Friday, April 29, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
This time of spring brings such a mix of seasons. Warm weather mixes with cold; lush green mixes with dead stalks of last year’s growth. In my little path thedried brown flowers of Sedum still stand, while new green leaves emerge from the base of the bouquet to remind us that each new part of the cycle emerges from the last one.
No formaldehyde for me
Just sprinkle seeds of clover
I’ll be breakfast for the Bee.
Today I walk around the yard and see the deep green leaves of the Ghost Lilies. Thriving now, they are gathering sunshine to feed the bulbs we can’t see deep in the earth. Soon they will wither and fade and fall, and even disappear, but just when we’ve forgotten, those bulbs will send a secret shoot up from the musky soil to grow toward the sun and burst forth with a spray of pink, shell-like trumpets.
For I’ve lived my life in cycles
And this is just one more
I’ll be waiting for the morning to arrive.
And the Bee will take me ‘round the bend
And then she will return
In the spring I can’t believe in Death, not a real, permanent Death, anyway, because everywhere in the spring life is springing up from decay. My mulch pile rots to nurture the hostas I planted last year at the base of trees, while the bones of Dylan’s cat, Knowles, will provide minerals for the roots of the plants in my spiral rock garden.
Now only cry a little
And only for the Beauty
For the Clover will make seeds of us all.
And the Bee will keep the cycle
And the Sun will rise again
And someone may remember my Song.
Let’s sing of cycles and sunshine and seeds. The maples are already pushing out tiny leaves and delicate helicopters of the lightest green. In a month, maybe more, these, too, will turn brown, let go, and spiral down to bury themselves in the sweet earth.
And the Bee will take me ‘round the bend
And then she will return
Sipping Sweet Honey from the Hive.
Gather Beauty; Sip Peace; Blessed Be.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Birdland is suddenly muggy, and I can hear the frogs sing in the pond through the open window. Opening the windows for the first time in the season is always a cause for celebration. These frogs have a deep, satisfying chirp, and I like to think they are bullfrogs, but I don't really know what kind they are. The grass is patchy, mostly green but dappled with large brown spots of winter's thatch. A few nights ago I mowed two sections of the yard, just up by the house. I was racing sunset and the onset of dew, and the setting sun won. I like breaking tasks into manageable parts. Maybe I'll find for a few more sections tonight.
Spring seems to be flirting with summer already. In my yard the daffodils are in their glory, and narcissus is following closely. The redbuds have joined in and the weigela is covered with tight little buds, like pink capers, now beginning to open in the warmth of the afternoon. The peonies I dug last fall to line my path with have sent up scarlet shoots, and the leaves of the ghost lilies are knee high.
Ellis' friend, Mackenzie, has hatched us some chicks, which we brought home two days ago. Yesterday I spent the bulk of the day setting them up with a brooder in the aviary. Ellis and I raked out last year's composted litter and added a fresh mulch of hay. My youngest can be pretty motivated to do chores when they're for the chickens. We put some fencing in to keep the old rooster from stealing their food, and provide them some protection from his spurs, but he seems to have accepted the chicks without incident. They're small enough to venture through the bars of their fence into the larger part of the aviary, but our old rooster is more interested in baiting Ursula. My dog is very interested in these events, and kept sniffing around the outskirts of the aviary.
The rooster would puff up his chest and jump at the chickenwire, whenever Ursula got too close. Meanwhile, we put up a light, to warm them, and a plastic wall to keep out the worst of the wind, and a little wooden nest box I made years ago when we had quail. By evening they had settled into a comical routine of scratching in their new yard, and by the time I fell asleep thinking about the song of the frogs, the safety of the chicks had settled in my mind like a comforting blanket.
Around 2 A.M. I half woke to dampness coming in through the open window, but wasn't fully awake until I realized I could hear the wind. Without my hearing aids, I don't even hear thunder, and won't wake up until Isis frantically nudges me awake. My old dog has always been afraid of thunder, but she's getting deaf now, too. Here in the darkness, I could hear...something... and if it really was the wind, maybe it was the freight train noise they say accompanies a tornado. I was contemplating the wisdom of various responses from waking Ellis up to wait out the storm in the basement to rolling over to go back to sleep. By morning the storm will have passed. Sleep was just about to win out when I remembered the chicks. Their protection was minimal; the plastic wall I put up and the wooden nestbox were enough for a breezy night and a light rain, but these gale force winds?
What would you do? Obviously the best plan was to slip on my garden shoes and run out into the rain in my nightgown. I was soaked to the skin before I got to the driveway. I could see the light shining bravely in the aviary, but was sure I'd find a pile of wet, dead chicks. Flashes of lightening lit my path as I ran into the wind. When I got there, the chicks' little yard was empty. Maybe after they died, rats had carried them away. I lifted the lid of the nestbox and six pairs of bright eyes looked up at me. They were huddled close together, and seemed to be warm and dry, but wondering why I was disturbing their rest. I adjusted the plastic wall to block the worst of the wind and water until the storm passed, and then went back into the house to change into a dry nightgown.
Walk in Beauty; Work in Peace; Blessed Be.
In Birdland the grass must be greening up, and bulbs will be sending up leaves of various shades and shape—the bright spring green of Day Lilies and the darker forest green of Ghost Lilies. The daffodils may even be blooming, their
yellowdresses dancing in the chilly breeze.
In the Yucatan we have made an expedition to another Mayan ruin, Mayapán. It is a warm, sunny day with a bright blue sky with a few buoyant clouds floating above the massive
pyramids. We have brought a large umbrella to guard against sunburn.
The stone buildings are dark against the open sky and we begin to tour the ancient city. We approach one of the pyramids and some people are nearby, in snowy white shirts and brightly colored pants and skirts, with colored sashes of cotton tied around their heads. They have small clay pots of incense burning. It smelled to me like Sage, but my friend, Heidi, says, no, it's something else. They ask us in Spanish if we'd like to be purified, and we each stand still while the aromatic smoke washes over us. The man who gave me the blessing had a stocky build and a soft voice. He asked me my name, and when I told him, he began speaking softly, my name woven into his words as he circled the incense in front of me, behind me, and all around. Periodically, he would sprinkle more herbs into his bowl and the coals would spark and flare. He pauses to ask me to lift my arms and then passed the bowl of smoke beneath them. I am bathed in the earthy aroma. All the while, a smiling man photographed us. I thank my benefactor and turn to see Heidi, herhead bowed, a woman with a white blouse and a skirt the color of tangerines speaking softly, both hands on top of Heidi's head. She pulls her hands away suddenly, and gives them a little shake. Heidi looks up and smiles. We continue our walk, and the people progress through the ruins, stopping to bless each building, chanting and playing long notes on a conch trumpet. Later, we see them from the top of the biggest pyramid, a parade of color and sound winding through the ancient city.
We chose a flat rock with a little shade at the edge of the settlement for our picnic lunch of putanesca, which Heidi introduced as a “a dish with a story.” The story is that it is pastawith a sauce that the putas would make after a hard night's work. Whatever they had in their cupboards would go in the sauce, and all good women would have olive oil, garlic, anchovies, peppers. It was delicious, and we passed around bottles of tamarind water, a tart drink, like lemonade. Nearby the procession entered a barrel shaped building and we could hear the solemn music and smell the incense. As we ate, a strange tree caught my eye, with small green balls growing directly from the trunk, like a stalk of Brussels Sprouts. “Papaya,” said Heidi. They were small, yet. After our lunch we continued our tour.
The weathered stones were once covered with some kind of plaster and painted with pictures. Only a few scraps of the murals remain, and we visited those, now protected with a roof of thatch. The ochre and turquoise paint is faded, and the figures are hard to make out, but the scraps helped us imagine what the pyramids once looked like. We found some columns of stones stacked in rough layers of various sizes and colors.
One wall had a face carved in large blocks. Someone had left an offering of bougenvilla flowers, the bright pink lovely against the sandy colored stone.
We finished our tour and thought about the beauty of the stones and the flowers and the people. The smell of incense lingered as we walked quietly back to the car, and we felt pure and whole and sanctified.
Climb in Beauty; Consecrate Peace; Blessed Be.