12/3/2022: Dressing for the weather

Autumn trailed away with some nice parting views.

This house had a dainty planter at the front gate, holding miniature succulents.

Here are some implausibly tall cottonwood trees (the picture can’t do justice to their towering height or the glorious sunshine), losing their leaves in a high ray of light from the setting sun.

Some implausibly tall cottonwood trees are shaking off their leaves for the year, lit up by the last ray of high sun.

Here below is a sturdy wooden fence with a genteel tempering of lichen. A random side glance through a space in the frame revealed this glimpse of the garden inside.

On a cold morning of intermittent freezing rain I was nested in perfect comfort on the bus to work, eyes closed, head bowed, arms folded, breath long and gentle. In that profoundly restorative interlude, thoughts of worry and regret drifted past and misted away, leaving only a clear inner mirror of calm and interested sensations: feet on ridged non-skid floor feeling the surfaces of the road, balance gently shifting as the bus changed directions and speeds, supportive plastic-leather seat, soft surrounding cell-phone chat in nearby seats, alternating heated and chilled drafts of air. Thoughts and impressions passed by that clear mirror in peace, leaving only good wishes and warmth for this group of strangers heading into their day.


My head and spine snapped upright; the words seemed to be right inside my sweatshirt hood, but were in fact about six inches from my face. A genteel and sweet looking lady had bowed right in close and raised her voice a bit. She was holding out a pair of nice little gloves. “I have an extra pair at home. Please, it’s fine.”

I gave her a smile and showed her my hands. “Thank you so much! My joints are too bent for gloves. That is why they are folded into this kangaroo pocket, all snug. But that is very kind of you.”

“Is that rheumatoid arthritis? I am so sorry. Well all right then. See you next time!” We waved goodbye as she got off the bus.

It was very kind of her to just offer that way. It’s not too rare for people see me hiking around in freezing rain and assume that I’m very poor. But in fact for rheumatoid hand circulation, nothing beats a lined sweatshirt with hood and a kangaroo pocket for comfort and warmth. Nothing beats a jumbo rain tarp either, or clownie men’s shoes with cleats and a high toe box (the feet are rheumatoid too) or a fluorescent vest for safety, or a sturdy beat-up shoulder bag with broken zipper bought ten years ago for a dollar at the Lutheran church charity sale, the perfect size for my triple-filtered water green tea and the best organic produce money can buy cooked up fresh into neat glass jars and some Pimsleur language learning tapes and a library book and eye drops and tissues and a flashlight. This caring lovely lady wouldn’t know that I’d just invested $366 for the incredible luxury of a followup CT scan of last year’s gum abscess. (Rheumatism comes with gum disease. But it’s all fine; there is even new bone growth, which was wonderful news.) That’s putting my money where my mouth is, not wearing it on my sleeve.

That calls to mind our Greek Orthodox church, where the youth group assembled bags with bottled water and protein bars and hygiene toiletries and clean socks for distribution to community members experiencing homelessness. On bag assembly day I was standing in the purchase line at the church bookstore waiting my turn with other customers. A congregation member spotted me with the clown shoes and rain tarp slung over one arm and the Lutheran duffle with provisions for my post-Liturgy prayer hike. She hurried into the bookstore singling me out with a raised voice. At first glance, her eyes, tone, and assertive approach looked as if she thought I was shoplifting. It took a dim gaping moment to figure out what she meant by “You NEED a BAG?!” But in fact I was just lost in enchantment, surrounded by beautiful devotional items, eagerly waiting to purchase two books on monasticism and an icon and cross. I was also happy that day to be dressed not to tote file boxes at work, but for church in my nicest dusky-rose blouse and long rose dress with matching rose & silver Pashmina shawl. Well, that’s what humility is for, and it’s good to know that we have generous people afoot.

This week saw the start of a new winter season. Last night at bedtime there was soft steady rain. But before dawn, there was a wake-up surprise: at eye level right outside through the screen at the open balcony door, a foot away from the bedroll and pillow, there were inches of snow! It all melted with sunrise, and the day turned clear and brisk with an early moon (84.7% full, waxing gibbous). In the garden, here was some of my frozen flowering kale in the early sunshine.

And here is a new winter crop. On an afternoon of sleet and freezing rain with gusts of wind, the Wing Family harvested their bumper crop of sunchokes (the first three quarts of chokes are now in my fridge) and brought in fresh black topsoil and giant turnip plants. They planted a row of white turnips, and a row of Chinese Red turnips. The plants thrive in snow, and will grow all winter as a source of edible roots and leaves. Mrs. Wing explained that she will also use them as one ingredient to compound her herbal medicine cough syrup elixir. It does the heart good to see this hard-working family constantly tending every available bit of space and improving our quality of life and garden enjoyment.

Well, the sprouted chickpeas are all cooked up, and this week’s batch of kimchi is mixed and seasoned and in the weighted press. Time to go soak some rice and cook greens for tomorrow. Maybe we will have a thaw for that hike in the woods….

About maryangelis

Hello Readers! (= Здравствуйте, Читатели!) The writer lives in the Catholic and Orthodox faiths and the English and Russian languages, working in an archive by day and writing at night. Her walk in the world is normally one human being and one small detail after another. Then she goes home and types about it all until the soup is done.
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5 Responses to 12/3/2022: Dressing for the weather

  1. wendyrud says:

    p.s. I forgot to say that the winter crop at Mary Queen garden is doing well—it’s in high 70s today but we did have a cold spell. Harvested broccoli, collard greens, and cabbage yesterday. I don’t like planting but love harvesting. I would love to see some snow.

  2. wendyrud says:

    Love this, Mary! Photos are beautiful as always. Loved the description of your outfits. Dress and pashmina sound so pretty and laughed at the clown shoes. My clown shoes are fake Birkenstocks with socks and old hiking boots for my forest bathing treks into any wooded areas I can find nearby. My coat is a parka that’s too big for me that I bought 28 years ago for a trip to visit my daughter in Poland. It’s too-long sleeves cover my hands and keep them warm.
    I wish you could bottle some of that humility and send it my way; I am so easily triggered by people’s attitudes toward me. A work in progress for me still.

    Namaste and blessings,

    • maryangelis says:

      Wendy, hello! Just listening to the audiobook “If At Birth You Don’t Succeed,” by Zach Anner. He is a champion at humility and spinning life’s mishaps and real heartaches into gold. He is such an optimistic soul. And yes, what can one do but find some humor in people’s first impressions. Sigh… There was a time when people dressed in a practical way, and kept the same clothes for many years. Your Mary’s Garden sounds beautiful and healthy. What a blessing to harvest fresh food that way! Thank you for stopping by, Blessings, Mary

  3. Robb Scott says:

    Wow. What a nice composition! Your description of achieving a restorative meditative state on the bus – and having it interrupted, but by an intrusion that you converted to a positive interaction – is some of the most elegant and eloquent writing I have seen. And that photograph with the fence framing beautiful foliage (red maple?) from the adjoining garden. Oh, you have outdone yourself this time maryangelis!

    • maryangelis says:

      Hello dear Robb Scott, it is an honor to see your very kind words today. You helped me to see that in fact the dear concerned lady was another star player in the parade of sensations on the morning commute. I could have been more aware of that, and just gone right back to meditating. My hope in that moment was simply to not discourage her from offering help in the future, to people who might really need it. Thank you very much for taking the time to reach out with your good words. Comments from readers are the best part of this blog. Best wishes, Mary

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