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ENCHANTMENT: A spell wrapped in a noun. Three syllables. One state of being.
To live with Enchantment is to see beyond the bricks and mortar that make up your home and into the magic infused within its frame. It is made up of stories and dried bay leaves and dreams whispered into the heads of dandelions. Of bare feet on carpeted floors and the smell of burning sage. Crystals – amethyst, citrine, amazonite, smoky quartz – winding in and around your books; all the better to magnify their magic. It is to peel back the layers of your day-to-day and search for that elusive energy that winds its way up your spine and outward into your life. Let the snake at your base wriggle free of its coil to climb up to your shoulder blades and across your open back. There is no room for tightly stacked discs here, just the taste of joy when the sun licks your skin.
You might find it at the bottom of an empty teacup. Your future written in soggy leaves or in the whisper of trees, their leaves rustling and murmuring secrets only they can understand. Sometimes they are kind enough to translate for you – if you listen long enough. If you shower their roots with distilled love songs and feed them the black earth from your compost. It's there, too, when you run your tongue along the grooves and ridges of a well-loved sentence. It's everywhere. Even in the spaces you think have lost hope, like the junk drawer where you keep your faded dreams, stray screws, and half-forgotten heartbreaks along with wine corks and a few rubber bands. They're not lost, just resting like seeds in the earth before they are ready to break open.
That is the first syllable.
The second is to learn from Enchantment, to listen to Coyote's call when he plays his tricks. Coyote loves his tricks. And you should too. What delicious messages wrapped in matted fur and a lolling tongue! All he wants is for you to take that leap of faith when only you can see the soft earth on the other side of the cliff. Don't you know that you have wings? They are just rusty from disuse. Just listen to Coyote's long-winded stories (he does so admire himself) and watch the flick of his tail. All he asks is for you to trust him, even if he can't be trusted; his lesson is real, hard as onyx in your palm, ephemeral as the desert rain that you feel in your bones when all you see is a cloudless sky. No weatherman can ever map the storms and sunshine working their way across your body.
Coyote has no room for logic, just the reason in his unreason.
Just those perfect coincidences set in motion by the padding of his paws. You are raw power, he says, a spark of the universe set in motion. And you must trust this power that is you, that is the earth, that is the beating of your heart. A rhythmic tattoo forever pounding out your path, however many times you try to stray from it. All Enchantment asks is that you absorb the wisdom of the moon and the stars, and the prophesying of the seeds burrowed deep in the dirt. Coyote is there to make sure you listen, even when the rest of the world prefers your ears stopped with cotton and your heart beating as slow as melting snow in winter.
And the third syllable? To conjure. Here you weave your spell with vowels and consonants and beeswax candles. You seal them with pure starlight and a handful of chamomile. Then you burn away the dry brush and the brittle ideas that don't hold up against the moonlight. There is no room here for literal ... things or the people who think them. Not if you want to create. Not if you want to believe that the most important part of your everyday occurs in the moments others can too easily overlook. (Seldom can you find a person strong enough to brave the stillness or wade into the bottomless waters of imagination.) You make your life here, in the infinite potential of seconds and minutes and hours unfurling into vines and roots. Because when you are looking for everyday enchantment, it finds you. Always. And if you let it, it will settle inside your skin and feed your soul with dreams grown ripe under the sun's caress. It drops you deep down into the rich earth and forgotten caves buried between heartbeats – places that many are too afraid to venture inside. For how can you absorb the marvelous, if you do not recognize it reflected in yourself, feel it settle in your bones like so much calcium?
A three-syllable spell wrapped in a noun, planted in the earth and nourished with moonlight. Let the roots stretch to the underworld and the leaves unfurl toward the heavens. Walk across the star-kissed bridge made of hollyhock seeds and strong will. There is your passage into the unseen universe.
On Double Yolks
The skillet is hot – hot as the bluegrass playing in the background, hot as the black lightning coffee in your cup. Today is a day for a bold breakfast. You shake off your usual weekday oatmeal in favor of eggs over easy, chorizo, and toast. A small-town desert diner breakfast made all the better coming from your kitchen. You could get drunk on the scent of burning cedar in the air, that fireplace smell more evidence than anything that summer has faded into fall, though the trees have not yet turned their green leaves to flames.
There is an air of abundance to your morning. A welcome feeling after the exhaustion that seems to have settled in your bones with the changing of the seasons and the week's intense demands on your time and energy. Sometimes you feel as if dusty souls want to suck away your light, or at the very least, pile their debris upon you, since to them you seem so weightless. They don't know the work it takes to keep the corners of your mind free from grime and your schedule clean of mindless busy.
But forget all that. Today is a day for a hearty breakfast and devotion to your craft. You will fill yourself up with words and coffee to assuage the thinness that has crept into your soul, as if you are an empty cupboard, save for a few crumbs. You crack an egg over the sizzling pan with these thoughts heavy in your head, despite your attempts to fill your mind with the sunshine that saturates your home.
And there it is: a fat, golden double yolk.
The orbs sit piled atop one another as if caught kissing. You marvel at how so much yolk could fit into such a little eggshell. The broken pieces in your hand hardly seem capable of cradling such gold. They appear too fragile and yet birthed more than others thought they could hold. You can't tell where one yolk ends and the other begins; you are mystified by this anomaly.
You watch your eggs cook, and a sly voice inside your head – the one who loves a good story, the one who can't resist the lure of superstition – coyly whispers that double yolks are good luck, harbingers of double the grace, the plenty, the fortune. These are the stories of old wives, crones, and witches that you are half-tempted to believe, if only because these fat yolks nestled together in front of you seem nothing short of magic themselves. Another part of you – the one descended from those old crones, healers, and potential witches – knows it would be foolish to ignore such a gift. And it is a gift. A reminder.
You flip your eggs and decide to let your fanciful imagination run away with you, feeling the tension loosen from your shoulders as you do so. Yes, you commit to the idea. Double yolks are good luck. All at once, you are grateful for this message. This little sign that you are not a bare cupboard after all, but a fully stocked larder – if it is ever appropriate to compare yourself to food storage. No matter.
You are abundance. You are luck. You are double the fortune. Hard week be damned.
It is the moment between thinking of moving in one direction – perhaps I will rekindle that relationship after all – and then being stopped by a red light at the crosswalk – don't go down that road. In truth, you know how it will end, although you can't help toying with the idea. It is the ladybug that lands on your porch as you turn your thoughts to a new piece of writing. Yes, it says. Yes.
You are grateful for that flash of insight helping you hone your creative path that has long since diverged from the mainstream. Grateful for your fluency in a language too few know how to speak. Your day is nothing without this never-ending conversation between yourself and the universe or the clap of thunder that punctuates your off-the-cuff revelations. You cannot speak your truth without lightning striking both in your blood and in your sky. It is terrifying consciousness. Pure insight. And sometimes it is just the song that blares from your car radio when you key the ignition – there's no going back, the lyrics roll out – just as you marvel at how your life is a series of forward moving steps, though it sometimes feels like more of a cha-cha.
The clock ticking in the middle of the night, its hands pushing you out of sleep with their hushed staccato, asks you what is worth your time, and sometimes, why you continue to waste it on unimportant things. You cannot hide in the darkness. It only serves to illuminate what matters. Like the clicking clock. A mechanical heartbeat sounding from a relic that you know doesn't work in the light of day. There are no plugs or batteries to operate it, and you have long since given up winding it. But in the moonlight it still ticks, as if charged by electric dreams.
It is everywhere and nowhere. A wisp of silk that guides you if you know how to unravel the spool. A collection of signs, like cards in a tarot deck, meant only for your eyes. Understood only by your gut. You allow this skill to blossom inside you, the ability to translate these letters from the universe that will only reach you if you leave your mailbox open. Ask your questions without censor or clear reason. Just be ready for answers.
Synchronicity is the roadrunner that greets you one morning as you head to your office. You pause to enjoy the beautiful morning, the way the mint green of the trees highlights the rich purple of the mountains, the turquoise sky a perfect backdrop. A thought flits through your brain – an old, worn thought that has outlived its welcome. It has muscled its way in nonetheless, no doubt from the backdoor you left open from overwork the day before. It is a thought from a past self, a small shadow of a doubt on an otherwise gorgeous day. A tiny little question mark that almost suffocates your latest pop of inspiration.
And then the roadrunner crosses your path. It darts past you from bush to rock to dry brush as you lock your car, confusing evil spirits by its X- shaped feet, leaving them unable to tell in which direction you are moving, casting away darkness and welcoming light. All is well, it says. Follow the inspiration and all is well. No darkness can find you while you cultivate the light. So you turn from that shadowy thought – it is irrelevant – and wrap your inspiration around you like a leather coat protecting you from the inconstant weather of your thoughts, too often tainted by what you absorb from others. These are not your feelings, you realize, not your burden, nor your path to untangle. You must go beyond the white noise and recognize yourself in the early morning hush and quick dance of this long-tailed bird. You thank the roadrunner for his visit. You thank the universe for sending this message. You thank yourself for listening.
Crocheting Infinite Blankets
Each stitch is a piece of woven intention. A slip of yarn looped around another to bind your thoughts into the blankets you create. Healing, nourishing, abundant thoughts. They are tapestries of a happy life you conjure every time you pick up your needle and yarn, a comforting hug you can wrap around yourself when the night is cold or the day long. They have no beginning or end. Just the soft ridges of braided cotton.
Your first was a monstrous purple affair, crocheted with only a series of what you now know are half-stitches. But you and your sisters were set on crocheting your own infinite blankets after watching the heroine in Like Water for Chocolate knit an endless blanket and ride off into the sunset with her creation blazing behind her. Yes, you needed blankets like that. You needed proof of your story. And so you rustled together old crochet hooks from your mother's abandoned stash and bought skeins of multicolored yarn and crocheted for years and years. But while the heroine of that story poured her grief into each loop and tied it off with despair, you created joy through each imperfect stitch. And you left plenty of room for your desires to bloom in between the loosely connected loops. It's never a good idea to hold on to anything too tightly, after all, nor map it too precisely.
Together, you crocheted hopes for love and adventure and deep living into the folds of your blankets. You used the yarn to cast out lines for the lives you yearned to grow into once you left home. With each stitch, you freed yourself from the burden of your ancestors' stories, and the narratives they felt you should live out – those hollow, empty things like graves or debilitating traditions. So much made with a self- taught half-stitch. Not even a real stitch at all, some said. That didn't stop you from making a whole story with it.
That was your blanket woven with sister love and the unburdened glee of youth. None of you even minded that your blankets were a mishmash of colors and textures as you learned how to loop a proper, even stitch. Tried, anyway. After two or three years of busily working on your infinite blanket, while watching old movies or over long conversations, you decided your masterpiece was finished. It sits folded at the foot of your bed now, twice the size of any normal blanket, and twice as full of history and love.
Your second infinite blanket came to you in graduate school. This was your one and only attempt at knitting. It was a wish made of mustard and cranberry yarn, warming stripes that reminded you of red chile and yellow butter melting on fresh-from-the-skillet tortillas. It would keep the darkness away while living in the land of the cold and the gray. Like your school experience, knitting was less forgiving of your mistakes as you fumbled your way through these more sophisticated stitches. There was no do-over like with crocheting. No re-knits to iron out the kinks. Your only option was to start over completely if you lost a stitch or to keep blazing forward, uninhibited by the lack of perfection.
You chose the latter. Looking back had always seemed like a waste, precision seriously overrated. No, you preferred these flaws and holes in your blanket. The better to let bad spirits escape, according to an old legend native to your beloved Southwest, learned from your mother and practiced each time you wound the wooden needles larger than your forearm around each other. Relearned again and again, when your pages came back dripping with micro-aggressions and cultural superiority. Four years down the road, this one was three times the length any proper blanket should be; you had a lot to work through. A lot to conjure. You could almost trail it along the perimeter of your apartment twice over if you wanted, but you'd much rather snuggle into the all-encompassing folds of that comfortably imperfect and utterly complete blanket. What mattered was that things got done. Perfect stitches are for people who don't want to move forward. So much safer to fuss and dawdle over one precious pattern than to allow yourself to create without censor.
You are working on a new one now, this one moving slower than the others. Almost five years in the making and still only a fraction complete. But you want to take your time with this one. A bright turquoise, crocheted in a series of shells. You will always favor the more forgiving stitch, as you have learned the power of generosity and gentleness. It is longer than the others, and it will be the strongest. The most infinite.
It is your New Mexico blanket; each stitch infused with your love of the desert, begun with the intention of weaving together a life you always imagined living. A teacher. A writer. A living story with roots firmly planted in the Land of Enchantment. Yes, this one is still in progress and may always be. There is no rush. You feel no pressure when you set it aside to craft yet another infinite blanket, this one a twin of yours, though it is not for you.
This next blanket is hot pink, a bold sister to your turquoise, and synonymous with your desert aesthetic. A fearless color bound together by those forgiving crocheted shells, so that your niece may live and love and be in the world boldly. This is her blanket. She will know that she is surrounded by warmth and affection conjured from years of her mother and aunts weaving the future together. This is a blanket for the new generation of women in your family. A new generation that, like you and your sisters did together so long ago, will learn the power of the infinite as a series of loops and pearls that spread out behind you in your journey toward the sun.
She will know the power of the infinite.
She will be infinite(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Everyday Enchantments"
Copyright © 2017 Maria DeBlassie.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Everyday Enchantment 1
On Double Yokes 4
On Synchronicity 6
Crocheting Infinite Blankets 8
Routine as Ritual 11
On Chamomile 14
On Long Walks 16
My Joy Is My Resistance 19
On Dreaming Deeply 21
Burning Old Man Gloom 23
On Belief 25
Descending into the Underworld 27
Life Is a Celebration 29
An Unexpected Afternoon Tea 31
On Hot Air Balloons 32
On Home 34
Cooking an Onion 36
To Be Still 38
Grocery Lists 40
A Conversation with Coyote 42
Early Morning Yoga 45
On Being an Amateur 47
On Being an Expert 49
Tasting the First Tomatoes from My Garden 50
A Love Letter to Summer Monsoons 52
On Wild Hair 53
Everyday Conjuring 55
A Love Letter to Pleasure 57
What Writing Looks Like 59
The Bookshelf 62
La Llorona 64
On Bravery 68
Grounding and Gardening 69
Letting Go of Past Lives 71
The Apple 74
On Gratitude 76
The Hunt for a New Read 77
On Hollyhocks 80
Why I Won't Wait on the Sidelines to Dance 82
Let Me Be 83
Dancing in the Rain 84
On Sunbathing 85
The Dandelion 87
On Red Chile Stew 89
Living Your Creed 91
I Used to Write on Napkins 92
On Autumn Sweaters 95
Playing with Herbs 97
The Story Eater 98
On Summer 99
Cruising to Work 101
Things that Make Me a New Mexican 102
Things that Make Me a Burqueña 103
On Mondays 105
Visiting the Herb Store 107
Watching the Robin Build Its Nest 109
A Trip to the Bookstore 111
Confessions of a Flower Eater 115
Under the Influence of M.P.K. Fisher 117
On Camel Pose 119
On January 120
I Live in Stories 121
Preparing a Dinner Party 122
Things You Do to Unwind 124
On Saturday Mornings 126
The Ritual of Tea 128
On Rainy Days, Miles Davis, and Whiskey 130
The Body Beautiful 132
Reading Late into the Night 133
On Sundays 135
Summer Solstice & the Strawberry Moon 136
The Daffodils on My Nightstand 137
On the Farmers' Market 138
The Breath 140
Wear Your Fashion like Frilly Armor 141
The Wind in My Hair 143
Reflections on a Snow Day 144
Kitchen-Sinking It 146
Returning Home after a Long Journey 147
Body Wisdom 149
Buying a Bouquet of Flowers 150
Drinking a Glass of Wine on My Patio 152
Kundalini Energy 154
Revisiting an Old Story 155
Writing at the Kitchen Table 157
Dreaming under the Supermoon 159
On Peaches 161
On Wings 163
Making Limoncello 165
Things I Want to Unlearn 168
Things I Want to Relearn 170
Celebrating Spring 172
On the Necessity of Good Coffee 174
No Is a Two-Letter Synonym for Yes 176
To the Everlasting Yes! 177