Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the fifth day of Christmas...

Time marches on... The puppy has gone to a better home with better training. Life at Tam Lin is much calmer as a result. In the fall I started teaching folk dance part time at the Monadnock Waldorf School, and have found much joy and more and more doors opening in the world of Waldorf Education. My DD is even applying to the Waldorf Teacher Training graduate program at a local university!
Pie Night has grown and is one of our greatest joys. It is in fact one of the most "spiritual" acts of community we participate in. Dear folks gather together in the same space on the same day and time each week. We share music, songs, and a communal meal, followed by a social time that intermingles with more music. We gather for a common purpose and build loving bonds. Feels like the best kind of church! In fact, this whole month has brought gentle unfolding revelations to me. I love the mystery and magic of Advent, so as usual didn't let any festive activity intrude until Dec. 1, when I get up early and play the album that starts it all as it has every December for the past 25 years: George Winston's December. We have an Advent moss garden, and day by day decorations are added, more festive music is played, and about halfway through the month, it really begins to feel like what I like to think of as "Yuletide".
There is the busyness of Animaterra concerts and the Nelson Solstice Party, preparing gifts and food, and each event is a marker in the festivities. Concerts, parties, Pie Night, all are a part of it. Christmas Eve this year was the loveliest in years, as it fell on a Pie Night and we invited families of the usual gang, played our music by candlelight and tree light, and ate if possible even more and richer food. Maggie, Lizza, Matt and Brea snuck out at one point and came up the driveway, swinging a lantern, dressed in crazy rags and capes, wearing colanders and such, and banging pots and pans and singing the Louisiana Rag Dance Wassail. We sang carols, hugged and got teary. It was a glorious evening. Christmas Day was yet another day of beauty. Our friend Michael is here from Florida. Our friend Al, my mother and her spouse came for the midday festivities. Our good friends Marcy and Hans just happened to stop by as we were preparing to eat a picnic lunch in the living room. Love and joy came to us.
But Yuletide doesn't end on the 25th. We are enjoying our Twelve Days of Christmas! We still have music to play. We played for an annual dance Dudley Laufman calls on Boxing Day in Keene. On Monday we will drive to Ossippee to call and play a New Year's Eve dance at a conference center. Next week is Twelfth Night, and we will go to the annual Breaking Up Christmas party at the Hammonds' in Brookline, Mass. Finally we will let go of Yuletide and bid it farewell for another year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

And the seasons, they go round and round.

Can it possibly really have been a whole year since my last post? I'm sorry. Life is so rich and full, it's hard sometimes to take the time to put it all down in writing. Our family has grown! Working chronologically backwards, in May, dearest daughter Maggie moved home!
She spent a "retail year" following her graduation from college, and is now embarked on a period of self-discovery and discernment which we all hope will lead to her next adventures in life. We are very glad to have her here! Backing up, in April we adopted a second Potcake pup. Meet Posie!
She is a perky girl and is well loved by all, including Nellie. Our biggest addition(s) however, are the jammers who now come regularly to our house to play wonderful music! It's the Live Free and Pie Jam, started by a group of wonderful young folks who wanted to play the kind of music we play. Hunt said, "Come to our house!" I said, "I'll bake pie!" And the rest is history. We have met weekly since October, and these folks, and the additional ones who come and go from time to time, give us great joy and delight as we play music, eat pie and other delicious goodies, and share our lives together.
Finally, Hunt is working on violin #4, which will be the next new member of the family. He has sold #s 1-3, and we are so very grateful for the success of the business, the abundance of the garden, and above all, for the love that permeates our lives.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Summer is Short and the Winter is Long

"Rise up, Jock and sing your song,
For the summer is short and the winter long.
Let's all join hands and form a chain
Till the leaves of springtime bloom again"

That's a song we console ourselves with in the darkest, coldest time of the year. But here it is, August! It's sunny and warm today, not too hot. The garden is burgeoning, the air is sweet. We are now used to wearing shorts and sandals and stepping out without a jacket.

But here it's just far enough north that suddenly we can feel a change, a subtle stirring in the air. The grasses are turning brown, and the insects sound has a slightly heightened urgency. The crop of beans is almost over, and it's harder to find blueberries on the bushes. Strawberries, those harbingers of high summer, are long gone. There's still plenty of time to party and luxuriate in the greenness, the warmth, the ready supply of fresh fruits and vegetables- but it's also time to prepare the root cellar, to stack the wood, and to put food by for what's coming.

Each golden day of summer has been extra sweet this year, it seems. While much of the rest of the country is baking in a prolonged, overheated drought, we've been blessed with slightly-below-normal temps, one brief heat wave, and day after day of achingly beautiful sunny, green gloriousness. I give thanks for the beauty, the sweetness, the fertile, rich ebb of the wave that is summer, so short, so precious. I will savor each moment as much as I can.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What if...?

As I've wandered off the path of "organized religion", while maintaining a central core of spirituality, I sometimes wonder if I can find a way to sum up my beliefs simply and succinctly. Sort of like Linus in "A Charlie Brown Christmas", where he recites Luke 2 and concludes, "And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!"
(You put your right hand in...)

But this is not easy, as I look around at what gives my life meaning. My family, my home, music, the trees and green growing things outside, the rhythm of the seasons- how do you summarize all this?

(You put your left hand in...)

Teaching, singing, knitting, reading, playing with the dog, nestling with my beloved, communicating with my kids- all give me a deep feeling of satisfaction and connection with more than myself. Walking in the woods, or along the beach, or even on a city sidewalk, centers me, opens me to the Other. Gardening, digging, working hard, working out, reminds me that there is more than myself. Star gazing, listening to exquisite music, remind me of the vastness of all that is, beyond our ability to understand or conceive. Being silly, playful, stops me from taking myself so seriously that I can't experience joy.

(You put your right leg in...)

It's true, there have been times in my life when I have had to reconsider and make changes, and turn myself around. That's all part of the journey.

I remember a conversation with someone I loved dearly, who said he believed we were on this earth to reach beyond earthly things, to separate from the physical and connect to the spiritual. I objected to this philosophy- I said I believed we were on this earth to savor it, experience it, in all its delicious juiciness. That we couldn't experience heaven above unless we experienced it in the joy of living. That it was ALL spiritual, that there was no dichotomy between the physical and the spiritual.

In fact, to summarize my spirituality:

You put your whole self in!

That's what it's all about!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Following the daffodils

After graduating from Concord (NH) High School in 1977, I took a "gap year", made necessary by some administrative snafus that left me without a scholarship or any other needed funds to go to college that fall. I worked at various retail jobs, and finally decided to follow a dream of tramping around Europe. None of my friends was available (or willing) to make the trek, so on March 1, 1978, I set off on Icelandic Air for Luxembourg, France, Belgium, and the British Isles.

Now, March in New Hampshire is very much still in the grip of winter. I left snow and ice, encountered rain in New York (where we were held over for one night due to strikes in Europe, put up in the Hotel Essex where I slept off the flu I had suddenly contracted), witnessed horizontal snowy blasts for the brief glance out the door in Reykjavik, but when we landed in Luxembourg, it was springtime. We landed in early morning, and I was to take a train to Bordeaux, France, late that afternoon, so I spent the day wandering through the parks of this lovely city, admiring the green grass, budding trees, and the barely budding daffodils.

I stayed in Bordeaux for a week with a penpal and her delightful family. Papa and Maman both worked, and Isabel and Philippe were in school, so I spent my days wandering their small village and catching up on jet lag. The daffodils were in bloom. On the weekend they took me to the Dune du Pyla, further south, and to their summer cottage in Arcachon, where the daffodils were in riotous profusion!

I started a daffodil search across Europe- they were blooming in Paris, where I spent a lonely week in a Quartier Latin hotel, in Brussels, where I visited another pen pal, and as I arrived in Canterbury, England, for Holy Week and Easter, there they were, just starting to bloom. For the next 6 weeks or so I made my way around Great Britain, to London, Salisbury Plain, Wales, the Lake District, and Scotland. I started searching for what was becoming my favorite flower. The weather held up amazingly well, and I met folks at youth hostels and inns, saw things I had only imagined, and grew in independence and spirit. wo

A big highlight was Wordsworth's house in Grasmere in the Lake District. I had met up with a lovely South African woman (Ailsa Dewar, where are you now?) and we hired a local man to take us on a long trek across the region, stopping at Dove Cottage where, indeed, we found a host of golden daffodils.

One problem with the whole adventure- I was terribly lonely and homesick. I was only 18, missed my mom, my friends, and learned how important it is for me to have friends and community. I could have afforded to stay for several weeks more, but in mid-May I arranged for a flight home (remember when we could have open-ended return tickets? I didn't even fly home on the same airline!). I decided to surprise my mother, so when I landed in Boston, I hopped on the Concord Trailways bus, and once in Concord, I took a taxi home. There was my mother, working in the garden, on a sunny May afternoon- and the daffodils were in bloom.

There is a lovely song by Sydney Carter, called Julian of Norwich. In it are the following lines:
Love, like the yellow daffodil, the flower in the snow
Love, like the yellow daffodil is Lord of all I know
Ring out, bells of Norwich and let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know

The daffodils are just now blooming at Tam Lin. They remind my of my big late-teen adventure. And they remind me that despite the hardship of a New Hampshire winter, despite all the violence, anger, fear, oppression, injustice and cruelty in the world, that somehow all shall indeed be well again, in some way we can't really fathom. All shall be well again, I know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Standing tall

Winter's grip is still upon us, but somehow, even as blustery and cold as March is, there's promise in the air. So I am taking daily walks again, and the walks are getting longer! As the walks get longer and my body gets stronger, I feel more optimistic and less like hibernating, and the cycle continues.

One thing that I notice over and over again is how my body reacted to late winter- I curled up, turned inward, and I adopted what my mother often called "wet noodle" posture. The more I have noticed it, the more I have tried to correct it. And another positive cycle is born!

For the past three summers I was able to attend Pinewoods Camp English Dance Week, which was amazing and lovely for so many reasons. One of the best things I gained from it was acquaintance with a yoga teacher from Silver Spring named Anna Rain. She teaches Iyengar yoga, which focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body. Anna has a vitality and joyful personality which encouraged and inspired me. She taught how to "take yoga off the mat" through body positions, or "asanas", and alignment suitable for dancers. I quickly found these asanas to be equally effective in the rest of life, from walking down the piney path of camp, or from my house to the mailbox, to standing at the sink, to singing and leading my chorus.

On my walks I now have a short "jody", or echo-chant, that I often give myself:
Head up! (head up!)
Shoulders back!
Stand tall!
Stand taller!
Heart open!

I stand taller, my shoulders back, allowing my heart to open to all I meet, rather than curling my shoulders forward to protect my heart and my soft underbelly. In doing so I find myself filled with feelings of strength and love, towards myself and others, and thus, joy and peace.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweet Home

I've been hibernating. That's the best excuse I can think of to explain nearly 3 months of blog-dormancy.
Actually, I've been performing all December, traveling nearly all of January, and easing back into so-called-"real life" in February. But indeed, the days are getting longer, and after about 6 weeks of regular one-two punches from Old Man Winter, there's been little snow and several days of thaw. It's still plenty cold, but even the bird song anticipates the thought that "if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

Truly, for all the activity, I feel pretty much like hibernating during the long dark months of winter. Our trip South in January was a brief interlude that gave color to our eyes and a few days (out of the 25 of traveling) where short sleeves were comfortable. Other than that it was mostly chilly! But still, a wonderful adventure playing our music, visiting our friends, and experiencing, as Hunt says, "different dirt".

We drove in our Ford van, equipped with a plywood platform bed, all our instruments, our sound system which we never used not once, clothes, food, and Nellie the World's Greatest Traveling Dog. It was a bonding experience with Nellie, and we drove around in our little home-away-from-home.
We couldn't wait to be back home! We have both learned, over and over again, that we are finally in the Place Just Right and it truly is the Valley of Love and Delight! Even though it was snowy

and continued to snow, even though it was cold and dark and we have had to haul wood every day, we are so happy in this home we have made in this house we have built.

Nellie was so happy to be home she nearly burst into flame.

And now the days are getting longer, bird song is in the air, and winter's back is broken. Who could ask for anything more?