The Sunflower House

Once upon a time, there was a woman who moved into a house with no garden. Everywhere she saw the earth was stripped bare for new homes to be built. The earth was pressed down by massive machines in what was once a mountain prairie. It was then that she knew she must ask the natural world its permission to become a part of this space. So each day, she would sit and ask it how it wanted to healed.

She did not realize that she was asking nature to heal her family, but that is what happened.

She was a woman that was wide awake to the natural world. As a child she understood the messages of the natural world. She felt the breeze as a greeting and the waving greeting of leaves on the trees.

As an adult, the open window to the natural world almost closed with the challenges of modern life. It was the noise of the modern world that would mute her connection.

Her children would bring her back to the healing power of nature’s wisdom and it all began with a sunflower.

This woman would travel to a faraway village to become a mother. She would stay in a small inn run by a family, a family who had been liberated from a country where their freedom had long been suppressed. They would open their home to women the world over who came to their healing place to become mothers. The inn sat high on a hill, where the fresh mountain air would cleanse your body with every in and out breath.

It was on a walk down from the inn on the hillside that the woman first saw the Sunflower House. A small plain house that in front of it stood a towering sunflower. The woman would stop and take a picture of this sunflower house and felt something inside her stir. She wondered why that sunflower made her stop, but the fleeting thought disappeared as quickly as it came.

The woman met the village healer and many other couples who were seeking the gift of a child. The women would walk and talk together, and before long it was time to go back to her home.

As she prepared to leave the inn, she would share goodbyes and loving hugs from the women she met, but it was the innkeeper whose farewell gave her hope. She said, be well you will soon have two sons and wished her love and happiness on her long journey home.

That woman would find out in a few short weeks that she would have two sons and the joy of a family would soon be within reach. Her sons were beautiful and healthy, but as they grew she realized that one was different, gifted with something that she could not understand, something that many people in her village did not understand.

It would be a struggle, but the man and woman would keep their child at home to protect him, love him, and help him heal. What they did not realize was that it was they who needed healing.

As they raised their children, she also raised a garden meadow just as she had promised. A few years later, a visit for another village healer would open the woman’s eyes to her own sunflower house. There surrounding her home were towering sunflowers, some that she had planted but many that she had not.

There they stood as if to say, you have given me space to be nurtured and grow and now I have planted myself away from you. Close enough to be cared for but independent of your daily watering.

Her gifted son had grown many inches that summer just as the self-planted sunflowers had grown. It was nature telling her, your son has healed you and you him. He is healthy and able, tall and grounded. Give him the freedom he needs to share the seeds of his gift.

This story was written and presented for the Utah Waldorf Conference in August 2018.

The Neighborhood I Remember Most: Both sides of the Story

Our move to Wyoming was anything but smooth. Our first and only weekend in Wyoming was cut short due to snowfall and my husband’s interview schedule for his new position. The wife of his soon to be boss drove me around town to show me what she had learned about in her six months in Wyoming, complete with an evening at their house on Cedar Mountain that had views that could take your breath away. The drive up their road was tricky though, there were rabbits everywhere!

A realtor assigned by the company would drive us around neighborhoods, but would not actually show us a house since there was no offer in hand. I remember the feeling of nausea and anticipation about how our lives might be changing and the lack of understanding by the one person who was assigned to help me see myself living here.

The quaint downtown street with the mountain views and mule deer wandering the sidewalks sold me on the place despite my fears. Back in Texas, we leased a house sight unseen on the road to Yellowstone. It would not be until a few weeks later, and my husband's early arrival that I would understand this small summer tourism town was not one you could navigate online. You had to be here in person. Talking to people, except not on Sundays since “we all go to church dear” or after 5 pm or before 9 am.

It was my husband's alarmed call from that first night in a dark, quiet cabin that made me realize how bad our plan actually had been. As he described the herd of Elk outside the door, his lack of outdoorsiness and the talk of how to be cautious at night because of Grizzly bears let us know we weren’t in Kansas anymore Toto.

As we drove through our old neighborhood and passed the cabin this past weekend after our morning skiing, I was struck by its beauty and a longing to have a home someday out there. It was no longer the isolated wilderness that we once imagined. It was a beautiful landscape of home.

The other side of the story:

“You guys want to have some fun? I saw Texas plates turn off the main road, let’s see what they’ve got!” “3-2-1 Now! Dart in and out in front of the car as fast you can as they make that turn up the mountain road! “ “Whee!!! Whoa, that was close!” “I have never seen so many rabbits,” said the wife to her husband. “I am so glad you didn’t hurt one of the poor little things,” she said. “That was hilarious, nice job Joe! Let’s wait until they leave and do it again. I love these outsiders.”

Such is the life of an animal in Yellowstone Country. Unsuspecting humans enter into a wilder world from whence they came, and the animals have a bit of fun at their expense.

Meanwhile, up on the North Fork, some juveniles from the Cody Elk Herd are planning a little prank. These poor Texas folks have no idea what they are in for. “Uncle Jack, can you help us out with a prank? We need a Bull Elk to make some noise.” “The sounds I make are not a joke. We only use that sound in rutting season,” said Jack. “I know Uncle Jack, but just this once? Only a bull can make that sound, and we aren’t old enough yet.” “Okay kids, let me teach you how to do it, and you can practice on the newcomers, but don’t tell your Dad. I don’t see any harm in that. The trick is to let it bubble up from your diaphragm, into a low growl, and then let it erupt like the geysers into an eerie whistle. Got it?” “Okay guys, you heard Uncle Jack, work from the dia something and explode with a roar! Okay, let's get into position the human should be coming back out with his puppy again. We can really scare him!” “Okay, let’s hang near the house, but be quiet until they get close. They can’t see if the dark like we can so wait... Hold a minute... Now!” Just then a small group of juveniles lit up the soundless space with the most bloodcurdling sounds that shocked the human dead in his tracks. A few strange words erupted from the human as he ran as fast as he could with a flying puppy on a leash trailing behind him. “Oh man, here comes Dad, we are in trouble again, but boy was it worth it. See you fellas in the morning. You guys better get going.”

And with that, they all scattered hoping their parents would not know who pulled the prank all the while looking forward to tomorrow night’s time to play with the human again.

This story was prompted by my friend Chris Brogan’s book, Find Your Writing Voice and its accompanying course. His book is a great way to get writing again and find your voice.