Willow Branches

image_01.jpg

Deep within the dark Pacific Northwest winter I went to the island nursery to get some eucalyptus branches for my bathroom. It not being the season for eucalyptus branches the gentleman offered me some cut willow tree.

I asked him if they would last long.

He said you could actually stick a willow branch into dirt and it will grow into a tree with the right amount of water and light.

I told him my bathroom was dark and I just needed them to last the winter until the eucalyptus came in.

He suggested putting them in water to prolong their decay but that there was no way they would grow without light, or soil.

They weren’t much to look at. Just a bunch of bald sticks. I almost threw them out. Three times I took them outside to the compost and then changed my mind and brought them back in.

They bothered me. They looked so tangled and stark. 

But I left them, and tried to ignore how much they unsettled me.

I think it was my son who saw the first root. Then more roots came, then buds, and finally green. Willow trees were growing in the dark, in a vase, in my bathroom. Without soil, without light, they were growing. 

The roots became a matrix and the green burst forth and after a few months I saw the branches were struggling and now needed more so I brought them out to my sun drenched living room.

Spring is whispering and the sun is growing stronger while my willow branches drink and devour it. I fill their vase daily with water, they keep getting greener, their leaves keep getting fuller and I tend to them and care for them, as these branches have become sacred to me.

 

                   “I saw a country road lined with tall shade trees. I saw fields, cattle, a village below the trees. I don’t know what book or picture I had got that from, or why a place like that should have seemed to me safe. But it was the picture that came to me, and I played with it. The mornings, the dew, the fresh flowers, the shade of the trees in the middle of the day, the fires in the evening. I felt I had known that life, and that is was waiting for me again somewhere.” –A Bend In The River, V.S. Naipaul 

 

image_02.png

Red, White, and Guns

I am from Florida. Most of my family still lives in Florida. I want my heart to break for the school victims, I want to cry and scream, and it did and I do, but my heart can’t break much more because it’s already broken.

It broke with Sandy Hook. It gave up with Sandy Hook. If little children dying in gunfire did not wake my country up, if little children watching their classmates die did not shock my country into change, nothing will. Little children.

The truth is guns are why I didn’t go home. It’s why I chose Canada.

My husband works in South Sudan. And he feels safer there than he would in the US. When a UN employee goes to a new country there is always a security briefing on that country. When going to the US he was  told to always avoid confrontation. No matter what, to walk away. Because in the US you must assume everyone has a gun.

You must assume everyone has a gun.

It’s been a fascinating journey to explore what it means to be an American outside of my culture. When I say, “I’m an American,” what I am saying, in essence, is I am an individual. I, capitalized. America as the myth where anyone can make it, where you can be and do whatever you want, you as YOU. And that is beautiful and powerful and intoxicating. But where is the WE? Yes, you can be a New Yorker, or a mid-Westerner, a California girl or guy, or have deep Southern pride, but what does it mean to be an American? What binds us all? The safety of our children should bind us all.

I recently became a Permanent Resident of Canada. At the end of my interview and swearing in the consular said, welcome to Canada, you may now work, and will forever have health care.

I cried. I hugged my husband and thanked him. I thanked him for giving me a new country to call home. A country where the collective is bigger than the individual. A country where my rights are tied to my obligations. I am a part of something, and my happiness is tied to my neighbors and my communities, my province, and I am humbled and awed and honored to play my part.

I love the US. My children are American as well as Canadian and I hope that one day they will be able to go and be a part of something larger than themselves there as well. That the good-for-all overcomes the me and my rights.

The US is not all bad and Canada is far from all good, but I love that I feel so less important here. I love just being a petal on the flower.

Almost, but not yet

The summer is winding down, should have been home by now. We ran from two islands, but Irene caught us in NY and has us grounded. No space on any airlines, so we wait, stuck, packed, ready, in memories.

We left this behind, spending our last day on the farm haying:

My husband got to do this:

while I ran around finding things like this:

I had no idea a wasp’s nest could be as the moon, with a man sitting inside it.

And yes, it was beautiful, the mountains and sky and space and rivers. I like that.

But I love this:

I need this:

When I climb into water, I climb back into myself. No matter how long I have been away, I find it just beneath the surface. It’s always there waiting. Sometimes for too long. Sometimes, I believe, I cry simply to taste salt.

Little crabs came to visit:

I caught a lizard being coy:

The moon stayed with us all day:

The last morning, before we had to evacuate our little dollop of sand that sits in the middle of heaven, the rain came briefly, but hard, turning the water into diamonds. We ran into it, warmth hugging our legs and bodies, heads smacked with a cooler type of wetness. It left as quickly as it came, leaving behind even more beauty:

Everything must come to an end.

I feel full. The last two weeks at the sea filled my cup. I am ready to go back now. Discover Rome all over again, discover it anew.

But we sit in NY, and wait….

Nobody cares where Jack Layton was born

As a displaced Canadian, my husband occasionally (continuously) touts political systems that have more than two parties, more than red and blue.  Canada is heading to the polls on Monday and having their own bit of last minute excitement.

It’s actually a breath of fresh air in the free exercise of choice and discussion of substantive issues.  When compared to a prime minister cavorting with teenagers (Italy), a president embattled with ‘birther’ nonsense (US), or drowning in debt deceit (too many to list), the race in Canada is enviable.  Far from Canadian politics being quaint or boring, national campaigns by five political parties are giving Canadians something thoughtful to think about.

Go Canada!!

[May 2, 2011] Post-election update : Well, that didn’t go well.