So many times as spring has been burgeoning these past almost nine weeks, I’ve begun writing about its magic – but, alas, only in my head and not on the computer. It’s been (as it is each year) amazing watching the day by day returning of leaf, bud and flower in my garden, around the meadow, on my evening trail walk and in front and backyard gardens all around town.
All the trees on the property are now in full leaf with lots of apple and lemon blossoms opening daily. A delightful woman gardener I met over the fence as she was repairing my neighbor’s irrigation system has not only fixed my irrigation system but also planted a new mini-orchard for me. The three dwarf citrus trees I’d planted when I first moved here nine years ago never flourished, probably because the colony of gophers that owns the meadow had eaten through the flimsy commercial gopher cages in which I’d planted them. Genneva (my gardening angel) fabricated sturdy heavy-gauge wire in-ground cages into which she set all the new plantings. Along with the two kinds of apple and the persimmon that were here when I came, the mature dwarf Meyer lemon I’d brought with me and the two kinds of mulberry trees I planted a year ago, my mini-orchard now includes a ruby grapefruit, a mandarin orange, a Mineola tangelo, a Bearss lime, a Santa Rosa plum, a Gold Kist apricot (all semi-dwarfs) and two varieties of blueberry bushes. Some (though not all) of these new additions will actually bear fruit this year; it’s all very exciting.
When my first book (Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go) went to print a year ago in February, I knew exactly how to celebrate its birth. I ordered four more of Shelley Buonaiuto’s Grandmother sculptures to sit in circle in my studio with Grandmother Namina, Shelley’s sculpture that graces the book cover. (You can see their circle on the cover of the Compassionate Ink Facebook page and on the home page of the forthelittleonesinside.com website.)
When the companion journaling workbook (Tenderly Embracing All the Ways That I Feel and Am) went to print this past November, I hadn’t a clue how to honor this collaborative birth. But, as spring began arriving, the idea of planting a mini-orchard seemed a perfect way to celebrate the completion of this assignment from Spirit/the Grandmothers. Just as the collaboration with Barbara on the new book marked the beginning of not needing always to create in solitary space, so the new orchard marked the beginning of not having always to do all the garden planting on my own. It’s a whole new era in my unfolding journey.
The hummingbird population, after a couple of months of only occasional visits to my feeder gallery, has begun increasing (at least on most days) to the more familiar hordes. It’s happened a week earlier this year than it did last year. I’ve been wondering whether the drop and then the increase has to do with the late February to mid-April blossoming of all the Ojai Valley’s citrus groves: tastier than my offering of sugar water for that season. Many more of the rusty brownish Rufous hummingbirds (with white ruffs around their necks and orangey tail feathers) are joining the more usual crowd of Anna’s hummingbirds this year.
At least one pair of orioles found my oriole feeder this month and I’ve added orange halves to the spikes above the nectar holes: very magical watching these beauties. Hooded grosbeaks that look so much like the orioles (though they have beige bellies while the orioles’ are yellow) have returned after being gone for the winter (such as it is in these parts). The resident mockingbird is back exuberantly carrying on night and day with its endless and silly repertoire. Gradually, crickets are returning to the meadow as well.
Blooming this week: roses of every color, yellow and white Dutch iris, purple bearded iris, purple petunias (over-wintered from last year), lavenders, purple lantana, many-colored dahlias, still-thriving winter-planted gremlin pansies in several colors but all with face-like markings, red-and-white verbena as well as periwinkle blue giant vincas. I’ve watched the wisteria that I pruned severely and repotted in December (it had broken the clay pot in which it had been getting root-bound) set out little cocoon-like packets that have lately burst forth with flounces of light purple flowers.
Several varieties of salad and steaming greens flourish, along with rosemary, peppermint, spearmint and two kinds of oregano. Cherry and beefsteak tomato plants are sprouting yellow flowers that, in time, should become tomatoes. Persian cucumber starts look to be growing even as I sit sipping morning tea in the garden.
The wild meadow grasses are proliferating and growing tall a bit later than usual this year. My ecstatic kitties play hide and seek as they tunnel through them holding (unsuccessful) vigil over myriad gopher holes. There’s a larger than usual blanket of California poppies blossoming out there and a lavish patch of volunteer artichoke bushes. The acacia trees along the perimeter, which usually flower in January, are finally blooming. Around town as well as in the meadow, everything seems to be blooming later than usual, perhaps because of the drought.
A special treat that came with the drought: the scent of orange, pittosporum and jasmine blooming all at once was as strong here in town as it usually is only in the East End of Ojai where all the groves are. We’ve been surrounded with this intoxicating mix of aromas for weeks: absolutely heavenly.
After my annual tax appointment the third week of February (to finalize and review my 2013 tax returns) completed the last of my year end/year beginning chores and rituals, I moved into a cycle of serious resting. For the past nine weeks other than the daily tending to kitties, garden and bird feeding I’ve passed my time (but for the four days a month that I work with clients) mostly reading and dozing while reclining in the sun, lying in the shade on my hammock or – on our few days of rain – lying on the nap-bed in my cottage surrounded by similarly lazing kitties. It’s been a time of having very low energy. The fatigue I’ve been feeling seems partly due to coping with relentless eye allergies. An elixir from my herbalist, homeopathic Sabadil tablets, anti-histamine Zaditor eye drops, acupuncture treatments and most recently – with a good bit of ambivalence – a high grade of colostrum are, at least some of the time, keeping the burning and tearing to a manageable level. Yet, like most everyone around who’s also dealing this year with seemingly constant and major allergy irritants, I’m finding it all rather exhausting.
Some of the tiredness is, I suspect, a part of coming-down from 14 months of what (for me) had been relatively high gear as I first saw my solo book through to its printing, then moved right on into the collaboration with Barbara, birthing and bringing the companion journaling workbook to print. As I feel my self craving more and more solitary drifting, empty time, I’ve begun to think I may actually also be in one of those between seasons during which things are shifting/being worked on at a deep and less than conscious internal level. Such times seem always take a toll on one’s available energy.
At first, the level of tiredness was a bit disorienting and even slightly disturbing. But since my annual blood work showed no cause for concern, I’ve surrendered and simply accepted that this is just how it is right now and for however long it may be so. I can remember other times in my life when I would fight my body’s message and challenge it: “there’s no reason for you to be so tired, get it together!” I would search for what I might be depressed about since such tiredness is usually seen as a sign of depression. I would push my self to engage in busyness of one sort or another to “just get your juices flowing, damn it!” When I think about how I abused my tired self in those earlier years of my life, I feel so sad, so sorry and I tenderly apologize to my poor little body for having had so little compassion for her. I promise not to thrash her anymore. I promise to take naps and do little more than my daily chores, taking walks and doing my exercise regimen only when she feels up for it.
So, although Barbara (my-amazing-collaborator-in-charge-of-everything) and I actually experimented with doing a first brief approximation for a possible series of YouTube videos, we’ve tabled the project probably till sometime in August when she returns from a couple of months of traveling. It’s an exciting and fun venture to contemplate, but the timing is clearly not yet right. We each get random bits of direction/inspiration as well as clues about timing from the Grandmothers. We’re both committed to listening for and to these installments. Pretty amazing.
Doing the pilot was a trip for both of us. While I served in the role of (what’s known in the trade as) the “talent,” Barbara served as the producer, director and videographer. We collaborated on creating the set. What turned out to be hilarious was discovering that I’d need to wear makeup in order to not look washed out. Except for the blush I use daily and a pale lipstick I use randomly, I haven’t worn makeup in years. Still, I found an antique eyeliner pencil stashed in the house and proceeded, rather inexpertly, to try reclaiming my long lost skill at highlighting my eyes. It was fascinating that it worked, along with the blush and the lipstick to give me a face without it looking like makeup. To Barbara’s amusement, I was wearing my black pajamas: an oversize scoop neck black t-shirt and baggy drawstring pants that I wear not only to sleep in but, as well, to putter around the house or garden and even to walk to town for errands. We dressed my outfit up with a loose knit red shawl/scarf and earrings. With a shoji screen behind me and two of my houseplant trees flanking me, we were good to roll. With some direction from Barbara that I then incorporated, we wound up with three short segments. Barbara took them home and patched them together (quite seamlessly) adding some music that my friend Karen Drucker had arranged years ago for one of my old song-chants. Barbara produced a pretty amazing seven and a half minute video that we both liked. Although we’ve since decided we wouldn’t actually use/share it, it was a great starting place and helped us see more about how and where we might go from there.
Where I went was to Target for some fresh eye makeup: what a trip! Six million kinds of mascara, shadow and eyeliner to choose from, even though I was considering only the Almay hypoallergenic line. The best, though, was when I got home and tried on the war paint. The mascara felt like I had weights on each eyelash: I don’t remember it feeling like that years ago. Keeping my eyes open felt like work. Lining my lids was a challenge even though I used to do it every day for years and years. Using the highlighting and smudging eye shadows was easier; still the whole process was a bit surreal. Especially when I thought about how much of my life I did not only all of this but foundation makeup as well, every single day – even refreshing the whole of it if I were going out for the evening!
What I’d forgotten about when I went on this makeup-buying spree was the need for some makeup remover. Water was pretty useless against liner that was guaranteed to last 12 hours and mascara that was guaranteed to last 16. All the washcloth did was create black smears under my eyes. I tried some of what I thought was a bit of old baby shampoo in an unmarked plastic travel bottle. Fortunately, I tried it under, not on, my eyes because it turned out it was Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap that had somehow lost its scent but not it’s fumes. The fumes practically blinded me! Needless to say, I had quite a time of trying to undo the mess. It cracked me up and left me with a great story to share with (and entertain) my small circle of friends. I did, though, go back to Target for another round of overwhelming choice making as I went looking for a hypoallergenic makeup remover. I’m now, finally, well equipped for whenever we ultimately go back into production.
Although I haven’t been inclined lately to be writing much of anything (including these, before now, sort-of six-weekly journal updates) and we won’t be going forward for a while on the video talk/conversations, Barbara is continuing to do weekly posts to the Compassionate Ink Facebook page. Each week she randomly opens the Go Only As Fast…book to have the Grandmothers lead her to a quote of mine. Then, she searches through portfolios of years of her quite amazing photographs and magically (though I do know it’s far from effortless!) finds just the right image to match with and use as background for the quote-for-the-week. These pairings she creates always knock me out!
Look for these wonderful, inspiring images on the Compassionate Ink
Facebook page every Sunday evening. (You can also find them at the More/Updates and Reflections dropdown at compassionateink.com and the Journal 2014 dropdown at forthelittleonesinside.com.) You can also check all three places for whatever random short pieces may occasionally come to me even in this deep resting season. I’ll turn up with another of these now unpredictably occurring journal pieces whenever one emerges again.