last Friday was a gorgeously sunny day. I woke with a strong urge to get some new camera angle shots of the white pine that serves as a directional sentry/guardian tree of this Place. There she is rising above all the others. Her crown's full glory partially concealed by a fringe of brick red oak leaves. Had to stand on the edge of my neighbor's lawn across the street in order to get a shot that will let me examine/draw the places where her trunk splits three ways.
Here she is at closer range; framed in part by the Norwegian Fir that thrives beside her. These two trees form the beginning of a property line that's otherwise consumed by a row of hemlocks. We presume they were planted when the house was built which would make them 43 years old. In front of the property line a volunteer windrow has developed. Three quarters of the trees are white pine/descendants of our sentry pictured above.
If you focus just beyond the brick red oak leaves you'll find yourself gazing at dozens of young evergreen trees. In addition to taking pictures for this post, I wanted some reference photos that will help me understand both the intentional and co-creatively engineered impact us living here has had upon the landscape. I took this picture the first afternoon we were here. Orientation-wise, I'm sitting with J. in the place where the wild windrow now exists. Am including it here because its serves as a useful comparative reference for several of the other pictures in this post. Note, especially, the Hemlock that's been perfectly buzzcut into a graceful mound. It's directly behind the rainbow whatever kinda co-creative emissary that met us on the field that afternoon. As we soaked in the landscape's acceptance of us J. and I agreed we'd stop cutting the shallow amphitheater of curved ground where we were sitting. He predicted the white pine had many children just waiting for a chance to do more than get mowed down. I looked around while he talked; silently planning which trees to prune and which to let go crazy wild on their own impulse. Again: notice the hemlock.Here is the same hemlock last Friday. From this angle, the post's featured white pine at the top of the field seems slightly smaller but that's illusory for sure. Stay tuned for more insights about the hemlocks in a later post. For now the point is that on the afternoon when I took the previous picture I was staring at the hemlock's contained demeanor thinking it was a human-driven illusion that I find particularly perplexing. J. was talking with great conviction - to and about the white pines that did indeed spring forth over the course of that first summer. And so it seemed closer to fact than his opinion: the miniscule evergreens understood they were loved and given strong value as soon as we sat there allowing them to whisper to us. All the trees understood. And together we rejoiced on that sunny mid-May afternoon.Now it's nearly November. And this is what the field looks like after ten attentive and yet oftentimes largely hands-off growing seasons. On the day I took these pictures I also picked spearmint to combine with half of last year's remaining calendula flowers. This duet infused in olive oil is my favorite all purpose skin oil. I used to make it in a crock pot which can get fiddly to prevent scorching. Nowadays I prepare much smaller batches in a double boiler placed on the warming burner of my stove. Note the dense exuberance of the property line hemlocks. Also sharp eyes may notice the widow maker hanging from empty maple limbs that are still attached. Am hoping it came down in the hard rains night before last and all of yesterday but haven't been out to check yet.
Here's the windrow from the front. Also our lovely natural fire pit in the foreground. This year a young colony of mugwort set root at the lip of the pit. I prepared the Healing Lights essence blend along the inner slope of the left breast. All around this granite wonderment there are colonies of prunella, st. johnswort, red clover, wild daisies and a deliciously luminous light violet species of wild orchid I'm reluctant to demystify by properly identifying them.
Last evening's sunset as viewed from our front steps. It was COLD but very lovely. Most hardwood leaves are down. Only the oaks remain green. When the sun falls darkness rises without a hint of subtlety and I'm still missing the lingering shimmer of cobalt blue and seemingly endless indigo of summer evenings. But last night's moon was beautiful in the way of cold weather that's really pretty hard to beat. By then it was much chillier and I felt wimpy about going outside so I just crouched over the cat trying to sleep on the back of our couch and shot through the window.
The scarlet runner beans in this post were sown late and grown specifically for their flowers in my hillside garden. This was the first opportunity I had to co-create flower essence preparations in a relatively pure setting - the way it's "supposed" to be done. Previously I'd spent roughly six years preparing essences in my backyard's garden. We lived on a small and fairly public exurban property. We shared a driveway with one neighbor. A very active and well-attended church served as the other.
Against this backdrop I worked late into the night to write and think and continue refining my childhood understanding that flowers had a lot to say that we ought to hear and then apply as best we could. By my late 30's I'd reached a point where that awareness had focused on a crystallized certainty that anyone who was willing to trust themselves enough to also trust what flowers and their medicine spirits might choose to communicate/set in motion ought to be able to make vibrant and highly effective flower essences from the familiarity and individual beauty of their personal growing space.
Also (I was and remain especially passionate about this particular bit) if "growing space" boils down to a pot or two on an urban fire escape that, too, ought to be recognized as Sacred potentiality capable of generating ongoing intelligence/energy exchanges and a great deal more.
When I first got SL2 fully planted there was a honeymoon week where everything seemed charmed beyond belief. Three days were crystal clear mornings full of birdsong with gently soaking afternoon and overnight rains. Then that blessing ran its course. After three additional sunlit days of scanning the weather predictions while not yet needing to rely on the Hillside water pump, it broke at approximately 3 a.m on the morning I was planning to use it. I received an email shortly thereafter though I didn't read it until 4:15. That was still plenty of time to rouse J ahead of his work-based routine and get his help filling our two trash barrels with water once he'd braced them inside his van. We rode in virtual silence that didn't break once we maneuvered the van to the highest edge of the slanted garden space.
Just before we silently tipped the first barrel on its side I felt rather than saw an enormous sky-walking Being. It reminded me of super-old [and ethically tainted] drawings and engravings made by interlopers in attendance of Taos traditional dance ceremonies. These unseen Beings vibed exactly like the dancers in those drawings. As a child I'd spent hour upon hour studying such artwork and much more that could be found at the Penn Museum's anthropology wing in the early 60's. My mother would give the avid-reader security guard a pack of cigarettes an hour to watch me while she did her research for the day.
Fortunately this was always the same person and he couldn't have been less interested in messing with me or anyone else. Those things were already crucial to me; what I knew about being alive had taught me I could either afford to relax or I couldn't. At the museum I could definitely exhale and forget everything else. So I quite willingly gave the guard all he needed in order to do his job - which seemed in large part to consist of sitting in his little box reading paperbacks with an expression of fierce concentration. I didn't do any of the things other relatively infrequent child visitors did on the regular. I had zero impulse to run or shout or touch things. I never attempted to open any doors to the courtyard visible from his booth, let alone rush beyond them to kick at the sculpture displayed in the outside gallery.
Every once in awhile a museum visitor would complement my behavior but I had my own reasons for running in Model Child mode at these times. However else she might disappoint or alarm me, I wanted my mother to keep bringing me along to this vast, ever-quiet and incredibly well-ordered place filled with things unlike any others I'd seen. I loved being left alone to wander at will and form my own conclusions. Indeed, those day long treks to Penn remain one of my cornerstone/perceptually unchallenged experiences with personal liberty and intellectual curiosity allowed to follow its own lead.
Being small (5 and 6) nearly everything within the museum seemed huge by comparison. But the biggest objects of all were three enormous Buddhas that had an entire gallery offshoot to themselves. The first time I saw them I very nearly did run on my way back to the guard. We had an unspoken agreement that I wouldn't speak to him or so it seemed to me. But on this day he sensed urgency and readily put his book aside.
I asked him what the Buddhas were. My only frame for divinity at that point was based on regrettably humorless Lutheran dogma. His answer left an indelible impression. He told me the Buddhas were skywalkers. Instinctively I understood that the masked dancers in the drawings and etchings were also skywalkers. And so when I felt that same level of a primal energy where land and sky connect in the forms of Soul and Spirit - right there on the hillside, in the gloam of daybreak while drenching my garden for its own good until the pump could be fixed - I recognized that the Beings I perceived had been there a long while.
Overwhelmed by this awareness and all the points in my past that had effortlessly converged in single droplet of understanding Who I Am, I moved in continued silent unison with my husband. We pivoted the van in order to release a second volley of water on the waking garden space. When a wild turkey suddenly shot straight upwards out of a nearby roosting tree we both jumped in surprise. It was easy to imagine a gigantic Being moving far above the three of us - wearing an enormous head wreath of turkey tails and wing feathers.
Weeks later I finally spoke of that morning with J. I asked if he remembered the turkey who shot out of the tree really fast and high. And how we both jumped. He said of course he remembered although he thought those enormous landwalkers were the true show stoppers of the day. Automatically I said they were skywalkers and he said no, they were merely big enough to BE in the sky as they walked.
It made all the sense in the world to me. But it still felt wrong. Specifically because I'd had such a strong sense in my bones that I was surrounded by SKYwalkers. I thought about it the next day at the garden. One of my special tending chores involved carefully grooming the Scarlet Runner Beans I was growing for the essence of its healing signature vibration: dismantling fear
As I groomed them they offered a message: WE are also skywalkers as you have noticed but did not recognize. We meet the sky throughout our life for the benefit of All. And I began to wonder if perhaps this is how flowering vines more generally might consider themselves; at least when they have clear passage to move straight UP. Pole Beans, in particular, will travel seemingly forever if they have something sufficiently sturdy to climb against.
The particular bean flowers above are from an eye-level cluster that later volunteered for the anchor position in a blended bowl of 5 different flower species. The blended vibration named this healing & illumination offering Joyous. I looked at the structure of the flower's healing and illumination properties more carefully and added Warrior with an eye toward Angeles Arrien's beautifully apt description of the Warrior archetype: a person of Community who shows up for and with that Community.