So here we are at that time again, arbitrarily designated the ‘New Year’. For me it’s not; hence the use of the word ‘arbitrarily’. For me the year is waning, every day the sun is just that tiny bit less available. It is decidedly the holidays though and I am in full holiday mode. This morning I lay in bed reading a novel whilst outside a gentle breeze caused a golden rain of Schizolobium flowers to fall past my window and carpet the grass below. A jet flew overhead preparing its approach and landing with another batch of visitors to our small town. One more reason to stay ensconced at home – it does get oh so busy at this time of year. Traffic crawls through town from one end to the other as visitors look for parking or just to find their way around. Locals stay out of the supermarket between 10am and 5pm unless they’re desperate. I stay here, in my sanctuary, visited only by the Tui that comes to drink nectar from the Strelitzia nicholae flowers outside my window, a cool breeze and the smell of honey it carries from the hives in the paddock.
As I lie here I feel a deep stillness within; I have a list of things to do, usual at this time of year but I feel no urge to action. It is enough to watch and listen, to breathe in the perfume and to give thanks for all the beauty and abundance that embraces and nourishes me. A thought flicks through my mind from time to time – someone to call, something to attend to. I let it all go. I learned a valuable lesson this last year – that all my feverish ‘doing’ over many years had rewarded me with a burned out body and confused mind. Now that I understand, I see everywhere the obsessive need to ‘do’. The driving energetic of our society is the masculine agentic ‘make it happen’ kind. I’m often asked what I’m doing at home, don’t I get bored? My days are filled with the practice of being, the learning to embody the feminine, a much slower more languorous form of energy. One more suited to our desires and dreams, one that encourages us to indulge in the pleasures that fill our lives with joy, connectedness and ecstasy even. I think from time to time what it would be like if I gave up my meditation and gardening and dancing and just being here when others needed me for the status quo. Every time I go to the city to visit I know it’s not for me, all that busyness. I long to come home to the peace and quiet, the warmth and comfort of my Hortus conclusus where pleasure and indulgence are the norm, where loving connection nourishes and fulfils all who spend time here.
As I look out into the garden the yellow of the Gleditsias and the lavender-blue of the mini agapanthus at their feet create an easy, fresh feeling that generates a heartfelt Ahhh. Life is so very good and I am so very grateful.
As I write the depth of winter is upon us. Bumping into people the conversation consistently turns to the weather, the overall theme being the wrongness of it all. People don’t like winter. It goes without saying that of all the seasons it’s the ‘baddest’, the one most likely to be ostracised or deleted, should that be an option. Recently a friend shared with me her strong dislike of the bareness; it seemed as though winter had an ascetic quality which spoke of a painful lack. I responded that even though I don’t cope well with the cold (I’m definitely a hot-house flower), I’m always fascinated by the way winter strips the world to its bones, as though to make it anew. In my garden a lot more bare earth shows at this time of the year. Lichen covered branches reach skyward in architectural splendour, providing perches for the Kingfisher to spot prey and Rosellas to feast on bugs that inhabit the bark. Then there is the beauty of the bark itself; in all its myriad colours and textures it enriches the eye and the heart. Wet or cloudy days inspire me to sit beside the fire or lie in bed and contemplate; when nothing is possible outside the inner world is always available and full of possibility. I think this is the aspect of winter I enjoy the most; the emptiness that results from the leaves falling to expose endless sky, plants gone to ground for the cold patch leaving bare earth carpeted in leaf mould. All this grand spaciousness that is over-full during the fecund seasons can finally be appreciated. This is the one time of the year I can experience in my garden the same spaciousness that is the matrix of all life. Honouring the empty spaces within my garden has become a practise; it allows me to know in my deepest being the paradox of emptiness and fullness; an eternal truth expressed through all living things. As I quietly sit, listening to the silence, disinclined to action, space grows within me leaving me ready and waiting for, well, I’m really not sure. I can only surrender, feeling the connection to a primal incubation that begins in the emptiness and ends in the return of spring, overflowing with creativity. Winter is a time to nurture our creativity and we do this best by following Nature’s example. This is the greatest joy of winter, the allowing of the mystery to unfold without question. Other joys sustain us in this dark and demoralising time for winter is not entirely heartless. Monarch butterflies still flit about the garden keeping me company as they feed on the Tithonias. We have had some sunny days and the Magnolias are beginning to flower. In the emptiness their beauty stands out as an expression of grace.