Waiting for Tone

Hoo Ha
January 31, 2008
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
February 13, 2008

Waiting for Tone

There’s a nearby farm stand that’s open year round. During the winter months, root vegetables, with the occasional greenhouse lettuce, make up the bulk of the local produce. But, it’s worth the snowy trip for the homemade soups and breads.

I’d rounded the corner from the steaming vats of chowders and stews to the bakery aisle when I saw her. Tiny and tottering, she appeared to weigh in at about the same number as her age, somewhere in the nineties. Despite her size, she was blocking access to the bin of fresh rolls. Instead of pushing past her, I waited. And watched. She examined each scone with such focus, holding it close to her glasses, smelling it, smiling, placing it back on the shelf. She was completely absorbed in the yeasty aroma, the texture and weight of each scone. She had no idea I was there.

With an “ooh” and a grin, she chose one. “Mmm, apricot,” she said to no one in particular. She started for the cashier, but doubled back and replaced her chosen sweet for another. Cupped in both hands, she said of her treasure, “Oh, this one is bigger.”

She had set the scone on the counter as though it was a centerpiece and was tugging a round, rubber change purse from pocket when I stepped up behind her. The way she was standing kept me from being able to set down my soup and rolls to reach for my own wallet. So, I waited.

Absorbed again in the moment, she fingered each coin before placing the change in the cashier’s hand. When she scooped up the scone, she held it to her nose one more time. Beaming, she lifted her head to look the cashier in the eye. “Thank you, dear.”

I heard the sigh of relief from the customers lining up behind me as the woman turned toward the door. She got as far as the small case at the end of the counter. “Oooh, fudge,” she said, peering through the clear plastic looking for, I could only guess, the biggest one. I found myself gazing at the assortment in search of which square she might choose.

As the ritual of paying in quarters and dimes started again, I had to smile. My soup was cold. I was cold. But, by patiently observing rather than lurching ahead, waiting for the fudge lady had become an unexpected treat in being drawn into the present moment.

Tone, or dystonia, can block my way to a number of yoga poses – head-to-knee, forward bend, any needing a straight back leg such as triangle or warrior I and II. A result of the stroke, the brain messages to the muscles that say, Hey, You Should Relax Now, don’t get through and my hamstrings stay contracted. Forcing the pose only makes the tension worse.

I’ve learned, though, that by backing up and out of the position, breathing, and waiting, I can ease into the pose. The waiting part annoyed me at first. I wanted to do triangle so I could move on and do next pose. What I’ve learned with the back off, breathe, and wait technique is that those are all parts of what make up my flow, what I need to stay aware of to keep a balance in mind and body. There are certainly times when I still get impatient. When that happens, instead of drumming my fingers and groaning as I might when stuck in traffic, I try and recall waiting for the fudge lady.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah says:


    What a beautiful piece. The message and the grace with which you craft it are appreciated here in Glens Falls, NY.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *