This photo, taken a couple of years ago, might just as easily have been captured this week – that is, if I took advantage of a “sunbreak.” Blue skies and nicer weather seem about to prevail, yet are sporadic and short-lived at the moment. Feisty, tumultuous clouds still take parting shots and pelt us with rain, wind, or hail as they defiantly give way. Our tulips and other spring flowers are tattered, but standing.

I enjoy this change of season – unexpected thunder or rainbows, gradual changes in the visual palette from muted grays to pastels to brights, the bold contrasts, and much more light. I love the sense of change and energy in the air. I’m thrilled that spring is finally here…and will assume that most of you are on board with that, even if you’ve had a good winter. Yes?

I did enjoy most – well, rather some – of the winter. For many of us, it began to feel endless earlier this year. Seattle had more rainy days than have been previously recorded, but fortunately no memorable storms. I felt for those in areas of the country experiencing more severe conditions. I tried not to focus on the dismal weather, or gripe – a challenge, as seemingly everyone mentioned it – it does affect us in so many ways. These recent months also felt tedious and confining to me for another reason.

In mid-February, I spilled a large pot of boiling water on my right foot. Though my accident didn’t take place on a boat, the descriptions in How to be a Safe Chef in a Small Galley vividly set the scene. In the seconds that followed, water ran through the mesh top of my shoe. It pooled, then surrounded my big toe, contained inside my shoe until I could take it off. I immediately plunged my sorry foot into cold water, which helped. In hindsight, the damage would have been further mitigated if I had not tried to remove the shoe first. Paying attention to our surroundings and preventing injuries should always be top-of-mind. First-aid knowledge should be right there, as well.

Several weeks elapsed before I could even wear a shoe again. Finally, two and a half months later, I’m able to walk/jog/run again, albeit very carefully. I feel lucky and very thankful that I had great medical care and that my burn was not more extensive. Still, physical scars will linger, and the experience has changed me. Perhaps both of those effects will fade with time.

I wonder, why do most of us (or all of us?) view, evaluate, categorize and label everything we experience? Should we unlearn this behavior, and instead approach our experiences with curiosity and acceptance? I ask because in some ways, this seemingly “bad” incident has resulted in new knowledge and awareness, closer relationships with family and friends, and it has prompted wonderful interactions with others in my community who noticed my absence and inquired when I reappeared.

It strikes me how often I, or we, label or describe ourselves and others based on our roles, job titles, skills, physical abilities, habits, activities, words or thoughts. Those tend to infuse our identities, as well as those ever more ubiquitous “profiles” that we put forth on websites and via social media. Later, if or when those things change, we come to redefine, relabel, or even reinvent ourselves, based on those new details. This intrigues me, in that I sensed that some saw me differently when I rocked the fuzzy slipper as opposed to running shoes as I went about my daily activities. I felt more vulnerable then, but only temporarily less capable. I’m glad that proved true.

Fishing season opened earlier this month. Opening Day of boating season is in its wake. As I hear those who love fishing, boating, and being outdoors, make plans, I’m happy that I can do so again, as well. Those brightly-colored kayaks are back on the beach. Those beckon. They hint of friendships, of adventures, of almost endless possibilities…

Cheers to springtime!

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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