Sunday, December 6, 2009

November of the Hardest Kind

November 25, 2009

This is November of the hardest kind –
bare frozen ground covered with pale-brown or straw-colored herbage,
a strong, cold, cutting northwest wind
which makes me seek to cover my ears…
If you do feel any fire at this season out-of-doors,

you may depend upon it, it is your own.

-HDT Journal, November 25, 1857

After my previous post, I thought that my mood could not go any lower.
That’s when life treats you to an attitude-adjustment:
I got the flu!

There’s nothing like being sick to help one re-arrange one’s priorities.
It seemed to go right to my lungs. I missed a full week of work, and in the middle of it all, Thanksgiving came and went quietly.
For me it was truly the nadir of the year.

After five days of resting, and several yummy prescription medications (including an inhaler, which I had no clue how to use at first), I cautiously ventured outside one misty morning.

If I were a physician I would try my patients thus.
I would wheel them to a window and let nature feel their pulse.
-HDT Journal

My body was craving some fresh air, but didn’t have a lot of energy.
Of course, Moreau Park is where I headed – a giant, pine-scented inhaler.
Just a twenty-minute stumble around a side trail, and I was ready to head back to the sofa.
But what’s funny now, in retrospect, is what I saw fit to take photos of on that walk.
One’s mood does affect one’s vision – one’s outlook.
What I was noticing on that walk were things like:
Mucosal lichens - !

Droopy funereal plants !

Hairy fungi !

Even the profile of the mountains – which to me, resemble a Sleeping Woman – seemed weighed down, with a heavy cloud pressing on her chest and face:

Were these reflections of what was going on inside me?

Of course, I slowly got better.
My photos were different a few days later –
In Moreau Park again, I strolled along a less-visited trail,
to find a brook purling away in a leafless valley.
That is to say, there were plenty of leaves there, but they were all on the ground. Those random arrangements still charm me, though the colors are faded.

The gentle current of the brook was invigorating.
Water is life!

Channels were opening again. Bloodstream flowing, lungs unfurling.

I began to notice the flush of life in even apparently colorless scenes:

Now what caught my eye were new hepatica leaves, checkerberries, coltsfoot -- healing plants.
The power of green was still fresh and vital.

Take two and call me in the morning!

There was even a solitary bloom of red clover along the shore of the lake – that’s something rare to see in December.

And the Sleeper was breathing easier today,
as the clouds lifted away and let in the sun's warmth.

To the sick, indeed, nature is sick, but to the well, a fountain of health.


  1. What a beautiful meditation, connecting Thoreau's words to your situation, and your illness and recovery to the images you created. I'm so glad you are feeling better.

    What on earth is that hairy fungus? I've never seen such a thing!

  2. that fuzzy fungus was the tiniest thing, no bigger than a fingernail (see hemlock needle in the foreground).
    Yes I am happy to be better now -- breathing is a wonderful thing!

  3. Glad to read you are feeling better. And i'm sorry you were ill, but am glad your focus allowed you to find the Mucosal lichen; your photo is outstanding!