Love and Spring Tonic

 
First, a tender message I found in my classroom zen garden today.
Then, blue sky in the space between the red barn and the poplar and sycamore trees. Even the sleepy walnut in the background is beginning to put on her summer clothes.

 
I am taking some photos these days with the aim of capturing images of portals and entrances. The deer trail photo yesterday was one of those.


The Kreider family heirloom peonies are opening.

 
Mostly wild herbs for tea: two kinds of plantain (for respiration), willow (for the head pain), clover, chamomile and catnip (to slow my system down), violet leaf, nettle, several kinds of mint, lemon balm, henbit, dandelion, dock, wood sorrel, and a few locust blossoms. I added local honey as it was cooling, and a few dashes of elderberry tincture for sipping.

Gratitude List:
1. Orioles everywhere! I saw a pair at school this afternoon while I was doing border patrol at the lower parking lot during the social. My Icarus has been singing constantly in his poplar tree. And while I was gathering wild herbs for tea, I saw and heard a pair of orchard orioles working on their nest.
2. The scent of locust and poplar tulips which fills the hollow.
3. The herbal allies which appear at this time of year to help me cope with the poplar and locust blossoms, which make me sneeze, and make my eyes and throat itch, and fill my head with a cottony fog.
4. These ever-shiny young people with whom I spend my days. The twisty feeling in my gut is upon me again. I approach June with such an incredible feeling of relief, and such a wistfulness about seeing them go.
5. Good basil pesto

May we walk in Beauty!

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All Our Children


#resist — I found this in my classroom zen garden last week.

I am sure that I have written this before. Still, it seems to want to be said again.

The first time I was pregnant,
I spent Mother’s Day
with the dawning awareness
that I was losing that baby.

The next Mother’s Day,
I held that one’s brother in my arms.
Becoming a mother was fraught
with much more peril than I’d anticipated,
each son preceded by a shadow child,
a rainbow child.

We talk amongst ourselves
about the lost ones,
and we wonder:
Were they just the first attempt
of these two who made it,
missing the train on the first go?

Were they the vanguard,
the waymakers,
making a pathway
for their brothers to follow?

Were they forces of nature,
faerie children,
unleashed into the world
to watch and protect?

But here in the sun of today
are these two shining changelings,
eyes older than time.
They know they belong here
in these bodies made of earth,
of wind and bone.

Perhaps they sometimes hear
the spirit children
singing in their dreams.


Some random quotations:
“Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.” ― Bob Marley
*
“Truth is an agile cat. It has more than nine lives.” ― Joy Harjo
*
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” ― Mark Twain
*
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”  ― Fran Lebowitz
*
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien)


Gratitude List:
1. Wood duck on Goldfinch Pond.
2. Three chittery indigo buntings flitting across the road.
3. The new giving project idea at church. I have never seen such unmitigated joy in response to the announcement of a new giving project. People clapped.
4. My mother. All the wisdom and Presence she offers to so many people.
5. And my grandmothers. And my mother-in-law. And all the women who have been mother to me. And Mother Earth.
6. My children: the two who bless and challenge me every day.
7. All our children, who challenge me/us to make the world a better and a safer place.
8. And Icarus Oriole, who sings to me all day. (I know he is really singing to Her Ladyship who hides herself greenly in the leaves, but it feels like he is singing to me.)

May we walk in Beauty!

In the Doorway of My Cottage


Here I am, stepping out of my little dream-cottage, into the world again, a little at a time.

When the stress of the everyday gets too stressy, I begin to fantasize about what my little witch-poet’s cottage might look like: thatched roof and cob walls, a nice big window, sunflowers and poppies and blue-eyed chicory in the garden, and a bee skep on a bench. Inside, a fireplace and bookshelves, cabinets to hold stones and papers, birds’ nests on the mantel, a comfortable recliner and a writing desk. (Somehow, in the filtering process to modify this photo, my gnome-friend Solomon Shandy appeared in the photo. He’s in the lower left-hand side of the photo–can you spot him?)


“When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” –John F. Kennedy


I wear beads on one arm for Beauty,
beads on the other for Kindness.
I need a third arm for Rage.


Some say she was a mermaid or a selkie,
a creature of both land and sea
moving with ease in either element
and graciously bridging the space between.

That is true, of course, but they didn’t know
how on windy days, she rose with wings above the surf,
or how her sudden laugh would often draw her into flame.


Gratitude List:
1. Icarus Oriole–always calling in my treetops of May
2. A LONG afternoon nap, with a warm blanket and a cat on my lap
3. Friends had a fundraiser yard sale today for their nonprofit. We scored the game Mousetrap, and Connect Four, and a novel by Jane Yolen that I had never read.
4. May Day at Wrightsville Elementary. It had to be inside because of the rain. I ran the Color Spin game, and had a blast trying to increase the odds for the littlest kids. The community comes together to make a good time for the kids.
5. Watching ET with the family. Turn on your Heartlight. I’ll be right here.

May we walk in Beauty!

Icarus and the Smell of Rain


It’s such a relief to not have to write a poem today, and at one quiet moment in the day, I sat down and started writing something that I was thinking, and suddenly I had written another poem. Sigh. I just can’t NOT. But I forgot it at school, so I’ll have to post it another day.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows: This morning, we passed a crow sitting on a bit of corn stubble. You know how they pump their bodies up and down when they caw? This one seemed to be chuckling to itself, its body shaking as it cawed.
2. Although I am disappointed and a little anxious that I have not yet seen or heard my friend Icarus the Oriole yet this spring, I did hear one of this cousins in the sycamores at school this afternoon. I love sycamores.
3. A good, deep nap.
4. My wish bundle. I put it out into the elements on spring equinox, and brought it in this afternoon, unwrapping the cloth and trying to pull apart the papers. It’s going to take me a little time to figure out how to create a project from it, but I am looking forward to the process. I wonder how I can shape my intentions more clearly?
5. Rain. The smell of rain.

May we walk in Beauty!

Oranges

DSCN9232
I have oranges in the dogwood tree for Oriole, but he seems uninterested.  He prefers the sycamore fluffs at the tops of the trees.  The dogwoods have lost their pink in the three days since I took the photo.

Gratitude List:
1. Cool May–whenever I start to kvetch about being too cold, I remember the beastly heat at the end of the year last year, and I am grateful.  I have not started up my classroom air conditioner at all this spring.
2. Deep, flowing conversations.
3. Your heart.  My heart.  The strands of love and compassion that connect those dots.
4. White fluffy clouds in blue sky.
5. Passing on the Flame.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gardens and Islands

DSCN9214
Season of the ferns.

Gratitude List:
1. Goethite, those small brown-black cubes we find in the fields.  Remineralized pyrite.  Philosopher’s stone.
2. The Curious Garden.  A small boy came home from school yesterday, inspired by a book/video his teacher had shown him in class.  He wanted me to help him to create a place behind the house where he would put plants he likes.  Then he took me inside to show me the book on the computer.  As we were finding this, he said, “I think you’re really going to like this one.”  I love that, that he is sharing literature with me, thinking about whether I would like it.  And he was right.  I really did.
3. Meeting the challenges.  I’m really living into The Odyssey right now, looking at the islands of Odysseus’s journey, thinking about the things that derail me, that challenge me, that keep from becoming my truest self, and the challenges that help me to become my truest self.
4. Planning my contemplative retreat.  I’ve chosen dates for my monastery trip.  Today I will call and reserve my little room.  I cannot express how deeply satisfying this is.
5. I also heard orioles on campus yesterday–even one in the tree outside my window!

May we walk in Beauty!

Dropping Keys

DSCN9204

Gratitude List:
1. This poem by Hafiz, from yesterday morning:

The small woman
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

2. Hearing oriole’s voice added to the dawn chorus.
3. Becoming more familiar with that inner labyrinth.  Learning to recognize the turnings.
4. Vision.  I complain a lot lately about my glasses, about my shifting vision, but really, I am so glad for my sight: for the ability to read, to see a blue heron in the distance flying across the River, for the way eyes let light in.
5. The rabbits of Palmyra.  They have such personality.  Last night, on the way home from my mother-in-law’s house we saw (again) a game of leap rabbit, where two rabbits square off in a yard: one makes a sudden rush toward the other, who leaps into the air while the rushing rabbit dashes beneath.  They do this repeatedly–I assume it’s a dominance thing, but it’s really entertaining to watch.  But the most engaging story is this: Yesterday morning, my mother-in-law went to open her living room blinds, and there was a rabbit standing with its back feet on her porch couch and its front feet on her windowsill, looking in at her!  It crouched back down on the couch for a moment and then stood up and looked in again.  Then it jumped up on the windowsill and looked in for a few moments before hopping down and away.  I think it was thanking her for all the flowers she has planted for it to eat.

May we walk in Beauty!

Fire Bird is Back!

Baltimore_oriole_male
(Not  my photo–from Wikipedia, labeled for reuse.)

Gratitude List:
1. Fire Bird is back in the hollow. The oriole has returned.  I have been watching and listening for weeks now.  Yesterday, as I was getting out of the shower, I heard his whistle.  I opened the window, and he flew in to sit on the branch of sycamore right in front of me, whistling and whistling.  I felt as though my longing had drawn him here. Later in the afternoon, his lady came, too, timid and whispery, yellow-green like the leaves on the poplar.  And he is such an impossible orange.  Satisfying orange.
2. A bright and shining bird of a boy who is ten years old today.  He is driven by his curiosity, compelled to explore and tweak and consider, to question and create and figure things out.  I can’t imagine anymore what life was like before he was part of it.
3. Drawing to ourselves what we love.
4. My mother.  Mentor and model, thoughtful and contemplative, she has done so much to make the world a better and more just place.
5. Mother Earth

May we walk in Beauty!

Lessons and Bright Wings

My gratitude list tonight is a two-pointer.

First, a challenging situation this morning gave me a chance to practice holding onto my center in the midst of an extremely awkward social situation that might have once caused me either to dither and apologize when I was the one who should have been apologized to, or to get angry and stony and withdrawn.  I think I managed to keep my cool.  There are things, in retrospect, that I wish I had said, things that could have added grace to the situation, had I kept my wits more firmly in place.  Still, I was able to be present in the moment when someone was criticizing me, to let a little piece of myself sit on my own shoulder and observe my emotions, to tell myself, “Now isn’t that interesting?”  I am grateful for the chance to practice, even when the moment itself was difficult.

The second thing is this: I am in love with a bird, and today he came back to my hollow.  I heard him out there this afternoon, as I was brooding about that first item, and I ran out to see, but he was hiding high in the branches of the poplar.  Later, though, when I went out to turn off the irrigation pump at the pond, and the sun had just set out of the hollow, but the last rays were still leaking over the ridge and hitting the top branches of the sycamore, there he was, shining orange in the light.  Oriole.  I can’t describe how I love this bird, but when I hear him, when I see him, I could weep for joy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Decisions and Vulnerability

Gratitude List:
1.  The way decisions grow and bloom.  You put that seed in the soil there and you say, “Hmmm.  Maybe?”  And then you come back to it a few days later, and–Lo and Behold!–something is growing!  And sometimes the bean you planted comes up, and sometimes something else is there.  Then you decide whether to uproot that or to tend it.  The year we began farming here, we planted watermelons in plastic planting trays.  As we were transplanting them out into the field, I came upon a little square where a tiny nettle was growing instead of a watermelon.  Nine years later, after that watermelon field has been tilled under and re-used for beans, for tomatoes, for squash, for peas, the nettle patch down by the parking lot is growing strong and lush.  Ah, decisions. . .
2.  The way, when you touch the wounded place and say
“This makes me feel vulnerable.  This makes me feel weak,”
the way that makes you real,
the way it makes me less afraid.
When you say,
“This is despair.  This is burnout,”
then all the rest of us can sigh,
then all the rest of us can say,
“So that is what it is.”
Then all the rest of us
can feel so much less alone.
3.  Orchard oriole in the back trees.
Baltimore in the the front.
4.  The bins are washed,
the market room is clean.
Today we harvest.
Today a new season begins!
5.  Possibilities.

May we walk in Beauty!