This morning I woke early. Could hear the sound of fast-moving water even with the storm windows down. When I opened the door in Jim's office to listen through just a screen the NOISE of the water's movement was exhilarating.
The picture above faces upstream/northeast. Below faces west. The stream doesn't run in a straight line; it veers sharply to the right at a 45 degree angle. My plan to follow and photograph where it goes after it leaves the farm's barnyard has been thwarted for the day. There's a missing link in what I've documented so far - a place close enough that there's no excuse not to go and complete one section of our local watery network.
Today was a good one to spend some time standing quietly with swiftly moving water. It's mesmerizing to listen and watch. The longer I stand doing just that the more clear it grows that water is inevitably and organically true to itself. Since beginning this impulsive follow-where-it-goes project I've had days and a couple of evenings when I found it hard to think of anything else. To want to think about anything else.
When I first went outside the cow featured in the Grandfather Hickory post was standing right at the pool where our stream re-appears from the culvert. I could see she was waiting for the pool to fill just so before she drank. Or maybe she waited for the white water bubbles to settle before lowering her head to the surface. I watched her having her post-rain morning outside. Then turned my attention to an evergreen on our property that's been calling my attention quite a lot in recent weeks. Don't think I'll live long enough to learn something about every tree here. But I'm doing my best not to sleep walk too much of the time.
While I was searching for the above image to close out the post with a quick shift back to Green and Balmy I realized I've yet to stand in the stream. It's always seemed so forward and presumptuous to even imagine doing such a thing...
We got not so very much snowfall before and directly after daybreak. The roads were clear by the time I was on the road and the river looked absolutely gorgeous. BUT. It doesn't seem likely I can get close to it to photograph until J's behind the wheel and I can jump out, walk around, and be picked up on the other side of the long bridge. That can happen for sure but guaranteed not on Wednesday mornings.
It's become important to me to stand near trees and moving water Out in the larger world from our place - and to do so on a reliably consistent schedule. This experience has built itself into my week the way some people cherish the same half hour to forty five minutes of Alone time to do whatever. Or nothing. Alone. So today I made it my business to find what I needed.
But first. A whole different form of water that I can visit quite easily as part of my established schedule. The available parking that overlooks this swamp used to be private property. Now it's county wildlife management. I can park there long enough for 15 or 20 minutes of deeply inhaling the actual components of this familiar landmark. Don't know much about swamps at all. But have always felt that in some other lifetime I knew enough to get by within them.
and yet it isn't running water, is it? however ...
this is. I crossed the road to say hello to a large expanse of icing-up water. Before I was halfway there I felt a kind of energetic stopping mechanism. I am a place. So I focused beyond the river to its bank and all the beautiful trees on both sides of the road. "You are a very beautiful place."
On the other side of the road: water moving swift and loud. This very happy brook is just aside a confluence of roads where I have two or three options for parking long enough to get better bearings of less time-sensitive places to leave my car comfortably. The latter option might not work due to everything there being private land with scant town/county abutment rights. So my quest will be ongoing but for today this is where I went to reconnect with the constant pulse of moving water.
Of course I can always go to our little stream but I like the idea of making a point of forming connections with wider landscape water ways as well. I also like keeping that a part of my mid-week psychic/emotional groundcloth. Last week I actually got a little bit buggy without this intentional Time With Water experience. Like: early April still haven't seen any green yet level buggy.
Oak-ay. Yesterday morning I learned that oak energy possesses a fairly slick sense of humor. Not to mention powerful dream tendrils but that's not something I quite realized until this morning. Visiting these oaks as a regular part of my daily life has been illuminating in ways that make me want to INSIST that everyone everywhere go find their nearest moving water and then also find in that space a tree that's clearly waiting to be found. In and amidst everything else they do and dream and feel I'm pretty sure they're also definitely waiting for US. Because of what's happening between me and the oaks. And the obvious fact that there's nothing particularly special about me and yet this entirely mind/heart/self/soul/universe expanding experience is happening to and through me.
Trees, I'm pretty sure, would like to give this type of heightened and permanently altered awareness to as many human beings who are open to it.
Note: If it's impossible for you to physically visit moving water and its nearby trees then let yourself remember a favorite place from your life's experience. Put the memory on your inner sensory wide-screen and BE where you once were. Push into the water's memory of YOU. See if a tree appears spontaneously. You recall it being there, all of a sudden, or the image rises spontaneously from moving water in your mind as a gift to your body as well as your brain.
Dare to ask for that gift if it doesn't appear spontaneously. See if there isn't SOME way to connect to your memories as a present tense experience. It will be uniquely powerful and entirely real because you've had to actively jury-rig circuits of circumstance and ability in order to make the connection sing.
In my walking and snapping tour of the river I noticed the young oak tree that radiated such joy in its sentry position right at the edge of the river's flood plain. Yesterday it radiated a growing understanding of Oak's place, and thus its own, within this particular slice of Landscape society. I stood in a ceaseless and very chilly drizzle trying to work out to what precise category of progeny this tree 'belonged' in relation to the pair I'd just visited.
I'm not so far away. For lack of a better way to put it I stumbled into a tiny window of understanding the young oak was singing a song of determination. To and for itself. In order to know its own oakeness more fully. I thought at the time the tree was singing about the river as it slows and thickens noticeably, week-to-week. Writing these words I understand that would be me projecting the songs I sing myself concerning the absence of flowers. Summer's right around the corner. And in my adult life I have made it true. Summer, for me, will always be synonymous with 'growing season'. And that's something that begins, ready or not, as soon as the first seed catalogs arrive.
Upon reflection I think the tree was speaking of its lone status. And growing awareness that Oak reigns, in this tiny speck of Place, far more fully and subtly than was noticeable to me while the hardwoods still had leaves. Oaks stick out at this time of year because their leaves were the last to turn color, dry to death and fall to the ground. At this point in the year they're the only hardwoods with any stray leaves still attached to the tree.
Thus I could look around and pragmatically grasp a shred of the deeper mysterious beauty: The young oak tree is gaining relational awareness capacity to share and receive information from a tribal network of pheromones and root systems. I stood perfectly still in the unpleasantly chilly rain that didn't bother me in the slightest. I let both that surprising fact and the young oak's continued triumphant learning curve sink in as a cellular experience.
The rain we had all day and evening yesterday cast an extremely low ceiling. I walked around at length taking inadvertent videos I thought were actually pics in the form of killer New Glimpses into this tiny roadside universe. This was possible at a relaxed sauntering pace because I left a solid hour of time to spend here. Truth being greater than fiction: During the colder new england months I am not the hale and hearty type unless I can immediately come inside and strip down, warm up and don dry clothes from the skin out. That's inconveniently princessy and particular of me, I do realize. The oaks seemed to know all about it as well. When I approached them the one on the right (above is the one on the left) started vibing something about looka here it's the coming of the Oak-asional woodswoman.
Given the world we're all inhabiting at the moment I've developed zero problem making immediate jumps to this other form of what goes on in the same spaces we humans inhabit within our dogged insistence of making ourSelves and our endless foibles top of the consciousness pinnacle - but still. I did not care (certainly not on top of having already yielded to the moment to the point of the rain not-bothering me, anyway...) to be flexible enough to imagine that Oak medicine - of all stalwart and perservering things - would be inherently funny.* To itself if a little more than just a little bit too on the nose for my own tastes. And in the moment I flashed on understanding so simple and obvious I was fully downshifted by it. Whoa. Absolutely none of this was chance or a mere happenstance of right place/right time. The tree on the right, heckling me with sure swift pun-laden remarks was a representation of my husband so authentically there in that moment because that's how deeply embedded the oak medicine spirit is within his own soul and spirit.
~*~Loving irascible human inconsistencies as I [sometimes] do I have to point out that I've spent pretty much my entire life grasping quite thoroughly that without our ability to laugh and authentically see the humor of A Thing we are, collectively and as individual soul entities pretty much dead in the water.~*~
That would make me ... a married-in Oak? Partially oaken by nature left unexplored? On my first visit I felt a natural kinship to the oak on the left. I thought Lunar/female and, thus, the other tree would be Solar/male. Grasping this seemed more than sufficient. On some oak-casions people need to be hit over the head repeatedly in order to go deeper. Minus the pun these are my own words. Said many many times. Most often, I'm pretty sure, to the J.-man. As I admitted that to myself here on the screen for the first time since having this experience I chuckled. But, in final truth to be told, the lone song-dog in my heart started howling appreciatively right there on the spot.
Nonetheless on a somber morning full of rain rather than snow as predicted I was reflective. Woke up with a sense 'the Lunar tree' wished me to investigate the wounds humanity had so glaringly inflicted upon them in order to make room for the road. We sacrificed, she conveyed, in a way you must learn from. Given the rush of insights I experienced once I arrived it now makes sense that, when I first approached this pair, I was most drawn to the 'the wounds' of a weathering and wind-wrought nature.
Is anyone who reads here a bird-watcher with special knowledge of ground fowl? I know only the basic local triune of pheasant, grouse, and woodcock. While walking back up the rise from my detailed and much enjoyed inspection of the rainy boat launch - I inadvertently disturbed and partially distressed a female not-duck but with similar (just more delicate and russet) coloration and markings to a female mallard. We shared a moment. I hope I soothed her within it.
Yesterday we had snow flurries off and on throughout the very chilly day. The ceiling was so low and dense with cloud clover that I would not have imagined a crystal clear overnight sky. It was 19 degrees F at around 1 o'clock in the morning when I took this picture through the front door window. Later I sat down on the bedroom floor under our south facing window and slowly studied the brilliantly clear constellations, one at a time.
Happy Weekend, everyone!
This is a picture from yesterday morning. An hour earlier I woke to see light tracings of frost on the two bedroom windows we've left un-winterized until this first November weekend. It's something of a tradition for us to stick our heads in the sand in this particular way; to pretend at any moment we might have a day so warm and intoxicating we'll be glad we left the screens down in order to savor those last precious moments of seasonal experience. But this morning I woke from a dream about making glittery winter solstice ornaments. Not to mention knowing it's time to pull down those storm windows and also stop kidding myself that a t-shirt and thin cotton work pants are going to be sufficient for getting to the level of gardening clean-up that's still on my summer-soaked plate.
And so I went out to see how Our Mother may have helped me. I discovered she's not yet brought on the black killing frost. But every organic sensation within me can feel it moving ever-closer. There's a sharp blasting burr of clarity seeded into the typical chilly new england morning's air quality. It's something I deeply treasure about living here - along with the murmuring pre-slumber feeling tones swirling through all the garden spaces. And in truth that much was obvious to me just the way the birds were congregating on the feeding rocks and scavenging as a collectively fused group among the stones. I'd watched them briefly when I first got out of bed before re-focusing to morning yoga practice.
After that my focus sharpened exclusively on assembling warm enough clothes to feel comfortable rather than slightly shell shocked. Because I knew I had to be outside ASAP. Not just to scatter bird seed but because I was strongly drawn to be in the day. Since last Thursday we've had wind so powerful entire trees fell to block both the roads adjacent to our place. For a number of hours on Friday the road closest to the picture above was further closed so workers could remove a number of branches that had fallen to balance on the electrical lines. Primary limbs crashed to the ground a couple of times somewhere on the property. When it happened the cat and I looked at each other with a steady direct gaze. And I said what I say in these moments - have always said to whatever collection of cats and people have been startled-alive by that particular sound rather close at hand: We're in no danger. This particular cat has eyes so emotive it's almost disconcerting. They always seem to add the word. Yet.
The garden in this post's single image is called The Evolving Sanctuary. The picture lends an up to the minute view of a small and particular section of the property's original (and I bet it was show-stopping. so much wish I had a map or even just the scaper's sketch/species notes!) landscaping tour de force: an undulating band that stretches from the stone walls to the hemlocks that separate the frog pond from the field's gateway passage. On my watch - well. That's about a thousand different stories for as many different days. For today I'll say that on my watch I myself have been watched with tireless rigor. By innumerable tribes of birds and insects and small rodenty mammals and a steady handful that are not so small, such as bears and deer. By domestic cats and my neighbor's lonely goat and a different neighbor's equally different goat (who has, at least, an eldering cow - who watches or not at irregular intervals - for a herd) and raccoons and foxes and coyotes for sure. Things undetectable to a naked human eye have most definitely watched and I sometimes wonder how. I don't sense they have eyes so much as multi-sensory... sensors.
Most of all I've been watched by neighbors as they walk their dogs or their children or just themselves up and down the hill where we all live. And while driving by in cars. One neighbor slows his vehicle to an unashamed crawl even if we're right there looking at him while he does it. We always smile and wave. If we're in the house and see him doing it we'll sometimes stand and watch until he's rolled his car out of sight range. Why we ask each other. Then we generally laugh. But I do at times wonder why without laughing because this is how my head works: If it's so fascinating to watch human life successfully co-exist with birds weaving in and out out of largely ungroomed foundation plantings or leaves quite reliably decaying back into the soil on a yearly basis why not just do a bit of this in your own yard where you can see and actually participate in an up close and personal way?
What you see in the above image's foreground is a tiny area in which I've concentrated more than half my hands-on gardening energy and off-season planning over the past two growing cycle. It's a place I once wrote about in comments at Grace's concerning a glowing and supernaturally perfect frog I encountered back in the later spring. During the warmer weather this space was filled with butterflies and a hummingbird family of five from sunrise to sunset. All year round this specific spot also houses a colony of mixed sparrow species. Their ranks have been steadily growing since our third year in this place The flock doesn't yet visit the rocks because they'd prefer to graze the other readily available options up until the last possible second. Knowing this I planted several amaranths that flourished. From seed to careful pinching and grooming, through more diligent watering than usual and singing to the flower heads as they grew and turned to seed, my efforts were intended for the benefit of these tiny sweet singing birds.. And despite their increased number they're still feasting exclusively from their self-selected sanctuary space. Although they're down to the final leaning stalks in the foreground of this image as far as Amaranth is concerned.
While I took this picture the sparrows fluttered about in the dense thicket of fenced ornamental vines that are part of the original landscaping. You can't see it here because there's a wall of goldenrod stalks 5 to 7 layers deep blocking the view. By then the jays and titmice had already flocked to the rocks. All those leaves in my pictures from a few weeks ago are just where they fell; slowly drying and breaking into pieces.
The low-slanting much slower path of the rising sun during our cold eternity portion of the year is something I authentically enjoy embracing. It's the first consciously willing shift I tend to make each year - since childhood I've relished the special portal that opens when garden spaces fall closer to sleep. In the here and now I enjoy the way my morning inspection tours are sliding into a later autumn groove that's a very different type of sensory experience. Although my attitude and emotional response to the die-back have become softer and more appreciative as I age, it's still essentially a goodbye tour in search of small intimate details that can only set noticing-root after several yearly cycles together.
In the time since we moved here the land and I haven't just been getting used to each other. We've also been getting used to steadily obvious evidence of climate/earth change. Last year at this time the area "suddenly" started experiencing weather that was formerly typical for the region. Earlier today I wrote about that in my journal - how the local weather patterns ever since have been equally unusual in place of normalized fear madness and flying saucers. Seriously. Our now-considered normal weather patterns have been bonkers.
Through that lens it was a bit eerie to inhabit a landscape as indelibly familiar as the neighborhood of childhood. This sensation stayed true until we got close to summer's end and everything suddenly became its old self jacked-up to the eleventh power. And also coming at us in all sorts of scrambled out of order weather-like sequence. At this point I'm losing track of exactly how many weeks we've been having Nor-easters every few days without much calm in between. Dramatically intensified wind action on the daily has left an imprint of tempest on all the gardens. And yet yesterday's demeanor was calm enough to capture the sense of authentic sanctuary that's so gloriously evident in the above image.
The landscape herself is changing more dramatically now as the ground grows a bit colder each night. Her gait and demeanor shifts with the hourly spiraling of available light. All the warmth and turbo-charged energy necessary to sustain summer's elaborate panoply of abundance is heading far south. Whenever I think of it that way - not as summer leaving so much as simply continuing the necessary fulfillment of her seasonal purpose in another place - I feel my heart expand with joy instead of shrinking right along with the inexorable retreat of green. This shift has been revolutionary especially in relation to my ingrained thinking and emotional patterns of the season. Originally, before I was shut out of Typepad for most of a day and evening, I thought I would simply post the title and image. And allow that unadorned pairing to tell its own story to individual eyes and hearts. But then (retro merc always tends to work this way for me when it comes to slowly enlightening my presumed communicative intentions) there was the gift of enforced time in which to slow my roll all the way down vis a vis sharing only the image.
Off and on throughout my day I paused to consider what the picture said to my eyes and heart instead of showing me things I've already seen/felt of the land, automatically, throughout these precious years of coming to know it a little. This allows me to deepen my connections to awareness itself, not just what I do with it; to consistently ask more from and for myself than what's already "a given" and thus easiest to articulate through the power of word as well as the power of image. All those hours of sporadic contemplation pushed me to evoke a couple more details concerning what it's like to live here; to walk around in this place where I really hadn't the slightest clue what it meant to arrive and announce myself, with great confidence, as a willing and able participant in -- I knew not what, really.
Still don't. Probably never will no matter how clearly I may perceive windows of time and experience along the way as an endless magic corridor of clarifying revelations. Eldering has brought me in deep to the presumed autumn of my own life. At a personal level I'm finding this to be the most (em)powerful season so far. Yet this is also the very first literal autumn season in time when I've perceived the year's ebb and flow through such a radically shifted prism. As a creative I always find it very exciting to be at least a little scared and ever so slightly out of balance. Up to a certain point I find I'm able to thrive within not knowing quite where I stand beyond sensing potent ambiguity - about my intentional direction shift and blank space in the mind and heart rather than going forward in time with a strongly established notion of knowing exactly what I'm trying to convey.
The very best moments of my life's trajectory have occurred when I consciously put down one of humanity's favorite go-to prisms - the one labeled How It's Always Been. For us as a group or for myself at a largely internalized and strictly personal level. And focusing on that specific aspect of telling Story so it remains true to itself rather than wrapping itself in whatever personal aesthetics feel most flattering or comfortable. For me it feels increasingly important to include that not-knowing arc of experience within our stories of Shift in this time of routine quantum leaps. My sense is that, in allowing ourselves to write and read such inclusions, we collectively weave into place a personalized grace note to the story of Timelessness. In that specific frame I offer you the pairing of these words with a particular image evoking a visual eloquence only Gaia can bring.
I've decided to make it an ongoing practice to visit my local river from a point in its journey that I've previously viewed mainly through car windows. And nearly always during times when I'm down to the minute scheduling-wise; on my way to or from something that generally holds the lion's share of my mind. But now, based solely on an impulsive gesture last week at almost the same time of morning, an oaken spell has been cast! This pair of trees has thoroughly captured my imagination in a way that authentically feeds my soul and spirit. Can't even count the number of times I've thought about them in the past week. And so I've decided to document their lives as time and weather permits. Have also decided I'd like to collect ongoing portraits of the river at this particular point in its flow towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Today I had an extra 8-10 minutes to spend framing my shots and walking more extensively. I've now toured a small dirt road that dead ends at the east-west railroad tracks. Below you can see the eastern river view at a slightly different angle because I elected to walk down to the deserted boat launch.
The slope between the ramp and the bridge is covered in young mugwort plants that probably sprouted back in the spring or last fall. The tree line now features solidly bare limbed hardwoods mixing through colonies of evergreens.
When I took the above picture the faraway trees appeared vibrant amidst masses of rising fog. Note the spritely young oak in the right foreground. I imagine its spirit finds great joy in greeting the river each day. Am not up on local waterside grasses so I can't do much i.d.-ing here beyond the dying clumps in the foreground. That'll be goldenrod. And absolutely anywhere a mullein seed's found a way to sprout and take hold it has done so. Am so impressed with the plants below finding a place for themselves in a scant half-inch width of soil compressed between the asphalt road and the cement walkway. Plan to keep track and see how they get on in terms of fulfilling their natural life cycle next year. High odds against, I know, but that's what makes the endeavor interesting.
In truth most of my extra moments were spent finding just the right place to photograph the oak pair so they looked like they shared a trunk as well as a crown. Gotta make sure to bring my good camera into the car for these jaunts as I'm now keen to play more with the idea "singular plurality" as time and circumstance allow.
In mid-August my family visited the Three Sisters Healing Sanctuary out in Goshen. It was T's first visit but J and I also went in '16. This time out I took 326 pictures. Very few weren't keepers. This suggests a strong likelihood I'll be sharing more over time. For now let's just tiptoe quietly into the realm of the Fairy House. It didn't exist the last time we were there and all three of us found it an absolutely charming addition.
Today's post is a lateral move on the same underlying subject for much of this blog. Above is the finished cover of an art journal I've worked in since January '18. At that time I impulsively signed up for a year long online art journaling class called Rituals. This was the brainchild of Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. In her introductory video for the course Vanessa spoke of bringing participants closer to their own forms of ceremony and sacred self-care rituals. For me it certainly did that - in a few instances beyond anything I would have imagined or thought to actively set in motion. I wound up working on this project, off and on at very specific concentrated intervals, until the end of last month.
I allowed myself to take more time because it was clear to me early into the process that I was doing more than introspectively recording a consciously mindful year in my life. I was also just as consciously developing a ceremonial announcement to myself that, following a decade of making my way through the vestibule of the Croning process, I felt I had arrived in the welcoming embrace of this ever-significant third stage of a woman's life. The journal was to be a celebratory acknowledgement of that arrival. I aimed to include all that mattered (heavily codified of course) from the first two stages of my life. This allowed me the grace of consciously choosing what form(s) of myself I wished to bring into the future with me. I figured I'd work largely in metaphor but sometimes in direct linear relationship to ongoing daily life.
I worked in a larger format (11 x 14) than any of my three previously established size comfort zones. Mainly this happened because I hoped to avoid spending any money on this project - at least not beyond raw supplies that were already on my radar and thus I knew might tempt me because it's how I'm wired. Beyond that - I had what I had, period. My cache of supplies included a purchased-at-half-price Strathmore sketchbook. I rewatched a video I recalled bookmarking about how to systematically break the spine of these books so the smythe binding becomes more pliant and copic-like. I relished making a conscious ritual of that. I also embraced the ongoing challenge of thinking/designing in an unfamiliar size/shape of blank space.
Just before the class officially began I determined that I wished to create a dystopian on-the-fly graffiti wall version of a classical illuminated manuscript. The very idea thrilled me with both its audacity level and the uncharted potentiality for personal growth of a visual nature. At first I began working with the months' various themes without concerning myself over the cover. Then while sifting through a pile of kinda-forgotten collage fodder I came upon the substrate version of a free Holistic Health magazine I'd picked up years earlier.
At the time I found it the kind of meaningful that lasts for ages - to offhandedly encounter a boldly illustrated woman who looked a lot like me from the back wearing a color of dress that was at the time highly significant to me. As soon as I got home I tacked the cover above a small dresser filled with rattles, crystals and tarot cards. For years the image reminded me of who I most imagined myself to be in the spiritual and idealized senses of Being.
My first plan was to leave the cover in place and simply collage over parts of the original cover that didn't fit my theme and the design mood I wanted to set. I thought I'd have the former me entering the book and then at the end of the year I'd paint myself face first emerging from the back cover. As is always the way of an ongoing introspective creative venture, this worked until it didn't. I wasn't, after all, entering this project and whatever it might become as the "old" me. The most obvious change I'd have to make as a nod to deeper acknowledgement of who I already was: fix the hair color.
The next thing I changed was the dress color - choosing my fave deep red-violet ink to painstakingly apply with a tiny round brush - around and about the botanical patterns on the dress. I gambled this color of relatively transparent ink over stationary bright yellow might yield something of a purple-ish mahogany color similar to manzanita bark.
Pretty soon after that I gesso'd over everything but Earth Star and the sashaying female form. Stared at that I don't know how long before I realized the title of the actual journal in front of me was both obvious and profound. Furthermore, the lettering could be constructed in a way that would give the cover just the kind of vibe I'd envisioned without yet knowing what it would mean at any level of detail. Among many other things this project brought me home to a core/eternal version of myself that was inextricably linked to flower essences in a variety of different ways. Most congruently and deeply it brought me home to self-relationship as a flower-based alchemist. During the summer of '18 I began to prepare essences after three growing seasons of the co-creative web maintaining a form of radio silence that's quite difficult to describe with words.
In the end I got all artist-ish picky and specific about the hair and how it wasn't at all right and I just wasn't gonna be happy until I gave into the fairly loud as opposed to quietly still inner voice that kept suggesting just let yourself go with a paint pen. Also was compelled to do some sandpapering until the skin was lightly dark or darkly light and thus more like my own. In the very beginning, before I'd changed anything but hair, I'd wanted to paint the skin violet or the color of manzanita bark. Then that felt far too exposing. I mean this directly in the context of having decided to go on instagram in large part so I could share portions of this project while it was still happening -with other people who were sharing individualized responses to a collective endeavor. Those ladies would have actively applauded I'm quite sure but at the time my reasons for wanting to do it were very vulnerable and significant in a way that was raw and demanding of protection.
I feel strongly that this particular creative project belongs on this blog rather than something separately devoted to personal creative output. I wasn't sure why I was so certain when I started to write this post but now as words find their intentional conclusion I see it's pretty obvious. Earth Star Alchemy Rituals is a way I both synthesized land/interspecies communication and codified it for easy carrying, lifting, and sharing as my life moves forward. So much of what goes on when we consciously deepen our connections with other species is far beyond the scope and limits of language. I don't think any single group of inter-species wisdom keepers understands that better than flowers do.
This project didn't just help me to get everything I've written about on this blog into a congruent form of personal meaning at that beyond words level. It also taught me how I was choosing to be seen by all the other species here on this small piece of land where I live. Had never thought of any of this from that particular angle - the idea of choices in self-presentation being important rather than a terminally human preoccupation...
In the Spring, Summer and Fall of 2005 I had the good fortune to keep a garden specifically for essence making purposes. It was located on the outskirts of a CSA growing space at the top of a hill in the town where I used to live. I worked in (and passively communed with) this Place at least three times a day - more if I was actively preparing essences.
Above I stand tall and happy at 45; tending to the stone heart at the center of the garden. It's filled with gifts of gratitude and love from the original human Friends of Sparkling Lotus Ink - these particular talismans offered specifically to the wild soul of Gaia and the medicine spirits of the landscape as well as flowers growing in that space.
This is the same space a few months earlier, marked-off for me by the CSA's general manager. I created the stone heart altar space in the center and a few days later made lines of stone to turn the heart into the center of a sacred compass pointing towards the four directions. With ease of writing the name over and over in mind, I called this space SL2. Meaning it was the second garden in which I had prepared Sparkling Lotus flower essences. It was also the first from-scratch garden space where I introduced myself as nothing more than willing hands and feet.
Of course, as the years roll on it becomes increasingly clear that this was my aspirational goal rather than an ongoing fact. I had plenty of self-oriented intentions and attachments to outcome. Many of which I hadn't consciously considered until they bloomed full force. The garden itself scattered potent seeds of fundamental truth about myself/perception in a way I was able to accept and work with in an ongoing manner. Flowers taught me, virtually every time I looked at them, how to look deep within the BE-ing of all sentient lives just as they're lived. Incorporating this awareness successfully enough to set a strong taproot did not occur over the course of this magical moment of stop-time personal Ascent. But it did first bloom there in a sustained and ultimately sustainable way.
Above the bed is fully planted and beginning to grow into itself by my birthday at the end of June. This is the space where Grace's beloved Joyous Warrior was born. Sometimes, as is evidenced in the picture at the end of this post, I would bring plants in pots from my home garden so they might absorb the hillside's atmosphere a week or so before I gathered their flowers for inclusion in an essence bowl.
Below shows the signal-sending changes I made to Donna's sign long before there was anything else beyond the patchwork stone heart in the center of the bed. Note the small collection of stones and feathers (below the sign to the right) offered by other humans who quite early on felt themselves drawn to this work and finding ways of becoming an active part of it.
There's much to share about this very auspicious place and time from the most illuminated aspects of my personal history. As collective instincts urge us to gather in order to to contemplate and honor Story & Life lines of ongoing meaning to us, this is the part of my own story-life that I'm most compelled to tell. This is my contribution to the larger gathering of Beginnings we're all beginning to redefine and reconsider. It's also a very specific visual arc illustrating how a thing quite literally gets set in motion: Deliberately and by conscious choice. Perhaps most amazingly to me, this post is also about my learning how my life's dearest wish as a tiny girl became the actual course I've followed with dogged determination; even if it seemed a lurching and perhaps entirely imaginary journey many times over the years. And yet that's not at all what it's been. It's been an ongoing act of sentience finding its way to a place where life is lived as just one of many species.