Archive for February 2009
It’s 5.30 am and I’m heading down to the garden. This is my favourite time of the day – just me and the dawn chorus. No people; no extraneous noise. Peace and tranquility.
The gardens are beautiful. Not regimented like the gardens of large buildings usually are, but rambling and cottage-like, and are obviously very well tended. There are little grottos made of stone dotted about, and some delightful statuary, and not all of it religious in nature either. There is a beautiful bronze mermaid laying languorously on a large rock, with her fingertips in the fishpond. The fishpond is only small, and is home to a few goldfish and a frog or two. It is surrounded by a variety of ferns.
Through a very ornate iron gate is the abbey’s walled kitchen garden. Every variety of vegetable and herb is here, and all grown on sustainable, permaculture principles. Every inch is used. There are compost bins in one corner and I can hear the steady buzz of a beehive somewhere. Espalier fruit trees – apples, pears and stone fruits – stretch their limbs across the faces of the walls. This all accounts for the delicious flavour and quality of the meals served to us.
I’ve wandered around, sniffing the flowers and herbs and I’ve made myself a small posey to put in a glass in my room.
I can hear movement now, so I will go and wash and make my way to the refectory for breakfast. I have no idea what the day will hold; I’m not sure if activities are organised or if you can wander at will, but I can ask someone.
Ah, there’s Woody and Sal, coming down the stairs. ‘Morning, you two. I’ll join you in the refectory in a few minutes. I just have to have a wash.’
‘Did your bed soften up after you got in it?’ said Woody.
‘Yes, I had a wonderful night’s sleep.’
‘Well, we’ve discovered another bit of magic. We were having a wash in that ice-cold bathroom, and I said ‘I wish this were warm water’, and, just like that, it was!’
‘Oooh, thanks for telling me. I’ll be down in about five minutes.’ And I headed towards the bathroom. I think I might risk a bath after breakfast if I can have warm water.
“Viriginia, Oodgeroo, Emily” the Old Man in the Green Turban called the three writing owls that I had known back when I lived on my island. I placed my two wings in the palm of my hand. The feathers tickled and made me giggle- but then my giggle changed into a “tuwhoo tuwhoo” and I was an owl myself.
The Old Man in the Green Turban had turned into a giant tree and the three owls were seated on his branches. The tree whispered “fly” – I hesitated the tree boomed “fly” and so I flew and saw with Owl’s Eyes.
Above it all – I saw with the Owl’s Eyes- patterns made by rivers and lakes, mountains rising to peaks, orange soil sown for the coming crops, fields full of sleeping goats- and I felt my tummy rumble- and instinct kick in.
I saw a lighthouse and it was then that Viriginia the Owl flew down and I followed. I felt a bit off balance as we swooped down to the lighthouse. Flying and looking, flying and looking until I became the thing I looked at and I was looking at a tasty mouse- trying to break into the lighthouse. I swooped and grabbed and was satisfied with my feed.
I looked into the house and saw the ghost of a lady with a green shawl staring out at me – lost in her beauty and her sadness. I put my head to one side. Virginia and I perched on the tree as the lady with the green shawl came out to sit with us. Together we saw light, darkness, povery, wealth, wings, dust, leaves, and wind- it all swirled around us.
I was flying again, “tuwhoo, farewell Viriginia” this time I followed Oodgeroo- she took me to a place of stories dreaming the landscape. We followed the caterpillar in the mountains, taking flight into blue butterfly- we stopped and danced with the brolga. For a moment I became a human seeking to understand the story of how I became an owl- I danced an owl dance, and danced the owl into the landscape.
I listened to the landscape with Oodgeroo and reread her poems – and her lifestory. Grass roots solutions, education, how wise she was, before her time. No outside of time. I saw her flying with her son.
They were gone and I was now flying to the Ferry with Emily- Emily pouring hope into my feathers, and urging me to fly on to the wharf where the ferry waited. She sang her songs, her poems – and we swooped and settled back onto the tree man, the green turbaned old man, and my wings appeared back on my hand.
I stood at the base of the tree, for now the green turbaned man was gone, back into the soul of the island.
The Tree Man
(c) June Perkins all rights reserved.
For more of this adventure head to Unity’s Cabin
I left my room a few minutes before seven and, just outside my door bumped into Woody, a friend from the ship. ‘I didn’t see you on the ferry,’ I said.
‘I was in the wheelhouse, chatting to Ishmael, and I didn’t get off until after the first carts had left. We have a friend in common and were having a good old natter.’
‘How’s your room?’
‘Cosy, seems an appropriate word.’ she said, ‘ Have you tried your bed?’
‘Mmm.’ I replied, ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to get out of it in the morning and if I do, I will be walking around like Quasimodo until at least lunchtime. My days of being able to sleep anywhere are long gone.’
‘I know, I like a soft mattress too. Maybe we’ll be able to get an overlay or something.’
‘Perhaps there’s a pea hidden underneath, to see if we are really princesses,’ I said, grinning.
‘I know this abbey’s order advocates austerity, but I didn’t think it would apply to the guests,’ said Woody, ‘We’ll probably get gruel for dinner!’ We got the giggles going down the stairs, but managed to get ourselves under control before entering the refectory.
On the right, as we entered the doors, was a wall of the most magnificent stained glass windows I’ve ever seen. They must have been about eighteen feet tall and were set off in all their glory by the setting sun. On the wall opposite were portraits of past Abbesses dating from about the mid fifteen-hundreds to the present day. The vaulted ceiling was high and made of stone, with gargoyles featured on the tops of the pillars. Along the short end wall opposite the door, was a huge and old wooden crucifix, and beneath it a long table spread with a white damask cloth and laden with a variety of foods and bottles of wine.
Several of the guests were already seated at the tables, and we joined them. All the nuns were seated together on one, very long table. At 7.00 pm on the dot, the doors were closed and bolted. (Mental note) Tardiness for meals is obviously discouraged. The Abbess stood in front of the food table and asked us all to join hands for the benediction, which we did. Thanks were offered up in Latin, which is not in my repertoire, so I just waited and joined in with the ‘Amen’.
‘We would like to welcome you as our guests.’ she said, ‘While we observe vows of poverty and austerity, our guests are not expected to do the same. Please, help yourselves from the buffet. We take our meals in silence, and would ask you to respect this. We hope you will enjoy your stay and take advantage of all the island has to offer.’ Woody and I were elbowing each other like kids at school camp. ‘Please, don’t make me laugh,’ I whispered, and decided to avoid eye contact until the meal was over.
The fare was delicious and far from the gruel we were expecting. There were tender, spring lamb chops, steaks and shepherd’s pie and a wonderful range of vegetables. The bread and the wine were products of the abbey, and there was a bottle of the famous abbey liqueur Liquid Velvet for us to taste after the meal. Apparently it’s made from roses, blueberries, mead and spices and has been made by the abbey for four centuries. I was so hungry I was really looking forward to the meal until I glanced over at the nuns and saw that they each had a bowl of thin soup and a roll. This took the edge right off my appetite, and I just chose a couple of chops and a few veggies.
The wine was excellent – very smooth and fruity. When everyone had finished eating, the nuns served each of us a tiny glass of the liqueur. Oh, it was ambrosia! I’m definitely taking a few bottles of that back to the ship.
We approached the Abbess with our concerns about the firmness of the mattresses, but she told us not to worry, all would be well, and that we would sleep soundly. We left the refectory and looked at one another with raised eyebrows, saying nothing. On the way back to our rooms, I asked Woody if she fancied a wander into the town of Gilead, which was situated a couple of miles inland from the abbey. ‘Sounds like fun,’ she said, so we grabbed a couple of cardigans in case it turned chilly later.
The roadway meandered through the woods and down to a sheltered hollow containing the town. No motorised vehicles are allowed on the island, but we saw a few bicycles and donkeys. There were also several people on foot. It was twilight by the time we reached the town and lights were beginning to appear. We wandered around the streets and gazed into shop windows. Lenore is noted for its artisans and there were some beautiful items on display. The shops were all closed, of course, so we decided to shop for souvenirs the next day.
The strains of cheerful music and laughter wafted towards us on the gentle breeze, so we went to find where it was coming from. It was a small cafe on the edge of the town square. Obviously a popular place, as it was quite crowded. We waited for a table and then sat down and ordered coffee. ‘Do you have Tim Tams?’ I asked. ‘My friend here has never experienced the delights of Tim Tams.’
‘Certainly, ladies. Coffee and Tim Tams it is,’ and he returned a few minutes later with our coffees and half a dozen of the delicious biscuits.
‘Now, Woody, I am going to teach you the fine art of Tim Tam straws.’
I showed her how to bite of diagonally opposing corners of the chocolate covered biscuit and then suck her coffee through it. Oooh, decadence!! The hot coffee melts all the inside of the biscuit and makes it all soft; but you can only do two or three. Any more than that and you would be sick.
Woody was delighted to have mastered the art, and we sat laughing over the mess the warm chocolate made. We sat and talked for an hour about our various experiences on the cruise, and then took a leisurely walk back to the abbey.
I think I’m going to have to check out if there’s anything in my magic walnut shell that can have some influence on that mattress.
*Postscript – Having found nothing appropriate in the walnut shell, and having no other option, I lay down on the bed. As I lifted up my feet and pulled them onto the mattress it suddenly became soft. Yet another amazing happening. That must have been what the Abbess meant when we spoke to her. I hoped Woody’s was nice and comfortable, too.
I decide to leave Ms. Gigi to spend time alone on the ship. I’m sure she had tricks to pull, games to play, and shapes to assume. I am meant to enter the land of spirit and owl medicine alone.
For some reason, I can’t wait to get to White Owl Island. It is time for the Festival of the Charming of the Plow and quite a celebration from what I am told. However, my excitement goes deeper than the celebrating.
The Warriors of White Owl Island are there to ensure the intention of celebrating is clearly focused. Oh, but they are magnificent women; definitely women who can hold their own and are not to be trifled with. They are tall and broad, well-muscled with very round heads and large round amber eyes. The women look akin to owls. Their long hair is white. Their dresses look like Wilma Flinstone’s of the famed caveman cartoon, with a strap over one shoulder, fitted at the waist and an uneven hem. The dresses are silky and look to be spun of moonbeams. I so want to get closer to see the material, but one stare of those amber eyes is enough to make me back away several steps. Their boots are ankle high and made of a durable scalely material. Hanging nearby are full length hooded capes made of owl feathers. They are so beautiful and I am tempted to put one on to feel their softness. But I’n not stupid! I know better than to mess with a White Owl Warrior!
As I’m assessing the clothing and physical appearancesof the warriors, I am shocked when one turns her head all the way around to look at an approaching visitor. What other owl attributes do these women have? If I were to venture a guess, a silent advance and curved sharp talons would head my list. Though curious I am, it’s not enough to find out!
I join the celebration, singing and dancing my joy and my heart. I close my eyes, open my heart, let go of all the love that is within me, allowing all the love from the crowd surrounding me to surge through me. It is incredible, this love I feel. It is as comforting and warm as the fire that burns within me.
I allow my eyes to open of their own accord. As they focus I find standing before me was my spirit guide, Red Cloud. I am familiar with Red Cloud, but have not actually met him face to face before. I am so honored! But I am not sure if I should bow or curtsy. I made a fist, placing it over my heart in a gesture of love.
“Greetings, Singing Heart. Welcome to White Owl Island. You are welcome to join us in the sweat lodge, if you would like.” “No, thank you, Red Cloud,” I reply. “I am not one for the intense heat, but I would be happy to assist the firekeeper.” “That is not necessary. We will smudge with sunflower root as I know of your sensitivity to white sage. Then we will walk to the woods and speak of the meaning of owl medicine.”
I am honored to be invited into the sweat lodges as it is typically a ritual cleansing for men. Women have the moon lodge for their monthly cleansing. I had already moved into the Grandmother lodge since I no longer have my moontime. Smudging is a ritual of cleansing and purification for the physical and spiritual body using smoke instead of intense heat and is much more suited to my heat sensitive body. (Hey! I’ve been in a few sweat lodges, some with Latkota Sioux men who were impressed with my stamina and visions! They said I did good for a white woman.)
I love smudging with the root of the sunflower, my favorite flower. I cup my hands to capture the smoke and pull it to my head so that I may think, see, hear, and speak the words of truth and beauty as does one who walks the red road and path of beauty. I pull the smoke bringing it to my heart so that I will remember to feel love and compassion of the Creator. I raise both feet (one at a time, of course) over the smoke to remember the responsibilities of walking the red road and beauty path. Red Cloud uses a fan made of owl feathers to fan the smoke from head to toe around my body front to back to cleanse me of negativity and restore my balance. I am now ready for our walk.
Red Cloud reminds me of times long ago when I had strong owl medicine, about the first time I realized Owl had come to me. I was rollerskating at the school near the house my husband and I had just purchased. My yellow lab, Blondie, was pulling me as I held her by the front of her chest, just above her legs and below her neck, while straddling her body with my skates. She loved it when we skated together like this. I had just tied her leash to a bench so I could skate alone. I was zooming along the asphalt when an owl flew even with my head, a mouse in its beak. The owl looked me straight in the eye then flew past me with a quick downward beat of its wings. It flew to the north, the place of wisdom. As I watched the owl soar away from me, I suddenly realized the enormomity of the wing span and that not a single sound came from those vast wings as they beat. The stillness of the air had remained unchanged.
Owl came to visit me regularly until one night at the school Owl once again flew even with my head but this time from east to west. I called my stepmother to ask if her sister had passed. She had just layed the phone back in the cradle after receiving the call. It bewildered her that Owl came to me at that moment. I told her that when Owl flies from east to west, Owl is representing the path one takes crossing over from life to death; for the sun rises in the east and sets in the west signifying the birth and death of the day. Owl medicine continued its presence in my life, especially through owls revealing themselves to me during my nightly rollerskating with Blondie at the school…Until Owl began to hoot at my bedroom window a few years later.
It was my father’s turn to pass. He had lung cancer. His moment of passing was incredibly beautiful as he was surrounded by his wife, children, and close friends. He exhaled his last breath on the punchline of his favorite joke told by my brother. He had also turned to face the west. Many interesting things occurred around the house that night. The light he always meant to fix in the kitchen came on. I didn’t see it as I didn’t leave him when everyone walked out of the room. I continued to hold his hand, sing to him, write his obituary. My brother came back into the room and sat with us. Together we felt Dad’s soul leave his body. It was like a sigh leaving through the top of his head, slightly breezy on the palm of my hand.
I made the three hour drive home the next afternoon. That night, I went outside with the Blondie. She was acting very strangely so I called for my husband. He joined me outside. We saw a shooting star cross the sky from the west to the east. At the exact point where the light of the shooting star dimmed, a giant owl appeared completing the flight east towards the moon. Dad had arrived and Owl had carried his spirit to the Creator.
Red Cloud and I sit upon a slab of rock worn smooth by the meandering river at the edge of the woods. Red Cloud prompts me to look at Owl’s face. I close my eyes to conjure a vision of Owl, but cannot quite get the detail of Owl’s face. Upon opening my eyes, Red Cloud is gone. In his place is a magnificent white owl. I’m almost startled, but calmed by her splendor and a sense of familiarity. “Look at her face,” I could hear Red Cloud commanding. It was a heart! Her face was in the shape of a heart!
My eyes move from her face to her eyes of amber. I am mesmirized as she imparts her wisdom in the silent way of her wings. I am spellbound, one might say. I see the meaning of Owl to different cultures through the varying ages.
move into the future unafraid
cosmic spirituality death
not thinking but feeling
teaches embracing personal darkness without fear
shapeshifing astral projecting swiftness
connection to the Underworld freedom
deception ability to see what others may miss
dark tunnels of change and uncertainty to brilliant shining light
clairvoyance night eagle astral projection
be undeceived by external appearances and discover the truth beneath dreams
go between the worlds of dark and light
move between the worlds of life and death
When she had communicates all I am to know, I fall asleep on the rock listening to the sound of the river wrapped in a soft mantle of feathers.
Banksia kalediscope – part of Experiments Set
“My daughters gave you a mystery explained didn’t they,” said the Man in the Green Turban.
“Yes they teased me though”
He chuckled, “Yes, that’s their way. Well my role is to ask you to search for the ying and yang and to keep asking questions even if it hurts.”
“Will that help my seeds grow”
“Yes it’s all part of your journey, You have a map?”
“Yes, E gave it to me.”
“Well the map has both universal and individual symbols on it,
study that map because there’s more hidden there.”
“I will..” I replied.
“Here pass me your anchor for just a minute.”
I passed the anchor and then the old man breathed into it. It gained a butterfly shape .
“Oh thankyou ..” I replied with awe
I returned it to my walnut.
“What should I do with these seeds, they don’t seem to want water.”
He gently laughed,
“ah you need to find your wings, two wings, to take flight…, to dream “
He hobbled over to a jar and sure enough in it were two tiny wings.
“Say hello to little Speck for me. But he can’t have these wings they are for you.”
“How do I wear them”
“ah these are wings of the soul, you wear them through thick and thin.”
There was a brief silence as I pondered these words. Then he continued.
“Now before you return to the ship we must go see the owls and then meet the ferry. I have more to show you before we know just how to look after those seeds of yours.”
“I would so like to meet those Owls. “
“Yes, you have to see through the bird’s eyes to understand the next step of your journey.”
What birds eye view might mean led to a much longer silence. Then he walked out of the potting shed and I followed. We walked for a long time, a day and night and another day and he showed me the trees, the mountains, and the little statues and icons of owl island. We stopped to meet the people of the island, he seemed to know them all.
Each landmark had a story, each person seemed so happy to be in the company of this old man. He said just a few words, pulled things from his pockets, and gave them things that I think were from the potting shed. I wanted to ask questions but something told me this was not the time for the questions, this was the time to listen.
Some of the Sights and people of the Island
For more of this adventure head to Unity’s Cabin
I packed my little wheelie bag with a few essentials – toiletries, a few changes of casual clothes, hat, shoes and art materials – and went to catch the ferry. It was a boat about 18 metres long and painted a beautiful turquoise and white. It was called ‘The Lady Lenore’. I was quite surprised at how few people were making the trip, but I suppose it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I didn’t see any men at all waiting to board.
We were welcomed aboard by the captain, who was also the ticket collector. A jolly, bearded fellow by the name of Ishmael. He had a ruddy complexion and eyes with the creases around them that bright sunlight will cause. In fact, he looked just how you’d imagine a seafarer to look, from his captain’s hat right down to his rubber boots.
When we were all seated, he told us that the trip to Lenore would take about an hour, depending on the wind and the current. He then gave us the safety talk and told us where the lifejackets were and what to do in an emergency. Then he cranked up the engine and we were off.
When we got out of the harbour there was a gentle swell, which caused the boat to roll somewhat. Two or three of the ladies paled considerably and were looking a little nauseous. The captain suggested that anyone feeling seasick should sit where they could see the island and keep their eyes on it. They all got up and went to the seats in front of the wheelhouse, but it didn’t work for all of them as I could hear the sound of vomiting, and was glad I couldn’t see it.
As we got nearer to the island, and our angle of approach changed, I could see the abbey perched high on a rocky promontory. It looked very old and weathered. I was going to enjoy my stay. It’s not often you get the opportunity to stay in such a place.
We pulled into a small circular harbour, built from local stone at the base of the abbey rocks. Ishmael wished us a pleasant stay and reminded us that the ferry only ran twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays, and left at 10.00 am for White Owl Island on those two days. We thanked him and wandered towards a cottage with the sign ‘Visitors Registration’.
Inside was a reception desk and a waiting area with chairs. The desk was unattended so we sat and waited. A few minutes later an elderly nun hurried in, all apologies and fluster. She got us all to sign the visitors book and gave each of us a weighty, numbered key to a cell. ‘The transport will be here in a moment,’ she said. I treated this as very good news. I’d already decided that if I had to hike up to the abbey dragging my bag, I’d give it a miss. I have learned the hard way that my body will not allow me to do many of the things that my ageless mind thinks I can.
Donkey carts lined up outside – room for two people and baggage. There were no drivers! We were assured that the donkeys knew the way and would deliver us safely to the abbey. It felt very strange just sitting there with a donkey in charge; but when you think about it, there are donkeys in charge of many aspects of life!
We pulled into the cobblestoned abbey forecourt where we were greeted by the Abbess. She welcomed us and showed us to our cells. Spartan is the word that sprung immediately to mind. The room was tiny – hence the name cell, I suppose. There was a single bed, a small chest of drawers and a bedside table and lamp. I dropped my bag on the bed and emptied the contents into the drawers. I then sat on the bed. It had about as much give as a slab of concrete. ‘This is going to be agony,’ I thought, ‘Payback for wanting to be a nun!’
We’d been given a little, laminated plan of the abbey and asked to be in the Refectory for dinner at 7.00 pm sharp. I went in search of the communal bathroom to freshen up. This was also an eye-opener. There were two toilet cubicles with toilets circa 1100 A.D.; a stone trough with two taps – cold and cold; and, behind a half-wall, there was a bath-sized stone trough and tap – again, cold water. ‘This should sort the men from the boys,’ I thought, and wondered how long I could go without using these facilities before I stunk. I like ‘hot’ to wash in! All part of life’s rich tapestry I supposed, and was beginning to wonder how basic the food would be? None of this was mentioned in the brochure. ‘Oh, well. Today is Wednesday, I always have the option of the Friday ferry.’
Once upon a midday ferry, while I wandered meek, but merry
At the rail I chose to tarry, thinking of what lay in store;
All the time anticipating every gift that would be waiting
And the art we’d be creating once we reached that distant shore;
Not could quell my spirits soaring as we neared that distant shore
Called the island of Lenore.
Oh, quite clearly I envisioned, what would be my first decision,
Plans I’d made with such precision based on what I’d heard before.
To the abbey I would travel over hill and dale and gravel,
First to pray and then unravel all my thoughts on poems and more;
Many days I’d spend reflecting – all of this and so much more
On the island of Lenore.
Once the ferry’s chief commanded, “Anchors ho, our ship has landed!”
Anxious now, my chest expanded knowing that we’d soon ashore.
Down the ladder I did scurry, to the abbey I did hurry,
Though the crew said not to worry, rooms abound on ev’ry floor;
Yet I ached to feel the calming as I stepped onto the floor
Of the abbey at Lenore.
No words served to tell the story of this abbey and its glory,
Bliss enshrined now stands before me, on this island of Lenore;
Inspiration shrouds this setting, problems past I’m soon forgetting,
Thoughts infuse and now I’m letting poems arise as ne’er before,
Frets repelled, now filled with drive like ne’er before?
Bless this island evermore!
‘Almurta’. My name sounded in my head and I jumped to awareness. Around me the colours of my cabin glowed with migrainesque intensity.
‘I’m dreaming,’ I thought lucidly. A large white owl gazed at me from the foot of my bed. ‘It’s time to go to the potting shed,’ it said in a hooting, owlish way. ‘Climb on my back and I’ll take you there.’
In the way of dreams I then found myself clinging to the owl’s back as we flew over the night darkened sea. The full moon sinking towards the horizon cast a beam of light that lit the way into the forest beyond the shore.
‘This can’t be right,’ I thought sleepily. ‘People are too big to ride upon the back of owls.’ The owl though had no such doubts and carried me directly and purposefully to the potting shed. We alighted in front of the entrance and I slid from its back in an ungainly way. Once my feet touched the earth I was suddenly and abruptly wide awake and fully embodied. I towered over the owl. It flew up and circled round my head, its wings brushing my face. Black eyes stared into mine communicating something profound and wordless I did not fully understand. Then, with a whisper of sound it flew off into the trees, a small scrap of white against the darkness. I shook my head in wonderment.
The open door of the potting shed creaked reminding me of my mission. I ascended the steps and entered. All preconceived ideas of what I might do in this place dissolved in the rich smell of humus. I had entered the communal dining room on board ship that evening and heard fellow passengers talk of their experiences here. As one had said, row upon row of clearly labelled seed packets were arranged upon a shelf. Many of the packets bore glossy illustrations of luxuriant blooms. There were so many to choose from and they were all appealing. I wondered if I should attempt to plant one of every variety. The task seemed daunting.
Beyond the window the sky was already lighting to the greys and pinks of pre-dawn. Daylight, I had been told, bought crowds and queues. I had no time for elaborate, protracted rituals.
My eyes fell upon an opened seed packet lying crumpled and discarded in a corner. The printed name upon it was worn and hard to read yet it seemed the appropriate choice. I opened the packet to find only one rather desiccated looking seed remained. I hoped it was still viable and looked around for a pot. Previous visitors had found an abundant supply but now only a few remained, heaped in a corner. Perhaps the supply was replenished every morning. I grabbed an old terracotta one. Traces of soft green moss grew in the time worn cracks on its outer surface. It seemed a pot that had grown many a fine plant. A pot that had been used time and time again to good effect. I filled it with soil and placed my seed in the depths. Then, like other passengers before me, I felt paralysed with uncertainty. Just how as I supposed to nurture this seed I had planted?
Someone had mentioned a green turbaned tree-like man that came at this moment to offer advice. I looked around but he failed to appear. Instead a sizeable slimy toad appeared from behind the pile of pots. I’ve never been really good with toads so I stepped back apace. The toad regarded me disdainfully.
‘Let go and let grow,’ it croaked then hopped off into the nether regions of the shed.
‘Let go and let grow,’ I muttered. Just my luck to hear something that sounded like a parody of new-age sentiments instead of the mystical poetry other passengers had heard. Still the ugliness of the toad and the harshness of its croak resonated with something deep inside me. Something dark that twisted now and rose up in a painful, burning surge; a flush of frustration at my own malaise; a hot searing rush of anguish at the suffering of others; a numbing ache of despair at the degradation of the planet. Even, though I struggled to repress it, a terrible lurching shadow that came from far in my past. A wound that had yet to heal, an old seething anger and hurt that had yet to be resolved. These things and more churned inside me. They erupted in a gasp of salty, scalding tears then subsided, not purged but alleviated for now.
Dismayed I looked at my pot. No doubt my bitter sadness had killed of any chance of germination. Astonishingly a green shoot already burst through the soil. As I watched tiny leaves began to unfurl from the stem. Amazed I placed the pot upon the window sill as the first light of the sun shone forth in the east. I smoothed out the seed packet so that the name could be clearly read and placed by the pot. The letter had apparently once been embossed and burnished. It caught now the light and glowed:- HOPE
On my way back from breakfast this morning I checked out the notice board and there is a ferry leaving at 3.00 pm for the Island of Lenore. I was able to make arrangements to stay at the Abbey on the island, which will be something of an experience in itself. I’m an ‘armchair archaeologist’; I love old buildings and I imagine that it will be very peaceful there. I remember considering a long time ago, when I was going through those awful teenage years full of angst, that I would become a nun. Laughable, I know. I was not in the least bit religious, and certainly not Catholic – in fact I’d spent many of the Sunday’s of my youth wagging church – but I would deprive the world of my company. That would show them! It would have been utter torture for all concerned. I dislike routine, and couldn’t imagine having my days run by the clock and knowing exactly what tomorrow held. I had probably been stopped from doing something or other by my parents, and that’s what brought it on. I don’t think the idea lasted for more than a couple of hours, as I have been blessed with optimism and nothing fazes me for long. So I’ll go to the Abbey and in my mind I will be walking serenely around in a penguin suit being very pious, and imagining what life would have been like as a nun.
by a.m. moscoso
Tourists like to take the Ferry out to White Owl for the crafts and the seedlings and homemade garden implements made by the finest artisans to be found in this part of the world.
They like it when the Ferry stops at Bow Island and they can take pictures of the Franciscan Nuns who work the dock that let the cars get on the Ferry to and from The Bow once in the morning and just before sunset.
But some people who go to White Owl aren’t there for the seeds in the homemade packets with the pen and ink drawings on their fronts and the hand written instructions on the back or to watch Nuns in orange and yellow safety vests directing traffic off of a boat.
They go there for Tea and fancy coffees and to take Art lessons from the best teachers in the business.
I’ll be that you were expecting something more dramatic.
the time those four ladies went up to Green Lake to take pictures of the flowers that grow around the lake like a giant noose-which is a very apt way to describe it because the day the flowers started to grow there the Lake died.
For some reason the oxygen in the lake dropped to nothing and the lake suffocated and then it died- but those flowers, those little blood red and dark blue flowers still pop up like crazy every morning around the dead lake and they die back at night and when the wind catches them just right they smell just like cinnamon.
So- these ladies bring their cameras up and they’re taking pictures and some are sketching in their journals when one of them, I think her name was Valerie says, ” Where is she?”
” She ” says the one named Lisa ” went back over there, she saw a shed or something that she wanted to take a look at.”
” How did we get stuck with her?”
I think the one who said that was named Ashley.
” I don’t know. Well. The next time we’ll say we are a group instead of asking to join one. That way it’ll just be the three of us. “
So they sketched and photographed and one may have written a poem or had started one when they realized it was getting a little cold and that the flowers were starting to wilt and it was time to head in so…
” Isn’t she back yet? “
They looked across the Lake and they could see the outline of the shed and before anyone could ask Valerie said, ” she has the keys.”
So they gathered their things together and started on the trail to the other side of the lake and before they could see the shed they could hear the shed door opening and slamming shut over and over again.
Lisa forced a smile into her voice and called out as the three of them walked up the trail ” Done yet? It’s getting on and we should be thinking about heading back to the Center now.”
A woman in a brown leather jacket was standing behind them just a foot or two off of the trail . She said, ” yeah, I’m done. So. How did it go for you guys today? Did you turn up anything interesting?”
They turned around and saw her standing in the middle of a Tearthumb patch. Her foot was on the rim of the hollow back back shovel and her chin was comfortably resting on the handle.
” Oh some bits and pieces. ” they said together, more or less.
She looked at them expectantly.
” And you? ” Ashley said with the same gusto in her voice she used over 40 years ago when she had once been a cheerleader in high-school.
” Oh Yeah. “
” That’s nice.” Lisa felt obligated to chime in.
Right after she said that they all heard the shed door open with another bang and this time it did not slam shut again.
” I don’t think so.” she said pointing behind them.