I have spent my summer "stuck" in a Boston suburb. It doesn't really matter which one, though does it, because it is New England. Ever changing. Home of the scrod, cod and the Cape. It is New England, the "If you don't like the weather then walk a mile or wait a minute" life. It is New England, funny accents, ridiculous colloquialisms and ever changing scenery. It is a constant flow of transformation, a constant state of flux, given to the unexpected. It is a place you learn early not to lean against, but instead to ride with the tide. So it is that I spent two months in my beloved weather changing, tide ebbing and flowing, transformational New England home fidgeting, anxious, and pushing back at the very nature I have learned to flow with. Frustrated, angry, disappointed and down right pissed off at the circumstances that kept me from leaving Greater Boston for the much more subtle southern clime of Metropolitan Atlanta, I stepped around one road block after another, battle-scarred, bruised and tired. I kicked. I screamed. I hollered. I did that of course, until it hit me. Are you stuck, really? Or is this some place you really want to be. Honestly, what is your true intention?
I am not a transplant, you see. I am a New England girl to my heart of hearts. I don't often admit
that. It kind of seemed strange growing up for a black girl like me, but truth be told, I just am a bona fide New Englander. Chalk it up to my Irish bloodline that focuses on the beauty in the nature of things, but I totally
dig the way the seasons change here. Summer is truly summer: a welcomed respite from the frigid winter and wet spring. Fall is
truly fall. Spring may come late or early, but it is clearly punctuated
by the fragrant colors of hyacinth and lilacs - definitely lilacs. The
way the crocus push up their soft little heads through that hard black frozen
earth always amazes me in the same way that whips of yellow forsythia
blossoming against plumes of white snow flakes always takes my breath
away. We New Englanders are hearty, steadfast, ready for any storm,
prepared to hunker down with a hearty bowl of stew in front of the wood burning
stove. After all, winter blizzards are a reason to talk about the weather, nothing
Because I am a writer, my discussions inevitably wind their way around to New England weather. Like the way the fog rolling in brings with it the taste of salt on your lips, or how the cool air feels
on your bared skin and the sharp odor of fish riles against your nostrils.
Immediately, it conjures images of low white picket fences, sentinels guarding soft
green lawns aproned before clapboard cottages grayed by the ocean
breezes and mottled and battered by the harshest winters. It recalls
summer oceans, teeming with crabs and bluefish, steaming husks of corn
and lobsters crawling and clawing for life in large boiling pots. It brings to life the rocking fishing trawlers,
noisy engines breathing smoke, nets astern, the leather-skinned muscled crew headed out to
sea in the purple-gray dawn, the glimmer of first light beckoning
gulls, terns and herons. It is all so very simple in all its complexity.
So it was that I stopped railing against the tides after a while. Took note of the fact that all of the bitching and complaining wasn't going to get me anywhere any sooner. That the time I spent fussing, arguing, being disappointed, would be better spent resting, cooking, reading, watching movies and walking the puppies to the favorite spots along the river, the lake, the beaches and take in all of this New England I love so much. I got ice cream cones just because, downed my weight in mussels and clams, took in the vast array of cultural culinary delights, sushi, dolmas, curry, channa, bacalao and of course, lobster and tended to the garden. Daily I picked kale, basil, green beans, lettuce, chard and sorrel. I made salads, and juiced and learned about green lemonade from a cousin. I spent time with friends, wrote poems, and met new people on Facebook. I helped a few folks with their writing projects even as I worked on mine and looked for new jobs to do. I took time to stroll through fields, pick its bounty, cook it, serve it, photograph it and post it on Facebook! I slept in the evening breeze as the sea air wafted in through my window and covered my down quilt with a salty cool. I collected shells, rocks and sea glass. I talked to strangers over cups of coffee in every shop I could stop in.
Every time I thought about pushing against the tide, the tide would push me back until I stopped fighting and remembered to go with the flow. See, it isn't really that we learn something new about ourselves in these lessons that keep tripping us up and challenging us in life. It is that we relearn what we already know and then appropriately use it for our highest good. Riding the tide is as easy as grabbing a boogie board and jumping right on in. Catch the biggest wave and ride it as far as the flow will take you. It may be a short ride, a rough one, a long or smooth one. Who knows? You just have to get in and see where it takes you. You have to let go of what you expect it to be and just let it be. Just go with the flow!
I have to admit there were things I missed by not rushing off to Atlanta. An overnight at the Aquarium complete with dinner, jazz, cocktails and breakfast in the morning, a night-long spa day at Jeju, a panel discussion about what it means to be who I am in the skin I'm in, and a little more time with my awesome new roommate. I also missed spending summer watching movies and hanging with my really cool eight-year-old goddaughter. It is all good though. Things have this way of balancing out.
Fall is moving in early in New England and hard as it is, I am headed back to the warm south I so love. I will watch the movies with the godchild when they come out on video. My roommate and I will move into our new house where I will create wonderful dinners with jazz and cocktails and who knows, maybe breakfast in the morning. I will catch up with friends and laugh during night-long sessions at Jeju. I will lovingly tell them how black earth gives way to small, but strong and hearty crocus and that forsythia yellows briefly herald the coming spring. And I will remember that gulls, terns and herons innately know what each of us should already know: no matter what the situation seems to be, if we are in darkness, we got there from the Light and it will always eventually be Light again. All we have to do is go with the flow and we'll see it. At least, that's how we do it here in New England.
Robin G. White is an award-winning author and publisher who works with first time authors to ensure their economic empowerment through education and publishing. She is the author of several books including the award-winning Resurrection: A Collection of Work, Reflections of a Life Well Spent, First Breath and the forthcoming, Omphaloskepsis Guided Writing Journal and Omphaloskepsis Daily Affirmations in addition to several others. In 2014, she will open a writing and spiritual retreat center, The Guilbault Young Center for Manifestation as a way to provide creatives and spiritualists a place to develop the work they are ordained to do. She is the co-founder of We Can, We Care her family's organization that supports the creation of orphanages and schools on the continent of Africa. She is the founder of OneDayOneDollar.org a non-profit organization that enlists creatives of all stripes in the fight against extreme poverty through artists' performance and grant-making to community-based grassroots organizations that serve children in the areas of education, shelter and food justice. She values her work in service to others.