This post also appears on www.tarotbyhilary.com.
This week may have been the week of the “Snowpocalypse That Never Was” in the media, and people complaining about how the press and the people making the decisions overreacted. Me? I’m firmly in the “better safe than sorry” camp in that regard. Even my card of the day for the start of the storm was the 5 of Pentacles… I was tending to agree with the weathermen that the storm would be as bad as they said it would be.
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This post also appears on www.tarotbyhilary.com.
of the Sacred Oak.
of the Sacred Flame.
shape our lives
in the cauldron of destiny.
Ignite our creativity
forge our passions.
in the language of poetry
and hot metal.
Keeper of flame
hope and hearts.
Enliven our work
guide our steps
inspire our message.
(modified from earlier poem: Woodspriestess: Brigid)
Hey, it was the 80s, and we were Gay Urban Pioneers. Of course we over-planted the yard.
If you Google Earth our address (yes, that is a verb: what a language!), you won't see the house at all. The neighbors' houses, yes, but in between them: the magic forest. Think of it as warding: urban invisibility.
Living in a sea of trees as we do, of course we're well populated with squirrels. We've got a whole clan of them living around us; just now in late January, the trees are filled with their drays. (Yes, English actually does have a word referring specifically to a squirrel's nest. When I hear people bemoaning the poverty of our language, I smile and say nothing.)
I call them the White Ears clan. They're standard issue Midwest gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, but unusual in that their outer ears are white, not gray like the rest of their fur. Clearly there's a gene for albinism in this population, and every few years we actually see a white squirrel among them. In fact, there was one just last summer.
White squirrels don't usually last very long: their hyper-visibility puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to predators. But for me a Year of the White Squirrel is always an opportunity to take a little extra time to appreciate the beauty of squirrels. Living among so many of them as we do, it's easy to forget just what amazing little beings they actually are.
Albinism and melanism are both recessive traits, but they're actually pretty common among the urban squirrel population here; most neighborhoods have at least one black or white squirrel. I'd never given this fact much thought until I heard something that Arvol Looking Horse said in 2009.
It was Monday, January 5th, 2015. I was working on a blog about daily practices when my brother sent me a message on Facebook. It simply and succinctly said "If you want to see dad, you better come now". If you've ever gotten that call or email, you know that life completely slows down and goes really fast all at the same time. I've tried to describe the feeling to folks that haven't had this experience and the closest thing I can compare it to is suddenly finding yourself underwater trying to have a conversation with a world full of people that are still on dry land.
The next twenty-four hours were a blur of phone calls and airports and moments of snatched sleep and worry and sitting awkwardly between two strangers and hurtling through the air at several hundred miles an hour. When I finally breathed fresh air again, I was seven thousand miles from home, in New Zealand, and just like that winter had turned to summer and the east was in the west and the moon was upside down....
Sometimes, I wonder if my mother regrets raising me to believe that all things would be possible for me, because when I was a sophomore in college, I bought a plane ticket and went to Paris by myself on my way to a summer study abroad program in Italy. It was an amazing experience: I spent three days desperately trying to blend in and not appear to be an obnoxious traveler, while at the same time I kept sneaking glances at my guide book as I soaked up the City of Lights.
I fell in love with the cathedral of Notre Dame, and I made a point to visit there each day before I began my wanderings. In three full days, I crammed in visits to classical and modern museums, cafes and bookstores, snapping photos and wandering beneath the changing clouds that hang over Paris. To this day, I have never seen a sky that is quite like the one over this French city.
Traveling alone is an interesting experience. There is no one to cooperate with, no concessions to be made. Any kind of travel is transformative, but without the voices of others to cloud your mind, I believe that a person will undergo deep psychic and mental changes if she takes the risk to venture out into the world alone.
And a risk it is, although at the time I don’t think I was consciously aware of that fact. I stayed in a hostel, sleeping in a co-ed dormitory with five other travelers. My first night in the city, I realized that two of my roommates were male, and I felt a bit unsettled. I slept in my clothes behind a barricade that I constructed using my backpack, waking up at every sound and breath. It was a miserable night, but thankfully, my fears came to nothing.
Even so, I haven’t traveled alone since that trip. My husband has as bad a case of wanderlust as I have, and we’ve been lucky enough to travel together, even returning to Paris a few years ago; the city still enamors me, even after all this time.
JUGGLING WITH SEMANTICS...