70th Spring ~ View from this Hill



This west-sloping hillside on Richardson Hill has been my home for five years now. And with this fifth Spring, it is no less marvelous to once again witness the land at last shedding its somber Winter garb and slipping into the first tender greens. Its arrival at Lightspring Glen was decidedly sharp-edged this year. The occasional tease of a warm, sunny March day barely helped me hold out against Winter’s persistent chilly grip. And then one morning last week I opened the bedroom curtains and was greeted by emerald green grass, the lawn transformed overnight! At the edge of the yard the recently-returned Wood Duck pair was paddling about on the pond’s dark mirror in their handsome Spring finery.

Such excitement now stirring in the trees, rising sap teasing leaf-bud flowers open. A haze of red and amber orange is spreading a gauzy cloak among the hardwoods on the hillsides. The days are steadily expanding and filling with light, my eyes opening soon after 5:30 to dawn’s sweet coming. The April dusk lingers past nine in pale yellows and turquoises, robins serenading the first stars…All is well…Cheeri-o, Cheeri-up, Cheeri-o….

How remarkable and at moments how truly amazing it is to be here still in the wide, beautiful World this seventieth Spring, this not-quite-countless round of my life’s spiraling journey. Another Aries’ re-charge, back once more to my fiery roots. I’ve been journaling for ever so long, and penning blog posts intermittently since 2011. I wonder is there something new for me to say in this Spring? There’s a “book in it”, I’ve been thinking. Yes, much more than one journal or blog post could hold. And in truth I’ve already written something of a memoir, Answering Avalon’s Call: the Mystical Memoir of an Earth Healer. (my promotion-minded Self suggests you check out its page right here on GoldenSpiralJourney.com!)

This seventieth Spring is soon to find me returning to Glastonbury in time for May Day, Bealtane, going home to the place of a mystical re-birth at my life’s mid-point in 2001. Nearly twenty years further along how vivid it is, this promise of transformative renewal yet again that awaits me on the Isle of Avalon. I am very ready. Over these last months of Winter’s quiet withdrawal I have mused over what new seeds want planting. The composting work of the cold and dark have rendered all that no longer serves into fresh and re-vitalized soil, a potent mediumfor the growth that desires to begin.

In the yearly rituals of resurrection and nourishing renewal that this Season brings, I am recommitting to memory a favorite Mary Oliver poem, particularly poignant as we are for the first time without her Earthly presence this Sweet Season. It is, I think, the fourth year I’ve shared it in these Earth Pilgrim Notes…I am liking the tradition. And while our dear Mary O. is now elsewhere, there is not far off a black bear rising from her sleep.

And so I offer this exquisite poem once more. May the perpetual hope stirred for me by these words and images breathe a spark in you of something that is vital and seeking renewal.

All Grace, Carol


Spring 
~ Mary Oliver

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence 
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,


it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;


all day I think of her---
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.





Heart Weaving :: Valentine’s Day 2019

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Lightspring Glen

Valentine’s Day arrived as a bright and wintry one here at Lightspring Glen, my Heart home. This is a post long-pondered since the new year’s beginning, and the first to finally appear for 2019. Lots of Life has happened since New Year’s day, much of which proved challenging to translate into words for posting here. Sadly notable was the passing in early January of two people very dear to me…a younger friend and my teacher, Nancy Eve Fanara-Berrian, and the poet, Mary Oliver. So, big dents were made to my heart that are only part way along in their mending. And coming to this past week I have been mindful that this Valentine’s Day marks a full year since the shootings at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. For the survivors and their dear ones, for all of us, how to rise and continue? Indeed the same awful question repeated in too many subsequent tragedies in the months since. My own first attempt at an answer came in last February’s post, Persistent Hope.

So, in these times through which we are journeying together, my sister and brother Earth pilgrims, there just is no denying the Travel is too often rugged and daunting. A litany of worldly woes and disheartening news threatens to flatten us daily. We each do our best to cope, heaven knows. For myself, I take some comfort in Emily Dickinson’s steadfast vision that “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all.” Ah, the question for me is often how to stay connected to my soul and also to my heart? And even though the alternative holds little appeal, how do I manage to keep my heart open?

Heart Labyrinth
Heart Labyrinth, Ghost Ranch

Last August, through an unexpected travel opportunity (and gift of the Universe) I joined ten others for a marvelous three-day retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. It was led by a wonderful man and truly heart-wise teacher, L.R. Heartsong…River. We had available to us a stunningly beautiful, heart-shaped labyrinth. Sharing our meditative walks was simply amazing, nearly indescribable in how it wove us together body and soul. River prompted us to consider how each walk allowed us to spiral into and out of the Heart laid out in small stones and sandy red earth. The metaphor was one we embraced in our days together and shared retreat experiences in New Mexico’s extraordinarily beautiful high desert. Ever since then the Heart Labyrinth’s image and mantra have been a blessed and potent fuel for my onward journey.

The Wheel of the Year has brought us all forward to this seventh week of 2019 and to this yearly Occasion of heart-minded focus and thoughts. It was high time (and a good time) to return to my writer’s work once more and fashion an offering for this particular day.

Poets so often instigate and inspire my word-smithing efforts. Early this day I was twice such blessed. A new-to-me Mary Oliver poem came in a friend’s morning email. And on Facebook, Oriah Mountain Dreamer posted a most wonderful Valentine message and poem:

There are thousands of ways to fall in love.
At night I open my eyes in the welcoming darkness
And listen to the snow softening all sound.
And I fall in love with being here.
In the morning I smile, grateful for hot showers,
Sweet tea, and cinnamon baked apples.

There are thousands of ways to be in love,
To listen to the song of another’s heart
To hold them with tender attention,
To forgive ourselves for all the moments we’ve missed
In our hurry to get somewhere
Not realizing there is nowhere to go,
That love is already here.

On good mornings,
mornings when I am not distracted or forgetful,
I get up and ask:
How will I make love to my life today?

Oh my, how I love her question! And how I love offering it to all who come to this post. Oh my…How indeed will I make love to my life today? And then again tomorrow? And….?  I know how much I will be enjoying contemplating the answers in this unfolding year, 2019. And in Mary Oliver’s poem there is an eloquent and provocative suggestion. I intend, as I nearly always do, to take her advice to heart.

Don't Hesitate 

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
Don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that's often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

(Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, p. 61, Penguin Press 2017

~ Bright and heart-full Blessings to all from Lightspring Glen ~

Shape-shifting : Entering the Earth-Womb

Then and now….morning, 14 November 2014…a mirror to 11.14.2018

(Note for followers of these posts: the promised continuation of September’s “Entering Autumn…”, further tales of the Ghost Ranch gathering, will follow this post…..Life happens!)

…..but nonetheless, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. / Don’t go back to sleep” And the first secret of this morning’s November dawn is a sweet discovery: that the spiral of my Journey here at Lightspring Glen echoes in near-same detail the morning four years ago today in 2014. The pond is skimmed with ice from last night’s mid-20s and the pines and the frost-withered goldenrod are lightly draped in a snowy mantle.  Out for this morning’s wood’s ramble I needed my  warmest hat and gloves to enjoy the dancing swirl of snowflakes, and pleased to find myself warming up to the Season’s frosty delights. There’s always a spell of foot-dragging for me, so to speak, (and occasional heavy sighing) reluctantly accepting that barefoot pleasures need to be set aside for six months, and that pond-side Tai chi is now happening indoors looking out through the living room windows at the pond and hemlocks. :::sigh:::

Summer’s green-fire has subsided to just embers winking in the oaks’ burnished bronze leaves. These particular Standing Ones are loathe to part with their foliage for a few months more. And I am treated to the yearly pleasure of the trees’ beguiling strip-tease, the slow reveal of sturdy trunks in delightful hues of grays and browns all the way up to their crowns. Graceful patterns of sinuous limbs and branches come into sharp focus. The bare-treed woods opens itself like a stage curtain being gently pulled back revealing the outline of the hills rising beyond, the full backdrop of my woodsy neighborhood filled out and expansive once more.

We’ve just monkeyed with the clocks as we do every six months so that dark now descends a little past four. It’s a bit of heavy-handed shape-shifting, depending on whether you’re a morning- or night-person. As a happy early-riser, I’m glad for the brightness again at 6 AM. And for the darker end of the day I’ve laid in a supply of tea lights to cheer the evenings, their golden flicker a cozy addition to the seasonal scheme of things. 

So the citizenry of the Green World has drifted into needed slumber and hibernation’s secretive renewal. The Winter Solstice is five weeks away. The deepest dark of the Year’s Wheel approaches, its always mysterious reckoning and potent gifts offered to those who entertain its possibilities.  Even though there’s a certain reluctance, I turn myself toward the cold-edged beauties of the coming Season.  I have an ever-deepening appreciation for the gifts of these months. No one better than Mary Oliver to coach us in this. And so, on the occasion of the first snow here at Lightspring Glen, may you enjoy her earthy wisdom and joy shining in the images of the poem of that name. 

First Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain - not a single
answer has been found -
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one

Entering Autumn – the Door is round and open…

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Equinox Labyrinth – 22 September 2018

On Saturday sixteen friends and neighbors – Earth Pilgrims, all – gathered here at Lightspring Glen to give thanks for Summer’s blessings and welcome the new season. And as was true for the Barn Christening in June, many more attended in spirit, so we were a lively crowd. As the westering Sun settled gracefully behind the hemlock wood…we were glad for our warm jackets…we shared a meditative walk on the rope labyrinth I’d laid out that morning, a barefoot Spider Woman. Here on the gentle slope of Richardson Hill, the stillness of the Equinox afternoon was softly edged with the stream’s murmuring flow, spilling happily down the waterfall’s cascade at the end of the pond and slip-sliding off through the Glen towards Willow Brook and on to the Susquehanna ten or so stream-miles away.  Continue reading “Entering Autumn – the Door is round and open…”

Luminescence – Notes for Summer Solstice

DSCN6049The calendar reports that this is the 12th of June. Summer Solstice, the mid-point of the year’s Wheel, is only eight days away.  In today’s bluest of blue skies, the midday Sun is nearing its zenith with the just-about-new Gemini Moon close behind…..tomorrow it will be exact. Bird-life is bustling all about, the Starling fledglings launched earlier this week from their nest in the eaves of my neighbors’ house. Our door yards are now somewhat quieter without their hungry clamoring from sun-up to sun-down for those three weeks and a bit more. And after the longest wait and a bit worried I’d not hear them this year, the days on Richardson Hill once more begin and end with the enchanting songs of the Wood thrush and the Hermit thrush. Continue reading “Luminescence – Notes for Summer Solstice”

Me & Mary, Captured by the Light

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Below the waterfall, April light in Lightspring Glen

We are nine days into April and today’s temps, promised to soar into the low 40’s, are a much yearned for, very long-awaited warm-up and hopeful heralding of Spring’s full arrival. By this date each of the four previous Aprils, I’ve already thrilled to the Spring peepers’ evening chorus here at Lightspring Glen. This year I’m imagining these wee amphibians are only now starting to stir out there behind the still-snowy hemlock woods. On a brighter note…literally…the recently returned and persistently optimistic song sparrows were singing this morning in the 20-degree chill air.  Ah, and as I write this, Simon and Garfunkel are softly reminding me, “April…come she will…” Continue reading “Me & Mary, Captured by the Light”

September at Lightspring Glen

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Earth Pilgrim report:

It is more than a considerable blessing to live on these seven acres tucked into the northwest corner of the Catskill Mountains. With a conscious shift of my focus the too-often thunderous cacophony of the news-of-the-world can be muted to a tolerable rumbling. Here this late Summer’s important news is how magnificent the fruit crop is, especially the apples. Four years ago I was impatiently waiting for the bank closing on my new home. When I paid surreptitious visits to walk the land that was not quite-yet mine, I was thrilled to discover three or four venerable apple trees from the farm’s long ago orchard, trees likely over 50 years old. Their branches that year were heavy with delicious apples. Weather vagaries in the intervening years resulted in far fewer and nearly none at all last fall. This year once more they are laden with heirloom apples whose names I’ve pledged to discover. How marvelous to be present to fully enjoy them. Continue reading “September at Lightspring Glen”

Lush…Mid-Summer’s Abbondanza & Mary Oliver

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July pond…Lightspring Glen

In the dark and drear of January, it’s summer days like this we dream of…..

Chalice Pond is a serene mirror of the woods here at Lightspring Glen, a gentle breeze is adding just the coolness needed for the day’s low-80s, (with the humidity blessedly comfortable so far ) fair-weather cumulus clouds are sailing their impossibly huge white galleons across the sky’s brilliant blue depths.  Given the news of terrible heat in the West of the continent, here in the Northeast we have been enjoying a most clement Summer with the (mostly) moderate complaint of too many rainy days. And in truth there’s been enough rainfall to cause some flooding problems, especially around the Great Lakes. But since we passed the Fourth, warm, beautiful, abundant Summer has arrived in its fullness so that now making sure to bring along the sunblock is at last a necessity. Continue reading “Lush…Mid-Summer’s Abbondanza & Mary Oliver”

Earth and Sky are Dancing – Summer Solstice 2017

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Below Richardson Hill, Willow Brook Watershed, mid-June 2017

And so the year’s Wheel has spun us gently from Winter’s cold and darkness through Spring’s gradually-lengthening days to June, sweet June. The Sun rose in the Solstice skies at 5:24 this morning, though with Richardson Hill to my east it was nearly 7 before its first rays touched the tree tops here at Lightspring Glen and shafts of golden light began to flicker down into the woods. The huge cumulus clouds sailing past are offering their counterpoint to the long, languorous hours of Grandfather Sun’s light on this Summer Solstice day. Tomorrow will be nearly the same as the sun-stands-still in the sky. Our ancestors knew this phenomena well and celebrated its annual return with fires and fine celebration. Continue reading “Earth and Sky are Dancing – Summer Solstice 2017”

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. Continue reading “April, come she will”