Late Friday morning, I was beset by microscopic house cleaning. You know, where you start to clean and you realize how dirty and cluttered everything is. The more you pick up, the more the schmutz seems to appear, like someone opened an intergalactic door to Planet Dust Pan, detritus multiplying before your eyes. I angrily threw clothes into a laundry basket, muttering something about rotten weekends and all I ever do is pick up after other people wah wah wah…
Jeff stood in the doorway, watching me silently, waiting for the right moment to jump into my double dutch bitch session. Finally he said, I think you should still go up to Shasta. It’s what you were planning on and it’s pretty clear that you are overtaxed. I’ll help you.
Don’t you love it when partners get their awesome on?
He shooed Fern and I out the door, and within a 1/2 hour of tossing aside the broom and mop, we were on our way.
I had wanted to be on the land for Imbolc, that mid-winter marker of the transition from dark to spark. The foothills of the Cascades contain the sediment that pours down off the mountains before heading into the Sacramento canyon, and it is this meeting ground between rock and valley that feels alive…alive with memory, wisdom, magic.
Fern and I lit candles at night, talking about the long Winter days that suddenly hitch up their skirts and begin to trot along toward Spring. The light returns, coaxing the secret wildflower sprouts into creating impossible blooms. We read new books from the thrift store and I occasionally chatted with Whateveritis, praising it for behaving, for ceasing to lurk.
I spoke aloud to my spirit guides frequently on this trip. A friend had reminded me recently of how they are always eager to help and I have to remind myself that they might be unseen, but they can’t read my mind. I did this as an attempted antidote to Conscious Person Overload. Shouldering cares of our Changing Earth has been keeping me up at night, finding me at 4:30am Googling things like “Fukushima Unit 4” and “Anthropocene“.
I was restless this trip, pacing with quick nerves, looking to find a balance. Balance between the work I do as a professional, trying to stay just ahead of the curve of ecoanxiety, to provide support as a beacon of Ecoresiliency. I walked in the pale green fields with the bare oaks, my stark need for a beacon of my own ringing in my heart.
There was so little that could stop my Mind in its tracks. The Water was challenged to get a word in edgewise.
Your morning meditation.
I took my cares to The Mountain, hoping for vastness, silence, the advice of the ancient.
There was brief respite, and then I was back to this bottom of the barrel feeling. Fern responded with a new species of tantrum…sassy, destructive and defiant. I was being Crappy Mama, I can’t say I blame her.
At night I dreamt of creating art, using sunprints. I was given an assignment, “Find what is eternal, what is infinite”. During the day I found myself caught off-guard by the reappearing bumper sticker, “Let Go and Let God”.
Finally, on our last morning, I took us to the wellspring from my childhood, my pool of renewal in my early adult years, the fountain of youth in my 30s. I recently had a sweet visit with a housemate I lived with for 6 years when I first moved to SF. He would go up to Shasta with me, and, as he was telling his new fiance as we sat chatting over coffee, “Some of those places were pretty epic”.
But not epic in scale. Epic in hidden wonder, in spirit, in their invitation to drop down.
The Waterfall. Three minutes from home. Smelling of snow and pine and cold.
I spoke aloud to the Spirit of Place, as I would a long lost friend. I thanked it for just being. For all these years. And I cried as I realized Climate Change terrifies me because I need these places to remain. I need the waters to flow, the rain to fall, the seasons to turn, the crops to grow, for cycles to have rhythm, for Earth to support Life. I introduced the waterfall to Fern, this waterfall that saw me through the loss of loves, of a baby, of dreams. I held my daughter close and we spoke of Daddy and how glad we would be to go home to him soon. The water received it all and then began to speak in the voice of the infinite and slow.
I had asked for a sign, for support. As I watched the water skimmers and Fern planted kisses on my shoulder, my eye was caught by a stone half submerged at the edge. I pulled it out and recognized it as a sister to other stones I have found at other sacred spots on recent trips up there. It sat in my hand like it was made to be there and as I conversed with water and stone, Fern said, “I’m going to tell my rock a story too”. We sat together, with Once Upon a Time, chatter silenced, hearts beating, washed clean.
We are home now, stones in hand, blessed by snow melt and the flight of barn owls overhead. Cares and concerns remain, but I am less worried, my heart less abandoned. Life is good here too and I am ready to get back to work.