WEEK THIRTY-FIVE: BEATING THE HEAT

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It is suddenly summer here in Florida. Mornings have turned sultry. There’s a warm heaviness to the air, threaded with the mild scent of jasmine, and even before dawn one can feel the low rumble of thunderstorms building far out in the Gulf. By noon, the searing heat is unbearable.  A loud chorus of crickets sings its tribute to the season – a throbbing one-note chant. By late afternoon, all that energy has been captured in onshore thunderheads and is released in a torrent of rain, followed by near-sauna conditions.

There are precious few options for beating the heat. One can simply stay inside, of course – an option that was not available before air conditioning came, none-too-soon, to the southern states. Minimizing clothing helps a bit, and old-timers advise against any type of physical activity while the sun is high. Of course, the very best way to forget about temperature is to simply get wet.

When I was young, my sister and I and the neighborhood kids played a brilliant guessing game. We sat cross-legged in a circle. One child announced that she was thinking of something, a color for instance. Each child then, in circular order, had a chance to guess what that color might be. If you guessed it correctly, a thimble full of ice-cold water was abruptly delivered to your face. It was exhilarating, we dissolved into giggles and the heat was forgotten in no time.

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WEEK SEVENTEEN: CULLING

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Most of us are immersed in “stuff”, both physically and mentally.  Our limited time is spent not on what we’ve chosen but on what we’re confronted with. We dilute our lives with so much of everything that the overall effect is to mire us in indecision and make everything just mediocre.

It occurred to me recently that so many things in life might be made better by the simple act of culling.  Of making decisions between and among things, of picking what’s most important and shedding the chaff, even if there’s only a hair’s breadth between the two.   Perhaps this often-painful process can make enjoyment of what remains – the carefully chosen – so much sweeter.    Perhaps our possessions, how we spend our time, the words we use, the art we make and even our thoughts can all be honed and subjected to the same meticulous process of separating the true gems from the mere minerals.

Culling takes courage, but I believe it refines our ability to be decisive, to take risks, and to discern true beauty or value from a steady menu of mediocrity.  The result could be a simpler, more focused and more meaningful experience.

For me, 2015 will be about culling.

[Photo culled from 200+ images taken last Saturday morning at Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon, Florida]