Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Weekend Away

I turned 55 this weekend. I could have sunk further into the aging blues I was heading into; but Gray and the Universe had other plans for me.

I had envisioned a weekend lying around with the Heating Pad, which has formed a close attachment with my posterior. This would have led to a fair amount of negative behavior...and that's putting it mildly.

But, as a surprise, Graham had made reservations in Victoria, way back in January. When my hip gave out again, he had to decide whether or not to cancel. But then he saw me rally after the second visit for massage therapy; and thought he'd spring the surprise on Wednesday night, for departure on Friday. A change of scene was just what I needed, I thought, but how would I do it? I could not walk far...

And then, I formed the intent that I would do whatever was required in order to go on this trip. I asked my guides for guidance and strength. I asked Abundantia's help in seeing the joy and feeling the positive emotions and focussing on them, rather than the negative. I used the tools I had been taught.

It takes a couple of hours to get to Victoria. We stopped along the way at a White Spot...I had a hankering for a mushroom Burger. We arrived at the Laurel Point Inn at around 8:30. It was indeed a challenge for me to wait, check in, and begin the long trek to our room, only to find when we arrived there that it was the wrong room.

But Abundantia had this in mind all along! When Gray went back to the desk, explained he had requested a king-sized bed when he made the reservations, he discovered there were no rooms like this left. So the hotel upgraded our room to a suite, at no extra cost! Even though it required another hobbling trek through long hallways and elevators to get to this room, it was well worth it. We had a wonderful view of the Inner Harbour; we could see what the passengers were eating on the ferries. The first ferry was a little surprising; I learned to keep the sheer drapes closed.

And the staff brought me a birthday card and chocolates.

We felt much more ourselves the next morning. It was heaven to sleep in and have absolutely nothing to do until our reservations that evening at the Old English Inn for dinner at The Rosemeade Dining Room. Gray had listened to the new chef being interviewed on the radio about six months ago, and liked what he had to say about using only fresh, local ingredients.

But our culinary adventure was not until 7:30; we had a whole day to explore. Because I could not walk, we decided to take a driving tour of Victoria, a place that Gray is not that familiar with. We drove along Dallas Street, on to Beach Drive and into The Uplands, taking a tour around The Oak Bay Marina. The weather was stormy and cold...seeing the sights from a vehicle was not a bad choice.

We stopped at Peppers Organic Foods. I was happy to see my friend Jean's Bread on display from her bakery La Boulange in Qualicum Beach...it was a little reminder of the amazing artisans that produce such wonderful, fresh foods right in my own town. Peppers arranges their vegetables as if it was a painting; I will explore their stores in more detail when I am mobile again.

A little weary now, we found Planet Organics. I remember this store as a bulk herbal/organic store years back, and was surprised to find the new store. But I got over that quickly as I explored the array of goods that were displayed...I bought more Celadrin and CleanseSmart., a thirty day cleansing program And I found big bags of dried Chervil, one of my favourite herbs that is difficult to find in large quantities.

We had had enough sight seeing at this point and travelled back to our hotel, and the heating pad. For the remainder of the day, I rested on the bed, watching the harbour traffic, and marvelling at the pellets of ice that hit the floor length window...a visit outside on the balcony required a woolen blanket wrapped over heavy outerwear.

We were cozy and warm, though, in our zen-like hotel room. There were no pictures or anything that distracted from the clean Japanese-style decor. It was truly peaceful and rejuvenating.

And we still had dinner to look forward to...

Continued next post.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tools for Chronic Pain

Anybody who knows me well realizes I am the biggest whiner if I get hurt...be it a sliver, a mosquito bite or a hip that is out of alignment. I don't even differentiate on the severity of the injury...the complaints just go on and on and on, as Gray will attest. I pretend I don't notice the times he ignores my rants about pain, when his eyes roll to the heavens; I usually just continue to whine even harder.

It's when I become silent, when words escape me, that I know I am really hurting. It's when I don't want to talk, when I crave solitude, when I can't think beyond the next few minutes, when I can't eat, when the days roll into one long wave of burning pain that I go inside... to the Inner World, where I find I can no longer struggle and fight to win this battle; I must accept where I find myself, and have patience. Also where I learn there is no more tolerance within me for whining...I must become pro-active.

My hip injury occurred a year ago; physiotherapy, visits with specialists, tests, x-rays, CT scans and numerous visits to my doctor did little to alleviate the sudden burning pain that enveloped my hip, my leg and my foot. The tests revealed nothing other than the normal aging procedures bones and vertabrae and discs and such go though at my age. ( At my age! I was still rebelling against the fact that I was getting older.)

Graham gave me many, many Reiki treatments, along with the self-healing I was practicing. The pain grew less, yet I couldn't walk. Each time I tried for any distance in walking ( that is, more than a block) I felt the warning signs from my body. But it seemed to be getting better, as long as I did little walking.

But then pain in my upper back entered the picture. I felt so crippled, so bent out of shape ( in more ways than one!). I became physically exhausted from struggling and battling pain. The energy it took just to present a normal appearance became depleted; when it did, Reiki would set me up again for awhile. And Reiki kept my spirits up...throughout the ordeal, there was no depression.

And then, ping! one morning a week ago, as I attempted to dress, I was back to square one...the pain was back. With a vengeance. This time, I am leaving the well-travelled path of conventional medicine. Natural lotions and preparations and vitamins will supplement the pain medication I take, with the hope of reduction in dosage. I am visiting a massage therapist. On her advice, when I return home from a treatment I take a hot bath, with many cups of epsom salts. And I make myself sit in it for at least a half hour, something I could never do before I had the absolute intent to heal.

I no longer push the limits. The Heating Pad is my best friend. I have found some cream called Celadrin from Holista that just amazes me with its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. I also take it in capsule form. I use Reiki as I undergo what is the most agonizing thing I have done willingly to date...massage as therapy. Recreational massage is lovely, soft and usually gentle, inducing meditative states. Therapy massage...words fail me. The good thing about it is that the pain from the hip is worse than the pain from the therapy; and therapy massage soothes hip pain even further.

It's true...this aggressive massage is working. There is a saying...that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. And the one I use a lot...this, too, shall pass.

Taking an active role in this passage of pain gives me hope. Hope raises my spirits and I feel a measure of control, instead of floundering. I've let go of the fantasy that someone else is going to come along and make it all better for me. I'm learning to endure, to accept the enforced limitations on my body, to listen to my intuition, and to be patient, humbly waiting, for healing.

Shamanism, my guides, Reiki and massage therapy...a lot of powerful faith and tools. One little hip problem can't hold out against all those.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Crystal Wand

A couple of birthdays ago, Gray gave me a crystal wand. As soon as I opened the package and held it, I felt the vibrations it was sending clear down to my toes. This wand and I were meant to be together.

I use it when I give Reiki. The wand lets me know where the blockages are...where I should concentrate the healing by the vibrations and colour changes that happen within it. The round crystal ball at the end of it can be used for scrying; it also works very well for massaging a sore muscle. And the ball sends out energy equally in all directions from where it is applied.

The wand gets really hot at times. The bands of silver around it collect the heat from my hands, and hold it within. Moonstone, garnet and jade are set into the silver, imbuing the wand with their own characteristics. Inside the crystal, stringy fault lines and a large occlusion at the tip are useful to focus on during meditations...they also hold records of past lives. Depending on my mood when I meditate with it, the occlusion changes from a dragon to a serene, peaceful scene of water and mountains.

The Wand has rainbows in it, signifying joy and happiness. These rainbows are caused by thin fractures within the wand, and are useful in treating depression. One end of the wand is a point, which focusses energy into a beam. Pointing the wand away from the body draws away negative energy, and pointing it to the body channels positive energy to the body.There are many good websites on the metaphysical properties of crystals; one such site I found interesting is Jennifer's Rock Page. I am also fortunate to own The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. She features over 200 crystals on the illustrated pages, with chapters on formation, uses in healing, including meditation, and shapes and their meanings.

When I received the wand, I slept with it under my pillow for a few months. I carried it with me during the day. I was programming it with my intent to heal physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, in either myself or others. I used the wand daily; it glowed; it had a purpose. At night, I would wake up with my hand around it... and would feel the vibrations from it all the way up my arm. Wand showed me, as nothing else had to that point, that what could be considered inanimate was anything but.

Other crystals came into my life, and I learned each one's purpose and used it appropriately and intuitively. As a result, for awhile, my Wand didn't receive daily attention. It grew dull, the silver a bit tarnished. I lost track of all the sundry ways I used it, during my daily rounds. I no longer slept with it, forgetting quickly how easily I was able to interpret my dreams when I did so.

A couple of months ago, an urge inside made me pick it up and hold it, remembering what it had taught me. I polished and cleansed and re-programmed it. Wand, once again, is with me during my daily hours. The rainbows are becoming more apparent; the vibrations are stronger. I learned a lesson...if you don't use it, you lose it.

This applies to all areas of Shamanic practice...a reminder from Wand to use the tools and gifts we have been given on a daily basis. There is so much to learn, so many new things to try. I have to remember where the urge to do this work came from in the first place...

Simple, isn't it?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Interpreting Dreams

A few nights ago, I had a dream about my Dad. His appearances in my dreams continue, much as I wrote about in Thoughts on my Dad and in Recognizing Messages from Beyond Part 1 and Recognizing Messages from Beyond Part 2

He has grown younger. According to Robert Moss in his article Dreaming with the Departed this is a common trait amongst the dead. Moss says that people who die in their senior years often reappear in dreams as if they were around 30 years old, and that is indeed the case with my father.

In my dream, Dad told me that if the family all moved to the lake, there would be harmony among the family members. He was standing beside a lake, on the shore, urging me towards him and to listen to what he was saying. As I felt myself moving forward, towards the water, I awoke. But the dream stayed with me. What did it mean to me?

Dreams are full of symbolism. My memory is not that great, where I can remember what means what in a dream. And years ago, when I recognized the gift of interpreting dreams in myself and for others, there was little information on dreaming, and next to nothing on dreaming with the person who has passed on. So, I relied on my intuition and my ability to walk with the dreamer for guidance.

But that has changed with the Internet so easily accessible, even for something so esoteric such as dreaming along with the dead. Dream Emporium, Dream Moods and Dream Central all have explanations for dream symbols, lucid dreaming examples, and descriptions of what dreams are. It is much easier to interpret a dream these days than when I started this, so many years ago.

But other than to perhaps corroborate what my gut tells me, I still rely on my intuition, having grown used to utilizing it in this way, at least, over the years. The first thing I think about are my feelings during the dream. In the dream about Dad and the lake, I felt alert, wary, and unsure. I identified it as the same feelings I had when Dad told me to do something in my youth that I didn't particularly want to do.

Then I focus on the surroundings...in this case, a lake. The water was still, peaceful and clear, a deep blue, reflecting the sunny day. There were no ominous signs about. But there was a clear sense of urgency coming from my father, who at one point in the dream, stepped into the water to show me there was nothing to fear.

The White Goddess tells me water is a cleansing, healing, psychic and loving element. It is feminine and the element of emotion and the subconscious self, purification, intuition, compassion and family.

There is a lot of cleansing and healing going on in this dream. My Dad stepping into the water and my reticence to do the same shows me that Dad wants to heal the mess he left behind; wants me to do the same. But the hesitance on my part illustrates I don't know how the rift in the family can be healed. I know it can... I believe all things can be healed, if the intent is there. I just don't know how.

There was little communication about feelings in my family when I was growing up, not so unusual for the times. Families quite often just muddled through, putting problems away almost as soon as they appeared. And Dad rarely discussed his inner feelings; not with me at any rate. It wouldn't have occurred to me to reveal how I felt about anything to him, either. There is a whole lake of hidden emotions between us...no wonder I felt wary about stepping into the water.

This dream is a beginning on the path to understanding between the two of us. I have no doubt there will be more dreams and more interpretations that will have to be done between my Dad and I. It would have been easier to do this when he was alive; but neither of us was ready to listen to the other then. It would be nice to have a warm, loving conversation with my Dad.

"The dimension that separates the living from the dead is exactly as wide as the edge of a maple leaf." Handsome Lake, Seneca Indian prophet.

Not very wide at all...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day has become a favourite, since I met Gray. He actually loves to show how much he cares...a rarity with the males in my life in previous years.

At first, receiving gifts was difficult for me, especially a Valentine's Day gift. Who could love me? I actually had thoughts like that. It was much easier to give.

But Graham persisted...and he never wavered, even when he had plenty of reason to wonder what he was doing with this lady who had her beliefs all backwards. His intent in showing me his love was strong...far stronger than my fear of being vulnerable, of allowing myself to be open to receiving it.

We weren't prepared for each other when we met. We both had different ideas of how to move forward, which path to take. We were both wounded by past experiences, both frightened of another relationship. Had it been left to us, we may have passed each other by. But the Powers...the Powers shook their heads, wearily, and stepped in with so many synchronistic events, it became humourous.

And we finally agreed our love was too large to fight...and why were we? But that didn't mean we immediately shed our past fears. That took work, constant communication as Gray dispelled many of the beliefs I had learned about love. He taught me it's much different with someone who loves you back.

Valentine's Day is right up Graham's alley. He presented me with my favourite perfume...a lavender based scent from Guerlain. And a wonderful card that said he wasn't prepared for someone as incredible as me! Can you imagine? It's hard to keep beating myself up, when I have Graham in my corner, forcing me to see a different reality.

Tonight, I am making Duck breast in Citrus sauce, with Warmed Goat Cheese Spinach Salad, and brown rice for dinner with Raspberries for dessert. I am a passionate cook; tonight I will transfer some of that passion into the dinner...infuse love into every bite.

St. Valentine's Day...once just another day, one noted with the obligatory chocolate heart or flowers...becomes much more, when you're celebrating the sureness of a love, instead of fear of the outcome.

I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day, one where you all celebrate the security and total confidence in a love or a passion in your lives!

A Gift

There are many of us baby boomers who have an aged parent in their lives. For me, along with understanding my Mom's beliefs, where they came from, and how to explain this to her, gave us a new relationship. One where tolerance takes the upper hand.

Lifelessions is a blog I found recently written by an older, incapacitated lady. She shows and tells us the other side...not from the caregiver's point of view, but from hers.

I really liked it. I hope you will, too.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Visit From Crow

On Thursday, a flock of crows descended on our house. I have no way of knowing how many there were, but it looked as if there were at least a hundred. They were lined up on the fence, they were grouped together on the roof, and Grandfather Tree was filled with them.

Lucky, my dog, is friends with a crow that visits on a regular basis in the summertime. His bark was joyous as he welcomed the group. Whether or not his particular crow was part of this flock is something only Lucky knows; they all looked alike to me.

It was a little eerie. The crows were silent. There was no cawing or raucous sounds of any sort. After I called the dogs in, I watched to see if they would land on the ground, but none did. They just sat on the fence, and it seemed as if they were watching the house.

Do you think, as I watched the crows, taking a photograph came to mind? Not a chance! After awhile, as I tried to listen to what the message was the crows were bringing to me, I went to the computer. The web pages Animal Totems and Life Paths both gave me quick, succinct information about Crow.

And I found another site where you can "generate" your animal totem. Crow City has an amazing amount of stories and information about Crow.

There have been many portents of change happening here recently. The order of our lives is about to undergo an upheaval. Crow has intuitive knowledge of the Universal Law, is known for shapeshifting, gives spiritual strength and is a very powerful messenger from Spirit.

One item I found was so interesting I copied it here...

"One curious feature of the behaviour of crows is their seeming capacity to hold 'courts' at which, by numerous accounts, they pass judgement and carry out summary execution of such of their numbers as, for some mysterious reason, they consider deserving of it. As Edward Stanley, the Victorian naturalist put it: In the Northern part of Scotland, and in the Faroe Islands, extraordinary meetings of crows are known to occur. They collect in great numbers, as if they had all been summoned, for the occasion; a few of the flock sit with dropping heads, and the others seem as grave as judges, while others again are exceedingly active and noisy; in the course of about an hour they disperse and it is not uncommon, after they have flown away, to find one or two left dead on the spot. Another writer (in Dr Edmonston's "Shetland Isles"), says that these meetings will sometimes continue for a day or two, before the object, whatever it may be, is complete. Crows continue to arrive from all quarters during the session. As soon as they have all arrived, a very general noise ensues, and shortly after, the whole fall upon one or two individuals, and put them to death; when this execution has been performed, they quietly disperse." Real Magic

The crows sat, quietly, exactly as if they were in council. After awhile, I meditated with them, and asked for an explanation. None was forthcoming. They were here for such a long while! What were they telling me? And how was I going to carry out their message to me if I couldn't figure it out?

I became frustrated... until I remembered to live in the moment and enjoy the opportunity to watch Crow's behavior up close. Some sat as still as sentinels; others hopped and flapped their wings. They were beautiful...glossy and black. Their curious button eyes watched me watching them out of the kitchen window. They could have looked ominous; instead, I felt great wisdom coming from the group lined up on the fence.

A miracle was happening right outside my home; and I almost missed it. Just because I was too intent on the why of it, or the how of it. The message didn't matter...it was given and would show up either in dreams, or in meditative moments, or visualizations. What was incredible, at just this moment, was how I felt as if I was part of the group.

Then, as one, they flew up into the sky, still silent, and as a group wheeled off to the east. And I thankfully found no dead crows, or anything for that matter, that would show they had been here in such numbers. Not a feather, or even any excrement. And no pictures, either.

They left peace behind. The world and the cacophony of daily life retreated for a bit, and the crows gave me a huge spiritual lift, made me live in the moment, reminded me there was more in this life than what we see on the surface.

What was the message? Maybe it was only to look deeper, to see the miracles as they happen. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Yesterday was the first day where it was warm enough to work outside in just a sweater. It was probably warm enough for other people to wear T-shirts, but I wear sweaters even in the Summer. There is something about the weight of a sweater...it gives comfort, and protects against over-eager branches and thorns.

And even though it was warm, there was a bite to Wind who circled softly (for once!) around the house. Shady places still reminded me it was Winter.

But most of the tulips and daffodils I planted in the Fall are up, some close to blooming, especially on the South side of the house. We have had so much rain and wind in the last month. The yard is boggy, in places, and one of those places is where I planted a lot of crocus. I'll have to remember to move them in the Fall.

The plum tree is full of buds, almost ready to burst. Last night, though, we had a heavy frost. Many of the more tender plants were seduced into believing it was Spring, because for the last while we have had warm, rainy weather. Then they send up tender shoots; there were many of those yesterday that I saw as I wandered around the yard, checking for signs of growth.

The four varieties of Pussy Willow are all doing well, covered in those soft, rabbity grey buds. I will never forget the awe on my granddaughter's baby face, the first year I stroked her cheek with one of the buds. ( She has had a passion for soft, velvety materials ever since.) And nowadays, there are many trees that have very large, very colourful flowers. I have a weeping Pussy Willow that has these huge buds; they also turn bright yellow later in Spring, giving double value. These trees also don't mind having their feet wet, so I had no concern with them.

I cleaned under Grandfather Tree, listening to him give advice on where he wanted mulch to be placed. The chimes tinkled each time I did what I was told, making me smile. Awareness...the cornerstone of Shamanism, Shaman Maggie says. It absolutely delights me when I intuit the messages sent to me by these beings.

Chervil and the Red Lettuce patch planted in the late fall are waiting...they haven't yet put on any new growth. Parsley has seeded itself all over...the pretty, curly, vibrant green leaves make a wonderful ground cover for the early Spring flowers. And Parsley Pesto isn't far off, either, by the looks of things!

Snowdrops have almost finished blooming...but my guides tell me there will be snow, still...and it's not far off. Probably just after this high pressure system fades, and another storm blows in. I covered some of the most tender plants with leaf mulch, just in case.

Working in the garden after a long winter grounds and centres me like nothing else. I am totally in the present moment, totally focussed on what I'm doing. My attention is devoted to one thing at a time. Thoughts blow in and out of my consciousness...I can solve any problem by this type of meditation, where I don't analyze and poke things to death. By just letting the problems float in and out again... somehow, from somewhere, the answers come.

There is nothing so relaxing as an early Spring workout in the garden. It set me up to face the rest of Mother Nature's Winter.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Healing Ways

When Graham practices Reiki on a client, the house itself feels as if it receives the energy. The dogs sleep, more relaxed than they have been all day. There was a frenzy of cleaning this morning...it being Monday. After a weekend of rain and wind, with big dogs' feet slopping about, and enough dog hair to stuff a mattress lying on every surface, I had to clean.

And the dogs have to see what I'm doing every minute. Usually, I'm in my office, and they lay around my feet. But today, I was busy, dust and dog hair flying (got some in my eye...the lid is swollen and sore, even after washing it out, and placing a cool chamomile tea bag on it) so there was no lying around today. They were filled with anticipation, recognizing the preparations.

Now Lucky and Nate are soaking in the great energy that permeates every nook and cranny of this home, especially when Graham gives a Reiki treatment. Candles lit, the fireplace winking its warmth across the room, and Deva Premal's "Love is Space" or one of the Reiki (Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen is my favourite) CD's playing softly, the living room turns into a space that enfolds and comforts. Flowers in the window alcove bring the outside in, scenting the air with the luscious lily (only one! allergies!) roses, and stocks...all in varying shades of yellow.

When I realized it was Monday and delivery day for flowers is Tuesday for the florist I use, I knew I would have to be creative. Qualicum Beach Florist advertises exceptional customer service, and they really deliver on their promise. There were not many choices left, after a busy weekend, but the florist and I put together a wonderful bouquet, adding three bright yellow sunflowers for added punch.

I heard Abundantia's coins (Abundantia) and felt her presence. My gaze was directed upward, and there,hanging on the wall, was a pussy willow wreath. It was the first one I'd ever seen. I have worked with willow branches, but the patience and love required to intertwine them with the pussys on them boggles my mind. It was absolutely loaded, still, with those warm, soft silver-grey buds.

Pussy willows and I go back a long, long way. I asked the price, knowing this item was definitely not on my list or budget. But it was extremely reasonable, and with hindsight, why was I surprised? Abundantia was with me, after all. I felt her joy, as I paid, dispelling the 'oh, why did I buy this!' feeling I usually get when I buy something not intended.

And the wreath is perfect on the front door, welcoming Spring's advance. According to Tree Totem, all parts of the willow tree guard aginst evil. Willows are very empathic and caring, intuitive, and inhabit the world of water, or feelings. Willow is a very old, dear friend, one who, once again, seems to be sending her message to me to follow my intuition, rather than cold, clear logic. (To be logical is rarely something I ever experience, let alone cold and clear!) She is the one telling me to trust my inner voice; she tells me I become moody and a procrastinator when I don't.

And, Willow's leaves and bark yield salic acid, a principal component of aspirin. A remedy I may have to take to soothe the pain in my eye. One of my beliefs is that there is always a source of healing close by...if I am aware and listen to intuition. And have faith in my guides' direction.

Graham is a Karuna Reiki Master who practices and teaches. I am a Level 2 practitioner who sometimes practices on people. Mostly I use my Reiki knowledge on the pets we have, and in day-to-day situations. It is an incredible tool, one that anyone can learn and use.

There are different ways of healing and using the tools and gifts we are all given. I am learning to use Shamanic tools. To that end, I use my creative gifts, in building a sanctuary from an ordinary living room. I use balance and healing colours, natural materials and a sense of flow. I listen to intuition as I place each piece, working closely with my guides. If I know the client at all, I will place a colour or a crystal in the room that resonates within the person.

The living room then becomes a power place...one where people feel the peace and serenity that is given by the Reiki treatment, and by the care with which they are treated. It is one of my gifts; it complements Graham's healing gift.

Monday...just another day on the Shamanic path...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Space Left Behind

The tree on the corner of our property died last summer, after languishing about for a couple of years. When we first moved here, I thought I could save it, but the damage done to the roots during a previous excavation proved too extensive. And last spring, the tree showed brown needles, and then, so suddenly, it turned completely reddish brown. It never lost its needles; giving me a forlorn hope that it would suddenly turn green again, but it was not to be.

It seems the older trees surrounding our property are becoming fewer and fewer. Two years ago, the fully treed lot next door was sold. It had large conifers growing at the front of the lot; and the rest of it had willows, red twig dogwood, an old apple tree, holly and various fir trees scattered here and there. It had a whole system of wildlife; birds nested in the trees, squirrels chattered away, and there were the night raiders...owls and raccoons. Known far and wide for the huge blackberries that grew there, it was a pickers' haven.

But the new owner cleared the entire lot, leaving bare scarred earth. I sat and watched from my perch on the back porch. They came... the excavators and the big trucks. The manmade machines seemed incongruous in the wild of the wooded lot. Bold orange and loud, they proclaimed dominance. Birds fled. The neighbourhood itself seemed cowed by these monsters.

Clanging, ripping and tearing, the excavator's claw grabbed bunches of brush with a grin firmly planted in its maw. It looked exactly as I imagine a one-armed lobster, his claw waving and snapping about, as he searches for victims.

Firs, willows, dogwoods and the old sentinel...the apple tree...were all fodder for the excavator and the power saws. At one point, it seemed the Lobster was picking his way almost tenderly, leaving trees edging the property. I was filled with hope. At the end of this workday, the chirping of the birds seemed more distant; they deserted us for a week or two.

I picked up some fallen apples laying on the ground...the apple tree was no longer standing. I touched the roots of its stump that lay on a pile of brush, and sent Reiki to the departed souls of the trees. It felt as if the pile of rubble, the trees that were left, and the bare earth were holding their breath, waiting for the next onslaught. I felt their sadness, heard the hushed, murmuring whispers.

But the next morning, shrieking saws felled the trees. It was early in the morning, and the resulting crack of falling trees woke up the neighbourhood. Pain ripped into my soul. And I watched as the Lobster began his work once more. I watched as the trees took on arms that clutched at one another...I heard the moans.

I saw the giant claw impatiently shrugging a tree out of its way, not caring about the soul rending shriek given off by the tree. Then he tore away the blackberry bushes hanging over our fence. The willow that gave us backyard privacy went quickly. How strange and sad I never recognized what a good job it was doing, until it was gone.

Brown earth, twigs and branches and logs dot the former woodlot next door. Backyards and sideyards for four or five houses are laid open to view. Last summer, grasses took over the lot...grasses as tall as our six foot fence. The blackberries that hung over our fence came back, although not as lushly and I'm thankful for that. But, with the exception of the grasses, the land lies waiting, neglected and sad.

This was the first time I was able to visualize the trees, as they were cut down, as beings. It made a huge impression on me. I have never liked to watch trees being cut, especially healthy trees, and here is the reason why. Even if I had never been able to 'see' the pain before, I definitely felt it.

So I was concerned when Andy, the tree specialist, from Hi-Rigger Tree Services, came to take down our dead tree. I watched to see if there was anything left of the tree's soul. But it had fled. All I felt was a sense of relief coming from the area. The tree's last earthly incarnation was gone, and there was a new beginning in store.

A new tree will use the old stump as a nurse log, one that will break down over time and feed the youngster's roots. And the circle continues...