It’s been a weird week for me, which is the simplest way I can say all of the feelings that have been held in my body. I've been both deliriously happy as I celebrated the last two years of really hard work, but also for some reason teared up this morning listening to Champagne Supernova (of all the songs…???). I feel like I’m holding onto a pendulum that’s swinging wildly, and quite honestly I’m feeling resistant to labeling or putting some objective description in an attempt to make this time more manageable. The end of the school year is almost entirely wrapped, I’m applying for jobs, I’m confronting whatever it is I want to do with the rest of my life while also trying to live in the moment and feel excited for the summer. I can’t really summarize everything, and probably will only be able to with the benefit of time. So this week I’m presenting a three-part post: a few lines here and there, with a little sound experiment thrown in for good measure.
Lake of the Woods
A few weekends ago, my family hauled down to my grandparents’ lake cabin to help get it opened up for the summer. Ostensibly we were there to work, but it’s one of my favorite places—one of the only places—in which I really can feel my internal coil loosening a little, as if I wasn’t about to be suddenly sprung without warning the way I’ve felt the last month (or months). One moment stands out, in 72 hours of beautiful, perfect moments: I lifted my head up from the sun-warmed slats of the dock when I heard Cedar come galloping across the gangplank, just in time to shield my eyes from the exuberant spray of water off his coat. Amid the chorus of groans cued by his shake, I heard Michael laughing. Cedar had flopped down next to him on his towel and was vigorously rubbing his head and body against the soft wool blend of his shirt, snuffling and snorting up as much of his scent as he could while he dried off. I’ve never seen Cedar do that before to a living person (although he is quite the laundry stealer at home) but it makes sense that at the lake he too unwinds, gets a little less nervous, and gives in to pure joy.
I didn’t know I was going to be staying in my house through August until mid-May, and so I felt deeply behind this season when it came to my garden. Normally each year I spend winter planning beds and getting my starts ready, tracking down the heirloom seeds I’m excited about. This year I was haphazardly weeding and tucking plants into beds whenever I had a few minutes to spare, cursing myself all the while for being behind. I felt as though I had let my beautiful garden down, as if the plants and animals and insects had been waiting for the careful ministrations I had offered up in years past, desperate and wanting for the water and nutrients I and thoughtful plants I chose to put in the soil. And yet, as I’ve gone out, I’ve slowly seen that—for every weed going gangbusters—some of my other plants have surprised me. I squealed in delight to see last season’s straggling lupine come in full force in early June, budding and budding again. I gasped when I dug my fingers into the ground and found tiny nasturtium seeds from the wild and boisterous vine that flowered all through fall, already starting to sprout. Today my gift was discovering two of my sweet woodruff plants made it through the winter and were sending out runners in a bed I’d all but given up on. What a relief to be offered forgiveness by the little patch of land I’m proud to be a steward of, and what a sweet joy to be able to spend time back there in the company of beings that love me and know me well. Even in the chaos of a changing climate and a tumultuous life and the fear and stress that have marked some of this transition, I find so much solace in the sound of the wind riffling through the leaves and the soft chatter of songbirds in the pollinator patch.
Finally, I want to share with you a project I worked on for a class I took on personhood and interspecies communication. I’m thinking of it as a sonic poem, where each new sound is like a stanza or refrain. Some voices are human, some are of water, tree, dog, bird or other plant voices. And some sounds are mechanical. , which I think is important too. I basically spent two weeks recording a lot of my daily life, then went through and paired up sounds so they sort of told a story. I wanted it to be representative of all the ways the world is in conversation around us, if we only stop and listen. If you click here, you can listen or download the .mp3 on google drive.