Kristie Dahlia Home
a bouquet of flowers on a rough wooden table. ranunculus in the foreground.
We Are Beloved

Gone to Lavender and Peach

Jun 12, 2024

Beloved friends,

For the past few days I've spent most of the hours in which I wasn't teaching tending to spreadsheets, sorting the registration for my summer course. I feel quiet on the other side, yet it's time to speak.

I brought my laptop outdoors and sat down. To be refreshed by the glory of the more-than-human world. Perhaps I shall simply say this moment to you, hm? Tuesday evening after a cool, grey afternoon. Hints of peach among the grey and golden clouds; glimpses of pale blue sky. The longer I take to write this, the more the golden reflection of sunset illuminates the clouds behind the house, toward the sea.

Branches of the surrounding trees – firs, madrones, and cedars – are waving softly. The tips of the Douglas Firs are brilliant green with fresh growth. The evening is lush with the songs of Swainson's Thrushes up from their warm winter grounds in Central and South America. Their call is often described as sounding like a water drip, which speaks to the trill but not quite to the resonance of it. Each note has a little complexity to it, like the rings a drip might make while splashing into a pond. A trilling warble inside each note. The calls echo through the forest, layering over one another and repeating. Again, again.

The thrushes have just returned in the last few days and I'm savoring the sound, and the knowledge that weeks of it lie ahead. I'll crawl into bed soon, before dark, because on this second summer I know that all the birds will be so loud in their dawn chorus near 4am that they'll wake me, and I'll lie abed, savoring, then drift back to sleep before I rise to roll around with my 7am class online. I've got space for one more person this summer if you feel called to some morning practice.

The horizon has gone to lavender and peach now. I think I'll let that be enough.


Breathing with the Forest
Among the most exquisite video experience I've had; I could feel it affecting my body and breath, as it is designed to do. Marshmallow Laser Feast's "Breathing with the Forest is an immersive video installation that illuminates the reciprocity of the ecosystem surrounding a capinuri tree (Maquira coriacea) in the Colombian Amazon. In recreating a real plot of Amazonian forest in its full majesty and astounding detail, the installation reveals the beauty and fragility of these tropical environments as it brings to light  the many delicate symbiotic relationships that exist between major kingdoms of life... In this moment of communion, Breathing with the Forest nurtures a sense of connection with the more-than-human world." Based on Lidar footage of an actual individual tree. Sound on! The video is shown by Emergence Magazine, which also looks fantastic; they have a print version and a podcast. Thanks to Aimee.

Living is a Story
Conner Bouchard-Roberts is the Poet Laureate of the small town we live near, Port Townsend. He's got a glorious wee bookshop in town at which James and I were delighted to find the beautiful editions he's published of several of Ursula K. Le Guin's short stories or novellas. Ursula is wildly creative and a lover of life and Earth; one of my favorite writer. Happily Connor's got them in his online shop, too, if you'd like to add them to your library.

Art as Eco-mutualism
Richard Bresnahan won my heart in so many ways; his story is incredible. In the 70's he was the first Westerner to become a master potter in the old Japanese Naktazoto tradition. He came home to the Midwest where he designs kilns – including the largest wood-fired kiln in the United States – and teaches pottery at St. John's, a Benedictine University in central Minnesota. He happened upon road construction near his campus that exposed a clay deposit from which he was able to source enough clay to supply the school's studio for an estimated 300 years. His sculpture "Kura: Prophetic Messenger" holds both scripture and 182 varieties of the Indigenous three sisters: corn, beans, and squash. “Starvation will come here at some point. We’re not going to Norway to some freezing hole in the mountain [the Svalbard Global Seed Vault] and getting the seeds out,” he says. “[This sculpture] contains the whole nutrition for 12 communities, tens of thousands of seeds. To save people’s lives.”

Laughter and Expansion
Thanks to @The4thWayYT for the giggle and the opportunity to reflect upon anxiety, trust, and subjectivity.

Positive News
Speaking of positivity: a few years ago after Trump left office, I realized that I'd developed an unhealthy level of engagement with news media, reading all. the. time. It wasn't making me more informed, safer, or happier; it was a nervous habit. I spent a year making experiments and settled into a pattern I enjoy: there are some days I read news media, some days I read social media. I try to set it all down on Sundays. I also added some sources of positive news to my media intake so that I wasn't only watching the terrifying aspects of the world. The Optimist Daily and Positive News have been a welcome addition to my sense of the world; they make it easier to keep paying attention to the important, difficult things afoot without feeling paralyzed by despair. They give me hope. I prefer to read my news, but I know lots of folks love a podcast, so I'm guessing the new podcast from the folks at Positive News will bring a little sparkle for some of you!

SFBA Bodywork Resource
When I lived in San Francisco I received bodywork for years from Jordan Lowy. What a treat it was to run into him on my recent visit there! He's become an acupuncturist and I was delighted to learn that he's still offering bodywork. He works out of Senspa in the Presidio, known for their excellent bodywork offerings. Jordan's careful, intuitive work based in his knowledge of both anatomy and Traditional Chinese Medicine supported me in lots of healing. I warmly recommend him.

Reading Circle
On June 11 we we will be reading Witness to the Rain (p293 Kindle, p284 in the 2020 hardcover edition). My favorite passage from our last session is about the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest:

"Rather than to greed, prosperity here gave rise to the great potlatch tradition in which material goods were ritually given away, a direct reflection of the generosity of the land to the people. Wealth meant having enough to give away, social status elevated by generosity. The cedars taught how to share wealth, and the people learned."

This resonates for me with my gratitude for the generosity of the people in my summer Lovingkindness course (2 spots left if you're still thinking about it!) who made donations beyond the cost of their own participation for the purpose of supporting others. Last night I was able to reach out to three people who had planned to pay for part of the course later in the summer to let them know that they'd been scholarshipped. In our community, this does not come with elevation of social status because we do it anonymously. I pass thanks from receivers to givers when I am asked to do so, but I'm the only person who knows where the funds came from and who they were directed to. Suddenly today I was stunned anew by the trust involved in this. Thanks to you all for being here in this loving way and for making this community the refuge that it is.