Love Letter to Creative Kindreds #11 – Melissa Condotta of Sunday’s Company
December 6th, 2019
In order to tell you how much I care about what you are doing with Sunday’s Company, I want to share a memory:
I am in grade 5 and my optometrist tells me I need glasses. I make a careful selection from the children’s frames stacked like optional personalities against a side-lit mirror case that spins. My choice of a somewhat large-framed pair with abalone-swirl pink arms reflects a lot of the fashion choices I made at the time: just enough out of style to not fit in with a bunch of girls with perms probably named Jessica. My newfound sight means these girls (and that boy with the bang swoop) become blind to me. Like the popular credit card advertisements propose at the time:
Fitting in, if I am smart enough to choose the kind of frames a permy Jessica might wear: $400.
Eyesight (no matter what lunchroom table I sit at): Priceless.
Before glasses, all my drawings of trees are sticks with a single green blob-like circle on them. Grass is one big solid green swath. I know intellectually about the existence of separate leaves and individual blades of grass, but my young brain simply paints what I see: life anywhere beyond a metre in front of me is a blur. When those pink abalone arms embrace my ears, and my eyes look through the result of some machine with bright lights and lots of alphabet recitation, I’m pretty sure I see God.
I stare out at the field in front of my house and an uncontrollable wave of emotion hits my chest. My body feels the same way it did when my friend snuck me a copy with the juicy parts of The Thornbirds bookmarked at a sleepover: out of my depth, but very alive.
My swath of green is forever exchanged, heart racing, with the symphony of greens and browns that bursts out before me. Staccato dots of orange and yellow prompt the field to play me notes of fire and life in the form of wildflowers. A spectrum of rusts and ochres rumble at the bottom of the wavy grasses, like tympany and bassoons.
The sounds of the field finally make sense: these are the dry grasses, the burrs and the milkweed, rubbing against each other, saying something I now understand. Life is death is life is death is life again. And, it is achingly, soul-searingly beautiful.
I remember three significant cries that year:
- The time bang swoop pretends to ask me to the dance via notes passed in class that were actually penned by the Jessicas (the whole class is in on it: one big joke).
- The time my mom cuts my hair into ‘layers’, bless her, in a fervent attempt on my part to echo the Jessicas’ latest obsession with Jennifer Aniston. The cut ends up being far too short on top so I not only have glasses, but a mullet to go with it. Social exile: complete.
- The time I put on my glasses and the field becomes a symphony.
To really see is to know, and Mel, you are a woman who knows a meadow in the symphony way. To you, through Sunday’s Company, the dance of clover and field horsetail is more than just music: it’s a medicine song.
Walking with you in a forest, the edge of your pointing finger becomes a wand. In front of my eyes, a clump of greenery living in the nook of a tree magically transforms into relief when boiled like tea. Scrolls of birch bark carry stories of ancient healing in them. Bees whisper to you where the good flowers are. You gather the forest in your arms, but only what it gives you naturally, basket heavy with today’s love notes and tomorrow’s balms.
We are in a kitchen turning a forest walk into salve when you tell me where ‘she’ came from, this version of you. As naturally as seeing with forest medicine eyes comes to you, it has not always been this way:
You are used to seeing the world from a place that feels like the struggles are bigger than you: people and pets and jobs cross your life path who ask a lot of your heart and yet grace interferes in a way that takes what was broken and turns it into a miracle. (P.S. Did you know you do this exact thing with the detritus of a forest floor? Sunday’s Company is all about that grace.)
You make a big leap and trade the city for the country while hedging your bets commuting to a 9-5 in a Toronto where you feel less and less like the person life is asking you to be. Then, you get to a place where a small tug tells you to go on a community-sponsored nature walk and the plants begin to tell you things. There is an undeniable hum and a swell in your heart that confirms it and you seemingly transition from seeker to devotee in the span of your next inhale. You go from hedging your bets to full on hedge-witch.
Out of this devotion, Sunday’s Company is born.
Your taste, alongside an ever-increasing public hunger for naturally and ethically sourced body care goods, provides you with a foundation that eventually expands into two of the cutest small town storefronts you ever did see, an online shop, workshops (including one at Nurture!) and features in curated gift baskets and local boutique hotel bathrooms.
Spending time with you, Mel, knowing your story, and seeing how you light up around leaves that everyone else leaves alone tells me that your products aren’t products to you: they’re prayer books. Each walk through forest and meadow, a devotional. You humbly take what nature offers and love it into something that will help others smell good, feel good and heal.
An example: your ‘Working Hands’ salve is on my packing list for every retreat because my hands get really rough from all the food prep. At the recent Fall Nurture, as part of Priyanka Saju’s poetry workshop, we are asked to bring an everyday item that is dear to us, choose a ‘feeling’ card at random (I choose “Freedom”) and then write a poem. I choose to write about your salve:
“Decay Vocation” c. 2019 Sonja Seiler
Pine, cedar & juniper berry
Held my hand
Through a kitchen salve.
Saved from death, these fruits
Of the forest
Linger on my fingers;
A balm from the tiny scars and
Burns of the kitchen battle.
The essence of what grew
Now healing me in its death.
Death by salve a salvation,
Because now my hands are
Free to keep making, taking
Comfort in these forest ghosts
Upon my skin.
Thank you, Mel, for listening to your heart and orchestrating your life and your livelihood so you can hear what the meadows are really singing.
I’m so glad you see the world this way – we all benefit. Thank you also for tucking in your love in the form of Sunday’s Company products into our Self Care Starter Kits for past retreats. Your ‘forest ghosts’ are my favourite.
P.S. There is nothing I enjoy so much as being witness to others following their calling and creating delicious spaces for you to connect and be inspired. You’ll find a series of love letters to creative kindreds I’ve discovered whose passion, talent and depth of spirit are palpable on the blog, and who generously donated their products to the women attending our retreat. Does this describe you or someone you know? Feel free to learn more about our partnership model here for our upcoming retreats. Want to attend a retreat in person? Our Spring retreat is coming up May 8-10th, 2020. Click here to be added to the waitlist for first access to registration!
To learn more about Melissa and Sunday’s Company:
Photo: Stephanie Philip modelling Mel’s famous salve on site at Nurture Spring 2019 by Katie Benfey