Bounty: Southern VT

Bounty: Southern VT


I wanted to share some of the nourishing fall programs & events happening in our area of Southern Vermont (and online.)

First, my longtime friend/artist/mystic Jess Weitz is offering two online programs: Inner Landscapes: exploring our psyche through the landscape and Archetypal Doll Making, the latter also in person at the River Gallery School where Jess leads Art & Meditation classes as well as daylong retreats.

Secondly, in addition to her weekly WORD CAFÉ gatherings in downtown Brattleboro, my gentle, soulful & talented neighbor Robin Marie MacArthur is offering a 6-week Fall Writing Workshop for poets, fiction & non-fiction writers which she describes as (and to which I can attest) “supportive, encouraging and semi-formal.” www.wordhousebrattleboro.com

Lastly, our esteemed teacher & dear family friend Scott Willis is offering his Hits The Spot Yoga Teacher Training/Immersion Program in 2019-20 which was for me (in 2012), a touchstone during a time of radical personal change & opportunity. Scott’s mastery, style, humor & compassion continue to inspire my personal practice & teaching.

We are so fortunate to have the depth & breadth of artistry, creativity & service in our area. When you enroll online or in-person for an ongoing class (or travel for a single-day event), it’s a win-win-win. You support an artist/teacher, they, in turn, support you, while the work that is shaped–on the mat, on the page, on the canvass–nourishes consciousness, connection & community.

Yours in abundance & gratitude,

Kelly

Links:

Jess Weitz, River Gallery Art School
Robin MacArthur, Wordhouse
Scott Willis, Hits the Spot Yoga

and on the coast in Maine, former Vermont neighbor/author/friend:

Jodi Paloni, Maine Coast Writers Retreats
…Sweater-weather writing workshop, (leaning) into moments of nature, exploring the narrative of place, how outer landscape can mirror the inner landscape of our narrators, how setting can be leveraged to evoke an atmospheric tone in our poems and prose. We’ll write about the beauty we see before us and the grief we experience when we remember what’s at stake for our beloved planet. We’ll walk the magical coastal trails for peace of mind, healing ritual, and creative self-care. A hearty harvest menu will shore us for our forays.”

 

 

Advertisements
A People, Divided

A People, Divided

Small Talk

My husband explains to me, again, how small talk is emp/f/phatic communion (I always get the word wrong.) So every few weeks, especially if I’ve had caffeine, I give it a try, and just the other morning, the cashier at the Co-op played along.

“We brought the ice packs because it’s so warm out,” I joked, as she rang up our groceries.

“I know,” she said, “It was really cold at our house this morning.”

“39, at ours,” I added, and then we both spoke at once, so “communed” had we become, with the same beginning sound too, except that what came after her “B,” was: BEAUTIFUL; and what came after mine: BRUTAL.

~


Stranger Angel

Waking to 39 degrees and not being among those who celebrate such disregard for gardens (and summer souls), I meditate on this guy, who was waiting for someone at the farmers market on Saturday morning, leaning shyly, I thought, against the compost with his bouquet, while l just as shyly asked if I could photograph him before escaping the crowds.

~

Procession

I’m not much of a boater, but seeing them on the road in August is like seeing a hearse drive through town, carrying summer.

~

Surrender

45 after 44 has been so excruciating that I can barely think about 44. But for this, I’ll make an exception:

His & Michelle’s summer playlist:

~

Warming Again

Goldfinches in the cherry tree
Last light on the birches
Bread salad with basil & heirloom tomatoes on the table

~

Tomato Legacy

My mother, my grandmothers, my great grandmother…

~

39

About this time of year, the chaff is separated from the wheat, and those who delight in the sudden plummet of heat, without regard for the life of tomatoes and basil, are thus made apparent; just as 45 made apparent so many things, which is what I thinking as I biked up to the farmstand for Sunday morning scones, shivering; And while my disdain for their disloyalty to summer may not be as strong as my disdain, say, for those who (still) champion 45, they had that very morning, chilled and cloud covered as it was, come alarmingly close, particularly with the forecast of 39.

~

Antidote

Summer gratitude collage—an antidote—not so much to grief, which is necessary & fruitful—but to pissy attitudes of not enough (my own.)

69267635_10157719372753746_2343292942191427584_n

Aging into Spring

Aging into Spring

I’ve always been annoyed with those who wear winter gear in late spring or worse yet– light their woodstove!

It is particularly important in Vermont that we hold the season accountable.

For me this has always meant, a light spring-like wardrobe, including opened toed shoes, as well as open windows. If it’s really cold, put on a heavy sweatshirt but by no means where a winter hat or coat. Use a space heater. No smoke!

Was it especially cold this year or have I suddenly joined the ranks of the aged?

I suspect the latter but hope for the former.

A post from May 10th:

The windows are up. The heater is on. I’m wearing a hat & a fleece vest. My fingers are cold. And so, when I pass a flowering tree, it’s more like ooooh, aaaaah, Christmas-light happy, instead of that rapturous, unleashing into the sweet caress of SpRing.

And also this confession:

The weekend before last, I went to the movies in my winter jacket wearing wool socks and closed toe shoes, and I wouldn’t let my husband break down the woodstove.

Winter wins.

The Last Snow(s)

The Last Snow(s)

MARCH

I had to give it to it. It sure was pretty.

And still, I would have left town if I wasn’t leading a retreat that night–guiding women (and let’s face it–myself) from the turning point of Autumn, sparse & bare, the darkness unending, to the certainty of Spring, not on the calendar but on the land–and upon waking somewhere south of these mountains, I would have missed the beauty, the soft, soothing motion, the outline of branch and stone and fencepost.

I want to reach back in time and offer this to Virginia Woolf, who filled her pockets with stones and headed toward the river.

No decision should be finalized in March.

~

APRIL

An April snow. Mild to moderate despair. And one more day for the more introverted among us to retreat before the joy & productivity of SpRinG forces us, like a bulb, to open into the world, giddy, with delight.

~

APRIL, again

Turkeys kept being on sale after the holidays, and so each month I was forced to buy another to offset the cost of that original local, organic splurge which I justified on account of my mother’s Christmas birthday.

In the New Year, we roasted a second turkey and ate it every day for an entire week. Turkey stew. Turkey curry. Turkey pot pie. Turkey soup with rice. Turkey sandwiches and salad. In February, another for my sister and her family when they were visiting from the shore. In March, one last twenty-five pounder with my son and his girlfriend. Twice, this winter we sent them back to Burlington with leftovers.

And still, the freezer grew crowded with tubs of broth and bags of meat, until we said, despite the sale continuing into April: No more!

But today, while looking out at another April snow, I defrosted ingredients for soup, and once the pot was warming over the stove, the aroma overtook me, like a time machine, standing beside my mother as she dropped egg noodles into the broth.

Maybe I’ll set out an extra bowl.

First Storm

First Storm

We lost the ”Grandfather” tree soon after we built the house which was quite a blow to all of us, but the “Grandmother” Pine, so named for being almost as tall as the seed tree just beyond her, is still with us, a dozen years later, though we fear not for long.

Still, this morning when trees fell across this mountain town–upon houses and roadways and cars–She, Ever-Wise, sacrificed an upper branch which in its tumbling cleared the lower branches of their burden of heavy snow so that she remains, sturdy, high above the canopy, facing West.

I can’t help thinking this some kind of Wisdom Teaching—about aging and letting go and most of all provision—but I’ll wait to ponder that until I’ve had supper and a shower, hoping electricity & running water will be restored soon.

(November 2018)

Chrysalides

Chrysalides

I look past the needles that line my belly, the lowest just above the rise of my pelvis, an inch deep, and further still past the needles at my ankle to the plant circling the room where the walls meet the ceiling, the same ivy-like, heart-shaped-leaf that I have in my house, a plant which was once among several left on a small round kitchen table with the words: “Free,” which despite the absence of a green thumb I brought home after a yoga class or was it a birthing class, both brand new endeavors  after leaving the mid-Atlantic for the Green Mountains in 1993 where I discovered at my first staff meeting at Deerfield Valley Elementary that everyone ate something that I’d I mistakenly pronounced as another word for soil.

A Long Slow Color is Green.

These are the words that were carved into thick medallion of wood that hung above the entrance to a place smack in the middle of Main Street, beside a classic Vermont Inn. The oddly named: Klara Simpla housed the bookstore which is what brought me inside the strange smelling shop filled with something called herbs and homeopathics and tinctures, not to mention the yoga and birthing classes (among other offerings) on the second and third floors. There were also two huge chests filled with household and clothing items that were giveaways. 25 years later, I’m still the plaid blanket that I found in that pile is a family classic when we picnic beside pond and I still wear the black, water resistant wind pants when I snow shoe.

A long slow color is green.

Those words from the wooden medallion which hung above Klara Simpla were spoken out loud to me once by the founder herself, the woman who offered her plants to women like me just beginning to find our way on the path to wholeness.

“There is so much to know. How do I begin?” I asked Faye, at the end of an interview she’d surprisingly granted me when I’d first began writing for the Cracker Barrel.

But what really brought my attention to the plant circling the ceiling in the acupuncturist’s office, beyond the fact that the old period building with its hissing radiators reminded me of my husband’s grandmother’s place in the nearby Berkshires (which is how we ended up leaving the southern New Jersey for New England), and beyond the surprise that my surname was all over the building because in addition to housing the acupuncturist’s office, it housed an organization called the Salasin Center (so named for a distant relative that I found on Facebook) was that its dead leaves were left hanging among its healthy ones, and if not a shouting sign of neglect then some kind of statement which I had plenty of time to ponder as I lay on the table week after week for an hour at a time–from sandals to long pants to scarves to wool socks and hats.

With nothing to do but remain still so that the needles in my belly (or eye socket) wouldn’t move, the story–my story–about the neglected ivy-like plant–began to shift, somewhere beneath my personal anxiety around neglect.

When the acupuncturist returned to the room to remove the needles of which there were a total of 8 on this particular visit–including one at the top of my skull, and one at each of my temples, as well as one between my toes and another placed between my bottom two ribs, I finally said aloud what I’d been thinking for so many weeks in a row (hoping to silence it in my head):

“Has anyone ever said that those–(I pointed toward a particularly long line of decaying leaves)–look like a chrysalis?” (I wish I knew then the plural.)

Surprisingly Dan said, “No,” and nothing more.

But my therapist picked up the thread, the very same week, which is something I try to avoid–more than one appointment in the same week–but which has been unavoidable during this health crisis that has so depleted me (while serving as a boot-camp for letting go.)

“This is a very inward time for you, more so than ever,” Carolyn said, as I sat across from her in a room perched above the Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro; something I had been doing about once a month or so ever since my mother’s death, a span of time easily measured by the age of my youngest son, 18.

“It’s time to retreat, to be unseen, to rest under the covers,” she said, “To let your work deepen inside like the spinning of a cocoon.”

My mind immediately protested with all that had to be done in that particular month–December!–not to mention the day trip I’d imagined to the sea the very next day–on the occasion of my 55th birthday. (I had arrived in Vermont at 29.)

“Does this resonate for you?” Carolyn asked, seeing past the veneer of my capacity, into the grievous depletion of chi.

I nodded begrudgingly.

There was one last appointment scheduled that same day, which is something I never do, but it was the only opening my friend had to trade massage for the work I’d done on her website.

The afternoon though brightly lit, was bitter cold, and I arrived at her house chilled, and even so, I removed each and every layer, until I stood in my underwear and slid, belly up, under the single sheet on her table.

“Are you cold?” she asked, turning up the temperature on the heating pads beneath me.

Elaina dangled the pendulum over the center line of my body sensing the ongoing obstruction of the second chakra–digestion, letting go, family, finances, overextension.

“How is mothering going?” she asked, knowing that my youngest left the nest this very August, a day upon which this sweeping illness presented itself in absurdly symbolic fashion.

“There is a burden on your left shoulder,” she added. “A responsibility that you’re carrying, that is not yours, which means it’s stuck there because it has nowhere to go.”

I told her about the Ritual of Resignation that I had concocted just before Thanksgiving. My therapist had suggested the ritual as an accompaniment to the potent antibiotics to which I planned to surrender, something I hadn’t needed since I moved to Vermont and began using herbs. I filled the prescription bottle with tiny pieces of paper upon which I wrote all the ways I was ready to let go, particularly with regard to my family of origin who I’d begun to carry as a girl.

“So many of your joints are blocked,” Elaina said, as she massaged my shoulders and elbows and wrists, my hips and knees and ankles.

As I write this morning, on the day after my birthday, my hands take turns leaving the keyboard to touch my shoulder tips again and again. The skin there is so strikingly soft, like a baby’s flesh (or what I vaguely recall of a baby), the result of a salt scrub I offered my joints yesterday morning while the sun rose brightly through the trees on another bitterly cold day, on the anniversary of my birth.

So too was my time on the table with Elaina sensual, accompanied as it was by her cat, black, like my own Licorice from long ago with whom I shared a soul connection as a girl in Rockies as my mother disappeared in the bottle. Licorice would drag her paws down my face, and once when recalling this in my therapist’s chair on a guided journey forty years later, I was certain I smelled Licorice’s milky breath.

As Elaina worked on my neck, “Kiki” brushed her whiskers against my left cheek, purring in my ear, and then she pranced across my belly, tenderizing the second chakra, while on the Elaina’s small cd player, a classical version of “Danny Boy” softly played, a song which once eulogized my mother who named her only son Daniel.

After the sunny birthday morning shower with the salt scrub around each joint, my husband drove me to the sea, where I watched from the passenger’s seat, light, moving across frozen lakes and rivers and marshlands and fields, even as my head ached from yet another migraine (a fourth since Thanksgiving week; since the antibiotic?) until I arrived, at the hour of my birth, sensing into the pain of separation–skull crushed by pubic bones–at the open, endless, embrace of Return, understanding in that moment, that the title of my book would be something much larger than I had conceived, could conceive, of the story I’d been spinning several years around a tragedy.

When instead of turning south, we continued along the coastal road deeper into Maine, we passed a tiny pond beside the woods upon which a single skater glided skillfully in tighter and tighter circles.

“He must be professional hockey player,” I said to my husband.

“Such a small pond he’s on,” my husband replied.

“Such elegance,” I said.

And now I recall the moment when I’d fully surrendered to Elaina’s touch on the table, and she asked me to turn over onto my belly, layering heating pads and blankets atop my back, until I grew so hot that I imagined melting, after which she removed the layers, which had grown sticky, peeling them one by one, until I found myself unburdened and light, nascent and raw, like the first unfurling of new life.

The moral consequence of acceptance

The moral consequence of acceptance

Uncertain of our place, but standing with my sister and husband nonetheless, shoulder to shoulder, for others. Brattleboro Rally for Trans Justice. 2018.


I don’t feel safe to be a part of any community 
outside my own.

Of all the words spoken at last month’s Rally for Trans Justice | Brattleboro, these are the ones that most pierced my oblivion.

How affronting my hubris. How careless. How dangerous even. To dismiss another simply because he/she doesn’t look the way I expect she/he to look.

Acceptance is protection, declared one of the rally signs. I nodded my head in sobriety.

I have a responsibility here.

Hate is a choice. Trans is not, expressed another.

I felt that inside.

“Do better,” the speaker offered to those of us who identified as the sex to which we were born. “Talk to each other. Educate yourselves.”

I am and was so grateful to all those who were courageous enough and vulnerable enough to gather with people like me who want to be allies, but who have so much to learn.

I hope there are more and more spaces where people who identify as Trans feel safe and accepted and most of all feel that they—belong.

At one time I felt awkward around “them,” and then confused, and over time curious, and finally accepting, but now my heart is made glad when I see the woman at the register who kinda looks like a man but who is clearly a woman inside.

She’s always been warm and funny with me even when I accidently use the pronoun, He.