Monday, February 28, 2011

Standing in the Sky

Maxfield Parrish was out painting the sky this morning. The softest hues of blues and pinks and oranges emerged, bigger than life overhead - surreal and so inviting. The heavens glowing like I’ve never seen before…ever. We’d had a muscle-bound-gale blow thru last night followed by crushing rain… and the sky this morning was bunched with clouds of every shape -and the color! Slate grey infused with chalk powder pastels infused with scattered glitter.

I found myself wanting to stand on the very edge of one of those sturdy billowing vapors, my arms outstretched; the celestial breezes lifting my hair from my face and sashaying the cotton of my dress against my legs, ribbons tied at my waist, fluttering about. I could feel that space… and I longed for my feet to stand upon the soft edge of that cloud’s rim.

I had the pleasure of Maxfield Parrish’s “Ecstasy” hanging above the piano in one of my homes so many years ago. It was the first image that greeted me, coming down the hall each morning. And like all great photos of women, I imagine that I am she. All these years, I am the woman in the painting. And today I entered that great and beautiful print of his, like it had always been drawn for me…and I took my place in it.

While the sky was Parrish’s, the ground undeniably belonged to Norman Rockwell… carts and trailers and tractors parked and hunkered in driveways and down orchard roads. The orchards themselves bloomed while I was away at the coast this weekend, and I was smitten by acres upon acres of lightly adorned trees in white and luminous pink…like so many debutantes dressing for The Ball. Across the road another orchard, its petals chalked in maroon…looking more like a trillion snowflakes dipped in Merlot…

A little further on, I watched a boy about twelve, get out of a car and walk toward his waiting school bus; as he climbed the steps, he turned and waved to the woman behind the wheel of the car… and my heart skipped a beat as I watched my own boy heading down the walkway each morning, turning to wave, ‘I love you infinity pi and beyond,’ he would sing out, and I returned his wave with my own heart, loving the sound of his voice; amazed that this boy was mine.

I am forever surprised when I get pulled thru time like this, without warning, no moments to prepare, just there…coming at me…through me…time disappears, and I enter into what-has-years-now-passed... while remaining inside what is... and sometimes? standing squarely within what’s yet to come.

I slipped my hand into the hand of my favorite three-year-old last weekend and I didn’t want to let go. We were looking at the day through his eyes. His beautiful golden-brown-green eyes…and sometimes brown with a hint of blue. I cannot get enough of his face. His intellect is reminiscent of my trips to table-top-mountain… vast, innocent, stunning... he is springtime in full bloom, colorful, perfect…everything new. Each insight he shared with me, pure; and his response to my questions, rarely what I thought he might say. His eye is clear, his perception honest. I will follow him anywhere. He is my Forrest…part angel, part boy, son and brother. I know he chose to come, and he comes with purpose. As we all do.

I was pulled back to Parrish’s artwork above me and wondered if that talented man dreamed his paintings when he was a child, so beautiful, clear and unencumbered they are… and if Forrest took brush to canvas, I thought their styles could be similar. …but for now, he circles his ‘F’ and tells me “it’s an F to me.” …farther on, we saw a sign in a window and he stopped short and said with quiet confidence, “that’s a ‘B’ to you." ...for I am his grandma B.

We climbed a mountain together to throw our rocks out as far as we could -an incline that he clamored up with hands and feet; and having emptied our pockets of the collected stones and thrown them with whoops, hollars and great gusto, he leaped fearlessly from the edge of his mountain, tumbled about, and regaining his feet dashed off to see the horses we’d been approaching… I leaped too, because I haven’t leaped in a long, long while. I wondered what it would be like to leap from the edge of that cloud’s rim…I was sure in my momentary revelry that if he and I were holding hands, Forrie would leap right along with me…eyes sparkling, his beautiful smile set on ‘come on grandma B, let’s go!’

There is not an element in nature that doesn’t touch me, speak to me, move through me…like we are sisters, mothers, friends, lovers…and when I am willing to be open to it, I feel that element in people I meet, and in those I know well.

Every person I've met who seems to have this connection, this 'vibration' with others tells me stories of their dramatic connection with nature. A friend of mine told me that as a child he roamed the woods, forests, meadows and open land. He told me he once lay in a field and became so still that he could hear the pine cones opening. This endeared him to me on the spot.

...and so I find it relevant that recently I’ve read and seem to hear from unexpected encounters and surprising sources, that sound came first. Before anything else. The Universe’s first sigh. And I realized that I’ve never thought about what might have come first; I think my best guess was that it was quiet first...but because this information continues to present itself to me, I listen. Consequently, sound is becoming so clear to me, the vibration of it joining my own.

I say music speaks to me, sometimes more than I can bear...and the wind and breezes and blustery days? They. set. me. free! Tibetan bowls wrap me in their loving hymns; and the voices of children and loved ones bring me to higher awarenesses, where I feel I might burst wide open. I find I cannot live without them. Any of them.

So I know without hesitation, that standing on the brilliant rim of the clouds above me will fill me with the sounds of the sky! whose melodies... so perfect, rich and complete, will breathe, in-time, in-sync... with my own remarkable breaths… and I will want to stay, standing in the sky, for a long-long time.

your Wildflower

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Hurricane of Grace

Both December and January in NorCal are committed to rain and fog. It’s like these months take vows. Rain and fog are camped-in tight, and I don’t see them even thinking about moving on. They accompany, surround and engulf me on the road day after day. It’s not gloomy really; instead there are elements of cozy and mystery.

Alternately, when I drive at night, it’s terrifying. I lose sight. The world closes in to random, tiny, scattered pinpoints; I am alone, and the ‘way’ seems invisible. My heart races, panic scratches at my edges, and I search with eyes wide open for familiarity on this road I’ve come to know so well. But familiarity does not show itself.

This morning the fog hung close and thick, like an eternity of dull, wet silk, and it covered every nook and cranny of the earth. I could barely see past the hood of my car and my little car is only as long as I am tall. The world emerged literally in increments, white line by white line, and branch by branch, as orchards shrouded in vagueness, passed my windows. And I thought how like my life it all is.

I’ve changed so much in the past fifteen years. I use to want to help fix everyone’s misery. I ached with people. I sat and cried with them. I raged alongside their rage. I wished I had a magic wand; I knew with magic I could really make a difference. But I realized that my answers are not necessarily someone else’s solution; my magic would be the sole expression of my perceptions. When I got that simple principle, it was like I was on the inside – instead of the outside, looking in. So much became clear.

I still ache with you, cry and weep alongside you when the world is upside down. And I will draw my sword for you. Lately I have felt the utter brokenness of a sister and I am angry at the doers; I have felt the deep anguish of a precious daughter and I am furious at the monster; I walk alongside a son lending support to the unthinkable unanswered unknowns and I see my fear; and I watch and listen while a beautiful younger daughter is on an inner journey of self discovery and colossal efforts to go where the rest of us will not, while the elements of it may be possibly manifesting physically…and I am awash with… my-cup-runn’th-over-with…respect for each of their spirits and strength, for their ability move forward.

For myself, I seem to have entered into a new way to process, a phenomena of 'floating' when so much difficult information comes forward to meet me. It’s both weird and peaceful. It’s like I separate. And I can feel myself feel the feeling of floating. The grace of this floaty mind place, is that I am removed from... well, 'imagining' slapping one of the doers, not 'terrified' about life expectancies; not ‘angry’ at the monster, or needing to ‘hover, fix and soothe’ while discoveries are being sought and bodies healed.
Instead, I float.

And I thought about that going down the road seeing things emerge, ghost-like out of the fog; things I knew were there, but couldn’t see, and I was relieved and reassured as they appeared, that I was where I should be…or else realized I was nowhere where I thought I was, yet. This floaty mind space is like that. Inch by inch something will emerge and sort itself out… a conversation that sheds light, [between any of us]; and my family circles, as we do, around each other, offering love and support, tears, comfort…shared emotions and a renewed gathering of our wits to go on. A crack in the fog, a wisp of clarity, a glimpse at sanity.

Dr Hawkins talks about living on the edge of experience. Witnessing it, literally on the edge. Seeing it -while being it -while living it. Its tricky. Takes practice, focus. Then losing yourself in it. Then flying with it. Well I’m currently floating…sort of above and around the experience. Not detached, because I am definitely connected…sometimes the connection feels like a hurricane of current wildly coursing thru every vein, limb and skin cell…and I think I will explode, with sword drawn, into the faces of the evil doers. Maybe that’s why the rest of the time I’m floating, floating on a tidal wave… floating into outer space, as talented Mr. Martin so aptly sings it. 

My higher self does not embrace explosions. It simply won’t engage, so I continue to mediate, start my day with intention, breathe in goodness...
I float with purpose to my work place and with barely a conscious effort, find something to love in every person I encounter and this gentle purpose seemingly gives way to a few pieces resolving themselves on the landscape of my heart… and with it, a little of the confusion/pain/fear/anger leaves me. So I think it’s good. I am mentally clear, efficient at work, happy and loving... and nothing seems strained or 'forced.' So I'm good with it.

Someone I love said, ‘And again, a big difference between us - your capacity to work on forgiveness when I ask myself WHY? I want to think about the 'why make the effort' of forgiving. Why not just forget the person who causes the pain ... and I mean total rejection kind of forgetting.’

I think I’m tired of the word forgiveness. “We must forgive this and that person…we’re told to ask for forgiveness…and to forgive ourselves.” What I do is try to understand. In understanding one another I find answers, then peace. I am inspired and nourished by spirituality, by the great thinkers and mentors and saviors. I listen to those who know more than I. I read and pray and believe in the goodness inside each of us. I believe divinity flows through every living thing. I believe in nature. It’s pure. It holds abundant beauty, freedom and answers. It flows. It’s also wild and unruly…when it kicks up its heels, it’s a force without boundaries –I love that!

And don’t we all believe that the universe…the great-big-giant-scheme-of-things…timeless wisdom… that ‘evolved knowingness’ that so far-surpasses my own,…. knows something that I don’t? Aren’t today’s lessons and pains and anguish and trouble…the miracles that are waiting to heal us?
And so I float until I can get it.

Love is always the center. I have spoken those words to my children since they were old enough to hear. I said it long before I knew what I was talking about. I said it because I felt it. Believed it. Knew it. Why is it so hard to live it now? Why is my sword drawn?

Momma came to visit last night after composing this entry. Usually she comes as a soft light off to my left, comforting, quiet, steady. Last night she flickered with intensity. Sparring, if you will. I felt her sword was drawn, too; because she knows the monster. And I liked that a lot. That I imagined her sword was drawn. Momma was a quiet, self-less warrior, we've all said that at one point or another.

Combining the two loves of my life…spiritually and nature, I must say my friends, right now I am a Wild Flower in need of a ‘hurricane of grace.’

…with hope, trust, peace and joy, I await the sunshine on my face, fragrant breezes in my hair, my hand inside your hands, and a gentle release from that which has me floating.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Heifers in the Morning Mist

We left Phoenix, my friends, late in October, the weather scorching us with its one-hundred degree heat, and arrived into northern California two short days later, welcomed by chilly autumn rain, our sweaters zipped-up tight, tennies laced, jeans down to our toes. It’s been three weeks and autumn is turning cold. Fireplace is crackling nightly and warming us with toasty affection.

I sit here now, typing; snug in a cranberry buttoned-down sweater and gauze scarf double-wrapped around my neck; slippers over socks and my fingers are just this side of numb. I’m pretty sure winter is already nudging its way across the out-laying meadows.
I am elated.

We live in the country (they call it a town). My abundant domiciles have all been city places…so this is country to me. The town is one hop-skip-and-a-jump long, and just like that you’re out in the country again. No matter where I go, I am driving thru this beloved open-spaced heaven.

Each morning I leave home just before dawn, head into Chico, and I am struck silent by the peaceful scape of the countryside I'm travelling through. Ranches and farms and orchards; gullies, bridges, and rivers…wide open spaces. It is settling and peaceful. Quiet. The sunrise as I travel east is glorious! It departs from its cover of darkness and climbs up over the Sierra Nevada's and into low lying, misty clouds. A ruby-red mass of magnificence. This is a gift. A present. And each morning since my arrival, it is given to me. In these moments, I am humming. That kind of low vibration that connects me, directly, to the Universe. I send out prayers of gratitude and awe.

This morning, I crossed the Sacramento River, over a lovely arc of bridge affording a lingering view of the river’s charm. You can see the current flowing below and huge trees are standing resolutely, growing right out of the river looking like they belong there. Bushes and willows crowd its banks…and always the mist lying just above the surface, moving and turning like a slow-dancer, practiced and comfortable.

Coming off the slope of the bridge and around the next bend I see a pasture of land. There’s a literal herd of heifers and calves, and an obligatory steer shuffling alongside, everyone grazing… ambling… browsing. The herd moves ever-so-slowly. I mean it’s barely light, we're all moving slow… probably not awake yet… I am, but only just. And I’m struck by the most amazing/hilarious thought (are you listening Bridgette?) because I am looking at heifers in the morning mist!

[This wonderful, silly phrase came upon us one slap-happy pre-dawn morning whilst returning from the Sacramento airport –having taken Peter to a ridiculously early departing flight so many years ago; and driving back home, we watched egrets rise off the rice fields thru the morning mist. I made that statement out loud to my sleepy Bridgette and quickly made many more like it, as you do when you're in that silly sleep deprived place… soon we were laughing like lunatics, my sides aching, hands clenched to the steering wheel so as not to lose my place on the road… and I was imagining chapter titles for my here-to unwritten book…each title ending with “in the morning mist.” Hence my blog designation.]
Ah well, I digress...

These amazing beasts navigated the pasture without any suspicion to my crazed revelry. And I wished like all-hell that you were with me in that moment, Bridgette. You’d laugh and grin with me…we’d think up more “titles” …Honey, you’d have loved the sunrise too, in all its crimson majesty.

Minutes later, around another bend -and through a mile or so of moss covered orchard- the view opened up again and that valiant, vivacious sun was now clear of the mountain range, riding through the mist, sending dazzling shards of rosy brilliance across acres of broken cloud cover. I was hypnotized, spellbound… Happiness filled me. I wanted for nothing.
This is how I begin my days. …in a morning mist.

Wishing each of you
Peace, Love, Light and every possible good thing,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finding Momma

Leaving behind the cool air and the low fog might have been the hardest thing that morning. …everything damp was clinging to my skin and my hair, and I nestled into its chilly embrace. I was driving away from what I loved. The temps were low in the 60’s, the hour still early. We were driving south and east, heading home. I was strangely exhilarated for being utterly exhausted. And the road, stretched out before us, held no promise of easing exhaustion; so I concentrated on the unexpected exhilaration. Memories danced, slow and easy, across my mind. I’d seen her dance that way, well… maybe too many times. In those days, I’d sometimes felt like I was seeing an intimacy that was not mine to see.

Himself celebrated 89 years that weekend, and some of us were able to come and celebrate with him, to metaphorically dance on the tables!!  haha!  We would share stories, crosswords, and laughter. We’d ‘see to’ whatever needed to be done around the small manse atop the breezy hill. And for me…to generally hold him in esteem in every possible way  for those few short days. Be amazed by as many things as I could about him. He is my father, he is aging, and 89 is a big number.

We arrived in the cool black of night just before midnight, with a smattering of stars canopied above, ushering us up the familiar drive. We all hugged tight in greeting, shared a few sips of wine, unwound with stories of the road, and kissing each other goodnight, hit the proverbial sack.

I laid back into the covers and snuggled-up the room that had once been mine; and I paged through my memory picking-out all the things I had loved about this space. Mostly the fact that it is the corner room, and it is essentially all window…covered with white, flat, wooden slats reminiscent of a beach cottage. Light streams in all day and when the windows crack open, glorious breezes blow through …it is beyond perfect. The only thing missing is the ocean itself rhythmically moving outside… and I can pull in that image with barely any movement in my mind!

I could hear the stillness of the house settling and I waited to be called by momma... I was sitting in my reading chair, praying a rosary actually. My son was in Honduras and had asked me, elbows to his knees, earnest face and beautiful love pouring from his eyes, "will you pray one rosary for me each day while I’m gone, mom…"  I agreed before he finished asking; there was no hesitation, as I love Mother Mary and I love him.  I would do anything for either. While praying that particular night, I had drifted and traveled in my prayer out to see him in that colorful, lively country.  Before long, momma touched my shoulder and called my name. I opened my eyes to answer expecting to see her face bent into mine, and found that no one was there. It was the first time she visited me, although she had not yet journeyed away from us. I knew in that instant it was prophetic.

Those days are in memory now, but laying there snuggled into the cottage room, it was all too real…and I could not sleep. Whether it was the road, the house, the scented midnight breezes or momma herself, I found sleep was out of reach. 
In the morning walking thru the house, it hit. 
I saw Momma everywhere.

Flashes of memories quick and short presented themselves, then faded. I was totally okay with it. Actually, it felt glorious. While I poured coffee and sat across from our Patriarch answering crossword clues, my eyes grazed his breakfast plate and I remembered picking out those sapphire blue dishes with her. She absolutely loved them. Amazingly, daddy and I solved both the local and the New York crosswords that morning while I saw hundreds of breakfasts in my mind with momma seated together with us.

My sister, daughter and I smuggled in a new birthday bed set, something fresh, new and masculine. Emerald Isle green with accenting blues and browns, and the softest hint of pink. His bedroom jumped alive. Amanda and I made the bed, adjusted the pillow shams and I wondered if she knew momma was there helping.  I saw her eyes twinkle, and remembered every kiss goodnight, every early morning rise. I watched her choose her clothes from the closet…its doors open now as we folded away Dad’s old quilt; and at her dresser, I was fluffing her hair ‘just right’ in front of the big mirror before stepping out-and-into her day...and seated on the vanity stool, I helped her with her shoes. She was gorgeous, and I wondered if she had heard that often enough, or if it had even mattered to her.

Later Amanda and dad sat, heads together, pulling photos from the albums. These old pics would be spread around the room and shared at the party later tonight. I listened as Dad’s stories flowed, so many memories, now shared between grandfather and granddaughter. I took notice of their laughter, loving Amanda’s new-found insights into the life my parents had shared. I stopped moving when I saw the picture.

I looked up at Dad, but he and Amanda were continuing their revelry and I became still as stone and just let the photo in. They were young, maybe twenty. Just. Younger than every one of my children; and it was taken long before my sibs or I were even imagined. I looked carefully at their black and white images. My folks were out somewhere fancy. Dad looked beautiful and Momma was stunning. I didn’t remember having ever seen this one before.  It’s like it lept into my life that day.  I couldn’t stop looking at her.  Amanda and Dad kept up their happy conversation, amazed by those early shots of him, so long ago! and his stories rolled out with Irish finesse and flair. Their energy was bright and light. I stepped away.

I walked to the front windows and looked out for awhile; when I turned she was lying in quiet, final repose against white sheets. She and I were holding hands, fingers woven together. I gently squeezed her hand and she returned the intimacy. I was infused with unspeakable gratitude that my hand was in hers, and hers in mine, as she slipped away.

The lights were low and the Christmas tree’s glow was the only other illumination. My sisters and I stood on each side of her and we performed the age-old tradition of preparing her for the inevitable. In the blink of an eye, I was whooshed thru some unseen space which connected me with every set of hands that had ever tended a loved one -as my sisters and I did now.  I saw hands of every color; these hands were old and young, they were large and small, weathered, gnarled and smooth.  I saw glimpses of fabric at their wrists.  Each pair of hands spoke of ancient times, all moving in symmetry, all competent, all devoted; and each hand moved with every bit as much love, as our hands did now.   I gasped!

I looked up, and my sister’s eyes met mine in question. It was clear immediately she did not see what I did.  I looked again at momma…and all the hands of time continued their loving, dedicated work. I saw in it, tradition, that it is women who do this tending; and on this day, we were phenomenally linked in this most elemental, universal pursuit. I was awed to the marrow of my bones. Without hesitation I tell you, in that amazing moment I knew I was receiving a rare gift from the 'center' of the universe. I call it Divine Love. My hands joined again with all of theirs and together we made my mother ready.  When our task was done, I re-felt the whoosh which this time released me from this vision, this experience, and I found myself standing bed-side with my sisters. I almost sobbed… exhilarated, amazed, humbled and grateful.

I still held the photo and decided, right then and there, I would find another like it, replace and frame it, and exchange it for the one I have of her hanging in my room. I wanted to remember momma like this, in her twenties, or maybe thirties, when she was vital and so alive; when the twinkle that often glittered in her eyes was in full-swing!
God, I loved this woman.

As we prepared for company, setting out the china, silver, and glassware, Dad filled the entertainment center with his music selection for the night; when all was chosen, and music drifted into the house, he put his left arm out, and his right arm swung back toward himself, and in smooth daddy-style, he shuffle danced himself into the middle of the room and did a few turns. He did not see me standing in the kitchen, but I watched as he spun mother around our living room, as he had so many times before…her face tilted up to his, both of them lost in their shared moment.

The party was nice. Irish coffees, cake and friends. Laughter filled our home. Daddy-dear was in his element.  I heard my own voice, as others commented at the photos, at how ‘young’ dad was, “who did you get to pose for you in this one?” cried out a friend, waving a black and white around… I mean my father was a beautiful young man!  But even as I tried to stop myself I heard my voice, like I was sitting in the room as a guest myself, saying to Eloise and Bill…”look at her! Wasn’t she something? …look at her face, her hair…her beautiful eyes…”

I came full circle and realized, perhaps with a nubbin of shame, that this weekend, for me, had become about my mother and I.  Driving Rex and Dottie home later, and helping their old bones out of the car and up the walk-way to their door, we spoke of daddy and we all said his birthday was a success. When Amanda held Rex’s elbow in assistance, he whispered with a cracked voice, “I miss her…”
And a downpour of clarity told me I wasn’t the only one who ached in her absence.

I believe that we Are.
And that we Were before we arrived into this life; and that when we step back out, we continue to Be.  Even as a child I somehow ‘got’ that.  Momma has visited me many times, coming as a soft illumination of light, usually on my left side.  She has called aloud to me, and I answer each time, knowing she is not there, and yet knowing she is right there. I know it's her, just as I know the faces of my own children.

The Bhagavad Gita tells us of OM, the eternal Word. “The eternal Word is All: what was, what is, and what shall be, and what beyond, is in eternity. All is OM.” With that knowledge, doubt does not exist for me; my belief is firm; and again and again my soul feels joy.  Momma is part of what is beyond and certainly a part of eternity, a part of all, a part of om... And in that place, she might be 30, eyes twinklin'…a lovely energy, like a vibrant gown of shimmering color and intimate warmth, she is stunning.

Gracie came to visit and her two sisters and I were a fountain of bubbling excitement. We love being together. We decided to ‘go out’ and let our hair down at a jazz club we know; so we dressed to the 9’s and with animated conversation and laughter, and absolute delight in one another’s company, we headed out. Our friend Ari joined us; she fits our family like a sister.  At our table, surrounded by bluesy jazz notes and that pulsing thrill of a nightclub, someone said, “Mother! Where did you get that ring? It’s so interesting!” I looked at the slender gold band holding a soft pink opal, seated in black onyx. “It’s Momma’s,” I said smiling, and received a foursome of smiles in return… “I thought I’d bring her with us tonight, you know how she loves a girls' night out!” and with that, we grinned at each other and the six of us proceeded to have the time of our lives... dancing, talking and loving our way into the night...
See you later, Momma...

Love-love, Wildflower

Thursday, August 26, 2010

joie de vivre!

The night whispered moody and blue… so much my joie de vivre!
I cannot possibly remember when this love affair began, too long ago to recollect. Swept me off my feet; stole the breath right from my chest; and breathed new rhythm in to my heart. In its sultry embrace I dance and sway. This joie de vivre…this yin, my yang… this answer to questions I’ve not asked…this exquisite match.  In a word, my friends, The Blues!

Without warning I was swept away to the great city of N’Orleans and that love affair with the Blues became a real living thing. For it was there, I swear, that we came together, face-to-face.  I stood in the Big Easy and even in daylight, I felt the night.

The sounds of horns and piano keys circled my soul. I bought a harmonica at The House of Blues because I loved the feel of it, and the song it sings just sends me! I sat spellbound in a place around the corner while a trio of players -piano, bass and singer- made music. There was a single, soft spotlight aimed at the modest stage which cut individual shadows against the backdrop… and I remember choosing shadow over man that night, not able to look away from the image cast by that bass silhouette.

Later, walking leisurely down the cobbled streets a scrappy balladeer began a song to me, “Ain’t she sweet…” with a voice so true and pure, my heart took flight. Beside him at the curb, a cardboard box, tattered and worn; dollars and cents scattered inside. I stood still, enchanted, while he sang to me; and in return I poured all my love into him; then, dropped the contents of my wallet into his box. I was just beginning to fly. My smile was brighter than that well lit street.

One open door, led to another, and to the next; and I saw ancient men tickling the ivory’s with such sweet care, singing with fine mellow voices, their smiles as wide as my out-stretched arms; horns that rang out with hope and pain, sorrow and joy. Everywhere I found music I found another piece of me. Not that I was missing pieces … but now I felt far more whole.

Nights blended into days and back into nights and music was my only passion, my purpose. In everything that wasn’t music, I still found notes and melodies tucked inside …vibrant color, reds and blues; dark skinned people moving rhythmically along, friends becoming friends. I found new friends every day with each step. Southern hospitality is as real as you and me. It’s a living breathing thing; gracious, warm, and extended to everyone.

I tore myself away from this all-consuming thing, hopped an airboat and propelled along the waterways, then cut left to burrow deep into the mossy overhangs and come alongside crocks, whilst dragon flies flit and flew, and lingered all about us. They were magic! Gossamer wings, literally! They were so abundant I wondered what they thought of us. Like they all came out to look. Back into the wide canal of the Bayou I was awed by white birds rising off the water; graceful, elegant, a ballet. Even here the air seemed to vibrate in harmony. Its own special song.

I recall each moment vividly…Gumbo, spicy and rich; oysters on the half shell at Desire’s; The Strapping Young Lads; the lady singer at d.b.a. who may have been Janis Joplin –I mean seriously. Mansions and Graveyards, trolleys, and miles of peaceful sugar cane; and there was that thing with the guy in the place…but I digress :)

Of all the elements of that rare and beautiful visit- it was the music for me. The Blues. The wailing of the sax, the excited fiddles, the sweet bliss of the harmonica…the soulful songs…and leaving town was a personal tug-of-war.  With heavy heart, I did leave, with my memories, and music wraped around me!

Standing in the driveway saying good-bye to all of this I was thinking about the actual leaving and driving away…and those feelings associated with ‘going-on-home-alone’ after the immensely memorable time spent in the south…and I knew it would be dreadful. I was feeling it already. So I made the ride about music. Stocked up on cd’s and stacked them on the seat next to me like a fellow traveler; Dr. John, Charlie Miller, Randy Newman, Fats, and a few others. Bob Seger was there, because the man just “knows.”

In town, at a stop light, I lowered the top of the Chrysler, sat back and with purpose, prepared for the next hours of scenery and sun that would take me away from the memory of New Orleans and bring me home to my girls.  I reached for the first cd, and tucked Fats Domino into the player.

Fats and I sang to each other for two full plays of his upbeat jazzy-blues and rock tunes. And I loved him all over again. ‘I’m Walkin’ to New Orleans’ getting some well-deserved preferential attention. And my mind shot through memories like a slide show of pure delight.  I saw people with broad smiling faces… Deborah and Malcolm; the-two-Chris’ and Tasha. I saw keyboards and horns; rhythmic lights and music pounding out from open windows. My mind was flashing, my heart tightening. I remembered the street-serenade …and an old man by the Miss’ blowing his horn just for me, thrilling me with his flair, as I guessed at the elements of his life.

Through the pass, Randy Newman and I got serious and heavy. His wicked sense of rhyme twisting through my mind. His gravity and pointed messages wound me through curves and over hills. I stayed with him because I wanted to, a little moody setting in.

Further on, I was carried in to Williams on ‘Eagles’ wings and re-lived the harmonies of those talented boys, rocking me back to a time when I knew them intimately by verse. I crossed the Sacramento River on some suspended green bridge and noticed people in the river below; and a foursome of canoes, rowing-in-time, one behind the other in faultless symmetry…while Joe Walsh’s “Pretty Maids all in a Row” filled the air. I smiled. It was perfect.

I passed acres of dried sun-flowers standing rather proudly in the sun, and at the rice fields of Butte County, I was surrounded by multitudes of dragon flies which filled the air above me, criss-crossing overhead like maniacs, as light as the air itself. I remembered the dragon flies of the Bayou, light, colorful and radiant….and the enormous beauty of the waterways was laid out before my eyes.

I thanked New Orleans for revealing herself to me through beauty and music. I know that music not only answers our needs, and fills us up, and can just “put us in that certain place;” but it also speaks for us. And I nodded thanks to her for our ‘conversations’ so adeptly, tenderly, movingly exchanged… our affair while still in full swing, was definitely an “event to remember.”

Seeing my girls washed away the need to be immersed in anything but home. One look into their faces and I was filled to the brim with love, joy and amazement in them; when they looked at me I wondered if they could see traces of Evangeline.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sharing Superstitions

I remember when the air was cool and the breezes fresh; back when scorching heat had not yet tiptoed into the desert -blistering all in its path… I took to the hills for a hike. I wanted to let my mind unwind, gratitude unfold, and peace-n-quiet seep inside of me.

I stood, facing the Superstition Mountains alone. I came to breathe-deep of this place that I love. Those of you who know the Superstitions, also know they’re one of my ‘happy places’ for I have criss-crossed its slopes dozens of times. There were so few people on the mountain that day that I never really encountered anyone; and thus, I was allowed the revelry of my own thoughts.

As I hiked along I was surprised to hear the soft sounds of moving water, and I thought, ‘hmm, I don’t recall water running thru here…,’ but it had been awhile since I’d put foot to these paths… and things do change… so I stopped, quieted my breaths and listened; I wanted to find its origin. I couldn’t hear it now. So I continued on and up. Again I heard the sound of water, so I fully stopped, closed my eyes to filter out my own assumptions of what-was-and-wasn’t-there, and I listened again.

Everything came alive in the undisturbed quiet. Now I heard buzzing insects, birds calling, and the rustle of desert shrubs…  I stood silently and remembered how much I love the smell of a dirt trail, of sage, and flowering cactus and such…but nope, there were no sounds of water. I thought, ‘good grief, I’m losin’ it!’ so again, I continued up-slope. The water sound returned. ‘Ahh!’ I said aloud, and softly chuckled to my surroundings; I realized it was my water bottle, gently slapping against my rather dainty rear-end.
[Yes, I am that woman.]

The vistas were grand and crystal-clear that day. I saw all the way to Camelback Mountain, and Phoenix cut its unique skyline into the heavens. Straight ahead, north and east, lay smaller mountains folding into one another and covered with velvety scrub; and the sky above held chunky white clouds resting against cobalt blue.
The Superstition Mountain herself loomed before me like some prehistoric Ship, sailing across bone-dry wilderness. God, I love this place.

I hiked higher and longer than I had planned, and each step brought delight and joy. Wildflowers peeked out from around stones and cactus bloom'd.  Breathing hard, I rested the afore-mentioned ‘dainty’ on an overlook bench, and with some calming breaths I eased into my new surroundings and became immersed in them. Far surpassing a vase with a dozen roses... if you really want to turn me on, bring me a bouquet of desert.

Resting there, my thoughts spun out before me in interesting ways; I saw things in my head; and something surprising happened: images of friends and family came before me and mingled together.  You were there in my mind... and also right in front of me, lounging on rocks, looking into the distance, hands angled over brows, shielding the sun…talking, smiling and laughing along the trail… I connected with each of you and loved the feeling and the ‘sense’ of having everyone I care about hanging-out together in this most extraordinary place.
In time, I made my way back down, but not without imparting to you, all the joy and excitement; confidence and contentment; love and tenderness, your lives can hold.

You know, driving into work each morning I see the Superstitions hunkered in the dusky early light of morn', and more often now, the sun emerging from behind them. Odd as it may seem, there is always that moment where I give it a nod of recognition and admiration.  and because the sun’s right there, I will take those very moments to reverently recite the Sun Salutation.

Namaste’ my friends.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nope, it wasn't rain

I woke early, as I always do, but there was no glow illuminating my surroundings. Each night I tilt the blinds open because in the morning I love the way the sun slashes thru them setting off dancing shards of wonderment all thru my sparkly things and around my room. Necklaces hanging on the wall-mount, crystals overhead, the stained-glass lamp on the dresser. After a moment of disappointment [no dancing colors today for you, my friend],  my next thought was, “Joy of joys! We must be getting rain!” You live on the desert floor in the summertime for more than a few weeks and you think about hocking the family jewels for a first-rate downpour. So I got up and headed to the window expecting a gray day and rain.

What-ho? Not a rain cloud in sight. Instead, every inch of sky was covered with the most brilliant, imaginatively placed collection of white clouds I have ever seen over-head. They were slightly bunched in long parallel lines, snuggled up close together, and they went on, it seemed, forever. I heard my own intake of breath. Tugging on my scrubs, and scrubbing sleep off my face, I grabbed Marley’s leash, coaxed her out of her bed, and took to the door. At a scosh before six we were standing out on our second floor porch and I could see in every direction, without end, the same pattern above me. It was inspiring. I stood there for several long moments letting it rest above me.
The Tao te Ching says, ‘Observe the wonders as they occur around you, don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving thru…and be silent.’ And so I was: silent.
‘n in that silence, I knew The Tao got it right.

I enjoy sunrise from my bed most of the time, except when camping; where the wilderness, in all its crisp, fragrant morning newness, just takes me by the hand and we walk away together. I’m different in nature, and this morning I felt all those feelings of being far away from everything; and in that quiet silence I was part of the sky.

Marley of course, had had just about enough of me; tugging her leash, she was more than ready to get moving. We made our way down the stairs, but not without throwing a backward glance over her shoulder that seemed to say, 'geesh! what’s with you?'
[wednesday morning, august eleven, i just might never forget it.]