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As I sat in the woods, rejoicing at the beginnings of the changing colours of autumn, the leaves at the top, yellows and a few reds, and looked down upon the ground at those which have already dropped and turned brown, it deeply came to me how the love of this season is also about having faith.  With the rejoicing comes faith, faith that come another season, the leaves will return, grow and green.

For a moment I wondered what if one did not know, and saw the leaves gathering upon the ground, the branches becoming bare, the changing colour, what would they think and feel. Would they see it as the end as they watch leaf after leaf turn and fall? Would they listen to the trees and hear, “no, it is okay, it is what we do”? Would they rush in frantic activity, attempting to save the trees, paste the leaves back on, return them to green, lobby the government? Would the pray that they stopped falling away, send energy to the trees? Or would they pause and listen, stand humbly, waiting, heeding the call of the trees.  “It is fall, the leaves must fall, it is part of a cycle, one that is necessary for life and rebirth”

This season is also about allowing and being with what is. I first wrote some of the above a few weeks ago, when the forest and trees felt so different,

“And as the hills are still mainly green, and many have come to see the fall colours, including myself, it means being with what is; not rushing things, nor bemoaning that it is not that which we expected it to be. To be and appreciate what is.”

Tis now the end of the season. I look at the trees, standing increasingly bare and think of what I wrote but a few weeks ago. How quickly it changes, how we waited, the engaged, and now it has passed. And in between, I cherished the colours, knowing how fleeting they were, being in the moment, wanting to hold onto it yet knowing, that like the leaves, it would soon fall away. And now it has – the trees stand bare and naked, only a few leaves hang on, and once again to allow and be with what is.

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This time also calls up  cycles and seasons, those of the short and those of the long, those beyond our earthly knowings, those beyond our own. It is a time of understanding; understanding beyond that which we can see. Or admitting, there is much we do not understand.

When we work to heal the earth, do we honour the cycles?  what are the consequences when we do not? What is working with and what is an attempt to control and bend it to our ends, our versions of what should be. And when do we do this, attempt to abort cycles, seeing a moment, not knowing that it is part of a larger whole. Assuming we know, not seeking to understand. The timelines that extend beyond our own. Not seeing what may be necessary for life to continue. Do we listen? Do we hear a snippet and believe that it is the all? Are we able to hear – the earth, the universe, each other, ourselves. The trees teach us so much.

This time of year there is a passing away. Those whose life cycle is shorter, those who live for a year, or a part thereof, those other plants that are part of the forests, the farms, the streets. Those whose life is done – yet it continues on. The seeds that are dispersed, that return to the earth, for the next generation to come, the generation that does not know its parents, or even have elders around, those to emulate, those to teach, whose guidance is encoded in the seeds. The many seeds that are sent out, not all who are born, the many who do not go on. And so is with ourselves.

It can be painful, knowing that some may not make it through.  Can we discern the difference between those we knock down, and those that return to the earth. Between those that are sick and hurting, and those with energetic cycles. And so with human beings. Do we insist that all continuously have glistening tender leaves; yes some are evergreen, but others are deciduous, and all are valued, part of the whole, contributing to the life cycles.

Many years I have been in the forests of evergreen – the redwoods, the great cedars, Douglas firs, pines, even palms and eucalyptus trees – those whose leaves do not drop and I yearned for the change, for trees with leaves. Yet in these zones, come winter, or the brown season, I seek the green, value the evergreens, trees that at this time of year I have overlooked.

I ponder, how the trees and forest that surround influence our perceptions. The places where seasons are not so defined, to see the eternal, that which seems unchanged. That life is meant to be evergreen. That when the needles turn brown and drop to the ground, that it indicates that the trees are sick. That it is not natural, not part of the cycle of life, or at least one we can see.

For the time I am here. The trees stand naked and exposed, and so do i. Energy returns to the roots, a life beneath the surface, and so for me. Knowing the connections there, valuing and being with what is. Feeling that which goes on above, and that which continues beneath. A slowing of energy, communing, sensing, a part of the all, the cycles within cycles and spirals. And having faith in the miracle of life.

 

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Hibernation

I hibernate in my den for a few days – back at the Happy Bear, in a den. The season has turned. the leaves fallen away, the rains come down and the temperature drops. For a couple of days I stay mainly within.

At times it feels sad this season, the glorious displays of colour dropping away, the oranges, yellow and reds that had once been green, now shades of brown beneath our feet. Energy drops, goes to the roots, the depths beneath the surface

But I also know the life is rich there, even if it is unseen. And there in the woods, the forests, are vast underground communications networks linking tree to tree, the fungi and more, part of an interconnected whole. A whole of many beings, part of the larger whole, that includes me.

I know I will not hibernate for long. Yet in this season my external activity slows, and I commune in other ways. The nights are longer, and soon the veil thins. As we approach halloween, Samhain, the Days of the Dead, the days of All Saints and All Souls.

Falling Leaves

It is fleeting this season. I pause on the path, a few leaves are dancing in the air, making their way down to earth. It stops and starts again, a dance, a joyous dance and I find a rock to sit upon and watch the falling of autumn – shapes and colours swirl in the air for a moment until stillness comes again. Birds begin to sing.

Perhaps it is because we know it is so fleeting and transitional that we cherish these moments so.

If the leaves were always these colours would it be so precious? Yes, we would love them, but would we notice and engage to the same degree – not assuming that all would change from one day to the next?

I think of the forests of the west, evergreen of so many types, trees I love, engage with, yet there is a greater sense of stability.

Leaves falling, to nourish the earth, the soils in which the trees grow, the coming generations of leaves – the cycle of life

The season progresses, the leaves making their way to earth, a carpet, protecting and nurturing, for the seasons to come

The trees now stand increasingly exposed- becoming naked, revealing their skeletons, their bones. To love them just as much now that their finery, their flashy dress, has fallen away. Energy returns to the roots

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Newcomers

Who are the newcomers and how do we welcome them? Who are they and from where do they come? Are they many, an influx coming in, or a few, trickles from here and there. Do we see a similarity and kinship or foreignness and difference? What do they bring? what do they need? what are their gifts? what do they lack? Refugees fleeing conflict? Those seeking an opportunity, if not for themselves, for their offspring, a better way of living and how is that defined? Those who seek to join in, to bring in new ideas and energies – respecting, or not respecting, those which are there? Those who come to conquer, to make a place theirs? movement between lands and worlds, migration of many sorts – and just what is an alien – illegal, national, or without a prefix or suffix?

Those of us who are here, who came before, once newcomers ourselves, or in our ancestry, do we welcome them, do we feel threatened, and just how does the fabric of a place change?

New humans are coming in and what we see in the material world with migration, immigration, the world that has become global with borders that have both dissolved and fortified, is also happening on an intergalactic scale. And for all, both old and new, there have been many teaching from known history, from what has happened in the real – have we learned, can we learn, or do we repeat what has come before. For all is interconnected, all is part of the one.

Water pours in – flooding tunnels down below, at a place that is the centre of a U, connecting two sides, making them one, in the underground, the journeys beneath. two lines that go far up, connecting beyond, now seperate until the water is cleared.  For the moment, turned back in two places, having to come up to the surface there, in the center can not pass through otherwise. A quick journey takes much longer, need to find alternate routes, routes that we not designed to take on the extra load, and others means of going added on. Or journeys not made, plans altered, alternatives found. I was not going there today, was getting off where it stopped anyways, and returned early, before it was too full, as it was could not get on the first one, had to wait, and as it was had altered my route, but made it back before the waters came down from above again. In the 3D world – the story is – Union Station subway flooded, trains turned around at Bloor and Osgoode, has been at least all afternoon, continuing now, yet this speaks on so many levels.

What is the vista of our days – that which appears when we look as far as our eyes can see, that which lay upon the horizon, or is the horizon? Does it call us forth to journey beyond, to walk to distant lands? Does it hold us in, like a cocoon, nurturing or trapping us? Is it one that we notice or look out upon – is there a beyond to see? Is it one that seems stable, unchanging as we go about our day, or is it one that seems to change with every twist and turn we make? And what is the relation between what we physically see with our eyes, and that which we envision inside? Just how does the vista of our lives, help frame our perceptions, and our lives? In turn, how do our experiences, thoughts and emotions effect what we see out upon the horizon?

 

Last week when i went to place a stone and found his home in front of a bench, with a sweeping view of the treed valley of the arboretum and the mountains beyond, all of these questions came back to me – questions i have asked many times, in many locales, with a variety of vistas that have effected me in different ways.

While this came to me, i know it had been silently gnawing at me for some time. Gnawing at me as i walk around the city of Reno, feeling caged at times. Comfortable, yes yearning for more, but not able to see the beyond. Reno sits in a bowl, on the edge of the Great Basin, that expanse of desert land where the few waters do not flow into the sea. A land contained, sitting between two vast mountain ranges – the sierra nevadas just west of here, and the rockies, a long journey away. In between are mountains and valleys, a land where little flourishes and grows, a land of rock and desert scrub that lay beneath an open sky, with little life on the surface to mediate the relation between the two. It is a harsher land, unforgiving at times.

in it i can feel the remnants of a life and history gone by, a time that once was, when seas and plants and large animals, even those that we call dinosaurs flourished here, a very different place it must of been, before it all collapsed, becoming desert and harsh, an environment that supports such little life – and i can only envision what happened – then i shudder and feel a sense of not quite horror, but something that comes close to it. I feel it in the stones, those that are this land, and i feel it as a larger presence when i pass through – as i have a few times. It is a place where people pass through, the booms and busts of the mining towns, those places where the the secrets have been stolen from the earth, where that which lay beneath the surface has been ripped out, exposed, and crushed, without respect to what it may say or reveal. that goes on still, the mining of the earth, and that is what some of the few towns that dot the land are about. but most seems empty, devoid of people, dotted with ghost towns or abandoned mobile homes and it is place i feel that us humans are not meant to live. for me, much of it seems to be haunted, a past gone, yet also a vision, a warning, of what might become.

And that is what i see when i look out in three directions – to the north, south, and especially east – to the brown mountains that form three sides of the bowl. They do not beckon or call me forth, but seem like barriers to a place i have no desire to go – though a place i must pass through if i wish to journey to the other side. A place both of my imagination and one that is real. A place i have spent little time, but have little desire to explore – although i know from my brief trip up a few of the hills, that there is more than meets the eye, there is wisdom in the land, a wisdom of old, a wisdom of ancient times, and also the follies of our day and the not too distant past. a future – of that i am less sure – and as for the present, the now – it seems harsh to me. And thus the vista becomes a barrier, or represents one to me.

In the other direction, to the west, stand the foothills to the Sierra Nevada, a majestic mountain range. The land seems more alive, with a smattering of green, and here my imagination can call me forth – at other times of the year. Winter comes early to those parts, and lasts a very long time, the lands covered in a deep snow, the mountain passes that one must cross to reach the promised land – the rest of california that lay beyond. One would be tempted to say California as the promised land, but the state line is not far from here, and as i know, Truckee is part of that state, a town where cars had a few inches of fresh snow on thier roofs when i passed through last June; a place which in the summer, has night time temperatures that are usually the coldest in the nation. But that i would not know had i not been there before, the vista itself does not tell me that.
At this time of year, i also recollect the infamous Donner Pass, that place where the donner party who were crossing the land all those years, but still not long ago, and got stuck and trapped in the winter snows where the few who survived did so by eating their companions who had died. This is something i know, not from the vista itself, or from experience (though i have camped a few times at the state park that is there today and named after them) – but from what i had read and been told – the stories of the land that have been passed down, stories that form part of our collective consciousness, and part of mine.
Those mountains that i see to the west, have beckoned many a time, for myself at other times of year, and for many right now – and not merely as a place to pass through heading the call of “go west young (wo)man, but as a place in itself.

Lake Tahoe is not far, though i would not know that from what i see from town. That magical lake of deep blue, a holy place gone amuck, with cottages grander than many homes elsewhere dotting much of its shore, towns, some state parks preserving the land, and the national forest that lay above – mainly on the california side. For me it is a place for the summer – of camping and hiking, for i do not ski.

Though it is gearing up as i write, the world class ski hills that surround the lake, that call so many forth at this time of year – a time anticipated with excitement, a time and a place that become magical and alive, a place and activities they are passionate about. And how different these foothills to the west must appear to them right now – for in them, the skiers see something completely different than I.
The vista changes throughout the year – at present the foothills have a light dusting of snow on top, something that has more recently appeared. Again. for i was here two months ago, coming out of the mountains from the north – from susanville, lassen national park, the lakes, down from mount shasta way to the north, and when i arrived the mountains called back to me, how i yearned for them, and wished desperately to go back, to go back to where i had been – and beyond. I went to tahoe and returned, and then an early october snow storm came in and covered all in white, a blanket which i felt closed the mountains to me – for a while at least.

Though i had planned journeys in my mind, to the south, the eastern route to yosemite, which i had not yet taken, and still have not, the time for that having passed by now, at least if i wish to bus and came. Another journey, to the eastern shores of tahoe, the nevada side, another place i have yet to go, and have thought of many a time. But it seems out of reach, The commuter bus to Carson City, the gateway on this side, only runs in the morning and at night, the last morning bus at 6:45am, and i have yet to go. And i ask what does it mean to have a vista shut off, to not be able to get to it? Or where the journey is most difficult? And i have asked this in other locales, where mountains appear, but i have no way to get there, the beyond seeming inaccessible – out of reach. It is then that one feels most trapped – a yearning, a call, one cannot fulfill, or so one believes, and then does one believe that is true for all?

But then i passed through, back to the other side, to the coast, a land of very different vistas that have spoken to me, in so many different ways, at so many times. So much to write about the vistas that have framed my journey, both those that are physical and those that exist inside. I know they are connected, not separate at all, one calling forth the other, until a shift is made, a shift which is often reflected in the other – be it inside or out. And these vistas i meant to write about, but for now it is time to broaden my vista, step out beyond the four walls of the room that surround, that are my vista as i write and type.