Mixed Signals

Sitting on my couch, looking out at dense snow whitening everything except the hyacinth tips which are peaking out of soil in their pots on my enclosed porch. 

Wondering if the flowers are as confused as my hens, as to what the daily shifts in weather mean. Two days ago it was sunny and warming spring, yesterday there was high wind, today it is full winter snow all day and nighttime temperature predicted to hit zero.

Will egg laying, which had begun after the hens’ short-winter-day hiatus, continue or will the ladies decide to keep their potential progeny to themselves until more favorable temperatures become continuous?

I do welcome the snow and its much needed moisture in our arid climate, and I appreciate that its timing means I only have to cancel one appointment today, instead of three yesterday. I am grateful that my days, overall, can be flexible enough to accommodate disruptive weather. What I am not yet at ease with is the seemingly permanent state of uncertainty about everything, from weather to egg production to mass shootings, local water shortage concerns and world tragedies, mental health crises and trophy winners. Big and small, meaningful and insignificant, all of it blasted at us repeatedly over multiple internet channels.

Yes it is very true that the only certainty in life is that things change. And yes, it is a frustrating aspect of human nature that we seem compelled to seek to impose stability and structure on that ceaseless change. I, and my flowers and hens, will do as we must if it is winter, and also if it is spring. What none of us manage well is the uncertainty of what we will face each new day.

Take my intention to write about trees, my personal relationship to them, the way that they are presented as vitally engaged with Native tribal life in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and the mystique surrounding some of the most ancient of individuals or their seeming ability to communicate via underground links. My thoughts were taking form, ready to be presented here – when in my morning news feed I encountered a new study that denies that there is any contact from tree to tree, the linking fungal networks discounted as providing a means of communication. Do I continue to believe the spiritual yet scientific vision in Kimmerer’s work, and the delightful concept of trees talking to one another via underground networks, or must I accept a conceptual shift due to this new, challenging research study? 

Many years ago in a modern dance class, we were  assigned to compose a dance that would render an “inanimate object” through motion, leaving the work untitled, and the class members to name the object once they had seen the performance. I chose trees, and presented a pine, a willow and a maple. My classmates did “see” the subjects and named my choreography “A Walk in the Woods”. As I composed the dance, I felt the essence of those three entities and had no doubt that they were both animate and friendly. 

I still feel akin to trees, and to many other plants, especially those living in my home. We have history. One ivy, now over 40 years old, was a new spring in my office in the New Mexico Penitentiary when I taught there. Together we survived the 1980 prison riot. A poinsettia gifted to me more than 25 years ago put out two blooms this past holiday season. A petunia given me this past summer, supposedly an annual, died back to just one small sprig due to both onset of winter and a bug infestation. Sprayed, watered and talked to, it now has new growth and multiple flowers. 
So I will continue to hold beliefs compatible with those in Braiding Sweetgrass, enjoying the sense of spiritual connection to the world around me, and accepting responsibility for an interaction that appreciates gifts given and requires a return of respect and care. Oh, and I thank the hens for their willingness to give me eggs despite the bitter cold.

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7 Responses to “Mixed Signals”

  1. Kathy Fox Says:

    I like your use of the image mixed signals. It joins as if in poetry the clear as day objectivelybpresent natural world we often trust as the real world. Not AI , not spin on real crossed with tsubjective inner meaning . By writing about muxed signals of our early Spring you bring respite to those of suffering
    the anxietynof being aloneand feeling “now, what?” about wierd weather. I am writing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and wondering why my peach tree is blooming now. Maybe because it wants to be in Georgia, USA ? An unmixed cry for respect?

    • chelawriter Says:

      I am pleased to hear my post created a sense of connection. That is one of the elements I too often find missing in our current daily lives. Would you want to follow your tree to Georgia?

    • Kathy Fox Says:

      Actually, Yes but maybe for only one trip. When our family came from Northern England and Ireland many went South. Is that the origen of the
      Phrase “It went South” to describe an unsuccessful adventure? It does have a draw for me.

    • Kathy Fox Says:

      Actually, Yes but maybe for only one trip. When our family came from Northern England and Ireland many went South. Is that the origin of the
      Phrase “It went South” to describe an unsuccessful adventure? It does have a draw for me.

  2. Kathy Fox Says:

    I think the forrestry interests wantnus to think all the chemucals they ate using to regrow the forest are necessary and so they mock the reality that microrysomes could chemically communicate life support from tree to tree.

  3. masonllp Says:

    Dear Niki, This is Leslie Mason; we met through Al Medina at Masterpath seminars, and your husband as well.  I have been pretty quiet this past year since Al translated, but I have continued to read your words and be captivated by your thoughts.  Just wanted to say thank you for your poignant contemplations and your willingness to be vulnerable by sharing them.  They are indeed a delight, and I have saved them in a computer file for re-reading.  May the blessings be.  Thank you for this seva. Leslie Mason

    Leslie Mason Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Activist

    • chelawriter Says:

      Thank you Leslie. Not meeting in person for seminar, I feel very out of touch on people’s status, did not know of Al’s translation. No matter the depth of our understanding in spirit that moving on is a happy event, our emotions still lead us to grieve. A year of being quiet is a year of self care, always appropriate.
      I will hope to see you in person in June…

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