The other morning, I stood there at the water’s edge in the gentle rain. Willow trees drooped around me and raindrops danced on the waters surface. I breathed in the peaceful earthy scents of wet trees and earth as I gathered inspiration for my writing, quietly listening out for wild stories and earth whispers. My heart came alive in a special way and in that moment, I understood so clearly what John Muir meant when he said….
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~ John Muir
Where do you go to witness beauty or gather inspiration? And where do you find your peace and healing?
It’s crazy to think that this time last year, my husband and I were away on a forest getaway and I was working on the final chapter of my book, Wild Essence. It was such a special time to reach the end of a writing project that seemed like an impossible dream for so long. In light of this, I thought that today would be a good time to share an excerpt from that chapter:
“The forest…oh the forest,” I thought to myself writing my morning musings.
It’s been a bearer of so many exquisite blessings. We’ve spent our mornings here taking forest walks and exploring every corner of it. It was made up of a mix of pines, eucalyptus, blue gums and acacia trees. Yesterday, as we entered the forest at a section of pines, it was as if a golden carpet of fallen needles rolled out before our feet. I felt honored that the wild Earth would be so kind to weave such delicate beauty for us to tread on. The forest was full of intricate textures, the canopy top reaching for the sun, the artwork of peeling bark, fallen branches, dark green undergrowth and mosses, scattered brown leaves and pine corns. It’s a splendid mesh of chaotic loveliness, coupled with soothing sounds and the earthy scents of wildness. I loved the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and watching them sway from side to side as Cyrus and I walked under them. It’s like music, a special language of trees that only the seasoned ear can understand. I imagine that the birds we’ve seen flying amongst the tree branches, the rabbits, the buck, as well as other unseen creatures of the forest have learnt to interpret it. I found myself wondering if the passing breezes allow the forest trees to experience different worlds. If the wind has travelled far and wide, coming in from the ocean miles away in the East, or from across the Savannah and bushveld North of here, do the trees get a taste of these distant lands when they dance with the passing gusts? Perhaps one day, with enough deep practice, I too will understand the language of the wind and forests more deeply.
For the moment I remained in awe of the forest energy, the community of the trees, all its inhabitants and the cloudless azure winter sky overhead on a windy morning. After spotting buck droppings and spores for a couple of days, yesterday I finally stumbled across an elusive young buck. We were walking along collecting fallen sticks and pine corns, when we noticed that some of the sticks had randomly falling into the shape of crosses. It gave us an eerie feeling and I wondered if somehow the forest was letting us know that the ground here was holy. Then minutes later and a few paces forward, we spotted it. The young buck seemed to be eating low hanging new leaf growths from a tree. Just as soon as we spotted it, the buck turned to give us a quick glance. She spooked and swiftly bolted off in the elegantly graceful manner that only young buck can. I felt the warm feeling of joy stirring within.
Centuries ago, this land would have been teaming with buck and wildlife. However, so much of the land in this area has been cleared for farming and mining over the years that spotting them here is a rare treat. Although this is not an indigenous forest, it’s fortunate that the owners have allowed it to grow wild somewhat with a life of its own. As a consequence of giving the forest space to become untamed, the natural wildlife has found a place to call home too. It somehow made me think that each of us is a beautiful tree in the forest of life, rooted in the essence of our own being, our branches reaching for different dreams. You are at the center of your own story and the driver of your life. At the same time all life is interconnected. The impact that you are making by re-wilding your soul goes beyond reversing the chains of damage and returning to the freedom and peace of your wild essence. Your individual efforts play a significant role in restoring the rest of the forest to its natural dignity. What you do impacts on the people around you. The people whom you share your life with, the world and Mother Nature all experience the ripple effect of your actions. Think for a moment of how you feel when you meet someone who inspires you – a role model fighting for a worthy cause, your favorite author, a successful person at the top of their game or any larger than life person who moves you. What kind of emotions do these people stir in you? These people inspire us just by living their purpose and making the choice to follow the whispers of their wild essence. You hold the potential to the same. One of our ultimate aspirations is to touch each other’s lives in a meaningful way and inspire them. You will find that each time that you follow through despite your fear, not only will your life be richer for it, but so will the lives of those who you touch along the way. We are collectively realizing our full potential as individuals, as communities and as society. “
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 alsowhy 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.