First fill water then add
An arrangement of flowers
Bring brightness inside
First fill water then add
An arrangement of flowers
Bring brightness inside
I started this collage before the solar eclipse in August, and just finished it during a wet spell. Cool days, chilly damp nights, and water spilling out from above in downpours and drizzles . . . while it feels like ‘so much’ rain, really it’s not. We listen to stories about flooding in Texas and Louisiana, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, moving to Pakistan, and the versatility of water, from nourishing to devastating, it’s numerous qualities does more than amaze.
There’s a great scene in an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender that illustrates the power of water swell. In it, the Waterbender stronghold is under attack from Firebenders and Ang, the last Airbender, is standing on the ramparts facing the ocean where the fire nations’ ships are congregated in mass numbers. He begins waterbending, slowly lifting and raising every last drop out of the ocean into a gargantuan water wall . . . and there’s a small wave where he realizes he can drop it and destroy all the fire nations fleets with their troops on board, but . . . he doesn’t have to: he can waterbend and show the power water has without letting it fall instead, mercy moves fluidly like water . . . from within the bender in question, for the elements themselves are without partiality, joviality, preference . . . (or are they?)
Water. Moves boats full of gratitude to shore.
A garden is such a bountiful space, I’m in awe of it, marvel often at all that it has to offer! The year before Jasper’s birth we planted the garden but didn’t tend it at all. That was the year I learned that you don’t have to. That a garden is beyond a place to plant vegetables and fruit. It doesn’t need a gardener to enliven it, rather it will enliven the ‘gardener’. That year our plantings limped along and the entire space sprung up with red clover, milkweed, chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, evening primrose, goldenrod; and oh it was intoxicating. We gave up going to hunt for what we’d planted and simply moved through the labyrinth of eight foot tall chicories and towering evening primroses to the center, where we eventually had a bed to sit and be with the garden that had grown itself, to be with all the beings that came fluttering, crawling, buzzing, humming from flower to flower. We harvested next to no ‘food’ but we were well fed all the same, and when asked, “So how’s the garden doing?”, I’d reply, “Abundantly.” We had friends visit and they’d look at the jumbo ‘weeds’ and shake their heads, “You have food growing in there?” We’d walk inside, sit for a spell, and they’d experience what the garden was doing. It was amazing. One of our friends drove up a few times that summer . . . she spent most of her visits just being in the garden.
Since then we’ve shifted how we garden, and sometimes it is we who are gardened. The asparagus goes to fern and a thicket of milkweed, goldenrod, Quenn Anne’s Lace, pokeberry, and chicory fills the beds; each year in different measure. Last year goldenrod was predominant, this year it’s milkweed. We laid out straw pathways so we could get to where we’re planting and aside from a few vagrant docks and dandelions, the wildflowers are keeping their growth either at the edges or in the beds . . . we pull some and leave some. It feels as though when we read the living language round us, we begin to communicate differently, in ways that every ‘body’ understands and when we’re speaking the same language, it’s not that the world suddenly starts to hum and vibrate, it always is, it’s just that we begin to listen and understand it more or less, joining in participation.
I’m made aware of this when a car comes up the driveway, the folks driving are lost, gps told them to go this way and they have no idea where they are, why don’t their cell phones work, how do they get to where they want to go, are they even in Rockbridge County anymore, where are they?? Often they’re edgy and nervous, some of them leave in a hurry, some of them stay a while. All of them reflect back a common thread:when they enter places off the gps, it feels like they’ve dropped out of the known world into unknown territory, yet we are here on this planet simultaneously the whole while long, as has the universe been humming whether we listen it or not.
Yesterday I went to pick zucchini and beans, and the sounds coming from honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hornets, and three hummingbirds moving about was melodious. They each have their own particular noise, some buzzing some thrumming a bit of whirring mixed up with hovering, and together they make music in motion. Plump black and rust ants march from goldenrod to Queen Anne’s Lace, caterpillars munch on milkweed leaves and dill, butterflies dance about the flowers landing to drink, and there’s food for everyone all in a small little colorful place with eloquence written on the rustling pages of maple leaves flecked in orange.
After picking I stayed in the garden for a while, enjoying musing on literacy with the lively muses. Wondered if the emphasis on literacy for everybody may take away rather than be of service to at an individual level. What expressions that a child wants to utilize energy on get suffocated when they’re not yet interested in becoming literate, on a schedule determined for them from without? While they are developing something else from inside themselves at the time . . . .but are forced to give their energy and attention to decoding alphabetic symbols regardless, before they’re willing to or have generated interest from within. Does something of value get squashed this way? What would happen if not everybody in the nation was literate? Would we see something new and unanticipated rise out instead? Literacy is a tool, it serves those of us who need such a tool. Not everybody may have a need for such a tool, just as not everybody has need of nor knowledge of the use of a potter’s wheel or a tractor. What would happen were we to give children the gift of applying themselves to what they’re drawn to, even when it ‘seems’ to be nothing at all, rather than the ‘gift’ of enforced literacy? Might they be setting themselves up for an unknown forward in their formative time and space?
I mused for a spell, easy to do as though the sun was out it wasn’t swelteringly hot; there’s a slight coolness and clarity to the air now. Crisp as a fresh apple, it has a slight bite that tingles. An awareness flickered: summer’s winding toward something else, so I soaked up the sights and sounds and smells and motivated: to create art with what’s growing now. Got up and walked about, nibbling on a mixture of mint, anise hyssop, and tulsi, chewing and macerating them into tea. The zucchini and beans were joined by a few zinnias added to the basket, some goldenrod stems, a bunch of unripe pokeberry, a sprig of phlox, fragrant nectary Queen Anne’s Lace, a milkweed leaf, two cleome petals with their oddly skunky smell, a bit of tansy, a smartweed plume, red clover leaves, and on the way out orange jewelweed; hummingbirds love dipping their long beaks into these, flying quickly from one dangling gem to the next. Then back inside shaping little scenes of wee folk, expressing gratitude with flowers; though small in number and size, very big food for the heart.
Ancestral dreams of freedom
Muddy streams flooding
Still water under-current
River changes course
I worked on a collage piece in anticipation of the eclipse::with Sun and Moon both stationed in The Lion constellation. The portion they’re in is called Magha, 0 – 13 degrees roughly of the whole constellation. While The Lion constellation is ruled by Sun, the three portions have their own rulers, and within each portion there are four smaller portions, each with its own planetary ruler . . . the whole constellation thus has as many variations within it as the family of felines::from lion, mountain lion, leopard, puma, panther, siamese cat, tomcat, to cheetah. The area that the Sun and Moon will be stationed during the eclipse is Magha, governed by Ketu or the South Node (interestingly the North Node, Rahu, is what’s generating the eclipse) and the portion of Magha they’re in is ruled by Shukra, the planet Venus.
The event brought to mind generous gathering of raw energy, potentiality, a birthing pregnant feeling . . . earth body in watery dark womb or seed in dark moist earth being warmed and fired up into cracking and sprouting through, growing into breath and light, ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’ being covered by intuition guiding the labor and birth:: out and roaming at large, giving space to delve into depths inaccessible with the bright sun always out . . . even at night, it is not concealed nor hidden, not the way it is veiled during an eclipse . .. at which time the moon does not reflect the sun’s light the way it does at night, the moon simply slips infront of all that light, small and lightless, and manages to completely block illumination for a short period before passing . . . but those short moments are full moments, during which the moon takes advantage of the light shining from behind to cast out shadow, to cast out moon-ness instead of reflecting, reflecting, always reflecting facing Earth, in the eclipsed moment:: to cast out . . . the only reflection occurring will be facing the Sun, Sun’s light shining on Moon mirroring reflection back on itself, a curiousity from which this collage came . . .
I love being with dragonflies by the pond. They dart about so swiftly, landing briefly before gliding up and around again, playing games of chase and tag. Their shimmering wings make a funny rustling sound, like tissue paper, when they bump into one another. Sometimes a hummingbird zips to and from the jewelweed patch, beak needling speckled orange blossoms between them and I marvel at how fast life moves around the pond; except the trees reflected on the watery surface where even the sky is in motion, and there sitting still and hidden upside down is a great blue heron! Interesting where dragons fly, elegantly delightful, body blue the color of sky, no clouds gathering wool . . . dreamy days flashing by . . .
There’s a story by Doris Stickney that from time to time I tell with slight alterations and embellishments, her tale goes like this:
“Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in awhile one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.
“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going?”
Up, up, up she slowly went …. even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Her friends waited and waited but she didn’t return…
“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second… “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third.
No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.”
“We promise”, they said solemnly.
One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broke through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.
When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings…The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!!
Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.
The dragonfly remembered the promise: “The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.” Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water…
“I can’t return!” he said in dismay. “At least, I tried. But I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”
And the dragonfly winged off happily into his wonderful new world of sun and air…….”
There’s a dragonfly snippet from a larger poem I like called The Two Voices by Alfred Lord Tennyson that says . . .
“Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.”