Rites of Spring

We live near a reservoir which butts up to a beautiful woodland area, packed with wildlife. Although our yard is fenced in, we can see the water from our deck. During the day, the area is filled with pedestrians and their dogs walking the trails. At night, after the college students have sufficiently partied and stumbled home, the air is filled with the sounds of coyotes, frogs… life everywhere. 

Beautiful Velda

I have encountered a beaver, muskrat, deer, a couple of blue racers, geese, and many other birds and bugs here. There is a myriad of plant life providing nourishment and shelter to all of these many beings. In our own yard lives a massive oak tree whom we call Velda. She’s a stunner, and she has this undeniable and palpable benevolent presence. I am so grateful for her and to her.

Knowing that trees are connected, I wonder how Velda was affected by the city cutting down another old one last November? I was really upset by this killing. This big beauty was covered in vines and was absolutely teeming with birds in the springtime. I had a great view from my bedroom window, and the cats adored watching the busyness of life occurring on that trunk. I watched as they sawed and took the tree, piece by piece until only a stump remained. Although I wanted to, I couldn’t do anything about it but feel the range of emotions I had. It just seemed so unfair. Then on Thanksgiving Day, workers came and ground the stump into mulch. It was really, really sad. The mulchy remains are still where the tree once stood, now home to some burrowing creature. 

Lumi thoroughly enjoying the bird activity.

Recently, we noticed the dogs getting more excited than normal in the backyard. At first, we weren’t sure what they were after. Often, it’s the regularly visiting fox squirrels causing the stir, but they tend to stay on the deck when chasing those sassy little things. I thought maybe they’d spotted a mouse. The house we live in is really old, with lots of old house issues, and is susceptible to invasions here and there. Just the other night, Henry caught one and brought it into the living room. He promptly dropped it and it got away, so naturally, he and Lumi were hunting all night long and well into the morning. They wore themselves out and didn’t come downstairs all day. Long after they both went to sleep, the little mouse came out from its hiding place and lingered under the window sill behind the vacuum that hadn’t been put away yet. I keep a plastic shoebox of random doodads near my chair. I dumped it out and somehow managed to scoop the little creature up before it could make a run for it. I took it out to the bushes and set it free. 

There were other possibilities. Last year, my mom’s dog, Max, attacked a snake. I was able to get her away from him, moving her with a stick to a spot out of his reach, and then I shuffled both dogs inside. I thought she was mortally wounded at first, as a long string of apparent blobs hung from her, but I was wrong. The blobs were tiny, adorable coiled up babies, seemingly fully formed, but still in their sacs and not yet ready for the hard world they were thrust into. None of them survived.

That day, I learned that:

1. some snakes give live birth, such as the garter snake I encountered.

2. baby snakes are really, really cute, and my instinct to “protect baby” was still present even for a reptile (<3).

3. they can spontaneously expel their young when attacked in order to make themselves faster – a sad but potent defense mechanism. 

But the commotion this year wasn’t snakes either — it was bunnies.

Max and Clara found a nest under the deck and ousted them from hiding. I am not sure where Mama was, but there were three babies in total. Two survived, having run to Velda. They ran straight to her roots, flattening themselves against her trunk. For the second time that day, I emptied a plastic shoebox of its contents. I held the wild bunnies in my hands only for moments to gently shuttle them closer to their nest under the deck. In shock, they didn’t fight me a bit until it was time to take them out of the box. The dying baby I held to my chest, petting her head as she took her last labored breath. 

I buried her near the mulched stump of the old tree where the burrowing creature now lives, and found that the fuzzy discarded shells of magnolia buds everywhere looked, rather serendipitously, like bunny ears. 

When things like this happen, we are challenged to find a reason for them. I think it comes down to the fact that wherever life is present, so is death. Springtime, though filled with newness, is often filled with pain as well. We can try to avoid it, but we will fail because it’s inevitable that we will be touched in some way by loss. The animal world knows it well and takes nothing for granted. 

It is both a privilege and a hindrance to us to be so tightly bound to our conveniences. So here’s to Nature – the great Mother, the great Teacher, the great Reminder – that death is guaranteed, but not necessarily today, so go and find your joy already. Revel in it. And when you find the sadness at its end, drink that in, too.

The Reservoir

Update

I know have been absent for a while now — initially because I was busy with my copyediting coursework, but for the last month, it has been because I have been locked inside myself trying to figure some things out. There have been catalysts for this disruption, but there isn’t anyone to blame. No one but me, here in my confused head. Nevertheless, it’s been a lengthy hiatus, and I am sorry to any frequent readers who have wondered where the fuck I have been. I also knew there was a potential that I would burn out on posting weekly, and I have. I may get back to that, though I would like to explore it in different ways… maybe videos… maybe art posts… maybe magic things! This is partly because I like doing different things, but also because I have some writing projects in the works and I want to devote more time to those. I want to push myself, of course, but I don’t want to force anything. I don’t want this platform to feel like a chore, so I am allowing myself a lot of grace around my absence. I will not be pushing for weekly communication any longer. I will be pushing for regular creation though… I have been working in Yellow Door (my workspace) a lot lately, trying to make it exactly what I want it to be. I will have a few products available on my Ko-fi store very soon.

My friend, Matt, and I walked a mountain mile to see this waterfall when he visited in December. It was worth every sore muscle I got.

On the subject of writing, I hadn’t intended to keep myself locked (predominantly) into a singular subject, but animism is a really important part of my life. For the last year, I have been studying animism with Cyrene Harding in her Animist Study Circle, which just concluded in December. Through the weekly prompts and exercises, as well as our live video calls, I feel my connection to nature has increased 100 fold. Animism informs all that I do, all that I see, and how I see it. While I have always been an animal and nature lover, this course of study has enriched my life and my perspective in far greater ways than I can currently articulate, and I will be forever grateful for the connections this work has inspired. I have joined for a second year, and expect that I will go even deeper this time.

As seen on the mountain. Aren’t they beautiful?

Also, I did finish my copyediting course! I am still in the process of figuring out my freelance career, but that’s on its way as well. I am rather stuck on pricing after having my confidence shaken a bit this fall. I honestly don’t know what I should be charging. I don’t want to low-ball myself, but I don’t want to overcharge either. The other matter is trying to decide on what services I want to offer. How niche do I want to go?

And, as is my way, I am probably overthinking it. Ugh.

Anyway, I suppose that’s all. 2021 was its own mood. It was often delightful but often strange, too; and now I am here in 2022 experiencing the first real wintery part of winter. I haven’t left the house in I don’t know how long. I mean, I know it was kind of recent, but I honestly couldn’t tell you why or what date. I haven’t got a major schedule right now so it’s easy to get lost in time.

Brent of Mad Cow…and Elvira!

One of the best parts about 2021 was getting to be friends with the owner of my favorite store in town, Mad Cow Curiosity Shop. I had wanted to be friends with him since the first time I ever went to his store years ago. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do so, but then I never thought I would live in Ohio again! Brent is super cool–way cooler, in fact, than I ever knew. He is genuine, personable, kind, loves animals, has great taste in stuff, and he has an eye for the awesome. He hand draws his own tags and signage, and has a really cool art style. If you follow him on Facebook or Instagram, you will see some of his work. (He would also really hate it if he knew I had said nice things about him, so don’t tell. Fortunately, I don’t think he reads my blog, so I may be safe from his scorn!) Sadly, he is facing some major challenges right now and could really use support. Here is a link to his fundraiser. Every little bit helps, and I assure you he’s worth every penny. If you don’t do it for him, do it for me so I can continue to go there and loiter.

As for me, stay tuned! I have a lot of irons in the fire and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Treeline

I am not feeling very writerly right now, so instead, I am spending time in the Yellow Door Workshop/Hag Room. I have been (foolishly) neglecting getting it organized and usable, and I am starting to really get mad at myself and my reluctance to create new things.

I will return next week, hopefully with a few additions to the ko-fi shop, but definitely with a usable workspace. This week please enjoy Treeline–a beautiful (and short!) documentary about the earth’s most ancient inhabitants.

Rooting Deeper

I don’t feel at all positive about having missed my usual posting time this week. I was going to take a whole week off because I am having a lot of difficulty focusing on my work and connecting to exactly what I want to say and how to say it. This is particularly frustrating since I have been wanting to work heavily on my connection series, but it’s just not flowing the way it should! I thought I had it together, but what was intended to be one piece was actually four or more, and none of those individually had enough info to fly solo, if that makes sense!

Stuck by mood.beams.art

I have been feeling a little disconnected in general. I am going to chock it up to the retrograde season we’ve been in — not that I am any expert on such things! Also, my beloved trail is closed to the public right now, and that was my primary source of physical activity. My body feels strange to me, my face looks weird, my hair is. . . blah, whatever. In a sense, I feel kinda frozen in place. There is a TON I want to do and need to do, but getting into anything sets my brain into a panic. 

A Carrick Mat and a Carrick Bend

Also, I started a certification class. I know damn well this class has the potential to change my life and offer me a prolific career within the writing world, and that scares me a bit! I have been doing everything under the sun to avoid my work as a result, including spending hours learning how to tie beautiful knots which didn’t start as avoidance! I was trying to create art work for Muse & Metaphor, and it is far easier to draw knots with a visual reference. If you read my last post, you may have noticed that knots had quite a presence. Because I wanted to focus a whole huge series on connection, I thought knots could be a sort of mascot. And now I am feeling both stuck and behind in my work.

Because I am having such a struggle in moving forward using my current tools, I have decided to take a cue from trees and other plant life this week. 

One of the things that I’ve loved the most in observing nature is seeing the way the base of an old tree twists as it comes up from the ground in a perpetual spiral toward the sun. Plants instinctively know how to find the light. This is why we turn our houseplants periodically so they grow evenly. It’s why plants at the edge of a wooded area lean toward a clearing where the sun touches everything. 

Roots work similarly. They instinctively know that in order to maintain stability and growth, they must constantly move deeper and reach further to where water and nutrients are present. Without these capabilities, trees would not survive the seasons and storms they have no choice but to weather. And yet, as far as they spread and as tall as they grow in their searching, they are always home.

No singular thing can be the source of all my inspiration. No one person or thing can meet all my needs, nor can I meet all of theirs. In moments like I am having now, where I am struggling to find my footing or to feel nourished, I know that I need to root deeper. When I can’t find the proverbial light, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I just need to turn.

So I am giving my connection series a little bit of a breather as I gather my thoughts and explore new inspirations. This doesn’t mean I won’t be posting weekly, I am just not going to do it in the way I had initially planned. Such is life!