Green Christmas

 

 DSCF1625It’s been an unusual sort of year’s end. Inside, it looked a lot like Christmas.

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DSCF1617We watched several incarnations of Ebenezer Scrooge’s resurrection to a life of hope and compassion, and caught up on rest and reading, and finished remodeling the guest room. Friends visited and festivities ensued. But outside, the world remained in perpetual autumn. On Christmas Day, after our long walk with the pups, we stayed outside to weed the riverside gardens. An utterly new experience for Christmas Day.

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DSCF1730It was lovely and warm, but we both enjoy winter and missed her coming. I worried about my bulbs and perennials, who depend upon the blanket of snow and the frozen earth; the cold triggers the biochemical process they need to flower in spring. Birds were singing spring songs and everything seemed a bit fantastical. Confused. Out-of-the-norm. I missed the patterns I love and have come to honor: the four-season journey of life into death into life. Then it rained again, and we battled the incessant mud tracks our walks produced, another winter anomaly. But it was our valued vacation time, so…we relaxed, indulged in treats, and watched Harry Potter choose between the light and dark, enter suffering and loss, and live into the new world he’d help create.

DSCF1816A few days later, the temperatures lowered considerably, seizing rain puddles, however slight and visible, and freezing them enough so that my car’s brakes locked and slid through an intersection on a busy county highway. I almost “carked it,” as I heard someone say in an English movie, although at the time and for a few days afterwards, I wasn’t able to laugh about the adventure. I was glad I’d said, “I love you” to a friend before I left home that day, but I was disappointed by the fear I’d felt in the endless seconds it took to be missed by the immense SUV barreling towards my tiny VW Bug. I was bothered by the tears that followed the incident: I’d like to meet death with more equanimity.

Another friend visited that night and we talked about many things, as we always do. She mentioned a wise old nun she knows, who recently remarked on the current death throes of so many of our institutions: healthcare, education, political, economic…all seem to be undergoing the stages of dying, “…and it’s right that they should,” said the woman. Everything dies, including human-designed systems, when they no longer serve the welfare of humans.

DSCF1896And I’ve been pondering these ideas, wondering how to best serve the process of change in my small life/world with the little time left to me…When I helped midwife my dying patients, it felt as though I’d made a tacit engagement with mystery. Beyond faith, there is no tangible proof of what came next for my companions’ spirits. I ushered them to the doorway and remained present while they passed through. More than a witness, less than a dance partner…what a midwife is, I expect.

Sometimes they responded like I did, in the car: not yet ready. Like the weather this Christmas: clinging to autumn. Like the institutions, clinging to their power and its threatened transformation. Fear is natural, even, I suppose, a healthy response to the unknown, but I feel it can’t be the last response.

DSCF1484In all the experiences I’ve been graced to share and engage with death, I can only remember one time that a woman resisted her dying all the way through, and it was the hardest, most wretched death I’ve encountered.

Thankfully, most of the spirits I’ve accompanied to death– my loved ones, patients, animal companions, my trees and gardens–eventually, they breathed into acceptance of their dying, even perceptibly entering a deep peace as it came nearer.

DSCF1630I hope I can help midwife the coming changes, in whatever small ways expected of me, and again trust mystery, the pattern of life into death into life, and have faith that spring will bring flowers. I’m grateful for my many wise-women friends; I’m certain they’ll be beside me, in discernment and in bringing new life to birth.

DSCF1975This weekend, the weather turned cold once more.

DSCF1925And sweet snowfall blanketed the earth. Winter is here.

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DSCF1989Next breath.

DSCF1944Wait.

DSCF1945Trust.

DSCF1347Midwife.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Gliding Into Green Time

DSCF7654We’ve come (finally!) to the time of year when all the gardens, in a brilliance of greens and tender spring blossoms, flash back only beauty and promise. No pests, no droughts nor floods, no diseases have yet appeared to divert our belief that this will be the best summer ever for a perfection of blooms and abundance.

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DSCF7743Sweet friends have returned to Full Moon Cottage, annual visitors who bless our days and inaugurate a new season of life as the year rolls round her journey.

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DSCF7055There is no better time to celebrate life, is there? Last week, my colleagues came to Full Moon Cottage to toast the end of another school year, and my husband’s staff will be here next week to do the same. It’s grand to have guests, and motivating as well. Nothing like scheduled company to get us out to re-design, weed, plant, thin, and clean the gardens!

DSCF7666In July, family and friends will come to help us celebrate our wedding anniversary, so we’re looking at projects indoors and out, that may or may not come to fruition, given the time and money necessary to accomplish them. I’m an inveterate list-maker and recovering perfectionist. I’ve noticed age has helped me better—and sooner—identify the borders between desire and reality. How good it can feel to welcome the loosening, letting go, and blessed release of expectations to allow what will happen to happen. I don’t always manage this with grace, but I can say I’m better than I used to be. I can even manage a “whatever,” once in a while, and mean it. At least some of the time, I’m able to suspend my definition of perfection and see what’s already perfectly perfect.

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DSCF7712More importantly, we’re excited to be taking time to gather with people we love. When you reflect on parties and festivities you’ve attended, what do you recall in their afterglow? Not the hours of work and attention to detail that went into planning and organizing them, but the time spent sharing, listening, laughing, relaxing, affirming love and being affirmed as a valuable and integral part of other lives.

Henry Memorial 7It’s such a lovely time of year to recognize, toast, and encourage creation and recreation. Two years ago, we suffered through a devastating drought, and its effects continue to unfold. Our maples let loose an impossible number of seeds last autumn, in part a response to the prior year’s drought. A flurry of rebellious possibility rained down to establish life before drought could again assail the right to regenerate that is claimed by every living thing.

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DSCF7327The behaviors and choices of humans and their leaders so often deny Nature this right. In spring, her resounding Yes-always-yes-to-life, and the reminder she will likely outlast our stupidity and short-sightedness is both illuminating and humbling.

DSCF7612And worth celebrating, as we glide into another summer and its green possibilities for creativity, for gathering, for affirming life, for knowing when to allow what will happen to happen, and for the gift of entering it with gratitude, knowing too, that the impulse to regenerate never dies.

DSCF7063May you be blessed with long, happy days of recreation and the company of loved ones to share them.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Entertaining Angels

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  ~ Hebrews 13:2; KJV

DSCF5803Winter lingered. Just when we thought it had taken its last breath, it gasped and continued to test our hospitality.

DSCF5765But for well over a week now, despite chilly nights, the days have been warmer, or rainy, and coaxed out the greens this late spring offers up as gift to eyes surprised by anything other than black, white, and gray.

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DSCF6145Spring’s winged and 4-legged angels, arriving with all their usual and new messages regarding reasons to hope and deepen our love for the earth and each other, have been sailing, trotting, hopping, or crawling up and down the river bank. Choirs of blackbirds and spring peepers, with guest soloists—grosbeaks, robins, sand pipers, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, pelicans, warblers, finches, and cardinals—alert us to miracles daily and hourly. Today, my first sightings of a Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak set my heart dancing. The silence and solitude of winter are definitely over; whatever dreams and seeds were planted in the dark have been called forth most dramatically this spring. It took a while for the stone to be rolled away, but the light is now shining like a drama queen. “Grow!” it seems to command.

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DSCF6820We emerged, tentatively and cautiously, peeking out from under winter’s blanket like the proverbial groundhog, and then began to meet, socialize, fill in the calendar, haul out the garden tools and dig into life with the vigor only pasty-white winter people can summon when spring returns in the fullness of her resurrection power.

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DSCF6612Our pups, Riley and Clancy, who will celebrate 13 years of being next week, had a dicey winter. Age-related health encounters gave us some sad and frightening moments, which time and our saintly veterinarian helped us through, gently. We’ve all made adjustments and adapted. We feared their loss (knowing it will come, but please, not yet, not now) and are therefore utterly grateful they’re still here and again able to amble down the trail with us. Their kennels have moved upstairs; our walks are shorter; their schedule is a bit more closely monitored; at night we protect each other; and—if possible—we celebrate our funky family even more than ever. I guess my years tending dying parents and elderly patients have readied me for this, as well. If so, Full Moon Cottage will be the best damn nursing home for elderly 4-leggeds we can imagine.

DSCF6332One evening we had company visiting and the night became so merry and so filled with heady conversation and children and music that our five-year-old guest crawled into his mother’s arms and softly cried. His mother held him and asked about his tears. “I feel so happy,” he said. So much joy, some needed to spill out a bit, I suppose, to re-balance his mighty little spirit.

I know exactly how he felt.

On Earth Day, my students and I cleaned up the school grounds, washed bits of the refuse we collected and then made art…their sweet hearts and lively spirits feed me, daily. I’ve come to a time in my life where most teachers arrive, if they’re lucky and as blessed as I’ve been: we know that teacher and student are the same thing.

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DSCF5817As are life and death.

 I’m trying to gauge my wealth differently than financial advisers might counsel: How engaged with life, how open to its invitations have I been this day? To what degree have I given and received as I’ve circled through the daily round? How often did I pause and connect with all the angels and their messages streaming towards and through me? How freely did I share those messages with others?

DSCF6708In my life, angels, or messengers who remind me, “This is it! Now! It’s all holy!” have never been pretty men with wings, though some of my angels have been men, and many of my guides have had wings…Only look and listen, they’re everywhere: winged, legged, fluttering, croaking, singing, blooming, dying, laughing or weeping. See! These unique and sacred collections of particles gathering and forming, dissolving and reforming: Be moved to dance, to hobble, to wheeze, to weep with joy by all the ways Love calls you out, every moment, into resurrection and new creation.

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Clancy questions whether he must entertain his sibling cats as angels, especially if they appropriate his kennel.
Clancy questions whether he must entertain his sibling cats as angels, especially if they appropriate his kennel.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Winter Spirituality: To See What Is Before Us

DSCF5119Sometimes I wonder if the constant complaints about winter—the cold, the snow, the darkness, the inconvenience—are a form of resistance to winter’s spiritual invitations. They’re challenging; they’re scary, they’re brutal in their honesty. 

DSCF4925They’re so worth engagement.

DSCF4626I’ve come to love the austere revelations winter offers, as I’ve come to recognize the wisdom of loving what I resist, opening to relationship with perceived obstacles, problems, roadblocks and impediments. Limiting my journey to summer’s merry, easy road limits my journey.

DSCF4622In summer, my vision is attracted by everything at once, overwhelmed by the impression of colors, mingled patterns and textures. A summer spirituality allows my mind to perpetually skip from pleasure to pleasure, one sensuous delight and self-affirming thought after another. But, as the season of winter allows me to focus on the singular beauty and unique mystery of the particular and specific, entering a winter spirituality allows me to be with my darkness and find that its augmentation to my spirit, if initially frightening, is eventually healing. Shadow and light are needed for the picture to be full and the spirit to be whole.

DSCF4827I appreciate the generous cloaks winter creates to isolate color and form. I can photograph one tree, one bird, one sunrise, over and over, and always see something new. In winter, it seems the world tells me who it is at its core and asks me if I can respond with my own true name. “Who are you?” asks winter, over and over, paring away, in loving patience, all the usual answers that satisfy such a question in polite, superficial society.

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DSCF4677Winter spirituality helps me meditate more and more deeply on the gift and uniqueness of each part of myself and my life, each partner with whom I dance, each question with which I struggle.

Long years, a lifetime, of encrusting these relationships with projections and desires and hopes and discharged emotions and learned reactions and one-sided memories, can be stilled by winter’s gift of silence and long hours to re-visit and re-vision, The external shudders away, baring what is real, teaching me again that meaning is fluid but essence eternal.

DSCF4817The local meteorologists call this the “coldest winter” in 35 years, and people complain, some unceasingly, about the hardships of enduring it. But I’ve learned to love winter as I love my shadow. They are beautiful; they bring wisdom; they lead me to rare and vital presence. And they are crucial to the springtime’s arrival; crucial, as in “cross,” as in the bloom of synthesis bursting from the thesis-antithesis of winter’s black and white…

DSCF4962I love winter and the spirituality she engenders for helping me to see, even a little more clearly, the truth before—and within—me. By uncluttering all the other seasons’ competing imagery, I can eliminate the chaos of color and form surrounding the pure beauty of a solitary squirrel, by muting all the rival noise muffling one blue jay’s cry, I can hear its once-in-a-lifetime once-ness, by stilling all my swirling mental and spiritual dissonance, I’m guided to focus solely on where I am in relationship to the Holy and all her streaming invitations. 

DSCF5111Spirit speaks uniquely in all of life’s seasons, in all of life, every moment; disregard this, and we miss vital communication, like tuning out another’s conversation. Only listen, says the Spirit, in winter’s guise; listen, and be led to silence.

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DSCF5084And when I can listen more deeply, winter is the one who whispers to my heart those essential truths that keep it beating: I am loved and lover, created and creator, co-conspirator (helpmate of Spirit) in fashioning these sewn-together moments called my life.

Peeling away the layers of projected need, repeated story, and entrained patterns of response, winter teaches me to see what is before me. To see what is. 

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DSCF5121I am still becoming.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Holy, Holy, Holy

DSCF3174Advent, despite all earnestness, is a time of refuge because it has received a message. Oh, if people know nothing about the message and the promises any more, if they only experience the four walls and the prison windows of their gray days, and no longer perceive the quiet footsteps of the announcing angels, if the angels’ murmured word does not simultaneously shake us to the depths and lift up our souls–then it is over for us. Then we are living wasted time, and we are dead, long before they do anything to us.  ~ Father Alfred Delp, Source: Advent of the Heart

DSCF3178Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.  ~ Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B

DSCF2698Only when we tarry do we touch the holy. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

DSCF2758Being extravagantly generous is an enchanting way to become holy and Godlike, for God is awesomely extravagant — as is revealed by even a casual glance at creation. ~ Edward Hays

DSCF2555The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.  ~ Terry Tempest Williams, from Talking to God: Portrait of a World at Prayer (anthology)

DSCF2948…We live in a world alive with holy moments. We need only take the time to bring these moments into the light.  ~ Kent Nerburn in Small Graces

DSCF3128Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. The garden door is always open to the holy. ~ May Sarton, Source: Gardening by Heart

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…All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds…

~ Source: “Welcome Morning” by Anne Sexton, Dancing With Joy edited by Roger Housden

DSCF3031To bless a thing is to remind ourselves that the very object is one of God’s gifts given to bring us to wholeness of life. Once we understand that, we also realize it is the way we respond to things that makes us holy. Then nothing is for nothing in our lives.  ~ Joan Chittister

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Let my small story
connect to your larger one.
May we breathe with one breath.
May we make the day holy together.
~ Nita Penfold, Pocket Prayers, collected by June Cotner

DSCF3113I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world. ~ Old Innuit Song

DSCF3172The world is a holy place. Venite adoremus. Come let us adore.  ~ Teilhard de Chardin

DSCF3131Ways to Miss the Hidden God

1. LIVE life at high speed. No exceptions. Run hard.

2. STAY scattered and distracted. The more clutter and activity, the better.

3. TAKE everything personally. Never evaluate. Agree.

4. USE blame liberally. It’s so invigorating. I wasn’t responsible, you were. Everything’s your fault.

5. DON’T laugh, especially at yourself.

6. STAY tied to your past. Elevate it to greatness.  Live remembering and longing. Or missing. Why do it halfway? Go for it.

7. USE the word ‘because.’ ‘I can’t change, because.’  Because is so little appreciated as a solvent for responsibility. Try using because. This will work.

8. NEVER question or think for yourself. Just keep moving and accepting. (Refer to #1 and #3.)

9. CONTINUE to think of God as invisible and distant. Surely not present in this room. At this moment. Not while I’m reading a book.

10. REINFORCE the belief that your life is going to happen soon. This is not it, not yet. But one day. Maybe when I finish reading.

 ~ from: Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love, by Paula D’Arcy

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

November

DSCF1501 And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.  ~ Kurt Vonnegut (b. 11.11.22)

A long walk on a gray day in November can be a walk through heartbreak, through all the heartbreaks of your life, even those that haven’t happened but are yet to come.

Nostalgia, recollection, memories, loss: they all swirl like the leaves and slowly settle as peace returns and new patterns of connection and understanding rise. November’s invitation is to gently and deeply mine the gold of our lives. There is heartbreak, but so perfectly balanced by gratitude.

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DSCF1504I wouldn’t call my November walks depressing; instead, they’re healing, gift, and necessary. My unconscious provides the mental video; it flips the scrapbook pages of my life and decides where to pause; I only attend, watch, feel. Walk and watch and allow what rises to be honored.

DSCF1548Any walk, any time of year can provide such healing, but November’s backdrop of rust and brown and black and fading yellows, and everything vital slowing and dying back, and all the animals gathering, burrowing, or leaving: it all seems to gently remind us of our losses and our own mortality, and to invite our own time of clearing and harvesting. What to hold, what to release?

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DSCF1540Maybe it’s my Celtic ancestors’ love of wisdom and acceptance of sorrow and the ways I hear them calling to me in November, or the deep pleasure of sudden red and green wagons interrupting the monotonic browns and golds, or all of these and the veil of mystery clearly cloaking everything revealed, shimmering, as at no other time of year, but I’ve come to treasure the month and its pervasive atmosphere of spiritual retreat.

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DSCF1517And, then, of course, the great gift waits before me: the shining present and the peace to discern, like Vonnegut, how wide it is, how deep it is, and how much is mine to keep.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Island Vacation

DSCF0470My husband and I wanted a break. Together. After so many years together, there is little we want or need; instead, the best gift we can give each other is shared time, away from the rutted routines we walk each day. New views help to create new outlooks, and the shared imaginings we have for this slow life we’re co-creating can be stimulated and renewed by travel. The weather’s been warm and the fall color is blushing its way down the state, so we decided to take 4 days and head a bit north, to the state’s largest Cranberry Festival.

DSCF0310Wisconsin produces most of our country’s cranberries and festivals are held every autumn to celebrate the harvest. I’d read something about “1200 booths” participating at this festival, and thought this referred to artists and flea-market/antique vendors. I knew there was a cranberry-focused museum and bog tours, so it sounded like a perfect adventure.

 We drove up the night before the festival opened and met other festival-goers when we checked-in to our hotel. “Oh, we come every year; you’ll love it!” they assured us. We woke up early to head from our hotel to the little town, Warrens, where it’s held. This is what we saw:

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DSCF0394A tiny town crammed with thousands of people lugging carts around to booths that lined streets and sidewalks, and narrow, narrow “alleyways,” everywhere. Claustrophobic doesn’t begin to describe it, and the merchandise was largely made-in-China mass-produced schlock. Little art, no antiques. Disappointment…I could feel my anticipation swirling down and drowning in one of the numerous stomach-turning vats of frying fat preparing decidedly non-cranberry food.

It wasn’t a complete or epic fail: We appreciated a brief bus tour of some cranberry bogs and enjoyed the town’s museum, but then exited the noisy, packed town. Quickly.

DSCF032610:00 A.M. and three days left to our Cranberry Festival vacation. Hmmm. Luckily, my travel partner makes me laugh, easily and deeply, and did; all would be well.

Happily, this part of the state is rich in geological and environmental history. The almost 44,000-acre Necedah Wildlife Refuge, just a few miles from the over-crowded shopping spree of the cranberry festival, called to us.

DSCF0399When the “local” glaciers retreated almost 15,000 years ago, they left a vast, low-lying wetland, called the Great Swamp of Central Wisconsin. For centuries, Native Americans lived in this area, which they called “Necedah,” or “Yellow Waters.”

DSCF0420Then Europeans arrived, and their farming, which necessitated draining the marshes, cutting trees, and battling the wildfires which had long nurtured the prairies, eventually destroyed the natural landscape that had endured for thousands of years.

In 1939, President Roosevelt’s administration, through the Civilian Conservation Corps it established, reclaimed burned-out land, restored prairies, oak savannahs, and wetlands, and created the wildlife refuge. Among others, a restored whooping crane population is welcomed to its acreage each year.

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DSCF0437We hiked along raised planked trails in silence, feeling cleansed and at peace. A lovely breeze carried the calls of geese, herons, eagles, frogs, and songbirds through the air. It was hard to believe thousands of people preferred what the “festival” offered to what was available at the refuge, but there you go.

DSCF0401The next few days we explored nearby lakes, rivers, sandblows, and the bluffs, mesas, and buttes that are actually former islands in Glacial Lake Wisconsin. We hiked around state parks and climbed for hours, grateful for glorious weather and views.

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DSCF0486Sunday morning came too quickly, but we were able to ride into the sunrise and stop at Roche-a-Cri State Park to see the petroglyphs and pictographs of Native Americans, and those who came later. (Note the “A.V. Dean. N.Y. 1861” carving.) 300 steps up, and we had an “island view” that took our breaths away.

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DSCF0603For us, vacations are times to “be” together, center our spirits, listen to our feelings and hearts, create new dreams. We like adventures and surprises, and generally don’t over-plan, but the Cranberry Festival that became an island vacation was completely different from what we expected. A perfect gift.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Autumn Heart

DSCF0181The turning, tilting earth has brought us around once again to my favorite time of year. The light is gorgeous and my spirit feels lightened in autumn as well. The world sparkles, amber and bedewed, as though newly dipped in honey and rolled in stars each morning.

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DSCF0262The 4-leggeds and I go for long walks and sniff out miracles along the trail. One day, we pause to watch the sunlight piercing through the trees, another day, it’s spider webs clinging to the bridge, or dew on long grasses, or butterflies flitting around the purple asters. The lush viridity of past months and particular summer companions are preparing to leave our environment. Life cycles are shifting and the world feels more fragile, and therefore precious, in autumn.

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One late afternoon, I watched as the garden glowed with sparks of gnats rising against the setting sun…autumn reminds me how magical and brief, how unique and delicate is a lifetime.

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The garden continues to yield, though she’s growing tired from the energy spent to do so; still, tomatoes are collected and stored away, as are the herbs, peppers, squash, onions and carrots. Soon, it will be time to tenderly turn the plants back into their earthen bed, an activity that, like every ending, sobers the heart and invites contemplation regarding the sacred balance between loss and gratitude, planting and harvesting, life and death.

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Like a squirrel, I tend to overstock the pantry and freezer this time of year, too, always ready for desserts that perfume our home with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla, or hearty soups, and wild rice stews. It’s time to bake yeast breads and savor the smell of wood fires and apples. Of all the year’s seasons, autumn most stimulates and satisfies sensuously, or so it seems to me. The air shivers with the pungency of damp decay spiced with wood-smoke, and the leaves color our world with scarlet, gold and orange. Like the chiming of cathedral bells, bird-call increasingly resounds. Geese, ducks, and cranes flock and honk, blackbirds chorus, and crows scold and complain throughout the day. Soon enough, winter’s icy astringency will erase and muffle, utterly. Now is the time to savor these bountiful smells, tastes, colors, and sounds.

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Halloween decorations are making their way around the living room and dining room. A Wiccan friend tells me that, rather than taking offense at our Halloween witch figures, she believes crones are a fitting symbol for the year’s decline; hopefully, this is a time for rendering the year’s wisdom as well. I’m creating rituals for this…to sit with the movements and invitations of the year thus far, those both pursued and rejected. Who am I now seems a fitting question for autumn meditation, before planting the seeds of Who do I wish to become for winter’s incubation.

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My husband is adjusting to the rhythm of the new school year and, before he returns home, I’m off to teach second graders in an after-school program. Ships passing, and then mooring back together for the 7 P.M. popcorn party that the puppies anticipate every evening.

These are ancient autumn rhythms for us, this rising to gather and store, and to continue crafting a life that matters, to enter the dance of diminishing light, and to notice everything precious and brief before the dark of night rushes in, colder and closer each evening.

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Now is the time to be burnished by autumn’s golden light and hallowed by the season’s holy mysteries, honoring the gifts offered between the green life of summer and the austerity of winter. A time for counting blessings and letting them go, for gathering in and handing out, for storing memories, sharing stories, and gentling onward sacred farewells.

Blessed be, say my Wiccan friends; merry meet and merry part…and grateful be your autumn heart.

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Blowing Hot and Cold

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Nothing is glummer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Than a cold in the summer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A summer cold                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Is to have and to hold.

  ~  Ogden Nash, Fahrenheit Gesundheit

 

It is ironic that on the hottest day of the year (September 10th!) I continue to harbor a nasty late-summer cold. We’re five weeks into another drought, and during the long, necessary hours of watering the gardens, it feels odd to be sneezing and taking breaks to greatly enrich the investments of Kleenex stockholders.

My voice sounds like a sheep crossed with a foghorn, and several bees and wasps seem to be lodged, circling and thrumming, in my head. It figures: a couple of weeks ago I smugly announced to Phillip how interesting it is that “I never get sick. Just never. It’s been years.”

Lesson learned.

Again.

It does seem, though, like the hours spent watering are also cooking the tenacious virus out of my system…More irony: What’s killing the garden is healing me.

It looked like we might avoid a drought this year. We enjoyed a temperate spring and bountiful summer, harvesting more asparagus, gooseberries, and cherries than ever.

Gooseberries Galore 008

The gardens seemed to be recovering so well from last summer’s horrendous months of aridity. But August and September have set us back again. We’re grateful that several gallons of tomato sauce are already in the freezer, but the grass is dying back, the trees and wildlife are suffering, and there are more of both than we can care for, thoroughly.

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So I’ve begun to blow a bit cold on gardening, too. I’m willing to plant, weed, and tend my gardens for hours, and have, for 50 years, starting with a tiny flower patch my father and I prepared for my first garden. (Moss roses, bachelor buttons, zinnias and marigolds: A gardener is born.) But I have to admit that the past two summers have robbed me of the rewards previous years have afforded. I used to feel the joy of midwifing a nursery full of thriving greenery, blossoms, and food; now, I feel like a full-time hospice worker once again: Who might die today?

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The long hours that formerly yielded deep peace and contentment are leaving me feeling, well, forlorn and bereft. I miss the partnership of Mother Nature; we used to co-create so happily together, though I understand her abandonment after decades of maltreatment and abuse by beings who should know better.

Still, there’s a garden in the front yard that needs to be overhauled, and I can’t help but get a little excited about planning its design…all the plants could be drought-resistant, and irrigated wisely.

Maybe I need to keep working at it, showing Mother Nature my intent here is earnest and my commitment faithful; maybe that’s the only way both of us will heal and find each other again. Isn’t true love always renewed in a garden?

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Ah-choooo!

Now, where are those garden-design books?

(See Ogden Nash’s entire whole poem here.)

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A Lot Of Slow

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A Lazy Thought

There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Subway rush,
Traffic crush;
Hurry, scurry,
Worry, flurry.

No wonder
Grownups
Don’t grow up
Any more.
It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.                                                                                                                                                       

~ Eve Merriam

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All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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Where are you hurrying to?
you will see
the same moon tonight
wherever you go!    ~ Izumi Shikibu

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DSCF9223Laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. Waking up to the first snow. Being in bed with somebody you love. Whether you thank God for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. If you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may just save your soul.   ~ Frederick Buechner

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I get so preoccupied with the details and pressure of my schedule, with the hurry and worry of life, that I miss the song of goodness which is waiting to be sung through me. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.

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We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world that hurries. There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each other. We are all hurrying into progress. And for all our hurrying we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day.  ~ Macrina Wiederkehr, Source: Radical Grace, the Center for Action and Contemplation

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Hurry, hurry has no blessing.   ~ Swahili Proverb

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dancing lessons

 

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Tadpoles, Green Heron 100

In the garden,

old steps forgotten

can be relearned,

a pause in your own dance

sometimes necessary

to witness and honor again

those lovers and opposites,

ironically, flawlessly

meant to be matched,

who meet and feed,

each upon the sweetness

of the other

in open abundance and joy.

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Tadpoles, Green Heron 040Revolving, one to the next,

a wheeling reel of life—

giver and receiver,

now the flower,

now the bee,

then the flower’s seed

and bird.

 

Bow, drink, feed, love.

Turn.

Become food.

Or god; perhaps they are the same.

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Tadpoles, Green Heron 068Sacred intimacies

silently studied

by the lover in you who,

seeing Love’s circular dance,

loves the world better…

End of July 061 and so you turn to the other

to offer

then turn again,

to receive

sweetness and sustenance.

End of July 030Old steps relearned,

the dance goes on.

Bow, drink, feed, love.

Turn.

Become food.

Or god; perhaps they are the same.

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Tadpoles, Green Heron 087

 

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The Smallest Special Details

gardens 105A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought; I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. ~ Herman Hess

This week the daily round has circled through a sensuous loveliness, an embrace of the colors, patterns, sounds, and fragrances of summertime vivid in both their familiarity and uniqueness. Along the trail, the milkweeds’ heady perfume makes the pups and me dizzy on our walks, and it mingles so perfectly with the birdsong, the buzz of bees and hummingbird, the sunlight dancing across the water, and the explosions of Matisse colors in the gardens that we return home silent and rather drunk on the surfeit of incoming stimuli. Too much of a muchness makes us swoon.

gardens 078A few years ago, Phillip added a small deck off the end of the house that confines my writing desk. This deck borders the owls’ white pine woods and overlooks the back gardens and river, but gently so, as it’s screened by an adolescent maple tree. The houseplants live there joyfully from May until we feel the breath of first frost.

gardens 058The other decks dazzle visitors with the sun-fired summer world in all her splendor; this little deck invites me into a hushing stillness, and has become my favorite summer place to meditate, read, encounter the Sacred, and observe the miraculous in the “smallest special details,” those slices of life that offer mystery and delight in small and balanced measure, precious in their detailed minutiae.

gardens 035Here, my senses are bathed but not drowned, and insights arrive peacefully, small blossoms that open slowly, tiny treasures that I can unwrap in my own time: The seeds of just one tree; the shimmering petals of one begonia, a small ant carrying his prey, a hummingbird quenching her thirst…each detail intricate and unique with the Eternal Mother’s artistry and love; each thing revealing its spark and reminding me that all life is eternal, precious, and unique.

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gardens 112

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Heat Wave

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 028It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility.  ~ Yogi Berra

Almost two weeks of hellishly high temperatures, thunderstorms, and the resulting steamy atmosphere have made the world around Full Moon Cottage a sauna. A Finnish winter in reverse. We dash outside to sear our lungs and open every pore, then run back inside to chill ourselves silly.

Nonetheless, despite sketchy weeding and deadheading missions conducted in haste while smothered in mosquito repellant, I seem to have kept the gardens happy. And at dusk, cloaked in conditioned air and holding glasses of chilled wine, we’ve enjoyed the seasonal spectacle of fireflies flitting about, seeking romance and union.

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 042Every morning, I refill the birdbaths with fresh cold water, check the many feeders, and make sure all of our summer guests are tended. A kind friend sent me a wren house her husband built and we now have house wrens serenading us with their aggressively happy chirping.

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 011Nights have been less pastorally soothing. Thunder and lightning have rumbled and crackled through most of the last week’s dreamtime. I can tell by the dark circles under our eyes that both of us need a long, quiet night. It looks like that may happen sometime between Sunday and Tuesday, when a dry, temperate spell is forecast.

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 006No complaints. The rain has been welcome and the high river allows for canoe rides to continue. Other parts of our state have been flooded, and for many farmers, hopes pinned to a planting season and eventual harvest have vanished. Last year these were lost to drought and this year to flooding, a vivid reminder that we are still tethered to our climate and its health for our sustenance.

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 001Well, almost no complaints.

The chiggers that plagued my gardening for several summers disappeared completely during last summer’s drought, I expect from lack of food and moisture. I am made, utterly, of smells and tastes most delicious to mites; they’d completely ignore Phillip if he were lying nude in the garden and I stood beside him covered in armor. They’d head straight for the chinks in my metal and pierce my flesh with their nasty stylostomes, injecting enzymes that melt my cell structure into chigger malts. I’d hoped that between the drought and our lovely cold winter they’d disappeared for good, but discovered this morning that they’ve not only survived but are thriving…the confident human gardener, smug in her knowledge of where to dig and what to plant and how to improve the landscape, bustles outside to rearrange and redesign the earth surrounding her home and returns covered in itchy red welts, brought low by a voracious and nearly invisible mite.

Yogi Berra was right: It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility!

hummingbird, cardinal, lightning bugs 013

 

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Lush Life

Gardens and Bridge 004It’s that lovely, lovely time of year when the gardens have begun sharing their blooms and are so pregnant with the promise of more, that life feels lush indeed. The slugs are tiny and the Japanese Beetles haven’t yet arrived. We’ve hosted a multitude of the dragonfly called “Widow Skimmer,” and Monarch Butterflies are fluttering around the gardens here and there. The succession of blooms, from peonies to irises and poppies, continues, and it’s hard to believe how much delight I derive from this always-surprising flow of color and texture year after year. A lifetime of gardening certainly keeps one reliably childlike!

Widow Skimmer
Widow Skimmer

Gardens, Bridge 061 Strom warning, gardens 180 Gardens, Bridge 062 Gardens, Bridge 093 Gardens, Bridge 137 Gardens, Bridge 129I’ve been checking my Baptisias every day; in addition to last year’s drought, they were devastated by Genista Broom Moths, usually found in Texas. The Baptisias have been my faithful garden anchors for 15 years with never a pest or disease and their suffering was especially distressing following the damage from the drought. So far, they’re egg and caterpillar-free.

Strom warning, gardens 024Along the trail (which we’re back to traveling, now that the new bridge has been completed), the wild honeysuckles’ heady perfumes have given way to phlox and wild roses. The garlic mustard is back with a vengeance, but I’ve learned to keep it out of my own gardens by harvesting and blending it in salads: The best way to defeat your enemies may be to make them your friends, but I’ve discovered that eating them also works, at least in this case.

Strom warning, gardens 211 Gardens, Bridge 051 Gardens, Bridge 139Phillip’s vegetable garden is planted, and daily watering is calling forth shoots and tendrils that make me dream of beans and tomatoes and all things delicious. We enjoyed a huge asparagus yield this spring, and the gooseberries, raspberries, and cherries are equally plentiful this year; within a few weeks, their fruits will be converted into our summer energy as well.

Gardens, Bridge 143 Gardens, Bridge 145Little Murphy had a visit to the vet last week, and Clancy needed a visit the week before, so we’re grateful for our wonderful veterinarian and happy that the prescribed medicine is helping both heal from their diagnosed (minor) problems.

Tulips, Birds, 4-Leggeds 078 Cats, Gardens 039Phillip completed another school year and is remodeling a kitchen for a colleague this month. He received a lovely letter from an appreciative parent, not a common occurrence these days, and so, dearly valued for the encouragement offered.

Gardens, Bridge 116Next Monday, I’ll celebrate my 58th birthday, and I’m scheduled for surgery on the 21st, so posts will be slow in coming for a while, but I’m hopeful the gardens will remain healthy and enhance my own healing.

Every so often, we reach these mysterious intersections of time and place that offer perfect peace, contentment, and comfort. Moments of enchantment that can last for days. Our hearts seem to say, “I know this place; it is my home.” I’m finally able to listen to my heart and detect, name, and cherish such times, which wasn’t always the case, and I know they will transmute into new days of discontent, discomfort, and less beauty. Their transitory “now-ness” makes them all the more precious. The river of time will continue to flow and carry my little “life boat” along to new adventures, times, and places…and some will feel, again, like home.

Gardens, Bridge 028So I drink deeply and promise myself, again, that this time, I’ll keep this holy peace in my heart and carry it forward to the next “now-ness.” Whatever surprising flow of color and texture is offered, may our spirits rest in peace.

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Gardens, Bridge 055Namaste, my friends.

A Parent’s Letter:

Phillip,
Just wanted to take a minute to thank you for all that you have done over the years in teaching my kids. When someone asks, “Who is a good teacher in our town?” I think of you. Thank you for always putting up with my texts and in-person visits. Thank you for being patient with my son over the years and helping him out as much as you have. I am truly glad that he had a teacher like you who was willing to work with him so that he could graduate. I’m sure there were times that he shouldn’t have, but thank you for making sure he did. Best of luck to you in the next years of teaching…

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

 

Breath of Life

Phillip, my cousin, Don, and my Aunt Mary
Phillip, my cousin, Don, and my Aunt Mary

My beloved Aunt Mary died several weeks ago, early one Sunday morning in February. She was my mother’s younger sister, but not by much, and their close bond throughout their lives always made me long for a sister, too.  It often surprised the three of us how much more I resembled my aunt in attitudes and preferences than I did my mother. And in the years since my mother died, Mary and I had become even closer, sharing e-mails and phone visits regularly.

My aunt was a remarkable person, utterly funny, charming, intelligent, and alive to the society, interests, and amusements that paraded through her days, the kind of person who had many lifelong friends, enamored children, nieces and nephews, and beholden strangers who benefited from her kindness and acts of charity. She was someone whose wit, wisdom, ready listening and encouragement were vital to making others see that a better world, or just a better day, is always possible. She had a vital spark most lack. She breathed greater life into those around her than they sustained alone.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 041I write this not as a eulogy, for I cannot do her gifts or influence on my life justice in such a brief forum, but by way of sharing that my grief in losing her has been gentle and so coupled with relief at her peace that it’s traveled with me these past weeks more like a soft grey cloud than a terrible storm, as my parents’ deaths engendered. I am grateful for her gifts and presence in my life and I am grateful that she is no longer yearning to be with her husband or suffering from ill health.

But I sure miss our e-mails, visits, and shared laughter.

I was thinking of her one morning when spring beckoned more than chores and I’d wandered outside to see what the world could tell me. I saw this daffodil, so earnest in its reaching for light that the dead leaf circumscribing its leaves couldn’t restrain its rising momentum.

Fox babies, dogpark, roly-poly puppies 007That is how the dead can be with us, how grief can restrain joy…The next day, the leaf had fallen away, joining others that surrounded the plant, becoming food for its continued growth. In death, still the breath of life.

Fox babies, dogpark, roly-poly puppies 011Grief takes its own time—and must—but what a gentle reminder that winter leads to spring, and death to life. Just the kind of message my Aunt Mary would send me.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 062

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 064Another gift of spring has been these darling fox kits, just emerging from their den to smell the world and take a few tentative steps into its songs and mysteries. They make every pore of my being tingle with maternal instinct, but, like everything wild, including my own nature, they also teach me over and over again to respect their boundaries and not interfere with instinctive patterns followed for centuries. So I observe from a distance and leave them to their necessary dance. I hope they will know peace, and comfort, and joy, in whatever form these may be known by foxes. I breathe a prayer and send it to their den at night.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 090I read about a wealthy inventor, futurist and engineer who believes people will, eventually, live forever, and who has hopes that his dietary, vitamin, and exercise regimen will allow him to remain healthy until this is possible.

I have no desire to live forever; I just want to be alive for all of the life granted me, and, if I’ve done it well, maybe I can feed the growth of others in their reaching for the light after I’ve gone, breathing still through their lives and the ways they love the world.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 101Like my Aunt Mary.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

 

Earth Day, Every Day

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 031Our goal is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human creatures and for all living creatures. . .The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, between man and other living creatures will require a long, sustained, political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment- -far beyond any effort made before.  ~ Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson , founder of Earth Day

Last Friday
Last Friday
Saturday
Saturday
River at the end of July
River at the end of July
River today
River today

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 085April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 104April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 107If we don’t have certain outer experiences, we don’t have certain inner experiences or at least we don’t have them in such a profound way. We need the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers and the mountains and the trees, the flowers, the birds, the song of the birds, the fish in the sea. All of this evokes something in our inner world, evokes a world of mystery. It evokes a world of the Sacred and gives us that sense of awe and mystery.   ~ Thomas Berry

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 118

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 133

Glacial drumlin
Glacial drumlin

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 173April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 177The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.  ~ Gaylord Nelson 

Fiona and Riley watching the sunrise this morning
Fiona and Riley watching the sunrise this morning

Sunrise, Ducks, Bridge, River 067

Sunrise, Ducks, Bridge, River 076
Double-Crested Cormorant

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 170

April 22 2013 snow, sun, early spring gardens, high water 041Practices for Earth Day to feed the spirit.

Happy Earth Day, and for tomorrow: Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!528886_4912045893034_241491468_n

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Spring’s Winning

Lilac Buds

March

A blue day
a blue jay
and a good beginning.

One crow,
melting snow —
spring’s winning!

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

April Snow and High River 021When I worked as a teacher, I looked forward to spring and the enjoyment offered by the poetry units I shared with my middle school students. This poem, by Elizabeth Coatsworth, was always a favorite of my sixth graders, and the spring poems they created and illustrated in response to the many we studied were equally lovely.

Last Sunday Morning
Last Sunday Morning

April Snow and High River 018Yearning for blue skies, birdsong, and sweet green earth is nothing new after a long Wisconsin winter, but this year our winter-weary hearts have been sorely tried, indeed. We received snow last Sunday and are told “a dusting” will return again Friday, accompanied by another week of rain.

April Snow and High River 010After last year’s long thirst, I’m only happy for the moisture in whatever forms it arrives, but today’s sunshine and the chance to inspect the gardens and see (hooray!) that last year’s tulips and daffodils survived the drought, has been pure gift. The river is high, the birds are singing, and—even though we’re sliding towards the end of April—spring, I can tell, is finally winning.

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April Snow and High River 034

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April Snow and High River 065Gentle peace to your week…

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

A Change in the Weather

Spring rain, duck 014Our annual guests, the ducks, have returned this past week on daily reconnaissance missions to site their new nest. Spring, finally, is in the air.

Spring rain, duck 025Lovely rains are falling today and more are promised this week. The dogs and I have been sitting peacefully for a time, just watching the rain wash the world green. The music and rhythms have lulled us all into a sleepy peacefulness, but I know it’s time to set down the book I’ve been reading and pick up my paint brush. Again.

I had the bright idea that freshening up the painted cabinets in the dining room and kitchen would be a wonderful project to replace the gardening I couldn’t yet begin because of snow cover and cold.

Earrly April, bridge repair, video 002Of course, painting cabinets requires taking everything out of them, and—in my case—facing the haphazard organization resulting from the accrued 17 years of living and working in this kitchen. Bakeware, appliances, tools, pots and pans…all of these things just kind of “settled,” like homesteaders who staked a claim, plopped down to clear land, and built a life, regardless of how logically situated they were towards light, water, necessities, and the rest of civilization.

Shouldn’t the bakeware and pots, etc., be closer to the oven, and shouldn’t the less-used cookie tins be on the pantry’s highest shelf, allowing the grains to be placed more accessibly? Amazing what we can discover about ourselves and our world when we pull everything out and look anew at how we’ve arranged and accepted it “must” be.

So, the kitchen and dining room are now beautifully and logically reorganized…and I can’t find a damn thing. My mind has not yet adjusted to this new, improved way of functioning, but it will, as I reorient.

It reminds me of the interview I read in The Sun last week (http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/448/out_of_our_heads). Philip Shepherd discusses his perceptions about the ways we accept culturally-designated realities and then all the institutions and behaviors that ensure these, without questioning whether these are the best we can do regarding the health of the earth, humanity, and the interconnections between our own and all other species.

In his book, New Self, New World: Recovering Our Senses in the Twenty-First Century, he speaks of the brain in our heads as more aligned with masculine energy, and the brain in our “gut” as having greater alignment with feminine energy. These are not men vs. women designations, but rather ways of describing every human’s potential for wholeness and balance, and it’s no surprise, I suppose, that Shepherd believes that, as a species, we’re dangerously imbalanced in our dependency upon the “head brain” to the exclusion of incorporating the wisdom of our heart, or gut brain. And therefore, the imbalance is reflected in the realities we create and maintain, which Shepherd feels have set our world on a clear path of unnecessary destruction.

Too much reliance on our masculine energy creates the illusion we’re separate, independent, and entirely self-reliant. Shepherd thinks a greater integration of our feminine energy and wisdom would help us see, value, and tend the interconnections that exist “outside of” the reality we accept.

I’m simplifying, of course, but if we can get beyond the “way it’s always been,” perhaps we’ll be open to discovering a better way it can be…

Spring rain, duck 012So, I’ll deal with the inconvenience I experience when my old patterns of habitual steps around the kitchen frustrate my ingrained expectations. In time, I hope I’ll enjoy the reorganization and the “flow” the new plan offers my cooking and baking. 

A change in the weather is a gift, allowing us to view our “old” landscapes from new perspectives. Perhaps I can set down some of my deep-rooted expectations and behaviors regarding what I accept as “reality” as well, nurturing my own and others’ balance by widening the possibilities I consider, and choosing new responses and ways of engaging.

Maybe just one more mug of tea before I pick up the paintbrush…time to sit and breathe into greater balance before starting my work.

Now, where’s the tea strainer?

Spring rain, duck 029

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Riversong

End of March, Snow, Sunrise, Full Moon Over River 017

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. ~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

The spirit of spring, for me, certainly includes the divine discontent Grahame mentions, but perhaps it feels more like a sacred and welcome effervescing than a discontent. It is a readiness to emerge…I wonder if it’s felt by butterflies as they pierce the sheltering confines of their cocoons?

I yearn to muck about in the gardens and to co-create with the earth, to honor my winter’s rest by cleaning the house from top to bottom. This is the time I listen for the river’s spring song, familiar yet always new, as though my Creator is calling me forth into the new season’s green dance.

First spring canoe ride 008Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. ~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Phillip was home from work last week, and we decided to tackle some home improvement projects, but also planned daily adventures that took us out and away from home. Last year, temperatures in the 80’s allowed us to get all the gardens cleaned, weeded and mulched. This year, they’re still sleeping beneath the snow.

End of March, Snow, Sunrise, Full Moon Over River 064The river was barely open at the beginning of the week, then gradually the ice retreated and at dawn, returning ducks and geese floated dreamily down the river. By Friday, most of the ice had melted, so off we went on the year’s first canoe trip.

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First spring canoe ride 078The pictures, I think, make it look like we had a chilly ride, but it was really quite pleasant, though utterly absent of green. Still, the spring smells of thawing earth and the glorious birdsong bathed us in promises the next few weeks will keep.

First spring canoe ride 041We met some men fishing for walleyes and another pair using a seine, probably for carp.

First spring canoe ride 046Sandhill cranes and Canada geese called and flew overhead, red-wing blackbirds chimed along the bank, and we met the pair of ducks that nested in our garden last spring. This year, our fox has a new hole very near the “duck garden,” so I hope they’ll nest elsewhere.

First spring canoe ride 100

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First spring canoe ride 112The rest of our week together was happy: we took a day to go antiquing, and spent our Easter Sunday with family, but it’s the lovely time in our canoe that consecrated the week most profoundly for me, leisurely paddling and listening to the waking earth and river sing our spirits back to life.

By the river and with it and on it and in it…It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing…  ~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Phillip returned to school today and I started the housecleaning after he left this morning. A crew has come to the bridge to pull up and replace the old planks and side rails. The incessant beeping of their front-end loader as it backed up, over and over, initially made the pups bark protectively until they were sufficiently reassured and accustomed to it, a good thing, since the bridge repair is scheduled to last the month.

Sunrise, Easter at Angie and Tim's 009The temperature is near freezing, but I stepped outside to shake some rugs and watch the light dance over the river. A few last pieces of ice floated by and I watched two male cardinals battle for a nesting site. I noticed a female waiting and watching. I wonder if she favors one or the other? I wanted to stay outside, but the air was cold and my indoor chores called me back.

I hope I’ll have time again this afternoon to walk down near the riverbank and listen to the river’s music, singing over and over, “Come; join the spring’s green dance!” Winter muscles need practice to get back in shape and I want to be ready to dance up a storm when spring comes to stay.

…when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.  ~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. 

 

Equanimity

4.24.12 trail, babies and flowers 012Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In my meditation times during this lovely season of soul-clearing and house-cleaning, I’ve been sitting again with the concept of balance. For years when the Lenten (spring) weeks circle round, I focus on practices of intentional breathing, reviewing breath exercises and wearing a ring that reminds me to “take time” and turn my noticing inward to monitor my breath as often during the day as I’m able. After all these years, it’s still not easy for me to maintain rhythmic breathing naturally. I hold my breath at times, or tighten my throat and jaw, or breathe less deeply than is truly nurturing.

bike ride murphy, gardens 5.18.12 013To me, it seems that the spring equinox blesses us with the invitation to return, again, to sacred balance. I’ve written about balance many times, I know, for the simple reason that the energy of the world is stronger than our own individual energy, and humanity still does not—if it ever has–honor the balance that nurtures and sanctifies our earth, our spirits, our bodies, or our minds. We pull ourselves and each other into imbalance when we lose our own commitment to the sacred equanimity to which we—and all life—naturally cohere when we enter and honor the rhythm I believe we’re called to by Love, a kind of dance that co-creates compassion in our hearts which waters and feeds our spirits, and empties, simultaneously, in an out-pouring to the world. Love becomes the food that’s most needed, in myriad forms, and we the gardeners that feed our own and each other’s well-being.

bike, garden, 5.21.12 014I felt this so deeply when Phillip and I went to a “home and garden” show in Milwaukee last weekend. Instead of focusing on sustainability, or new gardening techniques and plants that conserve and honor life, it focused solely on products and excess, the conspicuous consumption we’ve become so accustomed to that we don’t even notice the grotesque imbalance we accept as “natural.” The simple and glorious beauty and sustenance a garden provides was lost in all the false glamour of “must-have” purchases few could afford and all were meant to desire. All ego-food and no true soul-food.

Spring 2011 Full Moon 006-1But it was an excellent reminder to return to my own balance and monitor my energy for the balance required to live with equanimity. In/Out. Give/Receive. Endeavor/Rest. Create/Surrender. Action/Stillness. And all sailing on the sea of Love.

spring joy 2009 023Peace to your equinox, and may the blessings of spring enrich your spirit, your self-care and care for the world, your creativity and well-being.

Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery,
teach me how to trust my heart,
my mind, my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.
~ Lakota Prayer

As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times. ~ Gary Snyder

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.