Gathering Rust

The hallway at the Eye doctor’s office

“I am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, ay, and years almost altogether.  I know not what manner of stuff they are of,… How womankind, who are confined to the house still more than men, stand it,  I do not know; but I have ground to suspect that most of them do not stand it at all.”   from “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau

I pull at the leaf of hay, each stand so tightly bound to the ones around it.  They’ve been this way all winter.   Bundled together with two orange plastic strings and stacked in the barn. Now that they are back outside where they came from the resist coming apart without some pulling and shaking.

In no time I feel the soft pressure of wool on either side of my legs.  Even if they push too hard, they never knock me over.  It’s like being pressed between giant balls of raw cotton.

The wind picks up loose strands and scatters them across the barnyard.  Later when the feeders are empty the sheep and donkeys will graze on the windblown hay.

Before leaving the barnyard I stop, my eyes reaching toward the mountains on the horizon. I pull off my hat, open my jacket and let the wind touch me. It pours through my hair releasing it from gravity.  I lift my face and hold out my arms letting the wind bathe me.

I think of the woman in the eye doctor’s office where Jon and I spent some hours this morning.  She leaned heavily on the rolling table with the laptop on it waiting for the doctor to say something she was supposed to record.  He eyes glazed over, her skin waxy, her expression dull.

Her work is important.  She has to be accurate, to get it right.  But it looked to me as much about the art of waiting.  Of staying alert in the windowless, beige dimly lighted room.

I know I was projecting my feelings onto her.  For all I know she finds her work fascinating and has learned how to hear what she needs to and block out the rest.

I’ve been there, in the office job playing the waiting game, and found out early on it’s not for me.  But I also understand that people love it.

My high school friend couldn’t wait to work as a secretary (what it was called back then) taking the Long Island Rail Road into New York City every day, sneakers on her feet, and her dress shoes in her bag.

A stand of hay had found its way down my shirt.  It scratches at my stomach and I know there will be a red mark where I itch it before pulling it out.  I’m allergic to hay but I still love the way it feels in my hands and how it smells even though it makes me sneeze.

The older I get, the more I walks in the woods and spend time in the natural world, the more I understand Thoreau when he writes..  “I, who cannot stay in my chamber a single day without acquiring some rust…”

The rust I gather from being out of nature too long is more in my head and heart than my limbs.  So I welcome the wind, and rain and sun and snow.  I will take what nature has to offer me to keep the rust away.

10 thoughts on “Gathering Rust

  1. Your prose is so full of feeling and sensations. I feel like I am hearing you speak out loud rather than reading words on a blog, your words are so well crafted. Have
    you written very much before your blog?
    Nice photo!

    1. Thank you LoisJean. I learned how to write on my blog. Before that it was just for school and letter writing. I did love the letter writing, which is how I think of my blog sometimes.

  2. Ahhh Maria, wonderful writing. This is what moth and rust do not destroy; the talents that we must multiply and we do. thank you for this brief escape into what feeds my soul. Veronica

  3. Your writing is so vivid! Getting outside if only for a moment is tonic for the soul! I was so blessed to be able to take my preschoolers out walking everyday! It helped all of us to center ourselves as we explored our world and discovered so many things that are usually passed over like nests in the winter trees or snowflakes landing on dark paper so we could see the tiny crystals. I’m happy we shared those slow curious moments in our fast paced world!

    1. That sounds so wonderful Josie, for all of you. I honestly can’t imagine how teachers spend a whole day with all those little kids 🙂 But when you talk about being outside with them, that I can imagine more. Lucky kids that had you for a teacher.

  4. Oh, Maria. I’m feeling all the things already said to you above. You brought me in to your story and I loved your words. You made them flow along. Really enjoyed reading. Thank you for being you!

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