The Reconnection

It’s been years since my heart opened up and I could connect to the plants.  In fact, the last time I wrote seriously was also the last time I could connect – and that was when the River Spirit Faeries were still involved in the sanctuary project at the building on Rozelle.  Each business circle we had as a group (and we met weekly for 1-2 years) I took copious notes (minutes) for the group.  In addition, I journaled almost compulsively, regularly wrote plant-spirit and herbal nutrition articles for the River Spirit newsletter, and the like.
At that time, I recall that I was very into the idea that herbs were more than condiments, they were both medicine and critical nutrition as well.  I subscribed (and to a certain extent still do) to the idea that the traditional herbal systems that promote the Five Flavors, the energetics (warm, cool, hot, cold), the Four (or Five) Elements, etc., really could be integrated into modern nutritional paradigms without compromising either philosophy too much.  My contention was that herbs function as flavor-specific nutrients that nourish our bodies and minds as much because of their flavors (taste notes, essential oils, alkaloids, etc.) as because of the nutrients they contain.
In my herb-related writings of the time, I wrote about cayenne pepper’s vitamin c content, as well as it’s circulation-promoting, dispersive, energetically stimulating properties.  Regarding lemongrass, I suggested that the limonene that flavored it would also provide antiseptic and immune-enhancing qualities even in the micro amounts people were likely to consume it.  The same might be said about lemon and lime juice, with the additional vitamin c as well as — if you consumed some of the white pith underneath the rind — the added benefit of the bioflavonoids, which work to catalyze the vitamin c activity of the fruit.  Lemongrass has sharp, spicy flavors that complement the sour taste of the limonene and pair well with the sourness of lemon and lime juice.  If these flavors are combined with the dirty spiciness of cilantro (known in other parts of the world as coriander leaf), I posited that you would find not just anti-infectious qualities (cilantro has been shown to kill E.coli and salmonella, according to studies published in the Journal of Agricultural Chemistry) but also added benefit inherent in the flavor coriander leaf provides.  Flavor influences nutrition, and nutrition influences flavor, in a nutshell.
Then, in addition to writing copiously about natural subjects, I spent long hours in my yard garden, contemplative time in the garden we had eked out on the plot adjacent to the “patio” at the building, yet more hours riding my bike to and from work, as well as still occasionally stealing time in the park to walk the trails and connect with nature.
Flash forward a good 8-10 years.  The River Spirits disintegrated with one of their signature relationships.  We stopped communicating, and there were many raw feelings about the end of our sanctuary project.  We started letting personal drama take the place of friendship.  I also stopped writing, rarely read deeply into any subject, and started consuming most of my media online.  I had overcommitted, gotten hurt/felt burned, and consequently, perhaps, then had even more difficulty committing to anything.  I quit spending most of my time outside: quit biking (got a car), quit spending summers doing naked yoga by the pool (too much drama at the house, then friend sold house and moved out of town), quit going to the park (too cruisy, too much psychic and emotional darkness even in the daytime), let the yard go (too busy throwing large, personal- and psychic-space-destroying parties).
Had the Earth disappointed me?  Had nature?  I think not.  I think I disappointed me.  I let my expectations get ahead of my reality.  Stopped trying and caring for a while.  Even stopped journaling, which is very unusual for me.  Sure, I am less active from time to time, but up until a few years ago, it was rare that even at my most inactive and un-literary moments that I didn’t have a journal in my car, another at my desk, scraps of paper, paper bags, old receipts, and envelopes upon which I had written the thoughts of the day.  Even when I could fairly chastise myself for taking the week off from writing, it was rare that I also stopped reading, stopped trying to be social, stopped worshiping nature, stopped collaging, stopped looking up at all.
Then the day before yesterday, I found myself helping Chris mix dirt so that we could plant a bunch of shade-loving plants his mom had bought for us at a church plant sale.  We worked together for four solid hours in the sun, kneading and mixing and blending dirt and peat moss.  We cleared degraded space and spruced up a (formerly lovely) shady area by our garage.  We got sunlight and made a difference in our space.   I was struck by how the simple act of combining dirt and peat moss by hand and in the sun seemed to open my heart up to a connection with nature that transcended the physical level.
Yesterday I found myself working alone.  I had a plan from Chris to expand the two small outposts of curly dock in our front yard, so that when our plants dropped seeds in the next few days or weeks, the seeds would hopefully produce more plants by summer’s end.  More plants = bigger salads and more micro-nutrition to go with our store-bought fare.
There I was, turning the dirt and the peat together, working the clumps out and adding alternately more peat and then dirt until the mixture seemed to have the right balance of moisture and dryness.
Laying out newspaper sheets in a one and a half to two foot diameter around the existing curly dock beds, I worked quickly to cover the weeds and surrounding grass with paper and then anchor the paper with handfuls of the dirt-peat mixture.  It seems a small thing, but in those moments of mixing and arranging the dirt, my heart opened up, and I was hit by a flood of old feelings. I remembered how much I used to like being outside, how even when I was quite poor I was still so determined to create a garden at my old house that when I didn’t have a shovel, I pulled out most of the grass by hand and  carved out rudimentary beds in the dirt with a table spoon.
Before I “took a break from life,” I practically lived at the park in the spring, walking or sometimes biking the trails from the time I got off work until the park closed for the night — and sometimes later if my friend Moe was around and able to walk.  Moe and I used to walk the trails late into the evening; when his arthritis wasn’t acting up, he walked with careful confidence, seemingly unafraid of  what the darkness might hold.  As we walked, Moe would tell me fantastic stories of journeys to Rainbow Gatherings and of the kids he had met along the way.  I realized, as I toiled in the sun, that I missed those times but treasure them still.
Yesterday morning, I started a poem — a painful, awkward thing by any account — and though it is far from perfect, it is a beginning, a turning point of sorts.  Titled, “Falling In Love Is Like Falling Awake,” it addresses quite openly how I’ve been feeling lately — like I’m waking up to love, in love with life, like my heart is finally opening again.  There is also, of course, another level to it.  I have been blessed lately to meet other faeries and nascent friends with whom there has been an instant and undeniable connection.
I call it “love,” but I don’t mean the same way I used to when I was younger (a puppy dog, really) and would burn with the intensity of my feeling, wanting to be with the object of my affection all the time, smothering them with my emotions, etc.
I seem to have mellowed considerably in my approach — I still love them, but for now, I am perfectly content to leave them their space, whether it is California, Florida, Nashville, or Texas.  Even with the boys in Memphis with whom I’m developing connections, I am willing to take it slow, to allow these connections to grow at their own pace.  I’ve gotten much better at not rushing things, content to reach out to make the connection, to allow them to reach back if they choose, and then to nourish gently the connection with no or at least little expectation that they will feel a  certain way about me.  Perhaps it’s the natural course of aging, though I know some men considerably older than me, who still regularly fall in puppy dog love and come on like a freight train until their attentions are rebuffed completely by the adored other.  I still occasionally slip up, I suppose — falling head over heals before course-correcting, regaining my composure.  I am increasingly willing to try, to accept “rejection” or at least seeming lack of interest —  gracefully — and to  start anew.  Perhaps that is the mark of maturity or of wisdom, or at least of the realization that I have to meet people where they are — and not everyone is capable of opening up immediately to a new friend or potential lover.  Some guys have already been hurt enough — or think they have — and some are just naturally reticent (or shy, like I was) and need more time to decide how they want to respond.  And some guys, of course, just aren’t in to me, either as a friend or as a potential other.  That is their loss, and perhaps mine, but that is the reality sometimes, so why should I cling to something that isn’t, when there are so many more guys out there who might be open to friendship and maybe more.
How “very faerie” to think that there is more to be had!  Learning to live above perceived societal limits and norms and outside the proverbial box is one of the greatest gifts I’ve taken away from my time with the faeries thus far.

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