I delivered the potato and carrot peelings into the compost bins at the back of the kitchen garden and started back with my empty bucket. Then I stopped and stood still to feel the change in the air. The angle of the sun had moved ever so slightly, and the air smelled different, cleaner, crisper, still warm, but not as warm. No leaves had changed color yet; it was early August, 1984, at the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School in Haa, Southern Sweden. I knew, 'Autumn is here. Now. This day. Here near the top of
the world. No doubt.' This was a defining moment, perhaps my first awareness of a defining moment. I recall that time again and again for its sharpness.
Around that same time, on a beach on the island of Crete, I decided that our campsite had gotten to feeling helter-skelter, that it needed some organization. I moved sleeping bags, backpacks, bicycles, the folded-up Helly Hansen ponchos we used as shelter when the dew was heavy or it rained. I placed and replaced them into more functional and pleasing harmony. Then I hefted large, smooth beach stones and placed them in a wide circle around the space where Irene and I had camped. Home. As I surveyed the whole, I said to myself, I'm good at this. I'm good at making home wherever I am. I hadn't thought this before then.
For the past several days I have been camping out in the Earthship where I will make my home in October. I keep my food and pots and pans and utensils in my camp kitchen box, a large flat plastic bin made for storing boots. The refrigerator is small, dorm-room size. As I prepared lunch one day, I noted that I was moving with ease, knowing where everything was. There was order, simplicity. Noting, defining - I feel at home here, even though I am really camping indoors. It’s because I have made order, made home.
The next morning I carried the dishwater out to the pistachio tree surrounded by its bed of purple four o’clocks—tsidideeh—and I felt such a sense of domesticity, of making this place mine, of knowing I will live here. The defining moments are so often demarcated by the details of life, the small things, the things that give us pleasure or bear us across the line from one season to another, one awareness to another, one time or place to the next.
Please share one of your defining moments.
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