...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Peaceful Places

 In every issue of Oprah's monthly magazine are two pages she labels "Breathing Space". These are photographs of scenic places. When you look at them they make you want to fall back onto your fluffy pillows and say "Aaah..." and relax. Someone suggested long ago that she make the pages a tear-out so we could put them in an area where we would be more inclined to recline and look at them. She never took up the suggestion. Dumb mistake.

Looking up Dry Brook that ran along our property.
 In my years growing up in West Shokan, we were lucky enough to have several "breathing spaces." One was a stream running along the property. On many occasions, I would go down to the creek to play. In my later years whether I was 10, 15 or 18, I would climb down on those rocks and let my cares be washed away with the water as it ran downstream.

The foundation of the barn is barely visible in this photo.
 We lived on a old farm that had a large two-story farmhouse and three barns. The largest barn housed our cows, sheep, goats, a bull and chickens at one time or another. Eventually it started to collapse, so someone from town helped my dad take it down. We were left with the foundation of the barn and the round silo platform. When we were little, my brother, Rick, and I would play here and pretend that foundation was our home, our land, our church, or our battleground. All that was there was cement with ruts, where I guess walls had been, and troughs where the milk cans were kept in cold storage. It is amazing when I think back on what we created out of that old cement remnant and how it became a breathing space of sorts where we could practice life.

Looking down Dry Brook Road toward South Mountain
We walked roughly a quarter mile to and from the bus stop everyday during the school year and this was our view in winter. We had plenty of time to think as we walked. The first segment going to school we walked alone. Then we met up with the Molloys and Burghers and Finkens to head down to Monaco's at the end of Moonhaw. Here we would wait to catch the bus. Rarely did we get rides unless it was raining or frigid. But I do remember plenty of times having frozen feet before I made it home. Those walks were priceless times of thought.

One other space of respite you can't see here, is up on the mountain side where I would lie down on my back and watch the clouds sail by. It was there I planned my wedding, dreamed of my family, and planned for the future.

The quiet peacefulness was all around us whether we appreciated it or not. These were our own private breathing spaces. Spaces in time, space away from everyone else, spaces to think, create and dream. My hope is that the generation growing up today has their own breathing spaces, because that's where a lot of creative ideas bloom and problems are worked out. I guess I took for granted the breathing spaces I had growing up. I crave and appreciate the ones I have now even if I have to create them myself as I learned from reading the book, Simple Abundance. I recommend it!

(Photos courtesy of Shep Siegel.)