What Happens to Dreams that we let die? – A Seed Woman Story

“Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.”

~ Debby Boone


What Happens to Dreams that we Let Die?

(A Seed Woman Story)


She’d left those seeds in the snow, forgetting that they were ever real. Seeds left to die. So, for a thousand years they stayed there, lost to the world and frozen deep inside the death grip of snow as hard and mighty as glacial permafrost.

And for a thousand years her heart felt empty, devoid of hope or dreams. She wondered aimlessly through the gloomy woods in search of something that she couldn’t quite remember. At night, she slept long dreamless sleeps under dark moonless skies with no stars to guide her back home. No hearth could warm her soul. No rain could wash away the sadness that permeated her life. For the longest time, emptiness became her name.

Until one day – and that one day always comes – when she heard a whisper in the icy winter wind. Something called her name. It called her to come North. With nothing to lose and nothing to keep her where she was, she gathered her old cloak, a treasure intricately woven from woodland moss and elderflower petals by the generations of women who came before her. She put on her sheep skin shoes and set off on her journey to the far off lands in the North.

She walked for 7 days and 7 nights across frozen meadows and snow covered hills, the whisper in the wind guiding her along the way. She walked across the frozen lake and up narrow mountain paths, until she reached a black bear’s cave.

A voice echoed from inside the cave.

“Come in Moss Child,” it said. “Come rest a little while. You’ve travelled long and far.”

Weary from her journey, she entered the black bear’s home. She sat down by the fire and for the first time in too many years, she felt a space inside her heart warm.

Great mother black bear brought her a jug of warm honey mead. It smelt of spring – pink rose petals dancing in the wind, delicate white strawberry blossoms smiling at the sun, woody green rosemary twigs singing to the bees and the fresh aroma of climbing thyme after the first spring rains. She drank the honey mead slowly, savouring each sweet and delicious sip. When she was done and her belly was full, her body warm and her heart alive with new buds of hope, she laid her head on mother black bear’s lap and drifted off to sleep. And of course, for the first in too many years she dreamt a thousand dreams.

She dreamt of catching butterflies and shooting stars in a net and gathering herbs in her grandmother’s ancient foraging basket. She dreamt that she was walking through a forest in bloom, picking buttercup flowers with her future daughters. She dreamt of swimming with the dolphins and planting seaweed gardens at the bottom of the ocean floor. As she slept and dreamt of many things for all the times her deep sleeps had been dreamless, the mountain snow began to melt. The wild Earth was waking up. Primroses and snowdrops pierced through the earth. Birds returned to the trees and the moon returned to the sky. No one really knows how long she slept for, but when she finally woke from her slumber, the black bear and her cubs had long left the cave and were making their way into spring.

The scent of wild roses greeted her when she stepped outside of the bear cave and she knew immediately that the world was a different place. She breathed in a long and deep breath of fresh midnight mountain air. She held her breath for long time and as she did, shadowy places inside of her that had long been shut away began to return to life. She exhaled with a big sigh, relieved to release a thousand years of darkness from the corners of her heart. Overhead, stars danced cheerily around their midnight moon queen. Somewhere in the midnight forest the owls called to each other.

Her journey was not over yet, for when the wind picked up again, this time carrying the stories of the new season, it asked her to walk further still to the high upper reaches of the mountain. She obliged and continued up narrow rocky paths following the map of the wind. She walked until she felt something call her to stop on a mountain cliff ledge still covered in snow. She stood in the snow, her delicate little footprints slowly melting away behind her. Looking out into the valley below, the silver forests and melting meadows glowed in the luminous lunar light. She could feel the sacred essence of the quiet land resting in its midnight stillness. Somewhere in the valley wolves howled to the moon.

She felt something at her feet. She looked down and noticed a small brown leather pouch rising slowly through the melting snow. It seemed familiar. When she picked up the pouch and ran her fingers over it, she knew that it was hers. She started to remember. It held something that she lost in the snow many centuries ago. She untied the string and pulled the pouch open.

 And there they were…a thousand tiny seeds.

Healing seeds.

Flowering seeds.

Magical seeds with a powerful dream locked in each.

She breathed her warm breath over them, whispering:

“Hello. Remember me?”

The seeds began to sing in response, each one offering its own sweet song. As they did, she remembered more. She remembered who she was and what she’d lost and what had now been returned to her once more. Thick beads of salty tears rolled down the soft skin of her delicate cheeks. And as her tears dropped to the muddy earth beneath her, the last remaining shards of darkness melted from her heart.

She took off her moss cloak and laid it at her feet. One by one, she kissed each seed and the dream it held, and then planted it in the moss. One by one, each seed kissed her back, grateful for the promise of new life. By the time that the last seed was planted, the moon had sunk to the horizon and the sun was peeling the night sky open. She stood for a long while, watching the sky wake up. New colours spread across the breath-taking forests and meadows in the valley. In the distance, the once frozen lake glistened like an ocean of liquid gold. She felt so much joy in her heart. Finally, after all this time all was right within her.

She walked down the mountain enveloped in the soothing caress of the early morning sun. She couldn’t help but smile and sing. She sang old songs, ones that her mother taught her in her youth. And as she walked and sang, the sun touched the seeds and they began to sprout. They weaved their roots into her moss and elderflower cloak, and from each seed grew a plethora of beautiful dreams. These were her dreams. Forgotten dreams that she’d thought she had let die. As she discovered, the truth is that dreams, just like seeds frozen for thousands of years in permafrost, never really die. They may sleep and lie dormant for what feels like endless time, but when the ice melts and they are rediscovered, all they need is a little care to be nurtured back to life.

What dreams have you let die? They are never lost. You can breathe the gift of life back into them if this is what you choose.

dreams left to die

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A Seed Woman Story

I remember the moment that I became fascinated with seeds. It was one bright morning in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was 6 years old. My grand-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) who was visiting from Australia was browsing through gran’s collection of spices when she discovered a bottle of seeds (I think they were coriander, although I can’t remember for sure) in the spice rack. In her unassuming wisdom she decided to introduce me to the joys of planting herbs from seed.

We went outside, filled a small container with dark loamy soil and then planted and watered the seeds. We checked on them in the mornings to see if there was any progress. For the first three days, the soil was still. There were no signs of life. Then, on the fourth day, tiny little leaves had pierced their way through the sand. It was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen at the time.

Throughout that school holiday, I tended to them, returning each day to water and watch them. I concluded then that plants don’t grow when you’re watching. I was spellbound by how much transpired when I wasn’t looking. It seemed like the magic only happened at night when the stars were high and dark air rested on the soil. I remember my grandfather trying to explain something about the intelligence inside the seed telling it to grow – an essence within it that held all the knowledge of who it was and what it was supposed to do. Too young to fully understand, his words went completely over my head. But with time, the more I grew things, the more I understood what he meant.

Four weeks later, when my holiday was over and I’d returned home to my parents at the coast, the magic of seeds was forever in my heart. Looking back, it explains a lot about the way I am:

Like why I always tried to grow things when I was young: A little pot on my bedroom window sill. A planter box on the veranda. A few scattered seeds in a flower bed. My dad often made me weed the garden as punishment. I hated it so much. However, planting seeds and coaxing them out of the earth and into life was something so precious.

And also why I’ve always carried some seeds with me to plant wherever I went or to offer as gifts to people. At the end of our final year at university when my then boyfriend (now husband) took me to Zimbabwe to meet his family, I took basil seeds for his mother. We planted them in the garden where they flourished beautifully. Sometimes I feel that they were symbolic of the incredible relationship that I’ve cultivated with my mother-in-law from that moment onwards.

And why when I graduated from university and moved from a small country town to the city in search of work, I basically brought two things with me – my clothes and a pack of mixed herb and edible flower seeds. I claimed a patch in my aunt’s neglected garden and for the year that I lived with her, I nurtured that piece of earth and the wonderful things that I grew from it.

So in a way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when a simple question came my way a week or two ago – “What happens to the dreams that you let die?” – it immediately sparked a story. A very short story about a seed woman who lost her dreams in the snow and finds her way back to them.

Naturally, I treasure this story just as much as I do seeds. And because I believe that stories are created to be shared, I’ve decided to share this rough piece with you in tomorrow’s blog post. I have no real expectations other than to share the things in my heart and little bits of inspiration.

Until then, thank you for your presence here and have a blessed and beautiful day.

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My grandmother’s garden