We head out today from Wisconsin toward Utah, where canyonlands beckon. Steve used to volunteer for the National Park Service at Wupatki National Monument helping with archaeological and anthropological studies, and it ignited in him a passion for indigenous desert cultures. This will be our fourth trip out West together. Here is a photo from our first trip. This is Mesa Verde in Colorado:
Here is one I took in the Ojito Wilderness in New Mexico on our last trip:
On the way back, we stopped at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic site in Illinois where we saw the remnants of a pre-Columbian city of approximately 10,000 inhabitants. Some of those Mississippian peoples also settled in Wisconsin at what is now Aztalan State Park, where we’ve visited several times.
The more I learn about cultures who thrived in this country long before European settlers arrived, the more I appreciate the relationship they had with the places they lived. Our heritage as human beings is written on the landscape. We need to learn from the evidence of how we’ve impacted the resources of desert, woodland, or any other habitat. What we will pass on to the next generations of Earth inhabitants hinges on this collective wisdom.
For many years, Mothers’ Day was a day of conflicting emotions for me. I had a powerful longing for recognition and appreciation that often was unfulfilled in some way, and I also had the accompanying guilt that maybe I didn’t deserve the rewards I hoped for in the first place. There were nagging doubts about whether I was doing a good job. There was also the burden of identity involved. I became a mom at 22, right out of college, and still had a lot of unresolved questions about who I wanted to be in the world. I relied on my husband to bolster my neurotic ego and assure me that I was exceeding expectations doing a job that was valuable and appreciated. He did a great job at that for many years, and for that, I will always be grateful.
I still long for appreciation around Mothers’ Day, even though my kids have all flown the nest years ago. I spent 12 years at home concentrating on doing my best at that one job and the next 12 years trying to do my best at that job plus another one outside the home. Now, I know that I did just fine. My kids tell me that, and I believe them. But my co-parent, my late husband, is not around to remind me in loving detail of the specifics….and I miss that. So this year, I decided to give myself the gift of cherishing myself as a Mother.
My chosen medium for cherishing, looking long and lovingly at something, has always been photography. I have taken countless photos of my kids and my husband — intimate, spontaneous, ordinary as well as posed. I wish someone had recorded my image with that kind of generous eye.
Well, it turns out someone did. Not exactly someONE, several someones. Whether with their own camera or with mine and my instruction (I used an AE-1 manual for 30 years), I have managed to gain a collection. I went through my albums and digitally scanned 48 images this morning. Now, should my memory fail me in the coming years, I have photographic reminders that I did snuggle, feed, play with, teach, comfort, listen to, attend to, and applaud my four children year after year after year.
I have had a happy motherhood. I don’t need my husband to tell me that. I don’t even need my children to tell me that, although I’m really glad they do. I am owning my happy motherhood myself this year. I think it’s a great gift!
Our planet’s surface is about 70% water. That means that water is in a lot of different places, in different climates, in different habitats, making an impact in a lot of different ways, catching the light in different ways, and creating a lot of different scenes. Water is a universal solution for a million different situations and can be a mirror for any expression. It seems to be found in any landscape, big or small.
And to be the perfect medium for any mood, calm and pensive…
…or enigmatically abstract.
Reflecting shadow and light, stillness and movement, water carries the dynamic play of life.
Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, Michigan
California sea lions
There’s so much to appreciate about water. And maybe the time to be aware of that is every time you take a healthy sip. Then you can also reflect on how the water you drink got to you and how that process is impacting the planet. But that’s another post…
Last night I attended an Engagement Party in honor of my son and his fiancee, hosted by her beautifully kind and generous mother. It was the first opportunity for our two families to meet together as a group and learn about each other. The setting was a restaurant in Chicago owned by a friend of the host. The owner addressed us after each course to give us information about the wines he had selected to accompany the food. There was such a delightful atmosphere of appreciation and curiosity and exuberance flowing around that dynamic place!
After dessert, the hostess requested a song from the Galasso clan. We managed to respond with a 3-part round of “Dona Nobis Pacem” – give us peace. After that, the bride’s grandfather’s travelling companion, a retired singer from Haiti, sang a beautiful song in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself, but easily recognized the phrase “Te quiero” returning longingly throughout. It reminded me of the first letter my late husband Jim wrote to me when I was a sophomore in High School. He was taking Spanish classes then; I was taking Italian. He wrote “Te quiero” at the bottom of that letter. I didn’t know what it meant. It wasn’t “Te amo” or “Ti amo”, but something different. I had to look it up.
Te quiero. A new love, casual, close, lively. Not as intense and romantic as “Te amo”, it translates more literally to “I want you”.
I want Love. I want Peace. I want a future full of happiness…for everyone, really.
And now, I want to share a gallery of expressions from family and friends, expressions of love (especially for my mother and siblings in California!).