XCVII. The Iris in the Snow

December 30, 2012 — I have awakened mornings recently to glorious windy, rainy wintry weather and over coffee at my computer to wonderful stories from my LinkedIn women writer caregiver friends about their daily activities, about the weather, their gardens, about letting go of expectations, and about sage philosophical thoughts. I could not be given a better start to my days. Then I walk a few blocks downtown, and as I pass my neighbor’s house, the one with the wrap-around porch two doors down, I see an iris blooming deep purple in their front garden. It didn’t snow here the other day, just rained, although it snowed everywhere just north and west of us. I could imagine that deep purple iris standing tall and graceful, an individual undaunted by the cold, above the pure white mantle glinting in the sun. How magical that would have appeared.

Each of my women friends has a story to tell. Each has stood tall and strong throughout the impermanence of their seasons, filled with grace, undaunted by the cold:

There’s Catharine, sweet, bright, a trained opera coloratura, who lost her dad this year and will begin, this winter, studying for her master’s in child psychology;

Val, who was caregiver to both parents and then found and married her great love in midlife, who thinks I’m whacky because I converse with Anton Chekhov’s “Black Monk”, and she likes that;

Linda, whose teenage son was mortally shot three years ago, in New York where it’s winter and she’s escaping her devastated Howard Beach, Queens, home and going to the Catskills for the holidays, where the snow is two feet deep;

Gwynn, whose brother, and only sibling, a former Buddhist monk, died of a dreaded life-ending disease some years ago;

T.J., who lost her husband in a vehicle crash, and her mom and dad prematurely; whose evocative stories she tells so beautifully and sensitively in her novel A Time for Shadows and about others – everybody has a story to tell – in her Sketch People stories and Catsong about amazing cats;

Susan, with degrees in clinical psychology and her particular interest in Jungian psychology and dreams, inter alia, as she terms it, in South Africa, where it’s summer and she’s vacationing for the holidays at Plettenberg Bay, watching the full moon rise over the sea, going for a swim, and in the evening visiting a club to watch her sons perform in their band, The Kiffness. I recommend Susan’s book In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden to every woman and to the men who know them. Susan likes and suggests lying on the warm ground and letting the warmth of Mother Earth rise up and heal oneself;

And Beatrice, researcher, author, and retired social worker, in New Zealand, who yesterday took a trip with her family to Otago Bay to watch the seals, cormorants, the albatross soar and plunge in the protective colony established by one of her clients, and the penguins swimming ashore. Penguins. Beatrice wrote today on our discussion board of the New Year’s Eve – Hogmanay – tradition in Scotland where she is from, where you are supposed to stay up until midnight then visit around the neighborhood – “first foot”, first foot across the door, first visit after midnight; then you drink “a wee dram”.

These are women of my thought group; that is, women who think like me, the types of women with whom I have aligned myself over the years, who have supported my thinking, reinforced my awareness of my own inner power as a woman. And so they have this day.

I have other long-time friends both where I live now and in Southern California and around the U.S., whom I have known for many years. These women, all, are my encouraging, supportive friends and my spirit guides.

I could tell them that I am going to take up the business of cleaning sewers and they’d encourage me; or, at the least, look out for my welfare, cautioning me to be watchful not to fall in – and to write about it afterwards.

Interestingly, as usual, I find my writing in my journal and my blog posts to be cathartic and illuminating. That light bulb in my mind went on the other morning while I was still in bed, almost before I opened my eyes: My Christmas story I had just posted on my blog, I had recorded in my journal in 2004-5, right after the events when the historic Maggie S. Myers oyster schooner came home with her restored mast and sails. I wrote the story again in 2008, a much longer story, for publication in a book anthology. Much had changed within that story by 2008. I edited and wrote the story again, now, in 2012. Once more, much has changed within these four years. This recent morning, through that story, I saw my pattern, which has not changed. It’s about expectations and waiting around for something to happen, someone to act. I see that I must gather my own inner power, which I periodically let fall, decide upon my future and move on. Of course, the decision the bank returns about my mortgage, on which I’m still short, will provide a piece to my decision-making as a whole. And, then, I must choose among the solid income generating opportunities I have awaiting me, and there are many. These women this recent morning, December 21, as this morning have reinforced my newfound awareness and how I must think towards my future. The other day may not have been the end of the world as we heard the Mayan calendar predicted; nevertheless, traditionally December 21 is the day of the year my life changes. We’ll see.

My friend Linda said that she likes this “time zone arrangement” and so do I. I can post on our discussion board “Good night, Susan” in South Africa, and “Good morning, Beatrice” in New Zealand, where it’s tomorrow, and “Good morning, Gwynn” in Washington state, where it’s today, simultaneously and be accurate, while eating lunch at home in Delaware.

I have three spiritual teacher friends, men, with whom I am regularly in contact, two who live out West and have been a part of my life for most of three decades.

My friend R, who recently encountered Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, dozing with a book open on his chest in a warm, sunny corner of my blog cupola, between the windows, tells me I am most fortunate to be surrounded by such enlightened friends. Indeed. And I feel my spirit guides around me, too, the ones I cannot see. I don’t know what I’ve done to be so honored – maybe they see that this bumbler needs special help; all I can do is continue my spiritual readings and continue to cultivate my learning towards the positive. Sometimes, I forget and just as I am about to slip over the edge, catch myself, or a friend catches me and stops me in my tracks.

We of the human condition have experienced many changes this year, devastating changes for some. Emma left this year; that is a blessing. My aunt, my last living relative of that generation, living in a nursing home and still of reasonably sound mind, will be 99 New Year’s Eve.

To you who wish for a sudden and miraculous turn for the better as the New Year dawns, have you considered that the change, not only already prepared for, has also already begun?

As my friend Beatrice put it, she counts our women friends, and I add my men friends, among the most successful people I know, real success at being human.

I wish for you a 2013 filled with the magic of irises in the snow.

—Samantha Mozart