Monday, May 28, 2012

Faith and Glowing

Hope: a feeling that what is wanted will happen; a feeling that events will turn out for the best.

When there is shaking down to the new root:  do not pull the weeds or else you risk pulling the seedling, as well.  Both are seeking a footing there, and both will need to grow if either are to survive.  And the lifting plant that found itself so close to adversity will learn to adapt in ways that it wouldn't have had the Wishing Seed been placed in perfect ground, free of weeds.

That plant will be stronger, more sure of who she is:  thick of stem, broad-leafed, roots sunk down to the very Source like a woman holding her ground, feet apart, hands on her hips, calling it what it is, claiming what she needs:  Courage and Grace and most of all the Love she has found, the gift of this Love that has been found for her.

Because Love is not optional.  Love is the secret message written on the tender place within the hard shell and now it has been reached, and there is no stopping that.

Vibrancy: the light of Love shining through the wounds we have endured;  radiant joy that informs the active momentum of one's life.

In this love  I have found a new kind of mercy and access to a creative life.

She says, "The fire moves into the souls who have gone dim for lack of love for and from."  I warm myself at his hearth, held and healing, and we are reconnected with those place where we were wrongfully exiled from our ability to give and receive love.  And we begin to glow.

Where we are lit, we are ablaze with the fire of heartideas and spontaneous actions of goodness, wrapped within the voice of another's love for us, a miracle of such easy peace.

I feel both gentle and fierce, small and significant.  Saint Juan Diego says when he is greeted by the Mother of Love, "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf..."

Together, we are the ropes that sound the bell of praise, the ladder upon which the wounded climb, the leaf that trusts the Hand that guides it around all obstacles toward the living water that courses through this small, incredible life.  Thank you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Love = Bread, Gooseberry Ginger Jam, Corn Bisque, Spinach Salads, and Rhubarb Chutney

In order to grow and thrive, yeast (and people) need a certain comfortable climate in which to flourish.  For yeast, that would be 110 degrees.  This is not the case for people as many of you probably realized today.

Today was the first canning day of the season.  All is gift.  Let me count the ways:

1.  Tom's guidance.  This is my second attempt at a loaf of honey wheat bread.  I am committed to learning this.

2.  Ila's gooseberries picked, topped and tailed and ready for jam.

3.  Simple Ingredients, the kind with only one name:  Six cups of gooseberries grown from a bush someone else planted, picked while on my knees and the thorns bit and it made sense that there would be the occasional sting to the hand and arm that wants to reach into the center, six cups of sugar to sweeten because sweet is a close cousin of kind, and ginger, that woody root reminding us to dig deep, pull up and use what we've found.

4.  Nora giving the bread the old One-Two.  She loved this part.   I love this part.  There is something to this.

5.  The gooseberries soften in the heat, gradually transformed.  You have to wait for this a long time.  There were points when I wanted to stop.  This is completely normal.  Keep going anyway.  This resistance will teach you something.

6.  A boiling hot water bath for the filled jars.

7.  I have a happy daughter.   Blessed.

8.  And then to pick Ila's rhubarb for chutney.

9.  And sweet corn from Kris and Terry's field for corn bisque.

10.  Nora was in charge of making the salads tonight.  Can you guess which is hers and which is mine?  

11.  And after Nora went to bed, the rhubarb chutney began its transformation.  Onion, raisins, sugar, cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt, peppercorn, and cloves.

12.  And there is resistance at first...

13.  And then the epiphany of chutney.

Where I am:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When I Look at You and When You Look at Me

A prayer:  That we never stop looking at each other--closely, so as not to miss anything that is miracle, is gift, is love, is given.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden Update: The Good, the Bad, and the Squishy

If there's one thing I don't want, it's for the broccoli plants Nora and I started growing back in March to be eaten by cabbage loopers.   These little, green caterpillars will turn the leaves of your plants into fine Victorian lace.   Pretty but far from functional.  If you look below at this terribly out of focus picture, you'll see two of them crawling around.  

So, what do I do when bugs are attacking something I love?  Like almost everything in my life, I do my research:  Ah ha.  To prevent infestation, install a row cover in spring.  Too late.  Spray them with preen.  I don't think so.  Handpick them, squishing them between your fingers.  Um.  Gross.  But necessary.  And that's what I did.  If you're squeamish, you can also drop them in a bucket of soapy water until they drown.  This seemed inhumane compared to the other option, which is quicker.  I did attempt to throw them far away from the garden, but I started having visions of a sequel to Milo and Otis involving the unlikely pairing of a misplaced cabbage looper and AWOL army ant.

In addition to the cabbage looper, potato beetles are eating my green beans.  I don't think so.  (For the sensitive viewer, I have omitted photos involving bug squishing.)

I'm trying a new tomato "cage" technique.  I found some old rebar in the shed and drove them in every 4 feet down my 16 foot row of tomato plants.  Using jute, I wove back and forth between the plants and rebar.  As they continue to grow, I will add a new woven jute row.  I'll let you know.  I've used tomato cages in the past, but they turned into impenetrable danger zones rife with tomato spider snipers and fallen fruit.  I've crawled on hands and knees into these jungles, and went missing for several hours.  I'm hoping the long row (running north to south) will maximize the full arc of the sun while allowing adequate ventilation and possibly the ability to pick the fruit without having to carry a gun.

This bloom is so early:  the first hope of eggplant.  Isn't she beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, Nora came outside to rest while I worked a bit.  She's had the flu for a few days, and the fresh air and sun was much needed.

She slept in the hammock for an hour, the breeze and birds and shade making peace for her.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Couldn't Begin to Explain But I Will Begin Anyway

Some moments are not ready for words because they are too full of meaning.  I am inside one of these moments, unfolding bloom.  This rose does not cower in the hand of the other, does not want to exaggerate thorns or talk of its own beauty, which is not of its own doing anyway.  He invites the rose to become the rose.  Isn't this the only way to love each other?

The light of the stars passes through an inner space before becoming the thought "star."  And this inner space is lit where we disappear in that white vastness.  Our constellations map the transfer of love into love into love; the boundaries dissolve me.  I wander through your spaces stunned and awoken, a "self" who is no longer herself but a moment of grace upon the unforgiving surface of a life that seemed too hard.  My feet sink into the grass as I walk.

There are dreams of the beloved and a bed with two apples and two eggs: awareness and the harvest.  Incubation and new life.  We are learning autonomy and connection.  Does the space between you and your beloved fill with silent thoughts of kindness toward the other?  Good.  This is good.

How we learn to love each other:  a boy.  A girl.  A radio.

Music plays into the very latest point of the evening, and we go wandering through the orchard, necks tilted back, mouth open, drinking small points of light with our eyes.

I am not afraid of the dark out here.  The storm has passed.  The wet grass soaks my shoes and the bottom part of my pant legs.  I wear my puffy black coat, carry Nora's princess flashlight.  From above, I must look like a tiny point of light, too.

The long lines of cedar trees running north to south are dark territories filled with marrowless branches, poisonous mushrooms, the bones of dead animals.  I consider the idea of fear.  It sits feeble and anemic in the hand of such abundant Love.  These dark, lost regions of our lives are fertile and terrifying.  I have taken a shovel into these woods.  So have you.

I hear:  Child, will you allow yourself to become lost in order to experience the hand that reaches strong and steady into your life, inviting?  Are you brave like that?

I knew you were.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Wind that Defines Our Shapes

The forecast calls for 90 degree temperatures and 40 mile an hour winds.  I water the garden anyway, knowing that only a portion of the white diamonds that shoot skyward will reach the ground.  The rest fly away to some other treasure chest.

The ribs are a treasure chest.  I breathe the diamond air as the wind defines my shape.  I stop in the middle of the yard, close my eyes and the warm breath curves around me, holding.

There has been no journey in my life that was not a spiritual one, and all my thinking about "right choices" and "wrong choices" feels like an unnecessary denial of this truth.  In truth, I don't like to argue. I don't like to resist.  I don't like to fight.  Anger is some way we attempt to hold the wind in our hands, howling like the ghost of a feral cat.  I am not angry at my life despite all the times I've resisted it.  Quite the opposite.  I have been shown how to stop wearing myself out in that way. Strangely, I had to work physically in order to understand this.

How the body is part of the story:  I am also aware of my own bones, the necessary borders between my skin and the wind.  I am aware of myself lifted like some migratory seed.  And when I come back down to earth, I root my feet there and feel the intensity of this unfolding.  I will carry you always despite whether you allow Me to or not.

Last night I had a dream that I had to drive my truck up and over a ramp that curved into the sky and dropped several stories at the end.

For some reason Burt Reynolds was there, but never mind.  I'm being serious here, and it's difficult to consider Burt's hair, which one must when invoking his image, without cracking up a bit.

But maybe that's what I'm talking about:  allowing myself to relax.  Trust.  The dream defied gravity.  There were spectators in dangerous rows beneath me.  And the responsibility of the jump felt too heavy.  It wasn't that I was afraid of the actual leap; I was afraid of hurting anyone in the process.

In the dream, I went cautious around the curve and was placed gently on the ground, safe.  Everyone was safe.  And they were cheering.

I am an explorer in this domain, passing over the earth, breaking it open to root my feet there, growing up in the strong wind that defines me, presses against me--a necessary pressure, so I am forced to define my boundaries, my voice.  And this strange song lifts me green: what it means to know love.

Love is a verb.  The potato beetles that eat the leaves of my eggplant are not mistakes.   I move closer to matter, to the earth in order to integrate it into my skin, the imaginative function, the Spirit that speaks to me in the hollow space I want to leave open for you, the seed dropped in, the diamond roots going deep.  Love is a verb.

One must be present in order to receive the gift.  Any worry is like the hard crust that forms over the garden when it has been wet and wind blows hot across it.  The truth is life always rises above it.  We are meant to experience this triumph.  I drop the feral cat.

And here I am, feeling my way around, eyes closed and lifted by this warm breath that rises in both my chest and in the expanding and contracting lungs of this spacious life.

There is a holiness in the heart's affections.  The red, vivacious seed within that space is moved autonomically.   I am one place in which this seed grows.  And you are another.   This is a divine mystery written on the Breath that defines and moves us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Picture is Worth

Mom's heart made an Inspiration Tree for Nora.  

The seed words emerge from the gritty brown page.  This is a story told again and again, one that starts, "Time was...there was a seed that was a seed before it was a seed and before that, it was the Maker's word for seed and the Maker's dream of filling us with the poem the seed would recite on the plate when time was dinner."

A robin has adopted the garden.  Naturally, we named him George Harrison.  He played with me today, hopping between the beds.  I'd spray him with water.  He'd fly up and come back down talking.  A little later he came back with a worm and showed it off for a long time.  The cats came.  There was a skirmish in the forsythia and one of George's friends lost his life.  When I ran after the cat afraid it was George, I realized that I had already become attached.  

And this one here, you can't see it, so you'll just have to believe me when I say, "So Beautiful." 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just A Few Things

1.  The first garden harvest graced the table tonight:  spinach.  I melted butter in a pan, cooked it down pure and condensed, salted and peppered.  Like Popeye, I'm twelve times stronger than I was just yesterday.  This is because of the spinach and because of you, Love.

2.  A preschool field trip became the canvas upon which every 5 year old emotion could express itself.  It was a good day.  I'm not afraid of intense feelings.  And neither is Nora.  This is a strength, and that's how I'll approach it tomorrow and the day after.  All is gift.  Lift me into this lesson.

3.  I've been spacey.  The freedom of summer break releases me...where will I land, and what will I be holding in my hand when I do?

4.  [                                                                                                                  ]

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fire, Fallow, and Field

From The Faithful Gardener by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"So you see," Uncle said, "this burning and blackening of the soil here?  Soon much will come of it, so much that you will not believe it."

"What will you seed here?" I asked.

"I will seed nothing," said Uncle.

I did not understand.  We had burnt land before, for the ash made tired ground more fertile again.

"Why will you leave the land bare and unseeded, Uncle?"

"Ah, as an invitation, my girl."

A map of burned places:

Ila's Iris:  I am deadheading.  To make space, he says.  Yes.  To say the sacred Yes is to also invoke the sacred No.  We were made with birth and death, the left and the right, cupping our lives on either side in strong hands like those I've seen on women who have raised children, let go of husbands, found peace in the earth. The spent blossoms fall to the ground, lifting green life above them as the mother's hands lift the wise and innocent children into the pages written for them by the Author.

Grandpa Smith's Alfalfa Fields:   We leave the land of our lives to each other, passed down as we are lifted away from the spaces we have walked, talked into, struggled through, danced upon.  I can see him stern on his tractor, the bailer behind him, his gray felt cowboy hat sweat stained and oil marked.  When I dream of him after the funeral, he is fishing from the top of this same tractor, throwing his line into the green and purple fields he worked.  He smiles and waves.

In the House:  I leave the burned spaces of my life open.  I pass through the lonely night.  The empty chairs around the kitchen table sit in expectation of the arrival and the joining of the deepest laughter, the food shared in love, the thanksgiving, the family.

My left arm and the palms of my hands:  The skin is still scarred, soft and delicate old woman palms.  Where the prayers grow, the two empty hands pressed together, holding grace.  Where the hair is smoothed from golden forehead of daughter.  Where the words collect and how they are thrown into the white air to land breath-hopeful, story seed whispering: I need to be understood.  Where the face is cradled, tears pooling, the heart still willing to break and sustain.  Where the strings vibrate, the sound being woven between my fingers so I might touch something invisible.

Where Love also Burns:  May my hands be empty when you come to fill them with your own.  You will find them resting in my lap, and I will be staring into the empty field.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Praising is What Matters! -- Rilke

To wake to coffee and banana bread (different than bandana bread, which is chewier).  There is almost nothing to do, and this is a new kind of abundance.

A little one, fierce and love-brimming creature, continues to teach me the gentle heart and walk softly and see it through her eyes.  Dance wild.  Speak always comfort.

Fragrant grass newly cut and a windmill spinning gray metal in the silent eye of peace.  The earth meets my back, and Nora stretches young beside me.   Piggy back rides as we consider the fruits.  I'm in Eden.

Late night sitting on the steps.  The trees breathe green ocean waves and surging.  There's Cassiopeia.  A frog jumps on my back.  Jumps off.  I don't panic.  All is gift.  I pick the dead blooms from the pansies.

When we talk of families and the different configurations, she says she'd like to have a husband who lives with her.  "I want this for you, too, Nora."  "And maybe if there's a daddy who doesn't have a mommy and a mommy who doesn't have a daddy, they could love each other and come together."  She presses the palms of her hands together.  We're playing Barbies, the house Grandma and Aunt Dottie made for me back in the '80s set up between us.  "And what would you think if I met a daddy who didn't have a mommy and he had lots of kids?"  There is a light in her, and she sits up straighter.  "I would love that.  I would have lots of kids to play with, and you could do laundry together and cook all of us food to eat."  

A light burns from the cottage I see through the dark forest, has burned forever, and I'm wandering home heavy and educated.  He left it glowing.  This long.  I pull my blanket closer around me and step inside for good this time.  This rain has been falling for ages, I think.  The trees are tired of my wandering.

Reconciliation:  to bring into harmony.

Hall and Oates.  Yes.  I'm serious.  They were great.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Please Pass the Anonymous

1.  And we talk about passing the plate, how the food we grow doesn't come from us, how we share these meals, and it's in the passing of plates that grace happens.  I grew this, but I didn't.  I cooked this, but I didn't.  There is a generosity in allowing the gift to exist before we give it because the anonymity of the gesture speaks of the Benefactor.

2.  I have discovered cooking again, and this is a joy.  An appetite restored to sweet and sour and salt.  The speed at which this crazy life functions is antithetical to the moment of presence and grace that each mouthful offers.  Be here.  Receive this.  Enjoy this.  Live abundantly, child.  Play.

3.  I check the garden each day, sometimes several times a day, welcoming the new green shoots that find their way triumphantly through the crusted dirt.  I talk to them using the same voice Nora uses with Henrietta and Tweetie Sweetie:  hellooooo little radish.  Helllooooo lettuce.  How are you?  Come out, come out whatever you are.

4.  Flowers are purchased and we make it out with two big bundles of pink and purple and white light.  Nora stops before we leave:  "Mommy, I want a bleeding heart."  At first I don't process it the way she intends.  I see whole arteries flowing, an opening blossom breaking free, light pouring out:  we are alive and our hearts are beating and breaking and mending and singing.  The image stops suddenly like a tripped fuse.  "Oh, yes, a bleeding heart.  I love those, too."  We add another green thing to the back of the pickup, this one with heart-shaped drops of color hanging from the life-root that sustains us all: love.

5.  And when I pay for the flowers, I dig out the gift certificate someone anonymously left on my step last summer.  And I want to be a part of this circle.  I'll have to work at it.  We are self-feeding machines, and this turning outward brings us to the overwhelming view from that tower, a view so different than the one at the bottom of the mirror.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ghosts in the Acres We've Already Harvested

We have a haunted place, ghost-traveled, a field of bleeding roots, the heavy footprints sunk deep, marking some headless and inconsiderate deceit or abandon or violence.  Something we can't even speak about.

Sometimes I feel myself there huddled against the dark winds that threaten to exhale the topsoil like angered smoke.  Don't say it.  Lie still.

The sounds of past keening surface from the covered well north of the field.  The secret words rise to the surface like a killing oil, dark rainbows of some future healing that has yet to be spoken about, the eight pennies we threw down that, when fished to the top, would reflect the story of "how I made it through."  Wishing and throwing.  Wishing and throwing.

They're setting fire to the corn fields, and you're driving me home.

Angel.  Siren.  Love.

And then.

And then.

That's the secret place, isn't it?  That's the place we meet the ghost army, the tortured, diaphanous rows of "how we were hurt" and how we simply walked away from the war.

I'm in my truck driving this row and she's singing:  Just you wait and see:  someone will come to help you. 

Listen.  We have all held the hurting seed, burst-shy and cautious.  We have held the penny wishes.  We must be gentle with each other: broken-winged, song-bound, copper-colored birdflowers.

Take me to a place where the specter retreats clutching its only possession in a greedy-lidded mason jar : You must fear being loved.

Let it out and move on.

Reach the determined, sun-strengthened arm down to the depth of wells and oil and rich soil:  two times the measure of our sorrow because this is the length of our joy, and I will not let go, riding the green shoot all the way to the full mouth of a new harvest.  Let it speak the gift through the ghost, a light that reveals everything.  I'm not afraid of this.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blooming And Being

Full days:  finals and summer's early arrival, a garden planted, and a farm and a mother and a daughter responding to the sun's invitation.

Mulched and watered and staked:  growing a new pin oak to replace the one that fell the first year we lived here.

A hamster cradled.

A dress ironed.

Sun tea and pansies and a door that invites us in then sets us free again.

And I remember, too:  whole days spent charming the garden hose like a snake handler.

Usually the peonies bloom around Memorial Day, and, at that time, they're covered in ants (pesky fellows--try chalk and cloves).  If you cut a few for the house, you inevitably invite the whole armada indoors.  This year they bloomed so early the ants were too late.  

The seeds are in.  Holy.  Yes.  Very.

The Good Friday potatoes and onions are up.  The broccoli transplants are thriving (I knew they would!) and the spinach and dill have announced themselves along with a few volunteer tomatoes.  Let them grow.  

And all the while above the garden, this spins the wind and the invisible.

The yellow roses (right) have bloomed.  When I walk by this bush, I am immediately at the ranch on Silt Mesa smelling Grandma Smith's row of yellow roses.  

And the view is as deep as the day is long, and as I finish up the final grading for the school year, I begin to understand how much I need this room to stare and sit and let every detail of this suddenly abundant story settle into my bones.

And everywhere around the house, Ila's peonies are blooming and being:  something I'd like to practice with some help from Love.