Monday, September 24, 2012

Blueberries and Bears

The moss all over the Douglas firs on Vancouver Island is truly magic. The light coming through is the softest, deepest of greens. It makes you breathe more slowly. It is full of old stories, humus.

On our way to Good Nature Farm, Callie and I stopped on the highway and wandered along a trail to this waterfall, which looks glowing here, because I smudged my camera lens by accident... The effect, however, more closely approximates what it was like to encounter this waterfall, and swim in the clear cold water at its base.

Now, I am picking blueberries. They are dusty and dew-wet at dawn, sweet as heaven, and huge.

After working, we swam in this lake the other day-- clearer than you can imagine, so good on my dusty skin.

Despite the beauty of blueberries, in order to pick them well you have to taste them on every side of the branch, and it can result in quite a stomach ache after a few hours!  Believe me! So, I relish the job of stacking firewood, which I find quite meditative-- I could do it all day, as the rainclouds gather and the smells of woodsmoke fill the air.

I will post more photos and words when I get home-- here, the internet is slow and there is not much time to use it.

The other day, a black bear was spotted in a tree just past the farm, in the red cedar woods. She has been on my mind since then, a beautiful dark presence in the forest, a wild life, like a dream to me. Across the street is an unfinished Buddhist temple where I sat for several mornings, next to the huge golden Buddha statue, all surrounded in plywood, and wrote. Here is one of the poems, full of blueberries and bears and the deep blue water that surrounds Vancouver Island:

The water is blue as blueberries
down there, along the edge,
it is blue as freedom
as the cold morning
and the fields of berries
where I will pick until
the world is a blueberry,
round and dusky in its perfect jacket,
and the black bears along the forest edge
come smelling at my fingertips,
my blue eyes, for that sweet globe
blue as the free wide waters,
as peace, sitting in a half-made temple,
at dawn, before the picking starts,
with the plywood, scaffolding, and
Golden Buddha big and calm.
He and the wood parts
rest here as equals,
easy in the unfinished,
in the world still being created
that is also your bear-loved
blueberry heart.

The mystery of bears...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ruckle Farm, Salt Spring Island

This is Grandma's Bay, a quiet cove just a few minutes walk from the farm on Salt Spring Island, BC, where I currently find myself. It is just a little surreal, to wake up at sunrise and walk down here with my cup of tea before the day's work begins.

I walk past these fields of sheep and highland cattle with my tea as the sun touches the tops of the trees and the air smells sweet and cold.

And then the harvesting begins. Yesterday (can it be?), the other volunteer farmer (WWOOFER), Callie, and I harvested this whole row of beautiful pumpkins and squash, as the dill blew in the wind and the highland cows over the fence lowed for us to throw the squash vines over faster...

Our squash and pumpkin bounty, harvested and washed almost all yesterday! My arms are sore and scratched, and I slept heavily. A beautiful feeling, fresh air and sun and blackberries now and then, all day long.

I wanted to come up here, the farther northern coast of this western coast of pine forest and wild bluff that I love so much, to fill myself with fresh air, to make my whole body sore with work, to learn a few new things, before heading back into some writing projects in my wonderful, sweet home in Berkeley. This island is too beautiful for words-- pure lakes, stars thick and bright, sheep catching and bean picking by day...... But it also makes me appreciate my home so deeply, that bright calm nurturing center at the heart of my life, in the foggy hills of the East Bay, with my love and some carrot boxes and a leggy tangle of indigo plants, my family and his just across the wide and windy bay.

In the words of Rebecca Solnit, as found at Terri Windling's Drawing Board a few days back:

The desire to go home is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love."

And perhaps, in the end, part of traveling somewhere new is to deepen all the star-lines in yourself that lead you back home. Last night, Callie and I walked to the sea and back as the stars came out thick and the Milky Way ran above us like a pale river. Inside each of us, perhaps there is a great web just like that, and home at the center, where the things and people you love are, and you go on little adventures out into the world to find your way back again to that great silver heart.

More photos soon! For now, I am weary in all my muscles from a long day outside. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deerstone Felts: Come in and Visit!

Something new has been launched-- Deerstone Felts, my little shop full of hand-felted wares-- tea cozies, window valances, and all manner of earthen and also magical things. It has only a humble selection to start, but I wanted to get it off its feet and out into the world.

You can find it here, on Etsy. Here is the rambling description, just to give you a flavor. 

"Deerstone Felts is filled with hand-felted pieces inspired by the textures of earth, stone and animal skin, embroidered with the silhouettes of animals and other organic shapes. The name "deerstone" refers to the mysterious and powerful Siberian standing stones carved with reindeer, eagles and other wild creatures of the steppe. Deerstone Feltworks will pay homage to the ancient human artistic tradition of carving or painting animals on the walls of caves, invoking the magic and bounty of the natural world.

The process of wet-felting is the most ancient textile art in the world, with its origins far, far back in the steppes and caves of the Paleolithic and early Neolithic eras. Each piece is made with meditative care, often out in the yard with the birds flitting overhead, while the wool is layered, wetted, soaped and agitated by hand. The process is always a little bit of a mystery, because the wool, once wetted and then locked to itself via much agitation, changes its shape and patterns. This is one of my favorite things about creating works of felt-- they take on a life of their own! No two are ever exactly alike."

Also, this black walnut-lady is in the works, and will be up for sale soon....

Finally, here are a few photos of the process itself-- soap, bubble wrap, netting, wet wool, hands.

So, do come on in and visit!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh, the Flowers of Late Summer

Ok, just briefly I need to express the joy of flowers...

Really, there are few things that just thrill me all the way through like the beauty of late summer flowers, bright and so rich in their colors it aches deliciously to see them.

Dahlias, oh my heart. From the Blue Heron farm-stand... They filled my day with light. I can't stop looking at them and smiling. I suppose that's what they do to bees, too...

My mother's garden. In the summer it just bursts with life and color. It is truly magic, I don't even know what to do with myself when I'm in it.

The Ur-Mother sunflower, we call her, in my mother's garden across the bay. Truly, that lady's flower is as big as my torso. Good heavens.

There's nothing like an armload of dahilas on an early September evening, as the soft-sun-sky turns gently to silver fog with the dusk coming in. I have come to love so much the summer rhythms of morning and evening fog up here on the lip of Wildcat Canyon.

And why is it, truly, that flowers bring joy, that they have the power to lift the spirit so fully?