Little Joys- Signs of Spring

Garden Gnome keeps watch

I am not the only one watching for signs of Spring.

Celebrating the Earth

This year’s Spring vacation was actually a “stay-cation” and I couldn’t be happier.  I spent a glorious week noticing the daily subtle changes in my own backyard.  Every day is Earth Day to me and every moment of every day has it’s own, never-to-be-replicated beauty.  From a gathering of bluejays to a spectacular sunrise, blink and I miss it.  Gaia calls us to be fully present to experience her rich bounty.

Daffodils in my Garden

The daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.

I celebrate the early spring color palette with each new blossom and blade of grass.  Blink and I miss the brilliant yellow daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.  The yellow forsythias wave their arms in greeting.  The white, delicate lace flowers of the serviceberry act as a veil between me and the clear blue sky.  “Everything is holy now,” Peter Mayer wisely wrote.

A veil of serviceberry blossoms against the bright blue sky

“Everything is Holy now” wrote Peter Mayer.

Blink and I miss the yellows and whites make way for the purple of lilac and hyacinth and the delicate pinks of cherry and dogwood.  Each has it’s own cycle within the greater cycle of transformation that forms the wheel of the year.

Blink and I miss the little place in my garden where a rabbit is preparing a nest for her young.  One day, I noticed the mulch in a flowerbed pushed aside.  Soon, dried grass and straw appeared in a neat little pile.  Then, this little nest materialized.  As I write and look out my window, the nest is completely hidden from view by a mother who instinctively knows what to do for her young ones.  How much wiser would we be if we were more attuned to Nature?  What do we know that we have forgotten?

Rabbit mother prepares for birth

Mulch and soil are pushed aside as a mother rabbit prepares a place for her babies.

Ok, confession time.  At the time of the Winter Solstice, I hung a wreath by my front door.  Amazingly, it stayed perfectly green through December, January, February, and most of March.  I should have taken it down but procrastinated.  By the time I thought about it again, I noticed a bird flitting back and forth from the wreath to wherever she needed to go for food and… you guessed it… building material for her nest.  Well, what could I do?  The wreath is brown and brittle but she loved the location and gave birth to three wee ones.  When they fly the nest, I’ll toss the wreath.  I promise.

Mother bird chooses a safe place for raising her young.

A winter wreath becomes the birthplace of three birds.

Honoring the Earth

I could sit in reverence all day every day, observing the beings in my yard live, grow, and eventually die.  The cycle of birth-death-rebirth is the natural way of things.  I know.  But Mother Earth calls me to action.  It’s not enough to take, I must give back to stay in right relationship with Her.

I honor Her by vowing to be a steward of the land entrusted to me for as long as I live here.  Ancestors of bloodline and ancestors of place are with me as I cut back dead raspberry canes and clear the space around my grapevines.  I hear my grandfather’s voice echo in my heart, gifting me with his wisdom of flora and fauna.  I see the rainbow of jars in my grandmother’s root cellar- her connection to the land made visible.  I sense the presence of those who tended this plot of land long before “my people” even set foot on the shore of North America as immigrants in the early 20th century.

So I garden without herbicides and pesticides.  I hang prayer flags and make offerings.  I grab a lawn chair and my watercolors for a quick plein air session with the tulips and squirrels.  I pick up every bit of trash that blows into my yard.  It’s heartbreaking to see a birdnest with trash woven in among the grass, straw, and twigs.  I plant native species and compost as much as possible.  I do what I can the best I can.

Most importantly, I sit in silence and listen to her many voices– the wind, the rain, the birdsong, and my own contented sighs of belonging.  Call it prayer, call it meditation,… I call it CONNECTION.

Being in Relationship with Mother Earth

I love them all… all of the beings on our beautiful planet.  My view of “beings” has greatly expanded with my awareness of indigenous cultures and earth-centered traditions.  Trees, streams, oceans, plains, mountains, polar bears, glaciers, bees, wolves, … do you get where I’m going with this?  We are all connected.  All life is one.

I weep for the fact that we live in a time where we have to march to protect our planet.  In less than three centuries, we have littered the world with plastic, fossil fuel pollution, and chemicals.  We have killed more species than I can fathom- extinct, gone,…forever.  We continue to threaten all life with our choices and this breaks my heart but I’m hopeful that we are raising awareness and more of us are doing what we can to help the environment… for all of us…and I do mean ALL OF US.

I pray that we can educate and enlighten the ignorant.  I also pray that love, light, reverence, and stewardship quickly replace greed, hatred, destruction, and domination.  May we each do what we can to protect our home… our Mother.  I hope you take part in one of the marches around the world next Saturday.  Raise your voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Mother Earth, Mother Earth,

Take our seeds and give them birth.

Father Sun, gleam and glow,

‘Til the roots begin to grow.

Sister Rain, Sister Rain,

Shed your tears to swell the grain.

Brother Wind, breathe and blow,

Tell the blades so green to grow.

Earth and Sun, Wind and Rain

Bring to life the living grain.

Waldorf Song for Children (Writer Unknown)

 

 

 

Wisdom from My Garden: Meditation on a Blueberry Bush

Picking blueberries in my back garden in the coolness of the morning is both a meditation & a prayer of gratitude for me.  I planted the 8 bushes that line one side of my yard, nurturing them over the years so they can produce flavorful berries that nourish me, my loved ones, & the local wildlife (which I also consider my loved ones).  The act of gardening is a spiritual experience, connecting me to all that is.  It also allows me to quickly disconnect my overactive mind & fall into a gentle easiness that a familiar task can bring.

There is no need to analyze or worry for I know from a lifetime of experience that all I must do is pluck the plump berries that fall easily from the branch.  If I have to tug at the berry to get it to fall into my pail, it’s not ready& all I gain from forcing the situation is a hard, sour berry that is unpleasant to eat.  I’m finding life works in exactly the same way… if I have to force it, whatever “it” is, it’s most likely not going to work out the way I’d like it to.  Yes, I must show up & invest wholeheartedly in the moment, but it’s equally important that I willingly surrender to the natural flow of things.  We’ve all been there & we all know the difference between when something feels right & when something feels forced.

Blueberry Bounty

Blueberry Bounty

I have also learned that if I look at the bush from one perspective, I may think I’ve seen all there is to see, missing out on the bounty that may be tucked under some leaves or hidden around the back of the bush.  Shifting my perspective allows me to see  a treasure that wasn’t visible from my own narrow viewpoint.  I can carry this lesson into my daily life & relationships… acknowledging that my point of view is just that– one point of view– and that there are other perspectives I can consider, opening my soul to understanding, compassion, & empathy.

There is wisdom in books, gurus, & retreat centers but there is a simple yet profound wisdom gained by being still, being present, & being authentic.  This I can do in my own back garden, among the blueberry bushes.

A Blessing To Each Flower

For Summer Solstice, my friends and I are gathering to honor this special day & recommit ourselves to one another… unique blossoms that together form a garden of incredible beauty, grace, & strength.  I wrote this poem to remind us of what makes us thrive.

 

A Blessing To Each Flower

A seed secure in the soil asks not, “What shall I be?”

It’s unique beauty comes naturally, effortlessly.

Nourished and nurtured, it grows more fully into itself

And what it is IS what it is meant to be.

 

The birch envies not the willow

Nor does it strive to be anything other than Birch.

Daffodil degrades not the dandelion

Nor does it mock the maple.

 

For all have a place in Gaia’s garden.

All are loved & accepted unconditionally.

And while each has needs that differ from another

All radiantly bloom with this blessing….

 

May we each have the tender care we need,

May we each be given the space to grow,

May we see our own beauty,

And may we celebrate the uniqueness in every blossom.

A Gardener’s Prayer of Thanks

One of my favorite autumn rituals is preparing my garden for winter.  I take this time to kneel, putting my hands, prayer-like, on the cool soil, giving thanks to Mother Earth for all she gives to me.  “Great Mother, thank you for your countless gifts this year.  Thank you for the doe who greeted me at my fence at dawn, staring at me as I stared in awe at her.  Thank you for the abundance, from blueberries & raspberries to herbs & vegetables; I appreciate it all.  Thank you for the summer days when my niece & I made fresh pesto from your rich bounty.  Thank you for the returning snakes, spiders, birds, & rabbits who signal a healthy, safe yard where they can eat & take shelter without fear of poisoning from pesticides & herbicides.  Thank you for the moonlight that continues to peer in my window at night, bathing me in her magic.  Thank you for the bulbs that are hibernating, resting before they make an energetic return in the spring.  Thank you for unforgettable times with my boyfriend who loves & appreciates you as much as I do.  Thank you for providing a space for my dogs to nap in the sun.  Thank you for a place to set our hammock & some lawnchairs so friends & family feel welcome.  Thank you.  I’m so very grateful.”

Thank you for a sunny place to rest my paws.

Thank you for the breeze that blows through my ears & tail.

Thank you for the changing leaves & rolling clouds.

Thank you for the dried zinnias, whose seeds feed famished birds.

Thank you for the tools to make my workload lighter.

Thank you for the memories.

I feel like Mother Nature is simply making a costume change, preparing to return in a new, dazzling display of icy blues & snowy whites.  Every season is special & I honor every one.  Blessed Be.

Today’s Treasure

Yesterday morning, I strolled my back garden to greet every plant, gaze at every flower, & anticipate every bud.  There were two open blossoms on my poppy plant when I began mowing the grass & four by the time I finished mowing 45 minutes later.  That quickly, buds with potential became fully formed flowers, petals open to embrace the sunlight & warm breeze.

Opening to greet the new day!

Nature is my all-time favorite teacher, gently reminding me of the impermanence of everything.  “Be present”, She whispers, “Immerse your Self fully in each precious moment.  And know that if you are going through a challenging time, it will pass.  Change, as you know my Dear, is inevitable.”

So, this morning, I began the day with a mindful walk through the garden, savoring what IS & grateful that I’m right HERE, right NOW.  I can’t mourn yesterday’s spent blossoms because my tears would blind me to today’s magnificent beauty.

Yesterday’s blooms

Today’s new opportunity

Tomorrow’s promise

Harvest Celebration

I absolutely love the cool, clear blue mornings of September that herald the coming of Autumn.  With my coffee mug in hand, I wander past my herbs to the vegetable patch & grape vines.  Blisters & sweat that created this garden are all but forgotten as I recall the taste of our first crisp green beans.  I laugh, remembering our pitiful attempt to keep birds off the blueberry bushes.  When I moved here, I prayed… I’ll provide food & protection for wildlife if you bless us all with a bountiful harvest.  Sometimes, it’s equal… sometimes the birds & rabbits get more 🙂  This year, no one went hungry & for that, I’m truly grateful.

September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox, marking the beginning of harvest celebrations around the world (Mabon, Chuseok, & Thanksgiving to name a few).  As I grow spiritually, it’s difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving as it began around 1620 in the colonies.  Not a proud time in our nation’s history, if you know what I mean.  How can I give thanks in a way that’s meaningful today?

I’m grateful for my boyfriend who toiled in the soil with me,  the animals who pollinate & aerate, the friends & family who share my life, & my ancestors who taught me the basic truth, ‘Everything tastes better fresh from the garden.”  To show my gratitude, I’ll prepare a meal made of local foods, offer my thanks before we eat, & renew my vow to compost & garden organically.

What are you thankful for?  Show your gratitude for the Earth’s bounty by growing something to eat, even if it’s in a pot on a windowsill… no home is too small.  Whatever you do, make your harvest celebration meaningful for you & those you love.  Blessings!

Head, Heart, & Hands

The Susquehanna Waldorf School has, as part of their mission statement, “cultivate a love of learning, imagination, reverence, & compassion for others by educating the whole child– head, heart, & hands.”  What a beautiful phrase… head, heart, & hands.  It aligns with the physical, spiritual, & mental aspects of our whole person.  In one word… BALANCE.  Don’t we need that for healthy, inspired living?

If I am physically exhausted, I do things involving my mind or my heart such as reading or creating art.  If I’m mentally worn out, I balance that with activities that are more physical or spiritual in nature.  When my heart is aching, I go for a walk in nature with my dogs & boyfriend or challenge myself mentally.  I’m at a point in life where I can sense imbalance & try to right it.  Too much focus on head, heart, or hands can be alleviated by switching focus onto one of the other two.

The wonderful thing about creating art is that it is an activity that combines all three when done well.  Look at Antique Iris shown below.  My head made the decisions regarding composition & symmetry.  My hands constructed the piece out of handmade paper, batik fabric, & paint.  My heart chose the subject, the colors, & the mood of the piece.  My art balances me.  What do you do to regain balance?

Antique Iris- Head, heart, & hands combined to make this piece. A symbol of balance.