I enter the forest under the burgundy canopy of Japanese Maple. Slowly, I bend to my shoes, leave them at the trunk, three steps and I am enclosed in the filtered shadow.
The earth is saturated from last night’s thunderstorms and, behind my eyes, I see the lavender bracts of that witnessed lavender lightning. “1onethousand…2onethousand…3onethousand…” breath held till the crack, distance signaled. Raindrops are a percussion high above my head, tapping from leaf to broad leaf of Beech. Occasionally the cymbal crash as Gray Squirrel leaps to land, heavily, onto the next. Breaking their community are forthright Holly, boughs of bristled leaves splattered in tiny, star-shaped flowers that fall to the ground in drifts. Backward flying ivory petals, four hair-width stamens, topped with a pollen granule no bigger than grain of sand. Their’s a fragrance I’ve never named. The soles of my feet tread lightly over this cosmic duff carefully, evenly.
Nine steps and I encounter the first clumps of Lady Slipper. Oblong, juicy green leaves are a platform for ramrod straight stalks, topped with the bobbing vulgarity of their flower. A triangulation of sword-shaped, plummy upper petals, deepening murkiness towards the parted lips of the center. The falls below a balloon of flush pink veined with violet. Curved out and around and towards one another, a pillowy sack that begs fondling. Uncomfortable yet? Yeah. Bizarre, overtly sexual, this temporal treasure erupts from dank soil for a week, maybe less, before brittling and fading away.
Fifteen steps and feet touch old planks of a creek crossover. Running mostly underground, a hint of the creek’s movement is made known by a wet divot winding through the trees towards a freshwater pond to the west. It’s heavily feathered with Southern Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern. Fluttering, delicate, glo-stick green in the gloaming. I drop low, stock-still, to get eye-level with the black angels that abide here. Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, whose four-part wings as black and tissue-thin as a mourning veil lift them into the air for moments before dropping back to the ferns. Iridescent turquoise abdomens, straight as a carpenter’s nail and about as long, angle upward to catch glints of light as their wings erratically expand and gather back together like a gasp.
I move deeper, the trees taller, up a small hill padded with velvety emerald patches of moss. I stick to their lily-pad pattern under the Southern Red and Water Oak, Coastal and Eastern White Pine, Chinese Tulip Tree; bird communities wing back and forth in their day’s work. I reach a forked Pond Pine that leans over the water and encircle it with an arm, resting my face against it’s bark facets, tears leaking from the corners of my eyes. Remembering a long ago time when I sat at this bank and weeped like the world was lost. Couldn’t tell you over what now; a boy? A slight of a friend? My father’s words? That press of loneliness?
I had carried on like this until, without much fanfare, a family of beavers swam up by my feet. I had been there, been still, for so long that they neglected to notice me at all. They paddled back and forth, efficiently pushing sticks up the marshy threshold into piles. Wiggling out of the water to hold up their bounty and gnaw with long, sharp, yellowed incisors, sopping wet bodies leaning back on rudder tails. I had the irrational urge to scoop them up and towel them off.
Turning from this memory, I look up to the canopy. Birdsong has been echoing back and forth from the branches all along. Tiny tuks of Chickadee, vibrational trill of Woodtit, churlish resounds of Cardinal. The bright scarlet male and his drab wife wing into my eye line; he pauses a moment before careening into deeper woods. She does not follow as long as I watch.
Back across the creek, up a steep climb, toes curling into decaying leaves in sure steps. On the rise, I am much closer to the house again and there is far more light. Space created by my father, who clears trees as methodically as mowing grass, craving order, control, over his surroundings. I pivot westward, towards the water, under Pine and Oak he allows to remain. Water Iris line the shoreline, canary yellow, deep violet, steel blue. This season pride, did I see them? Did I see the special purple ones? Aren’t the yellow spectacular? Asked again the next day, day following, assurance, validation, affirmation.
I aim for the little dock but stop short of it when I catch the flit of yellow and black streaked wings. Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. One, two, now a third, grounded but fluttering over some glory unseen. Is this community? Communication? Reproduction? A fourth arrives, jostles in, dusted paper shoulders touching one another like a whisper against an ear, like the heavy gaze of a lover, like the pulse at your neck.
I write you from Joshua Tree. There’s 8million stars splattered across the sky, and the quiet is dense enough to make sound. I was last here three years ago to The-Day. Time loops similar to this have caught me up enough times this year to scratch them down on a tally sheet.
With them, the memories. Scent sound vision patterns repetition; in large scale and small, physical and spiritual. For as blatant and plain-spoken as they often are, they leave me in a heap of bewilderment. Again?! Gotta look at this stuff - AGAIN? Didn’t we just do this last month/year/quarter life crisis? “We” the preferred pronoun for what’s grooving in the Physical Plane and the wild entity that’ll travel on long, long after I shuck this earthbound outfit.
It’s impossible to not be deeply curious about the whole cycle, and our multi-dimensional place in it, when you’re in this particular line of work. As a florist, nearly every day I yelp with glee over the re-emergence of something. The peony shrub is budding! Unicorn anemones are back at Blue Heron! The trembling delicacy of the desert bloom - I stare at their tiny faces so fiercely it makes my eyes water..
And every day, I watch it all die. Crushing the slug from the peony shrub. Toss the faded anemones into the bin. I drag out the compost and feel relief that the studio is reset.
Flowers as a medium are one that, after some time, you discard what you made and begin again. They demarcate a moment, a fleeting experience, a tie to the temporal. People enjoy looking at flowers because it helps them remember the past, and are a soft finger-brush on the concept of our own, inevitable, mortality.
Joshua Trees do not bloom every year, but when they do it is universal, synchronized, mystical. Makes me think of the synapses of the brain, and the larger concept of the mycelial network we are all connected to. That is a whole other post, brother.
Next March 30th I’ll remember these, where I stood, who I was.
I’ve had an on-going conversation about the identification of nostalgia - particularly when it applies to the American South. I’m closing in on a decade in the West, yet I continue to identify as a southerner - why? There’s much shadow that holds the notion of a place against hot, muddy ground under a high noon sun. But there is also mystery there, a whisper from the unseen, a giving over to what Nature aims to take back. It’s good to remember.
I’m back in ol’ Virginny first week of May. It’s when the bearded iris are blooming in my father’s garden. My mother turns 65. The Derby runs, and I suppose I’ll have a bourbon. May 4th I’m teaching a class in Richmond, aim to fill the whole of Dear Neighbor up to the brim with local blooms, and listen to all the long-vowel sounds of my students under the Taurus new moon. If you’re in the area, you should come. Not often do I just share flowers for the fun of it - I mean, you’re reading this…shellacked with diatribes on transformation, inner knowing, knocking on the door of the basement-level of your key soul, (ready for a nap yet). Who cares about all that today? Let’s just drink rosé, smile at each other and make something pretty for a time.
“The essence of all your experience…is coming into an artwork. It is as simple as that, and also as complicated as that.” -Wolfgang Laib
via a Taoist surfer.
In the last installation of the infrequent, spontaneous newsletter effort - I dug in a bit on my resistance to teaching classes over the past few years. The last was Mexico City, it was everything I wanted it to be, and then I just tapped out. What did I have to say? To share? To guide? That was any different or more of service than the dozens upon dozens of offerings my fine colleagues are putting out there, (in a helluva lot more organized and professional fashion than I)? I could barely stand listening to myself, let alone ask people to invest their time and energy listening to me.
Really setting up this **spoiler alert** new workshop offering strong, aren’t I?
Hang in there because I DON’T FEEL THAT WAY ANYMORE. Why? I’ll tell you everything, but I’ll say it all swinging around my studio with you at my side because I want you to come over and Go Deep. How we gonna get there, you ask? Because my soul-homie Bree is lighting the way.
Bree Melanson and I met a while back when she was co-leading a moon circle in SF organized by On Our Moon - whom I would like to give a shout out too, as I believe they are doing good, raw work in this world. Afterwards. when I walked up to introduce myself, we basically didn’t stop talking until dragged apart by an overdue parking meter and low blood sugar/h’anger. Bree had just moved back to her hometown of Monterey county after a decade+ in LA, I had just moved to Corralitos from Oakland so, for all intents and purposes - we were neighbors. Neighbors with, coincidentally, similar interests and vibe. Bree is a psychic medium and a channel, but the sort that wears cashmere and ostrich skin booties. I am florist that pulls tarot cards, finds ways to work piles of crystals into client's wedding decor, and doses all my freelancers with “High Vibe Elixir” before install days. I wish I could wear similar booties but would def dump disgusting, rotten flower water all over them on day 2. But still, we were picking up on what the other was putting down.
We made a lady-date that included bougie coffee, shrieking over boys, a long walk on Carmel River Beach, discussion regarding the stonecold validity of alien abduction, and the larger purpose of Universal consciousness when it applies to access to transcendental creativity. Fuck yes. We agreed that to collab on an offering would be a Very Good Thing.
On Saturday, April 27 - we would love ten of you to come over to mine so we can explore how to turn on the tap of your own, totally unique, magical flow of creativity. In my years as a creative, a woman, a human being walking on this planet - what I see again and again is the patterns we become tangled within that keeps us at arm’s length from our highest potential. To getting free and making all the dreams, the possibilities, the connections we were always intended to make. I started pulling at the loose threads on the fabric of my own story when I turned 27, and have been pulling and pulling ever since. Do I still get caught up? 100%, I got an ankle snagged as we speak. Do I work at shimmying to get free every day? Absolutely, it takes work. Observance. Awareness. Study. So let’s do it together.
There is a full description of what will go down HERE at the registration. We’re going to meditate, yes, but you don’t have to have a consistent practice prior. It’s just the vehicle for us to drop in and get in touch with that quiet, wild, unseen part of ourselves. We’re going to make flowers, yes, but you don’t have to be a florist to take this class. They’re just a medium for expression, something I’ll guide but the focus is just to MAKE ART for the freedom of it.
If you have questions or hesitations, send me a note. I hope you’ll join us.