The Crone and the Maiden/ Lessons in asking for help/ Solstice 6/2016/ Naomi Khan
The other morning I went to deeply listen and sing songs of praise to the bull frogs in the swamp at Minto-Brown. My access to this swamp is a huge fallen cotton wood that allows me to sit over the swampI bring my phone to take pictures or sound recordings. On this morning the soundscape was particularly rich.
As I get older my balance, which was never very good, has become worse as has my eyesight. I am always a bit worried my phone will fall into the swamp, so I take extra care. On this morning I went to my spot and the frogs were singing away and the crows were cawing back to them, Dragon flies where abundant and snapping at the water. I took my pictures and sang my best thank you songs to the tress, sky and frogs as we called up the sun together.
I have to wear glasses these days to see and often I forget to clean them. I put my glasses on top of my head ironically to see better. I forgot I had done this and on my way back across the log a tree brushes my head, snags my glasses and throws them to the ground. I am stunned. I freeze, as I am apt to do. I call myself stupid, which I am trying not to do. Fortunately my glasses are not in the swamp but on the edge hidden in the leaves and dead branches.
After I recover from my freeze I assess the situation. My glasses are a long way down. I could get down to them, maybe without breaking a limb, but there is no way for me to get back uTheyounger me would feel defeatedand say I have lost my glasses. I would go home and feel bad. Well, the old me can’t afford another pair, so I get curious and say what is possible. I could jump down and claw my way trough brush and branches to get to the main path. I am not too excited about this idea. I know! I say excitedly to the cotton wood that is supporting my feet, "The parking lot is not far away and surely there will be a young nimble strong man there to help this old crone."
I go to the lot and there are people my age getting out of their cars to walk with their dogs. I scan the open area and there is no young man to be found. I, however, happen upon a strong young maiden. Oh, I say to myself, “A bit sexist you are,” or maybe it’s the part of me that likes to flirt with young men.
I go up to her as she is doing her stretches before her run and say, “ This old Crone is in need of a young Maidens’ help. Her eyes get wide and I think she might bolt but she hangs in there as I tell her the story of the tree capturing my glasses and throwing them into the underworld. I tell her my knees aren’t what they once were. Oh, she smiles and breaths with relief that I am not dangerous and puts her hands on her superwoman hips and says with pride, “ I can do that! My knees are great! “
Off we go to the cottonwood bridge that leads to Bull Frog Swamp. I have cleverly, as I learned in the forest of my youth, broken a small branch at the exact spot of the glasses. We locate them. I say, “ It may take some arm strength to get back up.” She says she not so good in that area but is willing to give it ago.
Spritely she jumps down and hands the glasses back up to me . I immediately put them on my nose so as not to give the tree another chance. She finds a perch and leaps to get a hold on the big tree and almost makes it but the moss makes her feet slip. She tires again and is oh so close but down she goes. She is now stuck in the underworld of the swamp, a place I have been many times. I offer her my hand but she wisely gets we might both be stuck in the underworld. She starts to walk along the branch that is parallel but on the ground and runs into to many tree branches blocking her way. Finally I can help. I clear the branches and amazingly the perch is closer. Up she leaps in one smooth move to land gracefully on the cottonwoods back.
We walk to the main path. She smiles with her handson her super woman hips again and says, "I think that was enough of a warm-up today.” I thank her and off she runs. I go on my slow walk to the river and carefully clean my glasses as I greet a great blue heron, the sun, and river.
I have deep gratitude for the young maiden and my willingness and courage to ask for and receive help. I have a feeling in this time of getting younger toward my death this is a skill and practice I need to hone. Perhaps, in these times, it is a skill and practice for all ages.
with love, gratitude and my deep sweet tears.
Naomi Khan Seeds Of The Crone