Of Course, the August Rains

Was it only two days ago I wrote about how The Stump has become dormant except for little flowerings of two or three types of shy mushrooms around the faerie door? But I forgot about the August rains. Yesterday, I went out and a new stage of frilly white oysters have burst from the northern arc. Something else, shy and yellow, was already melting toward a golden ooze on the southern exposure. Life returns in The Stump’s own season. The first photo is the entire group of oysters, and the others are individual portraits, and the golden ooze from the southern side.

And I too, observe my seasons, shifting and changing, sometimes going dormant for long periods in one or another of my realms of existence. Lately, I have been working with great intention at healing and feeding my solar plexus chakra. You can tell me (as one of my beloved scientific-minded children does) that it is all in my mind, and I will respond, “Of course it is!” That’s where so much of magick resides, in the changing of consciousness at will. I have needed to change my consciousness regarding my ability to get things done. Slowly and steadily, I am seeing changes, more will and energy to do the things that must be done. Step by slow step, I realize that when I want to call up energy to do something, I find a reserve there, small and patient, waiting for me to call it forth.

Like the energy of the stump, my own energies have been, for a long time, hidden beneath the surface, seemingly unavailable. But now, with careful tending, and a little August sun and rain, I feel the bloom.

May your day be bright with sparks of new-found energy in places where you least expect it.


Gratitude List:
1. Reminders to Be in the Body.
2. Things that wake me up.
3. This school. This classroom. These colleagues. The sense of students soon to populate this space.
4. Augusts rains. September sun.
5. Seasons.

May we walk in Beauty! In mercy, justly, humbly.


“There is another world, but it is in this one.”
—W.B. Yeats


“There is a deeper world than this
That you don’t understand
There is a deeper world that this
Tugging at your hand. . .
There is a deeper wave than this
Rising in the land
There is a deeper wave than this
Nothing will withstand
I say love is the seventh wave.”
—Sting (I think I am going to listen carefully to this song in the coming days as I make last minute preps for school)


“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter ’til they bloom, ’til you yourself burst into bloom.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die… By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” —Charlotte the spider


“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” —Doris Lessing


“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” —Irish proverb


“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel is greater than the trajectory of our careers and personal lives, it is a cultural ailment which arises out of forgetting. Our lives are like the fruit of a heritage seed: Each of the generations that has preceded us has contributed to our life’s survival. There is an ancestral momentum to which we are beholden, and which carries us forward when we are in step with it. To hear this momentum, we must turn towards the soul. There, in our dreams, are the clues to what we love and what our lives long for.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced.” —Parker Palmer, from Abba Felix tradition


“As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power. For when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences. As the splashing speech of the rivers is silenced by more and more dams, as we drive more and more of the land’s wild voices into the oblivion of extinction, our own languages become increasingly impoverished and weightless, progressively emptied of their earthly resonance.” —David Abram


“Establish the sacred space of the classroom so that the inner and outer spaces of the students are respected.” (I don’t know the source. Tell me if you know.)


Be ready for truth to find you. —gleaned from Parker J. Palmer

Seasons of The Stump

Mushrooms surround the faerie door.

Time and seasons flow differently in the realm of Faerie.

You might be walking in the woods on a warm summer day, and find yourself suddenly in a clearing with autumn leaves drifting around you, or patches of snow in the blue shadows. You may find a ripe red apple, or full round rose hips, during a winter walk. This is how you know you’ve crossed their boundaries.

So it is with The Stump. Last fall, when everything around us was dying, the stump began to put forth fruit. The wood ear mushrooms on the top surface expanded their territory. The bark on the sides was gradually obscured by shelves and racks of pearly oysters. Around the base, every few days it seemed, was a new bloom of one of at least three or four other varieties of mushroom. And in the very center of The Stump’s table were the glorious pair of caramel-colored mushrooms I called Meadow and The Chief.

Yes, mushrooms do tend to come out in the fall, when the damp and rot are conducive to their growth. The strange thing was the way they lived into the winter, how even in the snow, the oysters looked as plump and luscious as ever, new shelves appearing even in dark January. It was only as February’s cold turned brutal that the oysters began to show the frost-bite along their edges, turning brown and hardening. In spring, as the crocus and windflowers began popping up into the greening lawn, the stump went quiet. The oysters, heavy with their hardening, pulled off the outer layer of bark as they began to fall away. Even in the spring rains, the wood ears stayed still and grey as lichen, and Meadow and The Chief, the first to shrivel in the early winter, went to black hard nubs.

Eventually, by late spring I helped the process, pulling away the dead and hardened pieces and tossing them in the woods, leaving The Stump naked and stark, sere and wintry, as the world around it grew to summer’s ripeness and fullness. Gill on the grass grew up around, then died back, and arms of Virginia creeper have begun to reach around the sides.

Here and there, on occasion, a group of those gray faerie mushrooms–thin discs atop impossibly thread-like stalks–would rise for a morning around the base, and dry to powder by afternoon, like manna.

The piece of bark I had set up at the base to delineate a faerie door at the beginning of this magickal cycle has begun to look the worse for wear, and I have been searching for the perfect thing to replace it. But yesterday when I looked, the door and little dooryard were covered by a suddenly-appearing crowd of the little brown mushrooms with downward-curving caps. The Faerie realm of The Stump seems to be preparing for its next season of growth. I doubt the oysters will come back, now that the outer bark is gone. One small living patch of wood ear remains on the northern side, next to the faerie door. Perhaps it will thrive again along the surfaces. I have been seeing rings of the large white horse mushrooms popping up in other people’s lawns, and am putting out my own silent welcome that some might again show up in our grassy patches. Mostly, although I know that it was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for a singular stump, I long for some caramel-colored stalks to emerge from the center of the table. I think it was late September or early October last year when they appeared, so I will be patient, just in case they come again.

You may say there is no such thing as a Faerie realm.
You can tell me that the season of fungi is out of sync with the seasons of green things.
You may say it’s dangerous to welcome the fae ones to live in close proximity to my home.
You can tell me I’m strange or playing with fire for talking to the fae folk I meet in my dreams, for speaking their names.

What I know is that during the deadest, most anxious winter of my life, something lived and thrived in my yard, something offered me daily visions of what can grow in harsh conditions. And I will welcome whatever magick appears again as summer turns once more to fall, and we cover our faces, and the shadows spread.

Perhaps within the shadows, something hopeful, something holy, something wildly alive, will appear.


Gratitude List:
1. How life continues, even in harsh conditions.
2. Rainy summer mornings. Breathe in. Breathe out.
3. Looking forward to being in the classroom again. Tomorrow and Monday are Professional Development Days, and students come back on Tuesday. I’m not ready, but I’m ready, if you know what I mean.
4. Fungi, especially those white mushrooms popping up in faerie rings all over the place.
5. Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” —Deuteronomy 32:2


“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” —Thomas Merton (Oh, but I am going to try, Thomas Merton. I am going to try.)


Deep breath.
Straighten the spine.
Scan the wide vista before you.
Feel the morning breeze
as the sun rises
over the far horizon.
Another deep breath.
Spread your wings.
Leap.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”
—Alvin Toffler


“What comes, will go. What is found, will be lost again.
But what you are is beyond coming and going and beyond description.
You are It.”
—Rumi


“Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Sarah Williams, about Galileo


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” —from The Talmud


“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”
—George Santayana

Faerie Ring

You have to look closely to see the Faerie Ring, but it’s there. The clumps on the upper left are hidden in the grass. This is, of course, why they’re so dangerous–you could stumble into one unknowingly and not come out for years. . .

A friend of mine has asked me to avoid saying “rules” when I write about shelter-in-place, because that sounds too martial, too authoritarian. I sort of understand. But “guidelines” feels wrong, too, because so many people seem to be taking them as just that, and ignoring them, going out without masks, not maintaining social distance, acting as though this is all gone. Part of me wants to say: May it be so. May it be gone. But we don’t make a thing “gone” just by declaring it so.

The science seems to be offering us a different picture, one in which we could be facing quarantines and sickness and death for a long time to come. I also want the governor (of PA, where I live) to take us more quickly to yellow and then to green. But I want my parents to be safe, I want the random people who seem to die from this for no apparent reason not to die, I (selfishly) want us to avoid a second peak so I can go back to my classroom in the fall.

Call them what you will–guidelines or rules or orders–please follow through a little longer, for all of us. Wash your hands. Stay home. Plot the Green Revolution. Practice caution and simplicity. Get along without. Keep us all safe.


Gratitude List:
1. This morning at the feeder: goldfinches, bluebirds, doves, downy woodpecker, chipping sparrows, indigo bunting. An indigo bunting in the sun seems lit from within by blue fire. An indigo bunting in the shade sucks all color into itself, holding all the shadows around it within its little bunting shape. What a magical creature.
2. Yesterday I did my Ten Breaths inside a fairy ring of mushroom clump beside the stump of the poplar tree. It was a perfect circle. The faeries did not whisk me away to the Faerie Queen’s realm, perhaps because I have long been a friend of their beloved poplar, perhaps because I am not imaginative enough for their purposes.
3. A family of vultures have taken up residence in the edges of the bosque across the road. Such somber and thoughtful folk they are.
4. The amazing crimson of that little red Japanese maple, and the scarlet of the cardinal up on the hillside above, and the glowing scarlet fire of the head of that red-bellied woodpecker.
5. Nothing in this part of the hollow died of freeze last night. This morning is crisply frigid, breezy and shining.

May we walk in Beauty!


“No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.” —Lupita Nyong’o


TO MAKE A PROMISE
by David Whyte

Make a place of prayer, no fuss,
just lean into the white brilliance
and say what you needed to say
all along, nothing too much, words
as simple and as yours and as heard
as the bird song above your head
or the river running gently beside you,
let your words join to the world
the way stone nestles on stone
the way the water simply leaves
and goes to the sea,
the way your promise
breathes and belongs
with every other promise
the world has ever made.

Now, leave them to go on,
let your words alone
to carry their own life,
without you, let the promise
go with the river.
Have faith. Walk away.


“Feminism requires precisely what patriarchy destroys in women. Unimpeachable bravery in confronting male power.” —Andrea Dworkin

Believing in Magic

This one is from a few years ago. We haven’t had a flowering of this particular beauty for a couple years. Last time they came up, Josiah set out a village of tiny houses and gnomefolk around them. I thought that would certainly draw them back again. This is one good reason not to mow too often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going through the poems and fragments I wrote with my Creative Writing classes this year. Here’s one that caught my attention:

3-21-17
My rage has tried to build
a concrete wall around
the quiet borders of my heart

and yet

I wander toward truth
skipping from spring into winter
and in my heart, a violin
like an orange bird
plays songs of peace.


“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
*
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
—Maya Angelou
*
“Doors closing, doors opening. Doors closing, doors I’m opening. I am safe. It’s only change. I am safe. It’s only change.” —chant (I don’t know the author)
*
Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple
belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,
hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.

—Jeanne Lohmann, ‘Shaking the Tree’
*
Parker Palmer: “The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we’ve shown ourselves to be: self-serving and generous, spiteful and compassionate, cowardly and courageous, treacherous and trustworthy. We must be able to say to ourselves and to the world at large, “I am all of the above.” If we can’t embrace the whole of who we are — embrace it with transformative love — we’ll imprison the creative energies hidden in our own shadows and flee from the world’s complex mix of shadow and light.”
*
“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” —Mae Jemison


Gratitude Lists:
1. Organizing and sorting
2. Oh, the rains!
3. Cooking. Sometimes I really love cooking. Last night, we each ate an entire stuffed zucchini for supper, even the kids. They would have eaten more!
4. Anticipating a day doing things I love to do.
5. All the shades of green out there. We’ve really settled in to the heart of midsummer.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mushrooms

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today we praise mushrooms,
whose dreams alone we see,
the fruiting body, the stalk,
the periscope eye
sneaking a peek above earth.

Here’s to mycelium, to messages,
to the network threading beneath us,
hyphae, like delicate fairy hair,
highways of information, of connection.
Sprawling communities of fungi
lurking unseen beneath our blind feet,
silently doing their work.

Here’s to twinkling spores that glimmer
and drift through a single shaft
of sunlight on the woods floor,
to the tender gills which carry the spores,
to the wanton gift.

A blessing on the unseen,
the not-there but suddenly appearing,
the wisdom of the fungus,
of rot, of humus, of mold,
of breaking it down.
Gratitude List:
1.  The creative force of children
2.  Mushrooms popping up everywhere
3.  Sunshine, blue sky
4.  Wren
5.  Listening

May we walk in Beauty!