Community Green: My means to escape

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

I remember that first moment of forgetting…forgetting all those around me—mother, father, brother, everyone. I remember forgetting all I had to do—chores, eating, everything but the day that held me.

Pulled by the sunlight into the early spring garden, I smelled the sweetness of green, and the loamy smell of earth. The vegetable garden had not yet been planted. Grassy weeds climbed high, a slow upward heaving wave of chlorophyll, strong, yet softened by the bending of their thin shafts.

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At six years old I gravitated to this familiar place, which encouraged my hiding in the spring. Pulling the top of a 40-inch weed stalk, it pulled out like an arm leaving a tight sleeve—popping at a green segment in its stem. Tender and succulent, I placed it between my lips, letting my teeth crunch down on its juicy, tasty sweetness.

Continuing to bite, crunch, and suck these weeds, the process seemed natural and satisfying. After having my fill of weed juice, I wandered into the center of this half-acre patch of hiding. Feeling the sun on my face and body, I lifted my arms up, and, surrendering to the day, let myself fall back, the weeds cushioning my fall, like arms cradling me down into my nest of the moment.

Still lying there, sun warming my body with insect sounds weaving their chorus around me, I experienced no separation between myself and the surroundings that held me. The sun, the weeds, the sky, the earth and me—we were all related and part of one another. I felt a heightened sense of belonging I have seldom known.

As I looked up from my grassy nest, I noticed a ladybug, crawling, sandwiched between the green of the stem and the blue of the sky. After its voyage up 2/3 of the stem, the weed started to bend. Making an arch over my forehead, the lady bug several inches from my gaze, I lay still, a silent witness to this gymnastic occurrence right before me.

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I relaxed into my forgetting—forgetting all my human relationships, the comparisons to my brother, the expectations that lingered in my daily world. Here, in this place and time, none of that existed. Feeling like a light-filled expression of the morning, I was the earth; I was the sun; I was the grass. I could even feel myself as the ladybug, crawling on the stem, flying towards the earth, choosing gravity as my playmate. I was without care, and at peace in my youthful self.

Later I learned to ask a lot of questions. Wondering about many aspects of life, the thoughts often became too loud, too persistent, too alarming, and too many for me to hold. Often my forgetting and my remembering seem to dance (or duel) with one another.

In order to lower the intensity, I often put some of the more disturbing thoughts on an “imagined” shelf, temporarily, returning to my time and place amongst the weeds, pulling it from that distant past into the present. A gift from my childhood, it’s always in my pocket, ready to give me that sense of peace and oneness—my own version of the Divine that exists—a place and a moment when everything is perfect.