Into Something Better: May 2017

Sleeping in the Forest by Mary Oliver

I thought the earth remembered me,

She took me back so tenderly

Arranging her skirts

Her pockets full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before

A stone on the riverbed,

Nothing between me and the white fire of the stars,

But my thoughts.

And they floated light as moths

Among the branches of the perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms

Breathing around me.

The insects and the birds

Who do their work in darkness.

All night I rose and fell,

As if water, grappling with luminous doom.

By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times

Into something better.

We as a group of artist mothers from all over the world are making it our priority to turn off the tv/video games so that we can give our children the sacred experience to connect with the fast disappearing natural world. We will freelens our adventures into the wild and share them through this monthly project.  The goal of this collaborative is to journey “Into Something Better”.

The plan was to go somewhere truly wild this month. Away from the city, away from people. If you have lived in a big city before, then you know that sometimes that is not as possible as you think. We live in Shanghai, which is the most populated city in the world, with 32 million people. We're smack in the center of this metropolis, which means we are over an hour from the edge of any city boundary and a couple hours (without traffic) from anything that might resemble nature. We love our city and we are out and about almost all the time, but "wild" is hard to find. Often times when you find what you think will be nature, you find that you and at least 2 thousand other people had the same idea and you are packed together even more closely than you would have been in the city. It's something I'm not quite used to about life in China and the primary elements that often finds me feeling overwhelmed.

We were going to take the long weekend and head to the Yellow mountains, but plans changed when Atticus' preschool we're applying to, scheduled his interview (yes, now we totally have to deal with school interviews in preschool) on the Saturday we were thinking of leaving. Honestly, we were just happy that the application process was moving forward (he ended up being officially accepted that day), that another weekend home was just fine. It did leave us without a chance to find any real nature, though, but as I found out last night, that doesn't always matter.

Still clinging to the idea that maybe we'd get somewhere I didn't photograph for this project until last night. Finally coming to terms with the fact that this was our chance, we headed off into our own enchanted forest for the last few minutes of daylight. This 100 meter squared patch of dirt and trees is in no ways away from it all, but tasked with exploring our woods, Scarlett and Atticus quickly turned this small patch of earth into a place filled with wonders. Ducking through trees, hiding in bushes, using the "fires" to warm their bodies and cook their food. I was reminded of something I already know. Children need only the smallest opportunity to break free from daily constraints and be truly free. Next month we will plan once again to venture away from the city, but for those times when it's not possible, we've got enough to inspire us right here.

When you are done, be sure to click through to Joni Burtt, New Brunswick, Canada. Her work transports me every time.