being a ford

Thanksgiving typically revolves around a gathering of one bloodline or another. Dad’s older sister, my Aunt Mona, her oldest son my cousin Mike, and his girlfriend Diane joined my parents, me and Ben this year, thus establishing it as a Ford Thanksgiving.

I am a Ford. Always have been. Always will be. Even married, I never changed my name. I have always been Kathy Ford. It is that part of me that comes from my father and the blood of our Albanian roots. Even mixed with all the other bloodlines that merge to make unique me, it is this Ford in me that runs strong, both in the way I look physically, to the way I relate emotionally, and ultimately to the way I stay close and connected through food and memory and family love.

Growing up in western New York State, most members of this Ford family were all within hours of each other. Every holiday was spent with family, in Rochester, Buffalo, or Jamestown. Memories are clear, heartfelt, always accompanied with a feeling of belonging. Now there are grandchildren and great-grandchildren and years of distance that make the memories all the more precious. The families are spread wide but still find ways to keep the connections alive.

This Thanksgiving gathering was a spontaneous and last minute arrangement with an invitation made and accepted just days before. We started the celebration early, first gathered around the table for lunch with Aunt Mona’s peta, a version of Albanian pie we all love. The layers of phyllo dough and savory spinach and cheese filling arrived on her mother’s pan, the one that would hold and bake the precious meals of peta Gramma would have waiting for us in Jamestown growing up. It didn’t take but a few bites before we were reminiscing. Ford memories. Being the oldest of the ten cousins, Mike and I have the longest memories of this generation, memories that weave into stories involving the generation of our sibling parents and their parents before them. We spent lots of time remembering our grandfather Andon who passed when we were still young, a man of great gentleness and wisdom, the times spent in his ‘Wisteria Grill’ in Jamestown playing the metal puck bowling game and chewing Beeman’s gum. Mike told the story of his first year in summer camp on Chautauqua Lake, an unsettled nine year old until he saw the carved named of Bob Ford, my father, looming overhead in his tent. With a broad grin, he shared how in that moment he was able to settle and experience the comfort of knowing his uncle Bob had been there too. Brother Bob and Sister Ramona shared their memories of traveling by boat with their mother to Albania as young children to stay for a year, only to return after six months because WW2 had started. How the arranged marriage between my grandparents was a love marriage too. The stories continued and looped back around to the very last Thanksgiving we had with Gramma in Jamestown, all four families and all ten grandchildren present, the Ford dynasty fully intact. Quite literally, when we each cover our faces except for our eyes, we all look the same. The genes are that strong.

What fun it was falling into this time warp that led us into eight continuous hours of being together in a flow of easy. I loved catching up with cousin Mike, a master of all moving vehicles, hearing that at the age of 62 he is still racing cars, and if not, still wanting to. I loved experiencing the possibility of blossoming into new happy relationship as he has with Diane.

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I loved being with my Aunt Mona, now 86 years old, vibrant as ever, living alone in her own home still, surrounded by a family that has changed composition due to divorce and death, with her still finding a place in the center of it all.

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I loved sitting in the circle of our time together just knitting and listening, sharing photos and stories, just simply being.

What emerged for me was the sense of resilience that can come with settling in and accepting where we are with family right now. It seems counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t resilience be born from big vision and looking to the future, breaking away, becoming independent, toughing it out? And it’s not that this wasn’t a necessary feature of this immigrant family that arrived at Ellis Island in 1908 and have their named changed to the one that represented one of the greatest visions of the century, the invention of the automobile. There had to be vision to land on foreign soil and make a new life. I am speaking of the resilience that is born of being in a safe place surrounded by family and all the forms of sustenance that allow wings to spread and become ‘American’. We Ford’s are hard workers. We can find peace through our stubbornness. We can soften through our determination. And though it might not always be obvious, or we may stray for a bit, we can be a devoted bunch that wants family to be in the center. We have strong focused energy that requires equally strong focused energy in relationship. Finding this balance has been easier for some of us, challenging for others. I marvel at and honor my mother’s continuing commitment to find this balance in her own relationship with ‘Ford’ and know it hasn’t always been easy with three of us, me my brother and father, to reckon with. We Ford’s are blessed with those that can celebrate being a Ford with us.

Ben and I ended up staying an extra day. It felt good being in the center of it, even through the moments when flow of easy got sidetracked. After days of beautiful sunrises shared with Dad and Nora,

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of taking walks at the lake with the dogs and being one with the elements,

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being physical as this particular Ford family likes to be,.it felt good to be there for a last fogged in day. Using up all the leftovers for that one last memorable meal. More time just being. Even Ben wanted to take some of this feeling back to school with him in the small container of the leftover leftovers of Thanksgiving dinner he insisted on. Smile.

I love being a Ford. I will always be Kathy Ford, with dark hair turning white and unlined olive colored skin like my father, big brown eyes like all my cousins, a love of coming together and celebrating with the food of our lineage, and as family, a dedication to maintaining the tradition of connecting over all the spaces of time and distance that seemingly separate us…

 

the hallmark card

Sometimes it is just a collection of things over a period of a few days that catches my attention. Engaging is always a catalyst for unexpected. Like this recent series of photos from the past week.

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They sit in my camera, then on my computer, waiting for something. Focused now on the intensity of light source itself in each of these, I marvel at how the flash, the apparent brightness somewhere, the middle, at the edge, or through, effectively centered me in the authenticity of my feeling love at that moment.

I woke knowing I needed to do something different. Walking in the woods the sensation and vision that comes with eating clean for awhile presented itself. This too felt authentic, not just an idea to heal and create at a cell level. Making a pot of brown rice and cooking vegetables in my newly make stock, preparing chick peas, roasting nori seaweed and sesame seeds in my little beloved cast iron skillet,

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which is delicious actually, like adding the essence of sushi to a meal without all the fuss. These were all things I craved, as much as I can crave anything.

And the past weeks I have been craving to feel the authenticity that comes with love. With true love. Thinking that maybe I am looking in all the wrong places for this love. As if I can will it there, make it so. But of course it is still a question, this elusive true love. A question and a flash of momentary light. I think I am never fully prepared for when it will present itself.

Like last night. Son Ben arrived in preparation for our Thanksgiving travels. We settled down with our dinner and movie, one of our fun rituals. He set his collection of things on the table next to him preparing to put the movie in, smiled, and picked up an envelope. He handed it to me, “here Mom, this is for you.” As if he was handing me a napkin or something. “A Thanksgiving card?” I ask. He nods yes, and I set the card aside for later.

I couldn’t be more surprised when I finally do open this card. It is pink, with a plastic jewel heart glued to it, images of a few flowers, not a typical image of Thanksgiving at all.  And these words!

“You are my heart’s true love,

The openings meant to meet

Across time, across space,

And across whatever obstacles

Life put in our way.

You are the one

I was meant to be beside

Now and forever.

You are the one who understands

What’s in my heart,

The one in whose arms I share a refuge

From the world and all it’s cares.

You are the only one

With whom I could find

Such a wonderful, deep, and exciting love….

And I’m so glad to be sharing

Life’s adventures with you.”

It is a love card, a Hallmark ‘between you and me’ card, a card that under ‘normal’ circumstances might be considered inappropriate for a son to give to his mother. But it is an authentically innocent giving for Ben, I know this. I can see him standing there in the store, reading the words that evoked something true in him. He summarizes with his own added sentiments at the end, Ben poetry…

“You know whatever were far away for us- we love adventures, is really special.

Your Love Son Ben”

Love Son indeed! Smile. And there it is. The message through all of this, the spontaneous knowing, the not so spontaneous truth. That true love lives in sharing the adventures of life. The trick of course is not grasping or holding on to any preconceived notion of what the form of that adventure looks like.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too Ben….

Ben

essence

I am constantly reminded just how ‘out there’ I live. I almost turned around in the early evening pitch black last night, pouring rain and fog so heavy I couldn’t keep my brights on, bracing myself for the forty-five minute drive back into the community from which I came. But I am so used to this path now. It is a long one, to maintain in commitment for staying connected with certain parts of my life. I’m happy for this monthly ritual of meeting with my writing group. I even left a little early so I could go to Trader Joe’s and stock up on some of my favorite things, five bean expresso coffee, uncured turkey bacon, white jasmine rice, organic lemons. A hodgepodge of things I’ve been missing to supplement the hand cut cheddar cheese and fresh laid eggs I routinely get from my local corner store here. All week long I have been wishing I had some stock, any kind at all. But I have even run out of my favorite vegetable bouillon cubes. I have reckoned with how much I rely on using the essence of food in this form.

Last night I dined on simple baked russet potatoes with some butter, sautéed broccoli and grated cheddar, accompanied by some chopped cabbage simply dressed in olive oil and a little white balsamic, with a side of fresh roasted chestnuts.

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It doesn’t get much better than this.  Most meals these past few weeks have looked like this, just simple fresh food.

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It is an unusual place for me to stay so long without wanting to do more.  It’s a little uncomfortable, the sense that I might be in stasis of some kind, not making something new or amazing.  I keep taking the same pictures over and over of the brook.  Captivated by the essence of it, and yet reluctant to rest fully in this essence.

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It has been over two weeks since I stepped foot I to any kind of real grocery store. My refrigerator is full of bags from the farm, my weekly share of fifteen pounds vegetables is a lot of food! Gorgeous red cabbages, three kinds of potatoes, huge fresh carrots and beets, leeks, and always a bag of kale, and the fresh broccoli that appears every other week or so. Butternut and acorn squashes sit in a basket underneath my rows of canned goods, and an overflowing bowl of onions and garlic is always right next to the stove. My freezer is full of frozen blueberries from the organic farm up the road, a few prize pieces of local grass fed beef, loaves of homemade levain bread, bags of frozen corn, preserved the day it was picked. I even won ten pounds of fresh chestnuts in an auction last week, grown on the farm of my former business partner.

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I love that all this food feels so close and personal. There is just so much one person can eat however, and even in all this, I can feel overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed in a way that feels familiar even walking into Trader Joe’s last night. I gravitate towards shopping here because it is such a small, selectively contained place. My experience is that I can typically move through the few aisles and not go into overwhelm, can center myself in the clear choices offered, can actually emerge with a modest purchase. But last night, after weeks of no exposure, I felt overwhelm at the edges wanting to move in. Driving away I felt dismay at forgetting to get any stock or bouillon cubes. In the back of my mind all I could see was the abundance waiting for me at home.

It feels important to really use all this food, to really honor how much there is. Thanksgiving is coming, yes, it will be the celebration it always is, perfectness time to honor the abundance with family. But today, I am clearly being called to do more. So I will fit as much of this abundance into a several pots and cook it down to make stock, to distill the essence of what I value into something I can put in the freezer with the rest of the good company.

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As soon as this is done, space cleared, alchemy in process, my attention turns to the three unfinished quilts in my studio. I realize how much a flow of creativity I typically enjoy has seemingly suffered. My avoidance of making these pieces a final part of my collection also carries the energy of overwhelm. But unlike the relatively easy transformation of abundance of vegetables that have been gathering in my kitchen, I think that the process of finishing these pieces will take too much time. Time I am not feeling called to immerse in. It’s a conundrum. I know I am stuck on a belief that the value of these pieces is dependent on the hours and hours of time I typically take to make the quilted lines. And I also know that some of my favorite pieces have been made and finished in a fraction of the time I spend on others simply because I was able to connect with and easily accept the essence of what was there.

Inspired now, I wonder if I can shift this limiting belief and discover where the essence lives in these unfinished pieces. It’s time to move the energy of alchemy from the kitchen into the rest of the day…

surprise me

Today was the day Nora and I finally got back to our routine. It felt like forever, these six days since her encounter with the porcupine. I was holding my breath as we entered the woods, saying a silent prayer of ‘surprise me, do something different, stay with me, just don’t go back there!’

With gratitude, I watched her bound ahead on our usual path, far enough ahead to have her own way, but staying in sight at the same time. The prayer resonated. Realizing it was a prayer I could use in a number of circumstances that involved any kind relationship checkmate, with myself, loved ones, my art, my writing, in any number of situations where I get stuck on an idea of something needing to be a certain way to be true. For the past six days it felt like I was stuck on the relationship of wildlife in the woods in check with the wildness of Nora. It was hard not to internalize a whole host of feelings related to fear of going into ‘our’ woods for ‘our’ walk the way we always do for fear of producing the same result of her bee-lining it to the porcupine. Which quickly spun into thoughts that doing even anything similar like going into another section of woods down the road might produce the same result of crazy porcupine smelling dog getting a snout full of quills. After days of avoiding the familiar, eventually something in my relationship to this place I love had to give.

Hence the ‘surprise me’. Isn’t that the way out of rigid place? To be surprised and delighted by what one sees or finds in an otherwise familiar context? It’s why having a camera at hand at all times is such a good thing, smile. To be able to look through a lens right now at something a new way is invaluable, might even render something unrecognizable,

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but oh, how the beauty of the moment can trick the imagination onto a different path.

And not to trivialize the kinds of checkmates that can happen in human relationships, but this notion of tricking the imagination onto a different path can be powerful medicine! I am humbled by this over and over and over and just when I think my heart can’t take anymore, I am also humbled by how often a little acceptance can pave the way to being truly surprised enough to see and hear and taste and feel the love that is there.

I watch Nora from inside.

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But taking pictures of Nora outside from where I am still registers her longing. What I have to eventually accept is that being inside with Nora and her longing is no different than being outside with Nora and her longing. Keeping her ‘safe’ within the boundary I have created for her isn’t serving either one of us.

‘Surprise me’ has such potential for illuminating the wisdom that might just be more productive than the thought pattern I am in. It reminds me that I know how to feel hope when despair threatens to engulf. One of my favorite things to do is to open a book randomly to any page and discern a message or ‘aha’ that is there in that inspired moment. Absorbing what is there, I remember with humility that kernels of wisdom are timeless, and the authority of any wisdom is relative.

Today, it is the wisdom of the woods I defer too….

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Nora lingers at the edge of the brook in a way that does seem new to her. ‘Surprise me’ is met with her own look of surprise when I come upon her there.

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And then the spell is broken as we come back up into the woods, as if too good to be true and just too close to where her nose has led her before, she takes off in that direction, old habit, old pattern, still in place. Clearly there are no guarantees.  But the porcupine isn’t there.  I will just have to stay open for some more surprise tomorrow.

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I suppose it was inevitable that bliss from the past months of walking the woods with Nora would get interrupted in a dramatic way. I got a glimmer of what was coming when I noticed she disappeared from our usual path so completely one day that I couldn’t hear the characteristic crunch through the leaves or thunder of racing legs and she raced past me to keep the lead. She was out of sight out of mind until I heard the barking. Loud insistent barking like that could only mean one thing. She had found some living thing to play with, torment, or chase. Whichever the case, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop whatever was going on so just kept walking the path. The barking finally stopped and Nora finally re-joined me on our walk.

The next day the same thing happened, only this time I decided to go see, not rushing, just walking my regular pace in the direction of all the racket. By the time I got there, all I could see was the large furry behind of something high up in the tree Nora was now guarding with diligence, her barking reduced to an occasional yelp. She finally lost interest and off we went back on our usual path.

Out again a few days later Nora didn’t even make it into the woods before chasing a cat up a tree.

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No way that cat was going to play or move until we were long gone, enabling us to move into our walk soon enough. And then, memory like a steel trap and nose to wind, Nora took off in the direction of her other new furry friend and the barking began again. This time it was really screechy, insistent in a frantic kind of way, she sounded out of control. I veered off and crunched through the woods until I came to where we had stood few days earlier and there it was, moving slowly in circles on the ground, and in every way trying to escape Nora’s insistence.

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Nora of course got too close and bam, her head emerged in a whimper with the telltale quills hanging from her snout. Now I knew it was a porcupine.

It’s now twenty-four hours later and two of the offending quills still hang from her nose and lip. You would think I’d be able to reach over and just pluck them out for her. But she is on high alert and won’t let me near her. Like when this happened before in the spring, I want to see if these two strangely isolated quills will make it out on their own.

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Reflecting on all this in the space of anxiety we both seem to be feeling today as a result, I wonder if Nora wanted more than to just play. Yes her tail was wagging, but she was also being fierce, much like her relationship with her tuggy, without a gentleness that might allow the porcupine to trust her intentions. The porcupine didn’t know what Nora wanted and so fear was initiated, and quills sent.

I’ve been told a lot in my life that I am too serious. That I need to relax, put my intelligence on hold to have fun or enjoy my bliss. Of course this just makes me feel crazy and discounted. And as much as I can imagine the gentle loving generally non aggressive porcupine having a grand o’ll time playing all by himself and only feeling fear and protecting himself when something insistent gets too close, my empathy is with Nora at the moment. She literally cannot lick her wounds. She is stuck with the painful reminder of rejection of this possible playmate, of having fun her way.

So the only way out I can see is to open up with empathy to the porcupine in me too. Understand that my appreciation for the discovery of adventure each day, for having fun the way I have fun is right here, every day at my disposal and is a damn good way to have fun. It may be expressed more like Nora, with exuberant energy, but it is still fun in the way that fun can be considered enjoyment or lighthearted pleasure. I can always feel where childlike innocence of faith and trust live in the infinite possibilities for what can be seen and felt and created each day.

Mostly right now, I miss my easy lighthearted time in the woods with Nora when we are typically aligned and moving through sacred space individually but together at the same time. I miss the day free of the anxiety of anticipating pain and discomfort. This is the kind of day when taking that particularly beautiful picture,

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communing with my beloved brook,

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or making that particularly yummy thing to feed myself makes a big difference.

A thin slice of my homemade levain bread toasted like a cracker, with pieces of the Cabot’s xtra-sharp cheddar cheese that I buy a pound of at a time from the gigantic wheel that always lives in the neighborhood corner store, topped by the canned pickled peppers I made a few months ago, sweet yellow peppers from the farm, roasted skinned cored sliced and combined with fresh garlic and ginger in a light vinegar brine with a touch of olive oil. A simple combination of complex flavors, amazingly delicious.

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I’m hoping I don’t have to take Nora to the vet tomorrow. We’ll see.

 

 

good morning

Many days I post a picture in facebook of my always spectacular morning view with the greeting “Good Morning!” attached.  I suppose this is the way of sharing my love affair with where I am.

Yesterday was one of those days.

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From this vantage point, Claire, queen of the meadow, sits quietly but prominently even in shadow while knightly Gus holds the ground on the right, most often not even seen at all in the morning, and it is rare to swing the camera in his direction.

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He can only really be seen in the light.

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It is the view beyond through the space between them that captures my attention and imagination each morning. As if looking through a filter of something precious, it is always a beautiful sight that registers clearly in my heart. Every single day. Love is in the air!

As members of the apple tree family, Gus and Claire follow the cycles of the seasons in a similar way. Yet watching them for the last year, it has been fascinating to notice their differences too. Claire literally captures the view from wherever you are in the meadow. She doesn’t need to gesture or preen. Her elegance reigns whether she is bare branches or covered in blossoms, bursting full of large red apples or shimmering gold now in these last days of leaves.  I wonder, does she ever feel vulnerable out there, so exposed, like a movie star with so many eyes on her?  If she does, she doesn’t show it, there are no visible signs of stress in this lady.

Later in the day I found a very funny comment to my morning post. Someone I haven’t seen since high school, but with a memorable sense of humor apparently even now, asking,

“Why are you always saying Good Morning to that tree?”

Why indeed!

Finding this comment after returning from a walk in the woods and around the meadow with Nora and a camera full of mesmerizing woodland photos gave me pause. It was another spectacularly beautiful fall afternoon and the walk had been dominated by the trees and the palpably energized spaces between that seem to be growing daily.

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Conversely, coming into the open meadow, it was impossible not to focus on the presence of each of the apple trees holding court there in the afternoon light. Looking up and taking in the fullness of Claire from this vantage point was as breathtaking as her morning presence.

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The space around her tingled and I pulled back the lens back to capture what was going on first between her and Juliana,

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feeling their camaraderie as sisters, and then swung the camera around to the left in the space between Claire and Gus.

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Here in the space between them was the energy of Gus’s enormous reach. From his place at the sidelines, his regard, his honest affection, and the magnificence of his commitment is now plain to see.

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Is it a coincidence that there is a force of so much love focused on Claire?  Why she is front and center for every good morning?  Do you suppose this is why she is able to bear so many enormous beautiful apples? Why she is the last to drop the elegant spray of golden leaves still gracing her branches? Why her pink infused applesauce is the sweetest and most delectable of all?

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Would Good Morning feel the same without her?  Probably.  But for now, for some reason not entirely clear, her presence, her relentless beauty, and her relationship to stalwart Gus inspires me.

back to the beginning

I recently visited a local yarn store, a big one, full of delicious fiber candy. It was like getting the hint of an entirely new taste, and I was fully susceptible to combusting with the energy of infinite possibilities for knitted, woven, spun or felted projects. It’s a minor miracle I was able to escape with only one bagful of yarn and supplies for only two projects.

I had been craving needles in my hands, a different kind of rhythm than what I experience with hand quilting. Not new to this endeavor, I have been knitting with the basics for most of my life on and off, simple patterns of knit and purl, with an occasional change of color.  I couldn’t wait to get home and get started, the first project a simple one, following a pattern, no problem, have done this kind of thing a million times. Except I couldn’t remember how to cast on. No problem. Consulting Google I actually learned a new way for casting on with ‘double strand’ which I liked a lot. I was in beginner mind and remembering how much I liked being there.

A few hours later, and after many rounds of beginning the first section of this project, of ripping it out and starting over again each time, I realized I was in a different kind of beginner mind. One that kept bringing me back to the beginning for some reason. I finally got past this first part of the project and was happily working on the second part over the period of another day or so, seemingly confident that I knew exactly what I was doing. Only to reach a place where I needed to transition to the next place and realized I had made a mistake I couldn’t live with. I ripped out the last few rows and attempted to pick up from there. But I didn’t really know what I was doing and I stubbornly refused to consult Google. For some reason my beginner mind had turned off. In frustration and impatience I actually ripped up the entire thing, right back to the beginning. And started all over again.

This was no longer like coming full circle back to a place I have been away from for a while and re-engaging with in the way that can allow the magic of beginner mind to preside.  There was no joy here.  Because I was following a pattern and even the suggested colors of the image presented, I had already locked into an image of what this should look like before I even completed a single row.

Meanwhile, in my time outside I had been watching the tree under which I scattered my grandmother’s ashes a year ago. Last year it was the fact that this tree was the last to drop its leaves that caught my attention. With its canopy high up in the sky, it stood out dramatically from all the other gray bare trunks.  Like a blessing, when this tree finally let go of her leaves, I knew it was time for a new cycle to begin. After having held the container of Gramma’s ashes for almost four years at that point, and after only just a week of living in my new home, I knew this was where she wanted to be, and scattered her remains there under the canopy.

Now a year later, I watch as these leaves preside once again.

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I consider the presence of this canopy, of the apparent sameness of presentation from the same viewpoint as last year. But now it is a multi-dimensional experience, it is movement I see, the sensuousness of the wind caressing each leaf I feel, and the music that the wind in these last remaining leaves make with the sound of rushing water in the brook below that I hear, all at the same time.  A kind of same time next year experience, but heart and mind taking in the magic that is here now, all new, experienced as the possibility of limitless joy in this particular point of transition into fall.

“Beginner’s mind embodies the highest emotional qualities such as enthusiasm, creativity, zeal, and optimism. With beginner’s mind, there is boundlessness, limitlessness, and infinite wealth.”   – Saadat A. Khan

I began the knitting project again the next morning. Cast on, lost track in only the third row, ripped it all out and started again. Cast on again, and after only completing one row this time, realized I was doing knit when I should be doing purl. Ripped that out and started again. And so it went, literally for four more rounds until I was able to finish part one without mishap and move on to part two. At this point I had completely yielded, given in to doing whatever I needed to do without frustration, exasperation, or tension. I had found my way back to beginner mind and centered in the actual feeling of each stitch now, the feeling of how they clung together on the needle until they had to let go to the other needle. Each round of knitting, of moving down one needle and then back on the next, was like a mini version of same time next year. Coming full circle back to the beginning point, except a little bit further along the path. It allowed me to become intimate once again with the intertwining colors,

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glorying in the effect, as if seeing it for the first time, with each row. I was no longer solely focused on the end game and a need to master all the places that would require a transition to get there. I was confident I wouldn’t need to rip it all back to the beginning again. And hopefully, I would now be able to ask Google for help along the way if necessary….

Today is a spectacularly sunny, breezy fall day that is coaxing the rest of the leaves to come to the ground.   Entering the woods I am most aware of the stark feeling that has moved in, the tall gray trunks that so distinctly define the landscape now that transition is almost complete, inviting the light to come in and surround them in an optimistic way.

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I hear Gramma’s tree calling, and instead of beginning the loop I have been consistently walking for the past six months, I turn and begin walking into the spaces once occupied by the forest green of ferns, vines, and woodland plants.  Sit down under her canopy and literally feel her leaves raining down on me.

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After a time I get up and start walking the woods in a whole new way, in a way I haven’t for the past six months.  There is light and space and openness everywhere

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and it feels like such a gift to be able to begin exploring this way again, heart pounding and breath catching at the simplicity all that is here.  All the while resisting the pull directly to the brook that would have me walking my familiar loop backwards.  No, I keep meandering until eventually coming to a place on the loop that can lead me back to the brook and my known path.  Even though I know it will all feel different, each place is newly sacred and waiting to be experienced, as it is every day.

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This is not just a state of mind born out of habit or pattern.  It is not a linear process or awareness fixated on seeing something a certain way. It is simply a series of eternal returns back to a place of promise and in this, an eternal beginning.