Thoughts on well-being, sustainability and those things that constitute a good life beyond consumption.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Today I noticed how full the begonia plant was getting – flush with new burgundy leaves and the plant’s first flower. This was a gift from my friend Julie Zickefoose, who also sent along an Achimenes plant. The salmon-hued flowers on that specimen have been appearing since June and are almost as sensual as the variety name, “Pink Nightie”. One has to love a plant with a name like that!

It was little gifts like this that made my “era of immobilization” tolerable.  Being able to hear -- through the window -- several species of birds visiting the Serviceberry tree in the front yard, receiving encouraging messages from someone who had recuperated from a much worse accident [thank you Brenda], cut flowers from the CSA each week, and colleagues at work and in the field who helped me to adapt, get food from the lunch buffets, and keep my sanity. During the recovery period, I even had time to do silly things like looking up the origin of words like Achimenes. [It may have come from the Greek word for “tender” or “sensitive to cold” or perhaps from the name of a mythical plant in the writings of Pliny the Elder.] All of these were deeply appreciated gifts, including time.

In the words of the very wise Paul Brown: Healing. It can be encouraged, though not rushed. What a colossal job it must be to create new cells and reassemble things as closely as possible to the original. Patience has never been one of my virtues.

Nothing is rushed when you are in a cast and using crutches. So I read a lot, and looked up mythological stories – partly for fun and partly to prepare for my upcoming History of Disease course. When I could start swimming again, the laps were slow, as if I was dragging a brick.

The thing about internal injuries – be it broken bones or a damaged heart – is that you can’t see the healing like you can with a surface wound. You have to assume that the cells are doing what they should to repair the damage. Of course, being a scientist (and having the time), I had to look up all the details of just what is involved in mending bone. It is indeed a pretty amazing process Paul.

I am not one to enjoy sitting around, even though people said I should milk the situation and let others take care of me for once. I do appreciate all that my husband Dave had to do around the house and to take care of me – including being chauffeur. Thanks to him, off to work I went. Setting aside pride, I scooted around the halls at work in a rolling chair, road up the mountain in nifty all-terrain vehicles (thanks so much Trevor Jones), or provided directions to research students or helped to band birds from the back of a Subaru. 

Corey took me “car-birding” to boost my county list for the year. What a surprise on that day in June when we ran into friends Terry, Greg, and Laura along the Delaware River who had just captured two gorgeous Cerulean Warblers for their research project. More gifts.

Today, four months later, I experienced the full splendor of being mostly-back-to-normal (even though the healing will continue for some time in the leg bone). There was an early morning walk with Dave and Revi before the fog lifted, followed by a walk to the quarry to catch the first glimpses of the Fringed Gentians starting to unfurl. These satiny flowers are an indescribable blue – matching the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses from a wedding that I was part of many years ago. Joren and I gathered enough grapes to make juice – the aroma of which is filling the room as I type. There was apple and pear picking and baking. As the late afternoon sun, low in the sky, splashed gold across the mountainside, there was one final walk of the day through the goldenrod and broomsedge-laden field. Glorious moments. Glorious to be healing.

1 comment:

  1. Grateful people are ever my favorites of all. This post comes at a time when healing is a central theme in my life too. Trying today to find help for a dear friend who is suffering. I'm thinking of you and Dave amidst the gentians and smiling. Thank you for this beautiful post.