Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Toing and Froing Along

Temperatures rise, and temperatures fall, snow comes, and snow goes. Icicles dangling from the roof melt and shatter, then form again, chiming like bells as they move through their life cycles. I never know what to wear these days when rambling with Beau, a parka, a light anorak or a raincoat. A few days ago, we wandered for miles in light clobber with nary a scrap of ice in sight, and this morning it is bitterly cold again, ice under every frill of snow.

According to today's forecast, we are headed for another storm with several inches of snow and downpourings of freezing rain at times. High winds and minimal visibility are also in the cards. Drains are still frozen, and there will be lagoons out in the street wide enough and deep enough to float a canoe. Might I hope for a light atmospheric fog now and then? Probably not.

What to do on such a day? All the necessary stuff will be done while the storm rages, and that is certain. Bread, molasses cookies and a cauldron of soup are also being considered, but huddling in a comfortable corner with a big mug of coffee, a good book in my hand and a shawl or three seems like a plan.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom,
Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

For Valentine's Day

My soulmate and I usually didn't do anything lavish or opulent for Valentine's Day, and that was just fine with us.

I used to create a card for him with one of my photos or graphic designs, brew a special pot of tea, carve something into a piece of fruit, make tiny cookies in heart shapes. We would share a single piece of scrumptious dark chocolate and go for a long walk in the snowy woods with our canine companions, first Cassie, then Spencer, then (and now) Beau.

There were no special declarations of love on February 14th. We told each other so every day, and we were content with the way this day unfolded. No frilly gestures and lovey-dovey professions were needed. We knew how we felt about each other, how good we were together, how amazingly blessed we were to have found each other so many years ago.

This year, there is a handmade card on my soulmate's bureau as usual. I carved a heart on a McIntosh apple and am putting it in his place at the old oak table along with a pot of Darjeeling and his favorite cookies. Beau and I will take a long walk in the woods, and my beloved will be with us. I will tell him I love him as I did every day when he was here on earth, and as I still do every single day.

Wishing you deep and everlasting love too.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday Poem - Don't Wait for Something Beautiful to Find You

Go out into the weather-beaten world
where straw men lean on frozen fields
and find the cardinal's scarlet flash of wing,
a winter heart, a feathered hope.

Without a camera or a memory,
we travel these old country roads,
turn corners like the pages of a book,
enchanted by the ordinary life

of fields and rocks and woods,
of small wild creatures stirring in the brush.
We take home pockets full of myths
and wonders seldom seen.

We will not give up easily,
Across the breakfast table
in our precarious nest,
we make those promises keep on going

that no one ever keeps.  And yet...
there is the cardinal again,
a finial on our old gray fence.
Red is for Valentines.

Dolores Stewart

This morning's poem is reprinted with permission from Dolores Stewart's gorgeous volume of poetry, The Nature of Things.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Restless in February

Little things leave you feeling restless in February. You ramble through stacks of gardening catalogues, plotting another heritage rose or three, design new plots of herbs and heirloom veggies. You spend hours in the kitchen pummeling bread dough and stirring cauldrons of soup, summoning old Helios with cilantro, fragrant olive oils and recipes straight from Tuscany. You burn candles and brew endless pots of tea, sunlight dancing in every china mug.

You play with filters, apertures and shutter speeds, entranced (and occasionally irritated) with the surprising transformations wrought by your tinkerings. Camera around your neck, you float through the woods, peering into trees and searching for a leaf somewhere, even a single bare leaf. You scan cloudy evening skies, desperately hoping to see the moon, and you calculate the weeks remaining until the geese, the herons and the loons come home again.

It may not seem like it, but change is already on its way.  The great horned owls who reside on the Two Hundred Acre Wood are repairing their nest in an old oak tree about a mile back in the forest, and they are getting ready to raise another comely brood.  It comforts me to think it is all happening again.

This morning, a single maple leaf was teased into brief flight by the north wind, and it came to rest in the birdbath in the garden. A simple thing to be sure, but the pairing of golden leaf and blue snow was fetching stuff indeed. In its poignant wabi sabi simplicity, the little scrap of leathery foliage cradled an often and much needed reminder. This is the sisterhood of fur and feather, of snowbound earth and clouded sky, of wandering eye and dancing leaf.  Out of our small and frost rimed doings, a mindful life is made.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

What we need, all of us who go on two legs, is to reimagine our place in creation. We need to enlarge our conscience so as to bear, moment by moment, a regard for the integrity and bounty of the earth. There can be no sanctuaries unless we regain a deep sense of the sacred, no refuges unless we feel a reverence for the land, for soil and stone, water and air, and for all that lives. We must find the desire, the courage, the vision to live sanely, to live considerately, and we can only do that together, calling out and listening, listening and calling out.

Scott Russell Sanders, Writing from the Center

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Friday, February 07, 2020

Friday Ramble - Rattle and Hum

It is still dark outside, and through the window comes the clatter of the wind across the roof with its cargo of frozen twigs, the sound of icicles falling on the deck, trees in the garden shaking their snow garments loose in a long slow dance. Snow is falling thick and fast, but it makes no sound. Here in the kitchen, there is the burble and hiss of the De'Longhi espresso machine, the rattle and hum of the refrigerator in the corner.

By rights, there should be the sound of a toaster too, but it will be a while until I can even think about toast. This is a "bang up" month for migraines, and I have awakened with a whopper - thought about doing prescription meds when I opened my eyes but opted for a beaker of industrial strength espresso instead.  The stuff in my cup approaches the consistency of solid propellant rocket fuel and could be dispatched with a fork. Steam rises in arty curls from the surface, and a splendid creamy froth rings its shores. The fragrance of freshly ground North Star Espresso (fair trade, organic) from Equator Coffee Roasters is ambrosial. So are the beans. Think I will draw pictures in the foam. Yup, I can do this.

Why is it my thoughts always turn to Paris when the weather is like this? With badass beaker in hand, I look through my rainy day "stash" of Cavallini rubber stamps, vintage postcards and notebooks - the little ones with maps of France, old French postage stamps or the Eiffel tower gracing their covers.

When the migraine has expired in my espresso sea, I will curl up in a comfortable corner and read something in French, perhaps the latest Fred Vargas.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Thursday Poem - Straight Talk From Fox

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment's miracle. Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary Oliver, from Redbird

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Monday, February 03, 2020

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.

Robert Farrar Capon, from Between Noon & Three:
Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Happy Imbolc/Candlemas

May all good, warm, bright and true things come to you at
this festive turning in the Wheel of the Year.
Happy February. Blessed be.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Ramble - Before Imbolc

Here we are on the last day of January, the eve of the old Celtic festival of Imbolc, or Candlemas which follows a day later on February 2nd. Strange to relate, this day of gladness in the depths of winter celebrates light and warmth, the stirring of green things within the earth, the burgeoning of new life and the beginning of springtime.

The first day of February is also called the Féile Bride (Festival of St. Brigid) or "Bride's Day", and it is consecrated to Brigid, honored during the common era as an Irish saint, but revered as a goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann long centuries before she was canonized. Brigid is a deity of fire and creativity, wisdom, eloquence and craftsmanship.  She is patroness of the forge and the smithy, poetry, fertility and the healing arts, especially midwifery. Light is her special province, and hers are the candle, the hearth and the blacksmith's shop.

We are made of light ourselves, and that makes us Brigid's children - creatures forged from the dust of stars which lighted the heavens, then went supernova and ceased to exist billions of years ago. Within the radiant motes of our being are encoded the wisdoms of ancient earth, the star knowledge of countless unknown constellations and "The Big Bang" which created not just our own precious world, but the whole cosmic sea in which it floats. I love the notion that we were all hatched in a supernova, the dazzling, powerful (and astonishingly beautiful) event that takes place at the end of a star's existence. A long ago exploding star was our mother. How cool is that? Far out, literally.

The late Carl Sagan had it right - we are made of star stuff. We are recycled matter, our dancing particles having assembled spontaneously into diverse life forms over and over again, lived and expired as those life forms, then dissolved back into the stream of existence. We have been many things, worn many shapes and answered to many names. This time around, I am a a tatterdemalion collection of wandering molecules called Catherine or Cate, but in previous incarnations, I was someone or something altogether different.

Buddhist teacher and deep ecologist Joanna Macy has written that since every particle in our being goes back to the first flaring of space and time, we are as old as the universe itself, about fifteen billion years. In other words, we are the universe, and it is us.

Happy Imbolc to you and your clan, happy Candlemas and St. Brigid's Day. May warmth and the manifold blessings of Light be yours.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Poem - Instructions in Magick

You don’t need candles,
only the small slim flame in yourself,
the unrevealed passion
that drives you to rise on winter mornings
remembering summer nights.

You don’t need incense,
only the lingering fragrance
of the life that has gone before,
stew cooking on an open fire,
the good stars, the clean breeze,
the warmth of animals breathing in the dark.

You don’t need a cauldron,
only your woman’s body,
where so many of men’s fine ideas
are translated into life.

You don’t need a wand, hazelwood or oak,
only to follow the subtle and impish
leafy green fellow
who beckons you into the forest,
the one who goes dancing
and playing his flute
through imperial trees.

And you don’t need the salt of earth.
You will taste that soon enough.

These things are the trappings,
the tortoise shell, the wolf skin, the blazoned shield.
It’s what’s inside, the star of becoming.
With that ablaze, you have everything you need
to conjure up new worlds.

Dolores Stewart, from The Nature of Things
(reprinted with the late poet's kind permission)