The Map is Not the Territory

We rely on maps to navigate earthly and celestial terrain, and I feel grounded, in control somehow, when I am pulled into a fabulous map. Oh here I am! There I will go!  And then there are maps for our internal landscapes and methods we call on to steer through spiritual terrain. Mine help preserve sanity and joy—and trek through heartbreak and confusion. But they were falling short of guiding me through my own brand of American angst.

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Flower Stalker

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

I am a wildflower stalker, albeit a haphazard one.  My dedication falters when learning proper nomenclature.  My mother started me on this path when I was a child. We hiked in the same hills where I now live --the Colorado Rockies --  and before each hike she would load the nylon hunter orange drawstring  backpack with sunscreen, sandwiches ,water bottles, army surplus rain ponchos and always, always the battered,  thumbed wildflower guidebook. The sandwiches would be smashed and inedible by lunchtime but we weren't allowed to complain. How could we with those views, these mountains, that meadow of flowers?

False Dandelion

False Dandelion

 

My mother  taught me all the quaint names -- bread and butter, monkshood, elephant pagoda, false sunflower and Indian paintbrush. We had to stop on each hike and peer at flowers and ponder their identification. Of course she was also teaching us reverence, but I only cottoned on to this as an adult. Now it's karmic payback as my own kids suffer my abrupt roadside pullovers to snap a photo for later identification.  In their minds, I think the needle of my eccentric scale is now well beyond unusual and has leaned into embarrassing. 

Scarlet Gilia

Scarlet Gilia

But the bottom line is that my mother slowed me down and taught me how to look, really look and notice the ant on the stamen, or how the wind moved the leaves on a stem or how to be astonished by how many hues one blossom can capture.  She developed my artists's eye as we explored the natural world.  Someday I will get to thank her. 

 

Multiflowered Phlox

Multiflowered Phlox

Service Berry Bush

Service Berry Bush

Alpine Lupine

Alpine Lupine

High Alpine Meadow

High Alpine Meadow

Juan Felipe Herrera

"Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen." Amanda Palmer

Our son and Juan Felipe Herrera on stage at the Paepke Auditorium on the Aspen Institute campus. photo credit: Will Sardinsky

Our son and Juan Felipe Herrera on stage at the Paepke Auditorium on the Aspen Institute campus. photo credit: Will Sardinsky

Last week I took our children to hear our United States poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who opened the Winter Words lecture series for our local literary organization, Aspen Words. Herrera is an outstanding speaker and a truly compassionate and gentle man. His poetry aligns with his mission -- to sweep those on the fringe back into the margins, back into our sight. Our son asked him a question during the Q and A, and not only did Herrera answer with good humor and sparkle, he also asked Duncan to join him onstage. He then asked our delighted son to repeat what Herrera’s 3rd grade teacher said to him:  “Juan, you have a beautiful voice.“ That simple sentence transformed Herrera’s life and launched him on his journey. Herrera did the same for our son, who is a dreamer and seeker in his own right, and was thrilled to be on stage with this amazing artist. When Herrera became our national poet laureate, he started the Casa de Colores: project as “ a house for all voices. In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination. And we will stand together in times of struggle and joy.” https://www.loc.gov/poetry/casadecolores/

Herrera well understands that artists have the power to pull us in, to make us pause to see beyond the tiny scope of our lives. He invites us all to be activists, in a gentle and unrelenting way.  He wrote Poem by Poem for the victims of the Charleston church massacre last year.  Here is an excerpt:

"you have a poem to offer

it is made of action—you must

search for it run

outside and give your life to it

when you find it walk it

back—blow upon it

carry it taller than the city where you live"

May the world nurture more artists like Juan Felipe Herrera.

You can read more about Herrera here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/juan-felipe-herrera or listen to the NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/2015/09/16/437287870/from-mexico-kidnappings-to-eric-garner-hererra-writes-poetry-of-the-moment. 

And he does have a wonderful voice.


Flower Child

Just living is not enough....one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Andersen

Papaver Orientalis -- The Mojo Garden

Papaver Orientalis -- The Mojo Garden

The gardening catalogues are clogging up our post box and I am daydreaming about my gardening future. I’m beginning to feel the earth move under my feet, even through a foot of snow. 

Lupine in the Mojo Garden

Lupine in the Mojo Garden

Conservation InternationaI's "I need nature" campaign is a household hit, and our kids love the celebrity takes on various "personalities" of our natural world.  The film shorts make a compelling reason for why we all should be conservationists.

Monarda in the Mojo Garden

Monarda in the Mojo Garden

My favorite features Lupita Nyongo and makes me long for my flowers, the Mojo Garden (our garden) and summer. You can find Lupita as flower below, but don’t miss PenelopeCruz as water either.