September 12, 2021

Times have changed.  I have changed.  I am still somewhat the wide-eyed explorer of years ago, but so much is no longer the same.  I live in an assisted living facility now.  The age range of our readers spans perhaps 70 years old to 100 plus.

Although my eyes are not what they used to be, my desire to read and even to write is still strong and willing, if not quite as capable.   I wandered into our library today and a large book with beautiful photos copyrighted in 1980 called me over.

It was called “Galapagos, Islands in Time” by Tui De Roy Moore,  and it quickly activated some old memories and some future worries.   Past memories flooded in.  Yes, I was once a young girl who lived in a childhood home that was situated in a location that definitely impacted my life in a major way.

We young ones squirmed under a fence to gain entrance to a wonderland of undisturbed nature near our housing project of two-story, connected homes.  It was supposedly somewhere near an air force base off limits to visitors, but we never got close enough to see any planes.

That area was wilderness unchanged by humans and open for exploration to children who wondered and wandered.  It even had a mountain, or at least a big  bump that we would slide down in winter time.  All was filled with nature-planted, flowers, trees, marshes, tiny critters — and I never saw an adult there.  It was huge with no ending to my childhood eyes.

My parents were the type who only went outdoors when indoors was not continuous.  So, I didn’t have experience in such a natural place.  It was curiosity and love at first sight.

I spent many of  my free after school hours exploring that perfect little piece of nature during 6 years of elementary school.  Those were the days when mothers didn’t drive, it was safe to play outdoors, and you weren’t expected to come home until the streetlights came on.

I totally believe that was where my love of nature began and bloomed for my whole lifetime.  I grew up loving and respecting nature while becoming an avid camper and world wide wanderer.

And where I believed more than 35 years ago that nature was in trouble from humans.   I was intrinsically aware that there was a balance to nature, and that we humans, in our hubris, wrongly believed ourselves capable of being in control of nature.

After recent winds, rain, floods, etc. people seem to be a trifle more aware of the dangers, but I long ago felt that it is already too late to turn around the imbalance.

It mystified me that most humans did not believe most animals, no matter what the size and kind, could have deep emotional  connections.  Instinct and my volunteer work at a marine mammal center gave me no doubt that the natural world had  deep emotional attachments far beyond what humans understood.  My volunteer years at a  Marine Mammal Center showed me examples of how animals “feel,”  bond to their environment, and definitely love.

I still believe that nature is capable of healing itself, but only after humans are out of the picture.   Humans cannot overpopulate and dominate the whole planet Earth without destroying our species too.

 

September 5, 2021

Perhaps there has never been a stranger year for me than the one that we are getting ready to say goodbye to in the Jewish calendar at sundown on September 8, 2021.  It ends much more than just another year in my life.

It has been an end to my independence, my mental competence, and where I called home for many years.   It is the end of me as I know me.

I am still alive, but reconfigured into an “old person” to whom many things that used to be easy are turning into the impossible.

Revisiting the past 78 years of my life causes many memories to surface, either true or perhaps reconfigured with time.   While I may fade, some memories become even more colorful and full of life.  After all, I had a varied and adventurous life.  I lived, loved, hoped, demanded, and fervently wished.

There is a statue I love to visit in the assisted living home garden where one dedicated worker works  his green thumb wonders.  I sit near a sculpture on the bench that brings two young children, one boy and one girl,  together,  to read.    For me,  that easily becomes my brother and me who both loved to read.

My brother was a very bright kid — much brighter than I.  Unfortunately, he was one of the bright ones pushed into competition with Russian students to see which country would achieve world leadership.   He was of the early smart kid generation that taught themselves about computers.   But, he burned out too early.  All that is left of his college years at M.I.T is a cap that I hung on my balcony for years.

He didn’t ever graduate from college, but came to visit me in California, loved it, and never left it.  Eventually, he got the best job of his life.  His task was to play with computers until he broke them.

He died of a heart attack at 46, two years before my mother died.  For those last two years, the only thing my mother did was read one book after another.

But young death wasn’t over with my family yet.   It was the power of AIDS that relentlessly ate away the youth,  beauty, and vitality of my gay son in his 30’s.

Along with the tragedies of life and the very tough years of the 1960s,  were thousands of miles crossed over land, seas, continents,  and cultures.  I had a case of extreme wanderlust that never left me for long.  And it catapulted  me into a life without borders, writing all along the way while I was figuring out how to keep going hither and thither on a shoestring.

It was my parents who brought me once long ago to Laguna Beach.  I can remember clearly that I sat on a bench at the beach and heard a very clear message that I had never heard before — “I could be happy here the rest of my life.”   And that message kept me coming back until I finally bought a home in Laguna Woods and lived happily almost ever after.

The attraction of the ocean still holds me close 22 years later.  When dead, I look forward to being cremated and my ashes put into the seas I love so I can continue my journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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