This is my friend Brenda and me at Harper’s Ferry. I think of Brenda as the High Priestess of Bad-Ass Womanry. I once witnessed Brenda call to a whale about a half-mile out from our boat, in the waters of Alaska, and apparently the whale heard her because it came to our boat, lifted one eye out of the water, and stared into Brenda’s eyes while the rest of us stood awestruck, in delighted disbelief. After that amazing experience, Brenda and I chanted Om from our first and second chakras to a glacier. In reply, with sounds like thunder, the glacier calved: a towering mass of ice crashed into the sea, creating a wake which rocked our boat like a tub toy--it was magical! (Now, though, as glaciers melt like popsicles poolside on a hot August day, I find myself wishing Brenda and I had the power to tone them back to wholeness.)
Did I mention that Brenda plays bass and sings in a band? The band performs, and Brenda sings, American folk, old-time, and bluegrass music--but she's also been known to do a hot rendition of Bonnie Raitt's “Love Me Like A Man.”
Lenten rose (hellebore)
In Brenda’s yard, you'll find the most charming gardens. Brenda’s gardens are most generous in spring and summer, but offer color and variety in all four seasons. Just the other day, in the freezing temperatures of February, Brenda cut from her garden and brought to me a bouquet of Lenten rose, gorgeous flowers in shades of white, pink and maroon, elegantly accented by glossy serrated leaves a deep, unique shade of green--I hadn't known such plants existed!
At Brenda's house in July, gardenia blooms in a pot by the front door. (I wish there were scratch-and-sniff technology for the internet!)
Last July, while Brenda spent a few weeks back in Alaska, I spent some time at her house, writing in solitude.
Trees stand like sentinels at all corners of Brenda's house.
Beyond the pines to the northeast is a farmer's cornfield.
A view of Cedar Mountain through the mimosa trees to the south.
Let's stroll, shall we?
Stargazer and hydrangea.
Coneflower (Echinacea) among the daisies.
These daylillies belonged to Kennon, Brenda's mother-in-law, whom Brenda (and we all) adored.
Standing In the entry hall at her house is a table which holds what Brenda describes as "just a collection of earthy things." I call it an altar, and think of her house and gardens as a sanctuary.
Early morning meditations in the living room.
Morning meditations, opposite wall.
Sometimes I drummed.
Brenda left me her magic wand, with directions for use. I am guaranteed success!
The view from the kitchen sink was like a pastoral painting.
In what was kind of a miraculous experience, the tulip magnolia in the backyard presented me with a gift, a dried blossom in the shape of a dakini (shown here positioned atop a chunk of calcite for contrast). It was a symbol with powerful meaning to me at the time; the tree delivered a message.