Posted at 10:22 AM in 2020 growing season, alchemical rituals, ceremony, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, quantum healing, shift resiliency, sit and think with me, speaking of stones | Permalink | Comments (1)
When I first got up this morning I couldn't wait to get out in the field. Really wanted to see how the energy had changed for the volunteer windrow now that J's successfully removed all the Russian Olive trees that were a serious nuisance. Below is a picture from mid-afternoon yesterday.
The picture above is a close view of the group's Speaker. I know this because about a week ago one particular tree sitting slightly apart from the rest began drawing attention to itself. I am the speaker for my group. Usually I'd get this repetitive impression while I was deeply engaged in a garden task that couldn't be stopped mid-stream. Finally we got on the same wavelength.
I am the speaker! The tree's exuberance reminded me of Nancy Pelosi doing that slow smiling turn with the gavel in her hand just after the mid-terms.
"Hello. I, too, am the speaker for my group." I shook the rattle very quietly and then a bit louder. Its tiny white stones moved in a percussive slurry that quickly found its rhythm.
"Out here, where our groups meet their energies and purpose, this rattle is the speaker for your land's dreams and our combined heartbeat."
(to be continued)
Posted at 11:47 PM in abundance of care, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, direct retrospect, feed what feeds you, gardening with purpose, medicine making from scratch, place/keeping, plant geek eyes, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, speaking of stones, storyforms, trees are the answer, viriditas, walk with me, white pine | Permalink | Comments (9)
The otherwise unexplained fourth wooden item of this post is the rolling pin directly above these words. It's from Pearl's kitchen in the house I was raised. Am not a baker, never will be, and so I use this talisman of my crafty roots as a brayer kinda thing for art journal smoothing and layering plus the occasional spontaneous monoprint that might chew-into the rubber brayers I keep around and misplace on the regular. But it's pretty hard to misplace my grandmother's rolling pin for more than a moment or two. Here this treasured bit of family memorabilia is serving as a scale model. The rattle is roughly the same size. The inner dimensions of the lid & box is 5. x7. My plan is to display it sideways as seen later in the post
Since this is the third phase of US pandemic response here in MA talking about "day one" isn't feeling very first-ish anymore. From the perspective of my adaptability quotient it's been 5 days since I last crossed property lines and ran one drop-off and two pick-up errands in my car. The things I purchased then are still cooling their heels in my car. Tomorrow will be a full 5 days worth of 24 hours since I came home and spoke truth to the concrete walls of my garage: No more. Not until there's no other choice.
Keeping track of the days is vital to also keeping track of when it's safe to bring newer items into the house. Tomorrow it will be safe to wipe down and store the enormous bottles of brandy and 100 proof vodka I bought on that very last run into the headlights of crumbling normalcy. The brandy's for stabilizing and preserving flower essence mother stocks and also tincturing certain flowers - e.g. ladies mantle. The Vodka will back-up the fifth I already had to hand for the rest of my medicinal tincturing needs. It's also what we'll use when there's no more rubbing alcohol.
In case you're not yet as far down the rabbit hole of radically changed awareness/priorities/general life flow as I've become - Per established universal viral contamination guidelines -- Glass containers need 5 days isolation time before handling. Plastic needs nine and so the other package in my car must wait 4 days beyond the glass bottles' removal. But I don't care. I'm not planning to go anywhere beyond a ride in J.'s truck tomorrow to pick- up our bread share in the next town heading northeast. All I can say when I catch myself thinking in endless lists of contamination safety data is that I'm ever-grateful I got back as much brain function as I did before all this hit the fan!
Last night I asked my dreaming self to set me a path for early morning grounding. Prior to that I'd gathered three of the four very well loved wooden possessions pictured above. I also gathered a soft scrap of cotton quilt batting and the lemon verbena wood conditioner I've grown to love. Had planned to get ginormous amounts shipped here so I could clean and condition as much of the wood finishing over-load in this house as ultimately possible but then I thought to check the location of the product's manufacturer and shipper. Canton OH. I checked the pandemic map and decided I'd work with what I have with much smaller refurbishing ambitions setting the course. This will maximize the number of wood items I'm able to nourish if not in much scope. Makes sense to start with a few extra special personal keepsakes, right?
(while writing this post I came up with a spontaneous DIY solution for my urge to condition ALL THE WOOD. I will use the pine/juniper/tulsi oil I just strained clear the night after the full equinox day here. I'll simply add about a quarter or third more melted beeswax - not sure yet which essential oil - and that will make my own place-based conditioner. The wood in the house will be fed by the wood living as trees just beyond. It makes me smile just typing that.)
In the summer of '80 I bought a beautifully constructed wooden box topped by the parquet lid directly above these words. I bought it directly from the wood wizard who made it. He was stationed with a wide table full of beautiful boxes and jars and intricate oversized parquet coasters just by the center entrance to Central Park (south). It was a warm t-shirts only mid-Spring weekend that proved to be incredibly switched-on and seemingly charmed. Right up there with this experience. in terms of my personal memory highlights. The creator of this lovely piece and ever so many more was a little arrogant and presuming but the box has remained a beautiful thing that I love. The best part of 'having' keepsakes is the recollections that move far beyond the thing itself. This is why I love boxes as memory keepers on multiple levels.
Somewhere along the line the impeccably constructed box separated from the box. My goal now is to use tacks in the wall placed to mount the lid in a place where I'll see it often and use it as an ongoing lunar-driven touchstone. This is so important as sunlight lasts longer each day and I move into a stronger solar mode myself. I continue to use the dis-joined box as an altar space container for a shifting arrangement of stones, shells, and tiny mementos.
Note the pictures show my treasures before full wax absorption and buffing. With that slow and steadying process now complete, the objects' combined presence is now a glowing line of energy as I've set them side-by side for contemplation here in the studio.
Above is an inkwell that was always kept carelessly in a desk I sold in '88 for enough to get us through an entire winter, spring and summer as a young family in Boston. First by my grandmother and then my mother. I know the story behind their grim attachment to it but it's a sad discouraging story about my grandfather so we'll leave it at that. I took it to heart and have kept it because as a [failed] ethnobotanist I'm really fond of this piece. Inside the carved seed pod is a tiny inkwell I use with my dip pens on somewhat regular basis.
This rattle has lived a very hands-on life over the 19 years we've been together. It's taken me probably 15 of those years to grow into my inner spirit voice enough to shake the rattle in ways that speak to her voice's scope and power. I have her because when I heard her in full voice I understood the person who'd known how to hold and shake her like it's an easy thing to merge with a rattle's spirit would not be able to take her home.
I heard her in full glorious voice as a perpetual flurry of the small white stones lovingly described on her authentication certificate. The shaker was a tall sturdy-legged teenage bear of a boy. He stood very straight with a rapt expression on his face as he shook and shook and shook. Everyone in the gallery turned towards him - surprised and smiling. Everyone but his father who was annoyed and intent to cut the experience short. Words were exchanged between father and son - protestations and refusals and a final plea with a backwards glance.
If you think I'm putting up with THAT any time you take it in your head ...
And the rest of us either turned away briskly or sought-out each other's eyes. Small little head shakes and shoulder shrugs. I'd been planning to buy a colorful wooden Mexican candelabra of carved hummingbirds circling in clusters. But I asked the owner if he had any sense that boy might come back. What if I bought the rattle and he kept it under the counter just in case? Owner shook his head as he looked me over - suggesting I'd be better off buying it for myself. I thought how much easier it would be to keep a rattle too big for me close at hand than to haul around an elaborate candelabra that felt just right. And was undoubtedly a beast to clean after use.
That's how the rattle came home with me. And we have taken a thorough good long while to get to know each other. When I shook her briskly over the newly pressed-into-earth columbine seeds I heard what I'd heard in the art gallery so long ago. Not sure how and when it happened but I've got the touch for her now - and she for me.
This morning at 8:30 a.m. there was frost all over the field's surface. The garden's surface had a crusty layer of iced-together topsoil. The cat and I prowled around quite happily all the same. I wanted to visit the new root-crop bed and see how the energy felt now that it's had a chance to settle into itself.
Next time I come into the field I'm going to bring a rattle with me. Like to walk around out here near the equinox with a pomegranate rattle. Letting the dried seeds call to Persephone Spirit - seeking her blessings as she rises into her aboveworld guise as Queen of the Flowers.
I really love this time of morning in the field. Maybe an hour or two earlier if it's very hot. Got the sense the main bed and everything else needed time without me. Everything that normally lives out there has been making adjustments to our regular highly focused presence. I'm there regularly but not in this kind of immersive way. Feels good to be acting and visioning through this specific lens again. I grew our food the first three and half full years we lived here before growing too sick to manage. Felt like such a failure at the time but now I have a lot of admiration for what I accomplished even while ill.
Had trouble settling in the studio after this morning inspection tour and then again after lunch. J. was evidently having the same trouble and we met as if planned out in the evolving sanctuary bed. This is how it looked when Mama and I went out while J. was working in his office:
and this is how it looks now. I asked if J. could create this grouping. He subsequently moved the other rock to join the rest as is evident in the larger view above. While he was completing the wall I worked in my own personal circle of pachysandra hell to double the amount of cleared space.
It occurs to me there has been no dormant season this year. The ground cover area where their roots live never froze after the January thaw. There are a number of places where the size of the colonies have nearly trebled. It would be the most disturbing thing in my brain if we weren't immersed in a global pandemic. It doesn't take much thought at all to foresee we're going to resort to bringing out the industrial weed wacker and massive amounts of plywood and cardboard. There is no other way to begin to dream of bringing it to heel in the slightest.
Okay Cheryl and all others - feast your eyes. It has tumbled merrily out of its laughably tiny intended space and pulled the whole damn wall with it. And this is but one of five out of control pachy nightmares on our property. But on the tiny daily hands level - I've cleared a good bit of it just there at the very edge. Am now into gnarled well established groupings that are tough enough to successfully pry them out with a pitchfork. That makes the work marginally quicker and the runners pull up in long ropes instead of small pieces.
Also back there - living and perhaps hatching in the dogwood bark - many tiny ticks. I have picked one from the hollow of my throat and now of course imagine they are everywhere. Once J.'s clocked out of work for the day we're going to have to check thoroughly and have equally thorough showers.
Meanwhile, earlier this afternoon I sat on that little bench with my back to the nightmare and ate a honeycrisp apple surrounded by numerous songbird mating calls and a small falcon flying round and round amidst many cries almost as if talking to itself. Not sure what was going on but I could see the bird quite well just across the road in our neighbor's woods. Beautiful control of the air as well as its body and binocular vision.
Everything involved had a ring of normalcy. I felt both healed and energized from grounding in this garden that holds so much life and meaning; grounding more firmly my intentions to clear as much of my projected goal's worth of reclaimed garden space as I possibly can. It's good to have engrossing physical tasks I know how to accomplish. Especially with J. around needing physical outside engagement on a very similar schedule.
Today I woke with sun in my eyes. It was an extra wonderful thing after countless grey days made dismal and bleak with the ongoing roaring wind effect. When the sun shines after a pronounced absence I especially love those times when I have an opportunity to free-float through the day on - not so much a whim as a very strong intuitive nudge.
One nudge after another I made my way to the back dooryard by mid-morning. Paused on the deck to do a bit of intent staring at the ice-filled 'replacement' planters that were too shallow to grow truly thriving flowers. But a few day's back I realized how they could be used quite productively. And also add new experience to my container growing repertoire: using each one as a separate container garden 'seed bed' for various biennials. Am finalizing my seed list at the moment but need to integrate my shopping list with what's viable and on hand in my seed collection box. Should have done it last night but was too tired from the day's activities far out-pacing my organic energy level.
I need to come down to this spot with my better camera to properly showcase the small cluster of river bushes and striplings that I love. I don't visit them much because they need to keep their wildness there amidst the mossy rocks. But I do move upstream a few times during no-ice phases of our brown months. just to make sure that particular congregation isn't burdened by windfall branches. Later I'll have to go out in clothes better suited to yard work. Fleece isn't very compatible at all I have found.
Today I spotted my first land-based skunk cabbage of the year. It's worrisome how early I started seeing new growth pushing out of the stream bed. Usually I don't see anything in the water for another month's time. It's often the beginning of April before the plant's leaves unfurl in the land-based colonies. Seeing the new life above so much sooner into the year evoked mixed feelings. As a human who is finely tuned to green forms of life it's an automatically exuberant moment. It's also a life-long habit. I grew up near any number of streams and was lucky to have guided tours of a few on an ongoing basis over the years. Heralding fresh signs of a new year's life force by searching out the earliest growths of skunk cabbage plants holds a deep experiential taproot in my soul.
One very kind and extremely good humored (yet perpetually poker faced) elder-man my family knew used to call me Little Miss Sharp Eyes. We'd walk along that property's stream and he'd announce something he could see. I'd locate the same thing. But it wasn't always in the same place he'd seen it. In which case he'd smile and tell me I'd won.
For quite awhile (seemed forever in young child terms ...) I'd accept this without a clue of what I'd won. So I finally asked and he told me I'd won my sharp eyes a little more fully. And he certainly did his part to show me innumerable ways eyes could See and search-out detail when outside walking. He also taught me to address the sun as Grandfather and the moon as Grandmother. I once asked him what he liked most in the world - expecting a wonderful nature story. He grinned wide and spoke around it.
Years later he and his wife were on a plane that was held hostage on the runway. It was somewhere in Europe during that window of time when such things appeared in alarming news breaks as the very worst form of terrorism. Their involvement made it personal - a local story of great scope and ongoing conversation. They were trapped on a plane at gunpoint in a foreign country for a significant number of hours. When they arrived safely in NYC the press was waiting. Local papers posted pictures of them that were taken as they left their initial government debriefing. She looked shaken for sure but far more she looked hell bent and determined to have QUITE a word with any number of someone's Manager(s) before all was fully said and done. He merely looked like he'd seen new things. Undoubtedly with poker faced aplomb. To this day I wonder if that experience dampened his enthusiastic love of planes.
The (very) gentle-man who taught me how to walk along a little stream so as to find innumerable tiny universes along the way also taught me a concept he called Power Station Bingo. Upon reflection (and I mean in terms of the level of reflection I held around the time they'd been trapped on the runway during my early high school years) I don't think what he was talking about ever had that name. I think it was something he may have made up on the spot when some insatiably curious kid he was trying to teach to love the woods bedeviled him with questions he did not want to answer Just Then - for whatever combination of reasons.
I could have been that kid because the questions I felt pressing enough to insist on immediate (and complete!!) answers never stopped at that phase of my life. But I was just one of many who did not have a paternal presence in their life but were also lucky enough to move within his circles of community awareness.
here's what he taught me about earth energy and how it moves:
Sometimes you go into a quiet little corner of a place and find four rocks. Right in the center of the rocks you'll find an evergreen. Sometimes you find the evergreen first but you'll also find rocks beneath its lowest boughs.
All evergreens and rocks enjoy this arrangement but it becomes important to recognize with respect any time you're passing when the rocks are directly aligned with the compass points. When they are both tree and rocks can sing but our ears don't remember how to hear them. Other creatures do. They are Everywhere.
Let's take a little walk together. You might remember all the leaves from a mid-autumn walk in many of the same places. As you can see they're still there settling further into the cellular world of the landscape's history. On warmer February days I'll begin to groom the frog pond's rockscape in line with late winter pruning tasks. But for now it's a symphony of decomposition.
Today was so warm that I expected to see a few oily black frog noses peeking through the slim passages of melted water. Perhaps they sensed how brief the pleasant weather was going to be. Am very thankful there was a break in the high to gale force winds of recent days so I had a chance for a lingering inspection tour before they descended again. Looks like this may be our third consecutive January thaw when there's very limited time to be outside enjoying the smell of rising earth and perhaps managing to knock off a few of the lingering items on the Didn't Get Done list.
The above stream views I habitually share are a familiar touchstone. But when I keep walking into the woods the view quickly shifts to offer a fresh perspective.
not pictured: a daunting amount of fresh tree-fall debris.
additional context: on our first evening of so-called 'ownership' I discovered the landscaped pond was full of frogs. J. discovered an enormous rock that grounds all energy and sight-lines in our backyard.
When we arrived the self-mulched area of the rock was dotted with Jack-in-the-Pulpits in full flower. The following year I learned that in earlier spring Canadian anemones ring the rock's entire border. Nearby is the first Hawthorne I noticed during my first full morning in residence. It took me two magical hide-and-seek years to find its Grandmother. Smaller rocks form stony breadcrumbs leading towards the heart of our little woods (pictured in the previous post with a look upwards at the heart's crown-land.
At some point the rock split. A few spindly maples set their roots just there but all have died and subsequently fallen since our arrival. Last year I used my grandmother's method of seeding woodland plants around our home's foundation to (hopefully) seed an additional colony of Jack in the Pulpits within the split. Time will tell if I was successful.
Today Mama Cat and I walked down to the little stream that cuts through the northern edge of our property. The wellspring is further up the hill where we live. From our place the water passes through a culvert. It reappears as a spring in the barnyard of the farm across the road. Shortly after the vernal equinox the water rises all the way to the top of the banks and it moves with a thunderous roar. During the summer, especially in a drought year, the bed is all but empty. This year I really wasn't sure what was going on because a ginormous chime of Carolina Wrens colonized the wild roses that line the slope down to the stream. I declared the area off limits to human traffic until the rose leaves started to drop from the cold. Today was the first time I've visited the water in a close-up way since late Spring.
J. replaced the original (badly rotten) bridge the second or third year we were here. Now it's nicely weathered.
So many leaves you have to look closely to see where the water flows ...
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.