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Always a New Adventure

posted Aug 31, 2016, 1:23 PM by Pat Riviere-Seel   [ updated Aug 31, 2016, 1:27 PM ]

Gray, muggy morning

a cloud

of goldfinches rises

into the wild cherry

leaves already camouflage

I wrote those lines earlier this month after a morning run, delighted to see leaves beginning to yellow. All summer I watched the wild green growth, watched the temperatures rise to record heat. I watched the weeds overtake the landscape; watched the play of sunlight and shadow in the dense woods outside my office window. Summer’s outrageous growth overwhelms me. I become lethargic and procrastinate even more than usual.

But the first hint of fall, with the promise of a messy season of kaleidoscopic colors renews me. I’m ready to refocus my energies, begin new projects. Although I no longer run the first thing every morning or cultivate a large garden, my body is still tuned to rhythms of the seasons. By the first of August, the dark lingers past 6 a.m. By the end of August there is the first hint of a chill in the air.

The last years I lived in Annapolis, Maryland, I ran the Annapolis 10-mile race the last Sunday in August. That race marked the end of summer and the beginning of fall for me. The second year I ran the race I was training for my first marathon and when I crossed the finish line I knew I looked a bit goofy and very pleased with myself. One of the runner’s working the finish line greeted me, “If endorphins were illegal, you’d be locked up for life!” Indeed. I had misinterpreted the marathon training schedule and run 16 miles with my training group the day before the 10-mile race. It was only later that week that Ben Moore, our retired Marine Corps leader, clarified that the scheduled called for running either the usual 16 mile Saturday or the 10-mile race, not two long runs on consecutive days.  But I had done something that I never thought I could do. 

The year I moved to Yancey County in August 1992, I went back to Annapolis to run the race. When I returned to the mountains the ironweed and goldenrod were blooming along with other wildflowers I did not recognize. The early morning chill I sensed in Annapolis was a palpable change in the mountains. I asked a neighbor for help splitting firewood to heat my home for the winter. Heating with wood was another first for me, a woman accustomed to central heating and air conditioning.

It’s been more than a year since I’ve raced. I’ve slowed down, cut back my mileage and frequency of runs after bunion surgery three years ago. I’ve developed new interests and I’ve spent more time promoting my work, especially my poetry collection, Nothing Below but Air published in 2014. The Serial Killer’s Daughter, the 2009 collection, has been turned into a one-act play and will be performed again next year. I still consider that work unfinished. Will I finish it? Will I run another race? I hope to, but for now I’m happy to run three days a week, work out in spin classes 2-3 mornings a week, walk, and garden as I discover what’s next.

This blog is one of my new beginnings this season. I’ve decided to write a memoir and the idea of committing prose after years of poetry scares the hell out of me. That’s reason enough to continue. So, this blog is a way of practicing prose and reaching out in conversation. I’ve always felt that poetry is a conversation between writer and reader, a way to connect, to say what needs to be said when prose is inadequate.

As summer ends and a new season begins, I continue asking the same question I’ve been asking for almost a year now:

                How do you want to live you life? What are you willing to do to live the life you want?

It’s a lot like the question a student in one of my poetry classes once asked. “How do you write a good poem? Just tell me how to write a good poem and I’ll write one,” she said. Easy enough. Just choose the best word in the best order – every time. Of course the best word and the best order depend on numerous factors, including sound, rhythm, form among others. Every poem is different.

Every day is different. I try to follow Rilke’s advice to a young poet and love the questions themselves, to remain content with the questions without needing – or forcing – answers. The answers will come.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke