand what I was saying. I got cracking.

“You see the symbolism of the whole thing?”
“Si…Si”
“A hard path, sometimes hard to navigate, but at the end of the road, beautiful sunshine just waiting to shed its light on you.”
“Si…Si.” Smile.
“Lovely huh?”
“Si…Si”. That is what I was telling him. “See..See” and he kept repeating it back to me. “No..no..you see…”

Seeing this was going nowhere, I smiled once more and passed from his life only to come back into it a mile later as I stood mesmerized by a beautiful rainbow. The whole arch – perfect colours and bent right over the neighboring houses. Picture perfect was putting it mildly and of course I did not have the cell phone on me. Damn!
“See the rainbow?”
“Si…Si…”
Now, I had to stop and see this Si-man and saw a tiny hint of gold glinting through his side teeth. In that evening light when everything looked magical, the golden tooth looked sinister. Was this what people meant when they said you would find gold at the end of a rainbow?

Raindrops came on without warning and the Si-man and I parted ways. Me ,running helter skelter with a baby sleeping peacefully in the stroller, and he, making a mental note to take another road next time. I passed the corn field and the whole outlook was gloomy – I saw that I had not the time to make it home without soaking the infant, and found refuge in a friend’s home nearby. Counting my blessings as I sipped gratefully at her tea.

I loved the spontaneity of the evening, but may just carry my cell-phone next time.