oving to a smaller house means getting rid of stuff. While I’m sorting bedding into “go” or “keep” piles, I remember a news post I read earlier. A local shelter will open its doors for the homeless as they predict big snowstorms for the valley. As I wonder what I’ll do with the “go” pile, besides putting it in the landfill, an ‘aha’ feeling surges through me. I can donate sleeping bags, blankets to the shelter! Perfect! Excited with this solution for my stuff, I climb into the loft and find sleeping bags in the “go” pile. Then I look in the cedar chest and find a heap of woolen hats, scarves, mittens and blankets that will warm somebody!
As I put my departed husband’s hat in a bag, an image of his large slender hands donning the hat flashes through my mind; hands I loved so much. I can almost feel them again. My son’s smile comes to mind as he held up the first mittens he knitted and the image warms my heart. The hat he wore as he learned to ski, the pink balaclavas my daughters sported while sledding a hill remind me that time passes. A scarf a friend made me, a sweater my mother knitted, creates happy feelings in me. Happiness lives in strange places. An innocuous item can pull strings in your mind and connect synapses with memories. What I remember today makes me happy. The items will find a new home; the memories will fade. When I clear out stuff, I make room so I can collect fresh memories; maybe I’ll get to a place where I’m just creating emptiness.
Cold and Starry Nights
The big old sleeping bag doesn’t spend much time on the shelf in the shelter. It’s the first one to find a new owner. The bag has lingered in the attic at least 15 years. Why do we keep stuff for so long when it no longer serves us? I weave my way through the aisles of people who share a free community meal. They enjoy being indoors and warm. These are people who, on other nights might sleep under a bridge or in a thicket. People who appreciate a warm sleeping bag during a cold night. That bag may just save someone from getting hypothermia.
I go home. I have a warm home where I can sleep. As I crawl under my down comforter, I imagine sleeping under the stars in a sleeping bag. I remember nights on the trail. If you have a warm sleeping bag, to lay, swaddled like a baby, on Mother Earth under the watchful eye of Father Sky is an expansive experience. I hope to experience many more happy nights looking up at the sky.