Thursday, June 21, 2012

summer solstice: feeding the fire within

summer is here. it is amazing how the now familiar virginia heat and humidity arrived at summer's door, just before it opened itself wide and led us through. on the first day of summer i visited the pool and turned on the air conditioning for the first time this season.

i discovered that i have fragrant gardenias growing in my yard. the rose bush has a nice crop of rich blooms.  the hammock, the cooler, the trike: are all getting plenty of use. and our sibling cats, luna and loki, turn ten this summer. ten!!!


i somehow often seem to let summer solstice pass me by. summer vacation always begins weeks before the solstice, and since generally the hot weather is well established, i'm usually already in the thick of summer activities and not thinking that a "beginning" is yet to come. 

but this year the weather remained relatively cool (if not downright chilly) until the day before solstice. with the arrival of the intense heat, i was well aware of summer's commencement. i made it a point to get myself to a solstice gathering i'd been invited to. and in a meeting of communities, dan's band jamthicket also played at the gathering.

i've felt very reflective as we pass through this seasonal threshold. i have to admit, it has not felt all that light-filled to me. there are a lot of loose ends in my life right now. the house is in chaos. we are going on vacation in a few days and don't even have cat sitters yet. tristan has been in turns the most beautiful, loving, and creative little boy, and a soldier at war. our days are filled with land mines. i remember how giddy i was when he told me he loved me for the first time. this month has brought the first, i don't love you mom. 

and whether or not you believe in astrology, you should read this month's forecast by my friend molly cliborne gauthier, an excellent astrologer who has a very real-world approach to her explanations of the planetary relationships. i feel the heaviness. stress, misfires, assumptions, emotions, difficulty with words, drama: these are all aspects that feel strong currently.

there was a lovely solstice ritual at the gathering, where we ate the most vibrant raw garlic and were asked to talk about what solstice means to us. i felt too shadowy to say anything. but in a way, shadowy is summer solstice. in reality, we are moving into the shadows. the days will now begin to get shorter. and while we worship the light of summer, we often find solace in the shadows.

what summer solstice means to me is that we must truly celebrate and cultivate the light while it is still so close to its peak of strength, but we must know also when to retreat and take our rest. we must consider what it is within us and our lives that we wish to keep illuminated throughout the remainder of the year, and what we will do to nurture and protect that light. what do we want to learn more about? what do we want to keep alive? and what will we do to find the necessary knowledge and sustenance? these are the questions i ask myself as i pass through the threshold into the season of celebration, earth-love, starry nights, swimmy days, campfires, picnics, family, music and the growing dark.

what knowledge do you seek? what do you want to keep alive through the year? what will you do to celebrate and honor the strength of sun, even as it begins to hold itself back?

blessings to all as we move into the thick of summer!

(btw, the woman lighting the candles above, kate, the hostess of the gathering, has an excellent thought provoking blog. read it here!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

partners on the trail

a day that begins with chocolate chip scones, includes a blue ridge hike, and ends with pasta, salad, and a music jam probably suits the father in this house pretty well. i hope he had a good day. and i hope he knows that our days are good because he is in our lives.

circling the now

our first born is off to theater camp & family in wisconsin while our little guy is mastering the trike. 
summer is upon us, so very much is rich, ripe, and rippling. the bugs are particularly exotic this season but the blueberries are few. i have two tomato plants and a hot pepper plant in pots on the deck and have added in a few more herbs and flowers to the front garden-in-progress. i hope to continue with the slow-gardening effort. in the mean time our yard-gone-wild is full of yarrow, which i love. i would like to make many paths through micro-habitats in our yard. i am in awe of the tremendous beauty that is at my fingertips. summer was sudden though much anticipated. i'm finding myself struggling to get my bearings on shifting sands. i'm turning toward lists, intense emotions blurted out on what ever paper i can find, some dormant energy beginning to gurgle, a re-focusing. summer is so full of interruption, immersion, sudden journeys. trying to stay on my toes, not fall into somnambulance, yet wanting also to simply relax in the present as tristan circles his trike over and over on the driveway.

Monday, June 11, 2012

goodnight sweetheart: a waldorf school graduation

our daughter's 8th grade class graduated from waldorf school a few days ago. it was a beautiful ceremony, a momentous passage out of a unique learning environment. we have all been incredibly moved and reflective. tashi has been at waldorf school for eleven years, beginning with a home based preschool in ann arbor.

we returned to school the morning after the graduation ceremony for a final assembly and  rose ceremony. the first and second graders gave roses to the departing 8th graders. hugs and farewells were exchanged, and then we drove our daughter away from all that she has ever known about an educational institution.

i was one of a few parents that stood up in front of the audience at the graduation ceremony and spoke. several parents asked me to share my speech in print. and so here it is:

Waldorf School —
Its classrooms, hallways and foyers sing loudly of a connection to earth, spirit and self.

When asked why we chose the Waldorf path for our daughter Tashi, I sometimes find it challenging to contain my response.

Is it because when I was much younger I learned that a Waldorf teacher stays with her class for eight years? I found this both intriguing, and puzzling, and was instantly hooked in with curiosity at a system so different from anything else out there.

Is it because we have a niece who went through Waldorf school, now a rising junior at Yale, who has always impressed us with her self confidence and wisdom, her artistic skills, and because, as a fourth grader, she would sit in a room full of boisterous adults, quietly knitting and listening all the while?

Is it the natural materials and earthy colors that fill the classrooms with a warm quiet? The emphasis on preserving childhood and the imagination. Is it the daily integration of verse and strings and movement? The developmental pace of subject matters.

Is it the distancing of popular media? The integration of serious artistic practice, of foreign language, and of classical texts? Is it the gardens, the gnomes, the dreamy wet on wet watercolors, the holistic approach to mind and body and planet?

Of course it is all of these things, and so much more. And that really, from the start, the Waldorf School has always felt like the next best thing to home.

Awareness. It is nurtured in the gardens. In the playground no matter what the weather. In the honoring of the seasons. The teachings here are alive
with a celebration of interconnectedness.

While we didn’t have the same teacher for eight years, we were instead twice blessed with two amazing women who supported our children in ways totally appropriate for their stages of development. Ms. Yolanda Kutney, who handled the shoots with great care and steadfastly nurtured them, and Ms. Suzanne Lamb, who continued to shape them cautiously, tended to them with such precise diligence and brought them into blossoming. I feel so blessed to have had these two women play such an integral role in our daughter’s life.

As we look at Tashi now, and ALL of her classmates — bright, resourceful, grounded, musical, curious, contemplative, friendly, creative, and voracious readers — we feel assured that we made the right choice. We feel assured that the groundwork has been prepared and that they will carry this great foundation forward into all that awaits them.

We feel assured as Tashi beats us at rounds of Boggle, and broadens our own vocabulary, like when she informed us that a sniggler is an eel catcher.

We feel certain that these kids have gained a love of learning here, a willingness to ask questions, and an equal willingness to listen to the answers. They have certainly learned how to be a team: in orchestra & choir, on the soccer field, on the river, the trail, and in the outback. They have experienced community, and so have we.

We thank everyone in this room, we thank classmates that have moved on, and we especially thank Tashi, Susannah, Sukah, Shannon, Range, Rachel, Nia, Jessica, Jesse, Jacob, Grace, Charlie and Carter who have been such epic teammates in this journey.

As you leave these hallowed quarters, you will carry in you the spark that was ignited at the Charlottesville Waldorf School. It will light your way, and in turn, you will illuminate the world.

Congratulations rising 9th Graders and to everyone who has seen them through.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

sun and storm on meadow

rich days of reflection and community. the rain coming and going. sultry summer temperaments. food, always food. and flowers. the cacophony of spring moving into an established summer luxury. and change. rites of passage. relationship.