Sunday, January 30, 2011

Under the Ice

Winter is extraordinarily beautiful this year on the island. It always is, but this year I am feeling it more, probably because--well, because I am able to feel more! For many years I was as numb as the frozen ground, although I had an incredible experience this past week where I was shown that there is life below the ice!

Paul and I were burning brush at the edge of a pond on the West Side. I walked out on to the ice, mesmerized by the swirling white waves sweeping over its surface, wondering why some parts of the ice were opaque, some transparent. In other words, I was lost in my head instead of noticing what was right beneath my feet, when what to my astonished eyes did appear--right beneath my feet a bass with its mouth wide open looking up at me through one of the clear patches! Our eyes met for a couple of seconds before it swirled away down into the deeper water where I couldn't see it any more. It was such a thrill I am still high from it a few days later.

As for foraging, there is still plenty to be gathered, although I have not been gathering it. There is seaweed on the rocks of course, bark from various branches that can be used for medicine. Paul saved some spruce needles from a tree we cut this week for tea which he says is good for the joints, and there is even some chickweed still around, insulated by the snow. I ate a couple of  sprigs the other day and was instantly invigorated by its wild green. Here's a picture. It often grows in cracks between buildings and sidewalks or up against stonewalls.

One of the things I've realized is how much pressure I put on myself to do. This may seem funny to those of you who lead much more active mainland lives than I do, but I'm not so good at relaxing. When I try, I feel guilty. I feel like I should be out there on the ice-covered rocks collecting seaweed. Maybe this week. Maybe not. We'll see where my dreams lead me. 

This week they led me deep into The Maze after the snowstorm where I was the first human to enter. The deer, many birds, mice, and some cats which I assumed were feral, although you never know with cats, left tracks for me to follow. And that's what it's all about for me this winter: tracking my thoughts and feelings back to their source in order to unravel the webs in which I am tangled now so that I can weave new ones in a conscious state. Of course, I consciously leave space for magic and mystery. I wonder where the spiders are for the winter? I haven't noticed any in the corners of basements. I wonder what they dream? My mind leaps. I can't help it. It's one of the things I like about myself. So, this winter is about tracking: inside and out, following shapes and lines, making sense of patterns, but not too much sense, allowing them to disappear and reappear as they want to, like the fish who swam away from me into the deep.