Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Taking time for refreshment ~ when out and about.

When out and about the restorative qualities of a cup of tea made from a thermos can be remarkable.  I can drive to and pull over in one of my favourite parking spots, get out my thermos and picnic bag, and as I sip my tea my busyness and preoccupations slide away.  If I have also packed a sandwich and a biscuit so much the better!  Any worry or intensity that intrudes I mildly observe until it drifts away.  This is my alone time for replenishment, no problem-solving permitted. 


In any one of these favourite spots I could get out of the car, but usually don't: for these rest times I want as much comfort, quiet and privacy as possible, and the car serves as my carapace, my shelter for the moment.  In any case I've worked out exactly how to manage all the picnic things so that they don't get into a muddle!  My cuppa sits comfortably on the dashboard.

A quiet, natural setting is what I look for in these places, and since I starting doing this I've  gradually found more. 

In the first photo I'm in one of the Dunedin Botanic Gardens car parks.  The garden border has the appearance of being withered and wintry, yet the jewel-like presence of early crocuses show spring energy pushing through determinedly:


When last there a lady blackbird flew to perch on the wing mirror next to me and gazed at me companionably, which was indeed a pleasure.  Perhaps she hoped for crumbs or a little cheese, which unfortunately were eaten by then.  I waited until she hopped down before taking her picture her so as not to startle her.  Her brown plumage declares her gender; the males are the black ones.  I wonder if the grey feathers on her face are a sign of age?  My next visitor was a little finch who alighted on the same perch.  The birds are welcome companions, requiring no social effort and remote from my worldly concerns. 


The Botanic Gardens are always a pleasure to explore, even for short stolls.  Near to where I parked the rhododendron garden has a number of seats.  I could have had my picnic there had I wished to:


Refreshed from my picnic I explored a little further down the hill where I came across this rhododendren which as you can see was heavily in bloom at the time.  The big tree to the right is a totora.


It was worth looking at this rhodo up close - a delicate delight! 


Another favourite place where I like to pull over is very different indeed: it is tucked in the hills a little way off the main road not far from the city.  I can sit in that rural tranquility, with only the occasional car passing by; in the distance I can see the rolling hills and the sea; close at hand this eucalyptus tree gives a strong impression of calm and strength.  It's striped trunk is a beauty:  


Another place I like to park is next to the beach: even if I stay in the car the view of the waves rolling in and the clouds making their way overhead is soothing.  On a milder day I'd be down on the beach, enjoying the immediacy of the breaking waves and the tang of the salty air. 


I can sit in my own garden of course, weather permitting!  Even in winter it's pleasant and peaceful, if a trifle chilly.  Fortunately I don't believe in weeding in winter, so at this time of year don't feel any need to bend down and tidy up.  If I did where would the little insects live?  And how would the earth shelter itself?  Just leave it, I say.  I listen to the birds and take in the sight and sound of the sea.  I observe the shape of the garden, it's mounds, trees, flowers, and yes, the weeds as well, which mostly seem to sleep until the warmer weather wakes them up once more.  Right now the energy in the earth seems to be slowly gathering itself for spring growth, showing itself in new buds and shoots. 


Exercising is another and different way of taking time out: 
It's time I got back to swimming!  For me swimming up and down 'doing lengths' is a wonderful way of setting aside everything else.  The underwater world is essentially a place of solitude: no one else is there with me even when noisy activities are going on nearby.  All my focus is on my breathing and movement - up and down, up and down.  Afterwards my body feels different and I breathe a whole lot more freely - with my whole body.  I feel good, but even then, a restorative is needed - and I'm off to find one of my quiet places - with a sandwich and a thermos and a nice hot cup of tea. 


It has taken me years to figure out some of these simple things and actually do them:  
Now that I've got into the way of it I know that when I'm out I will greatly benefit from taking little refreshment in a quiet spot, even if I am going out for only one visit or to a single appointment.  Inevitably there are errands to do on the way home which easily take a further hour or so.  And on the rare occasions when I have a clear run home I am glad of a breather before I head back to base: it helps to free me up from what I have been doing and relax for the return home. 

The catalyst for getting this routine going has been my care of my frail and elderly mother who now lives in a rest home.  Visiting her, which I do regularly, is a pleasure, but it also involves going into an environment where there are a lot of other people and things to attend to.  I've often found it difficult to 'change gear' afterwards, to come back to a state of stillness within myself, to feel my own energy even.  Sitting alone somewhere quiet for long enough to have a drink and something to eat does settle things down.  And nature reminds me where my heart is - in amongst it!


To find my article about enjoying the Moana swimming pool click the link below:
To find articles in my Elderly and dependent series click the link below:
To find my articles about being out in the natural world click on the link below:
To find my articles about gardening click on the link below:

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