My daughter left for a semester abroad today. I spent the day driving her to the airport and then back to the farm. I'd had some tears on the drive home alone, and then, once home, I went and looked in her empty room. A book on her nightstand table, left open to her spot made me teary; her slippers left by her bed made me teary; and the star-shaped twinkle lights shining in her bathroom...made me teary.
Actually, I was an emotional wreck today. She's in her third year of college, so you'd think I would be used to the good-byes and the long months of not seeing her, but this time, it just really got to me.
I have some trauma about being left alone. It's too long of a story for now and perhaps too deep and sad for me to graze over, but suffice it to say that I should have probably spent some of the last 4 decades of my life in therapy to get a handle on it. The scar tissue only flares out in pain once in awhile these days and doesn't rule my life like it used to, but today it definitely flared and I had a panic attack about being alone, brought on by my boo's exciting and fun trip abroad and the fact that I couldn't reach Simon on the phone all afternoon (he was out in the field removing fence posts without his phone).
What helped me calm down and keep focused on the task at hand (getting home), was a billboard we'd seen on our drive earlier in the day - a hospital was advertising that they had a 'therapy animal' program for their patients. I thought of our chickens and cat and dog and how much comfort they give me. The thought of being back on the farm, and being able to see these sweet animals really helped calm me down. Tending our plants and being in the soil under the sky also does amazing things for my spirits. The therapy I should have had all these years is partly taken care of by this farm life we are living. I'm not sure how to write this without using corny cliches about the healing powers of nature etc etc, but there is truth to those platitudinous affirmations. I joke with visitors to the farm that the chickens are my therapy, but actually, they are. I can't help but get happy and relaxed around them. Just the shape of their triangular bodies makes me full of joy.
Driving through Sausalito this morning, we saw the long line of cars backed up on either side of the highway for the road that takes you to Stinson Beach and Muir Woods. I had this visceral memory of all my years of living in the city and my many visits to Muir Woods. During those always too short visits, the moment when it was time to turn back towards the parking lot from the shaded path and drive home out of the beautiful woods and into the concrete would be so depressing to me. I would always pick a tree that had been hollowed out by lightening or fire yet still stood and daydream about making a cozy little house inside of it's empty trunk. If I had only brought a sleeping bag, I could hide in the park and watch the light fade and listen to the birds and the other wildlife take over as the rest of the visitors left. I didn't want to go back to the city. I really did not.
Now that I live with each day ruled by nature - it's presence unescapable and all-important, there is a calmness and a happiness, a lack of desire for material things and outer stimulation. I finally don't have to leave the quiet and the green to go back to the noise and traffic, and it's doing me good.
If you are a city dweller and crave that soul-soothing attribute of nature, I'm not saying the only way to get it is to move to the country- I'm sure you have found your own way to get that vitamin N in your life- tending houseplants, the comfort of a cat on your lap or a dog at your feet, preparing a meal from lovely ingredients gathered at the farmer's market, sitting in a park or a day spent watching the surf break. I also know that this kind of therapy and nourishment is not enough to heal all trauma, not even close. I could definitely benefit from some good, trained support, chickens can only do so much - today was proof. But they helped get me home today and that is enough.