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Garden Bliss in Spring

Chop, chop, goes the blade as I bravely and vigorously chop back the long and strong buddleia branches that tower over me. Reducing these godly limbs to fit the compost is some fete, pausing as I go to save the best, minus their side shoots, with the intent of giving them a new purpose as stalking stakes to support the weight of next Summer’s heavy harvest.

Part of me wonders yearly if I’m not being too hard in this sharp pruning of this butterfly bush, but experience reminds me how giant-like this fervent grower will become by mid-Summer, as it will inevitably attempt to overthrow its’ more delicate neighbouring plants, even encroaching quite profusely into the sitting area, where Summer guests often duck and twist to avoid being prodded by its’ protruding purple blossom.

Like the bees and the butterflies, I too want to be out where the sun shines. In early Spring, only the far end of the garden gets touched by the sun, resulting in me focusing my attention mainly there too, until day by day, the sun slowly touches more corners of the garden, bringing with it light and warmth and waking both the plants and me out of our Winter slumber.

Like a pig in mud, I feel as I slowly help the garden to strip back its Winter jacket and prepare the soil for a new season’s growth. I dig deep into the all but forgotten compost heap, to stir up and fork over, in the hope of finding luscious dark black soil at the bottom. And yes, under the recently added tops layers of clippings, is indeed a soil so rich the birds sing its praises. There’s something hugely satisfying about this transformed new earth coming from the regular additions of garden and kitchen waste, reminding me how miraculous the earth is in transforming. While the rich new earth readies itself to feed new growth and this wonderous cycle continues.

The dried out remains of last year’s growth stand pale and crisp, like skeletons of their former selves, as I strain to remember what they looked like in the prime of their time. Chop, chop, goes the blade as I remove these dried forms, with the hope that this drastic clear up that underground the magic of new growth is unfolding, soon to peak its infant heads through the bared earth. And as the season progresses that I will be reacquainted with old flowering friends, who survived the Winter slumbers and have returned to bring joy and bliss to all.

And while I wait in anticipation for the sign of new growth, I can pause in reflection of last years’ garden successes and failures and return to the dream board, browsing for ideas and inspiration with how this year’s garden will be different from the last, knowing the beloved garden never stays still, requiring regular modifications, nurturing and above all love and attention. And so the time has come to embrace a new season of growth and wonder and garden bliss in Spring.

February 2021

Olivia O’Keeffe

Breath – A New Begin

Each breath in can be a new begin. Each breath out, a chance to release and surrender. In…deep and slow, joyous lungs expanding and exhilarated, encompassing life itself. Pausing at the top when full to the brim, like a wave just before collapsing in a glorious thundering splash. So too the contracting chest releases in free flow allowing us to completely let go.

Each breath in can be a new begin. Each breath out, a chance to release and surrender. With each new breath possibilities seem endless, followed by each exhalation directing us back to right now. And the slight pause between breaths when all air has been released. A precious moment of stillness, powerful in its non-description before being overtaken by a fresh new gulp of air, full of new opportunities.

Each breath in can be a new begin. Each breath out, a chance to release and surrender. Our breath as natural and rhythmic as the waves ebbing in and out. This miracle life-giver pumping so seamlessly, its wonder overlooked. While our breaths though plentiful remain numbered and more precious than we can comprehend, until our last breath draws near.

The breath, in and out, so simple yet so invaluable. What shall we do when the last breath sounds? What can we now do to make each breath count? Each breath in can be a new begin. Each breath out, a chance to release and surrender.

January 2021

Olivia O’Keeffe

(Accompanying photo’s were taken recently during my Winter walks in the Dutch landscape.)

Exhibition of paintings from 2020

My duo exhibition  together with nature photographer Rob de Groot  has kicked off in Theater aan de Slinger, Houten The Netherlands.

Exhibition runs until January 6th 2021.  The theatre is open weekdays during office hours and in the weekend and evening when a show or film is planned.

The exhibition consists of 11 paintings of Houten, painted outdoors on the spot and also my whole collection of 2020 abstract paintings. Be sure to check out the exhibition space which continues on the second floor of the theatre.

 

November Ponderings

 

A blanket of warm words both enveloping and soothing

Pain-filled pockets of old wounds passed down from generation,

Arms and legs wrapped tightly around the thinnest peak of the tallest tree,

Heart pounding, tensed muscles aching, body swaying gently on the breeze of hope,

Suspended on a thin life-wire, connecting all that is and ever was.

 

Ever-fluctuating time, suddenly fusing the many layers of existence,

In a mere flash, the wholeness and inter-dependency of our being,

Revealed and understood, if only just for a moment.

The wisdom once ever-present, contained in a nutshell,

Eroding now and fading before us while we busy ourselves with hot air.

 

Returning to the womb for warmth and protection,

Detracting the claws of persistence,

Unwinding and retreating underground to a state of inner quiet.

A thick mulch of rotting ways decomposes on the surface,

Awaiting to nourish when we are ready to receive and grow towards the light.

 

But for now, we seek comfort in the dark edges of the soul,

Wallowing within the depths of our own entangled jungle.

 

Olivia O’Keeffe

November 2020

 

 

The Whispers of our Ancestors

Stoop to hear the whispers being carried on the wings of a flickering flame,

Soar to joyous heights of a heart open to receive,

Kneel in adoration at the awe-inspiring detail of a single rose,

Raise up your defiant head against the destructive tide of envy and corruption,

Stand tall in the promise of a life worth living,

Confident in your task of giving.

Shine bright in your inner glow to share and be a beacon in the night,

Trust and launch your might at your darkest fears shape-shifting,

Be steadfast in the knowledge that hope no matter what is everywhere,

Scream out if you dare to feel alive,

This land is both full of ecstasy and of our ancestor’s ancient cries,

Go now and melt into the existence of who and what we are,

Longing to be reunited with our inner tribe.

 

November 2020

Olivia O’Keeffe

 

 

 

Autumnal Changes

Golden shimmering dragonfly wings flicker in the late afternoon sunlight as he rests momentarily on a glowing ruby-coloured blueberry leaf.

Nearby, dancing a figure eight are twinned white butterflies rotating in mid-air. A magenta petaled zinnia calls me closer with its contrasting sunflower-yellow pollened centre.

A bumble bee busies herself just above the zinnia, where a lilac painted verbena keeps her captivated as she zips from one tiny protruding T-shaped purple flower segment to the next. All the while, my blue banana-shaped hammock sways gently to and fro, matching the glorious cyan September sky.

An orange-red peacock butterfly swoops down beside me to say hello. The spikey coned heads of echinacea’s stand tall and balding, while its darkening crumpling leaves droop slowly downwards, making them look like a swarm of Halloween-styled jellyfish, backlit by the low Autumnal sun.

The perfection and beauty is almost painful as I’m reminded of the transience of this cherished moment. Can’t these numbered early Autumn days, still glowing with late Summer sun, stay a little longer? I’m missing you already even though you stand before me. And yet your transient quality is the reason I now take notice. Ironic isn’t it?

Embrace change they say: I want to.
Be in the moment they say: I try.
Why does it hurt so much? Your resisting.
Let go, let go, let go…I die, just a little.

A Tree is But a Tree

During a hot mountain hike, as we pass under the cool shade of a cheery horse chestnut:

Respectful of your greatness, like you might a Queen of the past. Thank you dear and majestic great one for all that you give. We are eternally grateful. Bowing under the pulsating epiphany of life. How could we ever pass you by in a fumbling blinded stance? We are but of great ego and with little true understanding of the world within or without.

Oh, strong and not so silent entity, how well you communicate with fellow tribe. Through unimaginable sophistication, you send your message of warning through the tiny particles in the air as well as feed a whole community through your roots. In contrast, we toot our gaudy horn and supposedly know better, while using and abusing your kind to serve our every whim.

Forgive us for our ignorance. A tree is but a tree, only when our eyes and heart are closed to your wonderous ways. In reverence and awe, I bow before thee.

A tree is but a tree…

 

August 2020

Jaun, Switzerland

Olivia O’Keeffe

 

Hidden

Gushing, flowing, twisting,

Your power can split rock,

Your beauty hypnotic,

Your sound soothing.

 

Refreshing, cooling, cleansing,

Thirst quencher, purifier, giver of life,

Running like the veins of the land,

Your stormy strength undeniable, sometimes treacherous.

 

As you dance and spill over and around all rocks before your,

Ever-flowing until you’re not.

Humbled by your power and godly importance,

If I listen hard enough do I hear your sounds

Make words or even just meaning?

 

Are your messages encrypted in a crashing wave?

In the deep tones of a gushing waterfall?

Or a gurgling stream or a silent lake?

Or in the pitter-patter of rain?

 

I believe you have the answers to my quest,

But unless I take the time to listen,

The answers will continue to remain

Hidden within your melodic song.

 

August 2020

Jaun, Switzerland

 

Olivia O’Keeffe

 

 

Song For The Silent Woman

 

To all the silent women in the world;

Rise up and speak your truth,

Take back the power that was your own,

Rise up and speak your truth.

 

Believe not the lies that have kept you small,

Nor the fists that have moulded you so,

Break free the ties that silenced your cries,

Rise up and speak your truth.

 

Find strength within and raise your chin,

Make defiance your only sin,

Awake from your silence and brave the tide,

Your time is now!

Rise up and speak your truth.

 

April 2020

by Olivia O’Keeffe