The sky is soft this morning, the fog tender. I am tender. Perhaps it is that my mother would have been 92 today. I feel her here.
I look up meanings of the word tender since I feel a tiny boat chugging in my heart, softly content to create a gentle wake, a simple hum.
Tender can mean to offer something. It can be a little boat or a boat that attends to other boats. I suppose we’re all boats in our own way, floating along, separately or in a flotilla, alone, and not, connected in an ocean of air.
Again this morning I learn of a death. A good friend’s mother passed, and yet in preparation the family has been gathering sweetness and shared memories. I see a bouquet of hearts, a rainbow in the tears.
I’m with this softness in my heart, like a balloon, or parachute, or maybe an Angel’s Trumpet flower. Maybe it’s simply a pool open to offering what comes to me today, soft as petals falling, and trumpets calling.
I’m reminded now that at my friend’s house high on a hill overlooking San Francisco bay that various neighbors go out on their decks and blow trumpets at sunset. It’s like a call of birds, each one in a certain order.
There are so many ways to honor passage, so many ways to stir our insides with the nourishing taste of love and care. This morning for me, peace stirs the air I share.
Fog and sun balance on the ridge. I feel balanced this morning, grounded. I walked with a friend yesterday afternoon/evening embraced by the trunks of redwoods. We watched the sun set and the nearly full moon move like a ship in the sky.
I read about how we need quiet, silence, how quiet places are being developed where people can pay and be taught how to listen. We’re so bombarded with noise that we’ve forgotten how to listen. I listen now, the only sounds the clicking of my keys when I type, my stomach growling requesting nourishment, and birds. All is still except the slow movement of pink fog. I feel myself pulled on its exploration, its ease. Sometimes it rushes in but this Sunday morning all is quiet.
My brother was born on July 17, so would have been sixty-six in three days. My mother who passed in 2005 would have been 92 on July 16. What is it about birthdays even when the person is gone that strikes a match inside? I’m tender, tender today, tender with ease.
The dharma talk by Jane yesterday was on trees. I’ve always thought I’d like to be a tree, just stand rooted, receiving nutrients and information from the ground and air, receiving the changing air, but after Jane spoke, and we went outside to root, I felt that yes, I like stillness, and I also like movement. I moved my feet up and down and side to side.I’m not a tree.
We came back into the church and divided into groups of three to discuss our relationship with trees.
One woman prefers the city and has no relationship with trees. The other loves to walk barefoot to her cabin in the woods. I shared my love of trees and a time when a tree physically reached out to comfort me.
I was sitting on our front step crying. At Scout-a-rama a few years before, our sons had each received a redwood sprout about six inches tall. Planted in one pot and then a bigger one, these sprouts had continued to grow until one was about six feet tall and next to the step. As I cried, I felt a branch lean in and stroke my back. Empathy from a tree – yes!
It’s why I thought of starting a business where neighbors would gather before a tree is cut. We’ve had to remove about twenty trees from our property over the years. They became diseased and had to go and each time it’s a loss, and certainly a change.Recently we lost an oak to disease. Our other oaks have now been given the equivalent of immunotherapy to boost their resistance so they can fight off the disease. Sometimes I feel the information between them disseminating through their roots. We share relationship, trees and me.
Trees absorb water and like a fountain spray it in the air. When some of our huge pines had to come out, suddenly our basement was flooding with water. We had to put in a French drain. I read that planting trees could solve the problems of climate change, but where I live the fear of fire means people are cutting down trees. As in everything, balance is required.
I was also struck yesterday by Jane’s point that a mango will never grow on an oak tree. That image gives me permission to settle more firmly into the ground I am.
After the talk, Karen, Jane, and I went to Limantour Beach, and saw two seals, and multitudes of pelicans and gulls. As we walked, we heard, though didn’t see, the Snowy Plover that are nesting and protected right now. After awhile, we found a sheltered place in the dunes to sit.
One woman still has her mother’s ashes. Her mother never learned to swim but loved to watch the ocean waves. Where would her ashes find comfort now? It seems a topic of conversation these days – ashes. We decide to do a field trip to Fernwood Cemetery located near where I live. They offer options. Jane thinks she would like a place people could visit. I feel my brother’s ashes are happily galloping in the ocean. I think I want a variety of places but especially that. As much as I think of being a tree, I like fluidity.
Where we sat, a group of children came and played nearby. As I sit here now, aware of grasses and trees, rocks, and sand, life moving through fingers and bones, I pray we protect our children, all children, every child on the planet, in every way we can, and that includes caring for grasses and trees.
In her talk, Jane suggested we each choose a quality we want to manifest right now. My quality is Peace!
The Mill Valley marsh near where I live was saved because the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse lives here. I was strolling along the marsh today enjoying the water, egrets, and plants: cordgrass, saltgrass and pickleweed when my friend Will bicycled up. Will was born here almost fifty years ago and equals Google in his array of knowledge.
I thought I knew the area as regards our native people, the Coast Miwok, but today I learn I’m near a midden where Chief Marin lived. The discarded clam shells are known to be from his time because that particular variety of clam no longer exists here in the bay. Will tells me where to find the midden and I do.
I also learn that the Army Corps of Engineers is looking into solutions for the problem of flooding that’s occurring because of climate change. The proposal is to remove concrete walls and replace them with nature’s filtering system – cordgrass, pickleweed, and saltgrass. That will give us 50 to 100 years.
I love that nature gives us answers we need. She’s shining brightly today, and inside and out, I refresh on finding what I need right here where I live.
Last night the half moon increased the gold in its light as it moved across the darkening, then, black clear sky. This morning fog rests momentarily on the ridge It dips down into the valley as though licking a spoonful of sweet before it dissolves.
I watch and understand transition, embrace and release as I dip and sip this moving change of form, this transformation of matter to air. I appreciate the gift in not knowing when that final sip will come.
Yesterday Marlene and I took the train from San Rafael to Santa Rosa. It’s called a Smart train which is ironic since it’s path is too short to be of much use to commuters who sit stopped on the freeway as the train moves along passing tidal ponds, pools, and marsh filled with parent and baby birds.
It’s a landscape of aliveness, and aliveness sparks inside the train too, as separate lives unite in moving along past hills, trees, parking lots, businesses, and homes. As seniors we have special pricing and seats, and I appreciate that as I sit erect, representing youth in maturity, as garbed in my years, I could be wearing diamonds, silk, velvet, and lace, rather than sandals, sweater and pants. My spine stacks erect, wisdom represented in the grace of unknowing aligned.
We exit the train and walk, turning this way and that, to a restaurant Marlene found on-line when she Googled patio seating. We arrive to learn the outside seating is full.
Well, there is an advantage to the look of disappointment on faces our age so we are quickly ushered to a private garden where leaves are brushed off a small table to be replaced with cloth napkins, water, tableware, and bread. Our attentive waiter brings us all we need, including a finale of cannoli as delicate and airy as the fog I view now.
At the table, Marlene hands me a copy of the poem “What the Living Do” by Marie Howe. She offers it as support for my brother’s passing. I wait to read it until I get home as I prefer not to show emotion in public.