Calling Forth Courage while Contemplating Lessons from Nature

Bridge over Starkweather Creek

Bridge over Starkweather Creek © 2014 Bo Mackison

“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused…

If I did surrender to the earth’s intelligence?
Surrender to the earth itself, like a seed dispersed in autumns’ winds.

And drop upon the earth – dark, dank, ripe. Drop upon the earth
and settle in, as layers of leaves and autumn litter cover me, intact, protected.

Footbridge

Crossing the Footbridge © 2014 Bo Mackison

So like children, we begin again…

to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

This seed of me, it embraces the darkness
and in the waning light, holding my stories of decay and decline,
enters a period where the only light source is that of inner reflection.

Embraces shadow as darkness makes ready the parts hungering for new life.
Waiting, waiting
in anticipation of unlimited possibilities.

A Country Road Meander — In the Midst of Wilderness, In the Presence of Divine

Door County in Autumn

Tree Line ©2014 Bo Mackison

In the midst of the wilderness, in the presence of the divine.
Perhaps there is nothing astonishing about this meadow with its spattering of seeded sumac
Or a dense tree line that separates the land from the cloudy skies.

Meandering on a country road in the middle of this northern county,
two miles west of Lake Michigan, an endless expanse of water to my eyes
and two miles east of Green Bay, again, with no distant shore in sight,
only a few bay islands splashed by frothing waves, inhabited by seagulls.

Door County in Autumn

Door County in Autumn © 2014 Bo Mackison

Who thought, many decades ago, to say no to billboards, to shopping malls,
to franchises of any kind – no hotel or restaurants, fast food or not,
that represent giant corporations instead of families and local businesses.
Some one did.
You can’t recognize this part of America by familiarity. Only by its neighborliness
and small town pride and heritage.

In the midst of wilderness, in the presence of the divine.

A Time of Fruition, Celebration and Letting Go – Rituals for the Changing Seasons

Bench with a View

Bench with a View © 2013 Bo Mackison

“Ritual practice is the activity of cultivating extraordinary ordinariness.” ~ Ronald L. Grimes

This is the bench where I sat while I contemplated the day, the seasons, nature, my life, the world, even the boundlessness of the universe. I was restless. Untethered. Once again I was facing changes – changing seasons, changes in responsibilities, changes in my business.

It was a time of fruition and celebration, and it also was a time of saying goodbye, letting go, even a bit of grieving.

Realizing this is a common reaction to change — joy coupled with letting go — I sat in solitude and let my mind wander. I decided to create a ritual to recognize both celebration and closure.

I paid close attention to my surroundings.

The prairie grasses were browning, flowers had set seed. The apple trees were over laden with ripened fruit, and many of the apples had dropped onto the earth and begun to rot. Cracked walnuts were along the paths. And still there was evidence of bustling life all around me. Geese were flying in formation, back and forth from their feeding grounds, the harvested cornfields.  The late autumn flowers of the prairie spared from the last frost — showy goldenrod, purple asters, daisy fleabane — still blossomed in protected areas,

That All May Be One

That All May Be One ©2013 Bo Mackison

I searched for a ritual, one that offered a feeling of comfort and acceptance, one that said goodbye while also looking forward.

What could I use as a guide? What would be in a transitioning ritual,  in a healing place?

  • the night sky, dark, abundant with stars
  • open spaces, open minds
  • spiritual spaces, resting spaces, thinking places
  • a container that contained my curiosities, my questions, my collections
  • quiet, slow, peaceful
  • folk art, expressive art, art that tells a story, art that has heart
  • kindnesses and little gifts (When traveling it is customary to bring tiny gifts in exchange for kindnesses received along the path and to those who share their stories.)
  • a place in nature, ecological, in balance
  • a place my great-grandmother would have loved

The last thought — a place my great-grandmother would have loved — helped provide the answer to my longings.

I thought of the many things I’d learned from my great-grandmother when I was a child, of the many things she’d loved. I thought of the changing seasons, of the routines we had made extraordinary in their repetition, chores we did with love and respect and companionship.

We gathered the last of the harvest from the vegetable garden, cleaned and cut the vegetables, and made huge pots of vegetable soup with my grandfather’s help.

We made dough, rolled it out, and cut the dough into long noodles. We dried herbs on racks in the pantry. We raked the garden and added to our compost pile. We pulled the quilts and blankets out of storage, and draped them over several back yard clothes lines to air in the breeze.

Pears

Pears, Ripe on the Branch © 2013 Bo Mackison

We adapted our evening rituals to the sun’s earlier setting.

Instead of sitting on the porch after supper and chatting with passing neighbors, we set up a table in the kitchen for puzzles and games. We fell into a simple routine of cleaning the kitchen, then playing games of Parcheesi or Pokeno. We took an evening walk around the outside of the house just before bedtime, making sure all was tidy while admiring the starlit skies.

So much love and care and honor went into these simple actions. Home and hearth. Routines and rituals – all good for the soul.

Do you long for a way to honor the changing seasons, for the ordinary turned extraordinary by the practice of ritual?

Today I jotted down a few reminders – ways to prepare for the changing season, routines to ease the change from busy day to rejuvenating evening, rituals to remind me of the sacredness in the ordinary. Simple actions – gardening, cooking, preparation for winter.

What might you add or subtract from your day in honor of the ordinary, the sacred?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post was adapted from one published on another autumn day just over a year ago.

 

 

Kangaroo Lake in Door County – The Magic of Studying Details, Then Turning Around

Kangaroo Lake

Kangaroo Lake – South View © 2014 Bo Mackison

The mid-October day was mercurial – one moment skies were blue, the next a wave of gray clouds pushed in from nearby Lake Michigan. Blustery winds buffeted me, causing me to lose my balance more than once. Then calm would descend for a brief respite for the wind and chill.

October in Door County, for sure, Wisconsin’s northeastern most point, a peninsula sticking out into tempestuous Lake Michigan.

Kangaroo Lake is one of the more protected places on the peninsula in fresh water lake in the center of Door County, and a wonderful place to go during the autumn festival days. Most of the crowd who comes to enjoy the views hug the shore of Door County, bay side and lake side. But there is much to be said for the wild beauty of the interior, too.

I loved studying the autumn changes of Kangaroo lake, standing on a narrow bridge of road that crosses the northern most bay. Fallen leaves were bobbing on the surface, the reeds were stripped of there green finery and their fuzzy seeds, and stood knee deep in the cold, stunningly blue water. Beyond, fir trees lined one side of the lake, and deciduous trees in this year’s last blaze of glory hugged the opposite side.

Then the sun disappeared in the scattered clouds.

Once I had taken in the scene with all my senses, as is my habit, I turn around to see what is behind me.

Kangaroo Lake

Kangaroo Lake – North View  © 2014 Bo Mackison

And the sun slid from the cloud cover, causing the lake ripples to shimmer in a sheet of dancing light.

A solitary island caught my attention. Birds were darting from the trees to the water and back again. Creatures were slipping in and out of the shadows and the shoreline brush.

Kangaroo Lake — its two faces. Both to be explored and adored.

A Change and A Move

Blowing Seeds © 2012 Bo Mackison

Blowing Seeds © 2012 Bo Mackison

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser

I’ve been blogging on Seeded Earth since 2007.

I chose the name quickly one afternoon, as I was setting up my blog for the first time. That autumn most of the photographs I took were of landscapes, gardens, prairies, flowers, all growing things. Since these all had their beginning as seeds in the earth, I determined that Seeded Earth would be an appropriate name for my new blog.

Seeds are, indeed, good beginnings, and Seeded Earth took root and grew.

It began as Seeded Earth Photography, morphed into Seeded Earth Studios when I added new products and services, and eventually became my official, government approved, business name, Seeded Earth Studios LLC.

The name served me well as I embarked on the art fair circuit and traveled in the Midwest and Southwest, showing my macro-photographs of botanicals. It worked less well as I photographed fewer landscapes and more desert-scapes. And when I added stories about the arts and healing, and more personal writing, it lost even more of its cohesiveness.

While I still love the Seeded Earth moniker, it’s time to step up and re-christen my soon to be launched website Bo Mackison.

The seeded wonders and desert wonders will still be featured as I continue to post my photography, but I am expanding. I’ll be offering online photography workshops beginning in early 2014, and adding Desert Wisdom Workshops and Retreats later in the year.

Seeded Earth has grown, flowered, given fruit. Now the fruit’s seeds have burst from their container.

In a few days, my new website will be launching at BoMackison.com. Please join me soon in welcoming my newest venture (and adventure).