Life Is A Surprise

by Maria Theresa Maggi on November 21, 2022

This little purple alyssum in a pot in my backyard wanted nothing to do with blooming this summer when all the other flowers were taking their turns. I would water it when I watered all the others, because we had a very dry summer here at the coast, and look at it mournfully when it refused to bloom. Finally it made a few haphazard pale flowers that were a shadow of what it once was. I gave up on seeing it the way I had loved it.

Then the end of October came and with it rain and storms. For a while the coast was drenched in wet weather. And the other day, when I was picking up Cotton’s business after our morning jog, I stopped dead in my tracks to see it all abloom, a week or so before Thanksgiving, when all the other flowers had long exhausted themselves, alight with these deep purple flowers. I can’t think of a time in my life with gardens that I’d ever seen such a thing. It really expressed a love song in flowers even at this late hour, to the long awaited rain. I love when life surprises me this way.

And that’s not all. This summer, when I was watching for the deer, another surprise was unfolding that I had to keep private at the time. Now I find, when I finally have the go ahead to do so, that it’s hard to find the words, or even the will to describe it in detail. So I will hope a picture substitutes for a thousand words:

"Ultrasound," chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Ultrasound,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

This is my biological grandson in utero at 20 weeks. As my daughter-in-law so aptly put it when she posted the original ultrasound on Instagram, after a long long silence: “It’s been a long journey getting to this point, Baby boy Theo will be arriving March 2023!”

Out of respect for their privacy, I will let that stand, but add it’s nothing short of a miracle. So please share my joy as I anticipate the arrival of our newest family member, who is indeed, as my cousin said, “a miracle baby.” I’ll also note I deeply felt the spirit of my foster grandbaby play a generous role in encouraging Theo’s spirit to come forward to incarnate. Things don’t work out the way we wish they would sometimes, but it’s also true that they work out in even more grand and glorious ways than we can ever imagine.

My foster grandbaby will always be, as my son so perfectly put it, “our first.” And we are ever grateful for our time with them We miss them still, and every day pray they are safe and well loved up close and personal. And now we prepare for the next biological generation to make his appearance. As my son so sweetly told me when they had chosen the name, without a trace of his usual fall back on sarcasm or snark, “Mom,Theo means ‘beloved by God’.” How perfect. And by us, too, forever and ever.

Maria (moonwatcher)

 

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"Deer and Fawn," chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Deer and Fawn,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

Summer Greetings, Dearest Reader. It’s been a long time. Before Summer turns to Fall, I wanted to share with you some of its gifts to me this year. I discovered that after so much practicing and watching of  videos of how to cut up mangoes and trying to perfect my technique over the years, that my absolute favorite way of eating it is to slice off a cheek along the pit and stand at the counter looking out at the trees and eat it by scooping the flesh out with my teeth. When the mango is just right, it’s almost a religious experience for me.

I have adopted the plant-based version of Medical Medium eating and information. It started in preparation for dentist appointments last Spring that required preparation and installation of two new crowns, and it went so well that I haven’t looked back. Those of you who have read about my previous tooth adventures  can probably appreciate how significant this is. It’s been fun to see correspondences and differences in all plant-based approaches and put all the pieces together in a profoundly healing way that works for me.

I got a new glass slider, replacing the original one (most likely dating from 1976) and now I can open and shut the door we use all the time without planting both feet on the ground and pulling or pushing with both hands as hard as I can. Here’s a peek:

 

There is one more most magical development interwoven with all these others. There have been deer wandering through our neighborhood on the regular this summer, enchanting us all. I wrote what became a little essay about how it’s affected me, and wanted to share it with you as a kind of love letter for being such “dear” and tender and supportive readers all these years. I hope you like it:

I keep looking for the deer. My neighbor said it was a young buck possibly. Did you see it? she said when she dropped off a few groceries for me I’d asked her to pick up on her way home from work. “Oh, it was right over there in front of your house, then across the street, just grazing, very comfortable.” She thought I had been at my window. That he had then slowly made his way behind the house across the street.

But I had not been looking out the window. I had missed that he was out in the street or just beyond the culvert that rounds the corner at the edge of my property.

Usually I would have been disappointed, bereft, or berated myself that I had not been paying the right kind of attention to the right things at the right moment. But instead I was intrigued that one had come so close. In the day that followed and now this evening, I have continued to look at the empty space where he was, and to say, he was there. It’s part see if he’ll come back, but it’s also more to feel his presence where he was, right there, out my window. That he could come back at any time. Maybe even bed down under the cedar and hemlock across my gravel driveway..

It finally grows too dark to distinguish the trees beyond the driveway except for where they brush up against the sky. But the feeling he could appear is still with me. And it comforts.

It’s somehow right alongside what is actually happening, but informing it in some way. Reminding me of love we don’t know we have, but which is there nonetheless. Reminding me of a surprise conversation I had with an old friend, a man I loved deeply a long time ago, who still inhabits my dreams every now and then. This man called me out of the blue to apologize for how he handled things so long ago. It was stunning to hear how he’d felt all these years and that he’d always loved me. Again, alongside. Not in the sense of what’s actually happening. He is now married happily and has a beautiful son. Long ago I was married, sometimes happily, and I had a very young son. Yet I loved him deeply, despite being faithful to my husband. But elsewhere, in the space where the deer might appear, I loved with a depth beyond understanding, that I just accepted, that inspired me to write some of the most beautiful words I feel I have ever written. And still do.

It’s a mysterious and yet strangely familiar feeling, being next to something that does not manifest in the usual way, but is always with me. Like looking for the deer, knowing I won’t see it because I’m looking for it, but feeling that it had been there, and might be there again, whether I’m there to see it or not, connects me to the spirit of that deer. And helps me welcome it to become part of me in a way I don’t understand but accept. Real, but unseen.

My neighbor Tim was here to show me the extra stuff he would need to install the new slider he helped me order and that he has generously offered to install himself. He was standing facing the slider and I was facing him looking at the tablet he had his list on. He pointed out the slider and said, “Deer.”

I turned around. There he was, the young buck, across the street coming down the driveway toward my house. He was beautiful, with a little rack starting on his head, all fuzzy. He took his time. He looked right at me and me at him. Then he slowly made his way to the left a little. I got the impression that if I had not walked toward him or seen him he might have come up my gravel drive right toward the door.

My neighbor said it was the same one he and his wife see visit their backyard. There is more than one visiting our neighborhood these days. A female was photographed coming up the steps from the beach a couple of mornings ago.

I have been talking about deer a lot all of a sudden, telling the story of how I came to have an American Indigenous traditionally tanned hide that I’m sitting on as I type. So many years ago I was once again nursing a broken heart (different man than above, but same heart to be broken). I had picked the deer from the Medicine Cards before going to bed. It stands for unconditional love, and tells a story of how deer climbed a mountain to meet Spirit and tamed a great monster that wanted to block the way, simply by being determined in a gentle and loving way. That night as I went to sleep I asked the Spirit of Deer to be with me and my broken heart. In the morning I set out to run to the nearby grocery store. I had promised my ten year old son and his friend who slept over that I would get them some donuts. As I went out to get into the car, I saw a heap of fur on my front lawn. My heart lurched into my throat, thinking that maybe a dog had been hit. But no. It was the furred skin of an animal among the fallen leaves. I have no idea how it got there.

I called a friend of mine who was married to an Indigenous man who was also a hunter. I called Fish and Game. I asked some discrete questions and learned enough to understand it was against the law to keep a hide if you had not hunted the animal yourself. And yet how could I throw this pelt out? My friend’s husband had said it was a deer pelt. He thought that maybe a dog had carried it away from someone’s house who was butchering a deer he’d hunted. My prayer to the Spirit of Deer came back to me. The deer had given its life already; how could I dishonor it by throwing it in the trash? My friend and her husband offered to keep it in their freezer until I decided. My friend’s husband said he would ask if someone on the reservation would be willing to tan it for me. It stayed in the freezer a long time. But when the time was right, we drove to the reservation to meet an indigenous man who had listened to the circumstances and agreed to tan it for me in the traditional way. It wasn’t a large pelt. Maybe just the top and the side of the animal. Even after it was so beautifully tanned and so very soft, you could still see where the bullet went in.

I am dumbfounded this afternoon that, at last, I saw the deer. And not very far away. The deer have been with me off and on in my imagination for years. They are in a few of my poems, signaling a state of trust, one I gravitate to or wish to sustain, even as it is about to be shattered. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen one up this close. Or maybe even ever. And yet, they profoundly affect me, their quietness, their grace. So long ago when perhaps a dog left what I came to know was a pelt from one that had been hunted, I treasured the message of the deer. Now that I have seen one look me in the eye, what will come next?

It is a grace beyond words in these perilous often lonely times to have looked at each other, and to know, whether I see him or the doe again in real time, they have come to where I live, they are here, among us, making their magic in my imagination manifest. There is still the possibility of seeing the deer.

There is always the possibility of seeing the deer, my lovely readers.

Maria (moonwatcher)

PS: Also this summer, I enjoyed writing this piece on the upcoming Aquarius Full Moon for those of you who are so inclined. That space is where I do most of my writing these days. Maybe it’s because I have Venus in Aquarius, but The Fifth Dimension version of the song from Hair makes me cry in the best kind of way.

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