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  • Writer's pictureMark Stefan Reinoso


"Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that: energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance." Gabrielle Roth It's funny how a place can affect you. In Phoenix, my mind is on work and family. I scurry from my condo to my car, or my car to the condo, on the phone, closing deals and calling employees. I don't give much thought to my surroundings. I definitely notice the weather, but I don't linger in it. The air in Arizona is dry and warm almost all year long. When the weather deviates from the norm, I notice it and so does everyone else, usually because its raining in a biblical sense. Forget the weatherman, if you want to know if its raining in PHX, just go on FB or Instagram, everyone is taking pictures of moisture and posting it online. It's not water that's so incredible, its the fact that it rarely rains there, so we feel the need to document it. There's a cadence to life to Phoenix, but I don't always notice it, I'm too busy working. In Portland, my life slows down a bit. I sleep more, eat more and drink about the same. I allow myself to FEEL Portland, mainly because I have no choice. It's a city placed smack dab in a garden. Nature surrounds and envelops you, derails you, even. The air smells sweet, full of moisture. The trees sway back and forth, back and forth, with the ebb and flow of the wind. Everywhere you go, nature confronts you, and you have to acknowledge and plan for it. In Phoenix, I try to ignore the weather. In the Northwest, I embrace it. It's been said that "you don't live in an old house, you live with it", and I think that's also true of nature. The seasons blend into each other: Winter gives way to spring, it doesn't stop raining, but the days get longer, and the flower bulbs spring up. Late spring the dogwoods and magnolias proffer their blooms, impossible for even the most cynical to ignore. Summer brings forth the warmth and the lavender and the berries and the salmon runs. September is that magical time when its not fall yet, but its no longer summer. It's a time when you can still wear shorts and BBQ outside, but also drink lusty red wine like the cold weather beckons. Fall is glorious, seemingly everlasting with its foods and food festivals and leaf droppings and daily walks through the neighborhoods, taking notes of the variances of foliage. Winter is its own dreary time, a time when you most closely resemble the ursine pattern of hibernation, when the dark pulls you down. The animals have a schedule as well. Every night, thousands of crows roost in the trees above the city, and their flight back in the evening is nothing short of magical to me. It's in the biblical "breezy part of the day" and there are no sounds except the leaves rustling and the "caw-caw" of the birds as they return to their homes. Its my favorite part of the day. Last week I had a particularly nasty garbage can, completely full, and the flies got into it. They laid their eggs and then came the maggots, everywhere. After it was dumped, I rinsed out the can and left the maggots on the driveway, along with other bits. The crows thoroughly enjoyed eating them, picking at the ground repeatedly.... and one of them stared at me for quite a few minutes in gratitude. I'm fully aware that he could have been asking for more food, but I like to think his gaze was one of complete appreciation. The squirrels make their mark too, digging up bulbs and eating my vegetables. It's frustrating that they continually try my strawberries, taking one bite, but never finishing them. In the last few months, they have become emboldened, staring me down, slowly crunching on my bulbs and produce, daring me to try to stop them. I'm very tempted to "eat my enemies" as I have done in the past, but skinned squirrels look a lot like premature human babies, and though I have shot them while hunting for the group, I still haven't been able develop such a hunger to personally eat them. We rent out part of our house as a vacation rental, and the guests are part of the rhythms here in Portland, too. We see them arrive out our front window, with their big eyes and excitement to be starting their journey, bags in hand. We have nice courteous conversations daily, giving recommendations, sharing food and wine, and joining in their exuberance about the weather, food, houses and neighborhoods. Just when we tire of seeing the same people, they leave! It's a wonderful, short cycle of affirmation. My own rhythm is slow and steady here. I wake up, have a warm drink with my wife then head to my garage, where I keep my office. I work most of the day, stopping to water my plants or take walks through the neighborhood, where I say hello to my favorite animals and plants as part of my daily routine. In the late afternoon, I work out and enjoy the dry sauna, then head back home just in time for wine in the backyard with my wife, where we talk about our days, our plans. After a while I read, while my wife calls her mom, and we sit and enjoy this wonderful time of the day. Dinner follows after with daily lessons for the kids, followed by ice cream and a TV show. Then it's off to bed, for the cycle to begin again. Another day of balance in life, work and nature. It's been a wonderful summer, every summer, and they are starting to run together. The rhythms of life do that to you. The seasons of our lives are short, so very short, and I'm starting to lament the time gone by, while still trying to enjoy the present.

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