February pads closer to March and I am amazed at the changes I witness. The grasses, trees, flowers and shrubs taking on a verdant green after a particularly wet month-and a very dry 2011. Birds and squirrels coming out to sniff the air, test the weather, and contemplate building and re-building their spring & summer hideaways. The hawk that sits in my backyard tree stoically while mockingbirds screech at it, and the owl that mysteriously hoots at me but has yet to reveal itself. The biggest changes are in my little one-my miracle boy who will celebrate year number one on March 1st.
I remember when I was a kid that living in South Central Texas confused the heck out of me. I would look at the calendars and posters of seasons and think-that’s not what fall looks like-there must be something wrong with this place! Now that I am older, and, ahem, wiser I know that seasons rarely accord with the posters and generic calendars. In San Antonio February is our wet month-caught somewhere between winter & spring and usually sprinkled with a few days that foretell what summer will be like.
For those who attempt to live closer to natural cycles and local habitats its important to notice what your seasons look like, what they taste like and feel like. Perhaps you have a season of butterflies (late September/early October here in SA when the monarchs migrate to Mexico), the season of trees running with sexy sap (happening right now!), pecans fall down season-(late August-end of October and sometimes into November) the season of dry winds across the grass-(middle of July).
I have also been noticing my specific place more-the way the sunlight falls in my backyard-important when you are planning a vegetable patch-and how right before the exit off the major highway that leads to my house there is a family of vultures, 2 of whom are always sitting on the street lamps-in fact I am thinking of my neighborhood more and more as Buzzard’s Crossing!
This noticing has the effect of grounding me more firmly in the present moment, indicating to me what steps need to be taken in my ritual work & even allowing me to provide clearer divination. As a full time mom and business owner I do get exhausted-but going outside and sitting with my trees and the creatures that live in & around them restores me and more often than not lays down a clear direction for me to follow.
There are so many ways to keep track of seasons, cycles, and pulse of the land-whether living in the city or the country-I have been more aware of rhythms & cycles living in the city than I was the last few years I lived out in the country for sure. Keeping a journal, investing in some field guides, or even taking a class on flora & fauna identification are all great places to start. Personally, I am a big fan of cooking & preparing local foods that have been grown and harvested from farms around my city. Last year in the middle of a terrible drought we had some fairly small and ugly looking peaches & pears-but they were the sweetest tasting the land had produced in several seasons.
All of these changes & developments have the whiff of alchemy-that arcane science and philosophy that was interested in transforming the basic into the rarefied & precious, the immanent into the transcendent. One of my favorite divine paradoxes is how immersion in the deep cycles and wells of knowing in the natural world can root us more firmly in our selves and at the same time inspire us to look beyond ourselves.
What are you looking towards today?