April, come she will

DSCN5547When I woke yesterday, the first day of April, it was to light snow falling, the ground, trees, and woods once more arrayed in lacy-white. Here in these Catskill foothills, we’ve only recently emerged from the remnants of the Blizzard-named-Stella of three weeks ago that paralyzed a good deal of the Mid-Atlantic and New England for several days. Already quite Winter-weary, it was hard to keep from being discouraged at this newly-imposed, longer wait for Spring. There was a frustratingly slow dwindling of the several feet of snow. Finally by the end of last week rain reduced the snow drifts lingering around my house to only a few dirty white piles and in the woods the snow blanket showed signs of tattering at last. And then near dark on Thursday I opened the door to let the cat in and was greeted by the unmistakable notes of a robin tentatively offering his Spring song. I gasped with delight and hurried down the steps to hear it more clearly as it called twice more and then a last time. I breathed in the magic of it deeply, the first Robin-song of the year.

But as a friend said yesterday, “Spring will not be denied much longer!” Bright blue skies reign this Sunday afternoon, and the moving waters of the many streams and rippling ponds of Lightspring Glen are everywhere sparkling in the sunshine. And as I rose yesterday morning it was to Simon and Garfunkel singing in my Inner Ear, “April, come she will / when streams are ripe and swelled with rain…”, a song I had not thought of in a very long while.

I have always been delighted with my country-life where there are four such distinct Seasons. In the interest of full disclosure, the rigors of Winter sometimes seem more demanding as the years move along. But I will never tire of this inevitable, magical shift from Winter to Spring and how it brings rejoicing…re-joy-cing…as the Earth warms and life quickens once more.

A few days before Stella arrived in her snowy fierceness, news reached me of the passing of the poet, Derek Walcott. He left us on March 17th at the age of 87. His poems have touched my life at several points with their singular and beautiful messages. In the tributes I read that weekend I discovered one new to me. It feels a perfect tribute both to him and to this always-wondrous and mesmerizing turning of the Wheel of the Year.

Earth

Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.

~ Derek Walcott ~
January 23, 1930 – March 17, 2017
(Sea Grapes)

Valentine for Mother Earth

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Lightspring Glen Valentine 2017

This year’s Valentine’s Day dawned beneath calm and brightening skies following several days of quite wintry weather, our snowiest week of the season. Nearly a foot and a half of snow has fallen in these past eight days keeping me close to home with the pleasurable tasks of monitoring the bird feeders, firing up Penguin now and then (my trusty snow blower) to keep the driveway passable, and simply enjoying the deep country-quiet of my hill-home. Given the strangely mild winters of recent years, this year’s snow-globe beauties are delighting my Earth-loving heart.

Some time in the past year a serendipitous connection on the world-wide-web brought this Celtic blessing to my notice when I saw it on the Facebook time-line of Caitlin Matthews, a Celtic scholar who I have long admired. She offered it as a simple ritual for a morning and evening gift to Mother Earth, suggesting if possible to step outside and quietly say it aloud in your dooryard, your garden, your snowy deck, your front stoop. It didn’t matter a bit how urban or rural the setting, only that you acknowledge the sky above and sense your connection to the sweet earth beneath your feet.

So from all the beautiful and magickal Beings of Lightspring Glen, from me, the Resident-Human, and from Angus and Tiger Lily (the resident felines), here is the blessing as our Valentine to you:

Blessed be the precious and preserving Air

by which we are given Life

Blessed be the precious and preserving Fire

by which we are warmed

Blessed be the precious and preserving Waters

by which we are cleansed

Blessed be the precious and preserving Land

by which we are sustained

Blessed be the precious and preserving Spirit within and around us

Blessed be the precious and preserving Ancestors,

now, then, and to come

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Hands embrace Earth in the shape of a heart.

Love Letter to the Seneca Falls Marchers

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It took little time to fall in love with you, my Sister and Brother-marchers, all 9,999 of you. We began to gather shortly after 9 am last Saturday, every one of us grateful to be together on such an incredible day like none other in anyone’s memory. Around midday our number was reported at between 5 and 7,000, but the final tally pushed this to 10,000!  The after-glow remains vivid even six days later, and I have a hunch it will continue like this well into the future. We will need every bit of this light and warmth. We’re already confronted in this post-Inauguration first week with outrageous, cold-blooded actions out of the White House. There’s a sense, for me at least, that some of this is retaliation for the actions of the three million of us (and that’s a conservative figure) who joined together on January 21st all across America and around the world (all seven continents! photos of those lovely folks in Antarctica have warmed many a heart!) …to speak our solidarity in opposition to all the Trump regime stands for and seems hell-bent on perpetrating.

But back to you, you gorgeous women, fabulous men, and wonderful kids who chose to travel to Seneca Falls, the birthplace in 1848 of the Women’s Rights Movement. Over and over the names were called out from the podium and spoken to each other in later conversations…Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Matilda Joslyn Gage. How keenly aware we were of walking in their footsteps, offering our thanks for their lifetimes’ efforts and for showing us the way. Among the morning’s speakers was 101-year old Mary Simpson Smart who shared the memory of marching with her mother in the 1920 victory parade when women gained the Vote. How marvelous to have her sprightly presence and oh my did we cheer loudly for her! And before Mary, the equally inspiring voices in song and word of women and men of the Oneidas and Mohawks of the Haudenosaunee Nation (Iroquois) whose lands these were before the European invasion of the immigrant ancestors of most of us in the crowd. Their words were not angry (as none were the entire day) but of blessings for Mother Earth and cautionary ones to us who until now had little or any experience of those who desire power and control over us. The First Peoples are among the new way-showers. They know the path ahead well and have endured to guide us now.

And then came the time to move out onto the streets of Seneca Falls reveling in the day’s spring-like warmth and cheery sun. Off we strode in our numbers, admiring each others’ signs, sharing conversations of where we were from, why we were here, thanking each other for coming to join together in heart and mind.

Here are some of you that I had the delight of meeting:

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Bonnie…we stood together during the opening ceremony applauding and whooping at the speeches and music. This sweet little girl and her lovely family, mom, dad, and baby brother (that’s her dad in the upper right corner). She wanted to hold my sign as we waited to start the march and wanted her doll to help too. And at the end of the march, another beautiful family who wanted their picture taken with me and my sign.

The last photo is of this wonderful man, a new grandfather who stood on the sidewalk holding his sign for us to see as we marched past. It read: “I march for Reese Honour Cassavaugh, my granddaughter, 2 Weeks Old Today”. dscn5428Of all the wonderful speeches, signs, and conversations, this man’s love for his newborn granddaughter crystallized for me the reason we’d all journeyed to Seneca Falls that day. Radicalized love was fully birthed on January 21st, 2017 and it will be the Fuel and Light that will sustain and guide us in the work ahead.

We are the Ones we’ve been waiting for. And I so love you all.

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Landing on My Feet

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December 9th, 2016, an anniversary like none other and one that I’d been anticipating with increasing gratitude as this day drew closer. This past year has been a healing journey, one that not only allowed my body to heal, but brought more ineffable gifts for which I will forever be grateful.

On what was an unusually mild December afternoon a year ago, I went searching for my cat, Angus. He’d been missing for what was an over-long time, and I was very worried. A favorite place of his was the upper floor of the barn and I strode hurriedly across the ramp fearful that when I slid back the haymow’s heavy door he’d be lying inside injured or worse. It’s in moments like this when you forget caution. Dangerously near the edge of the ramp, I tugged on the handle and felt my feet begin to slip on the damp wood. My body tilted away from the door and I knew I was going to fall a long way down to the ground ten feet below. Instinct told me to relax, to not struggle against the inevitable, and I fell backwards in the oddest slow-motion flight landing on my back. Woomph. No pain. I was conscious. I lay looking up at the sky and leafless branches above the barn, uttered a primal yell or two, willed my breathing to return to normal, and then calmly began to assess”what next”.

Feeling no pain (yet) the “what next” was checking myself out very cautiously, discovering my right leg wasn’t about to hold me up though my left leg seemed okay. My neighbors weren’t home, that I knew. So there was nothing to do but to slowly crab-crawl to the house. No cars passed on the road as I made my way oh-so-slowly across the lawn, hoping I wasn’t doing myself too much further harm. Shock is a helper of course, and I got myself up the four steps to the kitchen door, scrabbled slowly to the phone, and called for help.

Over the next twenty-four hours a marvelous retinue of medical helpers saw to my aid. First the marvelous and caring local EMTs who fetched me for my first-ever ambulance ride to the local ER and then a second to the Cooperstown Hospital an hour away. (mildly disappointed that no siren was necessary either time) The bigger concern was possible internal trauma, lesser focus was the quickly-discovered severe fracture to my sacrum (tail bone) and badly bruised right hip and leg. Angels work in all these places and I was blessed to meet and be cared for by a dozen or more. My son, Justin, was with me for all of this, a most comforting presence. We were told again and again that I was very lucky not to have sustained a paralyzing injury and that time would be the healer. A year’s time….I must allow for that, said kind Dr. Diaz.

So many lovely folks, family and friends, came to my aid as I convalesced at home. Such an outpouring of concern and support came via the internet, especially in that sweet cyber-neighborhood of Facebook. It’s a special place as many of you reading this know.

I was unable to drive for several weeks, navigating slowly about the house with a walker, determined above all to regain my self-sufficiency. Winter’s natural hibernation-option let me slumber a lot and receive deep healing. And it was actually a bonus to have all that wonderful reading time. Blessings come in all sorts of ways if you let them.

It was a banner day in mid-January when I drove out for groceries for the first time, made it into the store with my walking stick, and maneuvered about the aisles on one of their electric carts. This and other signs of returning agility and stamina slowly arrived as winter gave way to spring and spring to summer. But I had to learn new levels of patience at many turns, especially when over-exuberant gardening on Memorial Day triggered a set-back to my right knee. Aarrgh.  Time and again I reminded myself of how fortunate I was to be upright, getting about slowly but under my own power.

My daily woods-rambling was restricted to shuffling about the yard, so it was an emotional day indeed when I at last made my way slowly over the path at the pond’s outlet and stood beneath the trees, weeping at their welcome. It was late August before I was able to take a cautious hike up to the top of the hill…again such a triumphant and gratifying accomplishment.

As cooler days arrived…and oh what a glorious autumn we had…I became keenly mindful of the nearly eleven months gone by of this required healing-time. Apart from an occasional grumble of pain, nearly everything about walking or climbing steps or being able to practice Tai Chi again announced I was nearly completely healed. Often now when I walked in the woods I was conscious of the blessing it was to put one foot in front of the other, to feel my connection to Mother Earth, to be navigating this beautiful land under my own power.

It has been an extraordinary year and I am beyond-grateful for the gifts this healing journey has brought me. I’m not quite sure I’d do it again if I had the choice…but musing over this recollection this day, very likely I would give it careful consideration.

11th of December 2016 :: Lightspring Glen ::