I want to tug only on those things that are truly ripe.
I want to let everything else take its sweet time.
(Virgo New Moon, Wise Harvest, )
As an adult, I’ve never been an author of fiction, and yet I remember delighting in it on Thursday mornings in the 4th grade after I finished my DRA (Directed Reading Activity) and got slip my hand hand into a packet of prompts that hung on the wall near the door: one pocket for characters, one for setting, and one for plot–and then I got to imagine a story on the page.
I loved the surprise of it. Not knowing what strips I would get. Not knowing what story would unfold.
It’s the same with the writing I do now even though I harvest the strips from my own life: this quote about the Virgo New Moon at the top of the page for instance, and a vision that has been rippling in my mind’s eye of my mother on the front steps of my first house in Vermont, 20 years ago.
I’m not sure how or if these strips fit together or what may come of either, but they beckon and I follow…
My mother disliked Virgos, for instance. My father was a Virgo. My mother cautioned me about my choice in a husband, scolding me that it was only a matter of time before his easy nature revealed a truer self–one with a critical need for perfection.
She was right and she was wrong. My father and husband must have different risings.
My mother loved astrology. The tarot. The runes. Transcendental texts. All things beyond.
I came to it slower, and then sprinted after it all in her passing.
In the years before my mother’s death at 57, before we knew she would be dying, I left my hometown by the sea for a little house in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the one pictured above. Though my mother was 50 at the time, she still had little ones at home–the youngest of my 8 siblings, my only brother and the very last sister, twenty-two years my junior. I brought the two of them up to enjoy a week in the woods while my mother enjoyed a rare week to herself beside the sea where I was born.
When she arrived to fetch her youngest children from the home of her oldest daughter the following weekend, the two of them were covered in bug bites and bruises and had so much to tell her. That next morning, while the children were still sleeping, I was surprised to come down the stairs and spy my mother out on the steps that led up from the field to our front lawn.
She sat there on the stones in the warming sun of a cool, summer morning, with a steaming mug in her hand, embraced by the mountains.
I was struck in that moment by the quality of her presence. Her stillness. Of the stark contrast of this to her lifetime of doing.
I paused in my own busyness in witness.
It’s where I find myself now. At the same age. In the same season. The sleeping children–my own. The house–the one my husband later built–the home my mother never met. And the stone steps? Brand new.
For ten years, I’ve had to leap out the French doors to place myself on the front lawn.
But with the ripening of August and age, I am invited to step down.
To be still.
To receive the embrace of mountains.
And the warmth of the early morning sun on stone.
The unexpected communion, across time, with my mother, at the same age I am now.
(more on stillness: The Still Ones)