Rubbish with Attitude

I find November to be a transitional month—not quite past autumn and not yet winter. Skies are often filled with heavy dark-gray clouds that suddenly open into glorious sunlight, illuminating yellow leaves. The business of outdoor activities is ending, and the bustle of holiday celebrations is waiting to begin. This is the month when nature goes dormant. And we become wrapped in restfulness, drawing-down at home in heavy sweaters, flannel pants, and warm slippers. With hands encircling steaming cups we slow our pace and reflect.

This is when the true purpose of dormancy develops in our lives—when roots expand and the overt activities of life decrease. We become more grounded.

By definition, dormancy is a state of rest. Like hibernation, it is a time of minimal activity. Many organisms require this cycle of rest. Without it the future holds reduced productivity and impaired vitality—plants don’t flower, animals become obese, and people distraught.

For those of us who manage living with Seasonal Affective Disorder, dormancy is not always beneficial—too much stillness and my mood goes dark. I find it best both physically and mentally to remain as active as possible before the confining nature of winter sets in.

It had been cloudy and rainy for days. The afternoon cloud-breaks of sunlight were a welcomed sight. I saw from my upstairs windows that it was a breezy day. Remnant leaves were being stripped from dormant branches. Flocks of small birds were flying en masse with the wind, and their sudden turns reminded me of schools of fish.

I felt gloomy and angry, and hoped that going for a walk would improve my mood. I tied on boots, secured the hand-knitted ruana—a large shawl-like poncho—with a brooch, and headed out the door with the dog, she in a sweater as well.

There are few things happier than a dog on a windy day. My Lilly was no exception. Her tail wagged as she pranced, head up, sniffing the air. She wanted to stop at every sign and pole to mark her passing—but I was on a march and she needed to keep pace. My mission was to outmaneuver the dark thoughts that swirled.

Leaves and litter blew about, trees and shrubs swayed. As we passed an overgrown woodlot, a naked shrub at the edge had gathered debris…including a plastic bag snagged low in the branches. Caught and twisted the plastic crackled and jerked with each windy gust. Entangled by the previous storms it could not break away.

I really hate litter…it makes a place look worse than it is. With deliberate steps, maneuvering over tall grass and hidden limbs, I approached the shrub and snatched the plastic bag free. Continuing the walk, the bag was used to hold the litter collected as it blew into my way. The dog took advantage—each time I stopped and stooped, she piddled her message of passing.

It had been about an hour by the time Lilly and I returned home. Going through the back gate, I threw the bag of litter in the garbage can. My mood had improved…those bits and pieces of dark thoughts had also been gathered and trashed.

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  • Michelle

    What a good reminder of the need for dormancy . . . and there really is something about walking. It is hard to mess up a good walk. . . . but it’s on dormancy that you’ve got me. It’s one of those places where we’re sometimes afraid of what we need,not realizing it is offered as a gift.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/prayergardens/ Margaret Rose Realy

      And you with your rural life know this well.

  • Maggie Goff

    Wonderful post. Movement releases endorphins. Just smiling does it, even if it’s a fake smile.

  • Steven Calascione

    You have no idea what joy I have derived from picking up litter on my country walks. I’m a little wary of picking up other people’s empty (or not so empty) Heineken cans when in town (particularly early in the morning) as it tends to draw funny looks!


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