Posted by: MC | March 9, 2010

Weather Report

I tried all day yesterday to write this blog.  My distraction:  Weather.

Three days ago in Portland, Oregon the sun shone and the temperature hit 65.  Very unusual. Ultimately adaptable Portlanders were, of course, into it – rollicking in skimpy tops and wielding hoola hoops, Frisbees, bocce balls, and even croquet mallets. 

Two days later…that would be yesterday, the morning started out sunny with hints of warming but by afternoon, when I was walking home through Laurelhurst Park, there were snowflakes.  Round puffs the size of lentils.  Too insubstantial to qualify as hail, they mixed oddly with cherry petals falling from trees already in full bloom.  Then there were the oxymoronic freezer blasts of spring breeze gusting through the Columbia River Gorge. 

A passing cyclist smiled big and said, “Keep Portland weird!”  His narrow tires pitched a spray of petals and snow pellets.

Every shift of seasons has this ambivalent stretch of time.  Ecologists have a word for the margin of change in natural environments.  Ecotone:  The stretch of space where two ecosystems meet and the species from both show up, thus making for the most biological diversity.  Tide pools qualify – where ocean meets land.  And there is always more variety in the birds where forests thin into meadows.  Then there’s the place where earth meets sky, where we live.  Technically, that’s one giant ecotone rich in its diversity of beings that breathe, drink water and eat.  Breath, water and food, then, are available because of atmosphere, because of weather.

So, here we are, making our lives in this large swath of change.

Obviously, I’m a bit into philosopho-poetry woo-woo today.  Mostly it’s because I really don’t want to write here, again about death.  This week, I’ve lost another dear one.  What-oh-what is up with this mother of all changes? 

Saturday – that day of such warmth and blooming glory was the day of the family memorial service for our whirling dance teacher, midwife, and blaze of beauty, Jenn.  Perfect. 

Then yesterday, when the weather was strutting its baffling versatility across the Pacific Northwest, pouring rain soaked into the plain that holds Sherman, Texas. 

There, the memorial service for my dear mentor, Mayme Porter, took longer than scheduled.  Person after person wished to add words of grief woven with strand after strand of love, appreciation, and joy for the 84 precious years of Mayme.  Words finally exhausted, the company moved into the weather – to the place and time of scattering ashes.  As the ashes took flight, raindrops caught them nudging each fleck into the early spring soil.  The last physical remnant or our teacher given to the nurture of daffodils and grasses – ground for every season left to come and go from here to eternity.  

Mayme’s daughter wrote an e-mail yesterday afternoon to let me know how the ceremony had gone. I so wanted to be there.  Mayme Porter was my fairy godmother – a mainstay for me since I was 19.  Back in those days she subtly seeded my fledgling spirit with liveliness, a sense of value and direction that has grown steadily to sustain me through the too often baffling experience of living an honest life. 

Last year I saw her in a nursing home, in a wheel chair, living one of those impenetrable experiences:  Alzheimer’s Disease.  I know so little about that condition.  But what I do know is that Mayme agreed to an interview and was lucid and brilliant as ever for fifteen minutes of our visit (EX:C blog, “Coffee Klatch as Foretold by Mayme,” 2-22-2009). 

“My thought was that the thing that would be the same is continual growth in both the personal and the spiritual,” Mayme said.  “The solid base is always there and can change as it needs some change or as it becomes better with change. That makes change an investigation as much as anything. 

“What needs to be changed?  There may be previous points of change that we haven’t thought about that become apparent and then instructive in the investigation.  The investigating is as important as the change itself.  You may start out to change, but if you slow down enough to investigate, you are more likely to bring about the right kind of change.”

Fifteen minutes.  Then she dropped away, again – fatigued, ready for lunch.

Today, Mayme Porter shows me, as she always has, what wisdom looks like.  Revealed and forged over a lifetime into quiet integrity – grace and peace within all that changes. 

In her e-mail, Mayme’s daughter Margie put it this way, “Continue to listen for Mayme.  I have no doubt, she will speak to you and all those she loved in the special way she had of being intuitive without intruding.”

Change, weather, death.  So often they often feel like intrusions, but I’m no longer sure they really are.  Yesterday’s March weirdness gave another hint.  It was as if winter were saying, “No matter your opinion, I’ll never be ejected from the cycle.”  Was it an intrusion?  An assertion of power?  Power, yes – but intentional intrusion, no.  The change of seasons, like shifts of weather, like the coming and going of days and nights and their circumstances – none of these changes needs to plan or intend.  They happen.  And they can be powerful. 

So weather, like landscape and like the 100 everyday voices of EX:Change, all of them are teachers.  Teachers like Mayme and Jenn, and like the confounding interdependence of life and death. 

Weather comes and goes, but oddly, its constant change carries no contradiction.  Change is its constant – reliable and true.  And enduring any change is what never changes.  What may never fully or finally be described – only signified – God, Creator, Mystery, Living Truth, The Changer-Changed-Changing. 

The mood of a moment can range from the philosopho-poetic woo-woo to the mundane “get ‘er done.”  Through all of it there is much in this talk and action of change that can be of great help as we make our ways here in the ecotone where sky meets land.  And as I listen in and around EX:Change, I’m reminded again and again of my gratitude to all of you for braving the weather and walking the curve with me.


  1. Mary, Thank you for this lovely offering. I spent that glorious early spring day out at a place I know you know… Soapstone… on the banks of Soapstone Creek and the Nehalem river. People much smarter than I say that it takes 3 full weeks to completely detach from one place and then be absorbed into another. Sitting by a warm stove and getting completely lost in a good book for a couple of evenings was a solid stand-in for 3 weeks I just can’t quite spare right now.

  2. […] Porter, Voice 44, left her body on this day two years ago.  Mayme knew and taught and lived the answer to how does it […]

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