Once, when I had a yard, I bought a packet of wildflower seeds, a mix where you scatter them and wait to see what arises from the earth. Poppies, coreopsis, wallflowers, alyssum, phlox, flax…whatever would take hold. And in my garden I had plants I set into the soil with specific intention. Roses, daffodils, lavender. This sojourn has been a scattering of seeds and in the center was the planting of one intention-to return some of my mother’s cremains to the land of her birth. Last week in the company of her two remaining cousins, I offered her back to the land. My mother-a beautiful English rose.
“What can you teach me?” I ask this question to the rocks and stones I meet on my sojourn. To hear even the faintest reply I must slow my inner clock to ancient time. To liminal time. For the souls that reside in the salt-and-pepper speckled gneiss, the chalkboard black slate, the meringue layers of limestone, and pigeon grays of common igneous hued surfaces I tread on, caress, sit and lean upon speak an unfamiliar language. I have felt an intimate connection with rock and stone during this sojourn. In the wild places, I place my hand against a rock face and wait. Sometimes the warmth of sun fills my palm, or the cool of shadow absorbs into my skin. Rough edges prod my fingertips to ask deeper questions. “What edges of yours need smoothing?” Or “Are those rough edges part of a wildness you need to keep?” Many of the rocks have facial features, as if they are trying to communicate in way we can understand if only we would stand still for a moment longer.
My pace was smooth and measured. I matched my breath to my footfalls. Breath—we all breathe the same air. How does air quality not concern us all? In. Out. Toward center—my interior. Questions arise. What is my responsibility? Long stretch of path on the outer edge—my exterior. How do I join with others? And so it went as I considered the resource of air. And then my feet pressed to the ground. Earth. Our forests. And images of my beloved ocean. Water. Air, earth, water. Three of the vital elements for our lives, all our lives, in order to be sustained.
The world outside my window is locked in ice. Inside my head is mired in the dregs of a head cold. For once the frozen landscape is convenient. It offers the excuse I need to take care and rest—a long afternoon nap yesterday, sleeping in this morning. It is barely afternoon and I am ready to doze again. Despite my best efforts to be more of a human “being,” I still slip into the rut of human “doing” as easily as worn soles slip on glazed sidewalks.
The shifting of seasons, especially the autumnal equinox seems to stir something in me. Like the winds readying to undress the trees, I felt my summer begin to fall away a few weeks ago. The list of projects, activities, planned hikes and trips to the coast—many were left undone. All seemed attainable as summer approached, then life remained busy, weekends passed and now—October is here.
Funny how old memories will resurface at unexpected times. Maybe it is the sweetness of the blackberries this summer that stirred my recollection of these unfolding memories two years ago. Spring of 2014 blossomed into a summer of unanticipated challenges.