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Showing posts from July, 2015

The Value of a Garden

I love my garden to a ridiculous degree. The Garden.  Cat Chapin-Bishop, 2015. It's not all ridiculous. There are some traditional considerations behind my love.  Home grown tomatoes are a unique joy, and never running out of cucumbers is nifty, too.  And I come from a line of gardeners on both sides: I have many happy childhood memories of standing barefoot in my dad’s garden, feeling the warmth of the composting grass clippings he used to keep down the weeds as I picked us the lettuce or zucchini for our supper, and my aunt managed to feed a family of five with the summer produce she froze and canned herself every year. I do my share of freezing and canning, too–but I came clean with myself this year about my garden: my love for my garden is not much about saving money or even the difference between a fresh, garden tomato and one from a grocery store.  None of those sensible, practical reasons are really where I draw my bottom line. I figured this out in

Toward a Daily Spiritual Practice

When I was sixteen, I learned to play the guitar. Guitarist, Little Girl.  Takkk, 2010 At first, I had a steel-stringed monstrosity from a discount store.  I remember how the strings had too much play in them, and they would cut my fingers until they bled.  But soon I’d saved a little money, and I was able to buy a second-hand Goya, and that guitar and I became close friends.  For almost two years, anywhere I went, the guitar went, too.   I worked my way through the instruction book I’d been given with that first guitar, and I picked up scraps of sheet music and chords that I could play with songs I already knew, and I badgered a lesson or two from a friend of a friend.  I played for my parents and their friends, I played and sang for the high school talent show.  I wrote love songs when I was in love, and sad songs when I was sad.  I played outdoors on the rocks at the lake in Maine, and by the wood stove after a day of skiing in the Berkshires. Most of all, I pla

Even the Trees Have Moved

Twenty-five years ago, or the day before yesterday in subjective time, my friends and I spent a day laboring in the summer heat to build a ritual circle in a clearing in the woods. Forest. Cat Chapin-Bishop, 2012. We lifted rocks, we gathered refuse and scraps of wood, dug a firepit, and erected a small standing stone.  For the next five years, we used it often, gathering with other Pagans there for worship, camping in the deep, green moss nearby, and building trails and small shrines all around it in the woods.  It was a quiet place, and I loved it.  To this day, if I want to remember the feeling of magic, of hearts joined in Pagan community, all I need to do is find myself the smell of white pines and woodsmoke, and I am home. But I fell in love, and I moved away, and life marched on, and I didn’t always return.  Somehow, I looked up, and decades had past since I had been in those woods. And then I had the chance to go home again. For many summers now, the

Are We the Land?

It’s raining. Just another rainy summer day.  I hear the sighing of the traffic moving by on the road.  The spatter of the drops from the gutter against the stones of the porch.  The softer sound of individual drops against the leaves and soil of potted plants, and beyond that, the steady, murmuring sound of rain on maple leaves, hemlock needles, pines. Probably because it is summer, and now that I am a school teacher, my summers are very much like those I had when I was a girl, growing up in a very similar New England landscape, my mind flows backward over all the rainy summer days of my childhood and adolescence.  Days I spent much as I have spent today: reading books, listening to the rain, venturing out into it, to the garden where a bird sits on a fence post, indifferent to the rain but timid of me. I wonder, idly, how many rainy summer days I have lived in my life, surrounded by wet maples and wet grass.  A thousand?  I make some guesses, and conclude it is