retreat to mothering earth…
mothering, a verb that has always spoken to me for its broad application, its attachment to acts and not to a particular gender, doubles its duty as a descriptive of those acts as life-giving, as loving. now attach it to earth, allow it to describe the essence of so much of creation––and our place in it––and the whole shebang snaps into sharp focus: mothering earth embraces us, wraps us in her proverbial arms, allows us to rest our weary head against her bosom, her heartbeat. she holds us till the shaking ceases. she brushes the nettles from our hair, sets us back on our steadying way.
it’s a notion i found in pablo neruda’s “i ask for silence,” a poem that speaks to the stillness––the oasis from sound, from stirring––my soul is seeking.
. . . But because I ask for silence,Pablo Neruda, an excerpt of “I Ask for Silence” from I Explain a Few Things: Selected Poems
don’t think I’m going to die.
The opposite is true;
it happens I am going to live.
To be, and to go on being.
I will not be, however, if inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves behind stars
and goes on alone across fields.
It’s a question of having lived so much
that I want to live a bit more.
and, as neruda knows, so my unspokenness knows.
i find myself pulled into the garden, and soon down to my knees. muddy knees, grass-stained knees, be damned. i go down to the lilliputian place. where a dragonfly the color of limes is hovering; his shadow eclipsing the fat bud of a peony who might think the hoverer an alien from outer cosmos. where worms wriggle, endlessly defying geometries; i sense their delights, the deliciousness they find in the loam i’ve kneaded and kneaded over the years.
it is the apothecary without pills, mothering earth and her patches of garden. its potions are in the perfumes of the peony, the fading scent of the lilac now past bloom, past seduction. mothering earth’s elixirs are the stillness so still you can tell when the breeze barely moves. it’s the air, unfiltered. chilled or warmed by rivers of winds surging around the marble that’s ours, the blue marble. its dramas––ones that delight, ones that stir sorrow––are the openings and closings, the risings and fallings, of all that makes its home there, a cast not limited to botanicals. a cast of birds and butterflies, those wiggly worms and the many-appendaged crawlers (some call them creepy, i do not).
i retreat to mothering earth when the world all around and within gets too vicious, too ragged, too worn. my preferred posture is bent, and down low. i want to put my ear to the thrum of the grass growing and the roots deepening. i want to catch the morning light as it first drapes across the fronds of my ferns now at full mast.
i’ve been wobbling for weeks now with a dizzying, one that comes with heart pounding and queasiness in waves that feel pacific-sized. i’m convinced it’s the aftermath of christmastime’s covid, the red-ringed virus that finally caught up with me, never-minding my double masks and double boosters. it’s slowing me down, some days more than others. and being out where the breeze blows, and the sun shines in unbroken beams, it steadies me. long as i don’t do backbends or bows from the waist.
once a child of make-believe times and places, i retreat to that familiar fiefdom even now. even now with my own children long past making believe, long past six-feet, if anyone’s measuring. all week i’ve been building a gurgling fountain, a simple one, made from a moss-covered planter, filled with river rocks i’ve gathered from magical places over the years. in my imagination i’m building not simply a gurgler but a cavalcade of sound that will soothe me, cast its magical spell upon all who catch the music of water plashing on rocks. i am building a way station for birds and chipmunks, a place for even the hosta to dip her thirsty leaves. and i can get determined, refuse to give up, refuse to order a ready-made one from a catalog. determined is sometimes a polite way, a watered-down way, of saying i’m a wee bit obsessed. i can hear the gurgle in my mind’s ear, and despite a shorted-out extension cord, and a pump that gave up the ghost, i’ve not yet abandoned my plot. i’ll get to gurgling before the sun sets to signal shabbat this evening.
it’s all the perfect balm after weeks of editing, weeks of being torn by the news. i pay no attention to news when i’m flesh to flesh with mothering earth. my news of the day is which bloom is on the brink, and which is waning. the choreography of this mothering plot, it’s ceaseless.
sometimes we all need to be mothered. mothering earth mothers me.
and i bask in her stillness.
where have you found your stillness, your healing balms, of late?
well, here’s a first for the ol’ chair: a talkie, in the old vernacular. in other words, not just a picture but a gurgling picture……
Thank you, always, for your vegetative meditations, your green ministerings. Breathing slower. Feeling chloro-filled. Envisioning myself ground level amid the overarching ferns. Not quite going Carboniferous. But definitely open to make believe, which is just another name for unfettered creativity. Not the exclusive realm of kids. I hope you’ll share a picture of your elfin fountain.
woohoooo! just added real live moving picture show, so you can see the gurgling your very own self. i wish i could make it a wee postage-stamp size, but alas, my tech options are limited here. and it’s not three o’clock.
So calming! Thank you for the video and audio!
Oh! Heard the cardinal’s little pips amid the burbling! Serenity and serendipity at the same time.
they have a LOT to say these days, my friends Mama and Papa. and the wren and even the vv busy sparrows!
What a cozy retreat! Visually lovely – and yes, the notes of the gurgling are perfect! It must be satisfying to have your vision go from your brain and through your hands to bring forth the fountain (and getting it to work!). May its wet coolness and its reassuring song invite the wildlife and soothe your soul.
bless you, and thank you!
I’m sorry that Covid still lingers inside you and has resurfaced, zapping your energy and making you feel ill after so many months have passed. It’s always good to have a distraction that shifts your attention elsewhere. Your garden is gorgeous and your little fountain is precious-I loved listening to it gurgle as the birds sang sweetly in the background. I sorely miss my garden. You’ve reminded me how beautiful and lush it was-especially in the month of June. Another thing you’ve reminded me of is how much I love poetry-Pablo Neruda’s poem is thought provoking and fits perfectly with the love you have for mothering the earth. Feel better and be well, dear one!
bless you, sweet one. i was thinking of you the other day as my teddy bear now works in and around wrigley, and we were picking him up from a night game the other night, and i was looking out the windows for a KI sighting. sending a giant hug. xoxoxo