When “The Storm Left No Flowers”

 

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During the last year I have been struggling with the catastrophic effects of Climate Change like never before as I witness the continuation of a drought that is withering plants, starving tree roots, shriveling our wildflowers and wild grasses, leaving our mountains barren of snow, and changing the face of the high desert for the foreseeable future. With forest fires leaving me literally breathless from plumes of thick smoke that turn the sun into a ball of orange flames at dawn, unable to cope with 100 plus degree heat, my body forces me to surrender: I will not be able to make my permanent home here. Instead I will migrate like the birds do – from south to north and back again.

 

Coming to terms with the ravages of Climate Change brought me to my knees; it has been one of the most difficult adjustments I have ever had to make. I mourn the death of the trees, plants, the loss of precious frogs and toads, insects, birds, lizards – every plant and creature is under attack and few of us can thrive in such an unforgiving climate.

 

By far the worst manifestation of desert drought is painfully obvious – the astonishing lack of rain (In my front yard here in Abiquiu, New Mexico I measured three inches of rain for the entire year of 2018). Red Willow River has shrunk into stone. Almost never having the luxury of smelling the unbearably sweet scent of rain, gazing at scrub that glow sage green after being bathed by the Cloud People, or just listening to the healing sound of a precious deluge as it soaks into parched ground creates a longing in me that runs deeper than the deepest underground river.

 

I know now that I had to come to the desert to face what is.

 

To paraphrase poet and writer Barbara Robidoux ‘the world as we know it is broken.’

 

When I read this little book of poems with which I am now in intimate relationship with, I know there is another Indigenous woman out there that is living with what is.

 

Barbara’s words bring me hope – not hope that all will be well – but hope in the sense that I am not alone in either my grief – or in my belief that I must take refuge in the present in order to survive this holocaust. What ‘taking refuge’ means to me is to be strong enough to stay with what is and to find joy in each moment spent appreciating each bird or tree that still lives on this precious blue – green planet that is also my home.

 

Barbara reminds me “ the elements of earth, wind, fire and water all contribute to an ever shifting landscape that displays tremendous beauty (italics are mine) in these changing times.” I think of her as I begin each day watching the sky turn golden or crimson in the pre –dawn hours as I kneel before my wood stove giving thanks for warmth, and the gift of one more precious chance to feel Life and Love in motion. The bittersweet orange wings of Flicker in flight evokes a gasp of wonder.

 

Barbara also notes that this is a confusing time for some bringing me closer to accepting that many simply don’t see.

 

“Fire and Water rage. Murderous storms kill thousands. With every massive earthquake the earth changes the tilt on her axis.”

 

Barbara also tells stories that might speak to a future as yet unknown (excerpt from Out of the Ashes) :

 

Tonight the crescent moon holds water,

refuses to release rain on this dry town.

The old ones tell stories

in time the earth will dry,

fires will transform the land.

Out of the ashes we will live again…

 

“The Storm Left No Flowers” is an unforgettable book of poems that will accompany me on a journey through these last years of my life, bringing me comfort and joy, assuaging loneliness, reminding me that living in the truth of what is can be endured with integrity, dignity, and honor.

 

I encourage anyone who loves this Earth, who grieves her losses, who fears for an incomprehensible future to be-friend this collection of poems that speaks in tongues of flame, grace, and splendor.

 

 

Barbara Robidoux’s book can be ordered from Amazon.

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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 Dogs

 

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(Hope in the Foreground, Lucy at the bottom of our bed)

 

End of the year reflection….

 

I have been a naturalist all my life and except for the years I spent as an undergraduate I have always had dogs. Dogs were the first animals that taught me about unconditional love. They routinely demonstrated that I was always good enough, and always accepted for who I was even if I was “different,” severely directionally dyslexic, failed every math class, couldn’t remember which side of the road I was supposed to drive on when I first got my license, was harshly criticized by patriarchal parents, and later, after my little brother’s suicide, overcome by guilt and grief so overwhelming that it catapulted me into the underworld for ten years.

 

During this period except for waitressing, and attempting unsuccessfully to mother young children, I withdrew from the world. I couldn’t bear to spend time outdoors because every tree, frog, stone, reminded me of my beloved companion, the brother I lost. If I hadn’t had dogs when my brother died I wonder how I would have survived at all. Their sensitivity to my moods astonished me and for a long time I believed that “something” had graced me with the brightest, most loving, most attentive canine friends in the world.

 

Totally isolated from people and from the rest of Nature, my dogs slipped through the crack and accompanied me on my deadly journey. They slept beside me at night, and when I awoke from endless nightmares in unspeakable grief and hopelessness or blacked out in despair I would run my hands through thick fur as they snuggled up even closer to me covering my face with kisses. Even through the dense fog I felt their love permeating my body – a great underground river of love with a capital “L”.

 

Sammy, a malamute became my first “teacher” as I began the mountainous climb out of suicidal darkness. I had been numb for so long, and now that I was beginning to grieve my brother’s dying, she helped me stay with the agonizing process. Together we began to walk into the forest, down by the sea, often late at night after I returned from work. She was my protector, I believed.

 

One September afternoon while racing around in a haze of mindless mother frenzy I happened to notice her lying in the tall grass outside the window, scenting, silent, alert, her nose to the wind. It was a beautiful blue and gold fall day and I wanted more than anything to be out there too… I asked myself how I could begin to make sense of my stupid life – as a single mother I was drowning in boredom and busyness – The moment I asked the question Sam turned her head towards mine and answered clearly. “ Be present for this moment.”

 

Disbelief permeated my being but was not powerful enough to dismiss the message. Sammy was reading my mind. I tried to rationalize what had happened and couldn’t so I concentrated on the message. What did she mean I pondered for weeks afterwards, gradually reaching the conclusion that ‘being in the moment’ meant that I had to begin to create space for a person I didn’t even know, myself. What a terrifying thought. This was a radical notion for someone who had up until that point been a robot, following the culture’s dictates, had no sense of having personal autonomy, and failed to “fit in,” to the society she was socialized into. Choice was simply not real to me. No one was home.

 

What I had no way of knowing was how this message from my dog would begin to affect the remainder of my life. Sam not only opened the door to the void in myself but she helped me acknowledge that there was something called interspecies communication, and that I had been ignoring the messages I had been receiving from plants and animals ever since I was a child playing in the woods with my little brother… Although it would take years to believe what I intuited and was told by animals and trees as an adult, (my western conditioning constantly interrupted my experiences, discounting them), a path through the forest had opened. My dreaming body helped lead me, as did Nature who began to speak in tongues of fire at each new dawn.

 

Dogs remained my constant companions as I struggled to discover who this woman was as she emerged from beneath a death shroud to traverse the spiral way, sinking under the waves, surfacing, and being swallowed again. Lacking clear conscious direction I turned turned more and more towards Nature for clues and confirmation and was never disappointed although I frequently mis – read messages, a vulnerability I carry to this day. If I was on the right track I often received dreams of confirmation that helped. But without the constant presence of dogs my intense loneliness would have defeated me, for mine was a path few traveled, and this remains true today.

 

At midlife I fell into the underworld for the second time when my first grandson was born, and I was prevented from seeing or becoming a grandmother to him. The grief from this second intolerable loss threatened to unhinge me, and had I not had my beloved dogs and Nature as a whole to sustain me, I believe I might have died from grief.

 

Coming to terms with a lifetime of loss of children and grandchildren gripped and literally almost crushed the life out of my soul- body self for the second time. This time though, because the deaths weren’t physical I hung on to hope, refusing to give up. I made every conceivable effort to repair the damage even when waves of hopelessness tumbled me into predictable cycles of depression that worsened as time wore on. Finally in the year of 2011 after a horribly abusive and ongoing rejection by my youngest son late in December, I reached the point where I was forced to conclude that nothing was going to change because both my sons were getting something grim out of blocking my every attempt to reconcile. With a stunned horror engulfing me I suddenly understood on a visceral level how much pleasure my anguish and torment was bringing them. How could I have been so blind? I had reached the end of my “long winding road”… Now the question became: was I going to be able to survive these losses too. The loss of four more children seemed too much to grapple with. Was it even possible to move beyond this ocean of mother grief?

 

Up until this point discovering the scholar, accruing degrees, teaching, writing, and counseling, my love for my dearest canine companions and the rest of Nature had sustained me. I loved the peace of my own company and joyful moments were frequent as I communed with non – human species, wild or tame. Being with Her kept me in balance. I had crafted my own life and the better I got to know myself the more respect I developed for this courageous woman who had emerged out of deep suffering, triumphant, and willing to stand alone.

 

But I couldn’t ignore the signs year after year… During the spring and summer the rains didn’t come, and the water level dropped in my brook to an alarming low. My beloved trees were showing signs of stress, dropping leaves too early. The poplars were diseased. A couple of my fruit trees stopped blooming. Maine was logging so many forested areas that we had only 16 percent ‘mature’ forest left in the state. A mature tree was considered to be 30 years old, not even adult enough to produce nuts or fruit. I noticed that a number of species of birds had disappeared. Bears were becoming scarce because so many had been shot.

 

Most baffling were my dreams that had been dark and ominous since I had first moved to this precious Earth – a small oasis bordered on three sides by a brook and peppered with a mix of deciduous and conifer forest, embracing an old field and 20 acres. In these dreams which began almost immediately disappearing brooks, slaughtered trees, barren granite mountains and mean neighbors whose cold hatred of me astounded me all forecast a future that was incomprehensible to me even as the Earth continued to communicate her deep distress. In 1994 neighbors moved in…

 

Every attempt I had made to reconcile with sons, was now being mirrored by these terrifying neighbors, whose viciousness made me cringe. I was forced to face human ugliness on a level that mirrored my children’s behavior: these people also took pleasure out of tormenting me. I couldn’t grasp the implications behind the torture because I didn’t believe in evil. The question that haunted me was why…I spent years trying to get along with all of them and failed. There had to be something wrong with me…

 

Nothing made sense and by the spring of 2012. I began to flounder. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Unbeknownst to me, my dog Star developed cancer that summer although I didn’t dream her illness until the following September when it was too late. Although my beloved Vet operated on her immediately, the first night we slept together on the floor after her operation I saw a falling star and knew she would die… Four more intolerable months of hell followed before her death.

 

I acknowledged then that I needed a dog more than one would ever need me. I lamented. As soon as the monstrous grief peaked and let go, I acquired Bridgee who almost died in a fire the night before I got her and had stomach issues when she arrived that ended in her death as a young dog…Then I found Hope who came to me in the form of a three pound Chihuahua. Together, we survived the following winter during which time I came to the realization that grief had been pouring out of every cell in my body for so long without reprieve that my nine year old dog absorbed it, and had become ill and died. When I chose Bridgee, I chose a dog who was already compromised… ( again the haunting: was there something wrong with me?) I did not blame myself. But I asked Nature what I could do with this knowledge. I wanted Star’s sacrifice to matter.

 

Anyone who has had canines knows that dogs love unconditionally as a matter of course, and when their people are experiencing intolerable distress they take on their pain. My anguish manifested in Star as cancer, and it killed her (with Bridgee I didn’t know). I kept this information to myself because I knew that no one would believe me if I said that dogs can die not only from grieving for their lost humans, but also from carrying human pain, but I knew it was true.

 

I vowed to keep this knowing close; to stay aware, to make sure that I didn’t unknowingly create a situation in which I ignored my Hope at her expense. I took great pleasure in our daily playing, made certain she never got left home alone, mentally attempted to create a boundary between my pain and this dog. When Lucy, another unwanted Chihuahua needed a home I agreed, hoping that having two of them might lessen the intensity of my need for a deep human- dog relationship which might give them some protection, or at the very least they were company for one another. Maybe having two might help keep them safe from the ravages of depression and grief that I couldn’t control? I also began thinking I needed to leave Maine…

 

To digress a moment, it is not well known that there is impeccable scientific research being done on the relationships between dogs and humans. Dogs can sniff out cancerous growths in the people they love and others, they can find human bodies under mountains of debris as the world witnessed in 2001, they can predict earthquakes and changes in weather; they heal people with mental illness, help those diagnosed with PTSD (like me) deal with anxiety, provide steadfast companionship without betrayal, they ease the loneliness of the aged, relate to autistic and abused children. In short dogs are Animal Healers who will literally give their lives to save humans from further suffering, as Star did for me.

 

I began to dream of returning to the desert…I needed to find a way to make my life meaningful to me again, and once before the desert had helped heal me enough to go on after a painful divorce.

 

It took three more years before I moved to Abiquiu, New Mexico with Hope, Lucy, and Lily b my telepathic Dove. Initially, I fell in love with sky and stone, the ways of the Indigenous Tewa. I have been here two years, and have recently moved into a little adobe that I have made my own. I have made new friends, and over two years have developed as intimate a relationship with the scrub, juniper cottonwoods and Red Willow river as I had with my patch of land in Maine.

 

The first year I thrived. Skies that caught fire at sunset, wild and unpredictable summer rains, seductive Datura, tufts of wildflowers popping up in unlikely places, impossible sand cliffs, snow tucked safely in the mountains, the winter sun, all became my lovers…

 

This last year has been just the opposite. I have been ill with diverticulitis for much of the time, a condition that is chronic as well as becoming antibiotic resistant. Most of last winter, spring, and early summer I spent housebound. Living on a new edge with ongoing stomach issues, including attacks of severe colitis, resulted in me making a physical adjustment. It is uncertain if I can ‘manage’ my diverticulitis without surgery. I have never been more aware of my mortality, or that I am living the last segment of my life.

 

For the remainder of last summer I became housebound for another reason. I discovered that I cannot tolerate the wall of heat from a merciless summer sun, and as it became clear that the drought I thought I left behind me in Maine was manifesting in front of me because I was living it. I crumpled. The dark side of the desert is its killing heat, which is so deadly without rain. Daily I witnessed the withered scrub, shrunken wildflowers, squawberry bushes dropping leaves in July, dead rabbit bush, wild grasses, and snakeweed, stones appearing in what was once a rushing river, heard the cries and felt the desperation of the cottonwoods and junipers as they sunk roots deeper into parched desert ground… At night cicadas screamed. When the trees caught fire by the millions I couldn’t breathe, whether for them or me, I do not know. Only the ‘edge woman’ lived – the one that rose long before sunrise, dragging herself to the river in the dark, mourning the loss of cover in a dried up bog, aching for the sight of even one frog. Where were the Cloud People; where was the rain? Each trip outdoors opened the doors to hell; I felt dazed and dizzy; some days I could barely stand up and I wondered then if I was dying too. I remade my will prepared for the event should it happen. For a while during summer torment my stomach issues abated, then…

 

When Lucy became desperately ill in August with what turned out to be colitis all my alarm bells went off. Oh no, not again. I have done everything I know to keep my illness my own… but Lucy is so sensitive, and so dependent upon me, perhaps the more vulnerable of the two dogs. One more attack followed two months later. The Vet here does not know what’s wrong with her but I think I do. I pose the question to Nature: Is there anything I can do to protect these dogs from illness that doesn’t belong to them? I adore my animals. I do not want my dogs to sacrifice their lives for me. Nature does not answer. But my stomach issues returned in November…

 

I think of years past, when Sammy had convulsions while I was beaten up, when Rinkie developed irritable bowel disease and died from it after I lost my grandson. Star developed cancer of the spleen after Dee’s brutal 2011 betrayal. Bridgee came to me barely surviving a fire, had stomach issues and died from unknown causes that also were stomach related. And now stomach issues may be threatening my life. It’s almost as if each dog was carrying some element of my grief in their bellies for years before it manifested in an illness that one day would become my own.

 

We know that there is something called a gut brain.; that we think and feel and sense truth from our bellies. My truths were deeply hidden in the bowels of hell and although I have spent a lifetime uncovering what is real, and am doing everything I can to heal my own mind body split, will it be enough to help us all survive?

 

I have no answers; only more questions.

 

Now that the winter season is upon us I can look out the window and remind myself that the plants are resting. I continue to water my trees in the ongoing drought, but I don’t have to witness the withering… I wake up before sunrise and bring the day in with gratitude through deliberate and joyful attention. I can walk outdoors any time I want, and have the freedom to hike where I choose – the gift of winter’s repose. I never tire of kneeling before the wood stove, lighting a fire from wood that was dead when it was gathered, while giving thanks for trees. Each day brings more joy as the sun warms the tiles on the floor and casts rainbows through the crystals hanging in the windows. My indoor plants are thriving, green and lush, especially my Norfolk Island pine who has grown a foot in the last six weeks since beginning my winter ritual of celebrating the Tree of Life, and the life of every tree on this planet. Lucy and Hope are happy to have my attention whenever they need it, and I am thankful for each passing day. With the solstice turning only two days away I am acutely aware of changes that will come… for change is the only constant.

 

Winter is our brief reprieve – Nature’s and mine… Soon we will be facing the heat of a merciless spring sun that without adequate rain (and this is the pattern) continues to kill the desert plants as they struggle to return to life.

 

When I put my house up for sale last summer I had no sense of wrongdoing. I was leaving Maine behind, I thought. But to my surprise in the interim I have become homesick for the North Country and I long to return to my other home to hear the songs of frogs, to visit with toads and deer, to be with my little forest of trees, to be able to walk out my front door without running into a fiery wall of intolerable heat, to walk in occasional rain, to visit with my cardinals… Of course the desert has made the choice for me because my poor body cannot endure 90 – 100 degree temperatures or the ravages of forest fires. But this time I will return to Maine for the summer with a new level of acceptance. I realize now that the anguish of ongoing personal and Natural grief pushed me over the edge. I came here in part to escape drought and walked into a burning furnace. How ironic.

 

I know now there is no place to go.

 

I must find a way to adapt – to allow the grief of what is happening with me and my beloved planet to flow through me without denial or hope for unrealistic change. My equally deep love for the desert has been tempered by its dark side. This is a hard place – a harsh place of wind, sun, and stone. Wild beauty abounds and the sky is cracked with stars and my love for cactus is deeply personal because I need to become one to survive! Thicker spines and a tougher exterior are much needed; No wonder I love them so!

 

In the two years I have been here I have also witnessed the dominant culture embrace hatred as normal. Because I am precognitive, I understand that what I endured at my children and neighbors hands was probably a precursor of what would come to be a cultural reality for all, just as the loss of my brook water and trees mirrored by Climate Change. Once again I remember the dreams that forecast it would be so.

 

In my 74th year I remain an outsider but am a woman who speaks her truth, always unvarnished and often unwelcome. We are short on staying in the truth of what is, these days, and expressing my truths, which are inexorably tied to those of the culture is what I have to offer. Weaving back and forth between the two, I continue to advocate for women (and myself), especially the victims of sexual assault without apology. And my love for this beloved Earth, her creatures and trees is the driving force behind every word I write.

 

And yes, my grief lives on too, the greatest underground river of all, but when I stay in the truth of what is, deep joy is the gift I receive from all Nature and in particular from the unconditional love from my dogs…

 

I also remember my tale is only one of millions, and the eventual outcome of our personal stories and the ravages of Climate Change which are intimately connected, like it or not, is as yet unknown.

 

Meanwhile, Blessed Be the Animals, and especially our steadfast companions, all dogs….

 

 

 

On this coming solstice night as the Earth turns towards winter, I look to Her for comfort and winter peace even as I scry starry night skies searching for the old woman in an ancient Italian tale who comes riding on her broomstick leaving gifts for all, a story that is thousands of years old – predating “Saint Claws” by millennia…

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.

Uprooted

 

All summer I nurtured a small but vibrant hummingbird garden on the east side of the house, watering, pruning, loving… and two days ago a gopher moved in. I met him at 7 AM yesterday morning as he stuck his little head out of one of the holes he dug to the surface. Such a bright – eyed little creature! Gophers have miles of underground tunnels and this year many people are exclaiming over gopher mounds that are appearing in such massive numbers that I am frankly dumfounded and wondering what this behavior might be suggesting. Does this extensive tunneling have something to do with the drought? Many of gopher’s natural foods were decimated last summer, so perhaps gophers are compensating by creating even longer tunnels to reach any available food source?

 

All winter the gophers feast on tasty roots below the surface of the desert, and in the process they may kill plants but they also aerate the hard packed ground, creating places for wild seeds to take root, so I am accepting of the loss of my garden, although it saddens me that I put so much effort into creating a small oasis that fed such a multitude of bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.

 

It’s too late in the season to do anything with the perennials, but yesterday I dug up most of my cactus and re – potted them; all but one my friend Iren and I dug in the wild, and I am attached to each.

 

When I look at all the gopher mounds in what used to be my garden I can’t help wondering what this process of uprooting might mean for me on a personal level. It is my experience that Nature’s processes mirror my own in uncanny ways, perhaps because I have such an intimate relationship with creatures and plants in the wild.

 

One answer to this question comes in what I have learned about living in the desert for most of two years. This harsh environment spares no one. The fiery wall of summer heat is so intense that being exposed to this furnace over the course of even one season made me physically ill. There is a west wind that is also a killer – merciless – whipping parched ground into frenzied whirlwinds that make it impossible to walk, let alone see. Utter chaos. The drought withers even the hardiest plants. There is a dark side to living here that took me totally by surprise, because the high desert is also an astonishingly beautiful place with it’s amazing outcroppings of rock and chiseled canyons. The most precious have a water source that runs through them, and it is to these that I am drawn back to again and again.

 

I am learning that even having a small garden in the desert doesn’t work very well, and that it’s best to let Nature have her way. I did build a small rock garden to plant spring bulbs and lined it with hardware cloth (to deter hungry gophers), so hopefully I will have spring flowers to look forward to; I love them so. Perhaps one day I will build another raised garden for the hummingbirds if I continue stay here for the winter months. Even my present living conditions are too unstable to make that decision.

 

At this point I am living between two worlds – one in the north, the other to the south. I can’t take care of myself in Maine because there is too much snow to shovel, and here my poor body cannot handle the heat. Worst of all I have no money, so in two years I have come full circle with no solution in sight, except that promise I make to my body, not to subject her to further abuse. My dreams tell me that for now I must continue “to drive in the dark,” that a beloved tree is being uprooted, that the way through is unknown.

 

It does seem to me that gopher’s presence reflects the reality that I seem to have no year round roots that I can put down anywhere.

A Crack Between Worlds?

 

The day after the November election I found parts of a road-killed owl after walking just a short distance beyond a bird that hadn’t been there minutes ago. Oh no, not an owl. Initially, although I was deeply distressed that I had found a dead owl, I was relieved that it wasn’t a great horned owl, my latest familiar.

 

Owls, women, and wisdom have been an aspect of our mythology millennia before the Greeks created Athena, goddess of war, (born from Zeus’s neck). How can any male identified woman become a “goddess of wisdom” when only a male perspective is acknowledged? Leave it to the Greeks I thought in disgust. We are still stuck with Plato and Aristotle…

 

All that was left on the road was one bloody but still perfect wing and one talon; both were still warm. I carefully picked both body parts up and brought them home to clean and dry. The outstretched wing of the Saw Whet owl now occupies a place of honor below the Nicho that contains broken potsherds of the Anasazi and a broken micacious pot I bought for myself on my birth day. The South is the direction that makes sacred the fragments of broken cultures and bodies, past and present through witnessing and feeling what is, both joyful and horrific.

 

For the past year I have been in an intimate relationship with great horned owls that sang to me from the white pines in Maine and followed me here to New Mexico hooting from the Cottonwoods. And during this period because of my relationship with owls I have been able to make a final peace with the woman, my mother, who betrayed her only daughter by being male identified, teaching her how to do the same…

 

As I cleaned the wing I remembered the little dream catcher that I had made for my mother on her birthday long ago… I used the feathers of a dead Saw Whet owl that had been road killed. My mother loved that present… Women and all owls, I reminded myself have been intertwined since the dawn of humankind with one shapeshifting into the other, and owls are women with wings who see through unholy darkness and delusion.  It is these women who are capable of attaining wisdom.

 

The synchronicity associated with finding the dead body of any owl the morning after the election left me uneasy but finding this particular half eaten owl seemed to have a personal aspect to it. Long ago I had learned that I frequently tapped into the collective through personal experiences with Nature. If I had what was the message? Then I remembered a poem I had written about owls coming through the crack between worlds… manifesting in ordinary time. (I hoped that finding the owl didn’t mean that I would lose my new psychic connection to my dead mother- if I did who or what was going to fill that void in space?) The dead owl might indicate that my mother was starting to manifest in some concrete way and also that collectively woman’s power was on the rise. Although finding only one wing and talon indicated that my mother’s influence might only be periodic, and on a cultural level woman’s power was still very damaged with half the female population betraying the other by remaining male identified or indifferent it was still something. Out of death comes life…

 

The election results still lay over me, heavy like a shroud, wrapping me in a sticky white spider’s web of fear. I wanted to pull genuine hope out of what had happened. I hung onto the thread that some women had been elected to the House, that two were Indigenous, some Black, others Latino – Diversity was inherent in these choices but I also knew that women’s solidarity was sorely lacking, and it remained to be seen whether these women would act as woman – centered individuals.

 

The few token women in politics seemed to be male identified, siding with the “good old boys” who held most of the political power. I didn’t know the statistics yet but I guessed that similar to the horrific 2016 Presidential election most white Republican women voted for power over (still true). These women “stood behind their men”, mimicking their positions and excusing egregious actions because they were unable to stand alone. Emotionally bankrupt and dependent, they lived their lives through the men they supported betraying women as a group and as individuals in the most painful of ways even as they betrayed themselves. How many strong, bright, competent, brilliant women did I know that allowed a lesser man lead them around by the nose? Too many.

 

After having been a woman’s advocate for so many years I had just come through a personal crisis thanks to the Kavanaugh travesty that forced me to take a new position towards women who betrayed themselves and other women by taking a neutral position regarding rape, or even worse supporting perpetrators directly or by making excuses for the one male who had endured abuse from an angry abused woman. Rape of any woman was a crime against all women. Rape of any woman was a crime against all humanity. I was finally able to give myself permission to separate from these female impersonators without guilt. What I was also able to do was to forgive them, knowing that but for some grace, intense personal suffering and an enormous amount of work I might still be one of them…

 

Along with the mountains of grief that I had been carrying for so long over betrayal of women by women and the rape of the earth I was also able to feel my rage, and hoped I could use this friendly red dragon wisely.

 

Rage allowed me to tap into my own power, and galvanized me to keep writing on behalf of abused women and the planet. It also helped me with crushing depression. Over the past two years I had fallen deeper and deeper under the spell of a madman and his minions who were running this country, riding the horses of unbridled power, hatred, and misogyny.

 

Thinking about woman – centered women coming into office offered me a flickering light in the growing darkness of humanity. But I also knew the chilling fact that the Senate had gained Republican seats. This suggested the obvious – that power and hatred were still “winning” in spite of the apparent successful takeover of the House. (So many seemed to be inexorably drawn to a power driven demented man that cared nothing for humanity and openly despised women and the earth).

 

As things stand now we are headed towards another holocaust.

 

I had to face it. The future still looked dark but the manifest presence of even one wing and talon of the owl now suggested to me that “the women with wings,” women centered women, might be manifesting in a concrete new way. The flickers of hope fanned more flames…

 

At the time of this writing I am choosing hope as I put my faith in owls and “the women with wings,” the women who, if they can garner more female support, can lead us out of this unholy darkness into the sweet stillness of long winter nights.

 

It is with deep humility that I throw myself on the mercy of Nature asking for her support. I need to hold onto this awareness to keep on advocating for women, for animals, for trees, for the Earth, not with guns, not by murdering innocent people, not by building more walls, not through war but through interconnectedness – and by remembering who I am – a woman who loves women – a woman with wings of her own – a woman who deeply respects the woman she has become. Compassion, forgiveness, and ruthless honesty are the weapons I wield; these are the bones of my authentic woman – power.

 

I make this commitment on one of the two holidays we celebrate for the “heroes of war,” Veteran’s day… one of only two days a year American’s celebrate their dead… Let’s remember that as we celebrate this day we also tacitly support the normality of rape in war.

 

The irony does not escape me.

Autumn Equinox Reflection

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After a torturous summer and fall with temperatures still in the 90’s until three days ago we finally had rain and then it was a bracing 56 degrees the next morning with a light northeast wind!

 

Oh, the joy of finally being in synch with the season of fall.

 

I was flooded with gratitude although all around me the ravages of drought drone on.

 

Yesterday was a “doing” day. I took my first real hike into a canyon nearby, but was disappointed to see little green on the cottonwoods, shriveled sage, and dead snakeweed. What did I expect?

 

Coming home I gathered seeds, and trimmed my juniper tree, the one that has been watered all summer. I can’t save them all but that tree has grown a foot, much to my delight.

 

Yesterday was also a “play” day and I went around gathering seeds and pods that I saw and created a collage for the equinox, one that reminds me to give thanks for Nature’s bounty.

 

I watched birds and lingered at the river listening to water singing to stone.

 

And almost all day I periodically visited with my house lizards all of which were perched under Mexican hats (large sunflower heads) on my garden wall, basking on the ledge near my compost, and on the warm sandstone rock ledge… The best part was when baby lizard appeared on the railing. I provided him with a new Mexican hat since the other lizards had stolen his refuge. He’s so tiny I am afraid something will get him and I dearly want him to live long enough to go into hibernation, which I believe will be soon. All of these sagebrush lizards are my friends… so I wanted to simply spend the afternoon visiting with them letting them know I would miss each friend like lovers do, and I did!

 

This morning once again the owls awakened me – Today they hooted from two different trees, sending me off to the river. The Bosque looked like fall had touched her with a wand of subtle color. Russian olive trees were losing their canopies. The ground was also littered with the leaves from willow, compost for next spring. Every time I looked up to the Matriarchs of the Bosque tired cottonwood hearts were drifting to the ground. The river beach wears a bigger apron each day as the water recedes…

 

This morning I gazed at the milkweed pods in the center of my outdoor altar… As the breeze took the delicate white spidery parachutes that held each seed, one aftet the other, I thought that this dispersal somehow personified the whole of what the fall equinox is all about – the letting go – and how poignant a time of year this is…And yet, as the Earth prepares for winter she brings relief to parched plants by sending them into dormancy – a merciful response to starvation by lack of water.

 

My Autumn Equinox ritual, created to honor the Turning of the Wheel speaks to Nature’s abundance. The Earth has gone into the grain, fruit, and vegetables that will sustain us all winter long. A Great Goddess to all, acknowledged or not, She remains steadfast – the Earth Mother of us all. Her generosity knows no bounds. This is the time of year to give thanks for life as we prepare for the colder months head, leaning into this season of golden light and shadows.

 

Tonight I shall walk into the sunset knowing that I have been fully present for this seasonal event.

 

Blessed Be at this Turning

And Blessings to All

9/22/2018