Memories Swirl Like Petals on the Wind

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Because a flower grew and came to bloom last season—last year—many seasons and years ago—

fulfilling its promise of life and beauty, of sustenance, and propagation of seeds for future seasons and years—

fulfilled, and then lost to the seasons of time and changing weather—

the beauty of it lost to the gnarled greenery that overtook it—

does the beauty of what has bloomed since, and blooms now, erase the beauty of what did grow once?

Does the beauty and the life that was so abundant seasons—years—ago, mean any less, become any less beautiful because it grew many seasons and years ago, and only the memory of it remains like the soft fragrance of a flower on the wind?

Blessing Shotweed

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Shotweed is an invasive plant in the Pacific Northwest that, if left to flower and seed, forms spiky flowers that literally shoot seeds every which way when they are touched.  I had been hoping that the clover that is slowly spreading in the turf grass in the dog run had found its way to the Fire Pit area—but a closer look showed me that it is indeed shotweed. It must be pulled out. It is one of those ‘sit and have patience’ garden chores and I knew that it must be done soon before the flowers bud.

I thought,”maybe in the next few days….”

This morning, I was ready to go into town and have a latte and read a book while I waited for my friend to have her hair cut, and then we would seek out an adventure.

And then.

Standing at the kitchen sink, looking out the window, IT came over me. I began to feel the recently all-too -familiar sunken mood and panic attack; the feeling of wanting to escape my body—of being trapped inside it. Shortness of breath quickly became holding of breath. Breathe. Breathe deeply. Slowly. It will pass.

It didn’t.

I announced that I was staying home to pull the shotweed. “But it’s a chance to get out and see some different scenery”, she said.

“It’s over-rated,” I said as I left to go change my clothes for the garden.

Outside. Cool to the point of cold, but not uncomfortable.  Sun still behind the Cedars, but the brilliance of it gave intensity to the garden’s colors.

Me. First on one knee for a while, and then the other, as I leaned over and dug the baby plants out of the gravel-covered soil around the fire pit. My mind recites its litany of my failures, my losses, my struggles, and my inability to fit in anywhere. On and on it drones. All the while, I am hot and shaking from the tension of it. And barely taking full breaths.

If I focus on music, maybe that will stop the internal noise. My earbuds silence the sounds of Nature around me, but they do not silence my mind. Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23 begins slowly—reaching quietly out to me. Breathe with the slow waves of the cadence. Breathe deeper as the intensity slowly builds. It softens again—taking me back to start again—focus. Breathe.

My hands move smoothly at my task. The right pushes the Hori-hori’s point in at the base of the plants.  My left grasps them and gently pulls them free. Shush. Hear the noise for which the tool was named: ho-ree, ho-ree, as it slices through the soil’s top layer and is pulled out again.

Mozart builds to greater intensity. And, my tears—usually so reluctant to come—begin to flow with the sounds of the piano. No…it’s the orchestra in the background that let’s my pent-up emotions release.

On to Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-Flat Major, K452— and the clarinet emboldens my tears, which are then held by the notes of the piano.  All together, we take our breath and let the air out. The musicians make beautiful melody while I make moisture that streams down my cheeks and into the Earth. The rumbling noise of despair quiets in my head now; I start to hear only the music and the soft crunching of metal into gravel and soil.

I finish as far as I can reach around me. I softly stroke the newly disrupted earth with my fingers— caressing it, smoothing it out while checking for bits of plant and root. I am reminded of making designs in the wet sand on the beach of Lake Michigan as a child. It brings a softness in the form of a good memory to my heart: the cool water lapping onto shore, the warm sands, the fresh air and the sunshine. I remember what it felt like so long ago… before.

Moving, I face the Incense Cedar and stretch my back, arching it as far as I can as I sit there. Looking up through the dark green branches against the bright blue sky, I invite its fragrance into me through my breath.

I sit on the ground, legs extended in a “v” in front of me. The earth is cool and damp, and I feel as though it is more than the dampness that is seeping up into me. I begin another patch of shotweed just as the opening notes Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Opus 64 – Fantasy lift into my ears and lift my spirit with them. The tears have been wiped dry on my sweatshirt sleeve. I am softened. I am spent. I am relaxed. I am allowing myself to recognize my connection to what is around— and underneath— me.

I say a prayer of thankfulness and blessing to the shotweeds. Had they not appeared for me, I would not have had this bit of time– this bit of healing in my much-wounded self.

By the time YoYo Ma begins to make his cello sing in Gabriel’s Oboe, I am back to my physical self enough to recognize my hunger.

And, as Heifetz begins to play the Scottish Fantasy, Op 46: I. Introduction, I am on my way in to the house for oatmeal.

As Heifetz moves into the faster, richly Scottish music of the II. Allegro, I stop long enough to create a mandala from fallen leaves on the front walk way.

For now,  I am alright.

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Taking a Moment in the Ocean of Time

The car temperature gauge said 53 degrees, but in my little alcove up against the sandstone cliffs I feel warm enough to take off my fleece jacket.  The sky is “Regulation Fog Grey” with the color reflected on to the water, mixed with a hint of ocean green.  Every once in a while I feel slight sprinkles of fog falling on me; my hair starts to actively curl and get lively as it drinks in the moisture.  The waves are loud today. The water is calm and almost smooth until the rollers form just before they break crashing on the shore and rolling back underneath the next wave, but there are no white caps out beyond the shoreline.  There are not many birds flying, and those that are, are flying silently.  Just in the one or two second lull between waves, I can hear the moan of the foghorn. In this moment, there is nothing but the ocean and me.

Remember, after standing in a doorway and pressing arms out against the frame, the feeling of lightness and freedom when you would turn and your arms would lift away from your body?  That magical feeling as gravity was defied and arms floated?  (If you never did that, or haven’t in a while, I recommend it.) It is the absence of pressure that allows the arms to rise up without effort,

I think it is a good example of how we can feel when we let go of the holding patterns we have in our lives, be they physical or emotional/spiritual.  We tend to hold on to what we know, how we have been, and we can get so caught up in our patterns that we tend to not see opportunities where we can shift, make a change, learn a new way. 

We hear a lot about meditation, contemplation….some form of actively working on stilling the mind, or letting the stressors go. I am all for it.  But I am also all for just stopping to be fully and completely aware of the moment, and recognizing and feeling it fully. To drink it a moment, to let everything else go and to be free of stress and burden and worry…even just for a moment…can be a great healing experience.  And, the more we do it, the more we can be aware to do it more often.