Chamisa, also called Rubber Rabbitbrush: a perennial deciduous Native shrub, with aromatic, blue-green-grey, feathery foliage in Summer and dense clusters of bright-yellow flowers in early Fall. Deciduous shrub, 3-5 ft. tall & wide. Can prune strongly – blooms on new growth. Sow anytime.
Though I loved growing up in northern Virginia, with its lovely green deciduous trees and grassy lawns and hills, I willingly adapted to living in a dry land. Here in my adopted state of New Mexico I find myself surrounded by Chamisa. It is scruffy and hardy; it attempts to cover the hard dirt fields, it is everywhere. Though occasionally planted in gardens or used in landscaping, Chamisa’s favorite place is bordering roads.
Many Octobers ago when I first moved to the Southwest, this ubiquitous plant was abloom with small yellow blossoms. I made bouquets and put several throughout the house. Soon I was sneezing my head off. Lesson learned. Too pungent to be used in the house, Chamisa is best left outdoors.
This lowly “rabbitbrush” seems to symbolize the adoptee’s journey of forgiving the past and being in now. Not resignation, but rather, acceptance. The “Chamisa Road” is about moving beyond invisible wounds, those injuries that are hardest to heal. It’s about traveling from “how to have what you want” to “how to want what you have”
In my experience, the wounds of adoption may never really go away; they simply change form. I’ve written about this in my confessional, The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption. Similarly, in her excellent memoir Split at the Root, Catana Tully indicates that restoration may be a lifelong process. The “wounded heart” of the adoptee overrides intellectual decisions. At any time, the feelings of being not quite OK, of not belonging may reappear. They rear their ugly heads and must be stared down.
Adoption recovery, it turns out, is not accomplished by simply writing a memoir and then declaring “OK, I’m healed now.” It is a Sisyphusian undertaking that must be faced afresh every morning. It is about walking The Chamisa Road.