Answers take many forms

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

She had a dream.  Relaxing on the front porch, waiting for a package to arrive, bright autumn leaves drifted down from the maple trees.  After giving the ground a carpet of yellow,  the snow began, floating onto the leaves, only partially obscuring them, resembling a lacy white coverlet on a bed of gold.

Since time is neither sequential or tangible in a dream, she had no idea how much time had elapsed before a package appeared on a table beside her.  Upon opening it she discovered an old white rotary phone that was plugged into the side of the box.  Picking up the receiver, she heard a dial tone.  Wondering where the power came from, she examined it,  to see where the cord was attached.  Seeing no visible connection, she determined that this was no ordinary phone.  This phone only connected to one place… and one person…her mother, who had died a number of years ago.  This unexplainable gift would give her the ability to talk with her mother, even after death.


She had questions of her mother.  What was it like to grow old?  What was death like?  What advice would she have for entering the next chapter in her own life?  As soon as she started  to ask these questions, the phone connection ended and she awoke.  Since this had just been a dream, she realized she would need to carry on without her mother’s wisdom for the moment.

In reality, the days were actually gathering themselves into winter, her thoughts turning to her own season in life.  Some days she felt perched on the threshold of “old age”, considering minute-by-minute questions of how she felt.  Any physical or emotional feeling was never solid or permanent, but was constantly changing its intensity and duration.  One moment it was her knee that didn’t want to support her; another moment legs that seemed ready to run when it was time for sleep.  It felt like an ongoing mystery, trying to determine what movement or activity was either enhancing or detracting from her well-being.

Deciding that this line of thought would inevitably lead into a “rabbit hole”, from which it could be difficult to emerge, she instead, chose to look out the window. Letting her vision soften into no particular focus, she became aware of colorful movements in the shrubbery before her. A group of quail scurried about. Blue jays became visible, crisscrossing their paths from branch to branch—flashes of blue landing here and there, left and right, above and below.  Just watching this life and color flit before her was pleasing, finding herself appreciating a tiny spectacle in ways she never would, in the past.

“The intensity of small things becomes so much more”, she thought, “as life comes closer to its conclusion.”  Instead of feeling depressed about this, she was instead, appreciative, of what many would categorize as small and unimportant.  What she had taken for granted during the busyness and distraction of her younger years, now grew into a new, gentle awareness and sweet poignancy.


Soaking in nature’s vision before her, she wondered how her mother would have weighed in on this moment.   Had she continued in her dream, at the end of her heavenly rotary phone call, she may have discovered more motherly advice.   As she continued her gaze,  the questions  she wanted to ask her mother, became less important.   The choice to sit and look out the window seemed to give her all the answers she needed.