Sunday, November 2, 2014

Filling the Cracks with Gold

Part of the fall harvest at the Beacon Food Forest
It was an especially hot and dry summer in Seattle--in fact, the warmest one on record according to Cliff Mass's A Summer for the Record books. I'm thankful I was able to spend a lot time outside and in the mountains. I think that's partly why I'm so resistant to going back to a more indoor existence now. And I know the fall rains are to be expected, and that in fact, Seattleites often Crave the End of Summer.

But there is a certain heaviness that starts to settle in as the days get shorter, a stark contrast to how light summer feels. And it can seem like intense events start happening all at once.
Downtown sunset
I heard a shooting for my first time, while at work in downtown Seattle. It was five shots, very close by. From our fourth floor vantage point, we could see straight down onto the scene across the street, where a man had been shot.

My coworkers and I watched, stunned, as the scene unfolded: the cops arriving and pushing away the crowd, taping off the area, taking witness reports, the firetruck and ambulance arriving, the paramedics attending to the man, then taking him away on a stretcher. Sadly, the young man died of his injuries later that day. We also found out that one of the bullets had hit our building, just 2 floors below me. 

Not long after that, I was running around Greenlake on the outside path at sunset. The colors had been an explosion of pink and orange over the water. It had just gotten dark when my friend and I saw a terrible bicycle accident. At an oddly-angled 3-way intersection, a small truck hit a cyclist from behind.

It was like slow motion as the bike got pulled under the front tire, and the cyclist was barely able to bail off her bike in time. My friend who had his cell phone called 911, while I ran over to the woman. There were already other witnesses there, and already some one cradling the victim's head to help prevent damage to the c spine. She was trembling and had a huge gash in her knee. I asked her her name but she was unable to respond. Her eyes were rolled back in her head, and there was a horrifying gurgling noise from her throat. I prayed that she was able to breathe.

A woman driving by slowed down and said she was a doctor, and asked if we needed help. "Yes!" I said. "Please!" I was so relieved a doctor was there, even though she told my friend in a low voice to tell the dispatcher we needed an ambulance ASAP. I felt so helpless, willing the paramedics to get there faster. No, even faster.

I checked news reports for days after, but didn't read anything about a cyclist getting hit. I figured that no news is good news. Yet, it took me a long time to get the image of the woman out of my head, lying in the street trembling in her fluorescent yellow jacket, unearthly choking noises punctuating the night air.

As the leaves dry up and sink toward the ground, illness and injury and pain seem more on the surface. I can't help but think about the fragility of life; the friends and family battling cancer; the broken heart that is still healing. And of course, the blessing of health, and all the resilience and beauty that is born through facing hardship.

It's like how fruit trees need a certain number of days of cold in order to produce fruit the next year. Vernalization is the "acquisition of a plant's ability to flower in the spring by exposure to the prolonged cold of winter." Maybe humans can experience vernalization too.

The bounty of local apples getting turned into cider.
We got help from a few small superheroes.
And when hardship leaves its cracks, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Kintsugi is "the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise."
From Sang Bleu
I find that oddly comforting, the image of cracks filled with gold, creating a design that is unique to that object.

On my friend Will's cooking blog, he recently posted: "I've been writing lately--heavily--and cooking less and less. But there doesn't seem to be a difference in the end. What feeds you? What wakes you up? Writing is what gets me out of bed."

I've been asking myself what feeds me in this dark time of year; what is my gold that fills in the cracks? That is how to get through to the blossoming of spring. 


Will St. Clair Taylor said...

This is my very favorite.

Karen N-N said...

Thank you Amber for being who you are. And for these beautiful poignant thoughts.

AmberAnda said...

Thanks you two. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

rubyemae said...

Amber ~ you are the gold.

AmberAnda said...

Thanks rubyemae :) I'm curious who you are...

rubyemae said...

I'm Rubye Montana. Some years ago Trish called to say 'ya gotta read Amber's blog' & I've been onboard since. Your heartfelt writing is the gold ~ filling the cracks in this world. it's nice to know you.

AmberAnda said...

Hi Rubye Montana! I totally remember you! What a wonderful connection through Trish. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you're doing well!