They're the State flower of Maryland, but the grow really well in Virginia, too. Perennials, they can grow in some shade, which, in my yard, is a good thing. I like them because they'll bloom for several weeks here at the end of July, when most flowers are finished, providing color until the fall mums come in.
The sun has been making such intense love to Earth that the deck burns my feet when I walk outside, barefoot, to make love to the Earth with my feet. My gardenias, that I harbor inside all winter long, living, as I do in Zone 7, are blooming. If you walk outside in the heat of the mid afternoon in July, in Virginia, the gardenias on the deck surround you with a scent that makes you very, very certain that the Goddess loves us, and wants us to be: ecstatic.
Witchcraft is a religion of ecstacy. I believe that if I believe nothing else. And, this hot afternoon, surrounded by gardenias making such love to the Air as only a lover devoted to nothing but love could possibly make, I am, well, I am in ecstacy. But it's polyamoury. The gardenias can only make this kind of rare, refined, mad love to the Air when the Sun helps them. And, it's all good.
This is Sage Bergarten, German Mountain Sage. It is mad for the mix of sandy soil and wood chips in my herb bed. In late October or early November, I'll cut it and hang it up to dry. I'll burn it all winter in a tiny incense burner that my world-traveler brother gave to me, on a small block of charcoal. It will purify the air in my ritual room, ground me, remind me that summer is coming, when the sun is so hot that the sandy soil stays many degrees warmer than the air for hours after the sun has gone down.
Not sure exactly why, but this year, the fig tree is going wild. Usually, the birds and squirrels take about three bites out of every fig and leave me, like, two figs. This year, I may have enough to bring some inside to ripen just for me. I'm happy to share, but I do wish they'd leave some for me.
My chipmunk was a wild woman this morning, dashing here and there and up over the herb bed and behind the grass and under the coleus and in between the helibore. I warned her, "Look out. You know that cat, Smudge, from across the street, is looking for you. If I can see you, you know that Smudge can see you."
There was a time when people marched against their governments when their governments oppressed them.
Arise children of the fatherland The day of glory has arrived Against us tyranny's Bloody standard is raised Listen to the sound in the fields The howling of these fearsome soldiers They are coming into our midst To cut the throats of your sons and consorts
To arms citizens Form your battalions March, march Let impure blood Water our furrows
What do they want this horde of slaves Of traitors and conspiratorial kings? For whom these vile chains These long-prepared irons? Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage What methods must be taken? It is us they dare plan To return to the old slavery!
What! These foreign cohorts! They would make laws in our courts! What! These mercenary phalanxes Would cut down our warrior sons Good Lord! By chained hands Our brow would yield under the yoke The vile despots would have themselves be The masters of destiny
Tremble, tyrants and traitors The shame of all good men Tremble! Your parricidal schemes Will receive their just reward Against you we are all soldiers If they fall, our young heros France will bear new ones Ready to join the fight against you
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors Bear or hold back your blows Spare these sad victims That they regret taking up arms against us But not these bloody despots These accomplices of Bouillé All these tigers who pitilessly Ripped out their mothers' wombs
We too shall enlist When our elders' time has come To add to the list of deeds Inscribed upon their tombs We are much less jealous of surviving them Than of sharing their coffins We shall have the sublime pride Of avenging or joining them
Drive on sacred patriotism Support our avenging arms Liberty, cherished liberty Join the struggle with your defenders Under our flags, let victory Hurry to your manly tone So that in death your enemies See your triumph and our glory!
Actually, this story reminds me of one that Jason and I both covered a while back in Virginia. Fundies took the local board of ed to court and got the court to say that the board of ed had to let the fundies send home announcements for Vacation Bible School, etc. Some local Pagans took advantage of that ruling to make the board of ed send home an announcement about a Pagan event for children. Fundie moms went batshit on their blogs, the community was outraged, etc. Almost none of them "got it." Gee, this is how other groups feel when we xians do it. Guess there's a good reason for the separation of church and state, after all. Nope. They were too busy being "threatened" and "outraged."
Eventually, I think the board of ed decided that it would just stop sending home announcements from any non-school group (originally, they'd sent home announcements from things like the local Dept. of Recreation, which gave the fundies their hook).
It's a city of monuments, sculpture, public gardens, and, of course, government, which, even as sucky as it's been for, well, for ever, I adore. In my most important and memorable dreams, I wander through these monuments and past these marble statues of Prosperity, Truth, Commerce, and Justice.
I came to D.C. as a far-too-full-of-myself (some things never change!) five-year-old, stepping off the train from Chicago at Union Station with my mom, my brother and sister, and one tiny turtle (the kind they used to sell in drug stores). I was born in the college town of Boulder, Colorado, where I learned my mad love for mountains, but I'd never seen anything -- anything -- that spoke to my deep soul the way that this city of marble and high ideals spoke to me. We moved because my dad took a job writing speeches here, but he had a meeting in Cincinnati the week that we got off the train. My mother, may the Goddess guard her, took three little kids (and a turtle) to the Hotel Continental just around the corner from the office where my dad was going to be working. For a week, we lived in that hotel and, every day, Mom would take all three kids (but not the turtle) out for a long walk in the city and through one of Washington's many, many museums. We'd walk until we were tired, at which point, my brother, Joe, who was, I swear to the Goddess all of four years old, would (after the first day) just hail a cab.
When Son was young, I was a young, single mother on a school-teacher's salary. We spent, I warrant, more time wandering the (free!) museums of Washington, D.C. than most other mothers and sons. Son adored the Air & Space Museum, but, Goddess knows, we covered every inch in every museum up and down the Mall, more than once. Do you ever wish that you could remember "the last" time that something happened? I don't remember "the last" time that I took Son to the museums in D.C.; I'm sure at the time it didn't at all seem like "the last" time. But eventually, he got into high school sports, found girlfriends, got busy studying for SATs, and there was, sadly, a last time. It may have been a trip to see the Boating Party by Renoir at the Phillips, but I can't be sure. I do have a vague memory of lunch afterwards at Teaism.
This morning, G/Son and I got up early, had strawberries and orange juice, and headed down to the Mall. Nonna miscalculated how early you need to get down there to get a parking space. We were a little early.
At two-and-a-quarter, G/Son's started asking one of the first questions for which I ever got in trouble: What's going to happen? It's an attempt, as my mother knew and resented, to figure out how to be in control, to prepare, to master the situation. I have a different approach than did my mother. I provide the kind of detailed information that I'd have appreciated at two: We're going to get in Nonna's car; you can have your water bottle while we're driving. We're going to drive downtown, past the beautiful Potomac River that Nonna loves, we'll go to the dinosaur museum, see dinosaur bones, and then we'll get back in Nonna's car, drive to your house, and tell Mommy and Daddy about it.
We got down a bit early, so we walked around the Mall for a while, waiting for the dinosaur museum to open. We fed a muffin to the v brave pigeons of D.C. We chased a v bold D.C. squirrel who lives out of the trash cans around the Mall refreshment stand. We looked at the Enid Haupt garden and tried to decide if the fountain inside the Sackler Gallery was a reflection of the outside fountain or another one, inside. We decided that we preferred a fruit bar to popcorn from the little red cart. We watched bees and butterflies in the outside butterfly garden near the dinosaur museum.
And, there, although I'd forgotten it for decades, it was. The Carousel on the Mall. People who hate Washington, D.C. just don't realize how many lovely hidden treasures it has. And one of them is the carousel just outside the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. I used to spring, and it was "springing" back then, for a ride for Son on that carousel, with its old-fashioned animals and carousel music and bright lights. It was still closed when G/Son spotted it from across the Mall and said, "Nonna, is that a merry-go-round?" We went over to investigate and, there it was, the blue horse with a blue saddle of G/Son's dreams. He told me, "Nonna, I've got to ride that blue horse." I've lived too long to disregard a message from the deep psyche/the Gods like that one.
We waited, and waited, and waited for the nice man to show up and start selling tickets. We had a fruit bar and a bottle of water and we decided that the beautiful blue horse was named Herman. We waited some more. When Nonna suggested that we walk around and come back in a bit, we decided that was a bad idea. When other little kids began to get in line behind us at the ticket stand, we agreed: She doesn't want to ride Herman; she must want to ride the zebra. He doesn't want to ride Herman, he must want to ride the black horse with the lightning strikes on his saddle. She doesn't want to ride Herman; she wants to ride the blue dragon.
We got (hell, yes there are benefits to always needing to be in control) the first two tickets, were the first two on the carousel, got to Herman before anyone else. G/Son was pretty accurate about which horses the other kids wanted to ride; well, he's the witch's grandson. (What's going to happen? What does your intuition tell you?)
And then, we were doing it. Life caught us up in the moment and all the waiting was over. The music was playing, the lights were on, Herman went up and down, G/Son sat in the saddle, absolutely equally divided between the mad joy of Pan and the odd terror of going too fast and having too much fun. Nonna (a late-coming advocate of Pan's side of things) stood near Herman's head and said, "You're doing great. You're having a good time. This is fun! Whee! Go, Herman!" G/Son alternated between calling out, "Go Herman," and yelling "Hold on tight, everybody!"
Too soon, but not a minute too soon, the carousel slowed, and it was over. We gave Herman a hug and a pat on the neck, and said, "Good job, Herman. Thanks!" We got off the carousel and got into our stroller. G/Son told the man operating the carousel, "Thanks for letting me ride the blue horse on your merry-go-round!" and the man just cracked up.
It could be my last time on the carousel. I could die on the way to work tomorrow, driving past the lovely Potomac River, But it might not be. When we left, we called out, "Bye, Herman! See you the next time we come downtown!" I just want to remember every time so that, if that time is the last time, I'll still be able to recollect it, re-live it in memory, enjoy it over and over.
Who knew that I'd get this amazing blessing of being a Nonna? Once, in my wicked youth . . . .
Nah, I can't pretend that it's anything but lagniappe. And it is lagniappe, lagniappe, lagniappe. May it be so for you.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."