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Community Green: Early morning by the fire

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

It’s 2:13 am.  Wandering into the living room to my woodstove, I pull the wicker chair so that I am facing the heat.  After putting a log onto the coals, opening the damper, so the flames can get a good bite into the log, I relax, waiting for the fire to begin its roar. A time of quiet, a time of being myself, a time of no pretense, I feel the stillness and  warmth; resting in the simplicity of “me-ness”.

In this winter mountain darkness, exists the clarity that essential elements present—cold, warm, stars, snow, ice, melt, sun, wind, steamy windows, soup on the stove.  Appreciating these simple aspects give me a feeling of both bounty and coziness.  With this human experience I have access to all that occurs, merely through the act of noticing.

Now 2:30 am.  Some would name this experience, insomnia, a battle with sleep.  But it feels to me like one of the most authentic times to be in this relationship with myself; time when the senses are heightened.  I hear thumps of snow sliding off the roof, hitting the deck.  I hear exploding pops of sap in the flaming woodstove. I smell the scent trail of a skunk outside, meeting another critter. I see the falling snow reflected in the streetlight.

A time when I can allow thoughts to wander through my mind, feels like flour drifting down through a sifter; there are always a few hardened nuggets left in the mesh, which can be removed and tossed out, or dug into, a little more deeply.

The darkness and warmth relaxes me, in a way that feels like some clarity of life may be possible, before the daily lists arrive, that make this improbable.  Finding clarity fleeting, I have always yearned for some issue to resolve itself and stay resolved.  Rarely happening, a few things do remain constant and clear, which is a good place to launch one’s inquiry into those aspects of life that are not.  What’s remained clear, is that I love my children and family, my friends; I like the way the light from the fire reflects upon the wood floor, I have an ongoing appreciation for both the minutiae and the majesty that nature provides.

And what about the rest?  Where is the clarity there?  How does one prepare for one’s grand plan for a path through life?  I don’t know if this possibility exists, and if it does, it seems to take away some of the mystery clothed in the unknown.

I have been a planner in the past.  I prepared for certain events.  Some happened.  Some didn’t.  I am now thankful for those that did come to fruition.  I am also discovering that I am equally thankful for those that did not…that there was hiding in the obscurity of the unknown some bits of treasure that I wouldn’t have found, had I been hellbent on achieving the next objective. Passing right by something or someone in the service of achieving something else, I wouldn’t have found Thoreau’s “road less traveled” or recognized the diamond among the roughness.

So I guess that these early morning moments with myself give me clarity…it’s just that the clarity is not always what I want…but what I might need. We need a certain willingness to venture into the unknown, having faith that the darkness will evolve into the light at the right time; and feeling gratitude for that person  in my life who helped me to understand that nothing stays the same, may not be known…and that is nothing to fear.

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