Excerpt – One Crow, Joy

A soft, grainy-grey winter morning it is, and I am standing, facing south, looking out from my bedroom window at the sleepy little blink of a village called Rupert. Really all I can see behind the thicket or brush and trees, are a few scattered lights, the hint of some dwellings. Directly before me is my own scrubby yard, filled with elder and balsam poplar and goutweed; a little farther down, a clump of young oaks and cedars, and that towering white pine who stands guardian to the south. My friend and ally, I feel this tree forms a barrier between me and the world “below” – the towns, cities and world outside of Rupert – south of the village. Not far behind him, tucked into the small valley formed by one of our myriad rocky hills and outcroppings, is the Community Centre – a humble place indeed to locate one’s spiritual transformation, and therefore all the better. There is a stream in there, very small and red with iron; the yard itself was once tended to with great love and care, but since I have been here has fallen to great disarray. The loveliness closeby  is marred to the point of absurdity by the presence of the World’s Ugliest Fence, thrown up with a minimum of effort by someone who cared not for beauty of this world if it meant some extra work and expense. Still, there is much loveliness remaining; the trembling aspen, whose song brings me more peace than anything I know in the outside world, the wild roses, the willows across the road, framing Indian Creek. My Libran Ascendent cannot but focus on that fence in the midst of the verdant beauty here. ..still, this is not a story about discontent; this is a story about redemption. And so, I will not talk about the fence, but rather,the spirits who lived within it’s confines; the sweetness and joy it contained, and still does.

On quiet, hushed mornings such as this one, it is as though I can still see them behind the Ugly Walls; his face impassive, somber and alert, those old, old eyes; and then hers, alight with the ever-present smile, the seal-like gaze only apparent when her cheerful and  animated meandering finally stopped a moment. I can see them,milling, watching,  wandering – and they are there.

Nothing is ever lost or forgotten.

I stand looking out this window on a softly snowing weekend morning. There is much to do; there always is, but I need this space apart today. My eyes glance down to the old vanity table in front of me, at the items placed so carefully there. Most of them, I recall from where they came; the chunk of crystal on the left side, for example, was the very first  I ever purchased, at a New Age store in Toronto, probably 25 or 30 years ago. The terra cotta candle holder with the angels painted on the side was a gift from an old and cherished friend, one who got to travel everywhere while I just stayed in my room, as the song goes. The amber candle holder I bought in honour of one of the many gods I love, but then it migrated to this space, a shrine in it’s own way too.  The stone angel – I don’t remember her, or rather where she came from.  She’s so perfect though, I am glad for the inspiration that moved me to bring her home.

The heart shaped stones, now those I found on one of my many walks through these hills. And they too are perfect, sitting as they do in their neat and rustic symmetry, in front of the main items on this table; two funerary urns, one periwinkle blue, tall and sleek; one sandstone and sturdy, shorter but somehow more solid. On the blue urn, a Christmas tree ornament sits waving her magic wand; a gossamer fairy, ethereal, beautiful and full of gentle magic, much as the soul she decorates was in her time on this earth. The Sandstone urn has no decoration save an old silver locket draped around its neck, a locket which, if opened, reveals two kinds of fur tucked inside, one short and golden, the other longer and soft black. The fur of the beings whose ashes lie within.

On the left, Lila, and on the right, Luke.  My dogs, my spirit-friends, loves of my heart,  my teachers.  In this silent, soul-filled and timeless morning,  I take a moment to pray for them, only to send love, only to remember. To look back, to where – perhaps – it all began.

It starts, and it goes on forever, with Lila.

Lila and Lilacs

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my beloved dog Lila’s passing. She was thirteen and a half. I found her in May, 1995, and I lost her in May, 2008. It was, as the song says, not enough. She was the friend of my heart, comforter in sad times and jubilant celebrant of everything else (good, great, ordinary). I’ve always associated her with the scent of the lilacs, and lilacs do symbolize love – on the day she died and we took her still small body to be cremated, I picked a bouquet of white lilacs to go with her. Every year I take a few blossoms into the house to honour her memory. Every May 26 a flood of poignant, painful and beautiful memory comes back to fill my heart. I have never had a friend in human form to parallel what Lila and I shared. She was, truly, my Anam Cara.

So this year, again we’ve had a strange lilac season, I will need to read on this plant and see if it is normal not to bloom every few years; the mauve one which usually produces a glorious abundance of flowers, has  brought forth almost none this year.  We have two white lilacs, and the large one also barely produced.
But yesterday, the little white bush – struggling as she is under the branchings of a white pine – decided to honour the day by bringing out just two – but two perfect – panicles of double cluster white flowers. I took a couple of pictures:

and then, I made a flower essence from a few of the clusters:

and went off to Wakefield, to purchase supplies for my medicine-making adventures – organic olive and almond oils, apple cider vinger in glass bottles, real vanilla extract, vodka, brandy and another box of jars. Although spending money is tight right now, I had to stop at the Farmer’s market to look at the assortment of pies, cheeses, ciders and so on that are usually on offer this time of year.

I did need honey, so stopped at a booth selling the large jars I prefer, and a whole range of herbal honeys – mint, ginger, lemon verbena, sage — and then I saw it – a type of honey I’ve never seen before, and was quite amazed to find – well, look!

Oh yes, that was the echo of my dog’s sweet playful soul, in my heart and ear, and I scrambled up three toonies to pay for it. I have not even tasted this gift of sweetness yet – but I know, it serves as a reminder to me that sweetness and loveliness were Lila’s gifts and she would not want me to be so sad – she would  want me to be happy, tending my garden and making new things and…remembering.

So, after a remembrance day of much emotion I left off with sweetness – of honey, lilacs, and the memory of a dog who was so much more than a “pet” to me…and whose memory, needs to be so much more than tears.