Sep 21, 2009

Gratitude Day

I woke up this morning counting my blessings. Unusual for me. On a Monday.
I was recognizing the smallest of gifts in my life.
I get up at 5:30 AM to sneak into the capitol city where I work. Since I live a good 30 miles from my office, I steel myself with good coffee. These thoughts danced in my head this morning. Maybe it was the weather (last day of summer) or maybe it was the words from Together, Alone still rang true in my head...how quiet solitude (Sacred Silence in the Lipan Apache tradition) can bring relief from the "gnats" flying around our head.
I am grateful for Ruta Maya coffee.
I am grateful for my home and dogs.
I am grateful the chickens went in the coop to roost.
I am blessed to be loved by a good man.
Yes, I noticed I put my beloved last on the list.
But that is really a good thing- he allows me to attend to my business and doesn't mind his place on the list.
He knows about the transcendence of such relationships like we have. Like the alpha and omega of it all.
We have, after all, grown old together, as I tease him.
And oh, yes, I am grateful I can use my left hand to open cans, grind fresh pepper and all the things primates are supposed to be able to do with opposable thumbs.
My young white shepherd dog could tell my mood was different this morning. Instead of sitting and staring at me safely from the doorway while I bustled around the kitchen, she approached me with her head down, ears back, tail wagging- expecting a happy greeting from me this morning. In a June Cleaver moment, I met Ron when he came downstairs, with his steaming Earl Grey tea and a kiss.
The cooler, but still summer air, greeted me when I stepped off the porch to begin my commute. In the dark, I recognize each silhouetted live oak branch hanging over the driveway. In the country, with no lights, you would be amazed at how well you can see "in the dark!"
I heard the litany of celebrations for the day from the radio:
"Get of town day, Drive the speed limit day and..... Gratitude Day!"

That explains it (wink)- right?
I think that (to weakly paraphrase)it is more like Merton puts forth- the contemplative life is the only life worthwhile. I read Merton in my teenage years. My mother left a copy of Zen and the birds of appetite (1968) by Thomas Merton on the back of the toilet for bathroom reading. In retrospect, that seems a little strange to me.
Whether this was some sort of strategy of my mother's to influence me, or simply this is where she found the time and privacy to read the book, reading that book shaped me and guided me when my mother's words faded in a fog, getting lost in my adolescent angst.
Reading is my meditation and I felt rejuvenated by my weekend reading. My Gemini nature loves language, words, concepts, thoughts, thinking, questioning.
I reflect on the miracle of water as I swim.
Imagine how luxurious simple hydrogen and oxygen feels when combined and experienced on a 90 degree summer day. Add a little salt to the mix and 'every thing's gonna be all right.'
My body melds into this chemical combination and I become fluid, placid, ever- changing, reflecting light in dancing sparkles, mirroring the cerulean hues of the sky.

Before I went to bed, I indulged myself in yet one more book, Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden. This is more of a coffee table book, but I immersed myself in the beautiful color photos of gardens around the world.
The plant lists are confusing and a bit frustrating as I know not all will grow in my backyard. I did read her rationale for dealing with the book this way, that certainly micro-zones can be created in nooks and crannies of gardens, regardless of the "zone" deemed suitable by government experts. Since the Ogdens have a garden in Austin, I can at least get clues from what they are successfully growing.
I have always had a "let's see how these plants do..." attitude.
I mentioned in my last post the recurring disappointment after planting dogwoods, forsythia, lantana and hibiscus. Most all my succulent collection is long gone after nurturing them for 15 yrs, I gave up. I have often put plants in the ground, and if I stumble across them still alive, I am grateful. I wonder what happened to the Bois d'arc I planted? Did I plant that Escarpment Black Cherry (Rosaceae Prunus serotina)over there? Hmmm- maybe I could keep a journal on what I plant and where...

In 2001 I brought home 4 white oak acorns from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, planted them around them meadow, each in one of the cardinal directions with a prayer in my heart and forgot about them.
In 2004, I discovered the short saplings with awe. In 2009, they dried up with the worst drought I could ever imagine. Perhaps they will sprout some new shoots if we have the El Nino winter we are due.

I like the theme of the book- to consider the spirit of the plant and to allow that to guide the design of gardens and landscapes.
Indeed, the agaves I spirited away from my old neighborhood near 38 1/2 St. 30 yrs ago thrive in my "yard" now. (5 acres is a big yard)
I have sold agave pups for charity and given away as many as I can. I am fairly certain, mine are healthy and nematode free.
I am reminded of a theme of the last few chapters of Together Alone that highlight a spiritual side to life... how our inward view projects on our outward manifestations.
Do you supposed that with this new, softer, giving-thanks me could revive some of my plantings with effervescent color rather than the spiny cactus that are well established in my landscape?
I suspect so.
My mantra has been since I learned to live closer to earth,
"Prosperity is relating, not acquiring."
This quote I read in a Tom Brown Jr book attributed to Grandfather a wise, knowing Lipan Apache.
I reflect that while I was sitting in the bathroom, alone with Merton, Tom Brown Jr was wandering the woods of the New Jersey Pine Barrens with Grandfather.
Tom,a man about my age, in the 1960's, learned to name the plants in his backyard. He learned the skills required to be a good steward of natural places. His journals from that time are the basis for books and lessons to children of the earth. He still works tirelessly to protect the Medicine Waters and other special places that are home to the delicate pitcher plant, thorny blueberries and countless healing herbs.
I shall now be reminded to share that philosophy of prosperity with the new plants I shelter and give home to this fall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on gratitude. It should be very much helpfull

Thanks,
Karim - Mind Power