Thursday, October 24, 2013

Deepening Hues of the Season

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I posted. Summer has gone and Autumn is falling fast into Winter, as we had our first freeze just this morning. Beautiful bright days here, if shorter and shorter.

There were several topics I thought to post about this Summer, though, and perhaps I can capture some of that here.

Blackberries! There was a stretch of several weeks when I was walking to the river almost daily - mostly to Raven Rock in my bare feet. Each afternoon, after working, I would amble on down the soft slopes, passing poison ivy, multicolored mushrooms, slithering King Snake (rattling her tail at me!), happy patch of wild Ginger - down to the place where water and light and stone creates a lively golden world of endless inspiration for me.

I continue to fall in love each time I come to the river (or any other body of water, really). Sometimes when I think of sharing my images, I wonder if anyone might think to wonder, “why is this girl taking the same photos over and over and over again?” And yet I never tire of looking in the same places. I find new life, new light, new inspiration each and every time. It hardly seems possible.

Of course there are times it is not about capturing images. Those times I rest on the great hemlock or an ancient boulder, or I set about balancing stones on each other. It is so easy to fall into FLOW and forget all about time and most everything else, for that matter. With my feet plugged into the great mother and my head in the heavens, what thoughts do I need? What energy flows through my being? What kind of vessel am I? What can I possibly contain? Or must I, like the river, let life pass simply through me - my shape guiding and directing it, but loosely and without force as it makes its own way.

The blackberries, yes, that was what I started to talk about. After each of these walks down to the bright river, returning as the sun began to sink behind the foothills, I would walk along the forest service road and pick and eat blackberries. The bears had clearly been nibbling on some of them (I saw a mama and two teeny weeny cubs one afternoon), but there were always enough to enjoy and a few more to throw into my jar, along with some blueberries (or what some call “huckleberries”). Each day, though, there were more blackberries - on the same plants.

What I noticed and appreciated about these blackberry plants was that they provided little by little over time. It seemed to me that this is how they provide for the bears - that they ripen little by little so as to provide berries over a period of several weeks, ongoing. I was charmed to be able to enjoy them daily. Of course the same was true of the raspberries along my driveway and the delectable Chanterelle mushrooms in my yard.

This dose of deep grounding with my feet on the path, cleansing in the river’s clear water and nourishment directly from the hands of nature left me feeling more at peace than I ever remember feeling. Nor did I feel hungry afterward. It was like I had been cleansed and fed so wholly that sleep was the only remaining piece for the day.

Last Summer I lost my best furry companion of all time and then a good friend in the Fall. I learned a lot about grief and how it comes and goes and about where our friends and loved ones go within us. I learned about the cold silence that fills in the space that was once warm and lively. I learned that we are so much bigger in spirit than we are in body. I knew this already from the inside, but not from the outside.

I know for myself that just as I am at home in all that is, I am also home to all that is. And yet I did not anticipate the expansiveness of the cold emptiness that follows the death of a loved one. Not to say that they do not fill this same expanse, which they do, but that at first losing them there seemed a great nothingness where I must have thought they would still feel present. My friend and I spent most of our time together in the woods, so when I am in the woods, I feel his presence more and talk to him there (of course he is everywhere, but that just makes sense for me). My furry companion resides in my heart. When she was living, I called her my little “heart expander” because she elicited more love from me than anything or any person ever has, so I should not have been surprised to find her body nested inside of me, her heart next to mine. When I remember her, I feel her inside of me. It is a comfort to know she remains here.

Why am I still talking about these losses? This Summer a friend called on me to help with a hawk he was trying to rescue, that had been hit by a car. He had had the hawk and had been feeding and caring for it for several days and wanted me to help him release it. We set the cage out in his back yard and the regal bird walked and jumped and hopped into the yard, but try as he may, he could not make flight. Now we had to capture him again. This time to go and find someone who could rehabilitate him.

My friend lives just a couple of miles from me, and it turns out the hawk was hit even closer to my home. Right about this time, two adult hawks (the injured hawk was young) had begun calling and calling for him. For whatever reason, they did this most right around my home. Some days I would drive in my driveway to find momma hawk perched in the great white oak that reaches above my cabin, just screaming and crying away. Many mornings I was awakened by this calling, which would resume again around mid-day and then again in the evening, if not all afternoon. This went on for days, then weeks - more than a month (maybe two). And the calls grew more and more constant, more and more desperate.

I remember when Honeybear disappeared and I was calling and calling for her, begging for her return to me. Praying for her well-being. There is always that hovering question of how long to keep searching and calling. In Honeybear’s case, there came a time when I so clearly felt her absence, I knew she was gone from this world. But these birds must have felt that their baby was still alive, which he is as far as I know. They did not give up. Each day I was awed by how much time they spent searching for their baby. So often we think, “it’s nature, the cycle of life and death” and this thought comforts us when we see something dead on the road and the vultures are coming. And maybe we think that the other animals have some kind of built-in acceptance for this kind of loss.

I learned this Summer from these hawks that loss is loss, family is family, and the pain is as deep as the connection. For this reason, it feels even more imperative that we should never judge the relationships of others, for whom and how they love is sacred. And that we should never judge how others grieve or celebrate, for we cannot know the depth of another’s connections - only our own.

This Summer I learned just a little bit about how deep is my connection to the Mother and how each day she provides for me. And I continued my learning about how the depth of our connections to each other extend in all directions, and to all relations and in all dimensions.

Thoughts on Family...
I was thinking about family and traditions and stories this morning. As the holidays approach and we are all in our separate worlds - seeming to slide further and farther from each other over time - my wish is that we can find ways to meet each other and strengthen our connections. I hope that we can find ways to establish traditions and ongoing stories in our lives to carry though all of our days. That we can remember how much blood we share in spite of our economic and emotional differences, and that we can find our ways up that ferrous river to where we are all related in spirit and ancestry. Our stories and places we gathered are the places that contained us all and all together at once - let us endeavor to find and create new ways to contain and nurture our connections going forward with some regularity. 

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