At our spring equinox celebration, one of the women gave everyone a little clay dish. We didn't know what was going to be put into it, until after a mysterious box was passed around.
It was dark inside the box, and there was little to be seen. But we were asked to listen. A mysterious sound came out of the darkness. a kind of rasping, munching sound, like something being turned over.
What was being turned over was the black soil, being munched and processed by dozens of tiny worms. Did you know that worms can be heard having their dinner?
Maori tohunga (priests) used to put their ears to the ground in spring to listen to the worms awakening.
We all took a scoop of the rich worm compost to fill the little clay cups. Then we were given tiny, almost invisible seeds to sprinkle into the soil, followed by a little pour of water.
All the ingredients for growth are present. The clay will naturally dissolve into the soil, and the well-nourished seeds are free to sprout, raise their heads, and one day, to flower.
But will they?
The amaryllis, which has hidden in a seemingly empty pot for the last ten months, has suddenly shot up into the light. The jade plant has turned golden. The snapdragons are breaking out into glorious colour. In this season, anything is possible. I will expect red poppies one day.
The source is within you
And the whole world is springing up from it. —Rumi
Happy spring equinox! Light and dark are equal today, in balance.
Out at the bach, bluebells are flowering and the hen and chickens ferns are covered in tiny 'chicks'.
The light will now increase until summer solstice. Today after days of rain and storms, with snow on the Desert Road, the air has cleared and the sun is shining.
Memories are surfacing from the quiet earth with these bluebells. They came from my father's garden and have been invisibly multiplying under the surface of the ground, year after year. Every spring they rise up and ring their bells, with a soothing blue sound. They surprise me, and bring back happy memories of my dad.
Equinox is the season of rejoicing and regeneration.
To those of you in the northern hemisphere, we are especially connected on this day, because our nights and days are the same length. Then we will begin our separate journeys, yours into darkness and ours into increasing light.
Happy equinox, wherever you are. May you find balance and delight in nature on this day.
Don't mind the weather, they said, and I brought my umbrella, which luckily turned out to be green.
I didn't need a speech on climate change, and nor did anyone else. We were there because we already cared. (UN chief Ban Ki Moon has called an urgent summit on climate change for 23 September in New York, and all over the world people are marching and creating events.) But it filled in time while we waited for the rain to stop,
which it did. Then, up on the dunes we began to form a green heart.
Even the dogs wore green.
Hold your green towel, or cloth, above your head, and to the sound of the drum, lift it up and down, they said. Which we did. It took a few practices, and there we were, one hundred and sixty five of us, one pulsating heart, beating in unison at last. It took two to hold some pieces of cloth.
I lifted my green umbrella up and down to the beat of the drum. The green heart began to beat. I could feel the earth beating through us. Overhead a plane circled with a camera-person inside. On a high point of the dunes, local film-maker Briar stood, her camera whirring.
What did it look like? When the film clip is posted on Facebook, I'll find out. And I'll put the link right here.
* No film yet, but here's a link to some still photos
Here's the link to the video, just posted
When spring hides her face, disappearing behind veils of rain, I create altars.
Not altars in the religious sense, but rather altars in homage to nature, and the seasons.
This is the definition I give in my book, 'A Cup of Sunlight':
'An altar is a collection of objects that serve as a focus for spiritual awareness.'
This one helps me to gaze into the eye of spring,
to lose myself in its greening energy. I remember the force that drives through all living things in this season, and the impulse to growth, change and transformation that is so strong now.
A green candle, the water of life, and the sweet scents of freesias and hyacinths make another altar on yet another day when the rain and wind fly through the air.
Spring is the season of surprise.
I have no memory of ever having planted the blue hyacinth above, which popped up in triplicate out of an apparently inert pot. Maybe it was the one I bought last year, that promised to flower but then disappointed and faded away. Last year's disappointment is this year's delight.
My altars make me smile, and help me to hold faith with the knowledge that spring really is here, even when the cold blasts outside would have me fooled.
'The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.'—Gertrude A. Wister
I'm so lucky to have a birthday that falls on the threshold of spring,
when all of nature is bursting into a song of welcome. This year, I was so busy with the birthing of the littlest one, nearly four weeks early, that at first I thought I had no time to celebrate.
But I'm glad I did, with a simple dinner for some old friends, most of whom live in my neighbourhood.
They brought food, flowers and the gift of their good company. As we ate, someone suggested that they all share in turns the story of how they first met me.
Much hilarity broke forth, because I have lived an adventurous life and so have my friends. They all had colourful tales to tell, as bright as the flowers they brought.
Some of them have known me for thirty years or more. Our friendships have flowered and have kept on flowering with every spring.
After they left, and the house was silent once more, I was left with my reflections. For nearly two weeks spring perfume has filled my living room, and the sound of my friends' laughter has reverberated from every corner.
'We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Spring has come early this year, despite snowy setbacks and chilly chivying.
The magnolias are not worried. They are spreading their fragrance across the skies
and their beauty through the air,
The little one is with me for the weekend, because the magnolias are not the only thing that is eager and early this spring.
Last night the littlest one was born, unexpectedly, nearly four weeks before the due date. This morning I took the little one into the hospital, where we saw her baby sister for the first time.
New life is so tender. This one is full of sleep. Tomorrow we might catch her awake and see her eyes. Every day will be more awake than the one before.
We come home and sort embroidery threads, into subtle colours, and bright ones, and colours that match the baby quilt I'm stitching. The little one has gathered this collection together because, she says, they are the colours of joy.
Did I know this tenderness was about to flood our lives? On my Facebook Books page, only a day or two before, I posted these words from my book 'A Cup of Sunlight':
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all
Radiating kindness over the entire world.
I wish you all loving kindness that fills your hearts and spreads across the skies with the fragrance of magnolias.