While walking along a beach in southern Oregon, I noticed that, when the ocean receded she left beautiful sparkling treasures embedded in the freshly washed sand. I sauntered from one of these treasures to another photographing the simple exquisiteness that each jelly, kelp leaf, strand of sea grass, shell and pebble left glittering at my feet. My only challenge was artfully framing each composition.
As I walked the maze these beach jewels created on the shoreline, my mind bounced back and forth between a little story I was reading and my own absorption with the vastness of the sea’s water, the lack of it in our cities and farms, and the tension that creates between us.
In Willits, on my way to Newport, Oregon, I stopped at a used-book store. Having made a reservation at Humboldt Redwoods State Park Campground, I was heading to my first night along the Avenue of the Giants. What looked like a little store from the outside turned out to be a maze of aisles and rooms and eight-foot high shelves. I was rummage around for something light and short to read over the next few days. But, at the same time, I wanted to be able to pull some deeper meanings from the story for my personal enrichment.
There was rhyme and reason to the categories in that maze of books. But it was dizzying trying to quickly find something that would enhance my coastal wanderings. So I just grabbed a book with an interesting title and an impressionistic image of a woman on the cover. Most of all, I wanted a book written by a woman and thought I had one. What kind of first name is “Swain” anyway?
The Woman Who Lives in the Earth is a timeless story of a young girl who uses the hidden forms and patterns of the natural world to transform herself as well as her enemies. Swain Wolfe is a writer and filmmaker who has lived in Montana most of his life. The Woman Who Lives in the Earth (Stone Creek Press, Montana) was his first novel.
This tale about overcoming fear and hatred takes place in a time either before modern machines or long after their fall. In a harsh, primitive world, an almond-eyed girl named Sarah and her family is threatened by a severe drought. Sarah’s wisdom-filled imagination and her fascination with the mysteries of nature lead the local villagers to believe she is an evil demon and the cause of the drought.
In her attempt to save herself and her family, Sarah is aided by her great-grandmother Lilly, and by a spirit whose voice is made known through a fox that only she is able to see. Sarah discovers her own power and redemption, and, in the end, her spirit flows in and through the villagers, transforming their hatred into the kindness they all once possessed. Through Sarah’s actions and her incantations to the woman who lives in the earth, the rains return to the parched land and the dried-up compassion of the people is renewed.
Through the beautiful jewels of kelp, pebbles and jellies embedded in the inter-tidal pools and shoreline sands may you be transformed.
- Seek wisdom’s whisper
- as She etches the mysteries of her heart
- into the soft embracing sand.
- Waters rippling from the ocean’s womb
- Mother of All Creation, stirs in us
- new creative powers for healing.
- Like tear-shaped stones embedded
- by the powers of her laughing love
- she shapes us with warmth and joy.
Remember to keep it simple – images, words, dreams and walks along the beach. Blessed be!