“Pollination” by Barbara Ann Yoder
Monday after the AROHO retreat I woke up early, came into my kitchen and looked at the sun—almost an eclipse behind bay fog—then tasted the sweet tang of Meyer lemon, the first fruit borne by my four-year-old tree. I watched a spider tiptoe up my bathroom wall, as if she too had just awakened, her legs as delicate as eyelashes, her eyes bulging to take in as much of the world around her as she could see, a world I thought she might have forgotten to look at during all those years of writing in her quiet, compulsive way. At my desk I noted that she was a spider, not a writer, and that I was an almost awake woman, up and journaling first thing in the morning, breathing in the moist bay air I had missed during my week in the desert, my lips sunburned, my mind filled with love and the humble, bright possibility of being who I am in the world among the women on the mesa under the moon at Ghost Ranch … even while sitting here, at my desk, back at home, the morning after.
All week brilliant, creative women talked, walked, observed, studied, laughed, counseled, wrote, read our work aloud, cheered each other on, made new friends, cherished old friends, and on the last night, danced in jubilation. In her small group Janet Fitch taught us how to be children again in a curious, engaged, unselfconscious way, to go into the world with senses heightened, and to describe our impressions. I learned to touch plants to get a feel for their texture, to smell leaves, to look at the way light shines on them.
As soon as I got home I went into the garden to water, prune, and harvest. The corn I was worried about before the retreat had come in while I was gone. I had not been sure that it would, because the tassels had emerged before I saw any sign of ears, and the silk and tassels must be present together for corn to be fertile. I was surprised to find that this corn, which I had grown from seed, had produced. The color of its silk surprised me too, its rhubarb blush reminding me of a doll I possessed when I was young, a doll whose hair could grow and was somehow—maybe like Rapunzel—a key to her being. I was suddenly curious about this doll, so I went straight from the corn silk to my computer, to a morning of research and writing that brought me memories and story lines I’m eager to explore.
It is good to go to an AROHO retreat to bask in the wisdom, generosity, and creative work of the women there and to dance with them in the waves of moonlight. It is good to come home again and to wake up the morning after, more yourself than you used to be.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Barbara Ann Yoder Artist Statement:
a family across four generations, from woman suffrage to civil rights. Through AROHO retreats
and ongoing community with a small group of AROHO alums, her stories have blossomed. She
occasionally blogs about women and the writing life at BarbaraAnnYoder.com.