Today was a perfectly liminal, end-of-Summer day. It started out cloudy and, by late afternoon, some blessed, much-needed, gentle rain moved in.
A chance encounter with a friend, a brief to work on out on the screen porch, a pot of vegetable soup on the stove, and Madama Butterfly on the radio all left me feeling mellow, grounded, secure. I wasn’t even shocked or afraid when I actually watched the veil around my garden thin. We’ll be ok, this Bit of Earth and I, whatever comes through.
How was your Summer of 2013?
My Summer seems to have passed in a blur of too much work, which, in my field, at the moment, isn’t a bad problem to have, but which left some of my other goals unaccomplished. Now, I’ll have to recommit to them as we move into darkness, hibernation, the internal dialogue between ourselves, our shadows, and the Earth.
The moments that stand out for me were:
* A trip to the Virginia Arboretum with Landscape Guy, where we sat in the herb bed and watched the bees and other pollinators go mad, crushed and smelled a dozen kinds of leaves, and then drove through several varieties of exquisite Virginia ecosystems.
I had to do a bit of work; luckily cell phone reception was good up in the foothills, and I was able to take a conference call at a picnic table a few feet from one of the loveliest meadows I’ve seen in a long time.
We ate spectacular bar-b-que sandwiches in a tiny diner — the kind where everyone turns to check out the strangers when they walk through the door, the counters are old linoleum, and the waitress calls you “Hon.”
* The Pre-Raphelite exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. It was life-changing. I was only able to see it at a lunch break and would have loved to go back multiple times, but I’m trying to, at least, stay true to a resolution that I made a year or so ago (and that several friends have helped me to keep) to do more FUN things, even if I have to figure out how to fit them in between my hours at work.
* The Ballets Russes exhibit, just now finishing up at the National Gallery of Art: When Art Danced with Music. I ran over to see it, as well, on a lunch break, but Landscape Guy and I are going back tomorrow to spend as much time as we like and then have brunch.
For me, the first visit to a good exhibit is never enough; after I’ve been through once, I want to go back and see the highlights. This exhibit had backgrounds painted by Roerich, an early passion of mine, and one by Natalia Goncharova that, again, has changed my life, rearranged my dreams, altered how I do magic.
* I did some good magic in the Summer of 2013, especially working with my beloved Circle of magical women. We made a difficult decision to deny membership to a nice young woman who just wasn’t right for us. This feels, to me, like spiritual maturity. Too often, in the past, I’ve focused more on my desire to be inclusive and “nice,” and not enough on my own instincts. I guess that I’ve been burned enough to learn better.
* One of my dearest friends was injured, not in a life-threatening way, but seriously enough. Another friend suffered a serious injustice because he’s gay. Another dear, very professional friend and I spent weeks trying to find a date when we could get together, even just for a business lunch. It made me realize just how, in Shakespeare’s words, “fortunate I am, in a soul, remembering my good friends.”
To be honest, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be my friend.
I’m selfish, prickly, an introvert, too emotional, too odd, and, well, as I sometimes say to my injured friend, a judgmental bitch. And, yet, beyond all reasoning, I have wonderful, beloved friends. I’m not entitled to them. I’ve done nothing to deserve them. They’re lagniappe, and this Summer left me seriously grateful for whatever madness makes them my friends.
I created a menu of summer soups, including a basil-honeydew soup that my injured friend really liked, for our book-talk brunch when she wasn’t able to chew anything. A few months later, I found a good recipe for a tomato-corn quiche that she could eat. There’s enough Hestia in me that feeding those I love gives me real pleasure.
* Along those lines, I had a fun dinner with Son, DiL, and G/Son at Nora just before G/Son disappeared for the rest of the Summer, spending time with his other grandparents and at various camps, going fishing, and off gathering shells with friends at the beach. Watching G/Son inhale an entire salmon fillet simply did my soul good. All Summer, I had dreams about how I care, and fail to care, for my own inner child. Every single time that I woke up, I wished that I were with G/Son. Maybe my care for him is somehow tied up with the way that my own Inner Child needs care. I’m just glad that he’s now back home.
I like that kid.
* I spent a lot of Summer mornings out weeding the herb bed. I do my best legal thinking when I’m weeding the herb bed. A bad infestation of Dodder from last year managed to resist my best efforts to eradicate it and showed up again this year. I won this battle of attrition, but had to sacrifice my entire crop of black nasturtiums to it, and I love to put nasturtiums in my salads.
Early this Summer, I harvested a v. nice little crop of garlic from last Autumn’s experimental planting. I had enough to get me through (maybe) next Imbolc and to give some to my family and a friend.
The whole idea of Winter crops intrigues me. In my own landbase, it turns out, one can plant garlic, Swiss Chard, spinach, bok choy, etc. in late Autumn and harvest it through-out the Winter. That’s a new way, for me, of thinking of the Wheel of the Year. It doesn’t correspond to, for example, ancient Wales or Ireland, but it does make perfect sense here in the State named, as my old history professor said, for the “alleged state of the hymen of the then-Queen of England.” Winter isn’t, really, a season of NO growth. It’s a season when only certain things grow and I need to do more deep inner work focusing on what CAN grow in the dark, cold months. Those crops are super easy. You don’t have to weed, or water, or worry. Just tuck the garlic in the ground, send some sex magic, and wait for the harvest. That’s nice.
* Another highlight of Summer 2013 was a trip that I took with a friend to the aquatic gardens in DC. We walked through acres of water lilies, past dozens of frogs, between musical groups and women modeling African fashions.
We came to a little boy — maybe three years old — who had found a place in the gardens where a frog was croaking every two or three minutes. His knees were bent, he was down near the ground, and he was paying complete attention to the sounds of the garden.
Every time that the frog would croak, the little boy would laugh that complete, little-boy laugh that only children that age can laugh. The same thing kept happening over and over again for many, many minutes. The frog would croak. The little boy would laugh with his whole Budda being. There would be silence. The frog would croak. The little boy would laugh with his whole Budda being. There would be silence. The frog would croak. . . .
It was a wonderful lesson for me about how to live, in Mary Oliver’s words, my one wild and wonderful life.
It’s going on every day! Those lotus blossoms are flowering, that frog is croaking, and I am in that landbase. And every day that I drive across the bridge into Columbia’s district — worried about finances, hours, politics, my decaying roof, and my own status — I am forgetting to be that child laughing with love and joy at the sound of a frog among the lotus. This Summer taught me that that is who I want to be. When it’s all said and done, I want to be that child, squatted down next to the muck, madly in love with the lotus and the sound of a mating bullfrog. I’ve worked a long time to get here.
* I don’t know how I’ve managed to live in Arlington this long without seeing a Synetic Theatre production, but one of the brilliant women from my circle dragged me to a silent production of a MidSummer Night’s Dream. Damn. I love that play. Puck. Yes.
Here’s some music for Mabon: May your transit from Summer to Autumn be blessed.
A hundred years ago, our Grandmothers were feeling interconnected, dancing modern dances, cooking on modern stoves..
And, yet, here we are.
What hallways call to you beneath the halls of the Mountain Queen?
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