By Neva Knott
This site has been dormant too long. Dormancy in botany impedes growth in unfavorable conditions, causing seeds to lay low until it is time to regenerate. Since my partner died, in March 2016, I have been like that seed. Grief is potent dormancy, dormancy that has reminded me of what matters in the scope of my life. Writing, photography, yoga, and the natural world are the seed-bed of my regeneration. The natural world was my solace on the roughest of days.
The day Andrew died, the cherry trees were already full of pink blossoms, an early bloom. I left the hospital, looking at the sky, looking at the pinkness of the trees. It is the worst allergy time of year for me, when the city turns pink. I can’t breathe and begin to feel like rubber from the allergy medications necessary to stop the explosion in my head and sinuses. The next week, Andrew’s favorite tree flowers came in full blush, the Chinese Magnolia.
As a child, my first understanding of death came by way of a nature anthology. When I asked my dad why my mom’s grandmother had to die, since it made my mom so sad. He replied, “That’s part of life. Neva, even the oldest trees have to die.”
To let my life come back to full bloom, I walked on the river delta, I lit sage and meditated while sitting on a rock along the Salmon river in the foothills of Mt. Hood, I took the dogs down to the banks of the Columbia just near the airport, I went to the coast, I watched the seasons change as a marker of life going on. I camped in the summer, returning twice to my favorite place on Mt. Hood, a small campground where, sometimes, there are cows grazing in the adjacent meadow, and where every evening, the sun slides slowly behind the Doug fir and the world calms to quiet. Andrew and I had taken a day trip there just months before.
Portland got snow that winter and one mid-night an owl perched on a branch outside my window, sheltering from the wind that had brought the storm. Then another year, another cycle, and another, and my grief began to lift, or wane, or subside. I don’t know the best verb. I know it will never go away, but it has taken another form, finally, that allows me to once again feel a part of the world I’ve been watching bloom and fade and make its rotations through the cycle of life.
During my grief, I continued to lead planting crews for Friends of Trees. Every Saturday, up early, wet and muddy by noon, putting native species into distressed landscapes, adding to the ecosystem services of city streets. Planting life helped me feel like all had not been lost that day I walked out of the hospital and into the pollen-poisoned air.
Coming back to running this site is important work. The issues on my mind are vast. I’ve been working hard to un-plastic my life. I’ve been learning about sustainable fashion. I am constantly viewing everything humans due through the lens of climate change and adaptation. Waterways pull my attention toward their flow. I’m leaning toward nature writing in small bits and pieces. I promise you, readers, a quality post a week, a positive story about the environment as is our theme, and the possibility of some words that come from watching the wisdom of nature.