I’m grateful for sitting practice. Breathing the sound of the bell, in and out, following it deeper and deeper. I found myself expanding, becoming one with the sound. For a moment, there were no boundaries, only the sound . . . expanding, vibrating through space, and I with it.
I’m grateful for the morning fog that gave way to sunny skies, for my daughter’s loving words, the smile on my client’s face, hot tea and toast, birthday celebrations, good friends, nourishing food and the beauty that surrounds me.
I’m grateful for the rose bush in my yard that’s gone on a blooming spree. “I’m still here, look at me, touch my blooms, enjoy the fragrance, and remember . . . I’ll be back.”
The viburnum is filled with red pods, eagerly providing for the birds before the darkness and cold of winter. The wisdom of nature; nothing ever goes to waste and for everything there’s a purpose.
As I walked toward my car, I looked down and saw that the garden had been busy trying new things. A sculpture of moss, twig, a fallen bloom, and wayward leaves. Left undisturbed for days, they made this stone their canvas. Nature being playful and creative! I’m reminded of how we too, when given space, we can create all kinds of beauty out of the raw materials of our lives.
Earlier in the morning, these words found me . . .
I grew up watching my grandfather tending his garden. There were roses, grape vines, and fruit trees. In the summer, he would wake me up early in the morning so we could pick figs from the trees in our back yard for breakfast. Around noon, after the day’s chores were done, the children would lie down, under the shade of one of the fig trees to rest, while our mothers would sit nearby and gossip or knit – seeking respite from the heat. Often, they would tell us stories about wood fairies and how they could steal the mind of the unfortunate mortals sleeping under their favorite trees.
My childhood wasn’t easy but there was magic in the air and the magic sustained me; the deep connection to the land and the myths and vibrations of old.
The days I spent trailing my grandfather as he tended his garden, have fueled my love for all things blooming. Lately, these memories have been circling my mind; strumming at my heart chords. It’s been a long time and there’s an ocean between the child lying under the grand fig tree, dreaming of wood fairies, and the woman I am today.
My grandfather died when I was fifteen. That’s how old my daughters are now. The fig trees, the grape arbor and the rose garden are long gone. These days, I tend my own garden and although New England isn’t very friendly to fig trees, the magic still holds. The garden takes hold of me; I dream of it in the winter and come spring, it’s the first place I go to, tea cup in hand. It keeps me connected and grounded; dirty fingernails and all.
I began fancying myself as a gardener in my late twenties. My initial efforts failed miserably. Secretly, I was happy that grandfather wasn’t around witnessing his apprentice making a mess of things. I kept trying and failing and each time I learned something more.
I learned about soil and light and native plants. I learned about timing and letting go. I learned to collaborate. A garden exists in spirit form and manifests through the gardener, in due time. It’s always a work in process and transformation, based on nature’s cycles and rhythm. With each passing season, I’m watching my sense of perfectionism softening its grip. I’ve learned to be happy with my lot. Other people’s gardens can serve as inspiration but in the end, my garden and I have our own things going and it suits us fine.
Our moods are interconnected. Sometimes I like things simpler and other times I go over the top. As I change and transform, so does my garden. There are certain things that don’t change; my love for fragrant blooms, herbs, and roses. I learned what plants invite hummingbirds in my yard. I recognize the sounds they make and I know when to be still and watch for them.
The other day, I started doing some fall clean up. I’m still hesitating cutting back the shasta daisies and the peonies. Their dry stalks are reminders of the glory of spring and high summer. I’m not ready to let go . . . just yet. The basil is gone but I brought some parsley and mint inside for the winter.
The garden is preparing for darker, colder days ahead, and so am I. Each season comes bearing gifts but I have spring in my mind. Soon, I’ll start dreaming again.
It’s raining pretty heavily, puddles of water already forming on the sidewalk. I’m at our local coffee shop, a cup of hot coffee and a morning glory muffin next to me. There’s the steady hum of the fans above, the chatter of a handful of people ordering coffee and joking with the owner, light jazz coming through the speakers.
On my way here, I drove by the post office to mail a letter and decided to circle back by the Middle School. The school is in session and the streets are quiet. I drove by slowly, looking at the school when it hit me.
My daughters are in High School now. Gone are the days when I used to drive by the Middle School, thinking of them, wondering what class they were in and sending them smiles. Sometimes, I’d walk in the building for committee meetings or to help with this and that. I used to see them in the corridors on their way to class and they’d smile or stop to say hello but . . . no PDA . . . please!
All this went through my mind at the speed of lighting. I felt tears coming. I let them come, first time since the girls started High School.
August was a whirlwind. We survived Irene and the four-day power shortage, went away for a four-day vacation and came back to more rain! The floods that ensued caused the first school closing of the season All that while trying to adjust to a new schedule, a whole new set of demands and expectations, preparing for a workshop I was giving, and trying to orchestrate home repairs and renovations. There has been no time to stop and reflect.
This is how I tend to be and I suspect that’s how it is for many of you; at the moment of a crisis or transition, I tend to brace and dive in. I do what I have to do, putting one foot in front of the other and making sure everyone is taken care of. Eventually the “storm” passes, the initial impact is softened, and the craziness becomes a distant memory. I find myself alone and quiet, settled into the new rhythm and ready to be with myself.
That’s when whatever emotions were kept at bay, so I could function, often come to the surface; demanding to be dealt with. Today I finally felt the impact of having my daughters, my babies no-more, entering a new phase. I often joke that with twins, there is no dress rehearsal. No previous experience to fall back to.
Our relationship is strong and loving, yet things have also changed. For as much as they love and respect me, they’re establishing boundaries and flexing their muscles. As a constant presence in their life, I’m here to rebel against and run to, often, at the same time. Confusing, to say the least, for all of us.
I have to constantly try and recall what it meant to be fifteen . . . while reminding myself that they’re not me! Their temperaments and individual traits may remind me of myself or my husband but they’re not us. They’re unique individuals.
Today I’m sitting at our local coffee shop, my coffee cup empty and my muffin indulged. I’ll have brownies for them when I get home. They’ll be really happy after a long day at school and field hockey practice. They’ll give me a big smile and a hug before they grab the bag from my hands. For a brief moment they’ll regress back to being two kids with chocolate all over their mouths and a huge grin of utter satisfaction.