L’Shanah Tovah: thoughts about the future from the past

As a child I wandered through my days often far from the world we lived in. Somewhere between magical knight and sea captain there was another dream one unlike anyone I knew. I never dreamed of marriage, or of children, yet more than anything I wanted to be a strong old woman, silver hair flying as I walked through my garden shawl wrapped around my shoulders. It was always early morning at the beginning of this dream, tea in hand I would check my plants or watch the dew on spider webs dissipate in the warming daylight. Walking back into the kitchen, because of course it was a proper kitchen garden, I would wipe the dew from my hiking boots and go inside to prepare for whatever adventure I had planned for the day. I wasn’t sedentary, I hiked and kayaked, I spent time in the city visiting museums and galleries. This woman I conjured in my mind some time between eight and ten years old has always lived in my heart. When most of my friends thought about what they wanted to be when they grew up, or the families they wished for, I looked further along the timeline. I wanted nothing more to be living the part of life that comes afterwards. I can’t say why.

I did grow up with many amazing older woman in my life, but I also had many amazing role models who were in midlife or younger. It was towards these older women that I gravitated. While I was never very close with her there was one woman more than any other that embodied this dream. She was weaver living in a two hundred year old house with with a meadow lined with stone walls and ancient sugar maples. She had grown up in Belgium and had emigrated to this country some time during the Second World War. The blankets she wove were like color dances. My mother and I would have dinner with her occasionally during our summers at the family cabin. While they would talk I would wander through the house and in the fields, marveling at all the details. Of doors, that smelled like wood and sunshine. Of the walls whose stones were straighter than the ones near our house. But most of all I would sit there imagining that life for myself, one filled with craft and dirt and history.

Now that I am into my fourth decade I still have these dreams. I think of them more often now as I catch sight of my hair in the mirror, silver hairs glowing in the sunlight. Or when I am stirring my tea and look down to see my hands that are crisscrossed with lines creating thousands of tiny diamonds. I am not lamenting my aging body seeing these beautiful changes in my body has given me motivation to change the complacency with which I have treated it. Now there is more yoga and less caffeine. There is more reading in bed when I am sleepless rather than indulging in movies. I have a lot of repairs to make if I really want to be that kick-ass old lady making it up mountains and soloing rivers. But I want to be the grandma who sends the post cards from far corners of the earth, just to let everyone know I am still alive and enjoying life.

Silver hair sparkles

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