We are in a period of disruptive change. The old way of being simply doesn’t work anymore. We need to be open to change and actively pursue a new dialogue within our own being. Planets and universal energies all point to these times as providing an abundance of opportunities for change. I know of many, myself included, who have changed jobs, adjusted partnerships, lost loved ones, faced illness, and “followed an overwhelming impulse” within this last year. These events brought them to a new landscape where they had to deepen into themselves. The lid is off and safety nets are gone. The universe is creating new opportunities as we transition into trusting ourselves to create new surroundings.
For myself, it has been about moving out of the office and getting back to planting and harvesting and caring for the herb crops. Increasingly over the years, I had begun spending more time running the office while relying on others to grow herbs for the teas.
It had been ten years since I was actively responsible for growing all the herbs, knowing when to plant, in what soil type, when to harvest, how best to dry them, etc. To begin again is a bit like getting back on a bike, but there is a great deal of trust involved when you have had a history of sharing responsibility. In my case, it is a metaphor for personal sovereignty, which, in turn, is healing some outdated beliefs about women in the world and running one’s own business in this high-stakes market.
These days, spending my time under hot blue skies, tending the soil, hauling water from the river for plants, singing to them, and watching them thrive, is glorious. There are thousands of plants in fields and raised beds both here at my home and at locations hundreds of kilometres away, so it can be daunting in a year of almost no rain, pounding heat, and with a sore knee, to be the sole caregiver for so many.
In the beginning, I started Algonquin Tea Co. with a partner who was a plant specialist, so my time was spent learning, and loving not being in the city. My body became strong and brown and there was soil rubbed deep into my jeans. I smelled of pine and wood smoke and whatever scent was in the wind each day. I could hear birds miles away and catch nuances between blades of grass in a field. I could feel plants trust me and ask to be watered. Then I became absorbed in the administrative side of running a business. But circumstances in this last year have placed me back in the arms of nature to turn on those ‘senses’ that had been gradually dulled by Wi-Fi.
The Cree grandmother, from whom I have been learning this year, gifted me with a name, and part of the name is Water (Nibi), so I committed to connecting and thanking water every day for a year. This loving task can be done by anyone, simply by singing praises to your glass of water. But since I live on a river, mornings have been spent sitting with my feet in the water, discovering how busy life is along the bank and within the water itself. It is such a gift to be able to rest awhile and breathe with the world in such a gentle way.
This year most of my conversations have been with birds. There must have been, at any given time, three to four active nests around my house. The robins had a number of nests throughout the spring and summer, while catbirds and fly catchers cared for eggs near the kitchen porch. Song swallow pairs made nests in the flower garden so I could not weed for weeks. It was fun to watch their first test flights, then see them hopping about on strong legs as their parents called to them.
Being surrounded by nests and eggs was clearly a metaphor about birth, rebirth, and new opportunity for flight. Apparently, there were many birds making themselves known in other people’s lives too. In Ottawa, the national newspaper carried a story one day about a bird and nest that could not be moved and a jazz festival that would be detained if the birds were not hatched. And the women who I do sweat lodges with were preparing the lodge one day only to discover a wren’s nest and six babies who stayed so long a new lodge was built. All of those women had significant stories about birds this summer.
My favourite story was about a woman who was drawn out of her home by a cardinal making a fuss, which turned out to be a fervent request for her to put water in the birdbath, which she did. Most notable was that the water was not for that bird, but for a butterfly. If any of you have bird stories from this summer, please send them along. This is a time of birthing a new world of our own making. It is remarkable to realize that sometimes the request for assistance – to become more attuned to what is around us and see our place in the universe – is being given to us by our animal friends.
I have a few discarded nests on my mantle/altar and have written intentions for my journey ahead, wrapped them into egg shapes and placed them in the nests.
It is a reminder that I am on a journey of deepening conversation, and that the road ahead is rife with new possibilities and new stories.