Jilly D.

Dreams of Shapeshifting

In Mourning, The Farm on April 9, 2011 at 2:39 am

The blue heron flew over my head today. It’s a sign. Not just of spring. The heron is a totem for my fisherman in the big lake above.

Back in the late 1990s dreams of shapeshifting into a white-tailed hawk haunted me. I slept under a skylight window in the middle of the countryside and certain mornings I awoke with full memory of flying.

In these dreams I was present on the land near Connecticut Hill on the Schuyler and Tompkins County line. I flew over the landscape; 11 acres I rented with the house that belonged to Bird and Annie. I flew into the future where developers were tearing up woods and putting up manufactured homes and trailers and shoddy shelters all along the countryside. Bulldozers and dump trucks and messing with the landscape. I flew low and close, but by dawn found my way home. Often exhausted and bummed out without having a rational explanation.

I had a hard time shaking these dreams. There wasn’t any development happening on Enfield Center Road. And yet I saw people searching the creek beds in a desperate way for fresh spring water while I had been flying dry as a hawk in the moonlight. I sought refuge in the woods where I heard the earth moaning.

The nights I spent flying in my dreams, I’d wake with sore muscles and tender points where my wings attached; bottom corners of my shoulder blades in back.

Hawk got closer and closer to where the rapacious destruction of habitat was happening by horrible wrecking machines and one ominous human face appeared; a pirate or a bald troll. I saw this man while wide awake when Sam introduced me to his friend. These became bad dreams and I didn’t like it anymore. I didn’t want to wake up thinking my soul shapeshifted into a hawk and that I could fly.

Rearranging the furniture helped. The bed wasn’t directly underneath the window. My soul couldn’t slip so easily into the night sky.

It grounded me to the sacred land there in a place I grew to call home. I still can’t leave its power over me. Love found me there.

On the edge…Sam used to say; “If you’re not on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” We lived in the “middle of nowhere” and my butt was on the edge of my seat every day. Farming that land with Sam was the biggest challenge of my life and provided the sweetest rewards.

One spring I made a kite and went running out in the fields for hours with it. Sam called his nephew and Jamie brought over his daughter Jadyn to play with the wind and a simple contraption of paper, balsa and string. Running and jumping and feeling the resistance of the wind against the stick holding the string is the exhilaration of simultaneously feeling the ground under your feet. Kite flying puts you on another edge.

There were many hot summer nights when I’d grab a pillow and a blanket and lay outside on the pond dyke to watch the stars in the sky. Living so far away from the artificial lights of high density living, I would stare into space and contemplate the wonder of it all. I felt so small; until I witnessed a falling star or a comet or meteor or satellitel. Then I’d crawl into bed cool as a cucumber and cuddle until my breathe became his.

There is something about the sunlight and the natural landscape there that casts a spell upon those who touch its soil. Land isn’t something you can own. It owns you. A sense of place is the architecture of the interior life. I don’t have to be on the land for it to invade my spirit and take hold of my wings.

But I do plan to take the dogs out for a good run there tomorrow. Lucy and Scooby and I need to visit the pond and have a conversation or two with a squirrel.

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