Friday, October 21, 2011

The Night of the Frogs

I was lying on my cot in my hogan. The darkness of the northern Arizona desert lay around me. No light came through the smoke hole from the overcast sky. In the stillness I heard a strange, worrying sound. Aaa-haaa. Aaa-haaa. Aaa-haaa. Like heavy breathing. Like someone standing outside the door. Like the man who was said to wander home drunk every night, past my hogan. Definitely him. Standing outside my door, breathing heavily. Deciding whether or not to break down my door. I slowly turned to ice. I was frozen in fear. Helpless. No, not helpless, said a small voice. You can get up and see who’s standing at the door. Better to face the fear than die of fright. Really? Well, all right. I stood up. I opened the door. I heard the sound more clearly. Everywhere around me. Frogs. Thousands of frogs, mating in the puddles left by recent rains. And laughing at me, standing on my doorstep, feeling foolish. Aaa-haaa. Aaa-haaa. Aaa-haaa.

(This happened several years ago, when I was teaching on the Navajo reservation. It has always amused me and reminded me how our imaginations can play tricks on us.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On Power

As Irene swept by, this area experienced high winds that knocked out power for hours or days. My electricity was off for a day and a half. I always feel like a kid camping out when that happens--cooking and getting ready for bed by lantern light, no electronic entertainment--just silence and crickets. When the power came back on, I felt a stronger than usual pang of disappointment. I decided to pay attention to that. What did I miss, now that the power was back on? I wasn't really sorry to have the microwave and the washing machine back on line. What I missed most was the silence. I realized that I had fallen into the habit of switching on the radio for whatever I was doing--cooking, washing dishes, taking a bath, and so on. Why did I need constant chatter in the background? What was I avoiding? So I decided to leave the radio off. (I don't have TV.) What happened moved me so deeply I wanted to share it. In the peace of silence, I could listen to my own thoughts. I could notice things, draw connections, appreciate surprises. I could step outside of time and be in the now--instead of always having my attention drawn to whatever was happening on the radio. I rediscovered how much I enjoy my own company. I found new energy for writing and other projects. I'm not missing much by unplugging.  How much of what's on the nightly news do you REALLY need to hear?  It's funny that it took a hurricane to wake me up. Funny that a loss of power helped me rediscover my own power.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marileta's Exciting Adventure in Her Shed

It was a windy day. I was outside raking up grass, spending half my time chasing the piles I had raked as the wind scattered them across the yard. Finally finished, I put the cart away in the shed. I decided to change the liner in the trash can while I was in there. Then I heard a "click." It took a few seconds for the implication of that sound to register: The shed door had blown closed. The click was the latch dropping into place. The door was locked, and I was inside. Oops. Oddly, I had just seen two movies involving people getting stuck in tight places: "Buried," and "127 Hours." Not encouraging. But not too scary, yet. Then I remembered that the temperature was supposed to drop to the 30s that night. (Yes, it was June. So?) Then I noticed a hornet's nest hanging over the door. So figuring out how to get out seemed important. Stick something through the opening in the door to trip the lock? Nope. Dig a hole under the door in the gravel floor with a little piece of metal I found? Possible, but it would take about 127 hours. Or I would make the hole too small and get stuck half-way out. Holler for help? This is the country--no neighbors within earshot. Use my rear end to slam open the door? That'll work. Thank goodness the screws weren't all that sturdy.
The reason I'm telling this story is not to advertise my tendency to get into silly predicaments. It's to warn you not to use this type of lock on an outbuilding if there's any danger that a small child or pet--or you--might wander in and get stuck.
The End