Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gentle as the feathery down of dandelion seed

It sure has been quiet around here for a while. I've been busy living my life, pressing my cheek against the sun.
As Heather posted a few days ago, it's been a weird, freaky year so far, both personally and globally. There have been cataclysmic events. Terrible political decisions have been made. Doomsday cults have spread a sense of unease. The weather has been crazy everywhere. Draughts and tornadoes (check out our friend Brian's piece on visiting his old hometown devastated by a tornado) have roamed the land. All around us smaller, more intimate events have occurred; hard personal epiphanies, illnesses, sadness, brake-ups, near-death experiences and strange behavior.

And this week, we've had to come to terms with an act of unspeakable malice in a country so small that the number of victims is comparable to thousands of Americans dying in a similar way.

As a general rule, I don't follow the news media if I can avoid it, simply because I don't feel that the immediate knowledge of so many calamities and sadness is necessary for me in order to understand the shifting physical and emotional realities of this world. The current climate of quote-unquote "news" reporting is very much focused on negative, fear-mongering headlines, rather than actual information.

Most of the events and stories featured in mainstream media, tragic as they may be to the individuals they directly touch, bear little significance to immediate lives of the rest of us. The only real impact of murder stories from Alabama, or recession news from South East Asia have on us is that of compounding the anxiety that's already so prevalent in this fast-paced world of ours.

Even when stories of absolute universal importance, such as the Gulf oil spill, the people's uprisings in The Middle East or the Nuclear emergency Fukushima Daiichi get coverage, it is so superficial and fleeting, that it often ends up trivializing the issue rather than doing justice to the complexity and breadth of the these events.

Instead, I prefer to get my "news" through the filter of time, to determine not only their signigance to my own existence, but their importance to the wider world as well. But that's another post all together.

Last sunday when the news of Norway's day of terror started filtering to me the way all news was once carried, through the grapevine, I initially refused to actually look up the facts. I could tell this was yet another thing that I could only grieve over and fear.

Instead of news, I stumbled on other people's reactions to the events, as many of us blog-readers do.

The phrase that really stuck, from some random Finnish blog I don't even remember now, so simply put and so life-affirming that I jotted it down on a note and stuck it to the window in front of my desk and now, glance at it every so often:

"What else can you do but to be the counter force? To love like hell."

This, I think applies to all the madness, maliciousness and sadness of the world.

So, what I have to share from my week of wonders is not so deep as the sea, but full enough of love and sunshine, that I feel it's worth sharing. A small countering force.

My friend Iris, whom I've known since high-school visited us on the final week of her month-and-a-half tour of the U.S. The weather was less than ideal, but on her last day here, the sun came out in all her glory, just to see us bask in her warmth on Whale Island, the big hilly piece of an entirely different geographical chain, like the furry back of some ancient animal emerging from the primeval ocean.
We left early just so that we could have breakfast at Dear Bay, at really groovy un-resort-y resort comprised of small cabins, yurts, geo-domes and tents. Their cafe serves local, organic food, good music and movie nights, with a young, hippie wait-staff always ready with a generous smile and a refill on your nettle-tea.
We ate well, relaxed, drank our tea and coffee while marveling at the sun chasing the mists away.
I have been the surprisingly often in the last few months, pulled in by the good energy and the magical scenery.
Dear Bay is a special place willed with flora and fauna, strange yellow wasps, glittering king fishers and scavenging hobo sparrows.
We'll return for it's old-time charm and the hot tubs for sure. Oh and a very special event that you're sure to hear about soon.
Mt. Sound, is another special place, the highest point in this archipelago, with a sweeping view of everything on this small piece of creation; from island to island, mountains to the east and west and even the sleeping giant of a volcano in the distance.

We no longer have to take these portraits for immigration, but we can still take them for us.
On the hillside I spied a creature that Teeny told me the antipodeans call the "wishing flower"; a giant kin of the common dandelion in the fluffy state, ready to spread to the four winds.
How was I to refuse her my help?
Whatever wishes I might have made had I know I could have wished upon her, could not have made the day any more perfect.
We swam in the little lakes on the mountain, ran into some special friends from far off places, a traveling band dipping in the waters.
Bought beautiful frocks and coats and finery and Mexican-style ice cream right after having some popsicles. Because, for one day, we were on holiday. We ordered six mojitos in the fifteen minutes before happy hour ended. We said goodbye.
And then, as I told you before, the traveling band had dried itself off and we danced the night away under the little faux stars.
Until it was time to sail home in the light of the moon.
That same week we had already ventured to my friend Callie's little house in the woods, where Iris and I were her lovely assistants in teaching a course in dream-catcher making, a trade I was so so happy to learn myself, for Callie makes the most magical dream catchers.
Her house itself is more than a little enchanted, a place of warmth and beauty.
The students were eight marvelous, chatty girls, who talked and traded opinions and ideas and giggled like any womyn will around their handy-crafts. Callie fed them strawberries and peas from her garden and salmonberries from the woods.
First she took us to her woods to gather materials and give the kids a little impromptu lessons about trees and spirits and natural being.
One of her two cats followed along eagerly.
You could tell the kids had a great time and so did we.
Along with the usual sights, Iris lucked out on one of the more spectacular sunsets I've seen this summer, in the land of spectacular sunsets. We were on our way to a community contra-dance, all decked out and standing on the shore in awe of this light.
We took pictures and laughed and goofed around.
And then, later that night we spun and twirled and do-si-do-ed 'till we were hot and dizzy in the head.
We had fun while she was here.
And then it was another night of Elephant Revival, another beautiful experience, with kids and elders and everyone in between dancing and clapping and filling the room with energy.
I hope these guys were able to take some of the energy with them to the road. It's not an easy life zig-zagging across the country, all your belongings in a bag, sleeping in the bus and eating peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for days on end. We feel so blessed to see these folks time and time again.

As intense, beautiful travel goes, consider paddling in an open canoe for down the coast of the Salish sea from Bella Coola to La Conner. Being on the open water among the elements and big boats, the wakes and the waves and wind.
We live on a beach on which people have fished and dwelled on for thousands of years, connected to each other and the water through beautiful, powerful, slender boats like this and last week, some of them came home.IMG_9905
For the first time in a hundred years this many canoes and First Nations people have been to this shore and standing on the beach watching them return it felt just right. Like the land and the sea remembered them. I often wonder about the land's memory, if the soil, or rock itself can contain the energy of people and events.
We felt very blessed too, by the visit, however brief by the many tribes on their way to their final gathering place for this summer's canoe journey.
That night it was comforting to go to sleep to the beating of the drums and songs who's words I didn't understand at all, but who's tone blended perfectly with the night air. Once, a heron, the one that lives in the tree across our house called back to them, perhaps too, remembering something.
Not all wonders were huge, swirling, emotional dances. Some were small, delectable pieces of every day life. Fresh raspberries gathered. A whole head of cauliflower with butter and salt and pepper (I got to eat it all. C. doesn't like cauliflower. Crazy.). Crepes from rye and fresh milk, I had milked the night before.

Small, fearless, careless creatures.
And an abundance of gifts. I can hardly believe the treasures Sadie and Nicole have sent me.
My heart thought it was going to burst with the generosity. I wish I could show you the most marvelous piece from Sadie's package, the one I've worn every day since then, but I'm too shy. You'll get to see everything else in good time. Thank you Sadie, I think of you every morning as I dunk myself in these cold, tidal waters.
In Nicole's package was, among other treasures, the dress of my dreams. No literally. I thought I was gonna pass out when I saw it. I swear I've wanted a dress of soft cotton and clouds and pockets for all of my small life and here it was, utterly perfect. And what's more: made in Finland! I didn't get a picture of the tag yet, but you won't believe you eyes.
Thank you so so much Nicole. From the bottom of my bursting, fluttery heart.
And as if all this wasn't enough, the night of the Elephant revival show, my friend Ana gifter me with these gorgeous flicker-feather earrings. Flickers are a protector birds of women in local native lore.
With them, my birthday amulet from Sadie and this row of incandescent crystals from Nicole's Flaming Hag Folkwear jewels I feel like I have all the protection I could ask for. I hope you do too.
I'd like to dedicate this song I captured from the show here on our little Island to all the small people, the Clovers and Mycies, and little Ferns, counter forces and sources of light.