It’s a blustery day on Halcyon Pond.
It’s the time of year when winter and spring compete for center stage. One day balmy, the next frigid, and in between a battle rages. Today is a battle day. Rains pelted us all night and now the winds are whipping across the pond, making it look like a small Turner seascape.
But the kingfisher plays with abandon. He is not fishing, just joy-riding on the gusts, swooping and chattering. It reminds me of the happy accident that is this place.
“Halcyon” has always been a favorite word of mine. It is one of those words that is nearly impossible to explain, describing a state that you know but cannot express. We first saw this place when we were Washingtonians, temporarily in the area consulting. A small picture in a homes magazine lured us here, and then our histories took an unexpected turn. Without hesitation, we bought this home; two city dwellers drawn to a remote country home, drawn by unrecognized drives.
Shortly after we moved here, I named our home Halcyon Pond. I didn’t know then that this place would draw me close and hold me here. Having never lived anywhere else for more than three years, I never expected that 20 years later I would still be here. My neighbors are the frogs and toads, owls and kingfisher, turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote or bobcat, though we don’t see them much any more. But of them all, the kingfisher is my favorite. With his raucous call and his overlarge head and beak, he represents the recklessness of the decision that brought us here.
One day during a conversation, a friend asked what “halcyon” meant. I was sitting near my dictionary and decided this time, rather than stumbling through inadequate explanations, I would look up the definition. And what I found startled me. The definition included the etymology of the word. I who pride myself on my knowledge of words and of Greek mythology found this. “Halcyon” is the genus of the kingfisher. It’s name derives from the Greek word for the bird who makes its home in the center of the raging North Sea, by creating a still place in the midst of the torrent and building its nest there. I was stunned by the confluence of ideas.
And Halcyon Pond has been true to its name. It is my place of contemplation and peace—the still spot in what at times has been a raging storm around me. My nest in the midst of the torrent.
I withdrew from the torrent in May of 2013, after the sale of the company which I had led as CEO during its wild ride. And now, when asked what I’m doing, it makes both me and my inquisitor uncomfortable when I answer “nothing”. “Nothing” has been comprised of contemplating, reorienting, learning who I am at my core, what I value and what, in this new phase of my life, I have to offer. This blog is my offering. My reflections on Halcyon Pond.
My hope is that through it, you will join me in celebrating the mystery that is Life.