Last year I had the great fortune of attending a Flower Essence training in Nevada City, California. Nevada City is a few hours east of San Francisco in the Gold Country on the way to the Sierras and Lake Tahoe. The training occurred on a delightful property called Terra Flora about 3 miles away from the center of Nevada City. It is the headquarters and the farm of a business and an educational program called Flower Essence Services, where fantastic flowers, plants and trees are grown to make these healing essences. Several times a year, they host trainings for new and seasoned flower essence practitioners and therapists. I attended my first training in 2008 and then the second in 2016. The first time I stayed in a very nondescript motel in town and car-pooled to Terra Flora each day. This last time, I was able to stay in the house on the property as it had been expanded and had accommodations for at least 12 people. I booked the single room in the corner with my own bathroom, it was small but all I needed.
This house, called the Beltane House, is comfortable and a has a well-appointed kitchen. We brought our own food to prepare and I only left the property once to get some groceries. I was fully immersed in the program of study, the property, the flowers, the trees, the Indian spirits who used to live there, the fairies and the bees.
I was befriended by a woman who was also staying at the house. She had been there several times and knew the lay of the land better than I did. She invited me for a swim in the pond. We initially found the incorrect pond and had a really difficult time getting in and out of it. We mentioned it to Patricia, our teacher, and she told us where to go. The proper swimming pond had a tiny beach and a dock over by the lotus flowers. We were there each morning and each evening of the training for 4 days. It’s completely private so we skinny-dipped.
In order to get into the pond, we have to wade through some muck for a few steps. Our feet slip into that extra fine silt and then we let go, our upper bodies finally underwater, heads staying above for a bit. We float among the lily pads and those insects which skate upon the water. The temperature is perfect. We are immersed in rich, life-affirming, muddy water and the essence of the lotus flower. It is as if we are in watery heaven. We invite others to come with us but no one is interested.
During the last afternoon of the course, I was busy photographing the lotus flowers while Patricia was lecturing out at the pond. I had my large camera with me around my neck and my iPhone squeezed tightly under one arm. When I snapped a shot of the flower, plunk! in went my phone to the bottom of the pond. I stepped right off the edge in my shoes, retrieved it and stood there feeling like an ass. Everyone told me to put the iPhone into a bowl of rice to possibly cure it of its bath. I was panicked! I had already wrecked a phone earlier in the summer from a tiny bit of water. I had insurance, but still, these people at Verizon suck. It remained quite dead for a few days and then suddenly revived. I thought it was the miracle of the Lotus pond, but, unfortunately, it broke down completely about a week later. That was an expensive picture of the Lotus flower.
I hadn’t thought about the pond or this event for quite some time until it came up in conversation recently. The recollection of the experience in the water was so healing, I was longing to do it again. I recalled my childhood in New Jersey, wandering in the woods and creeks of River Vale, getting dirty and wet, cold and scratched, dragging ourselves home by 6 for dinner, scrubbing all the blessed dirt off in the bathtub, pulling out the plug and actually watching dirt wash down the drain. It also reminded me of going to the swimming hole as a child on our friend’s farm in Upstate New York. My friend Elsa and I went in no matter what that water looked like, even with an algae overgrowth and while we helped the rescue raccoon, Rocky, fish out some tadpoles. We were fearless, undeterred by dirt and slime.