At 600 meters above sea level, early May in the Bernese Highlands, grassland pastures are full with first wild flowers. Imagine in the air, the fragrance of fresh green pasture spring.
I like to share things about plants, gardens and landscape. Things that can enliven and inspire.
But this set of photos is only about sharing perception in what I think of as teaching.
Every day I have mountains in my face. These photos how some of them. In particular, these photos tell a story that is quite visually apparent in early spring.
Here are the stories or rather the lessons learned:
- Spring comes earlier at lower elevations than higher elevations.
- Higher elevations have conifer only forests. Lower elevations have deciduous only forests. The two forest types merge in the middle elevations.
- And the last image is a close up of the glorious electric lime green at this stage of spring growth.
I had to write this. Stroke is more common than many realize. This may be helpful to those for the first time encountering stroke affected close friends and loved ones.
Just about a year ago, I was visiting a nice park in Paris. It was a quiet Sunday morning. Roses and irises were in full bloom. The day was clear. The sun, getting higher, was bright and warm. There were plenty of public benches in the park. All the benches were empty. I looked for one in the shade with a good view over the gardens.
I sat down and immediately felt very tired. I then felt strangely obliged to do what my normal public bench common sense would never allow—lean over and lie down, using my day pack as a pillow. Everything went dark. After some unknown amount of time, I heard voices; but I couldn’t see anything. Still all dark—like my eyes were shut tight. I couldn’t open them. That’s how I remember it. But I could hear more and more voices, the voices of families that I figured had started visiting the park.
Well, that was the stroke onset. Making a long uncomfortable story shorter, I was then three weeks in an emergency ward of a Parisian hospital. Lots of strange stuff. But here is the quick and dirty. Couldn’t write, couldn’t walk, couldn’t swallow. Feeding tube in the nose, IV in hand, arm, everywhere, you know the ‘find the vein’ hospital drill. Nurses firmly reminding me ‘ne bougez pas’, like I had a choice. Fortunately, I knew French. That brain skill remained. I could not move in the bed. No toilet. No cleaning. The nurses did everything for me. I had time and capacity to think.
‘Was this my peak recovery? Is this the rest of my life? Will I ever leave the hospital? Will I ever see my family? Will I ever walk again? Will I ever be able to feed myself? Will I ever be able to clean myself?’ That was some depressing sh*t.
So one year later, after a lot of will power, therapy and the gracious help of family, therapists, nurses and staff, I am walking in my own neighborhood with my family. I am writing, eating and cleaning myself in what I tell myself is d*mn near a normal life. Every case is different, I am told; but this post is about hope and continually taking one small step at a time.
On a walk this week, I took these three Spring photos to depict the hope and glory and reality of the human condition.
I have had a difficult time writing this. Not only because it is personal, but because it is also unsettling, unique, even frightening. Some of you may be aware that I suffered a stroke just about a year ago. Lots of people suffer strokes. I have been fortunate in my rehabilitation. I can talk. I can walk. I can write. I can take care of myself. These were not the case in the first three weeks following the stroke. So let me say to all my medical support, nurses and therapists thank you very much. Now, it is just me and the daily mental battle of rehab vs retrogression. No big deal. Humans seem to need battles to excel, to live. Strange as it seems.
For me, it is the first three weeks that perplex me, that put me into some kind of twilight zone between dreams and real life. It had been signed off at the time as stroke induced dreams but they came in such volume, in such intensity, with such fear. Then a couple days after a full night dream wherein I had violently struggled to free myself from entrapment, I noticed an horrendous bruise on my thigh at a place that could have easily occurred in my dream, so I had to ask myself dream or real life? And if it was real life why do I not recall my activities that night? I only recall the ‘dream’ and that ‘dream’ did not occur in the hospital.
Because of these uncertainties, I feel obliged to recall them in detail. Those ‘dreams’ in detail will become a series of short stories, if I have the fortitude to work through them. Fortitude? Well, since the stroke, one of the lingering effects has been my inability to even come close to multi-tasking. So I have stepped away from what many of us see as the natural multi-tasking complexities of the modern Western world.
The following set of photos exemplify what I find as simply satisfying in life these days. And when I try to resolve the awkward and fearful complexities of the first three weeks after my stroke…I rarely have the will power to remember or the endurance to examine. Rather I go out for a walk in the fresh air. The therapists call it looking to the future instead of the past. I can live with that; but the dream versus real life intrigues me.
It is the middle of the northern hemisphere winter.
The time of death.
The time of life hidden.
Yet when I look at these mature apple trees, smiles of hope well up inside me.
My imagination sees apple blossoms;
Smells apple blossoms;
Tastes apples off the tree;
Tastes apple pies;
And having had my senses gratified, I sleep peacefully.
Please share your apple thoughts and memories.