Tending

I just finished deadheading the petunias around my mailbox. Noticing how much I enjoy doing it. I like to check how the flowers are doing, see whether they have enough water, pause to enjoy their colors and scent. I like to touch them, talk to them, spread their stems so that they have air and space (a little like fluffing pillows). Especially after rain when they are a bit bedraggled it is satisfying to tidy them up a bit. I do this with my potted geraniums too, pinching off the dead flowers, pulling the yellowed leaves, checking moisture, while I murmur encouraging words and gratitude for their beauty. Come to think of it, I enjoy weeding too. I don’t show much compassion for the weeds, I guess, but I like how pulling weeds gives the garden plants room to spread and breathe. Ensures there is nothing to steal nutrients from them, or to blur their lovely shape and blooms by crowding them. I doubt that any of this is necessary–the plants do fine on their own when I am out of town–but they seem a bit forlorn if I ignore them. Or maybe it’s me that’s forlorn– I feel sweetly content each time I connect with my plants this way. (Actually, it reminds me of the pleasure of changing my kids’ diapers. Though I was glad when they could eventually go to the potty themselves, until then diaper changing was a precious time. A time when I would talk to them, touch them lovingly of course, sing to them—I made up songs, probably to keep us both interested—little operas,...

Soul Song

Do you have a soul song? According to singer/teacher Chloe Goodchild in her book The Naked Voice, the Himba people in Namibia believe that every person’s soul resonates with its own unique expression, its own song. A birthdate is the day the child’s mother decides to have a child, the day she goes off alone to sit under a tree to listen until she hears the soul song of the child that wants to be born. Once she knows the song she returns to the village and teaches it to the father. They sing it when they make love to call the child to them. The mother teaches the song to the midwives and old women in the village so they will sing it to encourage and welcome the child while the mother is in labor. The rest of the village learns the song too, so that later when the child needs comforting or calming, they can sing it. When the child does something wonderful the villagers sing the song to them. When the person marries, the village sings the songs of both bride and groom at the ceremony. And if the villager should commit a crime or violate a taboo, the village circles around and  sings the song as a reminder of the person’s inherent goodness. As a person lies dying, the village sings their song to ease their passing. I love this idea. I think you must feel really seen in a culture like this. And how delightful to be surrounded by so much singing! In our culture, where we don’t invariably learn our soul song, I wonder if the...

Love Song

What a glorious transformation from barren grey to leafy green over the past several weeks! Once the spring rebirth truly arrives, my memories of winter fade—perhaps in the same way that soon after my babies were born I barely remembered the stress of labor (until time for the next winter or next labor). Wonder if Mother Earth feels that way too?   Tom and I just got back from a busy weeklong AAA tour to British Columbia. We went to Victoria and Vancouver, where we were immersed in spring blooms because both places have stunning gardens. Especially Victoria, where in addition to public plantings everyone has a lush private garden. We were amazed by the rhododendrons, which we didn’t recognize as such, because there they are taller than a person—more like trees than bushes—and bloom in every color of the rainbow it seems.     I loved that both Victoria and Vancouver are graced with beloved public gardens that restore beauty to what were originally rock quarries. Something else I loved in Victoria: they don’t mow the long grass in their large city park in the spring because they know the birds nest in it; they wait to mow until the birds have hatched! Lust for life and growth are on display everywhere here too now, delighting and nourishing eyes, nose, skin. Making me want to chirp in joy and gratitude. And does that lifelust have its own chorus? Reminds me of a poem I love by Lisel Mueller that was sent to me by a dear friend years ago (thank you Anne!): What the Dog Perhaps Hears If an...

What do you See? Taking A Break to Imagine

Taking a break from holiday preparations, sitting for a minute to rest and just breathe, I happened to idly page through my sketchbook and come across this drawing I made last month. I just stared at it for a bit, trying to use it to empty my mushy mind and let go of all “to-do” items. Does it look like anything recognizable, I asked myself? No, just a sinuous design. What, if anything, do you see in the design?          On a whim I began to turn it in different directions.   Nice and flow-y, but nothing stood out in particular to me. How about you?   When I turned it this way, it looked to me like a lyrical landscape, with green hills above, blue river and lake below, and a foundation of brown earth between them. Abstract to be sure, but pleasing to me. Full of movement but restful too. Seems like there is a fresh breeze in this landscape and lots of animals and birds just out of sight. Nice place to be—I may come back here. Do you see this too? Or something else perhaps?   But I love the final, upside down version of the design. I see three people, heads leaning together, singing, their voices blending easily, harmonizing naturally because of their connection with each other and with the moment. They are almost snuggling in their closeness, and I can feel smiles within the singing. There’s breath here, too, in the swelling chests and bellies, and in the alert silence that surrounds them. No hurry. Their singing has no agenda...