Nature

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. – John W. Gardner

I wake to the sound of jays, not roosters,  announcing the day. Last night the moon was a blaze, and she will get brighter and brighter until the Harvest Moon on Friday the  13th.

Yesterday I saw Obi Kaufman speak.  It was like being in the presence of a young John Muir.  If he doesn’t walk/hike 100 miles a week, specifically in CA backcountry,  he gets depressed. He arrived outfitted in hat, jeans, and hiking boots.

I love his book The California Field Atlas. His latest is The State of Water. It’s smaller, more focused, and more accessible to all ages, specifically the youngsters we need to reach.  His plan is to write a book on each of the elements, says we humans are fire, and yes, we know the positives and negatives of fire.

He says we should call it “climate breakdown” as there’s always been change but this is a breakdown.  On the other hand, it’s not to panic, but to work with ourselves first, to bring ourselves to unity and peace. We are being divided by those who benefit financially from division and fear.  Before we can address the environmental issues of the day, we need to address ourselves, as we too, are the natural world.

Therefore, find a stream, take your shoes off, and dip in to quiet, to the sounds and songs of birds, water, and trees.  

The following is from his article “How to Get the Most Of Your Time Outside” from Sunset Magazine’s article WILD GIFTS.

First, get out of your car.   “The more you look, the more there is. Nature is magic like that.”

Second, read a book.  “Books are trails that uncover the nature of thought itself.”  He lists authors to read.

Third, watch for patterns. “Widen the lens, investigate larger trends in the ecology around you.”

Fourth, join a Land Trust.  Volunteer on a piece of land that matters to you.

The fifth comes first though. Don’t panic and add fear to the already frenetic energy of the world. Several times a day, rest in nature, your own nature, shoes off, breathing deeply.  Recognize and honor that we ourselves are the natural world.  

His website is here: https://coyoteandthunder.com

My mantra lately is this haiku by Issa.  It allows me to slow, receive, and taste, each moment divided into petals even as it’s held in a bouquet.

This morning I rose, received the touch of feet meeting floor. When I slipped off my nightie, then allowed a blouse to flow over my head, shoulders, and arms, I was showered with bliss, and now I wear a magisterial cape. I am a law unto myself. I know how to live and integrate. I float, carried, a cricket, singing.


On a branch

floating downriver

a cricket, singing

Kobayashi Issa 

The tides flow in and out of the bay


Trust

I woke from a dream of sitting on the sand, then, walking into the ocean, and standing there until the tide came in and floated away my shoes.  With no shoes, I walked on rocks, exhilarated and soothed by natural stimulation, reflexology, a balance of shifting pleasure and pain.

I remembered being in a park in Hong Kong set up for barefoot walking on different surfaces and textures.  Walking there is meditation and a treat for the feet. I have a rug made up of river rocks and I love to stand on it and lift my feet up and down, moments of awakening, captured and set loose in a pause.

The baby shower yesterday was touching and sweet.  We spoke of how simple childbirth is in one way in that billions of us humans are here, and yet each one seems like a miracle, each of us a miracle.

I’m reminded of the words of Pablo Casals.

“The CHILD must know that he is a MIRACLE, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world will not be, another child like him.” 

And each of us is that child.

I was awake early this morning, still dark, and with my two kitties we watched the world come to light.  Wind blew through in the night, and pine needles are scattered like pick-up sticks all over the decks.

The light is soft with Autumn threading through.

Yesterday I was with people some of whom didn’t know of my brother’s death.  Speaking of it, sharing it, showed me that the wound is still fresh, and maybe it’s also a gathering of family and friends that touches the awareness of impermanence, the fragility and preciousness of life here.

I returned home to these words of Thich Nhat Hanh from his book “No Death, No Fear.” Reading his response to the death of his mother, I was turned on a lathe of understanding, moved to refresh my clay.

The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together, my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.

Surrendering, I remember my family members who’ve passed are always with me, available at any time, like hands and feet.

Holding hands with rock and sand

Beginnings

This morning I woke feeling like a Sea Star, awareness of my torso reaching out through hands, feet, and head, all equally important, all equally renewing and exploring.

Today I go to Menlo Park for a baby shower for my on approach grandchild.  It’s said that the grandmother’s hormones change while the baby is in the womb.  I feel that could be true. Yesterday at the grocery store I saw a beautiful, creamy hunk of gruyere cheese.  I think of gruyere cheese for fondue but I wanted that cheese and that’s all I wanted for dinner – hunks and hunks of gruyere cheese.

That feels a little weird to share but I’m feeling myself as a womb spreading out like a Sea Star, stomach reaching out to ingest what’s here – all children – species – connection, oneness, all gathered together, near and far – 

I’m in and out, Sea Star aware

A Binary World

Chain saws are roaring next door, and my nervous system feels the whirr and the roar, so today’s words circulate unable to land, unable to bond and form a band.

My Ditty for Today

I vowed to post every day 

But in this moment I’ve nothing to say 

The moon last night was almost half

Thoughts like glaciers drop and calf

Mind spins round like a centrifuge

Separating words 

from my hue-gathering 

muse

An oak in my yard waves

legs in the air

head rooted, imbibe

all moments with care 

burrowing thought as legs wave in the air

Stones

I love stones.  Stones call to me, and people give me stones.   I’m reminded of the poet Robinson Jeffers wonderful Tor House in Carmel, CA.  where stones gather, collected from all over the world.

The story in the New Yorker this week is called The Stone and is by Louise Erdrich, a writer whose work I love.

She has this to say about the story and “the stone”.  

“In the Ojibwe language, nouns are animate or inanimate; the word for stone, asin, is animate. One might think that stones have no actual power—after all, we throw them, build with them, pile them, crush them, slice them. But who is to say that the stones aren’t using us to assert themselves? To transform themselves? One day, the things we made out of stones may be all that’s left of our species. Of our complex history of chipping away at and arranging stones, what will be recorded or known?”

Words to contemplate as we sit with a stone in our hand, or tip-toe through stones in a stream or on a beach.

Meanwhile, I again offer one of my favorite poems by Charles Simic.

STONE

Go inside a stone 

That would be my way. 

Let somebody else become a dove 

Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth. 

I am happy to be a stone. 

From the outside the stone is a riddle: 

No one knows how to answer it. 

Yet within, it must be cool and quiet 

Even though a cow steps on it full weight, 

Even though a child throws it in a river; 

The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed 

To the river bottom 

Where the fishes come to knock on it 

And listen. 

I have seen sparks fly out 

When two stones are rubbed, 

So perhaps it is not dark inside after all; 

Perhaps there is a moon shining 

From somewhere, as though behind a hill— 

Just enough light to make out 

The strange writings, the star-charts 

On the inner walls. 

Stones in a Stream

Love

Last night before bed a friend shared with me the compassion she was feeling around some challenges in her life. I’m re-reading Frank Ostaseski’s wonderful book The Five Invitations, and I’m in his chapter on love.

He writes that there are only two questions that matter. “Am I loved?” “Did I love well?Since there is no separation, we can include ourselves in that love. He speaks of resting in love, and then concludes the chapter with this.

“When we live from the vantage point of boundless love, we begin to see all the points of connection that join us together. Love breeds love.”

I read those words and come to this video of a horse that knows where he’s needed, a horse that radiates, and is, Love. I’m reminded of Challenger, a horse I worked with when I went through equine therapy after cancer treatment. I remember his presence, his eyes, heart, lungs – huge and healing, and I carry him with and within me thirteen years later. Tears come and heal, liquid Love.

Healing – Love

Being Breathed

The sky this morning is a dance of clouds, formations changing with wisps of fog threading through.  Perhaps it’s how the flower feels when a hummingbird dips its beak in to sip, though maybe I’m the hummingbird sipping nectar from sky and trees.

We live in a natural world-wide web. Trees breathe in and out, twine through roots, and send carbon to neighboring trees when needed.  We’re wired to connect. 

My son Jeff will be 45 tomorrow.  I remember back as I talk to my other son Chris who will be 42 in October with a new baby delivered soon.  We talk about babies and breast pumps. Last night they learned that the breast milk pumped from the morning wakes the baby up.  The breast milk pumped at night puts the baby to sleep so label the bottles placed in the frig.

Rhythms.  I think of how different it was when I was young.  We were told we had to compete with the Russians so when I started high school in 1963 I was placed in accelerated math and science programs. It was a left-brain world with no time for art. Competition ruled. 

Then when my sons were young and I trained to become a Terwilliger nature guide, I learned a whole new view of science. It’s a living study, a study of life. I wasn’t dissecting a frog or fetal pig. I held a sparrow in my hands, felt her quivering fear, stroked the dry fluidity of a living, moving snake, pure grace.

Yesterday was my sixth Alexander session.  The work is to be experienced and lived, not analyzed, and yet, something in me wants to understand how the balancing in my organism allows me to open into feeling myself being breathed.  There’s no effort, only ease, no fear like I felt in the little sparrow held in my hands. I ooze a sap of kindness, kindness for myself, and in that, the world of which I’m part.

In fourth grade, I was the fairy godmother who gave kindness in the play, “Sleeping Beauty”.  I’ve never forgotten the power of saying those four words as I waved my wand. “I give you kindness.”   Now kindness is given to me.

I’m reminded of a quote by Ramakrishna. The winds of grace are always blowing but you have to raise the sail, and perhaps in this moment, Alexander Technique allows me to trim the sails I raise. 

The sky this morning, nectar for the ridge