*My lovely city on a swamp has lots of “hidden” (in plain view) treasures. Folks come here to see the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and the Air and Space Museum. And those are all amazing. But one of the joys of living here is the chance to become familiar with many less-well-known bits of the city. One of my favorite corners is the Enid A. Haput garden next to the Freer Gallery. It’s a lovely Victorian garden with just a hint (as befits a garden next to the Freer) of Japonaiserie. Due to our very warm Spring, their magnolia tree is in bloom. What wanton, delirious beauty. I can’t see it without remembering Mary Oliver‘s poem that concludes:
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn’s beautiful body
is sure to be there.
What should I fear? One morning, in the structured Haput garden, the magnolia petals are sure to carpet the ground.
*And, speaking of lovely D.C. Japonaiserie and things Japanese, one hundred years ago, in 1912, Japan gifted America with some cherry trees. We planted them around the Tidal Basin and, every Spring, they turn D.C. into Faerie. If you wake up very early and get there as the sun rises, you can circumnavigate the Tidal Basin, stopping to pay homage to democracy’s brilliant, flawed, eccentric ancestor — Mr. Jefferson — before the crowds get there. It’s — and I’m a Witch, so I don’t use this word lightly — magical. Once, about twenty years ago (where DOES the time go?), I was there on a warm night under a giant full Moon, which was shining down on the white marble of the Jefferson Memorial. Tearing myself away to go home was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. Once, I came home from a business trip when the Spring weather was turning, as it can here, from warm to bitter. I got the cab driver to take me from the airport to the cherry blossoms and paid him to wait while I got out and walked among them in a light, fluffy snow. Once, several months after I’d badly broken my ankle, Son and DiL helped me to walk around on a Sunday morning and then we went for oysters and bloody marys at Old Ebbit’s Grill. Once my grandma and I, . . . . Well, you get the idea. For me, these trees are an important part of my landbase and my history within this landbase. I’ll tell you one other thing about them. If you can be there at that exact moment in the evening when the temperature just begins to drop, the blossoms (which everyone says have no scent) release their perfume. And it’s the lovliest, most subtle thing you will ever smell.
*And speaking of my landbase, I bought my little cottage for the screen porch that sits out back. Generally, I say that I live out there from April through October. But this preternaturally warm Spring has changed that. Landscape Guy and I had dinner out on the porch Monday night, and it was warm and lovely until, well, until lots later than it should have been. This morning, I had breakfast out there, joined by two male bluejays and two pairs of cardinals. Even the birds are drunk with the early warmth; the male cardinals are feeding seeds to the female cardinals (it’s the sweetest thing to watch), even though they usually wait until late April to do that. What’s the gossip in your landbase?
*And speaking about gossip and how we communicate, there’s some good writing out there about framing. As per usual, Pagans and the Left are failing at it and the Dominionists and the Right are doing it very well. As Lyndon Johnson is — perhaps apocryphally — supposed to have said, if you’re defending, if you’re explaining, if you’re “debunking,” then you’re losing. Figure out a muscular, strong, important reason why we’re right. Figure out a muscular, strong, important goal we want people to support. And then get it out there and quit worrying about explaining why the other side is wrong. If I see one more “We’re not evil,” post, I’m going to scream. I think that Gus gets it exactly right when he focuses on the emotional component of messaging.
*And speaking of exactly right, I had a wonderful time at Sacred Space. Dinner with Byron Ballard and Star at one of the diviest dives in all of Laurel. Lunch with the truly brilliant Literata. A fantastic session on the Goddess Hathor. And several pitch-perfect lectures by John Michael Greer. I bought his newest book, The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered (I love a good play on words). Here’s a taste:
After all, a world that has nearly seven billion people on it and a dwindling supply of fossil fuels can do without the assumption that putting people out of work and replacing them with machines powered by fossil fuels is the way to prosperity.
*And, speaking of the Sacred Space conference, I got to go to a really good session led by Byron on Radical Self Care for Pagans. Conferences — professional, political, or Pagan — can be tough on this INTJ. I’ve learned (the hard way) that I can’t get to every session, the between-session discussions that I want to have, the banquet, the after-party, and the after-after-party. One meal a day with other humans is my limit. And if I sit all morning in a room full of other people (much less other magic workers or other lawyers — I am just saying), I’m going to need some time alone. If I sit all afternoon in sessions with other interesting people, I am going to need to go up to my (unshared) hotel room, run a hot bath, and have time to recharge. I’m going to have to get up in the morning and go for a solitary walk outside, even if outside is a parking lot around the hotel. It’s not always easy. There’s so much to do and so many people to see and talk to. But it’s, as Byron wisely noted, radical self-care, given that self-care is a relatively radical notion for many of us. What’s radical self-care for you?
*And, speaking of radical, this old radical is going to be 56 tomorrow. I survived Patriarchy, my dysfunctional family, the Cold War, the Sixties, Catholic school, being a single mom, Tricky Dick, Reagan, my masters thesis and comps, law school and law review, starting a second career at a white-shoe law firm, Enron, Bush, breast cancer, a broken ankle, and the worst recession in living memory. I’ve been in love with one creek, two men, one river, and one Bit of Earth. I’ve been blessed with an amazing Son, a wonderful DiL, and a delightful G/Son. I’ve been a Witch all my life and been aware that I’m a Witch for more than two decades. I’ve marched to end the war in Viet Nam, to end the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, to support women’s rights, and to end to gun violence. I’ve had friends worth more than gold and enemies who honed me to a fine point. I’ve done magic that has changed the world with women I love and admire. I’ve collaborated with a genuine gardener to make a garden that is almost exactly right. I get to eat breakfast with the blue jays. And I have wonderful readers who actually give up a bit of their time to read and respond to what I write. I can’t wait for the next 56 years. May it be so for you.