Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Counting on Wildflowers 2

It is a beautiful sunny day where I live. The sun is so bright that I have to close the blinds in order to see my computer screen. Perhaps that is a sign that I should be out of doors. I will go soon. Right now Mario is finishing mowing the lawn with our electric lawn mower that lasts for about an hour at a time. When he is finished, we will go out and look for wildflowers. It is what we do at this time of year. It is what we do when we are faced with another tragedy in our country. We go into nature. What else can we do?

Lately, I have not felt good about people. I am a people person. I spend most of my time alone or with Mario, so I’m not a particularly social person. But I’m not anti-people. I generally like human beings. I think most people are good. At least I used to believe this. I believed this even during the Bush years when I felt like my country was being shredded. After President Obama was elected and the crazies started coming out of the woodwork and after Gabby Gifford was shot, I felt myself drawing away from others. I began spending more of my time alone, writing, or in nature.

And then Newtown happened. I think I broke that day. Many of us did. After a lifetime of hearing about atrocities, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was hopeful that after this terrible event the rightwing would wake up. But that didn’t happen. I started to feel like I was living in a foreign country. Foreign to me. Was I surrounded by violent sociopaths? Those people who weren’t screaming “You can’t take my guns” were walking around with their fingers in their ears yelling “I hear nothing! I see nothing! Just let me buy stuff and eat stuff and pretend nothing bad ever happens.”

At least that’s what it felt like to me. And so, I could hardly stand to be around anyone any more. I think the feeling was mutual.

My distress, my distrust, my...loathing wasn’t confined to regular Joe and Jill people either. I started looking at politicians with disgust. I’m not one of those people who hates politicians. I’ve always honored the work they did. But with every passing day, it got harder and harder to believe in them...or in anything honorable going on in our government.

I didn’t like feeling this way. 

I don’t like feeling this way.

Before the Oklahoma City bombing, I was fairly anti-government. I don’t mean I was a right-winger—that’s never been true. But I had always been an Indie voter, and hardly anyone in political office seemed to share any of my values. I was disgusted by President Clinton because he was too conservative, and I felt betrayed by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I was bitter about government. And Oklahoma City happening, and I learned that the man responsible was truly anti-government. I certainly didn’t want to align myself with anyone like him. I think I grew up then. I realized no one in government was ever going to share my values—at least not completely. But that didn’t make them evil or corrupt—or even wrong. I swore I would not ever be one of those cynical people constantly bashing the government.

After Newtown, it was difficult not to feel cynical about our elected officials. It was difficult not to feel cynical about people—especially the anti-government people who are so afraid of a black president that they’re saying Newtown never happened—or if it did happen, it was just a plot by President Obama to take our guns.

Thinking about it exhausts me. 

For several days beginning last Friday, I had had a bad feeling. I thought something terrible was going to happen on April 15th this year. I kept thinking about Oklahoma City. I don’t know why. And then yesterday, I had a sudden vision of destruction in D.C. I figured it was just a by-product of my over-active imagination. A few minutes later, I got in my car, turned on the radio, and heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. (It had happened about two hours earlier.) 

One of the first things I heard during the coverage was a woman who had been watching the marathon. She said God must have spared her. I said, “So I guess God said ‘fuck you’ to the people who weren’t spared?” I looked at Mario and said, “How can people say such stupid heartless things.” He didn’t answer. I think he was thinking the same thing: about me.

We listened to the news for a while. I felt numb and sad. We didn’t listen for long. Long enough to hear the same things over and over. I heard one person who had been in Iraq say he’d seen this kind of thing in Iraq and couldn’t believe it was happening here. It just wasn’t right, he said. I thought, I imagine the Iraqi people were thinking the same thing every time they had to mop up blood from their streets. 

It is not right wherever it happens.

I’m tired of it. Isn’t everyone? No one deserves this. No one anywhere. 

What can I do? 

I need to drop the hardness from my heart. It melts every time I write. When I write, I am compassionate. I am hopeful. I love. I want that again for myself. For everyone. It feels so much better to be in love than to be in hate.

Last night I awakened from a nightmare, my heart pounding. I was afraid someone had broken into the house. I went downstairs, alone, anyway, to chase the ghosts away. I fell to sleep on the couch. Later I went back upstairs and got into bed. I put my arms around Mario, and we held each other for hours, drifting into and out of sleep. 

Now Mario has finished mowing the lawn. We’ll go out into the woods soon. We will look for wildflowers. Maybe we’ll even count them again, like the old days. Our old days. During the first years of the Iraqi war, we would go into the woods and count flowers instead of the dead. We found reassurance in that. Or solace. Or maybe just beauty. It would remind me that my path was the beauty way. To walk in beauty. No matter what happened. To keep my eyes open, my heart open, and walk in beauty.

One step at a time. Seeing wildflowers even amongst the ruins. 

(You can read the first Counting on Wildflowers here.)

Read more here...

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Looks like a giant sprinkled powdered sugar over the tall dark green conifers across the Big River. Or maybe it was only the River Spirit, rising up to give the cliffs some cool loving.  

The wind pushes the clouds away, exposing the snowy artwork. Wind always exposes. Inspires? Desires? Breathe in and out, in and out.

Dandelions cover our lawn. A pride of them. No, a herd of them. A grass savannah of them. Shhh. Can you hear them purr?

One morning not long ago, I dream I have finally mastered magic. I chant and enchant. Now I can heal. I wake up happy and excited. All will be well. And then my world spins. Vertigo keeps me betwixt and between for days. No wonder the Minotaur was so monstrous. Trapped as he was. 

Will I ever learn to read the signs?

One morning I dream a huge black panther is following us. My friend Evine is in the dream. I wake up worried something is wrong with her. I find out she is in the hospital. I call and speak with her.

On the Mystic Trail, a hummingbird darts from one salmonberry blossom to another. Seems like a strange flower for her. Maybe she just wants to say hello. Later on the trail, we spot a yellow flower, like a tiger lily only calmer, lighter. I fall in love. How can I not love a lily?

On Falling Creek Trail, I fall, hard. Thinking about the future, I miss the root or the stone. Down I go. Blood. Pain. I put my hands on the wound and chant. Enchant. It barely swells. I walk back to the car, my pant leg rolled up. A man stops and says, "You fell?" He laughs. "But you're alive!"

I dream of a tall bare tree. It is beautiful and stirring, backlit, and magnificent. I am afraid it will fall on me. Still. I love it. I stand, gazing at it.

I call my father. We talk about snow and then baseball. Then flowers and birds. I love hearing my father's voice. I love his laugh. His was probably the first laugh I heard. I bet he held me in his arms when I was born and laughed at the first thing I did. He read me stories when I was a child. I followed him through the woods and listened as he told me about this plant or that print in the dirt or that smell of snow in the air. Today he talks about impatiens and Mariano Rivera.

An orchid in a store speaks to me and asked me to bring her home. So I do. Now she sits on my kitchen table. The kitchen table is always cluttered with stuff. She told me she didn't like that. Now our kitchen table is clear, except for the orchid and bowls of fruit, garlic, and more fruit. She doesn't mind that. I sit and stare at her. I watch her seductive flowers slowly drop open. Is there anything more sensuous than a flower blooming?

I drape myself over my husband. I feel my legs over his legs, my belly pressed against his side. I suddenly feel like a dragon. I breathe into this dragon feeling. I am a dragon draped over my treasure. Mario laughs when I tell him this, and he holds me closer. 

The sun is out. The clouds are sinking down over the cliffs again, hiding the trees, and the sun, perhaps deciding enough has been revealed this day.

Read more here...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be Wilder

Ahhhh, it seems spring has sprung. One day my yard was green. The next day I saw lions everywhere. Dandelions, but still…

Now I’m sitting on my front lawn with the dandelions. I can almost hear them yawning as they soak up the sun. A velvety spider just ran across the top of my bare foot. I couldn’t feel her, but I watched her until she dropped down into the greenery again. I can hear someone somewhere playing basketball. The ball bounces on cement and then I hear it hitting the metal rim or something besides net. 

I am barefoot and barelegged in the sun. When I was a kid, I was barefoot most of the time. My father wanted us to have shoes on when we were in the house, but outside, I was barefoot. I don’t ever remember being bitten by a bee or a wasp. Maybe I was, but I certainly never worried about it while I was barefoot. As an adult, I rarely go barefoot outside because I’m worried about stepping on a yellow jacket. And as an adult, I worried about exposing my skin to the sun. But now, today, I’m bare. I’m exposed. 

I am sick and tired of worrying about everything.

I often wonder if worrying has actually made me sick.

But no, that’s not what post is about. I’m sitting on green looking around at ’lions and poppy leaves. The poppy flowers aren’t up yet, but they will be soon. Our yard is the glory of the neighborhood once the poppies bloom. Orange, orange, everywhere orange, as though the Sun itself has come to Earth. Later, the escaped mint will come up down by the sidewalk. Honey bees will cover the mint. If you stand by our mint patch for much of the summer, you can listen to the bees going about their business. It is a wonder to behold.

In the school yard not far from here, the lone old oak is beginning to leaf out. I watch the oak and think of the many years we have been neighbors. Beside me, one of my many rosemary bushes is budding. I can’t see the purple flowers yet, just the white buds. This rosemary bush started out as a small branch that I pushed into the dry dirt many years ago. Wherever I live, rosemary lives. Perhaps it is easy for everyone to grow. I don’t know. I only know that it is quite prolific around me. This bush has overtaken our sidewalk, and I should trim it, but I can’t bear to do so.

When I walk around our wild yard barefoot today, the grass feels lush and cool. I look around at what is growing especially well this year in my yard. This tells me what kind of medicine I may need or what kind of teaching I may get. Besides the grass and the dandelions, the lamb’s ear is looking well and abundant. I just planted it last year, though, so I’m not certain what its natural state is. The yarrow is coming up next to the lamb’s ears. It looks healthy, too. On the other side of the house, the valerian and angelica are also looking good. Last year, the valerian grew to tree-size. No doubt, I needed valerian last summer—the summer of smoke and fire. I’m hoping this year will be more calming than last year.

When I walk to our backyard, I find bumblebees dipping into the lavender-colored blossoms of my older rosemary bushes. A few honey bees are likewise partaking in the bounty. A few times lately, a bumblebee has tapped on the window in my room when I am working. Since this tapping might be the bumblebee’s way of saying, “Come. Leave your gilded cage. Step into my wilderness,” I always stop whatever I am doing. I get up and go outside. 

Do you suppose the birds, insects, trees, flowers, and clouds wonder why we spend so much time in boxes? Do they see our cars and houses the way we see birdcages, corrals, and dog houses?

Ahhhh, now the neighbor is mowing the church lawn. Too much noise. That drives me indoors. I watch the two next door children plucking dandelions and daffodils from their yard. I want to go out and explain to them that the flowers will last longer if they leave them be. “And oh the secrets the plants can tell you about the universe. About your very soul.” But I don’t interfere. For all I know, the plants already spoke to the children. They could have said, “Pluck our blossoms, children, and take us indoors.” After all, plants are much smarter than I am.

Sometimes, it is all quite...bewildering. Sometimes, I am quite bewildered. I make plans to stave off the bewilderment. My plans so often do not come to fruition. At least, not in the way I intend.

I don’t think plants make plans. (I suppose they have biological plans, or at least a biological blueprint. Maybe I do, too, but I tend to ignore or fight against that.) I have made conscious plans since I was a child. I always believed that if I just figured out things, well, then, I could figure out things. Or if I made plans, I would be safe. I would be all that I could be. 

Yes, well.

Plan and plant come from the same root. Planta: sole of the foot. After I find this out, I laugh as I walk around my yard barefoot. My plan, my plant, my foot exposed. My sole exposed. My soul exposed?

I suppose that’s what I do every time I walk barefoot. My sole against the skin of the Earth. Against the soul of the Earth? When I walk barefoot, I am exposed. I am vulnerable. I am showing my love and affection for Nature, my desire for true connection.  

I wish I could do that every moment of my life: Live exposed. Live with vulnerability. Live with love and compassion. Instead of closing down, instead of going inside my gilded box and closing the door.

Perhaps that will be my new plan...

...one day when I am making plans again.

For now, I am going to go hang out with the ’lions. Wait, I need to take off my socks first. There. Much better.

(The photo is of one of my rosemary bushes. This photograph, along with this essay, is copyright © 2013 BY KIM ANTIEAU and neither can be used in any way without my written permission.) 

Read more here...
All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.