Bear In Mind

Thoughts of pushing my cross-country skis through sparkling, freshly fallen snow are ingrained in my mind, but this is the only place they have resided. How was I to know that Mother Nature had other plans?

Past Winters found me housebound for the same reason. Uncooperative weather. Have I been brainwashed by those old movies that featured visions of ‘the white stuff’ twinkling as it fell from above?  My inner holiday child frolicking joyfully on a mindless course that went from lobbing orbs of the ‘stuff’ at cranial targets one minute and lacing up my skates to glide on frozen water the next?

It’s been unseasonably above zero before yesterday and whatever snow fell to the ground is long gone and is revealing lawns in various mottled shades of green and Camel, assuming that Camels only come in tan. Leaves are scattered in the yards of those of us who put our mulching mowers to task and shun the multiple rakings it takes to be void of them entirely. Yet, we’ll rejoice again when we see evidence of new ones adorning the trees when Ostara arrives. Except maybe for Dick. Dick enjoys his retirement…I guess. When our daughter and son-in-law were here for the holidays, she marveled as Dick crawled around his lawn on all fours with an empty plastic gallon ice cream bucket, handpicking any rogue leaves from his otherwise pristine field of green. She was mesmerized, while my husband and I have witnessed this on so many occasions it barely warrants a peek out the window. Interesting neighbors are fun. At least I list that as one of the reasons that we are living in an urban neighborhood instead of where I long to be most days…look on any map for ‘the middle of nowhere’ and that’s where I’d like to call ‘home’.

One of the reasons that I’d like this location is due to my love affair with privacy. The days I am out in the garden, in my own little world, only to discover pairs of eyes screwed into me as I dig and plant, in that world that is now populated by others, makes me have to make a decision. Do I carry on as if I don’t know they’re scrutinizing what I’m doing, perhaps with a critical view or do I get all self-conscious? Do they know I’ve lost my trowel for the fifth time as I try to look as if I’m just planning my borders instead of looking for it? Did they see me reach too far and fall face first into a hosta? Does my ass look big(ger) in these pants?

The other reason I’d like to live in a more rural, translated ‘removed’, area is my love of wild things. And, yes, I adore the trappings of mundane life and can strip the numbers off a credit card in a leisurely afternoon, but I am a Witch. One of Mother’s children. Her other forms of life are ‘family’ and I love to be near them.

My posts regarding the variety of these siblings will give any new reader some insight as to how much my life revolves around them. My yard is home to any of them who grace me with their presence and I’m grateful for them all. There is no distain for the Worms that I save when I dig into their habitat and carefully place them out of harms way or the Birds that rank as ‘undesirable’ by avid Birders. Like, I’m going to put up signs, “No Grackles Allowed”. Come on… my dad used to shake his fists at them…and they laughed hysterically, flew away and came back to the feeders when he wasn’t looking.

Am I being selfish if I’d like to hear Coyotes howl at night…and join them? I hear they have them on the west side and just want to shoot them. Barbarians. If they don’t want their Pugapoo to be threatened, get off the sofa and accompany the beloved pedigreed pooch outside when it does its business instead of just letting it out and forgetting it’s out there.

Give me a home where the Buffalo…well maybe not Buffalo…but the Deer and the Antelope would be lovely. Wolves would be nice. We do have Rabbits in the yard, but the Opossums, Skunks, Raccoons, and Woodchucks stay in the more wooded areas…note to self…plant more trees. There had been a Bear sited at the Arboretum, but I think they relocated him. Judging by the way it feels outside now, I would think a Polar Bear would not be unaccustomed to paying a visit.

As soon as we get some snow, operation ‘Ski Pole’ is back on. Maybe if I complete my task of tracking down some new wax it will entice Mother Nature to let it fall. A khaki hued hydrangea is nodding at me outside the window… mocking me really…

Ah, a Crow flew over. There is life out there and it’s not frozen solid. On that note, I will place something alluring in the feeder and wait for her to land. Maybe Dick has lost his ability to draw me to the window, but a Crow will get me every time.

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Stop, Love, and Listen

Recently, I had the occasion to be upset. I mean really upset. Under the same circumstances, if someone else had a similar experience and shared it with me, it would be my natural inclination to encourage them to move past it. You see, I am a mentor and motivator so the aspect of allowing the pain to linger is not something I ordinarily would foster.

However, when a friend called me after the event that both shocked and hurt me, I was in no position to follow what would usually be my own advice. What I did need was to be allowed to grieve and heal in my own time. To some, the situation could have been trivial, since it involved the destruction of a beloved object as opposed to the loss of a life, but it was an heirloom that cannot be replaced. I am searching for something similar, now that I have moved past the pain of the reality that the original is gone. It represented memories of the celebrations that had my mother getting it out of the china hutch and using it because she always felt that precious things were meant to be used and to be enjoyed, even if only for special occasions.

Often, when a person is in emotional pain, we are at a loss as to how we can help. It’s an uncomfortable situation because even though we can try to empathize, we cannot feel the depth of the emotions involved. The desire to distance ourselves from those emotions can have us reacting in a way that does more to maintain our own comfort level than to support the person who is hurting. We say the expected words and make the acceptable gestures, but after that, we just want to separate ourselves from the awkward attempt to fix the irreparably broken.

Don’t even think about telling someone that you feel that they are overreacting. Rating some one else’s level of pain and passing judgment as to how you think they should be dealing with it makes you totally unworthy of the honor of having someone trust you enough to share it with you.

How does a person help someone transition from the place of pain to the land of hope and not risk appearing to diminish what they’re feeling? To be ready to once again pursue their dreams, reset goals, and move past the desperation and temptation to quit. Having been through this on many occasions, for many different reasons, I have come to see that allowing a person to grieve is a necessary part of the healing process. This can’t be hurried, buried, or injected with guilt. Neither can it be eliminated by some over zealous motivator attempting to verbally drag someone up by their bootstraps, shove them back in the saddle and slap the horse on the ass, forcing them to rejoin the race.

Many times, in my effort to be a good ‘coach, I dust off the wounded player, encourage them to get back in the game and shake my pompons from the sidelines. But, I have to keep in mind that sometimes they just want to sit on the bench a while longer and cry. Empathy involves the ability to just shut up and listen to someone, provide a shoulder to cry on, and a hand up when they’re ready to stand. The best way to know what they need is to pay attention to what you needed when you needed it and didn’t get it.

Eye To The Sky

No matter where you live you cannot escape Nature. From the soaring Eagle to the city Pigeon, there is a lesson to be learned from their presence in the skies. Today, watch for the Bird who makes itself known, for this is no mere happening void of meaning. If you notice it, it has significance.

Is the Bird on a wire, balancing between the Earth and sky? Do you feel that you are on that high wire, precariously perched over a dangerous situation demonstrated by the rushing traffic below or is there a meadow beneath the Bird? Is the wind blowing, causing the wire to sway or is it a calm day and the wire serves only as a means for you to see far and wide?

Do you see a Hawk soaring high seemingly surveying its domain? Is your keen sight and ability to rise above it all allowing you to excel in business or your personal life? Can you feel yourself riding the current with the Hawk, confident and sure of your vision for your future?

Does the gentle coo of Doves reach your ears? Amid the rushing cars, bobbing and weaving as it picks its way along the curbside for bits of food, it seems oblivious to the traffic. The Dove has a mission and its calm demeanor keeps it focused. A sudden rush of danger has it taking to the skies in seconds, gracefully gliding out of harms way and as soon as the threat has passed, it resumes its intention.

Is it a tree that holds your bird in its sheltering arms? It has all that it needs right there. Insects for food, a place to nest and raise a family, and leaves to hide behind and shield it from predators. Do you need to keep looking outside of yourself for your desires or is all you really need within and already yours?

From the elusive Owl to the watchful and cunning Crow, if you observe the behavior of the beautiful winged Nature guide that will present itself to you today, you will come away richer and wiser. Open yourself to the boundless expanse of sky and allow it to touch you.

Enchanted September Morning

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I didn’t have to look at the calendar to know what day it was. I could feel it. The first day of September.

The Griffin chair on my stoop has become my favorite spot to sit with a cup or chalice and allow Nature to touch me. Screened by a wrought iron trellis of spent clematis blooms, I can be slightly veiled from the wild ones who stop by the feeders or sip from throats of flowers too tenacious to wither in the cool flow of morning air.

Alvin and Rocky scurry near my bare feet that are dusted by the hem of my long black skirt. Heedless of the fact that Chipmunks and Ground Squirrels are the sort who greet each other politely, but don’t make dates to ‘do lunch’,  they are willing to share the table I set before them. A mason jar sits along side my chair so that when my guests come to visit, a quick pop of the lid is all it takes to scatter the treasure of the mix of nuts, seeds and bits of dried fruit. Alvin’s cheeks are bulging with his cache of the loot to the point that he appears to be smiling at me…in fact, I know that he is.

Rocky looks dry and fluffy again after his near drowning incident. It was in this very spot that I sat one evening enjoying the last piece of cranberry orange cheesecake that my daughter had made for my birthday. Suddenly, Alvin and Rocky came darting from beneath my limelight hydrangeas and jumped up onto the ledge of the pond. This game of tag ended badly when Rocky ran too close to the edge and toppled in. He struggled to climb out on a Lilly pad, but he was too panic stricken and heavy with water to lift himself high enough. I grabbed my empty plate and placed it beneath his sodden little body and lifted him to safety.  His pride was as dampened as he was. Hiding behind a fern, he began to lick his fur in an attempt to avoid the evidence of this embarrassing and frightening event. He has all but forgotten it now…or hopes that any witnesses have.

I inhale deeply of air on the edge of Autumn and instinctively wrap my invisible cloak around my shoulders. A secret vow between me and the Great Mother seals my pledge to frequent this spot daily, even if for a just few minutes. In fact, I know I will have to or go mad from the desire to do so should I be tempted to allow the clang of mundane life with its screeching wheels and shrill alarms to interfere. The bliss of this experience and resulting euphoria will surely have me ‘jonsing’ for this fix…not the ‘fix’ from drugs that slaughter the mind and rip wide the spirit…but a true ‘fix’. A fix for stress, a fix for fatigue, a fix for anything that might ail me.

So, how long before the sky reflects the hues of turning leaves? Each one the colorful, karmic chameleon of the Trees, beginning with a shy, light blush that soon gives way to a bold, shimmery, show girl shade of raging scarlet. Country roads will tie it all up in black winding ribbons that beg to be unraveled by convertible, rag top down days. Nothing is as glorious as zoom, zooming down the back roads in my husband’s little red sports car, my black chiffon scarf whipping wildly behind me.

The ending of Summer is the beginning of the best that is yet to come. At least it is for me. No fan of heat and humidity, the time I spend out doors is short lived until the temperature dips below 80 or I can find an expanse of shade. The quickening of my heart and stirring of my spirit opens my senses shamelessly. I sniff the breeze and the scents of damp soil, moss and mushrooms intoxicate me. Everything feels deep and cavernous with many places to explore.

Mabon rites will mark the first day of Fall and Samhain on October 31st will be the last of the Harvest holidays. Traditions will be kept and new ones created, for every experience has the potential to be remembered and celebrated. As does this one, right here, right now.