Like the Little Drummer Boy, I’ve humbly asked, “What can I give in the face of so much devastation?”
But the best I’ve had to offer is my presence; which pales in comparison to those with hammers and shovels and know-how.
Physical labor has never been my passion. But I do like to move. To music. And I could offer that to you. And it would feel good. And you would leave restored–body, mind & soul.
The first class of my fall YogaDance session at Marlboro Elementary School on the miraculously restored Route 9 is Thursday, September 29 at 5:30 pm; and I’d like to offer that class as a gift to all of you.
There’s nothing you need to bring, except for maybe a water bottle. You can dance barefoot or with clean, non-marking soles (like sneakers), and you can dress comfortably with layers to peel off as needed. You don’t need any skill or experience, and basically the music does what it needs to do– inside of each one of us.
What I bring as the instructor (besides a rocking sound system) is what I offer in my writing–deep presence to what is alive in me and what is alive around me–in you. In this way, I create a soundtrack that is always eclectic, bold, soulful, soothing–and just plain fun.
I begin with something quiet, maybe some classical cello, and then move into blues or jazz or funk before opening into something really powerful–rap, world, rock; and then shifting again– into the sweet sounds of the heart, before really ramping it up with something energizing and FUN.
As the hour ends, the music turns inward again–with a ballad perhaps; and then we sink into final relaxation with notes that transcend thought.
This is what I’d like to offer you. To all those touched by flood, murder, and all manner of trials.
If you’d like to come just show up–or drop me a line with questions or anything else that comes to mind. (See form below.)
FREE Community YogaDance Class
Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Marlboro Elementary School gymnasium, Route 9, Marlboro, VT.
Bring a water bottle, dress comfortably to move, dance barefoot or with clean sneaks.
Absolutely no charge. This is my little drummer boy gift to you. Given freely. In the hope that it will serve all who come.
Pass it on. The space is expansive, and so is the heart of the people in Vermont.
“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.”
I had the opportunity to connect with a renown naturopathic doctor friend of mine, who just happens to live locally; and we touched on the stress people are feeling following the floods. A light bulb went off when she said that this can manifest in different ways–even in physical injury.
I excused myself from the small gathering and called home right away. My youngest answered the phone and brought it outside to his father who was chopping wood.
“You know how Aidan has been hurting himself so much lately,” I said. “Maybe give him a little extra attention tonight. It could be fallout from the floods.”
My doctor friend also touched on nutritional and supplemental support for post traumatic stress, which hadn’t occurred to me, and I wondered if the Co-op might put together a end cap display of products for that. Between the murder and the flooding, they could use the extra support themselves.
Unlike my friend the doctor, I didn’t watch the flood come across the road and into my house; and unlike my new colleague at work, I didn’t see it take out my entire road. I also wasn’t there at the Co-op Tuesday morning a month ago when a shot was fired inside.
And yet, I am emotionally and physically spent from August as if I had been everywhere.
What do I need, I ask myself. What would soothe me?
…some soft music, a cup of chai, time walking with a friend.
It was ten years ago this month, when I had to rock myself into letting go of the heartbreaking strain of 9/11. I walked my dirt roads, soaked in the changing colors, and restored my sense of self and place.
May we all find what soothes us as we rock ourselves into the changes life brings.
The night was dark, the wind howling, and the roads precariously eaten away by the engorged streams, and still my thoughts turned to the young man whose life was stolen, over two years ago, at the heartbreaking age of 20.
Why would I worry about the dead at a time like this, I wondered; and then it occurred to me; that perhaps it was they who were worrying about us.
On this one-week anniversary of Irene in Vermont, I’d like to share some of what was posted on Facebook as the day of devastation unfolded:
Very scary in Medburyville. Our bridge to the treehouse is gone and our field and horse pasture is flooding fast. Our horse fence is starting to go down…
Stream in front of my house looks like it may jump the banks… car is packed up and on high ground…. Keep your fingers crossed that my house doesn’t get flooded!
Route 9 near the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic is washed out. Be careful folks!
Whetstone Brook raging downtown.
Flat Street flooded.
Lower Bartonsville Covered Bridge gone
The road is gone just down a bit from our house in Marlboro.
Downtown Wilmington washed away.
As these posts trickled in (and then stopped as people lost power), it was friends outside of the state, watching the news, who posted about the magnitude of the flooding:
Downtown Brattleboro is underwater with much debris heading down stream. Many many roads and bridges are washed out. Sounds like most people are in isolation where they are. National Guard is in West Bratttleboro and trying to get emergency help up to Wilmington and Marlboro as they are in total isolation. Rte 9 washed out as well.
In the days following, power was restored to the Green Mountain State, and posts like these next ones expressed what we were all feeling:
I was hoping to wake today and find yesterday a bad dream….
Between the shooting, the earthquake and the flash flood, my little nervous system has been on overdrive.
It’s really amazing how a little brook can change so rapidly into a newsworthy disaster. Very sobering.
We’re on our way up 91 to exit 2, can we get home to Marlboro?
Ellen: Route 9 is closed from Orchard St to Bennington
Ruth: They won’t even let you past the farmer’s mkt. they have engineers coming to check even the little bridges. we’re stuck in west b. if they’ll let you thru to my house, we have room for y’all
Is the back way open to Marlboro?
Jen: Hey Kel, I think you might make it somewhat close to your house if you go through Guilford, but up here the roads are washed out and I don’t think you can get down MacArthur
Jennifer J: Not likely. You can’t get close enough to get to a back roaads
Jennifer J.: IF, and this is a big if, you could go up and over Orchard St & IF the bridge on Meadowbrook was still in tact you could take a right on Western Ave to get to Ames Hill. Lots of questions about the bridges on any back roads.
Ellen: Meadowbrook was closed this afternoon
Jen: Liz made it up here just a while ago on Guilford Center Road. She said you could get down MacArthur from the Ames Hill side. This was a few hours ago, but they did make it…
Someone said that road was flooded
Jen: unsure….. everything is a mess, but it was done a little earlier; i think they only took guilford center to tater lane, the south street to come out by 7-11. then up ames hill…
Alright, we’re going to try that way now. Thanks Jen.
(We never saw the next series of posts until days later when our power was restored.)
Sara: Hi Kelly – Guilford is a mess all the brooks are raging and lots of roads closed.
Jen: Good luck you all!
Stephanie: Be careful!
Michelle: Be Careful!!!!
Sara: If you can get to our house you are welcome to stay here tonight – write if you need directions. At Richmond Auto take Guilford center road go approx 3 miles… I’ll leave the lights on.
Amanda: Are you Safe somewhere??
Stephanie: I just got a message from them. They are almost home, hiking in the last mile.
Michelle: Thanks for the update steph!!!!!
Mary: Just found out about the flooding there. I hope everyone is safe.
Robin: Oh my heavens!
Ciri: Did you make it home?
Robin M.: Did you make it home? Jason saw your car abandoned on Fox. Rd.
Three days later, we were back on Facebook and got our first glimpse of how widespread the damage had been. Image after image revealed the destruction in each of the surrounding towns and beyond. And yet, what resonated most with me and everyone I talked to was this:
One reporter who had covered both Katrina and Joplin, Missouri, said that he was struck by how upbeat the people of Vermont were following our catastrophe.
Except for those who lost their homes or businesses, most of us are focused on how fortunate we were. We all know someone who has it worse, and right now (at least in my town) there are more people offering help (even from out of state) than there are requests for help.
Perhaps it’s because anyone who chooses to live here or visit here embraces the natural beauty in a way that transcends comfort or convenience, and relies on community to survive–both physically and personally.
Calvin Coolidge, our nation’s 30th President, summed it up best in a quote that has been circulating on Facebook this week:
“I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, …but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.” ~ President Calvin Coolidge
Despite the life-threatening floods, the devastation of my road, the loss of power–and phone–and internet, I’ve been generally upbeat.
Then I got tired. And my mood soured. And I felt desperate–even after my power and my phone and my internet and almost my road were restored.
You know why? Because it was a gorgeously, hot late summer day and I couldn’t go to South Pond.
Isn’t that pathetic?
Here I have friends who have lost their homes or their businesses, and I’m depressed because they’ve closed all the swimming holes in Vermont on Labor Day Weekend.
Then again, if I withheld feeling sorry for myself until everyone else in the world had it better, I’d never get my turn at self-pity.
And what about joy? Should that be limited until everyone has it back too?
Is it okay to create a pond simulation with an outdoor bath, and glass of white wine, and a view of the setting sun in the West? (What about dancing last night to Simba on the Putney Green?)
My mood changed after my bath, and here I am writing again in my own home instead of searching for wi-fi outside of others homes and businesses.
You should have seen the Farmers Market this morning. (Yes, I even went to the market and ate Thai food and got a massage when others were cleaning out flooded buildings and residences.)
Anyway, the Brattleboro Farmers Market was washed away in the flood on Sunday, but they rebuilt it, as a community, on Thursday. At 8:00 that morning, the parking lot was already filled with volunteers and a grater at work.
A friend of mine told me that just as he put out the last picnic table on the freshly seeded dirt at the end of that day, some travelers arrived in the parking lot, walked down the hill, and set themselves up with a picnic–with no idea of the miraculous efforts that preceded it.
Isn’t that the way?
I’m told that another guy pulled in with his truck asking about the logs lying around, saying, “Wow, you guys were lucky that you didn’t get any flooding here.”
For your reference, here’s how affected the Farmer’s Market was:
And here’s what it looked like this morning, just 6 days later:
My first few trips there were unnerving, to say the least; but today’s trip had me all but forgetting that there was a murder inside–because I was so engaged in talking to others about their homes and their roads after the flood.
Things change; and that’s a good thing, even if it sometimes makes us feel forgotten or ignored or irrelevant, like the water that could care less what was supposed to be its bed and what was meant to be our roads.
That first morning after the flood, I wrote about the apocalyptic change the water brought to my dirt road, and to the highway a half-mile away.
Two days later, however, I returned to those forever changed places and found them relatively restored.
This change was almost as mind-blowing as the first.