in another direction…

“Girl with Chrysanthemums” by Odilon Redon (1840-1916) French Symbolist Painter & Printmaker

“Girl with Chrysanthemums” by Odilon Redon

We say one thing and do another. We feel one way; then our hearts open in another direction. We see one thing but don’t understand that blinders hinder our vision. We plod along a well-loved path and then see a road, an alleyway, a river that tempts us….
~ Lisa See
(Snow Flower & The Secret Fan)

electricity and elves…

JohnBauer.midsummer

“One night in midsummer they went with Bianca Maria deep into Skogen”
by John Bauer

It’s easy to believe in magic when you’re young. Anything you couldn’t explain was magic then. It didn’t matter if it was science or a fairy tale. Electricity and elves were both infinitely mysterious and equally possible – elves probably more so.
~ Charles de Lint
(Moonlight & Vines)

Kentford Farm in May

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Wednesday afternoon Janet and I found a new woodland garden to explore, Kentford Farm in Stonington, Connecticut. We seemed to have the place to ourselves, but for a very charming tortoiseshell cat who acted as our hostess. When we left we spotted a sign saying the garden was open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – unknowingly we had been trespassing! But the gate had been open so perhaps our confusion was understandable.

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The last time we had a cat as our guide was four years ago in May at the the Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden in the Connecticut College Arboretum.

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We introduce ourselves
To Planets and to Flowers
But with ourselves
Have etiquettes
Embarrassments
And awes
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1184)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We will have to return as the seasons progress – it’s a perennial garden and there will be different things blooming every time we go. Please enjoy some of my favorite photographs. The plan was to travel light, with just the camera and not its bag, but it backfired on me when the camera battery died only about a third of the way through. Next time I will carry the whole kit and caboodle with me!

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The wall is silence, the grass is sleep,
Tall trees of peace their vigil keep,
And the Fairy of Dreams, with moth-wings furled,
Sings soft her secrets to the drowsy world.
~ Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
(Tibetan Buddhism Deck: Buddhas, Deities, and Bodhisattvas 30 Meditation Cards)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Way over yonder is a place I have seen
In a garden of wisdom from some long ago dream
~ Carole King
♫ (Way Over Yonder) ♫

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Frequently the woods are pink -
Frequently, are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town -
Oft a head is crested
I was wont to see -
And as oft a cranny
Where it used to be -
And the Earth – they tell me
On it’s axis turned!
Wonderful rotation -
By but twelve performed!
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #24)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Nature)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The good Will of a Flower
The Man who would possess
Must first present Certificate
Of minted Holiness.
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #954)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

One Held Breath

Okapi ~ image found on Pintrest

Okapi ~ image found on Pintrest

She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn’t. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he’s been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away, and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water’s skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves.

It lasted just a moment, whatever that is. One held breath? An ant’s afternoon? It was brief, I can promise that much, for although it’s been many years now since my children ruled my life, a mother recalls the measure of the silences. I never had more than five minutes’ peace unbroken. I was that woman on the stream bank, of course, Orleanna Price, Southern Baptist by marriage, mother of children living and dead. That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

~ Barbara Kingsolver
(The Poisonwood Bible)

When I stumbled across this picture of an okapi on Pintrest it brought to memory this passage In Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book, The Poisonwood Bible. It stuck with me because I had a similar experience with a stag when I was little, a moment of transcendence, when time seemed to stand still for this six-year-old.

I was introduced to Barbara Kingsolver’s writing by a physical therapist who was coming to the house regularly to work with my dad. One morning the three of us were sitting around the table, waiting for Papa to finish eating his late breakfast. Her name was Betty-Jean, which reminded us of my mother, who was called Betty-Jo by her parents. We fell into a conversation about my mother’s love of nature and Native American culture.

Papa mentioned a visit he and my mother had made to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Cape Cod, and that he had inadvertently offended a young man when he “stepped into his circle.” I wasn’t sure what he meant and he had trouble trying to explain it to me. Betty-Jean thought perhaps it had something to do with a vision quest. “What’s a vision quest?” I inquired, full of curiosity.

The conversation meandered around for a bit after that, but before Betty-Jean began her session with my father, she asked me if I was familiar with Barbara Kingsolver. I had never heard of her until then, so she said she thought I would like her book, Animal Dreams. I ordered it as soon as I got home that night and have been devouring her books ever since. They way she weaves spiritual journeys with nature resonates with me deeply.

all the great questions…

"Portrait of a Girl" by Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Finnish Realist Painter

“Portrait of a Girl” by Helene Schjerfbeck

Childhood is a mystery: the soul is timeless, the body new, and the world complex. What a conjunction: the great unfolding in the small.

Childhood asks us what reality really is, what the world is, and where it came from. Childhood asks where life came from, and where it goes. Does the soul exist? Where was the soul before birth? How many realms are there? Are fairies real? Do ghosts and spirits exist? Why are some people lucky and others unlucky, why is there suffering? Why are we here? Are there more things in the innocent-seeming world than we can see? These are some of the questions that the state of childhood asks, and which perplex us all our days.

Childhood is an enigma, a labyrinth, an existential question, a conundrum. It is the home of all the great questions about life and death, reality and dream, meaning and purpose, freedom and society, the spiritual and the secular, nature and culture, education and self-discovery.

~ Ben Okri
(A Time for New Dreams)

Indian Pipes

8.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

“Indian pipe” by Barbara Rodgers

That without suspecting it you should send me the preferred flower of life, seems almost supernatural, and the sweet glee that I felt at meeting it, I could confide to none. I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering Child, an unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to Mabel Loomis Todd, September 1882)

“The preferred flower of life” Emily is referring to is the Indian pipe, a ghostly flower with no chlorophyll. Like Emily, I was captivated by Indian pipes as a child, whenever I found them while playing in the woods. Native to New England, the flowers are about 3/4 of an inch long, and bloom from June to September. In one of her poems, Emily compares it to a spirit: “‘Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe -” (#1513)

My father has been in the hospital this month with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lung. He is too old (91) and too frail to tolerate a treatment with clot busters, so the doctor is opting for a conservative treatment with blood thinners. Time will tell if this will be helpful or not. Now that he is home he is hooked up to oxygen around the clock. It’s been a very stressful time for all of us, and I’ve spent many hours at Dad’s bedside, leaving Tim here to cope with his terminally ill brother.

These Indian pipes were growing near Dad’s house in the woods, and the sight of them stirred up some pleasant childhood memories for me. I put the camera on the ground for this shot and was delighted with the results! A bug’s eye view!