The Process

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About thirty minutes north of Santa Barbara is an area called Santa Ynez. Known for its vineyards (the movie Sideways was filmed there) and horse ranches, it has a timeless feel to it.  We lived there before moving to Santa Monica in 2004, and I came to love the way the landscape around me told me what time of year it was. A field full of fat, round pumpkins told me it was the fall; the same field filled with sunflowers taller than me - all crowded together as if gathered for a concert - told me it was summer. Whether it was the apple orchards posting handmade signs announcing, "Apple picking today!" or the miniature Icelandic ponies that were bred down the street from us having their babies, I felt more in alignment with the passage of time. In a big city like Los Angeles, time felt like it was moving forward like a freight train. In Santa Ynez, I understood it as the natural course of things, with each cycle enabling the next one to grow, evolve, whither, lay dormant and then burst forth again. I felt like I lived in a world where I belonged, where I was part of a greater whole - living not merely alongside it, but within its finely detailed, exquisitely woven fabric.

I missed this connection to the environment when we were in LA, but even in the missing forgot the kind of magic that sweeps into my heart at the sight of the changing seasons. Over the past many weeks, this heavenly little slice of land we now get to live on in Santa Barbara has been literally bursting with color and form. Our roses are beginning to bloom, our apricot and plum trees are now filled with shiny green leaves, and the potted mint that died last fall has been revived. Every time I walk outside I can't resist stopping to smell the roses, the orange blossoms and the sage. A snapshot of me in our yard these days has me standing and simply staring - looking around and taking it all in.

As the world around me does its work, I am enjoying my own version of pushing things up through the soil. After allowing certain ideas and visions to slumber quietly this past year, they are now making their way out into the sun. My work right now is to pull things forth, make sure they have what they need to thrive, and then send them off to go where they will in the world. I feel like I am literally nurturing ideas into a rapid growth phase so I can pack them up and ship them off, after which I'll get to see where they might want to take me (or not.) In those inevitable moments of impatience or frustration or disappointment, I have only to walk outside my door and watch the work of my garden to remind me that everything will happen - is happening - in its own mysterious way. Life knows what it is doing; I'm just along for the ride.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide