In Memorium.

It’s been a spectacularly mild summer in Austin this year. We’ve had only four or five days of a 100+ degree weather, and a couple of rain showers even after the Summer Solstice. Last year, we had absolutely no rain from the Summer Solstice till late September, and we had already hit dozens of 100+ degree days.

So, today, when it was…check this out…eighty degrees, overcast and misty with a cool breeze on JULY F-ING FIRST!…I went for a jog. At noon-thirty.

The mind boggles.

However, our excellent and bewildering weather is besides the point. As I jogged into the little watershed area that I love I passed by Niana, the water spirit, gave a silent salute and jogged on by. I hit the turnaround point and made my way to the bank of the creek to say some prayers.

As I prayed I noticed that my mind was trying to make sense of something outside of its grid. It was a weird sensation, to say the least, but finally the ‘something’s not right’ turned into ‘turn your head to the left, moron’.

At first my mind didn’t compute what I was seeing. It didn’t have a grid for the field full of tree-stump sized pits, oak mulch and razed earth. After several false starts my mind finally turned over, and I got it.

This…beautiful, sacred piece of land…had been completely razed. From the where the creek bent to the next stand of trees, about a hundred feet further east, only a few oak stumps stood.

I gaped. Tears came, completely unbidden, as I stared at what had once been several natural circles of oak trees, interspersed with the occasional elm and juniper.  My mind flashed through all the times that I had run or walked by those trees, the certain play of afternoon or morning sunlight catching the leaves and grass just so as to give them a golden aura. The motes and dragonflies and butterflies and moths that fluttered languidly in the spring and summer sunshine. The bare, skeletal shadows that lined the path from Samhain till Imbolc.

I walked closer, and tears dripped faster.  I tried to sniffle them back a bit, but I was alone on the trail. I just let them go. In one of those true moments of nature-human synchronicity I noticed that a butterfly perched on a branch beside me, on a tree to the left a squirrel sat, oriented towards what was once a great stand of oaks.

I wanted to be mad, but without knowing the reason that the management did it, how could I be? We had to cut down 4 oaks and 1 juniper this spring because of a fungal disease. One, a 30-foot century oak, my Thor tree, was a blow to my heart and the geography of our yard and neighborhood. I’ve found that cutting down trees, for most people, is a sad act. At least, I hope that whoever did it felt a tug of something.

Whether they did or not, I mourned for the trees. I mourned for any of the spirits that made their home there, for the beauty and magic that was lost, for what was released without ceremony or succor.

I finally collected myself enough to begin jogging back home, and I noticed how much beauty surrounded this little nucleus of devastation. There’s Niana and the creek bed, more circles of oaks, reeds, herons and the sounds of kids and adults playing. But that place had always been a connection to me, a tether to something other, something older.

I’ll never stop going there. In the fall  I’ll scatter wildflower seeds, and what is now a razed field will become a meadow. And so it goes.

Here are some pictures of and around the area:

On Loss, #1

Sometimes, grief is an ephemeral thing. A fragment. A figment. It comes and goes, flitting in and out of time, spaces, dreams. Looking at the cat-food bowls still sitting empty on the kitchen floor. Thinking of my grandpa’s funeral, hazy with time, me in a somehow sad floral dress with a huge early-90’s bow and frizzy red hair. Glancing outside at Thor-tree, my petition tree, that has died from last summer’s drought.  Walking out of HEB realizing, in that moment I pushed my cart through the store and onto the sidewalk, that I am not pregnant anymore.

Grief is also constant. It’s lead in the heart, rattling around like loose ammo. Sometimes the ball pings against something else, makes a connection, and that shoots to the surface. Reminding you that yes, you’re in mourning. Don’t you forget it!

Times like these make me wonder if we’re just always in mourning. That grief is one of the ingredients in the concrete of our foundations, along with joy and love and wonder and ?

There’s no Pagan angle to grief, really. Everyone, in every belief-system, experiences sorrow.  I suppose I could talk about comforting deities or prayers, but mostly this week I just prayed to not be alone. I don’t know who answered me, but I wasn’t alone. There was my husband and my toddler and some mother-sense that countless mothers all over knew this particular grief–the grief of children lost, the grief of children never-born. And in that knowledge I was saddened, but comforted.

Only a Flower

Only a flower marks my grave,

Marks my grave, marks my grave.

I don’t need no wooden cross,

I don’t need granite for my name,

May my name be ever lost.

Only a flower marks my grave.

Marks my grave, marks my grave.

I’ve been trying to write a post for awhile now. Sitting, thinking, starting, erasing. I had it all planned out in the shower. It sounded good, too. Poignant, sad, but ultimately hopeful. The trouble is I just can’t get my fingers to write those words at the moment. I’m a writer. Writing is what I do; it’s what I love. It’s how I cope. But, I suppose, sometimes things are beyond words. Especially when they’re not over yet. For now, this:

Baby,

We miss you. We miss the nascent hopes and dreams we had for you and for our family. There will never be another you, and one hopes that in someway, somehow, we will get to know you. In another realm, in another life, who knows? But you brought joy to our hearts while you were here. Wherever you are know that you, our child, are forever in our hearts and our family.

Love,

Mama and Dad