Every December, Adrian takes off between Christmas and New Year's Day. This year, he doesn't go back until Monday, 6 January. Since 2007, I have been on break from classes every Christmas, too. We huddle on the couch in our pajamas, binge watch some good TV series or movies, and eat too much.
I graduated in May of 2013. There are no natural breaks in my year since I became a novelist. I grant my own vacations. So, I have taken a break from writing, except for these prompts from my writing group. The word is "Waiting."
I am, by nature, an active waiter. When I am at the pharmacy, I pull out my iPad and read or write. If I am ready for someone to pick me up at home, I clean things while checking the window occasionally. I even tidy up my makeup drawer while stuck timing my hair color. Twenty minutes is just about right.
It would seem I have to be puttering around all the time. Busy, busy.
But I don't.
I can sit and stare out the window or lie about on the deck on a chaise lounge, weather permitting, and just be there, doing nothing more than breathing and noticing the sights and sounds around me.
I am able to close my eyes in just about any situation and meditate my way into a calm state that reduces pain.
Sitting and staring in nature came to me when I spent lots of time as a child up a tree. Because of my age, I was between groups of kids in my rural home. I don't socialize well or gladly. I spent a lot of time alone.
The first years, I would wander on the ground under the trees on my grandparents' farm or in the fields on their out-lying property. I was earth-bound, a natural putterer. My grandmother Tommie encouraged me to branch out. She showed me how to get under the house with a casual, "Watch out for snakes. Make noise." She led me to the attic access and told me how to step on the rafters. My first high spot was a window in that attic. From there, I could see Tommie and Granddaddy taking the afternoon rest under a maple tree as they read the newspaper.
Years later, my grandparents retired from farming to their smaller house up on the hill, the one I had lived in when they farmed. The property had, and still has, the most amazing black oak trees. In a community with no two-story houses, the attic of the farmhouse had seemed high. On the hill, those trees were the top of the world, as I knew it.
Still fearless for me when I couldn't be for myself, Tommie instructed me in the art of climbing a tree. Pick a low limb with a forked branch that will hold your weight. Grab each branch, facing into the fork. Let your weight fall back as you throw your feet up into the space between your arms and the forked branch. Wrap your knees around the branch. Hook your toes around the limbs and use your thigh muscles to assist your arms as they pull you into the tree. Stand up from the sitting position and feel for a limb above you to steady you as you walk the limb up to the trunk of the tree.
Find a perch.
Watch and wait.
And the tree will talk to you. The stories a tree will tell can wait for another word prompt.