Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Whole World in Tree Rings

On afternoon walks with Pasha, my pace 
is slow, reverent, my voice, hushed. 
My small friend's enthusiasm is contagious.   

On a cushion of moss, the remains of a mourning dove.
I wonder if it was one of the pair that often 
pecks around in the garden.  

I wonder at the vibrancy of the moss, 
even though we've had months of drought.

We have our places: the places where we always pause.

 The huge split boulder is a favorite. I call it the 
"whispering stone", because when I sit there, I whisper. 
 Its where we first met the barred owl the year we moved here. 
flash of white in a tree, then she was perched on a 
branch near us - watching. Pasha saw her, too, as he 
rolled on the soft forest floor near the pond. I got up 
to move closer to him, just in case, but knowing he 
was much too big a critter for her. I thought that would 
be the end of our visit with the owl, but she didn't 
mind my movement at all. We sat, all three of us in the 
same, small circle of hemlocks for an hour. Me not 
wanting to lose a moment of encounter, Pasha hanging with 
me because that's what he does, and the owl because this is
her place, I guessed. She jumped around from limb to limb, 
focussed on the ground, and very little on us, until 
the blue jay came and pierced the silence with 
loud warning cries.  

Towering hemlocks hide all kinds of 
creatures, and only if we don't seem threatening, 
do we get a glimpse. Root systems
wrapped around stone ledges - dark 
hiding places everywhere. 

I took a slight detour on my usual path and found my 
drawings in the scars of an old tree. I thought of all the 
things you wrote in response to my drawings - 
time, tree time, finger prints, labyrinths, and suddenly 
you were all with me on my walk... you from Australia, 
England, Wales, Atlanta, South Africa, Canada - the whole 
world in the rings of a tree...

A tree shouting red through branches - 
releasing the fire of summer. 

Back in the clearing, 
only a small bit of wood left to stack. I stacked 
a cord one day and that got me over the hump. 
I'm waiting for a slow moment in my work-life to get
 back to fall tasks. I find comfort in a stocked shed and the 
clinking sound of well seasoned wood. I think 
the squirrels know what I mean.  

Mums dress up the front step, and the nicotiana is 
tall and hanging on until the first frost which the 
grocer said is coming this weekend. 

Our owl friend came to visit the other day, briefly.
I haven't had a good visit with her in years, so 
I was excited when I saw her perched in her spot 
in the dead hemlock. Folks say I should cut that tree 
down, but I know she likes it. 

She stayed until someone made a racket on the road 
with a loud truck. The moment she tucked in her head 
just so, I knew she would fly.... 


Sweetpea said...

Very special having owls visit...I loved your story.
And I know just what you mean about the whispering.

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

Great shot of the owl on her branch. I love hearing owls at twilight but rarely see them, except in the summer if I'm lucky I might glimpse the pale wing of our little local barn owl...
Glad you enjoyed your walk breathing in time with the forest - you always seem so in tune with it :)

Julia said...

Your owl friend is adorable. I used to have one in my back yard.

Laura said...

I so enjoy reading about your woodland adventures. I miss walking through our woods...but still love to view through the windows and listen to the owl living in the tall trees beyond our house early in the morning hours before dawn. Thank you for taking me/all of us who stop by, with you into our enchanted forest, such a treat!

steven said...

valerianna thankyou for the walk through the woods and the journey inside the turning of the circles of connection wrapped in wind water and sun. steven

A mermaid in the attic said...

A wonderful walk with you Valerianna...your whispering rock reminds of a magic place, not far from where I lived as a child, with a creek that had to be crossed to enter the 'magical realm' where the only law was that of wild magic, where big and ancient granite outcrops stood like sentinels looking over the valley. I gave them all names. They were like old friends.

ArtPropelled said...

What a joy seeing the owl on the dead tree. We are having a bit of a drought here at the moment too and moss does seem to manage somehow. It looks dead but with a little water it puffs out so quickly. Your house is lovely, by the way!

Dreaming Woods said...

your blog is one of my very favorites. i love to come here and read about your woodland journeys.

Ruthie Redden said...

Dear Valerianna, i have missed my visits here. This mornig i came by eagerly waiting to catch up on your posts, and you do not fail me. I leave with my heart filled with calm & a smile on my face. Thank you, i so love the way you see the world & notice all the small details x

Penny Berens said...

Thank you for taking us along with you and Pasha and the owl...deep sigh of peace and calm.

Umā said...

When I visit here during the work day it's like taking a little break to wander through the woods...

Joanna said...

I love owls, and cats, and I enjoyed this special walk. Thanks.

Valerianna said...

Sweetpea- yes, such a blessings to have owl magic around! (and whispering stones!)

Swan Artworks - I'd love to see a barn owl, they are disappearing here in the US.... they are so beautiful with those heart-shaped faces.

Julia - I think she's quite adorable.. though a friend of mine says she freaks him out!

Laura - glad to take you with me.... I love hearing the owls, too, and sometimes miss some hours of sleep awakening to hear them calling in the dawn.

Steven- you're welcome... and I like "circles of connection wrapped in wind water and sun".

mermaid- your magical realm across the water reminds me of a kids movie I once saw.... wish I could remember the name! I think you'd like it. Love that you named the outcroppings, too.

ArtPropelled - Oh, wishing you rain, and fluffed up mosses, mine are happy and shining green finally after two whole days of RAIN!

Delila - I quite like your blog as well.... must be the love of the forest, acorns and green!

ruthie- so glad you found your way back here!! And that you found some peace. If I get anything from living here, its a profound sense of peace, I'm glad that translates somehow within my posts.

Penny - thanks and much of what I wrote above, I'd respond to you after your deep sigh of peace and calm.

m - me too! I was sitting in class today while my students were working, reading all the lovely comments and visiting other's blogs. I took the walk again through reading my own post, spending time with Pasha.... sort of... or, at least wondering if he was dreaming of walking in the woods with me while he was locked inside, as I was dreaming of walking with him while stuck at work!

Joanna - sometimes Pasha does this shape-shifting thing and HE turns into an owl. My sister, who's way more mainstream than I noticed once and it freaked her out... she said, Pasha just turned into and owl! I said, oh, he does that. She gave me a strange sideway look and didn't ask any more questions!

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

dreaming.., yes the words cast a sense of
beautiful beautiful walk.
thank you, V,

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Grace... yes, dreaming/real... like that. Do that!

rivergardenstudio said...

Dear Valeriana, I have loved visiting your blog this morning, your words and photographs have let me join you on your journeys with your cat
through the forest... and to follow your eyes up through the branches to where that beautiful owl perches. (do you know what kind of owl it is?)
Your prose is like music and lures me outside, to watch and listen. thank you, roxanne

Valerianna said...

Roxanne - yes... its a Barred owl... very similar in size and appearance to the spotted owl out west. Medium sized and the barred owls anyway are known for being one of the less timid owls. Thanks for visiting....

Acornmoon said...

There is something very other worldly about owls, it is always such a thrill to see one. I enjoyed walking through your corner of the woods.

(Karen) Lisa Daley said...

Thanks for sharing your walk. I wonder if the owl claimed the dove. Loved the split boulder! Our hemlocks in Southeastern Mass have all died from disease so it was nice to visit with yours :>)

Debrina said...

OMG - you have now become one of my favourite blogs to come and visit. This is a stupendous posting and you are so very much in touch with all that surrounds you in nature. I'm a huge owl fan, but we only have two here in NZ: the morepork and the occassional barn owl. Also, have you ever read Moyra Caldecott before? Her standing stone trilogy has a character in it called Fern. You so remind me of her. :-)

Valerianna said...

acornmoon - Owls, yes, so otherworldly, no matter how often I hear or see them - which is a lot in these woods - I am in awe. Thanks for walking with me.

Lisa - Yes, I wondered, too if the owl got the mourning dove, but I think it was the sharp shinned hawk who flies through here speedy gonzales and takes out birds on the way. Quite the hunter and forest-zipper!

Debrina - Ooo... thanks! Don't know morepork owls, I;'ll look that kind of up. And, yes, I DID read Caldecott before - "Guardian of the Tall Stones"... I'm not sure I realized it was a trilogy. I'm going to look for the rest of them, great reminder, thanks! And I love the name Fern.... glad I remind you of her.

Unknown said...

Friend V - Sweet Pasha, such a nice walking companion. Beautiful and inspiring post, as always. Thank you. (It sure looks DRY in your woods - we are experiencing the October monsoon season here).

Valerianna said...

Hi Susan - actually, we've finally broken the drought here. We're on our second week of rain, heavy rain. We got 7 inches last week and this week its steady, though not as heavy. Thank goodness, my well is happy, though there is a leak in the studio roof which is making me very UN-happy.... ugh, one thing fixes and another falls apart, such it is in life:

Jo Potter said...

Hi Valerianna,
I enjoy visiting your blog because you always have such great photos!
Wow, look at that beautiful owl. She looks white!
I often hear owls but sadly I don't see them very often.
Your home and it's surroundings are amazing and I also love seeing your wiley cat.
Some people call cats, foxes. I think that owls, foxes and cats are very similar magical creatures.
Thanks for this lovely post and for visiting me... I would be happy to make you some jewellery someday. :-)
All best Autumn wishes,

Velma Bolyard said...

you caught her in a photo, yay! i like this, especially the glimpse of color. i call it the light show, all this color, preparing for the subtlty of deep winter.

Medieval Muse said...

There is so much beauty in this post I can hardly form a sentence (or at least one that makes any sense). Thanks for finding me so I could do likewise.