Choose Your Resources Wisely

It was misty on the big thumb that is Clearwater Florida this morning.  We live on the inside curve of the Clearwater-St Petersburg peninsula.  In the armpit, if you will, of “old Tampa Bay.”  The bay is beautiful. Shades of watery blue beneath whitecaps and the shadows of Great Blue Heron wings. A clam pot for birds, a safe passage for kayak and paddleboard the Bay lacks the primordial punch of the great womb that is the Gulf of Mexico.

We drove North and then West to the causeway at Dunedin.  We passed through the gate and maneuvered into a parking lot for 100 with 98 spaces left. The thick fog of a bottom-heavy steel gray cloud was just rising as we kicked off our shoes on flour white sand. Bands of blue green water snaked through the opaque ashen waves as the rising sun topped the palms at the edge of the beach. If you want to have color, you have to have light. Without illumination, life is just shades of gray.

 

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Those that show up at the beach on a morning like this didn’t come with sunscreen and a People magazine.  We come to the edge to restore and rejoice, or to soak up “beach time”, before the vacation runs out. Some stand ankle deep in salty water to reclaim dreams, or discover new journeys. Some come to petition the deities of great bodies of water for their divine assistance. Today I wasn’t clear who was doing what, except for one of us.

I saw them coming.  The two women walked slowly towards us wearing ultramarine blue t-shirts in different sizes. The older woman walked on the left. The deep lines of her face framed her expression of deep gratitude.  Clearly this was an extraordinary day for her to be walking here on this thin strip of land between waters, on this March day, with this young woman.  The older woman held her worn-well Keds in her hand as they walked barefoot near the water. She leaned in, listening attentively to the words that flowed from her companion. Neither seemed to feel the sharp shell rubble or notice the few passersby.  They were intent, focused.

Indeed! They were pregnant with change. The younger woman was supremely pregnant, probably beyond pregnant and well into “overdue.”  She walked strong, straight but with great care, balancing a belly that looked as if it might burst open at any moment.

 

“You came to the right place,”

I thought, thinking of the saltwater that filled that belly. Then I realized,

We are always in the right place,”

The young woman spoke fervently, passionately. Her arm movements animated her story and the old women with the wrinkles smiled a quiet smile. We passed unseen.

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It is my practice to stand at the edge of earth and water to check my trajectory and clear the emotional flotsam. Placing my thoughts in fragile shells, I create a shrine of temporal impermanence that holds my concerns and hopes for this day. The Gulf is my resource for reflection on the mud and miracles that happen daily. I imagine the Nereids float silently nearby, offering illuminating advice that wordlessly seeps into mind and heart through the souls of our feet stuck deep in the moving sands.  Their whispered encouragements float down from Tern’s wing,

 “Be brave! Be strong! Live! Live!”

Standing in sunlight and blue water one moment, and chilly wind of storm clouds the next, it’s all here, and it’s all good.

“Look at the sea, She lives there,

and She knows how it works,”

was my silent reassurance.

I walked up the beach a bit and found a message scratched in the sand by a sure hand on a sturdy stick.  It was addressed to the Sea and the Wisdom herein,

“I am ready now

I am ready now Baby”

March 19, 2018

She chose her Resources wisely I thought, as I wrote,

Godspeed!

in the sand with my toe. We are all in this together.

 

(http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Nereides.html)

Photos: Carol Martell, Honeymoon State Park, Dunedin Florida

In Search of…..What? In Search of Who..? Revisited

redonwoodsThe Devas hold the schedule, I hold the hose.

I am accustomed to tending my own garden of Psyche daily. I work each morning as a medieval monk tending the medicinal herb garden. It’s solitary work. Strong medicines need quiet voices and patient hands. In this garden of “Know thyself,” and it’s corollary “Know Everyone Else”, the Devas hold the schedule, I hold the hose.

I seek the smallest of keys, the softest of voices whose demands create heaven or hell here on earth. I am a devotee of the siren called Relationship. Without relationship, love is lost, if love is lost, all is lost. The answers to the “good life” quest are all right there, floating in the rich soup of interrelatedness. It is appropriate then to find myself here.  Queries of life should be answered in the field, library research is far too easy, far too clean.  It is a shock to witness the deep clouds of aged aloneness that are all around me.  Their solitary presence as palpable as the gnat that floats in my coffee, right under my nose.

Why do so many fragile elders live out such lonely endings to their “Well-lived” Lives?

These are the superfluous thoughts that I ponder in my garden. In Florida, the hearing is hard and time runs short-endlessly. Thoughts are cheap; connection requires deep attention and careful listening. If I wish to hear them, I will. Once heard, I will have to listen, and I already know the sound is deafening.

 

Deva

MysticalconversationredonIndo-European, Sanskrit word for God, originally thought of as feminine. The modern word Goddess has changed connotations to represent a lesser form of divinity. Deva had the meaning we typically think of as the word God today, however God was thought to be the Great Mother.

In Buddhism Devas are highly evolved beings who inhabit different levels of existence. Devas are commonly associated with great beauty and bliss.

Modern New Age versions of Deva’s are thought of similarly to angels, nature spirits, or fairies.
Pronounced Day-va.

 

Is there anybody there?

In the heat of August, our 1960’s era Florida ‘hood seemed nearly abandoned. Air conditioning and cicadas humming in unison, shades pulled against the relentless sun; we are all hunkered down in our separate oasis. In gentler October, I came to discern the fainter life force: there are many more people here than meet the eye. Empty carport and weekly mowing does not necessarily denote a Michigan snowbird’s empty winter escape. Is it a clever vacation timer changing channels in the late night TV glow across the street? Or is there a gnarled hand on a sticky remobecomingRedonte picking endlessly at the arm of a single recliner in that darkened room?  When I look at the blank face of that picture window, I wonder what looks back at me.

By November, my own lack of critical agenda mixed in the Ethers with the timeless energies and endless ebbing of those in 30-year retirements. Only then did I begin to hear them. I accepted the possibility that hearts too fragile to be “out and about” lived amongst us; close by and yet unseen. Yes, some of our neighbors have been here a very, very long time. Current wisdom calls this “Aging in place.” With enough resources one can stay home until you die, sometimes alone, sometimes leaving another alone for the first time in many years.  Sadness and fear are the concrete reinforcement of loneliness, once hardened, so hard to get free.

How can I help and why don’t I want to?

An opportunity to interact with a silent neighbor arrived via Postal indiscretion. West became East and switched mail brought an impromptu visit from a frail neighbor. I didn’t recognize the Deva in the background right away. She stood no taller than my chin.  Her razor sharp blue eyes shimmered above the optimistic swash of pink cheeks. Our visitor knocked on the door with authority belying her tiny stature. I was surprised by the friendly face; she took that in stride; she needed to sit down. Lowering herself into the nearest chair, she announced herself and her mission. Panting a bit, she noted my painting of wings on the wall nearby and identified herself as a fellow painter and designer.

Had I not been wearing my Florida Fairy foiling earmuffs, I would have identified her immediately as one of the “nature folk” or “little people.” Diminutive in size but powerful in Spirit, these forgotten folk are part of mythology worldwide.  Mythology means “replaced by a different idea,” it doesn’t mean “extinct.” It has been my experience that occasionally one of these Folk will drop into our amplitude to whisper in our ear

oldangelRedonor whack us up the backs of the knees all the while screeching “WAKE UP” directly into our hearts. She had appeared at our doorstep having trekked down a half block on slippered feet to deliver a bulk rate package gone amiss. “He” was just out of the hospital that very afternoon from a hernia operation. The timing of this sortie was just so untimely. I was so taken by this elf in my living room and the stream of wordless language flowing out of her that I forgot myself and offered her whatever help I could.

“Oh no, we’re fine. He just isn’t feeling very well.” She said. Another sign of the Wee Folk; reverse hyperbole.

 

Then I heard the Deva, “She wants you to come with her…”

I walked her home, offering first to drive the span of four driveways and a street. She reminded too much of the gentle gray doves we see splayed out on the road because they just won’t hurry. She told me of his stomach pains and his surgery, her cancer and her painting, “He” was installed on the couch when we got back. There would have been surprise on his face as we walked in together, but it would have taken too much strength. He was saving what he had to speak gently to his partner.

Haunted

He told me he came here for the small airport; he was a pilot then. She said they bought the house for the pool; so much fun for his grandchildren. He said, “They are grown now, haven’t been here in such a long time, but they used to like to come.”

There were ghosts of good times watching them; the reapers of regret piling their sheaves high. I sat and listened, learned about life and longing and love. I called on every angel I knew to help them, and to help me know how to leave this house without bundles of baggage that I didn’t pack.

She showed me the pool; vacuum bubbling away on its appointed rounds. When had someone had last jumped into that clear water? Was there ever sand on the floor and food in the fridge? When was there last a child sleeping in the three empty guestrooms with sheets on the beds? My silent questions were sucked into flocked walls and thick carpet and left unanswered. The density in the room dared me to stay longer.

“No food, no wine, no fun!”

She waved at the artwork layered on bookshelves and the cases of small cans of liquid diet stacked in the Formica kitchen. Paints were laid out on a card table in the sun. “Do you paint now?” I asked. She said smiling, “Not inDeathRedon a long time, my back hurts too much.”

I asked if it was hard to not eat food anymore, cancer had taken that too. “No food, no wine, no fun!” she said.

I sat for a while in their living room taking in the dire straits in this home. Health completely gone, mobility quickly disappearing, they were collectively a ship with ravaged sails facing an oncoming storm. I looked for despair but couldn’t find it, neither could I feel anger. It did seem that sadness took up the best part of the couch. The professional part of me asked, “How long could these two support each other and their own disabilities?”

 

The partner part of me knew the real answer: until “Death do they part”, and probably beyond.

I walked home with my bundle of information in a language I didn’t understand. It was heavy and bulky, it smelled a bit rancid. I resented carrying it home, but I did. I put it in my studio room under an unfinished painting. I hoped they would talk between themselves and get back to me on its meaning.

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Well they did. It came to me in the form of a recommended article from a dear old friend from my ancient past. A fellow sojourner in the early days of our “We can do more.” Ideas in the Ether, stay in the ether, unless they are processed via focus and form into concretized products. She wrapped love around that article and sent it out. This my friend, is the product of that bundle. Thank you

To our silent neighbors all around

I know you are there, I hear you and I send you love

Addendum

January 20,2016

Not sure why I revisited this story written when we lived in Venice Florida in 2014. Possibly because we will drive down that street in the next few weeks and I need to remember the heart of it and not just the face. It was a good chapter, full of family and fun. I discovered I needed to find my roots again. I did pull my intention out of the Ethers, we are back in my homelands for this part of the journey.

Our tiny sweet lady’s husband died shortly after this was written, she followed, just a bit later.  I heard this from her neighbor, as she was moved to a “higher level of care.” One of the children moved into all those empty bedrooms with a shiny clean pool. Our “across the street” invisible TV watching gentleman also died that winter while we were away for a weekend. Turns out he did have family. Shortly after, I was holding the hose on some parched Gardenias when I saw a young man move away from the foul tempered house emptying cadre filling a dumpster, to sit on the back bumper of an old van. He bent over out of sight of the the others, and sobbed a river of tears into his hands, shoulders heaving; a heartbreaking scene.

All that sadness, anger, depression, whatever the emotions that existed in that living room were all still there. There’s always someone in each family who chooses or is chosen to hold that basket. The house had been foreclosed upon, those that went in didn’t stay long inside. The living conditions inside were just that bad.

I said a prayer for this sad boy and I thought our tiny neighbor from the wee folk was right there next to me. When we were done, she looked up at me with a look that told me, “You don’t understand now…but you will.”She patted my arm, gave a little wink and walked back up the street to her old house.  I was happy to see a bit of Spring in her step now.

The younger 60’s hippie neighbors to the left of him also left quickly, they did it with a rented truck and a friend’s pickup.  We followed a bit later, selling most everything we had gathered there to a picker with a turkey vulture mentality.  On Ground Hog day we will set off to revisit old territory with a new view of our life. It will be wonderful to see family, watch the sunset, walk the beach.  Thank you Florida for the good lessons well learned.

All paintings by Odilon Redon

http://www.odilon-redon.org

http://terrainwalker.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/native-american-little-people/

 

Maybe the sea is heaven, Maybe heaven is the Sea

What is a beach? What is the sea? Do I reflect her or does she reflect me?

 

SeaGodsWe went down to the beach early this morning. It is a miracle to have unlimited access to “the beach” in the heat of a Florida summer. Few things feel better than immersion in sun warmed salt water. The Gulf is that; a bowl of gathered water and suspended “stuff” all assimilating into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Despite the human need to name and claim, it is not of Mexico, nor of the United States. It is the cupped hands held under the spigot of North America’s rain. Water from the sky holding by force of attraction all the flavors and flotsam of each place and experience on the journey.

The same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here.

But did you know it is all the same water? We are a closed system here on planet Earth, a giant terrarium. Water moves around, as water vapor, liquid water, and ice. Water is a shape shifter, changing its form as conditions dictate. Never lost, only changed.

“Although some matter, such as meteors from outer space, are captured by Earth, very little of the Earth’s substances escape into outer space. This is certainly true about water. Therefore the same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here. The global water cycle dictates that the same water is continually being recycled all around the globe.”

http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/ocean-earth-system/ocean-water-cycle/whaleshark7So there I sat on the nearly uninhabited beach, sun drowsy and half immersed at the edge of the water in a yellow beach chair, communing with the fishes. From a suggestion of an unknown source, I began imagining that I could dissolve into that water, let my molecules float across oceans, and still be conscious. I envisioned drifting without fear through Amphitrite and Poseidon’s domain. And what is the beauty of being dissolved? No concern for fear, or pain, or survival, water always survives. Weightless and worry free; “going with the flow,” in the most literal sense.

I wonder if this is what physical death feels like?

I imagined the behemoth polka-dotted whale shark; the vacuum mouth, filter feeder seen here recently. She swept me up but I passed right through her; no harm done. I wondered about visioning such peace at the time of death, on the anniversary of my birth 59 some years ago. Life is just so tricky.

I think I will call it “Aqua Therapy.” Becoming suspended in the Sea is the perfect solution for the raw chafe of human beings and the pesky nymphs of modern living. Too many electronics? Too many miles? Too many words? Go sink in, soak up the magical medium of life on this planet. Mystical, mercurial changer of shape and form, carrier of life and death, water is the ultimate denominator of life here on the Blue planet. She is the ultimate balancer as well.

Is it an accident of creation or invention that all things electronic can’t survive a simple swim? What does it say about our constant E-companions? TVs, phones, pads and pods are all neutralized by our mother liquid. Yet we are that, a structured cclosedsystemontainer of dissolved minerals. We are that: a very elaborate canteen of fluid and form holding tiny beings, vast communities of differentiated cells, infinitesimal chains holding all human memory.

Maya, Maia, Me

Maybe it was the color of the sky, or the warm gentleness of the water. As the chair sunk into the deep shell sand of the shallows, I contemplated the impermanence of my temporary liquid neighborhood. The tiniest of fish moved rhythmically towards beach, back and forth with the breath of the waves. The edge of water and sand renegotiated with each wave, endless infinite shuffling of inhabitants amidst water, wind or predator.

What came next was a “what if” epiphany. For a moment there was a swirl of illumination. We protect ourselves a lot. We focus without pause on the survival of a body that will not survive… no matter what. We always look up to others and out to belief systems in search of our meaning of life, and our “after life” address. Separating death and life with definite parameters, – like having a human body.

What if heaven is like the sea? What if heaven is the sea? What if we are heaven?

In a Google search for an attractive “Water system” illustration I found this; exploding all facts and theories thus far in place on what water can do, what water can be, where water came from.

Deep Underground, Oceans Of Water May Be Trapped In A Crystal ‘Sponge’

by L. CAROL RITCHIE

June 15, 2014 3:27 PM ET

Science teachers may have to add a whole new layer to the water cycle. Scientists have discovered evidence of a vast reservoir of water hiding up to 400 miles beneath the surface.

“The discovery could transform our understanding of how the planet was formed, suggesting that Earth’s water may have come from within, rather than from collisions with large, icy comets.”

The water is trapped in a blue mineral called ringwoodite that sits in the mantle, a hot, rocky layer between the Earth’s crust and outer core. That means the water is not the familiar liquid, vapor or ice, but a fourth, mineral form. We reported earlier this year on a rare diamond containing a microscopic piece of ringwoodite that bolstered evidence for the vast wet zone.

It is likely the largest reservoir of water on the planet, and could be the source of the oceans’ liquid. The study was published in the journal Science.

The study is also remarkable for the discovery that melting and movement of rock occurs in a layer of the mantle known as the transition zone, between the upper and lower mantles, the Guardian reports. Most melting was thought to occur at much shallower depths.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” said Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University, co-author of the study.

“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades,” he said.

The study relied on seismometers across the U.S. and lab experiments simulating rocks under high pressure, says Nature World News.

“Ringwoodite here is key,” it notes. “Its crystal-like structure makes it act like a sponge and draw in hydrogen and trap water.” It could be a vast amount of water, says the Guardian. “If just 1 percent of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/15/322246690/deep-below-oceans-of-water-may-be-trapped-in-a-crystal-sponge

Nice to meet you ringwoodite.

And where do we go from here?

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Cape San Blas

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“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth”
–Rachel Carson

Cape San Blas

“On the way” to family and Minerva in stasis, is Florida’s Panhandle. With the desire for our favorite vehicle for rest and reboot called “Beach,” we dropped out of the Interstate corridor for some coastline adventure. Moving South eastward, we eased our way through Panama City, one traffic light at a time. This Spring Break Mecca is an older, possibly more tired version of Ft Walton Beach. FWB being a 20- someone’s idea of “The Beach.” The string of beach towns on this corridor are a congestion of high rise hotels, Beachfront Bars, and multiple editions of bright blue beach emporiums memorable for their subtly suggestive 30 ft shark painted on the front. Beach is baudy here. It isn’t a set, or even a back drop to fun in the sun. It is a drop cloth to the uniquely human search for diversion and debauchery. I was hopeful that our destination was something completely different.

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To the Real Estate hawkers, and to internet searchers such as myself it is “the Forgotten Coast.” http://www.forgottencoastline.com/ If forgotten means natural and undeveloped, let’s hope everyone not already living here, continues to have amnesia. This is not a Florida that I have ever seen. It is still alive and breathing. The sands sway on the hips of the gentle and powerful mother gulf, there is life here on the edges.

We are in a place call Cape San Blas, Florida. A thin arm of green trees and white sand sprinkled precariously in the blue water of the Gulf of Mexico facing a real small town called Port St. Joe.” Y’all have a nice day,” seems to have some meaning here. Just after Port St. Joe’s, and just before Indian Pass and Apalachicola a spit of land elbows outward and upward. This pile of sand points at such a rakish angle that movement over time and weather is virtually guaranteed. The real estate signs announce these lots as X. As in X marks the spot for the next washout. Don’t bother to call us unless you like risk, the risk of discounting the purpose of barrier beach in the natural scheme of things. There is a great deal of humor in Nature.

Apalachicola…., let that name roll off your tongue a few times. Apalachicola. It is somehow more than a name. It creates a sound that is something between a song and a sneeze. Anyplace with a name that melodic must hold some magic. This is the land of oysters and shrimp by sea and hushpuppies by land. It is impossibly white sand that is soft on the feet, small waves to watch and sunsets that delineate the days. A good place to catch up with the pieces of ourselves that we have dropped along the way.