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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shoes Off Inside the House

Whenever I walk into my house or anyone else's, I kick off my shoes. It's a habit, a conditioned response. It happens in many parts of Alaska. No one wants to track in mud or snow or sand. Some people keep extra slippers for their guests and some, like me, bring their own slippers to wear. We are all so accustomed to taking off our shoes that it just doesn't seem right to wear shoes in anyone's home. This is what it looks like when we have a party.

I wonder if some unexpected things come from taking our shoes off. Certainly there is a moment of consideration about the cleanliness of other people's homes, a moment of respect when leaving shoes at the door. There is also a moment when your host might give you permission to wear shoes inside. Shoes are a little bit of armor, after all. The shoeless foot is vulnerable, unprotected. Does it soften us?

In the simple yet highly symbolic act of removing our shoes, we are demonstrating consideration, respect, and a willingness to be vulnerable. It is a nice habit, isn't it?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Solstice and Plant Sex

Today is Monday, June 21, the summer solstice and a very good time to start a blog. In Juneau, we will get about 18 hours and 18 minutes of light today. We will all feel tremendously alive because, really, that is what light does to us and all living things. In fact, we have been feeling pretty vital for a least a month and maybe even since March 21, the day of the equinox, when light began to overcome the dark. In terms of time, that is.

The life force surges in Alaska in late spring. Plants shoot out of the ground and flowers suddenly open and perfume the air. Abundance is manifested wherever you look. One of the most abundant plants in my neighborhood is Sweet Rocket, an English cottage garden plant that reseeds itself so successfully that it seems to be everywhere, inside gardens and outside them, on rock ledges and on top of walls, pushing through fences, crowding the steep staircases that are public thoroughfares.

These plants and so many others crowd the trails and sidewalks and each other in their frenzy to reproduce. I was surprised to find out that flowers are simply the reproductive part of the plant that produces seeds. So I guess you could say that plant sex surrounds us at the the zenith of summer. But plant sex is only a part of the life force. When we are bathed in light for so much of the day, I can feel the life force humming through me, I can hear it in bird song, and I can see it in the pollen and the seeds that fly through the air. It is a force so big and so strong that it makes me want to live a bigger and stronger life. Maybe that's why I know so many people in Alaska who are living such interesting lives. It explains a lot.