Voices of Water and Stone

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.



Vulture Flats

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.



Kildeer, keeper of water and place.

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“.



Number One Reason

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.

First time in the snow.





Standing on one peak, looking towards its kin in the distance. Mt. Lassen.

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.

Drink deep.




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.



20 thoughts on “Voices of Water and Stone

  1. Mary,
    I am proud of you. Unlike so many of us floundering for answers and relief, you know what balm your soul requires for healing. It is so very good that you went to where you needed to be to find, at least, some respite from the daily struggle, and at best, the life-giving/ life-affirming power that your special place has to offer. And to provide this to Fern is an amazing gift. I am envious of your weekend. While living on this part of the coast is never shabby, I’ve been struggling with the flu (in my little boy) and then me, for almost 2 weeks and would love nothing more than to get away for the weekend and walk amongst the Bay Laurel, Redwoods, Cypress and Pine of my heart-land place. I need the reflective, reverent time outside to collect myself, connect deeply to Spirit and prepare for the baby who will be here in little over 2 months!!!! Maybe these are the itchiness of Spring, calling me to go outside. Now if my body could just get well, perhaps I will.

    Be well,
    PS- love the moccasins

    1. i have been aching for you every time i see a FB update with more sickyness. i hope wellness is finding you on the upswing and you can get out to your redwoods and laurels. also, your p.s. made me giggle. xo

  2. Oh, beautiful! I’ve had such a yearning to be outside recently, my house has been feeling stuffy and confining, and my office job frustrating and constricting. I just want to peel it all off like a dead skin and jump lively in the still cold air and breathe deep-deep-deep. Your pictures and account of speaking to the Spirit of Place (what a wonderful concept, thank you for introducing it to me!) was a balm to my restless soul this morning.

    Also, I had to giggle at your mention of all the “Let Go and Let God” bumper stickers, because my first thought was that there must be a lot of alcoholics there. Ha.

    1. jen, it’s one of those things that i “know” to do, yet often forget to! i’m tickled to have inspired you to do the same. and you are probably right about the bumper stickers…if you’ve ever watched ‘trailer park boys’ that pretty much sums up my hometown. xo

  3. Glad to hear you and Fern had a wonderful time even with the tantrums. We all need to get away from it all once in a while so we can let nature recharge our batteries.

  4. Hi Mary- Denise from Ashland here. I so love Mt. Shasta. Next time you are in the area try out Stewart Mineral Springs in Weed. My very favorite unspoiled sauna and amazingly healing mineral baths. they also have occassional sweat lodges. Your vision quest is inspiring.

  5. Girl, I’m so glad you were able to go to your spirit place and rest if even just for a moment. Kudos to Jeff for being such a dear. I’m glad you can draw from such a wellspring of natural wonder and teach it to your sweet daughter (that picture of her in the beanie just about kills me!). Thanks for bringing us along to these moving waters. Last year I felt so drawn to moving waters, I hope that continues this year…Love you.

  6. i’m admittedly feeling really emotional today, but I cried as I watched your waterfall video. as always, thanks for sharing ♥

    1. kim, that is part of the healing the waterfall offers…for emotions to arise and release. i wasn’t sure if it would, so i’m glad to hear that her magic transfers to video. 🙂

  7. yay!
    I love the foothill pine near the top, and the whispy breath of cloud adorning Shasta.

    It feels like you definitely set forth with a purpose, you were digging deep-
    Screaming chattering praying asking searching unfolding.

    Your honesty is so awesome.
    I know a few folks who like to pretend that crappy momma doesn’t exist, that drudgery and the brilliant mundane of the everyday are something to sweep under the rug…those people are crawling into their happy holes and dying.

    Thank you. The pictures are stunning, as usual.

    1. dang girl, you are like a sistah from anotha mothah. you have this way of speaking right to the heart of things and nailing it. i feel very ‘seen’. thank you.

      and omg…happy holes and dying. best ever.

  8. I guess it is your honesty about the painful and ugly and scary things that keeps me coming back to your blog. And how you’re constantly finding magic and joy tucked within the folds. I don’t know, I somehow find it reassuring. And inspiring. Thanks, again, for sharing.

    1. meredith, i’m so glad you come back even though i don’t, as dolly says up there, ^ ‘crawl into a happy hole’. it says a lot about your personage, that there is a part of you that can hang with the tough stuff. we’re kin.

  9. Such a thoughtful and lovely post! Exactly what I needed to read whilst coming to from my flu drenched delirium. I miss the mountains and wilds of my mother state sooooo. It was easier from me to get daily immersed in nature when it wasn’t quite so… wet! Still, pnw rain & mud or not, we’ll be getting deep in the trees this weekend. I NEED old and green and the instant comfort it brings to me. xo m

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