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)

 

 

 

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A Splash of Color

My heart practically bursts with joy, wandering my back garden in early spring.

birdseed

Beckoning Birdfeeder

daffodil 1

Daffodil in Bloom

Forsythia

Flowering Forsythia

hyacinth

Inhale deeply… can you smell the sweetness?

little ones

Beautiful things come in small packages.

pale daffodil

Delicate daffodil

puppy fur

Dogs napping on the deck… sure sign of warmer weather.

sedum

Luscious, succulent sedum

Haiku Inspired Art- Part 4

As Winter makes a last futile attempt to delay the coming Spring, I sit with a hot cup of coffee & my art supplies, watching snow blanket the blooming crocuses & daffodils… being present… & being still.

Crocus Haiku

Rising early,

crocuses cheer.

Contagious optimism!!

Daffodil Haiku

Arms open wide-

twirling & swirling.

Daffodil dervish.

Snowy Feeder Haiku

March snowfall,

wet & heavy.

Spring gets one last nap.

Spring Beginnings

Mourning doves coo from rooftops & robins happily chirp on bare branches, announcing the arrival of Spring.  “Welcome back, everyone!”, I say with a smile, always glad to see animals return to the area.

Smaller birds are gathering straw & twigs for the nests they are building in my 14-room bird “palace”.  Soon, baby birds will be heard calling out to their mothers, “Feed me!”  Last month, my boyfriend took down the birdhouse, cleaned out last year’s abandoned nests, replaced rotting wood, & raised the birdhouse back on its post to make it an inviting space for expectant moms.

Birdhouse

Look closely, the middle room on the upper level is already someone’s new home.

Bright greens, yellows, & purples replace the greys, browns, & whites of winter, brightening my mood as well as my yard.  After months of drab neutrals, pops of color dance before my eyes.

crocus1

crocus2

daffodils

I can’t help it; I’m excited!!  I want to clear away the dead plants that no longer feed or shelter wildlife.  I want to throw open the windows so the brisk breeze can deliver freshness & positive energy to my home.  And, I want to give myself a thorough “spring cleaning”, too.  For me, this means releasing thoughts, habits, & experiences that no longer serve the greatest & highest good.

What has been outgrown?

What should be nurtured?

If we tune in to nature & tune in to ourselves at the same time, we’ll find that what’s happening around us is happening in us as well.  New ideas flow like sap.  Dreams blossom into reality like crocuses rising from the decaying leaves.  Seeds planted in our lives mirror the seeds planted in the soil.  The interconnectedness of all things…

Little Feathered Muses

I absolutely love every season of the year, appreciating the beauty in snow hanging on tree limbs, fireflies glittering in a summer night, & autumn leaves blanketing the park where we love to hike.  But what gets my creative “sap”
flowing after months of tired browns & greys are the energetic pastels of spring– joyful blues, yellows, greens, & pinks.  My senses celebrate every fresh breeze, budding tree, & blooming daffodil.  This past week, I’ve especially delighted in soaring, swooping, singing birds– my little feathered muses.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve turned a barren backyard into a wildlife sanctuary full of native plants, bird feeders, & a stone birdbath hoping to provide a habitat for birds who, in turn, provide inspiration for me.

I laugh out loud, watching songbirds & robins inspect the 18+ birdhouses I have scattered around my property.  They’re looking for the perfect place to have their babies.  They flit from one house to another, peering inside, considering their options.  Location, location, location.  I’ve seen Househunters & Househunters International on HGTV but I can only imagine a series called Househunting for the Birds 🙂  The comical scene inspired me to grab my sketchbook & get cozy on the sunporch.

I just bought Grumbacher’s Opaque Watercolours so I turn my favorite birdhouses into a quick watercolor study so I can play with my new art supplies.  First, I wash yellow ochre over each house.  Then, I go back over them with richer colors.  Lastly, I use a permanent black fine-point marker to add an outline & details.

A light wash of color makes the composition cohesive.

Rich, earthy colors give the piece interest & depth.

A fine-tip marker gives detail.

Inspiration isn’t far away when my muse is in my own backyard.