these days i have noticed how often ritual is really about directing my attention, towards and away from emotions, energies, lives, futures. tonight i need rituals.
this week i am in a place i love, which i must let go of without much agency. where is the ritual for grieving other people’s homes and lands that have also held your heart? where do you whisper into the dirt: “i fell in love with you, with this curve, this ridge, this stand of birch – you changed my life…”?
tonight is my last night here, probably forever. the moon still feels full, waiting for me to release, so i write.
i am laying in the room where my youngest nibbling was born, and i remember how the light poured in that day like the sun itself wanted to see her first. still when i first glimpse her bright gold hair i remember that light, her swimming to her mother and everyone gasping, crying with miracle.
i remember that winter, waking up every three hours to go down into the cold basement in layers and layers of clothing to tend to the furnace fire. that meditation, finding the spark in the ashes and blowing, feeding, waiting…the satisfaction of the fire roaring, knowing the baby, the mother will be warm.
and in the dark outside the window, just a short walk into the wood, lay buried the bones of the infant phenomenon, the little one whose spirit often visits me here, usually in the kitchen, dashing behind me, caught out of the corner of my eye. i hope the next family has kids for them to follow.
in the morning i will wake up to the small pond, one of millions, with its particular cycle of geese, winter ice, summer muck. this pond taught me the sacred gift of catching sunrise, it is so simple, and one of my favorite views in the world. it’s summer now but i think my favorite is fall, this same swath of trees bright red with change.
the hill between the house and the pond is worn bare by sledding, and i remember dragging sleds weighted with children back up that incline.
i will miss these gardens which i didn’t work but watched burst each year with abundance. i miss watching my eldest nibbling bend close to eat broccoli like a wild deer.
how many times did we rescue ourselves from the doldrums of a long day by going for a walk up the driveway, then the dirt road, left, throw rocks in the first pond, left, climb into the creek bed, race to the rock pile, leap over the tiny stream between the next two ponds, grunt up that first hill, run the ridge past the white trees until breathless, reach the fire pit, the yard strewn with soccer balls and obstacle courses and frisbees, populated with frogs that wanted to say hello. how many times?
how many times have i made the double batch of pancakes? in this kitchen i can do it without a recipe. in this home i have been a different me, barefoot, in an apron, satisfied with the work of love and care. covered in paint, flour, dirt, whatever the children had touched before they needed to hold me, hug me, be carried wrapped around my leg, or tucked in a wrap against the back of my heart.
i remember dancing, joy, laughter, building forts and bonfires, mayday poles, a briefly functional kiln. rocking my nibblings to sleep in the dark and then trying to not wake them when everything in this house groans and sings. my nibblings’ feet hitting the floor in their bedroom half a house away, racing to climb into bed with me, my middle nibbling all elbows and knees, the oldest telling me dreams, the baby complaining about the existence of morning.
here i crafted books about my nibblings, for them, like mandalas: take my heart, destroy it.
i want the babies to remember their naked wild years here, skin to soil to sun, safe enough to climb the apple tree and venture out onto the ice, country enough to beef with the neighbor over dog etiquette.
i wonder if they will recall their bedroom full of books, their bedding piled on the floor, rejecting comfort. the safe spaces they generated for themselves and each other.
here i learned about relinquishing control, flying alongside of parents, being kind while sleep deprived, the layered summer dance of dragonflies, the soundtrack of crickets, grasshoppers.
i know why we must go. even flooded in nostalgia, feeling the perfection of this patched together house that has held my family, i know our chapter here is done. i am trusting the universe that this release will honor a plethora of destinies. grief here is truly gratitude.
i grew up moving every two years. as an adult i am wary of any effort to bind me to a place, and yet i am so grateful for the parts of my life, my family’s life, that could only have unfolded on this land.
tomorrow i will gather dirt, offer water, burn words and pray for abundant release. nothing is permanent except the cycle of change, and this place is one of my favorite teachers of how life is unbearably beautiful and ever shifting.
goodnight, sweet home.