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It is not looking good for the laundry today. The sky is gray-white. My wheelbarrow held close to five inches of rain from last night’s shower. Which means that the laundry that I hung outside two days ago has had some serious rinsing. When I hung it out on Thursday, the clouds had parted slightly and there was enough movement of air to have me believe that my one pair of jeans, a towel, and several other random items might dry, or least relinquish some of their load of moisture, in the course of the afternoon.

I stopped using a dryer several years ago, not entirely driven at the time by my earth-mother, green-girl self; but I discovered that I make do just fine hanging clothes outside, and, on occasion, inside. I live alone, so I don’t have to apologize to anyone about the occasional laundry hanging in doorways.

On Thursday, I knew I was taking a chance when I hung out my stuff, but my intention was to bring it in before I left for a late afternoon class. In the flurry of pulling on warm clothes, fluffing my hair, and slapping in my contact lenses, I forgot.

After my class, I drove home in the rain. No big deal. Wouldn’t be the first time my laundry had a little celestial rinsing. So, my jeans hung out all day yesterday; and here they are today.

And, dear ones, I just can’t get too stirred up about it. Just as my laundry is water-logged, I’m a bit so, myself. Nothing like a bout with the flu, week before last, to remind me of my mortality, my health concerns, and the amazing amount of mucus that one body can generate.

When I stepped outside this morning with my dog and was greeted by those drooping drawers, I’ll admit I was struck with a mixture of some embarrassment and a little prick of conscience that suggested, “Shouldn’t you get those in, wash them again, and hang them in the house?”

But this physical lassitude, this sodden-ness of spirit, which has occurred in the aftermath of the flu, responded with, “Nanh, not yet.” The flu has brought me a gift, in the same way that my consciousness about my own aging has done, forcing me to address the basics, to get down to what is really important in my closet of dreams and goals.

I’m already very picky about where I exert energy and effort, and my bout with the flu has turned up the heat, like the fever I had for several days, and seems to be saying, “Sit very still and listen to your heart. Feel the current of your own river, and go where you are intended to go.”

So, I’m sitting today, less worried about wrinkled skin and liver spots than I was a couple of weeks ago, gazing out at the future, knowing there will be plenty of days of sunny skies and dry laundry. But, for now, a little worse for the wear, I’m content to sit in my watery milieu, a crazy critter in the tank that’s my life, and allow myself to swim only toward my very best destiny.

As you contemplate your own mortality, as you consider what is most important in your life, what do you come up with? When illness comes, strips the leaves from the trees, and shrouds the sky, what emerges for you?

even old things bloom

by Ellen Hamilton

I am looking for the beauty in wrinkles, those maligned signs of aging. Peering into the mirror at my own fears and prejudices, I hope to write some new songs about living in the land of the wrinkled, the wobbly, and brave. I welcome your comments and input about your own experience with aging and your struggles and successes in finding beauty in your wrinkles.

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