This weekend I spent much needed restorative time immersed in nature. Anticipating it for months, I knew that on the last weekend of June, I would be heading to Happy Tree Farm, which is the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding. Each year, they welcome our far flung tribe of family and friends to their lakeside property (although I imagine they would hesitate to think of it that way, rather they would likely consider themselves honored stewards of the land.) for a Solstice gathering. Music, drumming, dancing, swimming, pot luck food, hugging, fireworks, and a bonfire built from trees that had fallen in Hurricane Sandy, offered us their light and warmth.
Pre-bonfire wood with my friends Susan Duval and Carrie Willette Hipkiss
The Redding family is a unique clan. Stephen has had numerous return-from death experiences (I hesitate to refer to them as near death, since he literally did die and came back with stories about his experiences which he chronicles in his two books, More Or Less and Something More), and he speaks about life, the Universe and everything to gatherings who are amazed by the wisdom he gleaned. The family owns and operates a landscaping and tree-care business. I think of Stephen as The Lorax ‘who speaks for the trees’ and to the trees. He acknowledged having a painful and difficult winter when many trees fell to the whirlwind that was Sandy. He and Kathy and their 4 adult children live there, working together as well. What has always amused me about their interactions is that his kids seem to accept Dad’s unusual activities, while my son thinks of me as his ‘weird hippie Mom’ for talking to trees (among other things).
On Saturday, I walked down the meandering paths, breathing in the fresh air, saying hello to the horses in their pen, the trees and plants that lined the dirt road, and the pond with fish, as I headed to my destination; the lake where people were already splashing about, floating on ‘pool noodles’, canoeing, and diving off the board into the literally healing waters. I have never experienced another body of water quite like it. A combination of minerals in this spring fed lake makes it buoyant and beneficial. A few years ago, I had a weed whacking accident, during which, from lack of attention, I sliced 18 lacerations in my right calf. A week or so later, Stephen invited me to come over for a swim, telling me that I would likely see some healing take place. Just being there was soothing. Within a few weeks, these formerly deep gashes were gone and to this day, you would never know they had ever been there. Needless to say, I was relieved, since I had imagined life long scarring. I joined my friends for some fun and frolic, followed by swinging on a swing-set and glider. As the sky darkened, we were treated to a fire works extravaganza that rivaled any 4th of July show I had ever seen.
Then the fire roared into action, sending sparks that leapt into the sky much in the same manner as the other pyro-technics had dazzled us a short while earlier. It was as if we and the fire spoke and listened, a back and forth dialog of story telling as we sat for hours, perched on boulders, in trees, on chairs and benches, mesmerized by the flames.
The next morning, I participated in a Sunday lakeside service for Circle of Miracles, speaking about the power of intention and the ways in which we can plant seeds for that which we want to attract and sustain. I gave each person a feather as a talisman to remind them of their desire to take wing and fly and then asked them to call out their thoughts, blowing bubbles for each one, sending them into the sky as the sparks and fireworks had done the night before. We were all embraced by the elements on this beautiful second weekend of the Summer of 2013. May we all look back in awe and wonder.