Coming Home to Spring

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The older I become the more I appreciate Nature as she is, Nature the Creatrix of the Earth. Nature creating without human intervention. The cycles of life and death are so intimately intertwined and never more evident than in the spring when each rotting log becomes home to ants who are feasted upon by black bears (whose primary protein source 93% comes from ants, grubs and larvae). Splintered detritus becomes the rich soil that supports the seedlings of the next generation of trees, even as the ground peppers the moment with the delicate three lobed trillium, lady-slipper, twin flower, partridge berry trailing arbutus, unfurling spirals – the birthing of ferns, and perhaps my favorite, wild lily of the valley soon to fill the forested glade with her intoxicating scent.

 

Outside my window, diversity reins as Royalty! Maples, ash, oak, beech, moose maple, witch hazel, spruce hemlock, fir, balsam converse with one another, above and below ground – their language made of pulsing vibrations and scent. The naturally fallen white birch logs crisscross each other creating complex and unique patterns apparent to any artistic eye. The brook is wending her serpentine way to the sea, her spongy banks of sphagnum moss are steeped in emerald. The translucent papery thin leaves of the beech tree ripple in the slightest breeze. Everywhere a multitude of shades of greens – greens that we cannot name – a writer’s palette is pitifully limited to words like jade, olive, spruce, lemon, lime, emerald, sage; this language can’t come close to describing the wonder of a woodland forest coming to life. Every leaf and twig emanates a luminous glow. Evergreens bristle, their delicate fingers stretching towards the filtered light of a canopy that protects the most sensitive eyes. Sweet moist air fills thirsty lungs, the sound of light rain brings out a symphony of frogs. The brook pools mirror blue sky through lacy ferns and wild sprigs of lily of the valley that are springing up under a woodland carpet, a pine – needled floor. In the distance, rose pink, magenta, and lilac blend into a huge field bouquet. The highest grasses hide white and purple violets, star-like lupine, deep blue spires of ajuga gone wild. As I observe the snowy crabbapple loose her glorious white crown I think I have never witnessed such wonder, this coming home to spring.

 

Working notes:

I recently returned from the high desert where I created small gardens against my adobe house, experienced the beauty of wildflowers and an abundance of sage green shoots appearing where none were before thanks to the generosity of the Cloud People. Even the hills were glazed in gray green, and one tree frog called from a nearby ditch. I was profoundly grateful to experience this year’s desert spring.

And yet, nothing prepared me for the miracle of experiencing a second spring here in the North East after a three year absence ( I returned the summer before last but missed the spring). The North Country Woman thrives under a canopy of green because her roots are here stretching deep into rich woodland soil. These deep roots are nurtured by regular rain and moisture, cool nights and a sun that is less intense. Perhaps too my Indigenous Peoples are calling me back…

I don’t know how to reconcile my love for dear friends and a thriving community in New Mexico with this felt sense of rootedness in Northern place. My body knows that she belongs here.

It’s almost as if I have had to go through a desert to find my way ‘home’ after I fled to escape harsh winters.

Here my body thrives; there I find community.

How, I ask myself, am I ever going to heal this split?

Lizard Love

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The lizard I write about is the male in the foreground of his cottonwood house. Note the cobalt patches on his neck… He looks as large as his mate but this is a visual distortion – In actuality his mate is larger. I took this picture just after the two mated.

 

He was splayed out

in the pail,

waterlogged.

I gasped.

How long had he been there?

Placing my

hand under his

limp gray body I

laid him out

on a strip of sun warmed

cottonwood bark

noting his cobalt

underbelly- shimmering

emerald silk.

 

Identifying him as

one of the new mated

males, I blamed myself.

for his death –

It had rained the night before.

I hadn’t remembered

the upright pail.

 

Moments later

a gold rimmed eye

opened

into a slit.

 

Filling my lungs

with air

I ceased all

thought,

opened

my body

to the beyond,

(the place where living

and dying co- exist

in unbroken wholeness)

breathing life

into his exhausted

animal body,

walked away,

accepting uncertain outcome.

The sun warmed ashen flesh.

 

Five minutes later

I return to check,

Lizard raises his head

peers about,

his skin is regaining its pattern

of stripes.

I wonder how long

it has been since he has eaten?

He gazes at me intently as

I welcome him home…

 

 

Working notes:

 

Last year when I moved into this adobe house I made friends with each of the sagebrush lizards who lived here. I was privileged to get to know each one by sight as they greeted me in the early morning by appearing the moment I stepped outside the house. Just knowing they were with me helped me survive a summer of such intense heat that I was housebound for months.

 

Last fall I built a half moon garden on the south side of the house and all seven house lizards moved in for the winter, including baby lizard who was born in late August. I was thrilled, knowing that I had created an unintentional haven for these reptiles! During the winter I thought about lizards sleeping just beyond the adobe wall… I loved knowing they were nearby. When my friends emerged this spring (March) I noted that I hadn’t lost one!

 

One surprise was that soon I noticed new sagebrush lizards that were also making their home here (was some kind of lizard grapevine working behind the scenes?). The newcomers were shy, and it took me a while to show them that I could be trusted. One new pair also took up residence on the garden wall. The male had taken a special liking to me and often appeared from a crack in his cottonwood abode whenever I came by and spoke to him.

 

When the lizards began to pair off this month (May) I watched two pairs mate; one was the male that fell into the pail. I am happy to report that the mated females are pregnant and the couples continue to hang out together on different parts of the adobe house, some in the east, some in the south, two pairs on the garden wall. I placed rounded pieces of cottonwood bark as extra lizard houses on the top of this parapet. The lizards can bask there in the sun, hunt for ants, and disappear in seconds if need be. It was on the surface of one of these bark houses that I placed the lizard I thought was dead.

 

To find him floating in a pail of water horrified me not just because I knew I was responsible, but because the lizard was my friend.

 

When a lizard is dying his very distinct markings fade into a dull uniform dark gray; I was barely able to identify this one. That the cobalt patches turn to emerald was another surprise.

 

I am not sure how I learned that sometimes I can help an individual by setting an intention for Life, clearing my mind, cultivating deep breathing, and letting go of the outcome, but learning this technique has helped me at times to save lives.

 

As I watched the lizard recover I viscerally felt and sensed the power of interconnection to effect outcome.

 

I call that power Love.

Renewal?

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(author’s story as told by the child… note the Raven in the plant)

 

Renewal?

 

Just that one word dreamed as a question the night of January 1st.

 

Last evening all my Bear Circle animals gathered in front of the 8 flickering candles (intentions I had set for this coming year) – Most were about the loving the Earth, my body, the bodies of animals and trees, giving thanks for gifts offered in 2018.

 

The animals were walking towards the evergreen wreath, my Circle of Life, soon to enter the Great Round. My fervent hope was that during this human induced ‘sixth extinction’ some would find a way to survive…

 

Telling stories through stone animals is something the child has been doing for almost 40 years when I first dreamed the “Bear Circle”… Sometimes these stories ‘work’ and sometimes not. But I never stop the child’s meanderings for often she knows more than I do…

 

As I spoke my intentions, opened my palms and sang my song, Lily b offered his Blessing.

 

Heat pulsed through my upraised hands.

 

I had been heard.

 

Staring into the flames of the candle at the center of the wreath, I imagined the animals walking through to a kinder place where all creatures and trees were loved.

 

Even as my heart broke.

 

So many losses and more to come.

 

Renewal?

 

Even in the dream the word remains a question… perhaps opening to unimaginable possibility?

 

This morning there was no sunrise.

 

Eight Ravens brought in the day.

 

Messengers from the Beyond witness what is, will be.

 

 

Postscript: Many Indigenous peoples believe Raven is a messenger from the ‘Great Beyond’ who brings news – good or ill. What’s curious is that I lit 8 candles last night and this morning there were eight ravens sitting in near by trees…

For Love of Trees

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Yesterday I dreamed that I discovered a bird’s nest that was hidden in the center of an evergreen tree. This little dream moved me deeply because this is the time of year I celebrate my love and gratitude for all trees, but especially evergreens, and the dream felt like an important message. For me, the “Tree of Life” is also an evergreen at least during the winter months.

 

Outdoors, I recently placed a glass star in the center of my newly adopted Juniper here in New Mexico, repeating a pattern that began in Maine years ago with my Guardian Juniper in whose center I also placed a star…Inside the house an open circle made from a completely decayed tree trunk sits at the center of my Norfolk Pine. Indoors both boughs and tree are festooned with tiny lights. The point of these making these gestures was/is to remind me that tree bodies are sacred in their wholeness and each tree explicates the immanence of divinity. Another way of saying this is to say that Natural Power lives in trees.

 

I do not believe in god.

 

But the reality of “Natural Power” is an ongoing force in my life. When I am deeply troubled I turn to trees or birds or animals for help, and they always respond, although often it takes me a long time to understand their messages, mostly because my intellect and cultural conditioning gets in the way of intuition, sensing, and feeling.

 

Sometimes dreams help me to bridge the gap, and when I dreamed that the tree held a nest I felt a great comfort moving through me…

 

It seemed to me that the dream was showing me that the “little bird woman self” (most vulnerable personality) has a safe place to rest within the protected boughs of the evergreen, also her Tree of Life.

 

Because I am living in two worlds and must find a way to move between both, I am by necessity a “snow bird” migrating with the seasons. Thus, it means a great deal to me that I have a place to feel contained and nurtured among fragrant boughs anywhere I go.

 

The tree and her nest may be hidden, but it is there, and I found it.

 

Perhaps I have found home, after all.

I Remember Who I Am

 

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20180122_Lily_Hope_20100424.jpg  the road less traveled is one I walk…

 

Twice in the last week I have climbed a mountain road and walked around through healthy Ponderosa pine,  gray -green spruces, junipers, aspen, and cottonwoods recently shorn of their crowns, soaking in the oxygen rich ragged cliffs studded with thousands of healthy trees, delighting in deep green needles etched against deep blue sky… A few mountain peaks wear  white.

 

When I breathe this moist sweet air I feel the Source of Life moving through an aching body. She thrums a song through my heart, strums a song through my lungs. This precious Life. Tiny evergreens are sprouting, cacti abound. Bushy emerald sprouts on mature trees speak to adequate rain – for now. New growth tips are Nature’s promise. Black Bears slip through the trees on padded feet unseen, gentle denizens of the forest, they ponder the abundance of choices for dry winter rock dens. I slip on loose rubble gathering sweet boughs. Give thanks. The opaque stones speak.

 

Today is All Soul’s Day. And I remember who I am.

 

A Daughter of the Earth.

 

I have reclaimed my animal powers on the tree rich mountain where ‘woman changes.’ I wear antlers that touch the sky with tongues of flame. I am a woman who belongs to Bears, to Forest, and to Stone. I am the Soul of the River that calls my name.

 

I am a woman I respect, who speaks her truth, even as she stands alone.

 

I Remember Who I Am.

Words from Barbara Mor

…& who is jesus what else

does he do    can he sing

can he plant corn    i saw

a picture of him once on

the dome of the sky looking

down dark & fierce at the

green earth   & who is jesus

what else can he do   can

he scrub floors can he make

the bread      they say  he

suffered 9 hours of pain

for the world   tell that

to any mother    what man

son of what father   king of

what desert    saver of what

flesh   can he mold pots

can he make the rain come

can he find  his way home

naked after being raped

can he wail like janus can

he burn in fire   after

2000 years of dying can he

laugh & hand Death a beer

can he smash the last

mirror  can he know me  who

is this jesus   what is

he: next to any woman’s

blood-red truth   no wound

in a man  is big enough

to birth a world   to

return an earth

so now here is our old mama   in the junkyard…

(from “A Song A Song For Tralala,” 1975-1997)

 

Comment:

I didn’t read Barbara Mor’s “The Great Cosmic Mother” until graduate school at mid life, and this book along with Griffin’s “Woman and Nature” validated every intuition I had ever had, made sense of my dreams, and helped me believe in my own ideas. Barbara’s life was difficult and she was and remains a visionary… a beacon for those of us who are attempting to survive the destructive chains of 4000 years of domination by patriarchy and a woman hating culture.

Desert Fire

 

 

When days

seem endless

and a glaring white sun

stings my eyes…

when a harsh west wind blows

and searing heat strikes

this mud house

shriveling bittersweet wild flowers

lizards fly –

The walls are too hot to touch.

This intolerable fire

raises a question –

to stay or go?

Desert heat is a form

of body torture.

 

Yet, this morning

the owl hooted

from the cottonwood…

I walked to the river

under a waning moon

blessed this body

under seige,

felt intolerable anguish

how much more can she stand?

I gave thanks for water

felt the cool air

and breathed so deep,

shivering

in pre-dawn air.

I watched a

dark god soar

under a luminous white pearl

reflecting,

querying,

to stay or go?

 

The question can

only be answered by

this body

who knows

what I do not.

Will this brief daily respite

from ongoing suffering

be enough?

 

Desert heat is a form

of body torture,

unlike any

I have ever known.