The Magic *Ping*

Last year about this time I told my close friends and the people I work with that I didn’t want to travel in the spring of 2014.

Ping airplane2I have several trips I usually make at this time of year.  Been making those trips for six or seven years now. For y’all who might not know, spring is the start of conference season for writers, and there are all kinds of events for readers–luncheons, teas, weekend events where readers meet writers…you name it. 

I LOVE those events.  I love meeting and getting to know people.  I love readers and I love talking about books.

Beyond that, I get together a couple of times a year with a few of the other Banditas  to talk about our books, throw around ideas, and brainstorm new books and series.

It was hard to say, “I’m not traveling in the spring next year.”  Because tPing bulbs 2014hat meant other people had to bend their schedules for me. 

But it had to be done.  Because each year when I’ve had to leave during March, April or May, I’ve mourned.   I realized last year that each time I’ve been gone in the spring, I’ve missed something really important.   This past year I knew I had to make a change.   I need to be home in the spring for a specific reason.

This is when the creative magic happens for me.  The magic *ping*– that moment when the soul resonates with something so profoundly that you just have to stop in your tracks and soak it in.  It is those moments when you feel the kind of deep peace that reconnects you to who you are.  It is the moments that heal you–the kind of things that awaken your creative soul. 

ping bulbs 2014 5The most powerful *ping* for me is found right here in my own yard. 

It is watching my flowers bloom as soon as the weather turns warm.

Something revives in me as I watch the world come to life in the early part of the year.  With the awakening of the earth after the dearth that is winter, my soul comes alive as well.

Maybe it’s that I love flowering bulbs just about more than any other blooming plants.   There’s something  reminiscent of the eternal about planting bulbs in the fall and having them bloom the following spring.  It sparks some magic inside me. 

Sinking bulbs into the cool earth during the death of autumn, to wait through the long, cold winter, and have those bulbs sprout into a glorious, colorful resurrection in the spring…

That does it for bulbs 2014 2

I’m not the least bit religious any more.  But it’s a little hard for me to not believe in a creator when I see that happen.

This winter was a long, cold one here in the United States.  At least in most parts of it.

I’m really, really glad that I have this season with no travel.  I’ve been able to witness the glory of the resurrection of nature and my garden every day so far this year.   It has awakened the creator in me.

I asked Bandita Donna what does it for her.  She said,  The ocean.
There’s something about the tide coming in and the eternity of it that soothes my soul.  And the sound..
.I love the sound of waves.  Definitely the ocean for me.”

I feel the same way about the ocean, actually. Sometimes I use a recording of ocean waves to lull me to sleep at night.   But I live in landlocked Kentucky, so don’t see much of the real thing.  I have to travel to get it. 

So I asked Bandita Jeanne what did it for her.

“Buildings,” she said.  ” Old ones.  Imagining what to do with them, where they could be utilized.  Renovation, of course.  Adaptive reuse.  :>  Houses. Gardening.  Hanging with the dogs/walking with them. Cemeteries.”

All of those except cemeteries do it for me, too.  No wonder Jeanne and I are evil twins.

Every writer has ping bulbs 10some kind of background story. Some upbringing that made him who he is today, or  life events that have shaped her into the storyteller she is.  For me, it is my childhood on the farm, what I learned from the old folks around me, from working with my dad, and from gardening with my grandmother, the one us grandkids knew as MotherGrant.  

MotherGrant was a creator in her own right.  She had a green thumb.  Shorthand for a gift for growing things.  She had an 8th grade education (that was considered graduating when she was a girl) but she could mix a little sunshine, a little water and a few seeds with a bit of dirt and her own magic, and with that concoction she could create the most beautiful garden you’ve ever bulbs 2014 3

I’m not her.   I’ve got a higher degree in horticulture, but I’m not that good.  

Still, when I put my hands in the dirt, something happens.  I can feel her beside me, urging me on, telling me just how deep to cover the seeds, and just how much water they need. 

Maybe it’s that connection with her that makes me need the spring so much.   I dunno.  But when the winter starts to give way to warmer weather each year, I start watching for the bulbs to emerge from the ground, and when I see the green shoots grow and spring into glorious blooms, the creator in me comes to life.   I feel the *ping.*

I took all these photos (except for the jet) in my yard tonight.  And with every moment I was out there, I felt more whole.  I felt that *ping* of “Yeah, this is who I am.”

ping bulbs 2014 8What about you, Bandits and Buddies?

What do you look forward to in the spring?

Is there some place, like the ocean, or the mountains, or some activity like skiing, painting, knitting, or playing with your grandkids, that connects you to your inner self, lets you hear your muse, and brings you peace?

Maybe it’s a town, hearing certain music, or maybe even a person that brings you back to the core of who you are, and makes you go “yeah, all is right with the world for this one moment.”

What is it for you that makes the magic *ping*?

No use of photos without written permission by owner. All flower photos © Cassondra Murray.  Jet photo–Wikipedia.

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  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit me ?

    Have Fun

  • Cassondra Murray says:

    Helen, he IS coming back Down Under.

    Hope you have something to keep him entertained.

    • Helen says:

      Oh yes Cassondra I have Tim Tams and Jayden and Hayley are here for dinner and of course we have the new dog who keeps him on his toes 🙂

      Have Fun

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        Oooh a new dog? What kind??

        • Helen says:


          He is a Mareema and Italian sheep dog all white and very cute and his name is Casper they are also used to keep chickens safe at times LOL but he loves the grandkids although he can be a bit naughty at the moment he is nearly 4 months old and is going to be a big boy 🙂

          Have Fun

  • Helen says:

    I do love your posts and those pictures are lovely we are going into autumn now and finally the days have coole a little the mornings are fresh and crisp after a long hot summer over here and I am really looking forward to it. For me I love getting out and playing with the grandkids they do make me smile and as for the bulbs shooting up that is another thing that makes me smile and I love the beach the sound of the ocean the waves has always been soothing to me 🙂 Enjoy your time at home in the spring

    Have Fun

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Helen, those crisp Autumn days are the ones I look forward to. :> I love, love, love Spring and as Cassondra said, the flowers are such a joy. But I know beyond it lies the hot, hot summer. Not my favorite. :>

    • Cassondra says:

      Helen, some fabulous things bloom in the fall here, too. Chrysanthemums used to be my favorite flower…they would still score high and might even win the fight on some days.

      I don’t know if you have those there, though. And do you live near the beach at all?

      • Helen says:


        Yes we do have those here my Nana used to grow them a lot they are known as Mother’s Day flowers seeing as they are sold from street corners by kids for Mother’s Day and I am about and hour to an hour and a half away from the closest beach and about that distance from The Blue Moutains as well which is a lovely place esepecially during winter in my eyes anyway 🙂

        Have Fun

  • Amy Conley says:

    Totally and completely it is the ocean, but it still runs a very close second to my grandkids.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Amy, so many find the ocean soothing. I love the mountains for that. When Cassondra and I talked I had my brain on Savannah and the old houses and how they spark my muse…who lived there? Why? Who built it? Why?…but in terms of landscape, it’s the mountatins

    • Cassondra says:

      Amy in the times I just can’t get something to flip in my brain, or when I need a new direction in life, it’s the ocean for me too. The power of it–the rhythm of it. When I look at it, it’s as though I get a sense of “all the problems in the world can’t stop that. Your problem right now is small and fixable and life will go on.”

  • Cassondra, what a gorgeous post. And I love the pictures. I know exactly what you mean – I spend most of our autumns yearning to be in the Northern Hemisphere seeing your spring. It’s my absolutely favorite time of year. Hoping I’m in the UK for spring next year. In 2004 when I had my four month stay there, I followed the spring up from the south so I had bluebells and blossoms for a couple of months as I headed north. Absolute nirvana!

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Oh, that must have been LOVELY, Anna! How fun!

    • Cassondra says:

      Oh, Anna, a four-month spring would be fabulous!

      And I think now that I would be just fine with two springs per year.

      Maybe that would be a good plan. Northern hemisphere in the “spring” and Southern hemisphere in the (fall) “spring”. You are a genius.

  • Sandy Blair says:

    You’re so right! After suffering through an unusually bitter cold New England winter, I became giddy finding little green crocus tufts reaching for the sun. I’m now pouring over seed catalogs. 🙂

    • Sandy – That must have been one heck of a switch for you to go from Texas to New England. Sending hugs to your soul for its deprivation this winter.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Hi Sandy! I agree with Donna and winced at the thought of a New England winter after Texas. I know it gets cold and icy in TX, but New England’s a whoooooole different ballgame. :> Glad your crocuses are up!

    • Cassondra says:

      Sandy, I don’t know how y’all made it up there, but glad to know the crocuses are braving the whole thing. They’re tough little gems.

      We’re sort of “late” for some blooms down here because it stayed cold all through February instead of warm-cold-warm-cold that we usually get. So everything is going at sonce at this point. The irises are a little late though–I can’t wait for those.

  • Susan Sey says:

    I’m a lot like you, Cassondra, in that I’m not even remotely religious, traditionally speaking. We go to church but it’s the sort of place that openly welcomes the skeptics & the doubters. In an very unusual move, it’s also the kind of church that embraces traditional church music.

    Lucky for me, too, because *that’s* often where I feel & find transcendence.

    For example, I had the opportunity to sing with the choir this Christmas when we did Handel’s Messiah. I’m an alto, so I was right in the front row. So there I was, with a gorgeous choir singing at my back, and the entire congregation singing into my face. I was practically standing in the oboe section of the orchestra & in that moment…I swear I saw God. Heard her, anyway. Felt the power, or whatever you want to say. It was a goosebumps-and-radiant-joy kind of moment.

    And *that’s* why I still go to church. 🙂

    • Dear Heaven, I felt the power in your post! I would have loved to have been there to see you sing, Susan.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Oh, Susan! What a lovely experience that must have been! I’ve nver felt closer to heaven than in just that situation – singing Messiah with a full voice choir! Wowie. Gave me goosebumps.

    • Cassondra says:

      Ah, Susan, you are my soul sister in that. I grew up singing all over, and it was that sacred music that rang my bells. I sang a lot of southern gospel, but that didn’t do it. I didn’t like that stuff at all, even when I performed it. But some of the old hymns–and the choral music….yeah.

      One time I came out of a workshop at Scarrit Bennet Center in Nashville. It used to be a missionary training school back in the day, and it’s such a perfect place to hold any workshops centered around the self, growth, healing, etc, because any time you’re on that campus, you could almost literally feel the power of the place. Some of us have speculated that it’s all the prayers that were said there, and all the dedications to a higher purpose that happened there.

      Anyway, this workshop was right before Christmas by just a few days. The meetings ended and I came downstairs to go to my car. I had to pass by the side door of a chapel.

      I was high on the workshop “juice” anyway, and as I passed by, this choir was rehearsing for a performance later that evening. It was one of the best choirs in Nashville (which is saying something, in a town full of singers) and the chapel was this old, quaint, glorious little structure.

      Right there, in that moment, looking through the tiny glass and listening, I transcended humanity for just a moment. I became something bigger. It was a moment of one-ness with God. And I’ve never forgotten it.

  • Cassondra – Your flowers are so much farther along that ours. We just have a few crocuses and windflowers. My star magnolia has a few blooms, nothing really significant, and my red maple is getting ready to burst with new leaves. It has those red seed balls on the ends of the branches. I have a stained glass window in my loft that I open just to see that red and know that Spring is truly coming. But I’m still waiting on the tulips and irises and the beautiful flowering trees. Spring is coming, it just hasn’t landed here yet.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Donna, our maples are ready to burst as well…just waiting….

    • Cassondra says:

      Donna, spring is busting at the seams to get out here, but we have only the tiniest buds on the trees. I haven’t caught that “pink” cast you notice in a tree line as you drive down the road–you know the one that says, “the trees are waking up”?

      But I sit here looking out and I see tiny green bits on the branches of the hackberries outside my window, so apparently they just blew right through the pink and they’re going straight for the green. The early spring green is one of my favorite things in the world.

  • Cassondra, love the pictures of all your flowers. I wish I could remember to plant bulbs in the fall so they’ll come up in spring. But I suspect there’s a reason I don’t.

    See, while spring may be your season to reconnect. Autumn is mine.

    Let me take a step back and give y’all some background info. Jazzman hates cold, hates winter…ergo the reason we now live in Texas and we spent 7 years in Florida before that.

    ME? I need my Ohio Autumn. I need the cooler temperatures, especially after enduring 100+ days for weeks on end, sometimes months on end. I need to see the vibrant yellows, gold, orange, red and even deep purple on the trees. Hear the leaves under my feet as I walk. I need the cold dreary slow rain that happens in the Ohio valley. So every fall, I fly up to spend my birthday and my mom’s birthday with her and my family.

    Since I’m not home when it’s time to plant bulbs in my garden for the next spring…I sadly have none!

    • Makes sense to me. I do love the Ohio fall as well. Hey! If I can’t have the ocean at my doorstep at least I can have the crisp fall weather with the preponderance of colorful trees.

    • Cassondra says:

      Suz, I love all those things about autumn as well. And it used to be my favorite season. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve switched to spring.

      I think I may end up being a snowbird one day–heading south to the warm for the cold months of the year–maybe right after Thanksgiving, then returning to see the Crocuses bloom in the spring. Two and a half months of beach sounds just about right.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Cassondra, I always love your posts! I love your flowers too! Mine are juuuuuust beginning to get a good start. My crocuses are up, but my hyacinths are just barely getting a foothold. In one sunny spot, my daffodils are up and blooming, in shadier spots, they’re barely green shoots. No tulips yet either, but…they’re coming! I can see them! Grins. ALl the trees are budding out, so I’m excited that it – Spring – might FINALLY be here! :> Savannah spoiled me, as the azaleas were already in bloom.

    That PING is such a lovely feeling, isn’t it? I love the tings that spark that – the old houses I mentioned, flowers and gardening, and even that discourse with other authors where you build stories and create new things – now there’s a PING! Grins.

    • Cassondra says:

      Jeanne, all of those things ping for me as well. And actually, working on houses does it for me. Even just painting for my friend the other day–that was a lot of work, but it made me SO. Happy. Just to do that small bit of “fixing up.” Moving forward. Making things beautiful.

      The Smoky Mountains ping in a big way for me. The Rockies–not so much, though they are beautiful, they don’t make my soul sing.

      And the ocean–not the crashing ocean–but the smooth roll of the ocean at the beach revives my soul.

      The flowers are the one time of year I can count on the renewal to always come, right here at home, even if I don’t get it any other way.

  • Shannon says:

    I have several pings, most of which have been mentioned.

    My version of flowers is seeing the cherry blossoms either in Washington at the Tidal Basin where the bows sometimes force one to duck or around the small pond in a neighborhood park. The blossoms go from a subtle pink to faded blush to almost the palest pink before they drop onto the ground. They look more pink when clustered on the ground.

    The ocean. There’s the soothing Atlantic from Florida to Cape May. But there’s also the rocky beaches of Maine or Oregon where the waves crash and then swirl out. It was a joy to see the surfers at Santa Cruz. I remember looking at the ocean from a condo balcony at Myrtle Beach and being able to spot the rip tides from that angle.

    In the mountains, I have settled by a small spring from which the beginning of a creek or a river to watch water come out of rocks or soil. I visited a spring across the county road nestled in a copse of bushes often as a child, marveling at the coldness of the water and burbling of water across the worn rocks. Sometimes, if I were still a I’d hear a bird that dared to come back.

    • Cassondra says:

      Shannon I think we must be soul sisters, because your pings are mine as well. The cherry blossoms would do it for me. The dogwoods and redbuds do that for me here, especially on the rare years when they’re out at the same time. (This won’t be one of those years . We haven’t had enough warm days to make the dogwoods come out, but the redbuds are on the verge). The ocean, yes, and I’ve sat at springheads like that before…and talk about feeling something miraculous. I don’t know why watching water come out of the earth that way, pure and untainted, does it for me, but it really does. We had a spring on our farm when I was growing up–and from that spring, four generations of my family had gathered water. I’d go get some every year just to walk in their steps. It was magical to me.

  • Becke says:

    Nice post. It’s inspiring to read about the things that move people.

    I understand all of the passions in the post. And yes, all of those hold a resonance for me. However, the criteria for me is and has always been two things:
    1-A beautiful day with blue skies a few fluffy clouds and a gentle breeze
    2- A good horse under me

    I can ride the beach, the mountains, the dessert, the forests. It doesn’t matter as long as the first two are present. On a horse I feel free. I love the power of the animal, the responsive nature of them, and riding though any environment gives me a special view. It’s at a speed you can enjoy, savor. It’s at an eye level where you see so many things you may have missed before. My heart seems to coordinate with the rhythm of each gait-the slow four-beat walk, a two-beat trot, or a three beat canter. I like the smell of oiled leather, horse sweat, and the outdoors.

    Now, that I’ve written this I may have to travel back to Utah and ride the valley-even if it is on a Native American nag.

    • Cassondra says:

      Ah, Becke.

      I don’t know if I’ve told this here on the blog…a few years ago we went walking down the road where we live–this is not long after we’d bought the house and moved in. I rounded a bend and caught the scent of horses, and I sat down on the roadside and just cried as I watched them acting up in the barn lot we’d just passed. It’d been so long since I’d been on a horse, that I’d lost the sense of how much I missed them. But I am exactly that way–in my love for the horses and the view from their backs. It sounds like you’ve done more riding than I have, and that ping is stronger for you than it is for me–but gosh I miss it.

  • Beautiful post, Cassondra! Your flowers are lovely. I see my favorite daffodils blooming nicely. 🙂

    For me, I like water. I get that feeling you describe from watching the ocean waves crashing along the beach. I try to walk there at least once a week. But even when I can’t get there in person, I can feel it and smell it in the air.

    I can stop anywhere along the California coast and feel the same. There’s something about the air and the light and the water that so appeals to me and fills me with calm and happy feelings.

    I still remember the feeling I got while standing on the banks of Loch Ness. Truly a “ping” moment!

    Apparently, beautiful bodies of water do it for me. 😉

    • Cassondra says:

      Kate, almost all water does that for me to some degree, but some more than others.

      I haven’t had the opportunity to spend time on the Pacific coast. I went on a cruise that left from LA, but I was in classes all day on the boat, and saw little of the water really.

      I, too, felt the ping at Loch Ness. All over Scotland really. I had to wonder if it was some ancestral memory because it felt different there.

  • catslady says:

    When I was a young child all my mother had to do was sit me down where there was a patch of ground and I would be there for hours and hours – sifting dirt, digging, inspecting stones and whatever and then when older, planting. Maybe I get it from my grandparents who farmed for a living (rented land for vegetables) and my grandfather’s love of flowers. My mother had the touch too and I seemed to have gotten it along with my youngest daughter. We’re late with the blooms this year but I do see some green beginning to sprout. I need to get out there and plant my onion bulbs and then whatever else strikes my fancy!!!

    • Cassondra says:

      Yes, catslady, get out there!

      It helps me to see it from inside, but being out there with my hands in the dirt..that really brings the ping for me. Sounds like you got yours the same way I got mine–through the family.

  • Kaelee says:

    I find my “ping” in the mountains by a gurgling stream with the smell of evergreen trees in the air. Love hiking along a trail watching for wildflowers and wildlife(birds, insects animals).

    I do love spring in my backyard when my primroses start to bloom but I love all my perennial flowers when ever they blossom.
    I also love fresh tomatoes straight out of the garden.

    • Cassondra says:

      Oooo Kaelee, wonderful list of pings!

      Love the fresh tomatoes. Nothing like them.

      And the smell of evergreens…yeah, that does it. I love cedar the most, because there was so much of it around when I was growing up, and not many pines. But now any evergreen does it.

  • Mozette says:

    For me, there’s a magical ‘ping’ in each season, and it’s when the season we’re in levels out and we’re smack dab in the middle of it. We’ve become accustomed to cold mornings, we’re eating the comfort foods, the dull rain outside our windows is just a part of our days, and the colds and flu adverts are in full swing.

    I love it when we have this kind of ‘ping’ in life of all the seasons. I feel it each year. In Summer, it’s the day where there’s a heatwave and nobody moves outside their homes…in Spring, it’s when everything is in flower, the lawn looks its best and you have stopped working so hard to make it look good and you can sit and look at it happy that you’ve done so well! In Autumn, you feel the nip in the air in the mornings, and you begin planning meals earlier in the day, the sun sets early, you plan your weekend around what you’re doing around your yard and house. In Winter, you’re busily repotting what grew well in Spring, you’re rugged up warmly, eating your comfort foods, enjoying the cold mornings with your hot coffee/tea in hand and loving how pretty your winter flowers can be.

    Yep, each season has a ‘ping’ here in Australia. 😀

    • Cassondra says:

      Oh Mozette, I LOVE your list.

      I got a little ping just reading it! I have pings for each season too…but they’re smaller in winter for me.

      “Rugged up.” We don’t hae that term but I can guess what it means…all cozy with the sweaters and the shag rugs and the heavy quilts…am I right?

      Oh and I love the point about the spring, when you’ve got your yard to a certain point and you quit working so hard so you can actually stop and look at it! Great image.

      • Mozette says:

        😀 Yes, ‘rugged up’ means just what you said. Here in my home, I can keep it nice and warm without getting out the heater as I’ll cook something nice and hot and comforting, then, close up the house and just the stove being used will keep the house nice and warm… and all I have to do is keep my jumpers/sweaters on and my feet warm.

        And trying to keep the power/electric bills down is one of life’s many challenges. 🙂

        • Cassondra says:

          Haha! Mozette, I would love it if we had only to use the cook stove to keep the house warm.

          You wouldn’t believe the money on the heat bills this past winter. I could have done so MUCH with that money!

  • Cassondra, what a great topic! First let me say I so envy your knack with plants. Your flowers are beautiful. Any plants left in my care, on the other hand, tend to die. I water too little or not enough and never consistently. This us why the dh is in charge of all plants.

    I get a ping like that from the ocean, from its vastness and power and eternity. The mountains have a similar effect.

    The Okefenokee Swamp pings for me now that I’ve seen it, partly for similar reasons. It’s vast. Untameable. And it’s Other, so very foreign to anywhere else I’ve ever been, yet full of life and beauty. Like the ocean and the mountains, it has a majesty that inspires.

    And of course any historical site in England or Scotland gets my brain cells humming.

  • What an amazing post, Cassondra! Everyone needs to refill their soul from time to time and those PING things do it like nothing else.

    Singing and music has always done it for me. Like Smoov so eloquently put, standing on a stage surrounded by music – vocal and orchestral is the most amazing sensation. I’ve definitely had some spiritual experiences singing Handel’s Messiah. I was privileged to sing Mozart’s Alleluia in Canterbury Cathedral and even the memory of it gives me chills. That cathedral was built for music.

    Opera performance is, for the most part, 40% panic and sheer terror and 60% “damn I nailed it!” But every so often things comes together – the orchestra is spot on, your fellow performers are at the top of their game and the audience is on the edge of their seats (mostly waiting to see if you crash and burn on that High C or F.) When it all falls into place and the curtain falls and there is this roar from the audience it is, not to put too fine a point on it, better than sex. I can still remember those occasions when it happened and I can still hear a young baritone named Alexander look at me with a cheeky grin and say “Was it good for you?”

    • Cassondra says:

      Haha! Louisa, I have had some of those moments, though not with such a grand accompaniment as an orchestra.

      But when you nail a performance, there is no transcendence greater than that.

      I’ve felt it a few times, and it’s hard to live without that, honestly, once you’ve felt it.

      What wonderful stories you tell!