Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Enough Already

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.12

abhyāsa-vairāgya-ābhyāṁ tan-nirodhaḥ

Through diligent effort and non-attachment to results, we will settle our mind. (My loose translation.)

This sutra has been sticking with me these past several weeks, particularly the notion of vairāgya, or non-attachment to results.  I have read, memorized and chanted this sutra for years now but, for most of the time, it was just words.  I suspect I could have been chanting Mary Had A Little Lamb for all that I understood it or believed it.  And yet, suddenly the opportunities to release my hold, my expectations, on getting my desired results have been piling up.  They have been piling up so high that even I have had to stop and take notice.  

This non-attachment to results aims directly at the heart of my ambitions for myself so it takes nearly an metaphorical anvil falling on my head for me to pay attention.  Indeed, I have worked extremely hard for most of my life to deliberately NOT pay attention because paying attention might mean that I will have to give up some long-held beliefs, and, seriously, who wants to do that?  I won't catalogue the list for you (you're welcome!) but I do want to describe one situation.  I want to describe it because it involves yoga asana practice.  

Believe or not, I frequently question the validity of yoga asana.  Why is it any different from general stretching or acrobatics?  There is enough written about the history of contemporary asana practice as we have come to know it to show that it isn't divorced from Westernized ideas about health through physical fitness.  If my goal is to settle my mind, why am I putting my legs behind my head almost everyday?  I may have a slight (ahem!) exercise addiction and it is possible that I am a little vain about the current state of my abs (ahem, again!), so I am not unaware that yoga asana is feeding some less than healthy states of mind for me.  So why?  Why do it?

Here's why I do it (abs and addictions aside).  The past two mornings, I have gone into my Mysore class in Manhattan.  It is just south of Times Square and walking through Times Square each morning is nothing less than a major yoga practice all its own, let me tell you!  But I digress.  Yesterday, my teacher pointed out how I was holding my pelvis in an certain asana.  In fact, I was doing this particular action in every asana but, for whatever reason, it actually became clear to me at that moment and I shifted.  It almost makes me want to cry to even write about what happened.  It was so subtle and so immense.  I shifted and something somewhere near my sacrum released and when it released, it was like a monumental "ahhhhhhhhh."  It was like years of tension and misguided effort and teeth-clenching and striving melted away.  Not only did my psoas release (which is what I think actually happened), but a large muscle up my spine released, which took a lot of pressure off of a lot of nerves.  All that tension meant that I had been in pain pretty much all the time but it was so constant that I didn't even know I was in pain until it went away.  

And I am pretty sure it wasn't just physical pain either.

Today, it released more.  Not only is my asana practice feeling different, simply walking around feels totally different.  Here's the thing - I had no idea!  The person who is supposedly so tuned into her body had no idea that I was carrying around that much tension all the time.  Damn!  This, my friends, is why we do asana practice.

So what about vairāgya?  Once that tension released, I didn't want to go back to my usual practice.  I need time to integrate what happened and this means I scaled back practice to something that looks much simpler and "easier" than what I normally do.  Even a month ago, I would be having anxiety about doing less and not achieving more, not marching forward towards the great goal.  You know...the goal!  Don't ask me what the goal is because it's always been right there - just outside of my line of sight, just beyond my grasp.

So today, I did LESS than I am capable of and it was okay.  It was good even.  And I thought about my Zen practice and my art career and my yoga teaching and my parenting and all my relationships, and I thought, however it is going right now - it's enough.  It's plenty!  It's plenty and it is enough.  I don't need to fix anything or add anything or achieve anything or get rid of anything.  There is nowhere to go, nothing to cover up and there is no goal.

No goal.

May all beings release their psoas and realize the great wisdom that comes from a balanced sacrum!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Move Over, Richard Serra

When it comes to big egos in the art world, let's face it, there is a lot of competition.  In fact, it is kind of a given because, again let's face it, when no one gives a damn what you do or make, it takes a pretty strong sense of one's own vision and worthiness to actually express that vision.  It's a delicate balance between having a healthy amount of self-esteem to keep going in the face of continual rejection and having a massive ego that is always whispering in your ear, "I must express MY vision, do MY work, me, me, me....and screw you."

I have known plenty of excellent artists who didn't have enough of the former to keep going and I have known plenty of terrible artists who had too much of the latter who are still out there, making...er...stuff.  Naturally I like to think of myself as the humble but strong artist, working away for the simple love of making things.  But if I am honest with myself, there have been some pivotal moments when I had a choice between making other people happy and making my work and I chose making my work.  I suspect that, for anyone who is serious about making art, this will happen eventually and more than once.  Maybe it isn't even about having a big ego, maybe it is simply knowing that this is what you are here to do and then, doing it.  In yoga, we would say it is following one's dharma.  There is a line in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna tells Arjuna that it is better to follow one's dharma with faults than to be wildly successful at something that isn't one's dharma.  (Chapter 3, verse 35, for those who care about that kind of thing.)

And so, with all my faults, I carry on.

Several years ago, the Metropolitan Museum had a show of drawings by Richard Serra, an artist whom no one ever accused of having a deferential nature.  It was an excellent show, and despite myself and my feelings about Richard Serra and his ego, I really loved the work.  They were monumental drawings made black oil stick covering (almost) every inch of the paper.

Courtesy of the New York Times, April 14, 2011.
I really loved them,  except.

Except, the oil stick caused a kind of reflection of the light, a shininess that bugged me.  "How much better these would be if they were made of black wool that would absorb the light!" I thought.  Indeed, I have thought about this idea for these several years and it has not gotten old or died from boredom.  Indeed, this idea has insisted that I purchase 45lbs of black wool and begin to spin it so I can make my response to those Richard Serra drawings.

But a fraction of the boxes containing said wool.

As I have finally put my money (and time and energy) where my mouth is, I can't help but laugh at the notion that little ol' me, the one who has taken vows to serve and be a bodhisattva, is taking on one of the biggest egos in the art world.

You can draw your own conclusions!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Please Teach Me

This past weekend, I had the honor of being the monitor for a person who was sitting Tangaryo.  In our tradition, this means sitting in zazen for almost 12 hours (dawn 'til dusk) as the final step before becoming a formal student in the Order.  It is based on the traditional practice at Zen monasteries of making the person requesting the teachings to bang on the door and be turned away three times over the course of three days - they sit outside the gate for three days, no doubt stewing about exactly why they want the teachings so badly that they are willing to sit outside for three days while rudely being turned away by some joker behind the door.  In the Mountains and Rivers Order, the process isn't quite so harsh.  But it isn't quite so easy either.  There are several steps that take months of discernment and effort to complete.  As I mentioned, the last step is sitting Tangaryo.

The process is pretty simple - get up early and begin sitting.  Stay that way until lunchtime.  After lunch, sit again until evening.  It amounts to about 12 hours.  One is encouraged not to move very much so there is no walking meditation and no set periods or bells or anything.  It is just yourself with yourself.  I remember clearly when I did it thinking that I was glad it was something I would only have to do once.  It's not so easy!

But, things change.  Being asked to be the monitor, who is the person who sits with the potential student(s) to make sure everything is ok, is an honor.  It is a chance to serve and be a part of this very special process.  It also means that I am setting an example of strong sitting and generally creating a certain tone, which actually does happen even when you are in silence and just sitting still in a room together.  Energy is created.  A life-long bond is created.  Funny, but true.

The next morning, as part of the Sunday service, there is an "entering ceremony" for the new student and I got to be part of that as well.  Remembering back to when I did that ceremony, it was all blur and it seemed impossible to remember my cues.  Somehow, the simple instructions felt hopelessly complex and beyond my abilities.  This time, I realized much of the protocol already exists in my body - when to bow, how to approach the altar - it felt clear and natural, not quite the stormy, grey waters of four years ago.

Is this progress?  Maybe, I suppose.  But then again, it is possible to learn new things.  I am not sure it makes them special, if you know what I mean.  As I reflected on my own Tangaryo experiences and how the whole thing felt so different now, I realized that I honestly had no idea what I was getting into when I asked to be a student.  Because that is the very last step of all - actually sitting in front of the teacher, just the two of you, and saying the words, "Please teach me."

Yes, I had no idea at all.  And may it always be so!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tap, Tap...Is This Thing On?

What the heck is going on here?  No posts for ages.  My hits are way down.  It's like something happened and everyone forgot to tell me about it!  

Nah.  It's just...life happened.  Finn and Lucy have been getting settled into their fall schedules.  I was back up at the Monastery again for a little bit.  Various yoga training stuff has been taking up my attention.  And, you know, the usual never-ending things like cooking and cleaning and pissing off most of the New York City homeschooling community with demands for self-reflection.  Turns out, people hate that.  

But Art also happened!  Art IS happening!  Indeed, I stand poised on the verge of making a large investment in wool for my Next Big Thing.  You see, I have a vision.  It is a vision of how something needs to look in order to convey the idea of what I want to convey.  The project is still in the "you know what would be wicked cool?" stage when I am totally psyched about the materials and the process and the idea.  In order to keep this excitement going, it is critical that I ignore the somewhat forlorn pile of boxes that is my Fierce Heart project returned from South Dakota and, instead, picture the new piles of boxes containing the materials that will be transformed into this vision.

I have been debating back and forth about this project and which vision exactly I want to present but given its large, time consuming nature, I need to make a decision.  I am thisclose to doing it.  All will be revealed in the fullness of time, be assured.

And meanwhile...

Lucy turned 16!  Not so surprisingly, she is a pretty amazing young woman, confident and with strong opinions (especially about what her mother is wearing, saying and doing).  I am very happy to know her.  Here she is at about age two...a really cutie-pie!
Lucy and The Flabber, a slightly traumatizing doll to give a two-year old but, hey, a gift is a gift.
I am working on a new sweater!  I have already made some changes to the design but it is entertaining and I can still carry it on the subway so there is some progress being made.

Here is a funny little butternut squash who was all confused about what it wanted to be when it grew up.  He became part of our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.  A right tasty little guy, he was (and from the Monastery garden, too!)

And these?  These are the last flowers of the season from my garden, proving that even the most seriously neglected plot of land will produce great beauty if left to its own devices.

More is coming.  Oh yes, more is coming.

Friday, October 03, 2014


It was a little over a year ago that I began a project as Artist in Residence with A Handmade Assembly.  If you remember, it was about the interconnectedness of my online and "real" life - were they two nets or one?  Which one was more real?  Where were the connections and overlaps?  And why was it so difficult to keep track of everything?

I kept the resulting installation up on my studio wall for a year.  As visitors came and went, they inevitably commented on it and studied it.  Perhaps they were looking for themselves.  Each time, I felt quite exposed, not entirely pleased to be revealing the entirety of my world to this one person within it.  It was funny and uncomfortable at the same time.  

Today, I decided it was time to take it down, knowing that it would be permanently destroyed in the process.  I didn't expect that I would relive many of those encounters that I documented with bits of paper, pins and string.  But there it was - even emails and text messages - all rolling back to me in full technicolor.  Call it "How I Spent October 2013" as expressed in symbol, yarn and thought. 

The piece was so delicate and ephemeral.  It literally fluttered to ground.  It was almost more beautiful in its disassembly than in its creation.  The totality of those bits of paper and string could fit in a small box or jar.  The memories, however, feel larger and more solid than all of Long Island City.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Priceless or Worthless?

Recently, I reconnected with a group of artists with whom I collaborated several years ago.  They are theatre artists/performers (mainly) and our collaboration involved writers, other performers as well as a handful of visual artists.  We had ongoing conversations over the course of several months via a yahoo group (that's how long ago it was - it seemed like cutting edge stuff then!).  Based on these conversations, each visual artist created an installation inside of an abandoned refrigerator.  The installation became the starting point for the writers and performers to create a piece using the fridge.  We called it FridgeFest and it was presented in Philadelphia as part of their FingeFest (get it?  Fridge?  Fringe?).

The time has come to revive FridgeFest and we are starting a new conversation, this time with a group of artists from Georgia.  No, not peach-loving peanut farmers but artists from the former Soviet state.  This time the conversation is happening on Facebook.  Well, some of the conversation is happening there.  Some of it is happening in Brooklyn too.

There we are!  Gaby bravely takes the forefront position.
It's heady stuff.  Nick (back row, third from left) and Gaby (front and center) love to dig into ideas and they are the driving force behind it all.  Although I have ideas that I am working with in my current projects, I don't have these kinds of conversations very often so it is quite fun and inspiring to be having them now.  

One of the ideas that we talked about and continue to play with is the notion of ownership and value with regard to art.  In the last collaboration some of the writers were less than happy when their work was manipulated and changed.  They were the author!  What right did a visual artist or performer have to mess with their words?  We also talked about the layers of value that get added to art as it goes from the artist's hands to a collector/new owner.  For lack of a better term (although I think it is a great term), we named that "love".  We talked about rotating the resulting artworks among the collaborators homes, adding stories to the piece with each new place.  Would that process increase the value of the work?  What actually was the value?  The stories/love?  The idea?  The materials?  

For some reason (and I am almost embarrassed to admit it), I thought about turning my fridge into a wardrobe and making a collection of clothes.  This is a little shocking to me because it feels like exactly the opposite direction that I am heading with my (other, non-collaborative) work.  Yet somehow this idea came to mind as we talked and I began liking it more and more.  Perhaps the word "clothes" is too confining to what describe what I have in mind, but we'll see.  The conversation is just beginning.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Mixed Message

A group of us left the Monastery early (my stay there ended with a three-day, silent retreat) to drive down to the city so we could attend the People's Climate March.  Was it a bit bizarre to go from silence and a monastic setting to the streets of New York, crowded with 400,000 other people?  I will just say that I may have had a moment where I collapsed on someone slightly saying, "why must Zen training be so hard?!"  Beyond that moment of doubt that I could enter the fray on so little sleep, I would suggest that it might actually be just the right way to do it.  It certainly helped with any overly ernest notions or ideals that I have had about the whole thing.  Because, let's face it, if you can't have a sense of humor after three days of listening only to your own thoughts rolling through your mind, over and over and over, well...it's a hard life, indeed.

My own attempts at smartphone photography were, as one of my fellow marchers put it, sucky.  So I am borrowing one from the Associate Press.

It was big.  It was peaceful (no arrests!).  It felt...good.  What will happen today and tomorrow and the next day?  I guess that remains up to us.  For me, it was a boost to not give up on a direction that often feels like a wearying swim against the tide.  Maybe the best message of the day was: you are not alone. People care.  Lots of people care, a lot.

Meanwhile, shifting gears (non-combustable gears, of course), I bought some stuff!

Yes, I am a proud subscriber.
Some week's ago, the wonderful Alabama Chanin was having a sample sale.  Her DIY kits are normally priced way out of my range (we won't even talk about her ready-to-wear), but she does have big sales now and then when the price creeps just barely into range.  I do love everything about Alabama Chanin - the goal of sustainability, the way she respects her workers' talents and skills, and the fact that she creates beautiful things and then shares how to make said beautiful things with anyone willing to take the time and energy to make them.  Ok, you have to have the time, energy and a little cash in your bank account, but like I said, she has good sales a couple of times/year.

My kit has arrived.  Now to muster up the time and energy part of the equation.

So there you have it - marching for the planet with a dash of consumerism.  It's a mixed up world we live in!

Monday, September 15, 2014


This space has been extra quiet because I am in residence at Zen Mountain Monastery for two weeks.  It isn't a special retreat or sesshin but just regular monastic life.  I am here specifically to sew two sets of cloths for the main altar.  They change them four times/year according to the season.  Last September, I came here and sewed the winter and spring altar cloths.  This year, I am making summer and fall.  Last year, it took me exactly the two weeks to make both sets.  This year, I am almost finished after one week.  I don't understand why it is going so much faster.  Maybe my sewing skills have improved? Maybe I am better after making the first two (this isn't quite convincing since I redesigned the pattern so it is new to me).  But whatever the case, they are lining up new sewing projects for me as quickly as you can say "My Precious Bernina".  I will not be idle during Week #2.

Here at the Monastery, there is no internet access during the weekly schedule, although I can take a quick look at email on the communal computer after supper if I hustle.  Remarkably, I realized that I can attend to any pressing emails in about ten minutes.  It begs the question of what I am doing exactly when I fritter away hours on the computer at home.  Oh, I do wish that I can make some real changes in this department.  There are, indeed, so many other things to do!

The exception to this no-internet rule is hosan - the off-schedule training period, as they call it here.  From Sunday afternoon to early Tuesday afternoon, there is no set schedule.  Sleep as late as you want!  Eat whenever and whatever you want!  Drive away and don't look back!  Until Tuesday, of course.  Last year, hosan loomed large.  Would I feel left-out and unloved as the other, long-term residents tottered off to various social events?  In response, I packed my time with visits and meals out, talking, talking, talking.  It was a mistake, as if I even have to say that out loud.  So, this year, I am being a little more cautious with my time.  A little visiting, a little laundry, a long yoga practice, reading, and some knitting in the lovely fall sunshine.

It's ok if no one loves me.  I feel like I am wanting for nothing.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Circles + Squares at bkbx

The new season has begun at bkbx!  Opening with a group exhibition of gallery artists, bkbx will kick off its new season and second year as project-in-residence at Proteus Gowanus.  You can see some images of the exhibition here.  I have three small pieces in it, which I am very pleased and honored to present along side the work of the other artists.  It is a short run - only up until September 26th, so hustle your wee self over there and see it!

That's me over there in the upper righthand corner...a piece that is still in progress and getting its first public viewing, Beaded Panties for a Lumberjack.  Someday I might even finish it.

The next exhibition will feature work by an artist new to bkbx, Jeremiah Dine.  It is sure to be excellent.  My show will happen in March and already I am pretty excited about it.  No rotating crochet in space but lots of surprises nonetheless.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Without Neglecting A Single Fragment

Practice Instructions: 
With Total Trust Roam and Play in Samadhi 
 Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)

Empty and desireless, cold and thin, simple and genuine, this is how to strike down and fold up the remaining habits of many lives.  When the stains from old habits are exhausted, the original light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other matters.  Vast and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently one entity without edge or seam.   Further, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs.  Right at the time of entirely dropping off, deliberation and discussion are one thousand or ten thousand miles away.  Still no principle is discernible, so what could there be to point to or explain? 

People with the bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust.  So we are told simply to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter the world.  Roam and play in samadhi.  Every detail appears before you.  Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces.  The outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving of objects comes between us. Only this non-perceiving encloses the empty space of the dharma realm’s majestic ten thousand forms.  People with the original face should enact and fully investigate the field without neglecting a single fragment.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Multiple Intelligences

It is a closed book exam.  This photograph was not taken while I actually completed the test, I swear!

We are in the midst of completing our first exam for the yoga therapy program that I am enrolled in - a three year program that began with nine-days of training in Nashville this past June.  The exam covers information that we learned in Nashville.  It was a lot - from nuts and bolts anatomy to yoga philosophy (lots of Sanskrit!) to hands-on therapeutic practice.  Each of the three teachers has given us a test to complete based on their own areas of strength and interest.  I have completed one and have two to go, with one more week to get it all done.

How strange it is to be a real, live serious student again.  So much of how I have learned as an adult has been through doing - physically doing something, making mistakes and trying again.  Sitting in a classroom with people tapping away on their computers, taking notes (did you know that this is how people take notes these days?  I was shocked!) is not something that I have done in years and years.  It was a little alarming to notice how my mind took in the hours and hours of lecture.  I found myself writing sentences where I wrote words and letters out of order - filling them in piecemeal as I went.  Like, I often could not write a straight sentence but filled in the words out of order.  Isn't that weird?  I am not dyslexic...it was just more non-linear I guess.  And I realized that I have this intuitive way of learning that kind of soaks stuff in and cooks it for awhile.  It isn't such a great method when one needs to memorize things but it works over a longer period of time.  The end result might be just fine but it is not so useful when it comes to written exams.  I don't think I was like this in school but somehow, over the years, I have evolved (devolved?) to this state.

Many of the other students in the group, which ranges in age from about 30 to mid 60s, are more exacting students.  By this I mean they write their sentences in order and create outlines and format their notes and generally keep things in specific order.  I am exacting too, just not in that way.  I guess you could say there was a spectrum of intelligences on display.  I remember one morning speaking with a couple of people who were pretty far to the other end of the spectrum from me.  One was saying how she hadn't got some detail quite exactly right from the previous day and was hoping to double check it with the instructor.  I closed my eyes and kind of waved my hands in the air, saying something like, "Oh, it's ok...you know, just soak it in and feel it.  It will all come out when you need it."  When I opened my eyes, I saw her face, stricken with a look of horror.  The other person patted her arm and said, "don't worry honey, you can just the notes from the teacher after breakfast."

I wonder how they are doing with the exam?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Hardly Knew Ye

This evening we will start our journey southward.  Heading south just never sounds as good or interesting as heading north but we will do it nonetheless.  For us, it has been a quick visit.  And that's the thing - it feels like a visit and that feels not quite right.  These next few years will be full of changes with F&L beginning to make their way out in the world.  I am trying to just go with flow and not get too fixed in my ideas about how it is supposed to be or how it will be.  But then there is how it really feels, which is quite different from typing words onto a computer screen.  I suppose the thing of it is - we still will be getting on the ferry tonight and landing in Nova Scotia in the morning, getting a cup of Tim Hortons coffee just outside of North Sydney and driving 12 hours to Brewer, ME, staying at the Colony Motel ("Sleepy People Wanted") and having dinner at that place down the road before collapsing into bed and watching whatever trashy TV flickers before our eyes.  If we are lucky, that is.  How I feel about it really doesn't come into play.

Meanwhile, instead of packing and cleaning, I decided that I had to spin up one of my newly dyed rovings for a friend who, I was sure, would be desperately in need of some new yarn.  In fact, I had dyed the roving with her in mind.  She likes dark colours.

It was this one - one of the Merino/silk blends.  The silk took up the dye differently from the wool - much more blue.  As I spun it, the blue really became more prominent.  So much so that the resulting two-ply yarn looks almost like denim.  Not at all what I expected!

But lovely.  As my mother would say, Oh Robbie, that's so different.  (Different, from what??  She never clarifies that part.)  Not sure of the yardage but if I had to venture a guess, I would say around 300-350 yds.

Further meanwhile, this is a picture of the mink that Eleanor caught and killed the other evening.  I was cooking supper when she deposited it on the kitchen floor.  Quite an impressive gift, really.  Wild mink are not very nice creatures - they tend to be vicious - so hats off to Eleanor for actually killing it.  Still...it was a little alarming.  Possibly less alarming than the live bird she carried in or the live voles that she has brought in, one of which is still at large.  I am fairly certain that it is not a good idea to leave a live vole alone in the house for the winter.  

So, here's hoping that Eleanor finishes her work and that the Cabot Strait has calm waters tonight!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Can You Feel It? Or, Relax, It's Just A Blueberry

According to the calendar, we only have a couple more days here in Gillams.  Late to arrive and early to leave this year - a situation that can only be explained by saying that my life is an embarrassment of riches at the moment...as the above picture illustrates.  Blueberries?  I got 'em!

This year has been a very good year for berries - less good for cherries and apples.  Our trees are barren of fruit, which I have been told is because the coordination of flowers and bees and weather was off.  Last year was rich in fruit and hardly a berry to be seen.  It goes like that.

On Friday, I went with a friend to Harry's Harbour on Green Bay.  It's a beautiful place with some excellent hiking trails and you are almost guaranteed to see whales in the bay.  We didn't this time, so that's why I say "almost".  One thing we did see were lots of blueberries and we made a plan to go picking the next day.  My friend knows the best spots deep in the woods, although how she can see that we need to stop here and not there in a landscape that all looks the same is beyond me.  I'll chalk it up to the fact that she has been picking berries in these woods since she was a child.  Whatever the reason, we drove deep, deep back and stopped at the mysterious place and, lo, there were blueberries.  Lots of them.  There also were lots of raspberries, although they were coming to an end, and squashberries.  It was berry heaven.

Picking can be loud and social or it can be quiet and solitary.  I was happy that my friend chooses the quiet and solitary method.  We both went our separate ways and picked in silence, alone with our thoughts and surrounded by abundance.  It never ceases to amaze me, this abundance.  I marvel at how the land offers up so much in such a short period of time after such a long, harsh winter.  The land, the plants, the trees - they are almost vibrating with life.    

It was warm in the sun but there was a cool breeze to temper the heat.  The air moved and the land spoke, Here!  You can have this!  As my bucket began to fill, I thought about what would happen if we hadn't come today and picked these particular berries.  Would a moose or a bear or a bird have eaten them?  Would they have ripened and fallen to the ground, undisturbed by any hand or paw or beak?  All over the island, at that exact moment, all of it was happening: berries were being picked and not picked.  We were picking and snacking and would go home and make our jelly and do what it is that we do with blueberries.  Bears were munching and filling their stomachs and adding layers of fat before  going home to do what bears always do before winter.  And the berries themselves were ripening in a particular order, the older ones dropping to the ground to make room for the next ones to get plump and blue.  The energy of it - the aliveness of it.  I could feel it.  And the thing is - it's always like this. It's always right here.