Seismic Change

The day after the seismic change that made people like us recognized as equal under the law, my honey and I took a walk in the busy Asheville Arboretum. We held hands. It was something we’ve done in public before but I was completely astonished at how different it felt, how free I felt, how being legally recognized changed my experience of holding hands.

In the wake of the overturning of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) last June, many lower courts ruled against bans on marriage equality. On October 7, 2014, the Supreme Court decided not to consider the appeals cases from states where the courts have struck down bans, thus effectively making gay marriage legal in more than half of the United States, including North Carolina where I make my home. As soon as the local ruling came down that NC Amendment One was unconstitutional, marriage licenses began to be issued to waiting gay couples. Many brought ministers to perform their ceremonies right there on the steps of the office of the Register of Deeds. The dominoes had dropped, the obstacles abruptly fell away, the many colors of love were upheld under the law at last. As a gesture of honor, the Asheville City Council approved the draping of a two-story rainbow flag across the City Hall.

It was the day after all this jubilation that my love and I strolled the Arboretum holding hands. In a socially witnessed context, the shame that had been socially induced– was lifted! This new context was dizzying. Dazed by change, knocked for a loop by a renewal of optimism in change itself, I held hands with my love. It felt for once, as if we had the right to do so, the right to be who we are. A chain that once squashed love into a tight narrow band was shattered. The release of hidden love into the public world added such brightness to that world as to be dazzling! I experienced our sense of freedom, in showing we were a couple in the Arboretum, as adding its necessary drop to Freedom in the wide world. It was October 11, National Coming Out Day. Surely, this was a coming out of Love itself.

Climate March Gratitude


15125036547_9d5481884a_zToday on the autumnal equinox, on the day after the largest climate march in history, the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the Sun, making the lengths of night and day equal. I find this day’s balance deeply significant.The beginning of Fall signals birds and butterflies to migrate, plants to end their growth cycles. For humans, the coming of Fall has long meant a time to pause for gratitude. Yesterday, by turning out in thousands to petition for 100% clean energy, people at 2808 solidarity events in 166 countries showed gratitude to the Earth.

May all of us acknowledge our bounty and balance our consumer habits with a practice of gratitude for life on earth, with authentic praise and valuing of our harvests, whether it be the reaping from our work, from our loving relationships, from our community contributions or from the garden. How do we start a daily practice of gratitude for life on earth? Like any practice, it simply has to be begun, and then continued, until it becomes an attitude that shines out from us every day. Scientists tell us that the habit of gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and makes us happier. I believe it can also change the world. Today’s Autumn Equinox is a wonderful day to begin cultivating the habit of noting exactly what it is we are grateful for each day.

Here are brilliant photographs from all over the globe of people just like me and you showing gratitude yesterday in the People’s Climate March.

And here’s a youtube to get you going, a TEDxSF talk on gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg    

Child in Melbourne at People's Climate March September 21, 2014
Child in Melbourne at People’s Climate March September 21, 2014




Sharing the Moon

imagesLast night’s full moon rose over the mountains behind a cloud bank, while we assorted devotees waited at the Blue Ridge Parkway overlook. Two sets of parents and their 3 or 4 year old girls sat on the grass nearby me. One girl marched about singing Supercalifragilistic with great enthusiasm, while the other child walked the low ledge of the parking area, balancing her arms like a baby ballerina. The singer stopped to look over at me in my camp chair with my journal on my lap, and asked her mother, What’s that purple (haired) lady doing? I waved my pen and called over, I’m writing. Photo on 9-9-14 at 12.42 PM

Suddenly the moon peeked her brightness above the cloud! One little girl yelled, Huge round circle! When I raised my binoculars to adore the moon, I heard the girl tell her mom that I had big, funny glasses! Then the mom rummaged in a cooler and said, No, we can’t light the lantern yet, but now, ta-do!  we can eat our mooncakes!

One girl expressed her moon-thusiasm by making a long repeated revving sound, which she informed her family was a car-car. I imagined her wearing goggles and roaring up to the lunar surface. The moon shone, and hid, and shone, playing peekaboo from behind a gauzy veil of cloud cover. Then I heard—what? A bobcat? A woman in the distance? No, an owl screeching, maybe an Eastern Screech owl, maybe a baby barred owl— the screech raising the hairs on my arms, the sound blending with the little girl’s revving her car-car to go to the moon.

Oh yes, I thought. This is where I want to be— in the mystery! in the night! in the mountains!

Later, as I packed up my binocs and my camp chair, the families lit their lantern. A young dad swung the lantern while he led the way circling and spiralling  in the grass, followed by the snaking, singing line of his troupe. They marched around under the light of the wonderful moon, and, along with the playful parents, the two strong girls sang their hearts out, every word of every verse of Let’s Go Fly a Kite!   from Mary Poppins   from Saving Mr. Banks

Abundance Grows on Trees

images-1 When I saw it growing out of the tree at the site where I was camping with my honey, I was full of wonder at the marvelous world we live in, a world where abundance — yes!— grows on trees. The Reishi looked like beautiful reddish brown ‘plates’ growing out of the tree trunk, and they have a natural glazed shine. Two months ago, I harvested those Reishi mushrooms from that tree here in the North Carolina woods.When I got home, I did an alcohol extraction, ie, cut up the large Reishi mushrooms into small pieces to fit in a jar, topped it with100 proof vodka, and put it away in a dark cupboard, shaking often.

Today on the full harvest moon, I’m doing part two,  the water extraction.. I begin by draining the mushrooms from the alcohol tincture, which I set aside. I then place the mushrooms in a kettle of spring water and set them to boil for three hours. This double extraction method pulls out of the mushrooms all their medicinal constituents, since some extract only in alcohol and some only in water. IMG_2879When the water has cooked down to half its volume, I combine the alcohol and water extractions for a single powerful tincture, and I lay the spent mushrooms reverently in the compost.IMG_2883

If you research the pharmacological effects of Reishi you will see a long list of benefits. Some experts believe that Reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, promotes longevity and maintains vitality of the human body. Reishi’s major benefit appears to be its immunomodulating action, improvement of liver function, and improvement and restoration of the normal functions of the respiratory system. For me, it’s a gift from the earth I gladly receive. It reminds me that what I need is constantly available to me, and yes, abundance does indeed grow on trees.