The Magic of the Elemental Touch

Out on the Open Sea

Under Sail on August 23rd

Last week my friend Richard brought my daughter and I out into the harbor for an afternoon on his brother’s boat.  Despite dire weather predictions, the day planned for our sail was perfect.  We were thus inspired to stay out longer than we had originally planned, tacking back and forth, sailing close to the wind.  The sun, wind, clouds and water gave us a magical day.

One thing I learned about myself is that I am due for a serious refresher course in the basics of sailing.  Since my two main totem elements are earth and water, I’m okay navigating through them easily.  When you add the wind, I’m not so sure I can play well with its unpredictability.   I’m okay when the wind is behind me, but if I am faced with the prospect of sailing a boat close to the wind across the bow, my sense of balance flees from me.  My sense of adventure is checked by my desire to make sure the boat stays in one piece.  I am told that’s a good thing.

The Boldness of Youth

C steering the boat under sail.jpg

My daughter had been looking forward to our sailing trip for a month and was eager to help out with whatever tasks Richard was willing to hand over to her.  She helped hoist the sail, tied knots, and took her turn at the helm for a while when the wind was calm.  She even climbed up onto the prow when it was time to tie the boat to the dock post at sunset.

While Richard steered, my daughter was happy to splash in the salt water, sing songs from Les Miseràbles, take pictures, and watch out for pirate ships.  One racing boat we saw sported a black hull and matching black sails.  She called it “The Black Pearl.”  Guess which movies we’ve been watching together this summer?

The Stillness of Nature

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One of the phenomena that I noticed during our time on the water was the effect of nature on the three of us.  Though we engaged each other with lively chatter in the car on the way to the marina and back home, against the backdrop of an broad mix of music, on the boat we settled into long periods of companionable silence.  Our senses became attuned to the sights, sounds and touch of nature.  We noticed flying cormorants, listened to the lapping of the waves against the hull, and were delighted by the spray of water and play of wind in our hair.  The atmosphere was so enchanting that our attention was fully engaged with how the elements moved in harmony with one another, and how the creatures of that world moved from place to place.

A Fond Farewell

Casting Qs into the Deep 2017.jpg

Our first boating adventure of the summer was also our last, since it happened so late in the season.  My daughter’s school year has begun and it is time for me to return to my writing and gardening.

Perhaps I will find a place to take a sailing class or two before our next adventure together.  In the meantime, I am grateful for the magical afternoon spent with both enchanting nature and charming human company.

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Pet Hamsters are like Little Buddhas

Chocolate Chip crossing the rainbow bridgeOver the past two years we have loved and lost two pet hamsters ~ Chocolate Chip and Elsa.  They filled our lives with love and joy while they lived, and when they met the end of their lives our hearts were filled with grief.  The average life expectancy for most species of hamsters is 18 months, though we had hoped to keep Elsa living as long as two years.  If we continue our habit of adopting hamsters every year and a half, we must learn to approach their impact on our lives as preparation for letting go.

Attachment and Healing from Loss

Zen Buddhism is famous for promoting the concept of non-attachment.  In order to be an effective hamster parent, I believe that it is important to form a bond of attachment with our pets, but then readily let it go and heal from our grief when they die.  Each time we adopt a pet hamster, it is important for us to form a loving bond with the individual critter that communicates to our pet that he/she is cherished.  Such a bond is expressed through showing the animal appropriate measures of respect and affection, including consistent fulfillment of their physical needs: fresh water changed daily; a bowl full of food and chews, and a clean, stimulating cage environment.

When each hamster passed on, it was comforting for us to think about the concept of their little spirits crossing over a “Rainbow Bridge” to a special heavenly home.  We buried Chocolate Chip and Lucky (my daughter’s previous pet, a blue beta fish) under the weeping willow tree on our property.  We buried Elsa near our community labyrinth, with a little mausoleum of leaves, sticks and flowers built around her resting place.

Closeup of Elsa's mausoleum

We learned from the death of Chocolate Chip that in order for our hearts to heal, it was important for us to let go of our attachment to our former pet, then allow another hamster to fill our hearts.  It took us a month to adopt Elsa last year.  It has taken us five days to adopt Sammy Bear.  She is such a merry little hamster that she wrapped her little paws around our hearts as soon as we laid eyes on her.

Each hamster that we have loved has taught us how to care for him or her, and for hamsters in general.  We hope that this learning will keep each hamster we adopt strong and healthy for more months than the previous hamster.   We heartily thank our furry friends for being such loving, patient teachers and will always hold them dear in our hearts.

Spirit Hamster
Chocolate Chip
beautiful elsa eating a blackberry
Elsa
Climbing Sammy.jpg
Samantha Bear, our newly adopted merry little hamster

Rumi rolls along

Rumi Pippin, the youngest hamster addition to our family

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