Category Archives: reminders from the natural world
I remember the first day I worked for my Elders
It was November 2009
Nervous that we wouldn’t find things to talk about…
I had met them in the Spring of 2008 while working on a landscape gardening crew – and we tended their beautiful perennial garden.
Nervousness gave way to a sense of ease
They became my anchor.
They came to know me & my quirks
Their home became familiar territory
I’m reminded of them, of conversations, the many meals, hugs, mannerisms & habits I had the honor to witness & be a part of for the past almost 6 years.
& was told early-on “fresh ground black pepper”
And so, at lunch, went the question: would you like some FRESH GROUND black pepper?
Nearly always, the reply was YES
Markers of time, reminders are everywhere
His chair where he sat
Her chair where she sat
The clock with large numbers, easier to read, marks the time after his surgery
Pinching salt in a dish
The ubiquitous box of Kleenex
A pile of letters from another grandchild
Well-worn sweatshirts (which I feel compelled to wear, though I stop myself…)
(He stopped speaking at that point)
It was an honor to simply be with him
Even now, sitting here, pausing now & again to look around & really take in the surroundings, a swirl from past moments floods my mind
& then coming present, that sense of honor… What an honor it is to have gotten to be in these dear people’s lives over time
“We’re such lucky, lucky people” she would say.
It’s all kinda fresh, still.
i try to respect the privacy of people.
Even my own – but it’s a strange line, especially when there’s this mix of shyness coupled with a curious desire to simple say what’s so
Check out the awesome socks!
He’s been away at times – and his body is wrestling with brain cancer.
A brilliant man, an honored Physicist.
He gave me his blessings to write about it on the blog
But I haven’t, really.
I feel sensitive to how it will land, what I’ll likely forget to say, or what I’ll write & how that will land
I love them both
My elder & his dog
And this family has been my anchor for the past 6 years of my seemingly-ever-shifting life
He’s still Here, but I miss him when he’s away.
The nature of coming & going
Not unlike the inhale & exhale
Connecting that to my own family line who left their countries in an attempt & hope of escaping prejudice & violence not all that long ago.
Two (well, four, really) Dear Friend’s will soon give birth to life anew
Guess it’s time for more walks in the woods.
It felt good to get back to work at the farm yesterday
The leaves have unfurled & there was a nice rain in the evening
A new high tunnel is under construction, which will allow the plastic to be removed from the Cathedral – giving the elements of Sun, Rain, & Air the chance to work their gifts in clearing & breathing the soil which has been under cover for 5 years
These are Romano beans, and I was to use up the rest of them
In they go!
Chioggia Beets, & a New Zealand Spinach variety were also seeded.
Then onto a few herb & flower transplants
I didn’t notice their construction, as I was filling trays & my eyes were focused on my hands’ actions
But it was a delightful surprise to find later – simple creations of beauty
I heard about the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
If nothing else, please scroll down & read the Wikipedia section on Opposing Views and the position of the Native Alaskan Tribes.
(The fact that I was driving my car at the time was not lost on me…)
The Porcupine Caribou calving grounds are there
People are still thinking they are not of this place
They see the world in a different way from us humans
We humans think we know what’s best
But I’m not so sure of that
What if the Caribou could be asked
And the Native Treaties honored
I think a lot of things, like most humans do…
But donating money isn’t enough, & I don’t donate a ton of money either.
(After meeting someone who worked in a non-profit that often went to court, she said that even $5 helps pay for transportation…)
What if the guide was truly: what is for the benefit of ALL beings…?
O the ocean
There is nothing like the Ocean.
Nearly 30 years…?
& my first time to the Gulf Coast
& it was heart-lifting to catch glimpses when it surfaced
People were fishing off a pier which stretched into the water
It struck me, this gathering of people, coming to celebrate a poignant moment of the day
Everything about it, I love.
The feel, the smell, the sounds…
It’s cliche, I suppose, to speak of the immensity & power of the ocean…
This steady, massive inhale & exhale – with all its responsiveness to weather (& other factors) still speaks to me
Thank you Ibis!
Gratitude & Blessings on the Ocean
This past Sunday was the first harvest day at Nook & Cranny
Spinach, lettuce mix, broccoli raab, arugula, & mustard greens
All from the three smaller hoop houses
Basil coming up nicely…
It was a bit overcast & chilly outside, but cozy inside the greenhouse
Soon it will be too warm for me in there & so I’ll do the seeding outside
The farm slowly is unfolding it’s shape as each new bed is tilled & planted
(I didn’t take many photos again, because there were 25 trays to seed, others to move, & 100 eggplant plants to be transplanted)
Say that three times fast:
…Eggplant plants to be transplanted…
(Thankfully this photo was NOT taken at the farm)
Sweet earthy groundhog looking for its breakfast this morning
Here’s the lovely nearby pond
(From the evening before)
Showing water’s amazing reflective capacity
It can be a mirror at times, clear at times, and obscuring at times.
And sometimes all at the same time! …depending on ones position relative to the body of water
I was recently on a walk & passed a parent & child walking in the opposite direction
We were all passing a (thawed) vernal pond at the same time
I overheard the child say “ewwww that water is gross” & then the parent agreed with that sentiment…
I felt saddened by what had just transpired… In my view, it was a missed opportunity to open a narrow opinion
Vernal ponds are teeming with life… Frogs & peepers & insects…
I feel sad when great trees are cut down, even if they could pose a threat
I was driving past an elementary school (where the limit drops from 45 to 35 during school hours) and a sporty sports car passed me, crossing a double yellow line.
What is all the hurry about?
Could we all try to slow down a little bit…?!?
(Thank you Jenny, for the photo)
Nighty night all.
part of my self-care kit
Is going for walks
Sometimes without my phone
& sometimes with – then I can capture images to add to my kit
Spring, for most of my life, has been a challenging time
But going for walks in it, & noticing the small changes is helpful
I’m always grateful for a slow-coming spring
As it has been this year
Please say hello to Scilla siberica
It is not native to Siberia
But to Southwestern Russia, the Caucasus, & Turkey
Blue flowers are some of my favorites.
Cats, too, (especially Shoofins) are part of my kit.
Here is Sophie being Small.
& here is Izzy making a beeline for my oatmeal
(Successful cat trapping by Jenny)
And then there are stripes.
What is it about stripes?
I do love finding stripes in the natural world
As well as unique messages…
Blessings on the simple things
May you find beauty & joy in the small things on this very Spring day
May you come to know what stirs a sense of kindness in you
Wishing you in touch with your sense of wonder.
Yesterday’s work day began later than usual
For one thing, I had an appointment to keep in the morning.
And when I see things like this, I feel compelled to pause & laugh & take a photo to send to a loved one
You know, Share the delight
I’m a fan of moving slower
& not a fan of rushing
(Though zippy-doodle will at times occur…)
By the time I arrived at the farm
The weekly seeding was nearly done
– Attended to by four capable hands.
As their workday soon ended, mine just began.
So I set to transplanting two flats of broccoli & early cabbage
As I worked, I began to notice myself in a state of worry.
familiar weather, worry.
The worry du jour was about the amount of time I take to do things.
In particular, at the farm
I try to be efficient, and find that I do get into a groove once I get going & practice the method necessary for the task at hand.
A system that works for this body is found & my movements become more effortless
Granted, when I pause to get more soil or more pots or go to pee, a photo might be taken…
– Like this early Spring view from just outside the greenhouse.
(Aaaaand all the following photos…)
Although I’ve received a blessing & go-ahead to take photos here at the farm through the day, a habitual groove of thinking gets going…
So I paid attention to the broken record spin of worry that was playing in my mind,
and by paying attention,
could see/feel that consequently,
my breathing became shallow & I stopped seeing what was in front of my eyes
Like being blinded by an internal sandstorm of worry So to remedy this, here was the practice du jour:
Whenever my mind went from an awareness of things at hand
to the thinking & spinning mind of worry,
I would keep taking deep breaths, and really turn my attention to what I was doing & feeling,
Instead of the loud thoughts in my head
Returning, returning, returning.
Being able to distinguish between awareness & thinking feels like a big step for me.
Take notice of the slightly yellowing seed leaves (or cotyledons) on the cabbage seedlings (below & above)
“Pleeeease pot me up!!!”
When roots find their way to the far edges of their potting soil world, it’s either time to pot up (transplant into a larger container) or transplant into soil out in the bigger world.
Since two seeds germinated in this cell, & both plants are healthy, they are gently pried apart
And set into larger pots which have some fresh potting soil in the bottom
Then more fresh potting soil is added up to where the cotyledons attach to the stem
And gently pressed down to settle in the plant a bit, but not so much that it compacts the soil
Once a tray is filled, it is watered under a fine spray of water
Which further settles the soil around the roots – and allows for the contact roots and soil want together.
75 Broccoli plants & 80 Early Cabbage plants were potted up.
155 plants in all.
It took me 3 hours to do that.
Izzy was intrigued by my hands after coming (housesitting) home from work
And she didn’t mind that it took me three hours to transplant 155 plants.
Bob seems to be patient & tolerant of my pace, but I still sometimes question if I really “fit” at the farm.
*Plagued by Doubt*
– no doubt, triggered by a mere (yet impactful) comparing thought.
A friend said to me today, “cats are unapologetically themselves”.
Even plants grow at the pace that they grow.
At the farm, moving at such a slower pace than all the others, it takes an amount of mind-effort to not apologize for myself.
To honor the animal that I am & just do my work.
A part of me thinks: o there’s something wrong, maybe I should leave, try to find a place where I fit in better.
But maybe the lesson is right here, to practice “standing inside myself”, and to learn something from just this.
Not become caught up in my own tangle of comparing my relative snailing pace, to just let that wild-bird-thought fly through.
I guess if I trust the wisdom of the unfolding of my life, & attempt to keep my eyes open to what is right here, I’ll get the opportunity to learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn.
These are the steps where I slipped as I rushed down them one snow-covered-icy morning in February 2012 which shifted my life
This being one of the numerous incidents where I’ve thought privately or said out loud “but it wasn’t supposed to be like this”
But really, who am I to argue reality or try to control such things…?
I’m trying to integrate the unfolding of things, trying to relax…
I’ll finish this post with a poem by Marie Howe
Waking each day in one mood or another
I try to begin each day with a thanks-for-this-day feeling in my heart
Then step into the day.
Today began uneventfully.
Upon putting away a photo of my elder…
(which I had set out for her yortzeit last week, but yesterday & today kept getting the strong push to put it back where it usually sits)
…i found a letter from the person I was beginning to love this time last year.
There was a photo of the two of us, a note from his last visit, & just seeing the handwriting triggered a squinchy feeling in my chest.
And just like that
The weather changed
Right before my morning sit.
I didn’t know what to do with the letter, so I set it down & covered it with an image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I didn’t want to sit with that weather, with those feelings. I didn’t want to feel what had arisen
Lately, I keep hearing Jack Nicholson’s voice from the movie A Few Good Men barking “you can’t handle the truth”
Which feels like a meanness, but I’m trying to just notice that critical voice (which may well be true)
I was glad to get to work, to focus on other things, like chopping vegetables & listening to podcasts on my headphones.
This is from a walk the other day to the lower end of the lake.
And this is from a walk today after work
On the Western side & towards the upper end of the lake
It’s good for me to remember that weather changes.
Just as the feelings came & went by the end of this morning’s sit
Grief continues to visit & can feel very intense at times, still.
I don’t yet understand why – I’m just trying to make room for its passing through.
I haven’t wanted to write much about it
I think I’ve been ashamed of it, wanting to hide its lingering presence.
Thank goodness for kitties.
(All photos of Sophie & Izzy are from Jenny)
I love to receive these photos
They do brighten my day
As does visiting the babies
They are getting so big
This past Sunday the greens & brassicas went into the hoop houses
(Please note the rolled up balls of remay towards the back of the photo…)
But first they waited in the barn as the hoop house soil was readied further
In order for me to do more seeding, the alliums had to wait outside for a spell until all the many trays of greens had a suitable place to sit in the hoop houses
This photo makes me smile
The dances done, working things out, imperfectly, but workable.
(It’s in the 20’s outside, and warmed to the 30s that day, but relatively warm in the hoop house)
This is the first hoop house in process
And this is what happens when I walk into the greenhouse
(It becomes even warmer when the sun shines…)
Joining me in the greenhouse was a small flock of Barred Rock chicks!
Peeping & chirping & napping
I really enjoyed their company
The usual Sunday spring seeding… Beets, Raab, Spinach, Lettuce, Cabbage, Scallions, Chard, Kale, Broccoli, Mustard, Brussel’s Sprouts.
27 trays in all
Then I went to see the hoop house action
The view from the first hoop house towards the long hoop house
Steam rises from the cold water on the warmed soil inside
Here’s that wall of remay balls…
And the barn-dwelling kitties
Hello, Nook & Cranny Farm.
On my walk today after work, despite not being able to hike the trail due to icy conditions…
There are signs of Spring
Swollen fuzzy buds
I feel a sadness when a great old tree is cut down
Over 140 years old…
There’s snow on the ground, but basically it was one huge ice sheet underneath
Wishing you patience & kindness with all of your weathers
Blessings on the day.
Today at work, the hoop house was readied
The greenhouse is quite full, overflowing with life
Stacks on the floor & on every surface
Next week the babies will be ready to be transplanted into their new home
The greens are coming up nicely
As are the alliums
Every variety is doing well
Feels really good to tend to these lives
This beauty is a close-up of a kohlrabi
(Grown last season)
Such geometry…! The wonder…!
The leaf scars are formed when the leaf breaks free
The dots are from the vessels that used to be connected which carried water & nutrients through the body of the plant
When the leaf breaks free, the area left open heals over, & it leaves that distinctive mark.
Seeing this, I think of the heart
And the scars from grief
Scars enfolded within ever-enlivened muscle tissue
I met my elder in 2008
Incredibly kind, warm, & generous – today is her yortzeit
(From the German word “yahrzeit” which means “anniversary” or “year’s time”)
An avid gardener & lover of plants – She would appreciate the beauty of the kohlrabi