The car pulled up next to me yesterday as I walked to my front porch. Loaded down with lunch boxes, kindergarten gear, half made marionettes for our show next week and still wearing my apron, my foot on the first step the car slowed down.
And then stopped in the middle of our street and the window rolled down.
Great, was my first thought, where is the blasted dog, surely he is going to tell me Hoover is again on the prowl. And I am too tired to chase that infernal animal. But the dog tripped me running into the house. I turned around and mustered a neighborly smile.
The car door opened and an older gentle man got out, leaving the car idling and the door open. Slightly stooped and with a pan-asian logo baseball cap he walked over. Oh dear, where is this going. I put my load down and walk down the steps.
Hello, I live behind you. You are the one with the grey dog and the big vine in the backyard?
Dang it’s the dog barking, I hate the dog. This is Coach’s fault he plays tag with the dog at 6am and makes him bark. Maybe I hate Coach.
I drive by and see your kumquats every day, they are nice trees.
Yes, they are, would you like to pick some? It’s the end of the season for them. They’re organic I just water them.
It would be nice to take them and make preserves. I preserve them like how do you say….. Oh, jam jelly? I make preserves as well, marmalade or chutney with them. Sometimes they are sour though.
Oh that sounds very good, I preserve them for health. I mix onions and herbs and they are good for lungs and chest to keep you healthy.
He is from Taiwan, like many of my neighbors he is a second or third homeowner to his house. Over the past 15 years our particular housing tract in the larger neighborhood has become popular to the various Asian communities; I’m not sure why, probably the local school and someone once told me the houses had good Feng Shui any case not many of my new neighbors speak English but they usually wave. And I keep waiting for a Filipino family to move in so I could learn to cook my mother in-laws dishes. He and I chat for a little.
I can pick them from your tree? tomorrow I will come. I am Peter. Sure please do, the tree is too heavy with the fruit. Goodbye nice to meet you Peter.
Last night I stood in the backyard of a beautiful house high up on a hill overlooking Newport Beach and Irvine. Nibbling cheese and sipping fine wine I chatted with the homeowner, a parent of Waldorf graduates and owner of a large organic CSA farm outside of Los Angeles.Our children are finishing up their freshman year together and the 9th grade parents had gathered to collectively breathe sighs of relief. He and I chatted about Waldorf and how unexpected it was to find another parent at this non Waldorf high school who followed the Steiner philosophy. Funny where you find alignment. He took Coach and I on a walk around his backyard admiring beautiful waist-high rough-hewn planter boxes of herbs and lettuces, raised mound beds with 3 sister plantings, compost pile, volunteer avocado trees that he may one day have a grove from, garden beds of salad greens and vegetables with a herb borders .
Coach smiled a me later in the car home and said I know what you’re thinking. Yes, that was like my dream yard, the one in the book, I want to host get-together like that and share food I’ve grown, have a garden like that. Why don’t you? Have you seen our yard, it’s a patio, where would we put people, in the alley? And the yard has no sun anyway to grow stuff. Our house is too little to host and not at that level anyway.
And then these were on the table, in a bag with a letter.
Please accept these loquats……
Community is where you decide to find it said a little voice. How you foster it and encourage it to grow. You give kumquats and receive loquats. They dont’ come to see the house or the puny back yard. Quit wishing it and you were something different, or better or grander or whatever. Love where you are, love who you are, it’s what you tell your daughters. Take where you are and make it lovely, grass is greener where you water it the song says.
The loquats are delicious. Have you ever looked at the seeds,like tiny polished gems, ready to grow.
Do you dream of living somewhere else?
While I love my sweet house and our neighborhood and friends, I’d much rather drink my morning coffee looking at this.
During my childhood and into the early years of my marriage I had the privilege to spend an inordinate amount of time on land that had not much changed from the days of the Chumash Indians and Spanish land grants.
25,00 acres of land to be precise, near Gaviota Coast just north of Santa Barbara.
It had eight miles of pristine coast. And quite a few surfers who’d have liked to put feet on the those beaches. My brief moment of popularity in High School was due to those beaches.
Those days are gone leaving behind a deep and abiding appreciation of California coastal topography and land love.
A lovely thing about where I live in So Cal is the ability to have the suburbs in your rear window within 5 minutes of leaving your driveway.
Lucky for me once a week Beauty takes riding lessons on a beautiful property in the hills behind our home
and I get to pretend that I am back -
at The Ranch.
One of things that inspires me about being a Waldorf educator are the interactions with information the children experience and their great joy from this.
Steiner gives indications (which is a fancy way of saying “the big guy says…” , and not having to pull out the quote– but it is in Balance of Teaching, free down load at Steiner Books) that learning and memory forces are strongest when we learn in our own way (4 modalities) though the learning process itself is always the same. Information or experiences are taken in by us and then transformed into memory. A quick description might be : we Perceive =breath in the experience of the world through our nerve senses, we Comprehend= are warmed through this breath or understanding and concentration and then Remember= are nourished through the transformation of meaning and our will forces. This re-membering, for we rebuild the image, gives rise to that wonderful feeling of accomplishment, the great joy of satisfaction because we have masted the information or skill and it is now a part of us.
Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong
Now I will be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now I will fill myself
With my own will’s resolve
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being
When by my steadfast striving
I become strong
To find within myself
The strength of inner calm.
These past few months have been full and busy. But my soul has longed for quiet.
Something about January and February make me wish for hibernation. Or in my case housernation: the desire to bundle up and remain home puttering around.
Last month I hit my head fairly hard. Enough to warrant a visit for a CAT scan. But nothing that anyone who didn’t know could see or know without being told. (a fact I appreciated, but may not serve me well)
And yes the hard-head implications are not lost on me.
Humor aside the injury gave me pause, in fact caused me to pause.
Not the panicky sort, I rather brush these types of things off, but when little inconsistencies kept occurring I stopped pretending it was nothing.
And maybe felt a little scared.
A good friend who lives far away called. She asked if I had slowed down to allow myself to heal.
Without needing an answer she began to remind me of everything I would tell someone I cared about, what I teach to parents and expect my loved ones to do.
She reminded me that I have read what Steiner indicated about the body, soul and spirit.
And then she reminded me of my word for the year.
Perhaps it was a message to treat myself a little more tenderly.
We spoke of winter and how it is really the deepest time of work for the earth and for us.
That no matter what anyone else says, or might tease me about, I am doing a lot. I am doing it well and that perhaps, just maybe I might allow myself the attention needed.
To pay attention, to turn inside and listen for the quiet voice.
Tonight as you croon Auld Lang Syne and sip Champagne, ask you self what this year will look like in 365 days? Who will you be? Where will you take these next 365 days. Riches for you to spend at will.
On New Year’s Eve I contemplate this year’s frustration and woes, and then I write them down. As I do so I think upon what might have been the gift from these events or circumstances. For somewhere in there is always something.
Balance is everything, thus on the back side of the paper I write down the glories and gifts of the year and seek their messages.
In a gesture of gratitude and relief the paper is tossed to burn in the fireplace. My symbolic smoke signal to the universe.
Once written and burned I let go of THEN and I look to NOW. One cannot move forward whilst looking their shoulder.
This year I have chosen a word that symbolizes what and how to represent my 2013. (Yes, it’s your ceremony you may choose to pick 2 or 3 words.)
Write those words upon your heart. Carry them as though a cherished locket holding a reminder and inspiration.
Emerson said it well.
Write it on your heart
Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.