My Summer Vacation

 

This is the summer I learned how to breathe.  No, it’s the summer I learned to be breathed.  Well, actually it’s the summer I discovered I AM breath.

I think that’s it.

It’s been a summer when the universe itself was breathing so deeply and so slowly that breath seemed suspended for longer and longer moments. The fire of breath spread and wafted here and there. Water went deeper and deeper into the essence of the breath until, dispersed so finely into the hidden molecules of breathing, there was no longer enough moisture for even mosquitoes to reproduce and thrive, despite the heat they love.

I chose a pretty challenging summer expedition even though it involved no planning, no added expense.  I had only to remain at home and bear the heat. The trails were too hot and too filled with biting flies to go on pilgrimage through the woods and over the mountains.  I worked from time to time in the garden in the cooler air of morning.  There, my thoughts broke free and brought me news of all that our species is facing: the droughts, the floods, the hunger, the sorrow, the dying the strain.  I pulled the weeds and picked the beans to give us food.  To feed our friends.

But my travels took me far into all that space that’s contained inside.  I needed no ticket, paid for no accommodation.  The fuel for the journey was the fuel of emotion, burning more purely than when I was young.  It was often a hard road but the view was worth every bit of dust and bump and discomfort.

Towards the end of summer, having seen all that, I got into my old car and drove through the gorges and countryside, past Cathare castles and spreading vineyards to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  There I joined my daughter, my granddaughters and my son-in-law who had , together, made a truly grueling journey of thousands of miles of flights, and lines and taxis and hotels. Like a miracle, we were there together, in each other’s physical presence, there where the watery breath of the planet washes back and forth , touching the body of the land, transforming it with each coming in and going out.

There, by the incredible blue of the sea, I watched the emotions my life has engendered.  I saw them plainly, heard them, smelled them, tasted them so poignantly in the way one’s experience of everything shifts when one travels. We bathed for hours in the glorious healing, huge water, riding the gentle waves.  In those moments in an unfamiliar place, the beauties shine like gems, the lens of the soul breaks free and both the wide scope and the fine detail are somehow simultaneously in focus. Then later, I hugged my family goodbye in the sweaty marble streets of Montpellier, my breath breathing the enormous ache.

Now the season is changing.  The heat has dried the leaves on the trees. There’s more zucchini to make into fritters or chutney or bread. There are apples in a box in the basement. The winter squash is coming on. A bit of rain here and there has given the grass a bit more green and will bring out the Cepes in the forrest.The last flowers of summer are fading, their stems beginning to brown, their green blood slowly withdrawing, back into the breath of the earth.

My body seems to barely exist. I think it was finally washed away by the pure, clear, warm salty waters of the sea, the same fluid where it was created, molecule by molecule.  I know it’s still there in with some sense I can’t name.  I can feel its outlines when I try. There are things that prick and ache and itch, but it all seems to exist in the breath.  I watch as emotions come and go, in all their colors, sometimes becoming huge without warning ike bursts of fireworks, expanding into the void forever and then fading away ever so imperceptibly, until each spark is finally extinguished and the moon returns to rule the night sky.

That’s where I went for my summer vacation.  Now, as the air begins to finally cool, I sit at my desk in school to pay attention to what comes next. I wait for the rain and feel breath going out and coming in.  I smell the sharp smell of pencil shavings. I hear the ticking of the classroom clock, the scraping of chairs. The new teacher is here.

 

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