Examining my roots....

This summer has brought many personal eye openers to me. I published a book this spring about my life so far, and I've learned lots about myself....and others...through it.
You can find it anytime Online here: https://www.createspace.com/4565558
What have I learned?
All sorts of things. Good and bad.
But all in all....good.
Some folks are even more awesome than I thought. Others, well....not so much.

Folks that I thought would've supported my efforts, didn't... at all. That really surprised and saddened me most.

And others, even some who were strangers to me, have been so appreciative and forthcoming with kind words of support and love. This was something that I hoped would happen, and it did. Interesting the good ripples that this book has made in my life and others!

It was a very busy summer, full of gigs, work, and outdoor weather. Not much time for rest and relaxation, but I did manage to contemplate when I could.

On the few days off I did manage to scrounge, I convinced Wayne to take a couple days off too and we went north to see my sister, Dorothy. Some of you have read my book already, so some of the places and pics that I will post here may sound familiar to you because of it.

I love my sister, Dorothy dearly. She is closest to me in age...and ...temperament. I have often felt like the proverbial Ugly Duckling in life when it comes to my family.... like I was a mistaken zygote or a stork misplaced bairn when I was dropped off in my family. While I love my brothers, Rick, Gus, Chris and my sister, Adele, greatly, it's my sister, Dorothy, who is my heart-link to almost being really understood and in sync with a family member. While we have drifted apart and back together, back and forth, over the years, as sisters do, she is the one to whom I gel with when given any amount of time to bond.

So up to my old stomping grounds we went, where I'm originally from. Brownville & Dexter, and my hang out of choice, the 1000 Islands, NY.. While Dorothy and her husband, Dave were working, on a most beautiful August weekday, Wayne and I went up to Cape Vincent to consider taking the familiar ferry to Wolf Island and then over to Kingston, Canada.
We got a bit of a late start on a rare day off....
so we missed the boat.
Literally. :)
But, no worries. Our impromptu plan, changed, as impromptu plans often do, and we contented ourselves with watching the cars depart the ferry, while we ate a lovely lunch on deck and enjoyed some summertime respite...and a couple of cocktails. Irish coffees for me really hit the spot. Besides, if we went to Canada, it wouldn't have given us enough time to do the rest of our evening plans. We punted. We are good at that.
 We also watched this man and lady come for lunch at this riverside cafe where we ate. She obviously had untreated Scoliosis and I was sad for her and her pain....but also glad, that even though it was awful to go through at the time, that I had orthotically braced my daughter, Jesse, when she was little so that she would not end up like this....
I wish this lady had had a brace when she was little too.
Onward to more spontaneity, I texted my dear friend, Sarah Smith, who was my best friend all through High School. She and I were in every Art class together then and have been friends for 42 years! WOW. She is such an amazing artist. We went and found her shop in Clayton, NY. It's called "1000 Islands Pottery" and she paints all the ceramics, and her paintings and jewelry can be found here. Just beautiful work, and an amazing lady!

 Sarah gave us the tour of the shop and her and John the potter's kilns...
both modern and more primitive kilns.
John was loading the modern one for a fire.
 And this one out back, is the old fashioned kind. John gets up and loads the kiln, and then bricks it up brick by brick and starts the fire at 3am. They stoke the fire all day. The chimney top actually glows red when in use.It takes 3 days for the kiln to cook it before they can even start thinking about unbricking the kiln to retrieve the fired clay work.
It is so amazing to see Sarah doing what she loves, what she's always loved to do. 
Art work. 

    
We adore each other to this day and are glad that we both have continued to follow our individual creative and artistic paths. We have both followed our Muses. <3


Onward to another blast from the past.
 We drove back to Brownville and I saw my old homestead. Now, grant you, I haven't been back to see my childhood home for 14 years...the last time I was there was around my mother's funeral in 2000.
I just hadn't had the heart. But I've since written my book, and it has really helped me to deal with so many things that I was totally ready to go see what I could see.

It was startling. Homes had changed. Or were gone altogether. Sampsons' house...gone. There is a house on our corner, and where the barn was, which were never there before. It felt weird. Kinda the same, but totally like a parallel universe.
Now before I get to my original family home, I must tell you two stories.

One is that in their lifetime (God rest them),  my mom and dad, Bernie & Earl Brown, kept their place IMMACULATE. My mom prided herself on her home. It was her pride and joy ....and bane of her existence all in the same breath. She had beautiful flower gardens...and my Pop had a tremendous garden, and working farm...and he faithfully mowed all the lawns and kept up all the old buildings the best he could.

Here is an old photo of my home...
My folks and their children....a long time ago...at our home....way back when....
on our front yard on Reasoner Road. Mom & Pop surrounded by their 6 children in front of the home that they carved out and made lovely over the many years that they lived there.

And we were  prolific with our love...and we had children....and Mom & Pop got grandchildren.
(all the grandchildren here, except for Maggie & Shawna had not been born yet...)

And, well, ye never really understand your place in the world...until...like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life", who wished himself never born...you really don't understand what good ripples a person did in their life, until you see the hole they left when they are gone....
and thusly, you see what it would the world would be like without you.

Here is the way my childhood home looks today....sold after the funeral 14 years ago...

All the maple trees are gone in the front yard.
The snowball bush...gone.
Mom's gardens....not a trace.
The wonderful cedar tree has been gone for years.
The house is now blue, and the roof in need of repair.
Our families spread to the winds.
This was my home.
I have not had the heart to go back until now. 14 years later. It was really bizarre to see something so much a part of your life, so transformed into some other reality.
Mom and Dad were not here.

Here is an old picture I found. I am nursing Shawna and talking to my Pop, while my little renegade Jesse is running around with no clothes on. (you know that stage where kid's can't keep them on, no matter what you do?) and I'm chatting while our doggie is close by.
My dad's old hen house is in the back. A horse pasture is on the right.
Pop's hot bed for starting seedlings is directly under the windows of the hen house. This was where I used to spend hours digging for worms....
There was also another barn to the right of in in days of old.
My mother's beautiful flower gardens to the left of Jesse's tricycle.
Our gnarly old cedar tree to the right in the foreground.
I love this pic. <3

Below is the hen house and how it looks so vastly different today...
so run down....it's glory days forgotten....
BUT the old familiar shingles are still there to force right into my brain that this...
this IS the place I loved.
There was no amazing garden to the left of it, that I could see, that was my dear old Pop's favorite place in the world. There was a large boat on a trailer in the back yard.
The Apple tree was gone...that magickal gnarly old Ent friend of mine with the wormy green apples.

I will take a short sideline trip now to preface this next bit, with another story...one about Heron feathers.
Heron feathers?
YES.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw some roadkill as I was driving, close by my home. It was a very large bird. Every time I drove past the unfortunate soul on the highway, a broken wing full of large feathers would flap up and "wave" to me. It was long dead. But it seemed to be "calling me" as I drove past. I felt bad for the bird and one day, after getting "waved at" one last time, I determined myself to stop and drag the poor thing off the degrading path of destruction and give it some peace. I pulled off the road, grabbed some paper napkins out of the car and approached said bird. Dodging traffic, I said to the bird, "I'm sorry. Please let me get you off this road....and may I have some of your feathers?" I pulled at the "waving wing" that had been calling me. I got a handful of amazing long feathers and I dragged what was left of the carcass off the highway and left it on the swamp grass next to the busy road. Was it a Heron? WHY was a heron hit? Why was it here? I didn't know.

I talked about the incident at our Open Mic party that night and was informed that even having Heron feathers was ILLEGAL. Really? I had never heard of that. "It's a $5000 fine" said my good friend Tim, who was researching it on Google even as we spoke. I showed several folks the feathers. We were pretty sure it was a Heron. Poor thing. The feathers smelled of blood and death. I asked my naturalist friend, Tom, if they were a Heron's feathers and he looked at them and said they were.
It was a Great Blue Heron to be specific. The long wing feathers that had been waving at me, were a dark blue on one side and a pale grey on the other. Magnificent.
But why was it on the road? They don't eat roadkill.
Tom said that sometimes heron fly along the highway straightaway. "Must've been flying low when a car hit it. And Tom backed up the theory of the illegal feathers.
Fuck.
I didn't want to keep them if that was so. I was just intrigued and enamored of its calling to me, with it's beauty and it's Power.

A Great Blue Heron is symbolic of being Self Reflection, Self Reliance, Determination. Assertiveness.

So on another day shortly after I pulled the carcass from the road, I buried those beautiful powerful feathers, in a meaningful location to me and Harry. We said a prayer, a blessing, and laid the remainder of the poor thing to rest. And also, freed myself of the feather problem too.

Now here's where it gets magickally weird.

While I was photographing my mom & dad's old homestead, I snapped a picture next of Pop's "little barn"
 which was right across the road from the house.
And just after I snapped this pic...
Something magickal happened.....
All of a sudden....A startled Great Blue HERON flew up from behind it...and took off flying.....
This is where my heart SWELLED.
I had NEVER in all my years living on this property....or being associated with this property...
had EVER seen a heron here.

It was giving me a "thank you" and it was the Life/Death/Life sequence and a nod from Spirit that all was well. I had done the right thing. I had buried my feathers and let it Spirit go back to be set free.

Much like returning home after so many years....in this flash of an instant....it was all so clear to me.

It is as it should be now. It is not the same. No. It is different. Yes.

My folks, and their life MATTERED. And so does mine.
So does YOURS.

You build and it may get destroyed along the way, but it matters. It exists in time and place and memory.

Harry and I went on to visit my tadpole catching crick of my youth...
and the Brown Mansion where I spent a lot of time growing up and playing...
Checked out some info of the property that my parents bought and it's historical significance
Revisited a memory or two of where me and 11 other crazy teenagers filled a VW beetle to capacity...
which is why they probably ended up putting up this sign there 
And FYI... I can honestly tell you I never skateboarded here. :)
Wayne and I went on to have a lovely evening out at Dorothy's with her and Dave at the ELKS club. This was the days of the ALS ice water bucket challenge. And seeing how friend Michael had recently died of ALS this summer, the ELKS, all his good friends.... toasted to Michael's memory.....
  and then onward to crazy hilarity with the following mischief ....
Dorothy and Dave on the left here....
poised with ice water....




 My sister is a riot. :)
Anyways....
all in all....

it's the "Life/Death/Life" cycle over and over.

Don't be afraid or neglect to look at your roots, your pain, your past....

No matter how long or short it takes you to come to your own conclusions.

It is rewarding.
Take as much time as you need to heal.

Your real friends and true heart family are waiting for you when you get here.

Heron says "These things take time. It's alright now. It's all about Self Determination. Self Discovery. Self Reliance. So, fly! Be free!"

Love,
Merlyn


2 comments:

Katherine Dye Sirens Fare said...

WOW! You have an amazing heart and life! So honored you shared this with me.

Nytestar 11:11 said...

Oh my...a Great Heron visitation. Perhaps you have a new totem?

Heron Medicine
You love to explore various activities and dimensions of Earth life. On the surface, this may seem like a form of dabbling, but more than likely you are wonderfully successful at being a traditional ‘Jack of all trades’.

This ability enables you to follow their own path. Most people will never quite understand the way you live because on the surface it seems to be unstructured without stability or security to it. It is, though, just a matter of perspective. There is security underneath it all, for it gives you the ability to do a variety of tasks. If one way does not work, then another will. This is something you seem to inherently know.

You do not seem to need a lot of people in your life, nor do you feel pressured to keep up with the material world, or to be traditional in your life roles. You stand out in your uniqueness, and you know how to snatch and take advantage of things and events that the average person would not even bother with.