Though I tend to have my feet firmly planted in the physical, observable world I contemplate the metaphysical aspects of our existence from time to time. Two recent instances have me wondering more about kismet (aka fate, karma).
In early May I took a tour of Grass Mountain, an old homestead property, that the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology recently purchased. I was eager to take the tour since it would be my introduction to the Sitka Center where I had signed up to take several classes this summer. Mindy led our tour and after a delightful morning of exploring we chatted over a picnic lunch.
A month later I received an email from Mindy. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in leading a nature walk at Grass Mountain for an author who would be teaching a class at Sitka in July. I hesitated momentarily since I am not an expert on the temperate rainforest environment but then I reminded myself that I had plenty of time to prepare. Besides, I have years of experience in leading these kinds of outings. Mindy put me in touch with Nancy so I could design a program that would best complement her writing workshop.
During our conversation I learned that Nancy too had lived in Tucson before moving to Oregon. To help me understand her class focus she sent me an essay she’d published years ago, Surviving: What the Desert Teaches Me. In the first paragraph of the piece, Nancy quoted a docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The cadence sounded familiar to me and I wondered if her docent was by any chance a friend of mine. In the third paragraph my suspicions were confirmed when she mentioned Marilyn by name.
I worked with Marilyn in various capacities over the past nine years on invasive species projects. In fact, I was so inspired by Marilyn’s hard work and dedication that I nominated her for the 2015 Cox Conserves Hero award, which, of course, she won.
I finished reading the piece then I immediately emailed Nancy back about our intertwined histories. I also asked two questions; first, could I attend her workshop and second, could I share her essay with Marilyn. The answer was yes to both!
Marilyn had not read the piece and she was moved to learn that her volunteer work had that much impact on Nancy. I know Marilyn happily does all her good work without accolades but she (like anyone else) can use a reminder about how she is powerful, positive force for good.
The Landscape and Memory workshop wrapped up two weeks ago and I am still basking in the afterglow. Not only was it an invigorating learning experience but it felt fantastic to be back in the field leading a nature walk. Even more gratifying when Nancy told me that my tour had exceeded her expectations.
Photo courtesy of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology
The week after Nancy’s workshop I attended a short art class on Sun Printing at Sitka. As I listened to the instructor introduce herself I thought her voice sounded familiar but I didn’t recognize her. Karen mentioned that she just retired from teaching at Pima Community College in Tucson. That opened up more possibilities but nope, still no connection. Then she explained an art project she was working on dealing with invasive species…and everything clicked.
One of my sun prints
We had corresponded by email and phone about her invasive species project three years ago! Our tentative plan had been that I would guide Karen in the field identifying invasive species while explaining the issues, removal efforts, and restoration projects. In return, she would allow our nonprofit to showcase her art to help raise awareness about the cause. It was a brilliant plan, however we weren’t able to coordinate our timing between both our busy schedules.
What incredible connections! Both of these recent experiences have helped assuage my intermittent concerns about moving from Tucson to the Oregon Coast. They seem like signs that I am meant to be here…