Depending on where I am in my cycle, my mind can be a very exhausting place to be. My goals for today included: work on a short course I’m taking, getting a blog post written, and getting the last bits of the info I need gathered in one place so I can actually get my taxes ready to be mailed off tomorrow. Closing last night messed up my inner clock a lot, and I woke up this morning after only a little bit of sleep, but I was groggy as fuck. I dithered back and forth for a bit, worked on some stuff that required little more than tea. Went back to bed to nap, but I was in that state of having a too active brain for sleep but a too foggy brain to accomplish anything.
I’m all for powering through despite that, but there are some tasks (like brainstorming, which is where I’m at in the short course I’m taking) that do not lend themselves to powering through foggy brain. I couldn’t nap. I couldn’t work. I decided I’d go back to the river.
My route to the river is almost always the same. Walk down the street I live on for about a mile, walk up, hit the rose garden, and then go to my spot on the river.
I avoid the Owen Rose Garden during the height of summer, as I have a very hard time with the rose scents, but I try to remember to visit before and after, because all the other flowers are amazing. Generally my first stop is to visit the cherry tree in the background of this photo, but today my attention was all for the magnolias. When I visited last week, I knew the magnolias were close to opening, and I’d decided to come back this week — and I forgot until I was there, today. My arrival at the park timed perfectly with the sunlight and the sky — sun streamed in from the south, at my back, and the clouds against the tree were the perfect shade of grey, and the white on the petals all but glimmered. The photo does not do it justice. I was riveted, and I walked to the tree in a half-daze — and I wasn’t there long before another person came up with their jaw all but slack in wonder. ‘Perfect timing,’ they said. Yes.
Here’s a younger tree. I sat for awhile underneath this one, on a comfy bench that I fully intend to revisit.
I was struck, as I walked, at all the plants that had not been dead-headed or stripped away. Everywhere there were old artichoke blooms, dried out mullein towers, once-yarrow clusters that blotted the growing green with their browns and greys and rusty colors.
I watched ladybugs crawling along the outside of the mullein towers, and I knew that there was a host of unseen creatures living among the deadfall. I was struck by the presence of the dead, among the living, that overlap in season, when the dead oversees the new growth, and I had a moment caught in wonderment: do they pass on their knowledge, their experiences, at this time? What if the spirits of the once-plants are hanging around, whispering their secrets to the seedlings, to the new green? What if such guardianship is as important as the genetic coding passed on through the seeds?
My mind was filled with thoughts of death, of ancestor worship, of footprints, of honoring what came before, as I meandered out of the garden and down to the river. I realized, as I walked and as I thought about this city and our lazy dreams of moving out of the city at some point down the road, that I really do love living here. There are places I would miss being able to see every day, and I haven’t felt like that about a place, well, ever.
When we first moved to our new place, we had to find a new spot to leave our offerings for Bragi and Idunno, on Ostara. We had been going to a meadow in our old ‘hood, but we moved to this apartment in February of 2011, and we decided to head to the river. We found this grove of hazelnut trees, had our ritual, and left our offerings. (Maple sugar candy, milk, apples, cheese, bread.) We’d gone back a few times since, but as this is a good, sheltery place to be in, people are generally in the space, and we haven’t left offerings there in a while. It tickled me to walk passed today and see so many of the ducks and geese taking their lunch there. I don’t know why, specifically, but it really brought Bragi and Idunna to mind, a lot.
The duck in the foreground did not love my taking his picture. I didn’t linger.
Just across the river you can see the mall, and out of frame (out of view, actually) is our local Barnes and Noble, which I haven’t been to in years and years. This is my favorite spot on this part of the river, mostly because there is water I can touch, wildlife to watch (ducks, geese, presently gulls, osprey at the right time, and an abundance of grey squirrels, which are not the most common around here. Also, people with their dogs) and a place I can sit that is not a bench and is not muddy. Once the leaves come out on the trees it becomes a bit more sheltered, but I like the openness, too.
Gulls had been wheeling over head until I took out my camera.
Moar river shots. I sat here for a bit, and then meandered home. My mind was quieter, again — but then I took a nap. Whoops, too quiet.
The river whispered to me, of ocean gods, of sea spirits, of water wights. My nixie came to speak for a while, and the woman on the bench feeding the ducks had her own stories to tell. The mallards taught me more about liminal spaces, and about the merits of taking a meandering route rather than taking the direct path. Speed of journey isn’t always the point.The spaniel walking off leash with his human had much to say about trans-species relationships. Poseidon wrapped me up in His presence, and the crows chased the seagulls, and the seagulls chased each other, and it was a beautiful hour or so spent out doors.
Leaving the river, I passed a field of sleeping water fowl. I watched them from across the walkway for a bit, because every time a cyclist or a jogger or anyone moving too fast whipped by, they would all stand and trumpet at them, announcing their displeasure, like a gaggle of old men and women barking at the whippersnappers to slow down and watch where they’re going.
I laughed, and then I made my way slowly passed them, stopping to take a picture. And, when I’d gotten passed and they all stood up to yell again, I just might have walked a bit faster.