Where the Earth Speaks to My Heart

New Day, New Way, Palo Alto Baylands

Land. Earth. What is my connection to our earth? How has it changed since I was a child?

I’ve been musing on this. You see, I just sold the last piece of real estate I owned. I am no longer a “property owner.” I don't know if I will own land again in that sense, though I suspect I will. But for now, I do not own land in that sense.

Yet, I know I have connections to this earth that speak to my heart. That nourish and replenish me in many ways. It has always been this way.

I remember….

Playing in the redwood groves when I was a kid, clambering over the odd growths and stumps, turning them into forts and castles. Yelling and laughing and imagining up a storm. Feeling the majesty of these huge trees all around us as we played our games.

There was such a peacefulness to walking down the hill to the redwood groves, pursing animal trails, checking out the berry vines to see when they would be ripe. Noticing how the seasons changed the leaves and the weather. Being alone in the quiet.

IMG_1555I remember….

Burying watermelons in the sand at Capitola Beach. Of splashing and swimming in the waters of the lagoon when the river wasn’t flowing out. Walking along the waves on the ocean side looking for shells and stones. Stepping on the bulbs in the seaweed to see if I could make them pop open.

These days I head to Stinson Beach with my daughter as a retreat from the noisy world we live in. We walk the shoreline, meandering through the detritus of the tides. Pointing out jellyfish. She pirouetting across the water as it recedes. Me sketching a shell or a sand crab. Chasing each other, getting wet and sandy. Linking our arms together and laughing. Walking into town for soft serve ice cream and french fries. Watching movies until I fall asleep before her. Reading a book while sprawled on the warm sand.

Grandmother Ocean is where I feel at peace. Where all the worries and tensions just drain out of me and I can truly relax. Standing in the waves hearing Grandmother talk to me nourishes my soul. It feeds me and soothes me and settles me. All the things that do not really matter just leach out of me and into the sand and the water and waves and I feel cleansed and whole.

I remember…

Walking on the land at Terra Sophia with Sue Hoya Sellars. Down the hill to the little grove where the mosses cover the old redwood stumps like green velvet with little curlicues. Setting up easels and painting the hills on the other side of the valley. Finding deer bones and skulls tucked into the oak leaves. Sitting and drinking tea on a quiet misty morning.

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When I need a more daily dose of earth talking to my heart, I head to the local bay lands bird sanctuary. When I first started walking there, I thought the flat trail and landscape were boring and I would just walk for exercise. Then I began to notice how the big while pelicans with black tipped wings showed up in the summer and led fishing expeditions on the waterways. And how the geese appeared in the fall and honked and waddled all over in groups, always checking me out. I saw shy jack rabbits early in the morning. Weeds that bloomed into delicate blossoms. I filled sketchbooks with ink drawings and poetry.

Now when I walk down the trail at the bay lands, I can feel the literal noise of Silicon Valley falling behind me. I tune into the music of the bird calls, the wind ruffling the tall weeds, the sound of my feet on the path. It grounds me and calms my system and I can muse and think again. Perhaps this is why I call my sketches Earth Prayers - because I feel like I am praying to the earth when I create them.

What is your place on the earth where she speaks to your heart?

Mountains of Waves by Annette Wagner