Toes in the creek: “Willowing up” in a climate of constant change

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” 

(Loren Eiseley)


I grew up in semi-urban neighborhoods inside the DC Beltway. One of the things that I appreciate most about Maryland is that nearly anywhere you go, even in urban spaces, there is water. We have creeks, rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean. We are a very wet state. 

I grew up spending hours and hours walking along the creek near my elementary school. The banks were lined with these amazingly graceful Weeping Willows. Their hair-like extensions would create this gentle, sweeping green canopy, dappling the light on the creek. I wasn’t a big fan of shoes and I spent a great deal of time with my feet in the muddy water, just dreaming, sheltered by the Willows’ blankets of “hair.” 

It somehow made me feel ok, even when nothing around me was ok.

The more things change…

As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I was this many days old when I realized that my morning centering rituals are really just a drier version of nestling my feet in creek mud. Day after day I would leave for school extra early so that I could spend time at the creek before school. Now I spend a little time as many mornings as I can doing some reading and meditation, and sometimes making some music, to reground myself. I realign my mind, body and spirit with my purpose, remembering what I’m here to do as I tap into the resources I have that help me do it better.

It’s just like toes in creek mud: I connect with something more solid than I might be in that moment and let the constantly changing water just keep rolling over my feet and ankles. 

The world is watery

The pace of change in our world has been dizzying this year.  It’s like the creek after a storm.  The water surges fast and hard, and it’s harder to anchor our feet in all of that stirred up mud. It’s a messy, slippery business.  So much seems unsure, unsettled, insecure.  

And yet, those creeks have been there a very, very long time. The Willows have also been there a long time, through hurricanes and snowfalls, dry spells, scorching summers and freezing winters. You know how they do it? They are tapped directly into the creeks through their roots and they are full of water.  They bend and flow in the winds. They stay insulated through extreme temperatures. They are literally full of muddy creek water.

The water that can seem so chaotic at times is the same water that keeps the Willow trees vitally alive. Let me type that again:

The water that can seem so chaotic at times is the same water that keeps the Willow trees vitally alive.

It’s all in the roots

Weeping Willows don’t have big, deep roots.  In fact, their resilience comes from tiny, fine roots that gather together in mats, just below the surface.  Those super fine fibers create strength together as they make their way to the water.  If one part gets damaged, the rest of the meshed together tentacles will hold, each one drinking in moisture to send to the rest of the tree with the system as a whole creating a stable, flexible base for the tree itself that remains intact through almost any challenge.

Essentially, they create community.

Time to willow up

In my last blog, I wrote about connection as an important part of our coping in the current age. It’s tempting to think that if we lack deep, long-term connections with others, we are “up a creek” when it comes to surviving the pandemic. Apparently, being up a creek isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those deep roots are great for some trees, but they are not the only way to thrive! 

Think small. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to join your strength with the strength of others. Send a text.  Share a funny meme. Leave a note of encouragement on a neighbor’s door. If you have something you can give, give it. If someone wants to give you something, receive it. (Just be sure that in both giving and receiving, there are no strings attached. I’ll address that in another blog.) Fill your partner’s or child’s car with gas when they aren’t looking. Play with pets. Greet your neighbor’s dog. Smile with your eyes when you pass people in public spaces, (wearing masks, at least six feet apart.) Notice the winter birds in your neighborhood. Listen to the rain. Share a story.  Say “hi” to a stranger. If you have a few bucks, send some interesting books or games to a kid in your neighborhood or somewhere across the country. 

It’s all mud

Those micro-connections are so simple; So low risk.  They could be thought of as “shallow.” What if they are shallow like a Weeping Willow’s roots? Each of those things reminds us and others that we are connected to one another and to something much bigger, much more stable and enduring than the rapid-fire changes all around us. 

Each of those connections digs into the mud we’re in and draws the nourishment out. Each of those connections brings strength, stability and health to the tree. 

Whachu got?

How can you make some of those micro-connections today? Right now? The device in your hands or under your fingertips as you read this is a portal to an endless array of ways to share micro-connections and micro-support that can help us all anchor ourselves in the midst of all of these constant changes. 

How can you use your powers for good, right now?


If you are struggling to make connections and find support, or to deal with the current climate of constant change, contact me here.  I’m happy to help any way I can.