Monday, April 16, 2012

Sometimes it Happens

Sometimes it happens like this.

You have something else in mind for the afternoon, like gathering stinging nettle, and you're biking along the path when a carpet of purple catches your eye. The violets are blooming! You slow down just enough to get a sense of size and readiness and suddenly you are enveloped in sweet, heady perfume. Yes, without a doubt it's violet season. Your heart sings and your brain effortlessly switches gears to process this new information.

Ok, the nettles will stand being picked first and do just fine waiting in the bike basket. The delicate violet flowers definitely need to be picked last and returned home as quickly as possible. This decision gets made in a split second. The bike carries you on, you haven't stopped. You gather the nettles and are mildly relieved to see they haven't grown as much as you thought since your last visit, due to lack of rain. There is still a long season to harvest ahead of you yet. At the same time, you worry a little and hope the forecast for rain the next day comes to pass.

Then it's back to the violet patch. You fold your body down onto the ground in the middle of them all, inhale the scent deeply and happily settle to your task of gently plucking the cheerful, little flowers. You become aware of the sound of the wind in the trees, various birds calling, squirrels chirruping. You vaguely register other people passing by. You feel the space where your thighs rest on the cool, damp earth. You watch a bee stop to gather nectar. You slip into a state of utter relaxation and peace. You think, "I am so content right now."

And sometimes it happens like this.

You take the way home through the woods and see a carpet of trout lilies. And there through the trees a patch of ramps, and another over there. And there, the trilliums are up but not yet blooming, and are those...? Yes, in amongst the trout lilies the spring beauties are in full bloom. You don't harvest a single thing. Instead you take it all in and admire the diversity of this fragile, forest eco-system in the middle of the city. The sun comes out from behind a cloud washing everything in a late afternoon glow and you think, "I am so grateful that this place is here and that I am a witness to it."

And sometimes it happens like this.

You take an early morning walk along the edge of a lake. The first thing you notice is that you can't hear the sound of single vehicle. Something inside of you relaxes a little. You feel the warmth of the sun on your back as you make your way along the narrow path. You watch the wind send ripples across the water, a bird circles overhead riding an updraft. You come to a stand of alders growing right up near the water's edge. Drawn to them you approach carefully, picking your way over the sodden ground. You notice both the male and female flowers, the catkins having already released their pollen. You see the beginning leaf buds and pluck one. Tasting the bud you think, 'Bitter. Cooling. Maybe stimulating too.' You have been wanting to work with the medicine of this tree for a while now and wonder if this is the right time. You reach out and place a hand on a slender trunk, close your eyes and ask a silent question. The answer is 'no'. Respectfully you move along the the next tree. This time the answer is 'yes'. You gratefully take out your trusty leatherman tool and start making clean cuts of the smaller side growth, snipping the twigs right at the growing node. You move through the stand asking, leaving some, gathering from others. The sun climbs. This being the first time getting to know the tree, you only take a small amount. Just enough to make a half-pint each of tincture and oil. You take comfort in the fact that this is just the beginning of a relationship that will hopefully last for many, long years. You retrace your steps along the edge of the lake deeply relaxed, at peace and filled with gratitude.

And sometimes it happens like this.

The world outside is dark. The light shines out of your window into the night. Inside is warm and cosy. Dinner dishes dry next to the sink. Music plays. You choose two jars, clear a space on the counter and spread out the alder twigs onto the cutting board. Using a pair of scissors you meditatively cut up the twigs into small pieces that fill the jars. Into one jar you pour in olive oil, into the other 90% alcohol. As you are doing all this, sometimes singing along to the music, you realise that a growing feeling of joy is filling you up until you're practically bursting with it. You let the feeling wash over you as the reddish brown twigs pass from your hands into the jars, trying not to think too hard about what makes this moment different from all the other moments of you standing in the same spot with plants in your hands. You understand that this is not a moment for thinking, but for quietly observing and experiencing, simply being. For one fleeting instant you move beyond thought and knowing, language leaves, time stops.

Your new favourite song comes on, you put lids on the jars, label them and think, "There is sunshine and lake water and joy in this medicine." You fill up the kettle for tea.

This is how it happens, sometimes.


Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Lovely post - Going for a walk now. I'll be sure to stop and admire my violets and dream of the day I have my farm.

Green Grrl said...

This post made me smile and smile and smile. :)