Tag Archives: nature

Equinox Unfolding

Miniature Daffodils emerging - March

A friend of mine used to say “spring always comes.” That sentence is loaded with meaning, of course, and the comfort that comes with that simple statement goes deep and far.

Happily Roger was proven right again this year and spring dawns in the northeast as usual — as usual…

snowbells

Just that phrase. Since 2020 nothing has felt “usual” – but spring has come, *as usual*, thank the gods. Snowdrops have come and gone, crocus and daffodils are up, tree buds are visible and I’m thinking about summer porch furniture. As usual.

Some other usual things … the mailboxes of our hometown after a winter of (not much) snow plowing:

Mailbox plowed to the ground. The rest of the post is still buried.

Year after year we marvel at the ingenuity of people’s solutions to this perennial problem. People are very creative!

broken duck-taped mailbox
Hellebore

Yes, the comfort of the usual, maybe not entirely predictable things. Welcome, spring.

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Versatile and Beautiful Lavender

Summer Lavender Grosso

Above, a hedge of lavender next to my driveway popped into glorious fragrant bloom in June. I don’t know who was more excited – me or the bumble bees.

I can never bring myself to cut the flowers while they are in full bloom – the sun on the flowers is too glorious. But when they’ve passed their prime they still cut beautifully and are wonderfully fragrant.

Cut lavender fills the kitchen with fragrance

When my son’s girlfriend saw my giant pile of cut lavender she immediately thought of lavender lemonade, and took a handful to make lavender syrup. It was delicious.

Easy to grow and easily available, lavender will grace your garden, attract pollinators, and is truly a sensory joy. Lavender is drought tolerant, does well in zones 6-10.

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Weeds

A good-sized pile of weeds for this early in the year and the hoe that helped dig them out.

I don’t know anyone that likes weeding. It’s back-breaking, necessary work. Sure, there’s some satisfaction in a weed-free garden bed but it’s short-lived. The weeds are back almost immediately, it seems.

So today was weed the garden beds day. I didn’t get them all weeded – I only managed to weed two of them. It was overcast, which is good weeding weather, and it had to be done.

And it’s fine. Pulling weeds from around the lettuce and knowing I’d be eating it in a salad later created a sense of calm and purpose. I took a break around noon, cut enough lettuce to fill a big colander, pulled a couple of radish, and came in to enjoy a nourishing lunch. It’s the most basic luxury to have to pay attention to when it rains (or doesn’t) and to know that aside from the nutrients in the soil there’s just water and sunshine in your food. And no plastic waste.

young swiss chard and pepper plants in the near bed, cutting lettuce behind it, beets and asparagus in the rear.

Back to weeding… I always joke with my husband that grass only grows where I don’t want it to. It never seems happy to grow on the designated lawn area, it much prefers my garden and our driveway.

Other “weeds” – verbena, squash, and tomato that self seeded, were spared. It’s tough to pull plants I’ve actually bought/planted just because they are growing in an inopportune spot. I dug out some verbena and put them in a spot near the kitchen window where I can watch the monarch butterflies visit their vivid purple flowers this summer. And the squash and tomatoes… I have a suspicion the squash is actually pumpkins. Last year they took over the garden because I felt bad pulling them out. In the end they crowded out the butternut squash, which I won’t let happen twice.

wildflowers in the west field

And then there are the pretty weeds, like the wildflowers that grow in our fields. These pretty daisy-like flowers pictured above, buttercups, purple, red, and blue flowers… we mow around them.

I’ll leave you with a photo of our cat, who really enjoys watching all of the activity at the birdhouse you can see pictured. It is nestled in a giant beast of a climbing hydrangea that has taken over one wall of our garage and is adjacent to a raspberry patch that is trying to take over the west field. Smudge (the cat) may be aware that there is a nest with baby birds … and the constant coming and going is the parents feeding their little ones. Or maybe not.

I always wonder what our cats are thinking.

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May in New England is Heaven

Lilacs nodding in the sun

Many would say that the months between and including December and April are too damn cold in New England. On most days I am among those people, saying to anyone who will listen that New England is no place to age.

But then May comes.

Along with the trees bursting to life in bright spring green, pink, white, red and yellow, the lilacs appear. For a couple of weeks the air is fragrant with them. Lilly of the valley perfume the air at night, a sweet, haunting, beautiful scent. And (where applicable) strawberry flowers open delicate white petals to the new sun.

Strawberry flowers

And the forget-me-nots, chives with their globes of purple flowers, bleeding hearts– all of this after the famous bulbs. It’s like having a baby – you forget the pain of childbirth when you hold a baby in your arms. A similar thing happens here in May. The discomfort of winter fades and softens, replaced by wonder, joy and pleasure. Also lettuce, snap peas, radishes and rhubarb. 🙂

forget-me-nots

As I write this I’m sitting on the porch listening to crickets. The last of the day’s light illuminates the sky in periwinkle-gray, the trees make dark silhouettes and the last intrepid birds are still singing — calling home family members that have stayed out too long, perhaps. A flash of pink lightening in the sky.

Pretty heavenly.

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Snowdrops. Finally spring!

It was a kind of magic to wake this morning to the site of grass and the earth uncovered. When the sun set last night everything was still covered in snow.

But even more magical today were the snowdrops.

snowdrops emerging after the snow has melted in Massachusetts

Over breakfast I told Jon that I was going to go out to look for them today. He said – ‘Really? We had snow on the ground until last night. Do you think there will be any?

Well… yes! I did find one just emerging in the lawn this morning. And during our afternoon walk – voila! Jon actually spotted them first.

For me, these are the first true sign that spring is here.

I’ve recently begun to ask myself what one thing I can do to make myself happy today and making an effort to do that thing. This morning the answer was to take the time to go out and look for snow drops.

On the way back toward the house I passed the kitchen garden and noticed the first chive shoots are reaching up out of the ground … freshly clipped chive with scrambled eggs! And the hellebore are pushing up and unfolding. I can’t wait to see them.

It’s exciting to think I’ll be turning compost into my spring garden beds and planting lettuce and radish in a month or so…

chive along the kitchen pathway, 2021

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Sacred Connection

Sitting in the grass, sitting bones against the earth, is a birthright few of us spend much time exercising. The energy that flows up into us from the earth is so different from the experience of sitting in a chair; taking the time to sit intentionally, allowing source energy to enliven your spine, support your legs, bottom, and root chakra (the energy center that resides at the base of the spine), is self-prescribed therapy. Resting directly on the Earth reminds us of our connection to everything, and allows us to root and be present to our body in a way that is intensely grounded, momentary, and personal.

The feeling of the soil, soft and malleable, accommodating,
invites us to sit for a while as indigenous humans do, with our bottoms pointing behind us to support our backs, vertebrae stacked, root chakra at the base, breathing in the smell of grass, flowers, or other flora nearby, and the soil, warmed by the sun. Or lie down and look up, clouds floating by in a panoply of shapes. The trees arcing up to touch the sky, birds criss-crossing above.

With the earth beneath and around you, you might feel that you come from this earth, are part of this earth, one with the wind, the birds, all growing, crawling things. Or you might just feel a little better, more grounded. I’d bet, though, that you won’t just do it once.

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Roots and Branches

I sit in front of a west-facing window when I work from home, under the branches of a great old Ash tree.  It reaches over and past the window, protectively shading the house and reaching up high into the sky.  I imagine it’s cooler up there in the topmost branches, and that the tree knows I’m down here.

These trees are becoming rare in the states because of an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer.  Cute little guys, they are a shiny turquoise and plum color with a kind of kaleidoscope finish like they were dipped in a jar of glaze. And they like to eat ash leaves.  Unfortunately for the Ash, the larvae of the borers eat the inside bark of the tree, making it hard for the trees to transport water up the trunk, which is how trees absorb water and nutrients.   The larvae spell disaster for the trees, and over time the Ash trees die of thirst.

We are fighting for ours; we hired a company to treat the trees in an effort to fight off the beetles.  It’s expensive but when I look at the tree that can’t be saved – the oldest, largest, most graceful of them, which was too far gone to be treated by the tree specialists when we bought the house –  my resolve hardens. 

These trees aren’t particularly huggable.  Some trees are, practically inviting you to wrap your arms around them and lay your face against them, but the Ash trees have a stand-offish air, seem aloof and distant and seem to want their space.  Still, they are my favorites, probably because they are struggling.

The biggest of them, with a trunk that is more than seven feet in circumference, has more than a third of its majestic branches defoliated.  It is hard to watch it decline; it exudes a kind of pride, even now, that is undeniable.  People come to the house and notice it – beginning to remark on its beauty, taking it in, looking more carefully – and then they stop speaking.  It’s like that.  A sudden realization you’ve said something offensive, or sad, without meaning to.

The trees around us have a kind of slow, deliberate presence and awareness, existing in a symbiotic relationship to us and around us, reaching up to meet the sky, joining the earth with the heavens. 

I would like to work from home more often. 

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Loving Gaia

On a starry, moonless night, there’s silence, except for some wind in the tree tops.  The bare limbs of the deciduous trees – usually imposing shadows lit by the brilliant cornflower-midnight blue night sky – are almost invisible.

This moon looks like other dark moons but today’s New York times featured an announcement that 2018 was the 4th warmest year on record – the 4 warmest being within the last 4 years.  I’m not a statistician but I’m pretty sure that is not normal.  The planet is warming up.  We could even say it has a fever.

As if to underscore the point, I saw a bird today that I’ve never seen before.  The feathers of it’s head had a pretty red sheen- a kind of sparrow or finch.  Not a cardinal.  And not a bird I’ve ever seen here. A newcomer to my feeder.  Perhaps she found her way here because of changing weather patterns?  Or perhaps I’ve just never noticed her before.  But that seems unlikely.

And while trees and bulbs know better than to blossom early,  I see kids walking around in summer clothes when Massachusetts temps reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit in February.  It’s a little surreal.

Okay, they are teenagers.  Not that surreal. But, still.

The dark moon favors sleeping, letting go, decluttering.  Making way for something new to grow.

Like a sense of deepening connection to the planet.   A personal relationship, even.

Every thing we create and the energy we consume comes from the planet and the elements.  And it returns to … the planet and the elements:  the water, the air, consumed by fire, or buried in the earth.

This dark moon seems to be suggesting that we cultivate more awareness and commitment to the planet.  That we let go of our need to consume every cool/adorable thing we see and maybe use less energy.  Our choices about these things are choices in our relationship to the one and only planet that sustains and nurtures us.

When I bring bags to the grocery and minimize packaging I imagine I’m blowing a kiss to the Earth.  And maybe not adding to the giant plastic pile floating in the middle of the ocean.  It gives me a little thrill.  Really.

If we break (up with) this planet I don’t think we are going to find a better one to live on.

And I am not sure she would give us a second chance.

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February 7, 2019 · 12:39 am

Winter Charms

Winter months are long – days are short, the air freezes your ears and bites your skin till it’s pink and chafed.  Still, it’s beautiful to see a field of snow beyond the glass, or rooftops blanketed in white.  I would miss the site if it didn’t repeat itself year after year, returning like a family member for a mandatory holiday.

And winter invites us to slow down and turn our attention in.  To our interior thoughts, our interior spaces; we are all encouraged to indulge our inner introvert and embrace cozy — this is something the Scandinavians are expert at.   I happen to be Norwegian, so I am a subject matter expert in this area.  🙂

Listening to freezing rain pelt the window from the a couch, blanket wrapped around you, is a giant perk of being human in this day and age, if you are fortunate and resourceful enough to have a warm and cozy home.  It would be a shame to pass up the opportunity of indulging in winter’s delights.

Among them, hot drinks, giant sweaters, snowboarding, knitting, hearty soups, adorable winter hats and … books.

Here, books fill a 10 foot tall bookshelf arranged in a neat row and then bearing stacks layered horizontally along the top of the row to reach the shelf that hangs above.  There are also cabinets filled with books – some behind glass, some behind wooden doors.  Topics vary – Rumi, Shakespeare, Engineering, Emergency Medicine, spell craft, the classics – Hesiod and Theogony, the Iliad, et al., modern witchcraft, Islamic poetry and philosophy, Early Gnostic Christianity, Flaubert, Jungian psychology, history, gardening books, astrology, Arthur Conant Doyle, the Dalai Lama …  and it goes on…

Standing in front of them brings me feelings of comfort, happiness and security.  So many hours of pleasure there in those books just waiting.  All I have to do is select one and settle on a nearby couch, wrap up like a burrito in a throw blanket, crack it open, and settle in.

The weeks between Yule and Imbolg, when the first seeds will stir, is a kind of gestation time, a tide perfectly suited to looking inward to take stock of where you are.  What you can be grateful for, what challenges and adventures you wish to engage when the snow finally melts.

Because it will.  The days are lengthening.  So savor winter – enjoy it in whatever way it speaks to you – while it lasts.

 

 

 

 

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Ripe

Grapes ripening on a little vine in the backyard hang in indiscreet bunches, decorative baubles, playful and teasing,

not plump yet, turning a sugary shade of magenta from frosted green – perky, still firm, the color of spring.

Promising.  Not the kind you want to pluck, yet.

I contemplate readiness.  And time.  Desire, Impatience, and the satisfaction of ripeness.  The kind that you’ve waited a season for.  The kind that fills your mouth with so much pleasure you forget your name

and makes you glad you waited.

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