Sisters of the Blessed Sacrement

Yesterday, I "hitched-hiked," with a college Sculpture class, to Historic Belmead, a sprawling 1,000+ acre former plantation and school with a beautiful and surprising history (info here and here.) Without expectations and with an open mind, we drove out to Powhatan country, southwest of Richmond, off Rt. 522. Over winding roads, around plenty of blind turns and amidst a cloud-dotted, sunshiny sky. Past plenty of picket fences, red barns on golden fields, and a few spotted cows. Upon arrival, I was dazzled by the serene sacredness of the land encompassing Belmead, and the earnest reverence the few sisters who dwelled there had for the land and its natural and historic preservation. We were greeted by one sister who exclaimed, "We are the knowing impulse of the blazing forth of the Universe. Humans are the Earth's consciousness of itself."

We toured the land and buildings together, traversing between sites in a old white pick-up, the nun at the wheel, and us "kids" piled 12 deep in the back bed. "Here is the barn, and here is the dam, and here is the old bridge, since collapsed, which was the only connection at one point between the boys and girls schools. " (I bet many a romance began and ended here.)

I took photos and ran off to explore. I pocketed beautiful, dried bits. We explored an abandoned three-story school (St. Emma's) and its chapel, still awe-inspiring and beautiful, despite its dilapidated appearance, moldy wallpaper and peeling paint. Though it was sunny, the warm front from the day before had given way to a refreshingly Winter cold-front, and the wind howled all day, and even though the wind-chill went straight to our bones, there was not a single word of complaint among the group when we were asked to volunteer our younger brawn to help the sisters forage rocks and slate for a backyard patio. And for over an hour, my group toiled in an old orchard ravine extraditing 4 foot pieces of slate from under soil and roots. Our tools were our hands, 2 steel rebar poles and loose chunks of slate (for scraping off sod).


Spring has Sprung...almost

OHHH...it's so close. I mean, it's practically here! It snowed this past weekend (our first of the Winter) and there are still some parking lot icebergs spotted across the city, but it's almost here nonetheless. The daffodils in traffic medians are blooming. The birds are joyfully singing. The sun is shining. Most days the temperature reaches above 60 degrees F. Yes, indeed, i think Spring is almost here!

Now is the time to take a moment, a day or two, or whatever feels right, and honor Winter with one last internal meditation and do some deep-soul-seeking. What have these quiet, cloaked few months taught us? What were your New Year dreams and aspirations? Are we planting nutritious seeds for our future: thinking positively, loving ourselves (and others) despite setbacks, moving consistently forward?


H o r o s c o p e

"Try not to be so harsh and judgmental of others today, Karen. It could be that you simply don't understand the perspective that other people hold and the codes that they live by. Differences among people are no reason to find fault with them. You have a powerful personality that is quite perceptive and creative. Use these gifts in a positive healthy manner, instead of using them to get down on others and their behavior."


Spring D r e a m i n g

I'm sitting in a south-facing sunroom overlooking the river. Drenched in the hot rays, I'm day dreaming of warmer days to come (or maybe its just lust leftover from my recent Florida getaway). Either way, I am happily anticipating warm air and cool, damp grass, sandal-wearing and flowers in bloom, long forest walks in chilly morning air and fires blazing in my outdoor fire pit.

Image source: personal photos of Montpelier and the James Madison Landmark Forest


Sage Advice

 "The consuming desire of most human beings is deliberately to plant their whole life in the hands of some other person," said British writer Quentin Crisp. If you harbor even a small tendency in that direction, Capricorn, I hope that in the coming days you will make a concentrated effort to talk yourself out of it. In my astrological opinion, this is a critical moment in the long-term evolution of your healthy self-sufficiency. For both your own sake and the sake of the people you love, you must find a way to shrink your urge to make them responsible for your well-being.
This weeks horoscope via Free Will Astrology.


Clearwater Sunset: Day 3

On our 3rd and final day in Florida (not counting the travel days), we took a trip to Clearwater Beach, the sheer opposite of the primitive and secluded Caladesi Island. It was just the tourist trap we were looking for! The beach was bumping, and Pier 60 was home to moon bouncing youth, fire jugglers and drunken teenagers. We bought handmade ice cream (delicious!) and sat down at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on the beach for fresh stone crab and shrimp. We, and the other patio guests, watched the volleyball games and awaited a gorgeous sunset. After a light stroll back to the car on the beach, our eyes fixated on the pale lavender sky and the bright golden orb just falling below the ocean, we drove back inland for a gourmet dinner at Cafe Ponte. We gorged ourselves on amazing food (tuna tartare with watermelon radish, butternut squash ravioli, mixed greens, cheese plate...) and knocked back a $500 bottle of 1982 vintage Grange Hermitage, scored from Ron's father's personal cellar. Bon Appetit!

Caladesi Picnic: Day 2

We arrived by boat on a primitive beach known as Caladesi, threw a blanket on the damp sand and sat to a pauper's picnic of cheese, bread, and fruit. The guardian gull, the sandpiper, and the soft moon-tide, our companions. Shells were layered two-inches thick. Three pelicans blessed our visit. We heard the wild in the undergrowth and nodded to the dolphins in departure.


Poking about with Pelicans: Day 1

Behind Rusty's bar, 
where the sound narrowed and kayakers rowed, 
we watched the Pelicans mosey about, flit and fight.
So large, and gorgeous, 
with such depth in their little black marble eyes.
A favorite stillness, sitting in the sun,
with our backs to the street
and our feet dangling.

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