Mama, I’m making a call. I need space.
This past week, our family has finally initiated something I’ve been thinking on since Fern was born. A morning circle time, taking place just after getting up, but not before coffee. Caffeine and hot winks in hand, we nestle down in our sunroom and begin to invoke the day with a smudge. Already Fern is stating her preference each morning for “Shagebush” or “Palu Santa“. She enjoys watching the thin smoke curl upwards, and I enjoy reminding us of the sacredness of all things.
Another sweet parcel came in the mail from generous and magical Elizabeth, with the most wonderful hand-me downs for Fern (and Mama too).
We each take turns, speaking first of awareness…what we carry into that moment. Not the context (I’m worried about work today) but simpler…”I feel worry. It’s in my stomach, twirling. I’m noticing my back pain. I’m aware of the sun on my face. I desire to stretch out like a cat.”. Each days awareness varies greatly. Yesterday Fern said she was noticing the song “Jingle Bells” in her head. This morning she said, “I notice you.”. Much also stays the same…the body stiffness, the patterns of mind, and also the appreciation, the love.
We continue to circle, next reaching into our dreams and hearts for our intention of the day. Again, the tapestry is often different, but the weave is the same. To stay connected to my own vulnerability, and bravery. To practice patience and kindness. Towards self and other. To stay awake. To come back, over and over, as much as possible. Some days are fancy, some are simple, always with a little bit of stretch and reach, always towards love.
We end with a random excerpt from a book, the book choice shifting according to our own dance of inspiration. Right now we are using the one on Dhammapada teachings (that you sent, Elizabeth!). If we have lit a candle, Fern blows it out with enthusiasm and Ffwwaaa, we are on our way.
Fourth of July treats.
We stayed home on the Fourth, basking in the comforts of home and grilled pineapple. Kerri, and her partner Rick, joined us for the evening. We cooked, we drank (Kerri introduced me to the delights of Old Speckled Hen) we watched the muppet show and when the fireworks began, we stood outside on the back steps, peering over the city. Close by the neighborhood celebrated with bright bursts of enthusiastic contraband, and off in the distance the city funded explosions lit up the fog. Fern chuckled her raspy Elmer Fudd-ish laugh at each “Bang!” and ended by regaling us with her new song…A, B, C, D, E, F, ShIREWORKS!, H, I, J, K, ShIREWORKS!, Q, R, S, T, U, ShIREWORKS!
Who needs fireworks when this pretty lady is around?
Although the initial plum enthusiasm has worn off, we are nowhere close to being done with stonefruit season. The two plum trees in the garden next door are still reaching perfection. On Friday I was reaching over our back fence when I heard a voice from the plots below. I peeked my sleepy morning face over the top to see Gabriel with an impish smile. The plums are ripe! They need to be picked! Let’s have a picking party!
So we did.
This many times 20.
All the plums around our house are clingpit, which means exactly what it sounds like. The fruit does not come off the stone easily, and at least a quarter of each plum stuck loyally to its seed. Still, we had so much that I was able to make 10 jars of jam.
Lower Haight Plum Jam, 2012
Wash and quarter your plums. Cut them directly into your measuring cup. Place in a large and deep cooking pot.
For each cup of plum fruit, add one cup of sugar. (In each past year, I have used something “healthy” like sucanat or rapadura. The jam comes out fine, but the cooking time has been quite long. This year all I had on hand was plain ol’ C & H white sugar. Guess what? The jam came out beautifully and had a shorter cooking time. So don’t feel bad if you choose to go the traditional route. You just might have an easier time of it.)
Put a little plate in the freezer.
Simmer the plums and sugar. Simmer. Simmer. Simmer.
Feel free to get creative with your spices. I added cinnamon and two tahitian vanilla pods. I don’t know what amount of cinnamon. Start with a teaspoon and work your way up!
Don’t let it boil over!
After an hour or so, begin testing your jam by placing a few drops on your frozen plate. When it cools, if it has a jammy consistency (doesn’t slide or drip) then it is done.
While your jam is cooking, sterilize your canning jars. Pour the piping hot jam in, place the lids, and wait for that satisfying Pop! You can also make biscuits while the jam is jamming, so you can do an immediate taste test.
On a recent visit to the public library, I picked up some Annie Dillard I hadn’t read yet, For the Time Being. I also picked up some T.T. Williams Finding Beauty in a Broken World. I’m enjoying Finding Beauty, but it has been tossed aside since I cracked the spine of Dillard. It has that spark of synchronicity that I love and crave in a good book…how is it that this book is speaking to everything I have been thinking about as of late? In one day I got halfway through.
So. Many. Plums.
I think I know what she is getting at, and I am at once thrilled and terrified. Growing older, re-visioning faith and belief, conversing with the god in everything and embracing the idea that this may be the only dance we dance.
Brilliant and momentary. These poppies last for a day and are gone the next.
I spoke a few posts back about my mid-life reckoning. Yup, still happening. Like Dillard’s book, it too is thrilling and terrifying. Thrilling because I am discovering a new place of wakefulness, my head popping above the waters of my life so far. Terrifying because I suddenly have an acute sense of purpose and preciousness, and I realize how much of my life has already gone by.
I love zinnias, because even though they are modest and kind-of raggedy, they morph into a new self everyday. The petals unfold in layers, and the flower it was yesterday is not the one it will be today. And yet it is.
I have been going through some deep healing lately, in regards to that Great Ball of Fire in my stomach. If you’ve been with me for a while (I notice I’ve been saying that a lot lately on here) then you may remember that I have been cultivating my relationship with what I have spent my life trying to push aside. If you remove the poetic explanations, it can best be described as anxiety. Or fear. And it is always in my stomach and it has always ruled my life.
Potatoes like the glamour.
The sensation isn’t going away at all. Rather, I’m moving closer to it. Like Frodo walking through Mordor towards the great eye. But it is not my enemy. Instead, my friendliness towards it is increasing. As this happens, my life becomes less fractured. My self becomes less fragmented. I am staying home in my body more and more. And I am looking back on my life and my childhood and feeling sorrow for the child that needed help, for the young woman who was so lost. Then, the acuteness of now…to live differently, to live more. To LIVE.
It is not late? A late time to be living? Are not our generations the crucial ones? For we have changed the world. Are not our heightened times the important ones? For we have nuclear bombs. are we not especially significant because our century is?–our century and its unique Holocaust, its refugee populations, its serial totalitarian extermination; our century and its antibiotics, silicon chips, men on the moon and spliced genes? No, we are not and it is not. These times of ours are ordinary times, a slice of life like any other. Who can bear to hear this, or who will consider it? Though perhaps we are the last generation–now there’s a comfort. Take the bomb threat away and what are we? Ordinary beads on a never-ending string. Our time is a routine twist of an improbable yarn. A. Dillard, For the Time Being.
Our morning circle time doesn’t make our life ideal or bucolic. Actually, it has stirred the pot, been disruptive, brought up discomfort and disagreements. But it also supports that crucial wakefulness, and our lives and relationships with each other feel more true.
May the time being feel like eternity,