Grackle & Sun

Archive for the category “spirits & red thread”

The Natural Order of Chaos

I can’t remember exactly when I started collecting yarn for the beast. Around 2006, I think. Ten years ago. A friend loaned me her copy of Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls after she knit a few gorgeous shawls from it.  I thumbed through the book, drooling at the beautiful, complicated stitches and delicious+scrummy yarn. And I kept on thumbing through.

As a newish knitter, I chose patterns based solely on what I thought I was capable of doing, not on what truly called to me. I was afraid to take off my training wheels. And so I chose the one pattern that I thought I could actually do–the ruana: a large rectangle knit entirely of the simplest stitch a knitter can make with two hands. With the exception of the cleverly constructed  neck (which was knit last, giving me time to build up to it), this is what we call a ‘mindless knit’.  That is not said pejoratively.  A mindless knit is a good thing–something that can be done without counting rows or stitches; something that can be picked up and put down without fear of jacking it up. In many ways, for many knitters, it is the perfect kind of knit–one that allows the stresses of the day to fall away in the rhythmic click-click of the needles, the pull and release of yarn across fingers.  But in this moment, I was not thinking of those things. I was only thinking of what I could- and mostly of what I could not-do.  Thus, this was a project born out of fear and denial: the unfortunate (and unnecessary) fear of crafting over my head, and the utter denial of my heart’s desire to do more. I was stubbornly unwilling to leave the bosom of my beloved garter stitch. And so I cast on (and cast on and cast on), and began a four year journey of…ruana2What? Fortitude, mostly. It’s a lot of garter stitch. 280 stitches per row. 472 rows. That’s 132,160 stitches just on the body. Add maybe another thousand or so for the neck. At times, it felt like a million more than that. It was the neverending story. But as far as stories go, it was a lovely one to listen to and to create. Warm, soft, lustrous, and colourful. It was these qualities that kept me coming back to the knitting. It was so enjoyable. I stopped seeing garter stitch as ‘basic’, and started to experience it for what it truly is–foundational. And the ruana, safe and constant, gave me space to think.

In this thinking, I figured out why I had actually chosen this project. Stitch by stitch, I began to examine my fear, which I realized was born out of belief in an identity of noncraftiness–which itself was all tangled up with life-long rejection from others for not being girlie enough. As I sat with that fear (and also that rejection), stitch by stitch, I realized that I was capable of doing this crafty thing that I loved in my own non-traditional, not-super-girlie way.  And so as my hands knit the ruana, my mind tinked the old identity, the old judgement, until it could be reconstructed into something true. Some of this was very conscious. Some of this was very subconscious. But I knit and knit and knit through it. Somewhere in there, I started working on new projects. Complicated projects which required new skills. I leveled up a few times. But I came back to the ruana. To peace, and space, and the story she told. ruana1And like the best stories, the ones that are unhurried, that take time to pause and call attention as they turn and unfold and build, the ruana demanded patience and rewarded with depth. Demanded reflection and rewarded with insight. She holds a story. Each stitch a word, each row a phrase flowing into the next; the wool providing both characters and setting, my hands the action. My own story knit into it whole cloth.

Then she was finished. And I sewed shells and bells onto her fringe, so she can sing her story, too.bellsandshellsOne of the joys of this project was playing with so many different, glorious skeins of yarn. I loved choosing at random (which is never really random) and seeing how each colour blended into the next. Each skein had its own personality, and I’ll say this: you have to listen to your yarn. It will tell you who it wants to sit next to, if it wants to stand out or blend in.

I used eight different colours and slightly varying weights. I have them listed with pictures on my Ravelry project page. It is a near indescribable pleasure to work with fantastic yarn. I prefer stuff with character–natural colours, handspun, and natural fibers. And I don’t mind picking out the odd piece of straw here or there. The difference comes down to working with something alive or something dead. That’s what it feels like to me. Here’s what is in the ruana of truth:

  1. Beaveslide Dry Goods is an old favorite. Great yarn, super nice people. And the colour cards are awesome. I love them. I used Fisherman’s weight 3 ply in Bison Brown.
  2. Reynolds Lopi 100% Icelandic wool, all natural colours (grey-brown-black). This has been discontinued now. It’s a heavy yarn, and I split the plies to use the singles.
  3. Galler Peruvian Tweed in brown-black #107. Super ridiculously soft undyed superfine high Andes alpaca. Need I say more? Nope.
  4. Deborah Arbuckle’s Shadyside Farm Studio  Hands-down my favorite yarn ever. Romney wool. Lustrous. Gorgeous natural colours. And she is super awesome. I used Sheep Heather in dark chocolate and black. Deborah’s Etsy shop is empty at the moment, and I hope she’s just taking a break to restock. This is me sitting here not freaking out.
  5. Brooks Farm Yarn I swear angelic light shone from this booth at Stitches Midwest. Their yarn is so soft and so shiny. Elegant, but still durable. Like an elf of Rivendell. I used two different colours from a line called Harmony–a blend of silk, wool, mohair, and magic. It has been discontinued, but it’s stashed on Ravelry with some for trade/sell. Hint, hint.
  6. Cheryl Oberle Dancing Colours. I met Cheryl Oberle at Stitches Midwest in Chicago and told her I was knitting her ruana pattern. She was absolutely lovely, and she picked out a skein from her Dancing Colors line to go in the ruana. How cool is that?! Super cool, that’s how cool. Highlight of the trip.

My non-knitting friends get a real kick out of my yarnie fangirling. Like the time we were sitting around the table at a dinner party, telling our best celebrity stories, and I regaled them with the time I waited on Casey and Jessica Forbes at a wedding brunch. You know? Casey and Jess… the founders of Ravelry. Oh, come on! Ravelry. The knitting website… Blank stares and then drinks shooting out of noses, people. That is the entertainment I bring to the table.

Not all knitting carries a story of chaos and transformation and changing of masks the way the ruana does. But it can. Everything has a story, and anything can be a catalyst for change if that is how you choose to see it. And that is magical. People always think that magic is supposed to change the outer world. It does. By changing you, by changing the inner world. May all your crafting be magical.  ruana3

As always, tinks on me!

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Morning Meditation: {Don’t Think of Elephants}

I was chasing the sun. A common thing. Early in the morning. An uncommon thing.  But it’s what I needed to do. So Ronin and I drove to the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, which is where the sun was hanging out.

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Ronin is my good buddy.

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I’ve lived by the Mississippi for years and years. I’ve watched full moons and red moons rise over it. I’ve seen it high and rushing, full of branches and limbs as big as boats. I’ve seen it so low it showed its secrets–wing dams and dry banks. I’ve seen it whipped so hard by the wind that whitecaps stood up like ocean waves. I’ve seen it in the dark with only lights from the bridge reflecting on its dark surface. But I’d never seen it at dawn. I didn’t realize that until I was standing there watching the mist rise off the water like some otherworldly veil, softening the sounds of the river as it flowed past.

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The riverfront here is a combination of paved areas and old hand-laid rough cobblestones. You can walk along it for a long way in either direction, and you can walk right into the water if you like. Something caught Ronin’s attention, and he was trying–as only a dog can–to inhale the entire world through his nose. I followed him, curious about what had him so excited. We walked right to the edge of the embankment, several feet above the water, and looked down. There was a dead fish floating–half a silver carp–very big, staring up at us. Mystery solved. I wondered how it had died, why it was there. Then I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Immediate recognition. A few feet to the left, nestled between some sharp rocks, an unmistakable shape under the water.

Ganesha.

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I asked Ronin to wait for me and climbed over the edge of the embankment onto the rocks below. Ganesh was glowing orange with the light of the dawn, the colors soft under the muddy water. And there it was. The whyness of my morning.

Ganesha, the Remover of All Obstacles, the god of new beginnings.

We said thank you to the river, goodbye to the dawn. We stood and waited patiently for a morning train to pass; it’s tracks run right between the river and the street where we parked. It’s the only place I know where you can stand so close to a passing train that you could touch it, jump on for a ride. And nobody thinks anything of it. Small town. Ganesh rode in the passenger seat as I drove us all home. I washed the river off him and anointed him with butter, and now he sits in our kitchen where he is very happy to look over things from the heart of the house. And obstacles are being removed.

The elephant in the room is my atheishness. But I’ve learned not to overthink these things. Gifts from the Universe take many forms, and we are fools to think they will only come in one flavor–no matter how we try to construct our reality. So follow what pulls you, keep your eyes open for shapes in the water, and listen to your dogs. That is how you catch a wave and surf the Universe–nimbly and joyously and always, always with gratitude.

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Hot Granola

It has begun. The transitional winds are a-blowin’, and I am feeling reflective. I am living in that thin place in the Inbetween that makes me itchy and restless, melancholic and introspective, and ultimately buzzing with awareness of all that is unseen around me. I realized the other day that I measure the years of my life in summers, in how many summers have passed and passed. Here it is passing again. My gut reaction is always to hold on to the long light so tightly, afraid that if I let it go without a fight, I too will slip away like summer does–into the silence of the cicadas, the darkness of the fireflies.

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It’s weird to wake up one day and to not recognize yourself–to find that what once was used to protect yourself somehow became a barrier to being yourself.  It’s a bi-product of anxiety and of living too long in the wrong place. And what happens? You disconnect from the Flow, only occasionally aware of how you fit in the Universe. You think your eyes are open, but they are not open. This is what happened. I became this serious thing, impatient. I forgot how to play.

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I remember one day last summer, walking through the woods along the creek that runs not far from our house, and it hit me: I had to make it my priority to unclench. That has been my daily practice this year–to gently, but surely, pry open the fist that holds my insides in a deathgrip. Because clenching or unclenching is a choice. How we see and respond to the world is a choice. Old habits die hard. I have to shake off this pall frequently, reminding myself to lighten up.

To open up.

                                                                                                To look up.

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In all this reflectiveness, I came to understand something which I think is rather important: the deep necessity of all things whimsical.

Whimsy is my antidote to apathy.

I have learned that when life sends you whimsy, you take it and say thank you. You eat it until your soul-belly is full. You breathe it in until you can feel it in every cell of your being. You wrap it around your shoulders like a cashmere pashmina, because what is whimsical can keep you warm in a cold, cold world of assholes, drudgery, and taxes. It is the delightful and profound pairing of beauty and playfulness that reminds us to be curious, to be lighthearted, and most of all open to seeing a reality that is quite different than what we’ve been told it should be. Because the truth of something is not always in its facts. That is magic.

Whimsy is a gift, and those that bring it into your life should be welcomed with open arms. And if we are very lucky, we can create a little of our own, too, and cast it into the world to share. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who bring beauty to the world and who very patiently remind me to play.

Happy Equinox, All.

Morning Meditation: Life As It Should Be

It really can be this simple.

Satisfaction.  Contentment.  Fulfilment.  Happiness.

And the measure of this?

All to be found in watching a flock of sheep graze in a green pasture.

In the light filtering through dogwood blossoms.

In the song of a red-shouldered hawk hiding in the canopy of great oak trees.

In the hum of bees in pear blossoms.

In the soft green of leaves unfurling.

In the warmth of the sun’s good medicine.

In belonging where you are.

Morning Meditation: Atheist Prayer

I am an atheist. And I pray.

I recognized some time ago, long after I’d finally admitted out loud to the world that I neither believe in the existence of nor worship any personal Supreme Beings of any sort, that the one thing I missed about my religious upbringing was prayer. Why? I’ve struggled with this for a long time. It is too bound up in the usage and meanings of others. I’ve had to pick this thing apart piece by piece, knowing that if I could first identify and articulate what I meant by prayer, maybe then I would understand why I, an atheist, need it.

A significant part of this journey was reconciling, in both my inner and outer worlds, that I believe in things that may not fit most people’s definition of atheist. I am an animatheist. Animist and atheist. Suffice it to say that while I don’t worship any gods, I am deeply steeped in the spirit, and my life reflects that. We can get into this some other time. Preferably around a fire with a good hard cider. We will talk about strange phenomena, lucid dreaming, plant energy, daoist witchcraft, folk magic, hylozoism, Marcus Aurelius and Epicurus, and the delightful and dark world of the subconscious. I promise, it will be fun.

And so here we are at the point where I tell you what prayer is to me. Prayer is a sort of meditation, one that works for people, like me, whose monkey minds cannot abide staring at walls with their eyes half closed, silent and still. The words of a prayer recited or chanted calm the monkey and unlock the stillness within. Prayer is a key. Prayer is also a gateway. By using an external mechanism, a symbol, such as prayer beads, in conjunction with the often poetic or heartfelt language of the prayer, the conscious is bypassed and the subconscious is tapped. Through prayer, we tuck our rational, linear conscious mind into our back pocket for a while and allow the subconscious to take over and to guide us, to speak freely from the deepest parts of ourselves. Prayer is a lens. It allows us to focus our intention and will. Through prayer we identify problems and ask our deeper selves for solutions. Prayer is a ritual reminder to be mindful, to be thankful, to be good, to be aware, to be better. Prayer is an acceptance of our humble state in this universe. Through prayer we acknowledge that we are not in control of all the things, and at the same time we acknowledge our connection to all the things and our responsibility to do what we can. Through prayer we practice and reinforce learning how to ease up and go with the flow. Finally, prayer is the yin to the yang of Action. Prayer is reflective and restorative. It allows us to still our thoughts, heal our spirits, focus our intentions, and gather our potential energy so that we may then go into the world and act with wisdom and kindness and understanding. Prayer helps us get our heads on straight, to get right with ourselves. So, even though I do not pray to any gods, I pray for these reasons.

I wanted to make prayer beads specifically because I wanted something to hold in my hands—not only to help me focus, but also as a reminder that Prayer and Action go together. That the same hands that pray for something must then go make it so. And so I made what I very tongue-in-cheek call my “witch’s rosary”.  In reality, as witch is not exactly a title I claim, it is simply my chantstrand.The beadwork was set to a prayer of sorts that I’d written a long time ago and is not symmetrical. It is made of handpicked white Job’s Tears and polished copper ore on red thread. There are more in the works, by request and also to be set to other prayers and chants. I think writing one’s own prayers can be very liberating and healing and can bring a great deal of clarity and solidity to one’s practice.

Many blessings to you all as you find your spiritual center. Remember that you can carve that out for yourself.

There Has Been

Traveling to northerly places (and giant orange asterisks)…

Leaves leaving…

Restless snappers chasing reflections…

Giant squashes waiting to roast in my oven…

Much needed rain and rain and rain…

Mysterious nightshades and their thousand lanterns…

Ordinary, not ever ordinary…

Okra…

Things to remind me of childhood…

The Mighty Mississippi…

Furious weaving everywhere…

Oars Paddles in the water…

Long walks in the woods with my best buddy…

Making friends with the genius loci by making apologies for trashy people…

Bunches and bunches of marigolds…

And settling in to autumn.

Lay in the grass, bask in the sun, work hard, remember to play, dream vividly, wake happily, eat lots of soup–even for breakfast. And if you’re lucky, knit a row or two. ;)

 

{Morning Meditation} Understory

Before the canopy above awakens from its dormant sleep, blocking out the rays of the sun from the forest floor, the shrubs and bushes, vines and fleetingly flowering plants hurriedly open their leaves to bask in as much of that early spring light as they can before the tall trees claim it for their own.

This part of the forest is called the ‘understory’.  It is a fitting name, as this story unfolds often unnoticed, out of sight, below what is obvious and easily seen.  To observe what is happening, one must also be willing to go under and below, to allow the senses to go to places that are usually overlooked and ignored. Like Tiffany Aching teaches us, we must learn to open our eyes—and then open them again.

When we learn to do that, we understand that this understory can be watched, read, and heard all around us. We can follow the story as it unfolds. The closer we are able to look, the more we find such unimaginable beauty.

And things we take for granted as being common,

become uncommon treasures.

How much do we miss by keeping our eyes only on one level of things? How many subtleties escape us? Most days, I feel as though I am seeing this land for the first time.

I am learning the story of the dogwood. Did you know that the bracts of the flowering dogwood are often light green when they open?

They change to white when the flowers are ready for pollination.

This I learned by walking through the woods with my eyes open. Walking slow and staring in wonder at what I saw.  Asking questions, listening and observing.

And then Googling. But listening and observing first.

Plants are not the only ones with understories. All living things, animate and inanimate (yes, I mean that) have stories beneath the surface.

Under rocks,  there is fire.

I think this is a Southern Red-backed Salamander. Which I would not have seen if I hadn’t looked under that particular rock. I’ve never seen one of these before, and I saw two that day! Which makes me very happy since amphibians are indicators of the health of creeks and streams. Stories interweaving–the salamander, the creek, and me.

And then there is the understory of the underworld. Important in myth, for sure. But a different kind of underworld story is playing out right underneath our feet. No ferryman needed.

Entire worlds below us, and we just step over them like it’s nothing. But what is happening below is so complex that we are just beginning to understand how truly remarkable and necessary it is to life ‘above’. In this understory, ants play an important part in keeping the soil healthy. They turn and aerate the soil, affecting nutrient content, allowing air and moisture to reach the roots of the plants growing above. They carry seeds into the tunnels below—seeds that will germinate, thereby helping to disperse them to wider areas, helping to ensure survival and diversity.

Sometimes the understory has understories, but you’d never know this without getting down on your hands and knees to find out. Mayapples carpet the forest floor in colonies every spring. Their leaves are like umbrellas.

If you look underneath these funny, leafy umbrellas, you will find the most beautiful flowers. You cannot see them from above. I think they are worth crawling around of the forest floor to see. Next month, the flowers will have fallen, and the little fruits will grow in their place.

Every thing has a story. And every story is intertwined in some way with every other story, whether it’s big and obvious as a forest canopy or part of the ever-twining understory. Not every story will be one you want to know, and that’s ok. Not all stories require our participation. They don’t even require our awareness. That is for our benefit, not only to enrich and give greater meaning to our lives, but to help us understand our place within this world. Within the greater story.

As an example, even the goddamned poison ivy belongs in the understory. We don’t have to participate in that story, but we ought to be aware of it. ;)

Our stories run like currents underneath the surface. Our subconscious language of imagery and symbols, our constant thoughts, our changeable feelings are always present under our skin, under the canopy that we present to the world. One story on the outside, another on the inside. Both necessary, both meaningful. We are surrounded by stories at all times in all places. Being aware of our ‘understory’ reminds us that everywhere we look, if we look closer, we will find amazing stories playing right before our eyes. And being aware of the ‘understory’ around us reminds us to look closer at what is within ourselves, too.

 And that’s all my deep thoughts from the forest floor, lol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of Toads (aka Pool Party)

I love toads.

Absolutely love them. Mating season has been in full swing here at the farm, and I got a few close-ups with the local toad residents, most of which I think I’ve correctly identified as both Eastern American toads and Dwarf American toads.

Our conservation department has a great little pdf that describes many of the 26 species and subspecies of frogs and toads found here in Missouri.  For most of the toads, mating season is in March, April, and May. It is the male toads who sound the mating call, the unmistakable trill that announces both the arrival of spring and the season of love.  Here are the links to some short clips that I took of male toads calling (wordpress was uncooperative with imbedding):

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The males tend to be smaller than the females, as you can see in these amphibious bow-chicka-wocka-bow pictures below:

Unlike frogs, whose eggs tend to form clumps or masses in the water, female toads release their eggs in long continuous strands. These strands can range anywhere up to 60 feet long! Here you can see the toads laying eggs in their natural habitat, a lake. They also like the still water of ponds, low ditches, and large puddles.

And now you can see the toads laying eggs in their preferred habitat, our swimming pool cover. It gets filled with rainwater and melted snow, and since there are no fish to eat the tadpoles, the toads congregate in this giant, safe “puddle” every spring. On this particular day, the toads were many. I stopped counting at 50. You can clearly see the long strands of eggs in this photo.

Approximately 1-3 weeks later, depending on the temperature, the eggs hatch into tadpoles. Many, many, many tadpoles. I’m pretty sure there are about 8 million of them in the swimming pool right now.

And even a few in the lake, lol.

Not all of them will live. In the lake, many will be eaten by fish, turtles, and other predators.  Much of the water on the swimming pool cover will evaporate in the warming sun before the tadpoles fully mature. In the past, I’ve collected all that I can reach and transported them down to the lake. Of those that do make it out of the water on four little legs, many will fall prey to snakes, turtles, and small mammals. But the quick, the cautious, and the lucky will survive to complete the cycle again next year.  And potentially, the next 40 years after that. Toads can live for a very long time.

There is a lot of lore surrounding the toad. In Europe, toads were believed to carry the spirits of witch’s familiars and to be symbols of the devil. In China, the three-legged toad, Jin Chan, was seen as a symbol of prosperity and was associated with the full moon.

This male toad doesn’t actually have three legs, he just had one tucked back underneath him. And since he doesn’t have any gold coins falling out of his mouth, we can safely assume he is not Jin Chan. Pity.

My favorite author of Ozark traditions and lore, Vance Randolph, wrote down a number of the superstitions surrounding toads that he collected from the locals in his book Ozark SuperstitionsHere are a few excerpts from that work:

“It must be admitted that some of the items in this collection are folktales rather than superstitions proper. That is, they are not really believed by intelligent adults, but are repeated to children just as parents elsewhere tell the story of Santa Claus or assure their offspring that rabbits lay parti-colored eggs on Easter Sunday. The old sayin’ that killing a toad will make the cows give bloody milk, for example, is probably just a way of teaching children to let toads alone; the farmer knows that toads destroy insects, and he likes to see them around his doorstep on summer evenings.”

“There is a very widely known superstition that to kill a toad will make one’s cows give bloody milk. Most people think that nothing can be done about this, once the toad is dead, but Otto Ernest Rayburn found hillfolk in Arkansas who claim to be able to repair the damage, particularly if the toad was killed accidentally. “Get seven pebbles,” says Rayburn, “and throw them over your left shoulder into an open well at sundown. The milk will be all right after that.”

Randolph recounts a few ways for getting rid of warts, one of which requires this gruesome deed:

“Or one may kill a toad, rub its intestines on the wart, then bury the entrails under a stone. All this must be kept secret, otherwise it won’t work. The boy who acquainted me with this method still had several large warts ; when I asked why the toad’s guts hadn’t cured them, he explained that he had told his mother what he was doing, in order to escape punishment for killing the toad. The mother was opposed to killing toads in the dooryard ; she said it was an unlucky and senseless practice and might make the cows give bloody milk.”

That treatment is only to be outdone by the cure for a goiter. The instructions said to bake a toad in the oven until “the oil ran out of it” and then to apply that oil to the goiter daily. Ew with a capital EW! I mean, not only to kill a toad like that, but then to ever use that oven again for anything ever. Just say no to baking toads, people.

On a happier note, it was auspicious if a newlywed couple saw a toad immediately after the ceremony. And I do like this little saying that someone mentioned their father always said,

'Safe as a toad in god's pocket.'


Toads are also seen as symbols of transformation and secrets. This I can understand. They really are quite remarkable.


Morning Meditation

I was feeding the horses one morning when I saw this stump in the ground.  I went kicking around the stump and found that someone had, at some point, tossed several big rocks around it—probably when it was still a tree leaning over the paddock fence. Now they were half buried in the dirt and covered by tall grass. I began to dig them out.

What is it that makes a person meddle with things? What is it that gives us the desire to put our hands on nature, rearranging, ordering, moving and creating? I’ve long been captivated by the simplicity of balancing rocks, warmed by the familiarity of the form and message of inuksuks, and indelibly inspired by the art of Andy Goldsworthy. I am fascinated by art made from the most natural of materials. And so I lifted each rock and began to balance them on one another on the surface of the wood.

I was clumsy at first. Impatient. I stacked, the rocks fell. But after a bit, my hands understood the weight and heft of them. They began to call out their placement. Unmistakably.

The rocks speak. That is what my gut tells me, how I understand my interaction with this form and matter. Matter and spirit.  My cynicism argues, is it really the rock communicating its balance point? Or is it my small mind powering down and allowing intuition to hum into action, to pay closer attention to physical details? Is it my brain finally shutting up that lets me listen, to concentrate on a deeper level? Or is this a rare moment of experiencing the connectedness of all existence? Yes. Yes to all those things. That is my answer.

As I stack the stones, I move beyond my animistic awareness to the complexity of what is actually happening in front of me, what I am participating in:  balance. I move carefully, minding my breath, my posture. I am balance to create balance to have balance returned to me. That is the gift of stacking the stones: the act of balancing the external form creates balance within.

This exercise was so satisfying as I worked at it, that I told myself I would do it everyday as I waited for the horses to finish eating. I would explore all the different ways those same rocks could be balanced. But then after the last rock was placed, I stood back and thought instead that maybe I would not do this every day. That I would only balance the rocks when they fell down. In part, this was out of curiosity to see just how stable my structure was. To see if the balance achieved was precarious or sound.

And in truth, I liked the stack and didn’t want to take it down. Now, a month and a half later, it is still standing. Through the snow, rain, thunder storms, strong wind, and with horses galloping by.  They remain balanced as though some force stronger than physics holds them in place. Not that I think that, physics is enough for me, I am just amazed that I got them to stand for any length of time. So now I contemplate taking the rocks down, or going out to the field one morning and finding them on the ground. The magic dissolved. The lesson transformed. Now instead of balance, I contemplate impermanence. :)

 

Easter Light & the Scent of Boxwoods

The light in Spring is different. Brighter, whiter. The kind of light that sparkles and snaps. Together with the kite-inviting winds, it is what brings the Spring, what wakes the world from the cold sleep of winter. As a child I disliked what I called “Easter light”, because it meant Easter was coming. And other truisms, as well. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Easter. Love for rabbits. Love for dyeing eggs. Love for baskets full of crinkly fake grass and sweet smelling sugar-coated marshmallow. Hate for scratchy, uncomfortable, hideously pastel Easter dresses, lacy Easter socks, and stiff, binding patent leather Easter shoes. And good lord, the flipping hats. How I hated Easter hats. Then there was the whole church thing, and that was the end of it for me. Easter was like a siren, promising sweetness, mystery, and fun, and then coming in for the kill with teeth and claws and dresses and resurrections. All of this together with those transitional Spring winds making me itchy and restless for change… well, I never liked Spring.

It’s interesting to examine these feelings as an adult, to pick them apart and reassemble them with more understanding. It is a type of rebirth. Fitting for the season. I am doing this now—examining my feelings for Spring outside the context of my childhood tribulations, lol. Examining these feelings in a place of autonomy  of thought, belief, and body. I am realizing that I like that sparkly hard white light and that restless snapping wind. I like watching the world wake up and realizing that it only ever sleeps with one eye closed.

The farm is greening hard this week. Blossoms and cotyledons abound. Here is to autonomy, rebirth, and the spirit of Spring!

Violets

This huge, old quince has been here for at least 30 years. It is home to all the rabbits.

Reminds me of Duncton Wood.

Grape hyacinths that I cannot bring my self to pick for dyeing.

Jonquils. Daffodils. Jonquidils.

Dandelions and violets and other assorted weeds growing happily in the crook of a tree root.

I think I could grow happily in the crook of a tree root, too.

Plum tree blossoms.

Redbuds.

A tiny mystery flower.  It is very wee.

One evening after a light rain, I was walking in the front yard and smelled the most gorgeous fragrance. It was sweet and fruity—kind of reminded me of grape Kool-Aid. I couldn’t figure out what it was. The next several days, I continued to smell this amazing sweet-fruity fragrance, but couldn’t find any flowers that it could belong to. Then I realized the source was hidden right in front of me—a hedge of boxwoods blooming with their little inconspicuous flowers. I’ve never thought of boxwoods as anything other than a nice evergreen bush. Now I have learned what their secret gift is. They smell absoluteley divine. I feel like I should have known this ages ago, but I won’t complain about learning it now.

i am thankful for the gifts of Spring.

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