I am in the white world of dreams. The air, the surface I stand on, the surroundings are white. In this dream I am with my sister. There’s a white table in front of us.
We have to give a presentation and we’re trying to plan it. There’s a white piece of Bristol Board on the table harkening back to our school days when we were in 4-H and put together demonstrations for Achievement Day, using Bristol board, letter stencils and black markers. Why are we doing this I think to myself. I don’t even know what we’re talking about. We shouldn’t be doing this.
I look to my left. In the distance a woman is walking towards us. She is tall. Her hair long, black, with wisps of white and grey. It’s pulled back in a loose bun at the nape of her neck. Stray strands frame her face. A face lined with laughter and sorrow. She walks slowly, her steps firm yet light upon the ground which is not entirely white anymore.
She is wearing a dress. It is a dress like no dress I have ever seen before.
It’s a simple shift falling to her ankles, tan in colour, a v-neckline, long sleeves. And on that dress. On it are leaves – aspen, willow – some brown and dried, some the yellows and golds of fall, some the fresh green of spring. There are twigs and flowers intertwined. Some flowers are dry and faded, some new. Wild roses, pink purple blazingstars, blue harebells. And grass, June grass in flower, slender wheat grass gone to seed. And bits of stone, pieces of quartz, fragments of granite. And jewels. An emerald? No, it’s a bee. A glittering green bee sitting on a wild blue flax flower. As I marvel at it, I think if I take one step closer, I will walk into that world.
And then with one deft move this woman slips the dress off over her head and hands it to me. She is still wearing it. And I am holding it at the same time. I feel the weight of twig and flower, grass and leaves and stone.
“This will help you in your presentation,” she says.
I look at the dress. I look at the Bristol board. How am I going to fit this on to that paper? I cringe even as I think that.
“Why have you given this beautiful dress to me?” I ask.
She looks at the dress. She looks at me. “Looks to be your size.”
“Wear the dress? Me?”
“Going once. Going twice,” she says.
I change into the dress, not as quickly or as deftly as she when she gave it to me, but I manage. And once I am in it, we are in the white world of dreams no more.
We are standing in a rolling prairie on a summer day. I breath in the smell of warm grass and sunlight. Those deceptively delicate harebells from her dress are blooming amid the grass along with a blaze of meadow blazingstars. There is an aspen bluff to our right, leaves flickering, talking amongst themselves. There are bees and tiny butterflies whose names I do not know.
“Now there’s a presentation for you,” she says, spreading her arms wide.
And then I hear a voice or is it voices? Is it the woman? The aspens (they do like to talk), those blazing stars, the harebells ringing, those butterflies fluttering by?
“Wear the dress. Let it, let us become a second skin. We will inform your heart and mind. We will steady your voice, guide your steps. Hold us in your heart. Speak with us, speak for us. We will hold you.
“When the time is right, share this dress.”
© Joanne Blythe
Do hares hear harebells ringing?The species’ scientific name, Campanula rotundifolia, has a suitably musical ring to it. Though they look delicate, harebells are tough. Photo by Candace Savage.
Did you know ..
It takes courage to let yourself fall in love with the living world–the shining wind, the pink-purple-blue of the blossoms, that glittering green bee. In our place and our time, loving the world also means carrying a mantle of fear and grief. So much has already been lost; so much remains to protect and restore. It takes heart to put on that cloak and speak for nature. If you haven’t already connected with your local community of nature lovers, find your people. They are waiting for you to join them.
Author: Joanne Blythe
Joanne Blythe grew up on a mixed farm near Plunkett, Saskatchewan, and came to Saskatoon to attend university. She has spent her working and volunteer life with local and international development organizations, including the Saskatoon Women’s Calendar Collective, Project Plougshares Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Women and Peace Collective, the CUSO Saskatchewan Regional Office, the Training for Health Renewal Project and the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project. She is a founding member of Permaculture Saskatchewan and a mainstay of Wild about Saskatoon, One School One Farm Shelterbelt Project, and the Swale Watchers. She and her husband, Russ, have two grown children.