Monday, August 30, 2021

Meadow: A Place for Delight, Expectation, Wonder, Discovery, and Curiosity [Word 48: The First 100 Words]

Meadow – word 48

Meadow  - a grassland used for hay; low ground near a river; green range field.

Words associated with meadow – openness, explore, space


As with most of the words Sharon gave me, I hadn’t anticipated what /meadow/ would come to mean over the next several months. When I heard the word /meadow/, I immediately thought of a pasture where cows and sheep graze.

At first I was perplexed about where I would find a meadow in my suburban area. Then I remembered the twenty minute drive I take each June to the strawberry patch, traveling on a narrow road surrounded by countryside.

Reaching the country road, only three or four minutes from my house, I followed this path and realized I was surrounded by meadows. I chose one and looked for a place to stop. Nearby, I found a church and pulled my car into the parking lot.

Exploring new places brings me delight, expectation, wonder, discovery, and curiosity. I didn’t know what to expect here.  What would I find? Should I have worn my boots? Rainy days preceding my trip had saturated the earth, making mud and puddles prevalent in my yard. Today was a hot day in mid-July, but I wondered if the area might still be muddy. 

Approaching the meadow, I felt its openness. The field was filled only with nature, not cluttered with buildings or houses or sheds. I felt my heart and mind expand in this open area. I took a deep breath, inhaling the energy and spaciousness the meadow provided.

The sky seemed to blend with the flowers and tall grass. Nothing obstructed the wide topography. Walking over the bumpy terrain, I encountered blooming wildflowers interspersed with  plants dried out after the previous summer.

 A few small butterflies were exploring the meadow with me. They were like my pauses to take in the view. Each one stopped to rest on a flower or plant for a few seconds before moving on to the next perch. These tiny, pale yellow butterflies were light and free, gracefully skipping over the tops of plants and flowers.

Grasshoppers jumped along the way like popcorn popping. Their spontaneity refreshed my senses. 

In the middle of the meadow, I came to a narrow creek filled with water. I watched the water flow, moving slowly, carving an identity in the bank as it moved. 

Needing to move on in my day, I reluctantly left the meadow. But I left with a sense of freedom from spending time in a wide open space. I felt renewed life from the beauty and discovery. I could hardly wait to come back for another visit.

In the days ahead, I discovered three more meadows close to my house. I began a habit of walking there. Going to the meadow is like going on a retreat. When I need to expand my mind and emotions, or when I feel stressed and need to calm myself, I go to the meadow, and almost instantly I feel my heart opening and my body relaxing. 

The meadow has become a place of grounding and anchoring, a constant in my life, always ready and waiting for my exploration. 

After the emergence of COVID, the meadow became a place of refuge, quiet, and respite from pandemic loss and anxiety. When I was feeling sad or lonely or had a feeling of being adrift or aimless, a trip to the meadow brought me back to the present and redirected my thoughts. Grasshoppers, butterflies, and bees were my new companions when most humans were out of reach. At times I felt like I was in a florist shop with the abundance of daisies and other orange, yellow, and purple wildflowers. I began a habit of picking meadow flowers and assembling bouquets as a souvenir of each visit

When I returned to Sharon’s office the week after my meadow assignment, I showed her the bouquets of dried flowers and plants I had arranged. We talked about what the experience had meant. I told her how the word /meadow/ opened a whole new world for me, a new environment to explore, one that naturally spoke to my heart and soul. She suggested the next time I went, I could make a meadow mobile using the things I found there.

The next time I went to the meadow I drew pictures of each thing I saw, from dried plants to flowers to grasshoppers to butterflies. Then, I cut pieces of straw from the meadow and used them like a dowel rod, tied the pictures to the straw, and created a dangling art piece to remind me of my time in the meadow.

Another time, one chilly November day I went to the meadow and wrote a short poem:

“Cold wind combing my hair,

Kissing my cheeks

Wrapping my heart

Like a mother swaddling her newborn

With a homemade quilt.”

On Christmas Eve, I was feeling particularly sad at having to watch church online. The church I attend had been closed for six months. I had never missed Christmas Eve service and felt unsettled at missing this tradition that was such an important part of the holiday season. Our family celebration of opening presents took place on Zoom and did not capture the excitement I usually felt as my loved ones opened the presents I had picked out for them. 

Late on Christmas afternoon, I decided to walk to the meadow. Despite the 12 degree temperature, I was delighted to find bright red heart-shaped leaves dangling on dried stems, a few strands of green grass, and patches of snow against a backdrop of dried brown plants. 

Even on a disappointing Christmas day, the meadow offered beauty, a gift to my aching heart. Now, my heart was so full that I came home and drew a picture of the holiday scene from the meadow.

Like all of the words given to me, /meadow/ has become woven into my habits and thoughts. My awareness and enjoyment of these patches of land bring year-round refreshment, renewal, and rest. As I walk over the uneven ground and observe what is growing now as well as the remnants of what was growing in past seasons, the meadow seems to have in it whatever I need. 

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