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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Community at the Park

I've begun a journey to reconnect with the wights and denizens of my local park.

I have been spending about an hour each weekday morning sitting in meditation.

There's a swirling dizziness that takes me as I do this work. It's as if once I stop moving and pay attention everything begins to coalesce.

Daily I clean a little bit more of the rubbish. And restack fallen wall cobblestones. These things are small acts of my communion with the Spirits of the place.

But in the moment of surrender to the meditation the feeling of being washed into another space has begun to grow stronger. I am adrift in a warm presence and tossed about in the eddies of the life force.

I photography each morning sky and light and land trying to capture for others the beauty of our home.

This week I've begun to record 2 minutes of video that I call: 2 minute meditations and post them to my private page. This too is a small act of connection to place.

But today instead of my usual ground and center I did an eyes open meditation.

The silent observation of the community around me is a joy.

The Jay family seems to have accepted my presence.  As today all 7 danced from oak to oak chatting and hustling the squirrels for acorns.

Robins, cardinals and chickadees got bolder with me not ceasing their song as I wandered beneath them on the way to my meditation spot.

Got the first time this season I spotted one of the shy Warren-folk as she slipped out from undercover of the mock orange patch; a silver ghost daintily nibbling clover. Her ears soft not rigidly alert, the tiny rabbit loped unconcerned by my presence,  though truthfully I am a good 80 feet from her, from patch of sunlight to shadow.

Delightfully upon the two sacred oaks, both dually struck by lighting and tornado by the same storm front, a pair of squirrels went about their day. One tawny the bigger and bolder of the two and one soft grey, they foraged and battled around the trunks. Tawny flitted around the grass to find the best fallen treasures only to zip up another oak and daredevil at its uppermost branches shaking up a few unhappy mourning doves.

Smoke the smaller, and seemingly gentler of the two squirrels cautiously explored the sycamore ring then disappeared from view when the jays sick of Tawny's acrobatics mimicked the cries of a red tail hawk.

The vocabulary of the blue jay is extensive.  And this morning my crew are having a good old fashioned jawing.

As the last of my offering smoke drifts upward like spider silk I am reluctant to leave my roost.

So much hustle and bustle on an overcast morning as Tawny exacts a small measure of revenge as he chases a juvenile Jay up the smallest of the oaks. His squawking seems gleeful.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mending the Bond

I find myself with a luxury of time in my mornings these days.

Kidlet safely tucked onto the bus headed for educational adventures each dawning gives me time to go walk about in our local park.

One of the best things about our home, to me at the time we bought it, was the gorgeous tiny oasis of land only 3 doors up.

Our parcel of homestead is a smaller than a bread box and that was not a happy thing for a land worshiping, herb growing, ex-farm girl.

But the park! Once the front lawns of a coal baron's estate. It now is a simple city park. Yet it retains a sense of it's Victorian primness while flaunting is overgrown wildness.

For the last 7 years, my goodness time flies, I've rambled its trails and explored its grounds.

I've wild forged sheepshead mushrooms and melissa. I've plucked choke cherries and blackberry (black raspberries to those not from the region. ) We've shared space as my kidlet learned to walk, and climb, and run.  She's still learning to ride her bike on its few paved walkways.

I've sat under stars,and moons full to new wrapped in velvet shadow here. We have taken night walks with deer and bat.

And the birds! This morning alone I have seen: robin, blue jay,  tufted woodpecker,  downy woodpecker,  mourning dove, cardinal, yellow finch, house sparrow, and golden finch.

There was a special place along its pathways where for years a fallen tree was sentinel. It's exposed root system was the spitting image of a dragon.  And for years we and other park visitors left him offerings: bits of colored glass, candy, coins, incense, acorn caps, rose petals, a tiny purple unicorn to keep him company.  We all loved our park guardian.

Then last year for some unknown reason the park services torn him up. Ripped him from beside our path and left instead of his glorious personage an empty space that filled with leaf litter and poison  ivy.

My heart broke. If I am honest from the moment we discovered our loss I have been avoiding this place.  It felt like a violation too great to be endured.

So when and if we came to the park those lovely half wild trails were shunned.  We stayed to the asphalt pathways and playground equipment.  Then the tagging showed up. Childish scrawl in garish paint screamed 'unsafe' and set my nerves burning.  The sadness washed over me and instead of fighting back with scrub brush and presence, I fled.

Flash forward to yesterday.

It was our 3rd morning of catching the school bus. And afterwards as I walked my way home through the dappled light and dewy grass, I heard my beloved crows. How joyous the family sounded.  So I walked to the swings and watched them in their corvid glory.  Now seven members strong, they bicker with the equally large blue jay family unit.

I was entranced so I moved up the hill towards the crows roosted in a dead tree that frames the blue morning sky. They were raucous.  Yelling and scolding and furious. I took a picture and decided to wind round the hill to the top garden glen where I could get lovely close ups of the crows. It's a mere 10 feet from plateaued hilltop to the top of the tree they were scolding from.

And then...

I rounded the final spiral past sassafras trees and oak to enter the lemony lit patch. The crows went mad. Screaming and flying round the hilltop. Agitated and furious they cawed and swooped. The squirrel gang, not to be out sassed, began chattering and thrashing in the trees that surround the small glade. Jays clicked and whooped. But I stupidly drank it all in with delight. Until the first acorn smacked me in the noggin.

Did I mention I tend to need clue by fours to grasp life sometimes?

Holy Hannah!  All this fuss is because of me! It's my presence that's making everything angry. I keeper of the flame, animist, lover of the land and its people in all forms have become the 'interloper'!

Oh my goodness.  How strange and hurtful that revelation was to me. But of course my once friends were pissed at me.

Here's the friend that came every day; who spent time cleaning the house up; and who took time to watch and listen for years then abandoned them. I left them alone for a whole year. I shirked my duty. I ignored their home but for brief and superficial visits to take what I wanted. An hour on the play equipment a quick run through to see if the mushrooms came up. But no real investment into our relationship.

I was a bad guest in all ways.  I walked away without a by your leave then waltzed back in and put my muddy boots on the couch.

Now I saw what I had to do.

I needed to mend the bond. I broke the trust. I must now work to earn it back.

I went home yesterday sad and embarrassed. There's work to do but where to start?

This morning I packed a small satchel.  I filled it with offerings: water from home, incense, sunflower seeds harvested from the wild thing that grew this year by our door(a gift of dropped seed from our winter feeder), some veg for the deer,and most importantly empty bags.

This morning as we trekked to the bus stop we heard song birds.  No crows or jays chatter.  As the kidlet left I started my way into the park and cleaned trash as I went. After I filled the first bag  and disposed of it properly I went to see the Appletree Man. I offered him the water. Then I took myself to the old concrete steps of the caretakers house.

The house is long gone. The old foundation walls are the frame for the basketball court. But where you once would've walked in for a cuppa tea, I sat.

There's a grey stump from an old hedge next to the five stone rise. There I left the seeds. I lit the white sage and said some quiet prayers. I captured some video of the ribbons of twisting smoke. I took still pictures. And drank in the place.

For a while the change was striking.  Lots of birds and song. No crows today though. More importantly I felt that I was being invited to stay a bit and catch up.

I think the offerings were accepted.  A first step at reclaiming our friendship.

Then the morning shifted as the park services arrived with the grass cutting equipment.  And my morning idle was done.

I am writing this from the same spot. A good hour plus gone. My second helping of smolder, this time copal, is almost totally ash. I planted a few of the sunflower seeds in the patch of dirt behind the chain link fence at my back.

Remember your connections.  Friendships are oaths to take time and care of one another. Take stock and truly notice if you're taking more than you give. And fix the tears that need mending.

The light is changing and my stomach reminds me it needs tea and grain. So as the hawk calls from the next hillside over I leave you all for now, a little wiser and terribly grateful for the chance to make up for my crappy manners.

Up in smoke

Upward wisps of prayer
Perfumed remembrance
Enribboned praises