Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Perfect Morning

“The Kiss of the Sun for Pardon,

the Song of the Birds for Mirth.
One is closer to God in a Garden
than anyplace else on Earth.”

My Grandmother carried this poem inside her all her life. It’s one of the first verses I remember, and it still pops into my head today, especially on a beautiful Spring morning when I’m looking forward to getting my hands into the dirt.

With my Grandma, I experienced the fairy smell of Sweet Peas that draped deliciously over a high wall in her garden. There was the dark mystery of the moist African Violets on her kitchen windowsill, and I learned that you could grow Geraniums from cuttings by sticking them into the soil and watering them dutifully.

Right now (as I write this) I’m watching a hummingbird drink from the furry red sage blossoms hanging over the deck outside the glass door to my bedroom. Its magenta throat feathers shine brightly in the morning light. Happiness and bliss flow into me as I see this, the simple, timeless pleasure of birds and flowers together.

The phrase "Ten minutes in nature is equivalent to a year in therapy" strayed into my life this week. Along with the statement was a picture of a tranquil garden, glowing, wet, lovely. Comments to this post included the kind of longing I know so well: to be in Nature, to be healed of our worries by quiet sunlight, birdsong, a warm breeze.

And yet, it’s not Nature that heals us, exactly, but our openness to Nature that nurtures us without fail, throughout our lives. That is the trick. I can say this with confidence after almost 20 years of living in Big Sur, with all its dramatic ups and downs. There is just as much psychic pain here as among humans anywhere, with the small difference that if we step outside our doors, take some deep breaths, watch a sunset, or go for a walk, we feel immensely better.

Without beauty of some kind, the human soul shrivels, angst festers, lives go off the rails. Staying open to nature, to art, to love, by feeling this pulse of energy, we stay in touch with Life.

I visited not one but two precious City gardens this weekend, and the Geranium cuttings my friend Hiroko gave me have inspired me to get dirty today in my garden beside the claw foot tub on the edge of the canyon. My vision is that our guests will scent their steaming baths with various types of fragrant Geraniums, as well with the Lavender and Rosemary nearby, so I’ll plant the stems with the soft sweet-smelling leaves, their shape repeated in purple in the center of each leaf.

Then I will weed, because I promised to. And my mushy, confused modern heart will be soothed by the love of our greatest Mother. She is the one we can always turn to, the one who lives in the Earth, the Sky, the Sea, and deeply, truthfully, inside each of us.

Perfect Morning
The Gram I remember
Photos by Linda Sonrisa

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Seconds to Go

Overheard at the Seconds-to-Go Resale Shop on Fillmore Street in San Francisco one Friday afternoon recently: "I'd wish you luck, but I see that the Shopping Goddess has already smiled on you."

Those of us who secretly love the pursuit of stuff, yet take pride in doing it on the cheap, find this whimsical goddess smiles on us in second-hand stores, especially classy ones. This particular temple on Fillmore re-sells donated goodies for the benefit of the SF Schools of the Sacred Heart, raising over $1 million dollars in financial aid over the past three decades.

My companion on this last adventure found my wedding dress for me at a little place called Second Time Around, in San Luis Obispo. I remember Nat King Cole singing Unforgettable on the radio as we browsed in a large closet-sized room filled with wedding dresses of nuptials past. As I inhaled the gentle, mature fabrics, some crisp, some soft, some still glittering with the joy their owners had felt, I knew that this moment would be unforgettable for me, crystal clear in my heart, all these years later.

She pulled the dress off the rack, I tried it on, decided immediately, then we went to have a delicious Thai lunch. (It's a pattern we've repeated over the years on other shopping expeditions.) The dress was perfect: subtle rainbow irridescent beadwork, elegant tapered sleeves, a multitude of cloth-covered buttons up the back. Plus the skirt spun beautifully! I felt a moment of pure silence in my soul as my new husband twirled me around on the lawn at the Henry Miller Library, the white satin flowing outward in a dramatic crescent, soft green grass whirling past.

Now we shop for our husbands, her son, and each other on our dynamic meanderings in the land of thrift-store serendipity. It's a game for us to find just the right item, to seduce each other into buying, say, the perfect pair of shoes. After all, what are friends for? To teach you how to love yourself better through their generous understanding. And to help you enjoy sexy footwear, of course.

Finding the unforeseen ideal object requires openness, and a quality of presence that is refreshing. When we pay attention, who knows what we will find in life, or what will find us, at any moment? I actually consider consumer browsing a meditation of sorts, and why not? The Shopping Goddess is real, and loves to smile grandly upon her devotees!

The magical dress