Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Medicine of Home

A cool breeze carrying the scent of purple petunias snakes past my toes. I've 
shut off the music to listen to the evening songs of Hermit Thrushes and 
Robins and watch the breath-like movement of the canopy against a blue-gray 
sky. My breath is slow and even and I finally feel a deep sense of calm - I am 
home in the cool forest, the studio is finished, the opening festival has come and
gone and I think just maybe I can begin to find my natural rhythm and flow again.  

I see that it has been about a month since my last post - back when the forest 
was lush and full of salamanders and gleaming with moisture. With plentiful spring 
rains, the foxgloves grew high on one side of the old studio, and the lupine 
on the other.

In the moss garden, a stone bunny shelters in the low growth, and somewhere 
in the forest, Pasha found a bunny-family and brought me a few. The first one 
was quite dead, an offering dropped on the Persian carpet with great pride. 

The following day, he came dashing in and dropped a live bunny at my feet. 
I whisked her up and into a box and still in my bathrobe drove down the road to 
let her find a new home near the field. 

It seemed that June (and maybe April and May, too) was full of dashing about 
preparing for this and that, with less time for art-making and forest-dreaming and 
more than the usual amount of stress and anxiety and goings-on. The day after 
Solstice, I ran off to Florida to help my mother when she returned from the hospital 
after major surgery. It was to be for a week, but ended up being two: a gift 
that my not-so-mainstream life-style allowed. Mum is doing quite well, but 
recovery is slow and intense and has its ups and downs. 

Shortly after my arrival, tropical storm "Debby" came whirling in bringing a week 
of rain and tornadoes and a bit of anxiety. Eventually the sun came back out,  

and the duckies put on their sunglasses and hung out at the pool. There was little 
time to explore the jungle around the house, but I did steal a moment with my 
father for the tour. 

Entering the garden through the arbor, one is met with the smell 
of jasmine and gardenia and little geckos scurrying away. 

 Tall laurel oaks and live oaks support climbing plants,
and twining vines and bands of happy blue jays.

My favorite place is occupied by a magnificent stand of bamboo. 
Silhoutted in the morning light, it was a joy to awaken to everyday.  

My proud Dad leads the tour, and I'm amazed at how much work he has done 
here since my visit last year. We share a deep love of the land - and of creating 
beauty with plants and stones. A shame there are no stones in Florida for him 
to place here and there as he did in Massachusetts, but maybe better for his back! 

Beautiful scented shrubs and flowers and strange succulents 
clinging to coral, birds of paradise, palms and passionflowers fill 
this small garden, as well as orange, grapefruit and banana trees. 

At the far edge of the garden, a moss covered pine marks the boundary. 
I love the draping of the Spanish Moss, but Dad says its a bit to raggedy looking 
for him. 

Back at RavenWood, the garden is dry and thirsty. Little rain has fallen in 
the two weeks I was away and a few favorite plants died. Still there are plenty 
of well established plants in the right soil that are thriving, and happiest of all 
are the native plants.  

One thriving and very happy native is Pasha -kitty. For a kitty who is rarely 
ever inside, he endured the longest time on house-arrest ever! He had visitors 
to feed him, visitors to play with him and even one to do some writing so he 
wouldn't be alone one day. I wasn't sure how I would be greeted when I returned, 
but it was the sweetest purr-fest ever!

The luna moths have gone, replaced by other moths - but none so spectacular. 
Without much rain, evenings are quiet without the singing tree frogs. Even the cricket
hum is strangely low. I'm anxious to get into the studio and see what emerges and 
to wander amongst the trees with Pasha to sit with the stones and drink the wild
forest medicine. I appreciate the lush beauty of Florida - the fragrant flowers and 
amazing birds - but I belong to this land of mosses and hemlocks and pools of still
waters. I'm happy to be home to watch the garden grow for a while. 


Juli said...

So beautiful, I love the contrast between the forest and your parents place. Both are absolutely magical in totally different ways.

Delila said...

your parents have a magnificent garden! such a beautiful exotics.

i love Astrantia's in your first photo. a coveted plant, which i have not yet be able to find. last year i sowed seeds somewhere and do not remember why. now i must order new seeds. few days ago i visited in a large nursery and bought Tricyrtis, such a beautiful Japanese woodland lily plant. You may like it as well...

you have such a wonderful native plants. It do not take long that soon here the rudbeckia's and echinacea blooms too.

i always enjoy so much to read your blog writings Valerie!!!

susan christensen said...

Welcome home, V - There is truly on place like it! So glad to know your mother had your help in her recovery from surgery. Best wishes for continued summer peace. -sus

Hindustanka said...

The pictures are magical! I have noticed you have the same plants over there as we have here in India :) I love the forest myself, eagerly waiting to go home and walk there...listening to the silent talk of the trees:) Have a great day!

Charlotte said...

Lovely contrasts; you live in a country of extremes that are quite beautiful. I hope your mum is on the up rather than the down.

Your pictures set of a train of thought, that led to a barefoot wander with the camera.

gz said...

Such a contrast to your forest, but both are beautiful in different ways

stregata said...

I appreciate the exotic beauty of your father's garden - but your garden is closer to my heart. LOVE foxglove and lupines... Wishing your mother steady recovery and for you to find into your forest rhythm.

Regreening said...

Such a beatiful blogg

Barry said...

VA- so good to see that your home, your forest, your studio and your cat welcomed you home - such an amazing feeling to be in the place and surrounding that you nuture and nutures you. Whilst F & I enjoy travel we enjoy the embrace of our mountains and valley and home. Glad your mum is on the road to recovery; sand that you could be there for them and enjoy your dad's garden. Go well. B

Gwen Buchanan said...

Valerianna.. the garden tours were absolutely lovely. it must be wonderful to be a bird and live and hide in amongst the leaves and blooms of each of these.. to see it from the other sides... above and below.

Sophie Munns said...

Your garden at Ravenswood is absolutely divine Valerianna!
The whole post was a joy...and I felt like I was creeping quietly thought your garden... and then to Florida which has some similar vegetation to where I live. Lovely to see your father and imagine him once in your part of the world.
Yes... he's earned his retirement and I do so wish your Mother a good recovery!
I hope you have time for art-making and enjoying the peace of your home before work takes you away!
Its so enchanting your place in the woods!

Umā said...

Welcome home! I've also noticed that the nights are very quiet this summer...where are our beloved crickets? I wish your mom continued recovery and look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Mo Crow said...

ah thank you for these doorways into summer !

Valerianna said...

Juli - yes... so very different, but both enchanting!

Hussam Elsherif said...

Thank you dear Valerianna for this door way into your enchanting world.. and thank you for your kind condolences...there's no need to anticipate the grief of the separation, rather soak yourself with the joy of now, may you and Pasha cat be blessed with many many years warped in each others warmth. I send many blessings your way.

Sandra Dunn said...

Hi V - I was wondering, hoping that your mom was well. I pray she continues to strengthen and gain energy.

Your parent's Florida garden is amazing. The hot pink bloom reminded me of little flamingos in flower form. :) What a juxtaposition of tropical and forest. Nature so varied - so delicate or bold!!! Your images are a feast for the eyes and soul.

I appreciate a tropical landscape also,,, but feel instantly 'at home' on the prairie. I understand how you
feel your own roots are tangled with mosses and hemlocks and all the wooded beauty.

Hello Pasha!!! :)

Valerianna said...

Hi Delila - I thought I replied to you earlier, but my message seems to have gone away!! The native plants are all starting to come into bloom. The echinacea is one of my favorites and luckily it does well here.

Tricyrtis - also known as "toad lily"? I have that behind the house under the Japanese Maple. Its quite lovely!!

Valerianna said...

Hi Susan - Thanks... it was great that I could be with my parents. It would have been nearly impossible for them to get through the first two weeks without me I fear! I'm a bit burned out now, but have time to recoup in the magical forest with my magical kitty, yay!

Valerianna said...

Hi Hindustanka... I imagine that the plants in Florida are the same, probably not too many of the ones at RavenWood? The "silent talk of the trees" is a special thing to hear!

Valerianna said...

Oh, I like the idea of inspiring a barefoot wander with a camera!

Valerianna said...

gz - Definitely both places have their magnificence! But, truth be told, I wouldn't make it through a whole summer in Florida - too hot and humid! Its hot and humid here this week, but it won't ever be as humid as Florida. That's the clincher for me. Take away the humidity and I do pretty well in heat.

Valerianna said...

Hi Stregata - thanks for the well wishes for my Mom, day by day she's getting stronger. And I think if it would just cool down a tiny bit it would be easier for me to find my rhythm. I find heat and humidity of the summer something to "get through!"

Valerianna said...


Valerianna said...

Hi Barry - thanks for the well wishes. It was wonderful that I could help them out, but I do love coming home from being away!!

Valerianna said...

Hi Gwen - ineresting thought... to be a bird and see the gardens and forests from both above and below - a good thing to ponder.

Valerianna said...

Hi Sophie - thanks!! I imagine Florida and Australia have some similarity of climate... but Australia is drier, no?

Valerianna said...

yeah, its weird, the cricket thing, isn't it? I just noticed the last few days. I remember they were early, VERY early this year, so did they sing themselves out and end the chorus early this year? And if so, what will happen next year?

Valerianna said...

Summer doorways... like doors to Narnia?

Valerianna said...

Hello Hussam, yes, you are quite right, but I DO think about it occasionally. There have been many cats in my life, many beloved ones, but there is only one Pasha cat... ^:^

Valerianna said...

Hi Sandra - I too, feel a connection to the prarie, more so than the tropics. But the forest, yes, it seems to be where my roots are dug in.

Valerianna said...

Oh, and yes, I thought the exact same thing of that hot pink bloom!

acornmoon said...

I love your dad's jungle, how nice to have that common love of the land. Here we have so much rain that the bees will not fly, you have drought. We should trade!

Vilt og vakkert said...


Wonderful places and healing plants ;:OD)

Delila said...

yes, toad lily indeed! i often use latin names, since i can not remember or know the English names for them.

Mo Crow said...

“I have spent too much of my life opening doors for cats—I once calculated that, since the dawn of civilization, nine hundred and seventy-eight man-centuries have been used up that way. I could show you figures.”
― Robert A. Heinlein from "The Door into Summer" it's a good book about time portals and cats! Loved all the Narnia books too back in my early 20's when I was an avid fantasy reader have yet to see Tilda Swinton as the Ice Queen in the films but she would be purrfect ! Oh and those pink Heliconias are commonly known as Flamingo flowers here in Oz!

Valerianna said...

They certainly ARE Flamingo flowers... !

And thanks for the fun quote, whacky good!

Valerianna said...

Are you getting sun? Cause tonight, we got some rain!

Valerianna said...

Definitely healing plants!

Cottage Garden said...

How different your parents' garden in tropical Florida is to your own. I have to say I love the lushness too, but home is definitely where the heart is and your garden is looking all lovely and cottagey!

Just look at dear Pasha - so glad to see you home. Bobbi does the same thing and greets us with 'chirrups' and 'brills' and all manner of vocal greetings, and that's just when we return home from work:-). Bless!


grace Forrest~Maestas said...

your homes are so beauty are a very lucky woman.

Valerianna said...

Hi Jeanne - Oh I know those kitty chrrups and brills and other such vocalizing. I got more than my share of those plus a bit of anxious meowing whenever I left the first week I was home. Poor guy! He seems happily to have put the long inside stay behind him now, I hope, but he does still get a bit anxious when I come home after dark.

And I only showed the part of the garden that is looking good right now! The rest of the garden is a little pekid. Its in front of a grand oak and needs quite a bit of manure and compost and mulch to keep it healthy as the oak roots really sap the nourishment I think. It wasn't great soil to begin with there, and I really should have had a huge compost load the first year and didn't due to $$. So I am backtracking now trying to amend, amend, amend. AND find plants that will tolerate my forest clearing. Its a challenge, but I think I'm getting there... yikes, long reply!

Valerianna said...

So much beauty in the world!! I try to speak my gratitude for that daily.... and I also am a bit aesthetically snobby, it that's how to put it, I must live with beauty around me, though I guess that's in the eye of the beholder!

Velma said...

ah, i see how "away" you were, valerie, and welcome home to you. isn't it good to be here?

Ruthie Redden said...

I hope you get some quiet time now, so that you can returning to the natural flow & rhythm, I so understand that , it is something I only find once I am back home amongst the heathery hills & deep woods here. Your Fathers garden is beautiful, but your own garden speaks to my heart, it looks so restful and natural ~ a perfect place to just be. Do hope you Mom is doing well x

Valerianna said...

YES! I just wish I wasn't such a heat-whimp.... I'm now flattened cause of heat and humidity. And I just glanced at the floor and Pasha is spread out as far as he can go and his forehead is tucked up against the wooden table leg (?) HE has flattened ears, funny!

Valerianna said...

Hi Ruthie - Mom is doing MUCH better... still got a lot of recovery to do, but at least she is making steady, good progress.

Healther hills and deep woods... I'd like to walk the heathery hills one day!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Loved catching up with you and happy to read above that your Mother is doing better. xoxo, pamela

Valerianna said...

Hi Pamela & Edward - Thanks for stopping by... day by day Mom is improving, thanks for the concern. Hope Edward found a suitable new hairdo for his long locks!

Stille Linde said...

You don't know how much I love purple petunias!!
There in your forest you are home, I could be home there too. Blessings :X

Denmark WA accommodation said...

I love your pool and those duckies are so cute. Its really nice to grow your own flowers cause when it blooms you feel proud and fulfilled.

Valerianna said...

Maybe as much as I love purple petunias? They seem to be the only ones with such a heavenly scent. And the color is wonderful.

Valerianna said...

Growing flowers or making art, kinda the same feeling.

ArtPropelled said...

Aah yes, home is where the heart is. You and Pasha must be thrilled to see each other after so long away.