Changing Weather Patterns

This summer the weather patterns have been jumping back and forth between exceptionally cool for the season and then unseasonably hot. It is a strange dance that has been occurring for a few years now. I find as a gardener that it is disconcerting that my plants are behaving in unusual ways due to this weather dance.

Prune Plums

Prune Plums

For example, I just harvested the prune plums that are normally ripe in September. The peaches are not ripe yet and those are usually ready before the prune plums. There was an abundant harvest of mulberries this year, but now there are some red ones that aren’t ripening at the usual speed as the weather is too cool for them to ripen normally. The basil I planted isn’t growing as prolifically as usual. My dry bean plants aren’t growing quickly enough to give me beans for the winter.

Ripening mulberries

Ripening mulberries

Mulberry clusters

Mulberry clusters

Evening beans

Evening beans

Peaches

Peaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone I speak to is experiencing a similar feeling of being buffeted around by the energy of this Fire Monkey year. We are influenced by a wide range of energetic pulses that surge throughout the universe. As a part of natural life, we feel those changes on deep levels within ourselves.

As these strange happenings occur, I find myself feeling uncertain what to do in the garden. Usually, I am eager to track the process of growth and ripening to the edible celebration of life. This year, I feel a bit disconnected from it all. The consistency over many years, even with the usual variations that come with gardening, provide for me a foundation and security that I had been unaware of previously. So, now that it is moving and changing, even more unpredictable than before, how do I enfold that quality into myself?

Unfinished cottage

Unfinished cottage

Certainly, some of this disconnect comes from the cottage building project that has been going on since spring. What an amazing thing to watch a building be built. Creative, chaotic, steady, excessive, abundant, meticulous, joyful anticipation. The feng shui of the property is changing indelibly. I imagine that, too, is having an effect on the garden and my relationship to it.

Some years ago, I explored the possibility of having a more productive urban farm. I called in an agriculture guy from the county and we discussed how I could plant the garden for producing higher yields. I also consulted with my farmer friend, Kristy Knoll of Knoll Farms in Brentwood. Kristy said to me, “Amy, you’re not a farmer. You don’t want to live the life of a farmer.” It took some time for this statement to sink in and over the years, I pull it forward again to remind myself that I am a gardener who is in love with nature; not a farmer who is devoted to providing a commercial product. How right she was!

Mt. Diablo full moon rising

Mt. Diablo Full moon rising

 

Now, with the more obvious changes in the natural world, I am clear that I do not want to hold the responsibility of a farmer in these changeable times. I am indelibly grateful to the farmers who are taking this challenge as a sacred duty to discover how to keep up with what is happening. To keep providing us with sustenance is their commitment and it is a calling that is not honored deeply enough by the rest of us. I am aware every week when I shop at the Farmer’s Market of how grateful I am for their service. As a gardener, I have a feel for what they are doing for us. How harsh and inspiring their lives can be in equal measure!

 

 

Glorious possibilities!

Glorious possibilities!

I am a planter of seeds though. Not only do I plant in the soil, my calling is to plant seeds in the soul; to nurture the seeds inside myself and allow them to grow even during uncertain times. We can do this work together. I plant a seed in you, you water a seed in me. We water these seeds with our tears and give them sunshine through our joy. We harvest the results together.

I invite you to join me in this mutual planting and nourishing cycle each year. I am deeply grateful to those of you (you know who you are!) who are already sharing the seasonal cycles of life with me.

 

 


Bees – A Sacred Service

Many of you have been reading lately about aggressive or Africanized bees. Just like any other living being, bees will protect their home and will get aggressive when they feel threatened. This is not something that happens often. Remember that there is a lot of hype in media and sensationalism sells. So much of what happens in the world is not directly related to your life. These bad news outlets are fueling fear to sell their materials.

Can you see the bee and the fly?

Can you see the bee and the fly?

Recently, I was in the garden with some students. We were having a meditation when a bee started to buzz around one of the students. She tried to maintain her internal calm and continue following the meditation. It was persistent, however, and since she is afraid of bees we ended up moving to a different place.

At the end of the day, when we had returned indoors for our closing circle, there was a bee flying around the head of the same woman. Again, she responded with fear. With my encouragement, she was able to calm down and see that she wasn’t actually in danger (if you are truly allergic to bees that’s another story). Her fear was disproportionate to the actual threat that the bee was to her. Even if she had been stung, it would not have done much damage; a minor discomfort – and death for the bee. When she could breathe deeply and see how tiny the bee was in relation to herself, she could also see that the bee’s life was actually in danger because it was stuck inside. We managed to catch the bee and release it back into the garden to do its job.

So, what happened? Well, we had received a new swarm of bees on the property only a few days before. They were adjusting quite nicely, but this one bee felt like we had gotten too close to the new hive. Some of them have been wandering and looking a bit lost. The bees will follow and protect their queen, so it takes time for them to feel safe in a new hive.

Bee Service

Bee Service

Remember what it feels like to be uprooted, trying to settle into a new home, unsure of yourself, frequently getting lost as you learn a new place, and wanting to protect yourself from the unknown in your new surroundings? That’s what the bees go through when they are captured and placed in a new hive.

When we step back away from fears that have been unnecessarily planted in our minds, we are able to look in wonder at the terrific design of the natural world. Bees are an important feature of that design and give us the food we eat. Without bees, and other insects, pollinating the plants, we would not have fruits and vegetables ripening on the vine. Bees perform a sacred service for humanity.

lots of bees

Ofer working with the bees

bees on frame

Honey bees

Years ago, we experienced that problem in our garden. At first, we couldn’t figure out why we weren’t getting any zuchinni. They would flower and then not produce the fruit. The same thing was happening with our tomatoes. Over a period of a few years, we realized that there were consistently fewer bees than before. So, we ended up getting bees for our property. For five years, Ofer managed the bees for us. After a difficult winter, the hive collapsed and he gave up on it.

 

Since that time, we have been looking for someone to have hives on our property. Our lovely neighbors, Vanda and Kellie, asked us if they could house some bees here so they can have enough honey for their new restaurant in San Francisco – Chicks and Love Pizza Patio. We get the benefit of having the bees pollinating for us and some delicious honey samples, too. Remember, the bees are not out to get you! They are a fascinating example of the proficient and awe-inspiring design of nature.

Bees sipping water from the pond

Bees sipping water from the pond

New bee hives

New bee hives


Feels Like Open Space

Each year when the spring arrives I am struck by the changes in the Sugi Garden. Since we have been doing a naturalized garden for 15 years, we’ve seen a larger variety of plants show up. New plants arrive every year. In addition, we are seeing more and more mushrooms all around the property. Though we haven’t yet seen many wildflowers (other than vetch and California poppy) arrive on their own, we are starting to find different types of fungus and variations of the flowers we have. For the last few years, there have been a sprinkling of white poppies in the front. I’m sure that eventually they will spread, just as the yellow poppy did in those early years.

White Poppy

White Poppy

White Poppy

White Poppy

Turkey Tail stump

Turkey Tail stump

Golden Turkey Tail

Golden Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail cluster

Turkey Tail cluster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Striped Turkey Tail

Striped Turkey Tail

Here’s the newest arrival on the property. It’s common name is Turkey Tail and it was hidden under some plant growth near the wood pile. It is used in a wide variety of herbal supplements and has benefits for the immune system, is filled with antioxidants and can be used an adjunct to cancer treatments.

We don’t harvest plants like this. Our preference is to have the energy of the healing plants present in the garden. Many of the plants we have are used in flower essence therapy. During the Seasons program, I like to see what flowers the students are drawn to and use that as a jumping off point for their work with flower essences.

Diversity in the garden is something that is part of the natural world. When we allow the plants to choose where they want to live, they move from place to place, or choose to reseed right where they are. They will spread gradually or “jump” from one area to another unexpectedly. For example, we’ve grown chard in the back garden for many years. Two years ago, we found some volunteering in the front bed right by the street. This is a bed that we have struggled with getting anything to grow effectively there. First we had chard, then the following year, the borage showed up. Sweet peas, California poppies and Calendula have followed. Now, an area that was stubbornly refusing to grow what we planted, is now full of abundant life.

Sweet Peas with Marigold

Sweet Peas with Marigold

Feverfew Patch

Feverfew Patch

Miner's Lettuce

Miner’s Lettuce

 

Throughout the years, we’ve seen this happen all over. When we moved here, there was Feverfew in one corner, California poppy in another and Miner’s lettuce in yet another. Now, those plants have expanded into the entire area in beautiful arrangements.

This volunteer diversity is creating a feeling of being in open space. Remember what it is like to wander along a trail in the open space? As you look around, you see all kinds of plants, insects, even the occasional animal appears. The appealing quality of a meandering walk like this is in the wonder of nature’s vast complexity and the beauty it holds. This is how wandering in the garden has become. I never know what I might find peeking from underneath, or the changes that have happened over the winter months of seeming quiet.

Blowwives

Blowwives

Flower Field

Flower Field

Owl's Clover stalk

Owl’s Clover stalk

Pink Field Owl's Clover

Pink Field Owl’s Clover

Wild Oats

Wild Oats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oak with mustard

Oak with mustard

 

On Mother’s Day, the family went for a marvelous hike in the open space nearby. It was quite phenomenal to experience how similar it felt to the Sugi Garden, now that it is fully naturalized. The gorgeous wildflower displays due to the winter rains this year were inspiring. Enjoy!

Three of Us

Three of Us


Nutritious Spring Greens

In the spring, my garden is popping! The naturalized greens and herbs are all over the place. Nutritious delicacies are overflowing with vibrant life! We love to harvest these happy volunteers and delight our winter weary bodies with the cleansing taste of spring. We especially love the Mallow and Mustard that volunteer each spring. Both of these plants are naturalized after being brought over from overseas.

Mallow, also known as Cheeseweed for its leaf shape, is a mild laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory with soothing demulcent and expectorant properties than help to clear mucus from the body. No wonder it grows in spring! Originally sweetened with honey by the Egyptians, the mallow root derived mucilage was then later transformed into the French confection we know today as “the marshmallow.”

Mustard greens are rich in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. Mustard boasts a wide variety of vitamin and minerals (B complex, A , C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese), as well as, delicious flavor!

Crispy Green Chips

Spring Greens Chips

Spring Greens Chips

30 leaves of mustard greens and mallow leaves

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. Basil vinegar

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. oregano

Prepared Greens

Prepared Greens

1 tsp. marjoram

½ tsp. cayenne

Unbaked greens

Unbaked greens

1 tsp. seasalt or to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ᵒ.
  2. If necessary, gently rinse the leaves and spin dry. You can use other greens for this recipe (kale, chard, broccoli). If the center ribs are thick, be sure to remove them first.
  3. Pour oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to mix.
  4. Add the leaves and mix gently with your hands or a spatula until leaves are coated.
  5. Add the spices and repeat mixing.
  6. On a large baking sheet, lay a layer of parchment paper.
  7. Lay leaves individually onto the paper as flat as possible. A little overlap is okay, but keep it to a minimum.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  9. When cool enough to touch, store chips in a paper towel lined large plastic container so they can lay flat.
  10. Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 until leaves are finished baking.
Mallow

Mallow

Parsley

Parsley

Mustard

Mustard

fennel

fennel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another delicious spring garden staple in our home is the Spring Veggie Broth. This is a cleansing broth that includes any edible we currently have sprouting up in the spring. This recipe allows you to buy ingredients from the local farmer’s market, so you can have a similar version at home. The hijiki is a type of seaweed and adds minerals. Some people don’t like the flavor, so it is optional, and of course, doesn’t grow in the garden!

Spring Veggie Broth

Broth Veggies

Broth Veggies

veggie broth

Uncooked veggie broth

½ bunch of celery

1 large carrot

1 bunch of parsley

Top of large fennel bulb

1 small burdock leaf

1 medium-sized bunch of chard

1 onion, with peel

Mix of greens – amaranth, mallow, wild mustard, cleavers – about 3 cups

½ c. hijiki (optional)

  1. Prepare ingredients by washing and cutting into large pieces.
  2. Put all ingredients in a large soup pot. Cover with water.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for half an hour.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables. Keep anything you want to munch on (carrots and hijiki are especially good this way.)
  6. Enjoy!

Living in Sync with Nature

What does it mean to be living in sync with nature?  Is it something only the wise-woman knows? Is there a way to begin to ascertain the feeling of nature? The busy rush, rush of modern life has had a profound impact on our  ability as individuals to feel connected with the earth, our food, our selves. Here are some descriptions of what each season may feel like:

Spring can be soft and gentle. Filled with hope, the person who is in sync with spring is open and flowing will manifest spring energy through tapping into creativity. This person is bursting forth with enthusiasm for what is coming next. On the other hand, a person stuck in spring is blowing irritation around and repeatedly starting over, without getting traction to move forward.

Baby purple cabbage

Baby purple cabbage

Narcissus

Narcissus

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Oxalis in spring

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Love

Bee Love

 

Being in sync with summer means moving in and out of the varied aspects of summer’s moods. Sinking willingly into the quiet, drowsy parts of the day and then, jumping up into activity as the heat wanes and energy bubbles up again.  An out of control summer person is constantly going and going, sending out hot rays of forced sunshine.

 

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Sweet, silent fall.

 

The person in sync with fall is able to feel deeply the wounds of humanity and still have an open heart, filled with compassion for all of life. When the quality of fall is in balance, there is a sense of awe about life. A person stuck in fall is filled with eternal grief, needing to let go and unable to gain fruition or completion.

 

 

 

Blue moonscape

Blue moonscape

Being in sync with winter is expressed by intentionally going inside to feel and observe the deepest elements of oneself. A profound peacefulness is found in the darkest recesses of the soul. It is a peace that can be pulled forward during times of lack, bringing warmth to the inner fire to keep it burning strong until spring. The person stuck in winter is cold, removed, feeling blue, internal and lethargic.

Come to the Sugi Garden to experience the qualities of spring that are bursting forth. Through this experience of spring, you will learn how to get in touch with the natural rhythms of life.

We will explore some simple processes of self-inquiry that will bring your inherent joy to the surface and transform the way you live. As a result, you will become more in sync with nature, deepening your awareness of body, mind and soul.

Join me for a two hour workshop offered by Sustainable Contra Costa. Register at sustainablecontracosta.org. Look for the Sustainable Living Workshop Series.

Sunday, March 13

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

$25


Me…My Land

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Pines, oaks and redwoods

Each time we move our attention to a different part of the land we find a new relationship is forming. Every section carries within a personality, an energetic quality, gifts and challenges. Working with the land is a healing journey for both of us. When we removed the lawns, we noticed new plant life volunteering on the land. Each year a different variety of plant moved in. Natural groundcovers showed up to nourish the soil – I don’t know all their names, though vetch is among them.

vetch

vetch

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Empty chicken yard

Winter Greenery

Winter Greenery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to listen to the land has resulted in ongoing renewal over a period of years. Life is like that, you know. It is a gradual change, sometimes simply opening up space that nature will fill on her own, spreading seeds we’ve gathered through the flip of a hand, other times digging persistently into the dry clay. No matter how the space is emptied or filled it is a natural process that simply repeats.

 

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Stream

Pond and Stream

Ponds with stream

A shallow pool flowing into a stream that gracefully empties itself into a deep pond, then circulating round again for continual replenishment. The mature silver maple stands guard in the center of my land, deeply rooted, holding its arms wide to embrace all who enter.

Groves of trees: junipers, redwoods, oaks and pines feed the quiet wildness of my soul, providing strength and wisdom when I need to distance myself from the busyness of life. I find the quiet under the trees. A feeling of safety and groundedness.

 

 

Along the edges of this land take a moment to look closely; underneath the grass, on the compost pile, or tucked into the wood chips you’ll find the magical world of fungi. Mushrooms peeking their heads out of the earth. The scent of the soil is intoxicating, felt deeply in the most ancient part of my soul. I can feel the fairy world when I’m with the mushrooms. Ethereal and otherworldly. Yet, somehow, also a part of who I am.

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wooly mane, inky cap

mushroom forest

Garden Mushrooms

 

 

 

 

The orchard of fruit trees provides a feeling of stability. Their vulnerability has also been apparent during the past few years of drought. Without care, the stability they hold can crumble, a little at a time. Without our inner stability, our ability to give in abundance is limited by the slow crumbling away of our inner spirit. We must be nurtured on a regular basis to stay stable and prosperous. The trees give of their fruits so we have sustenance that provides throughout the year in the form of dried deliciousness, flavored vinegars, sauces, and syrups, baked sweetness during a winter’s evening.

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Winter Figs

Blooming Pear

Blooming Pear

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Abundant peaches

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Peach Blossoms

Stepping from the orchard into the garden, filled with herbs, flowers, vegetables – potential; pockets of wildflowers scattered around. I feel: Bursting forth! Inspiration! Joie de vivre!

Whoa, the back garden is full of vibrant life, sprouting something new each season. The joy that bubbles up in me as I walk through the garden is palpable. Hope, possibility, movement is apparent in the early garden of spring. Though it’s only January, here in California there is an obvious transition happening. The seasons are shifting. Life is resilient.

 

Miner’s lettuce, mustard, fennel, mallow, cleavers, lemon balm, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint, asparagus, chives and more providing a spring feast, clearing away the cobwebs of winter.

Field of Miner's Lettuce

Field of Miner’s Lettuce

Cleavers

Cleavers

Blooming Mustard

Blooming Mustard

fennel

Fennel

garlic chives

garlic chives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Poppy, sweet peas, feverfew,  love-lies-bleeding, nasturtium, tulips, irises, alyssum, flowering sages galore, zauschneria (I love that word!), mugwort, borage, goldenrod, lovage, milkweed popping up to say hello each spring, some early, some late….

Poppies, Calendula, Penstemon

Poppies, Calendula, Penstemon

Calendula

Calendula

Evening Primrose with Feverfew

Evening Primrose with Feverfew

goldenrod leaves

Goldenrod leaves

 

 

 

 

 

All year long, the birds are singing, cooing and cawing, flitting here and there amongst the flowers and trees; butterflies, dragonflies and an occasional frog make an appearance on a regular basis. Lizards and snakes, mice and voles, though usually hidden and out of sight, are adding their presence to the land.  Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums are all present on the land.

Bird in water fountain

Bird in water fountain

Dragonfly on Poppy seed head

Dragonfly on Poppy seed head

Frittilary butterfly

Frittilary butterfly

bees on frame

Bees on hive frame

 

Bees, flies, wasps, gnats all buzzing, buzzing, buzzing! The year is just beginning. Where will it lead as we follow the sights and sounds of the garden!


Winter Silence

Running, running, and running some more to fulfill the obligations of the holiday season.  Each year a choice is made as to how you will spend your time during each season.  We all know how it feels being wholly wrapped up in the mindless action of buying presents, pasting on a happy smile and baking or decorating til we drop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my students told me recently that she loves the holiday season because her natural exuberance for life is never questioned and she is received fully by those around her. What a lovely experience to have! On the other hand, how sad that she feels restricted during the rest of the year when others don’t want to receive her effusive joyfulness. Our culture continually demands that we follow the rules and often those rules are so well woven into our culture that we are unaware of following them.

Winter….a time for reflection, hibernation, rejuvenation. We all know that this is what winter is for. We are enamored with these images. Throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, the media plays on these emotionally filled images in advertising. Pulling us in to consume more, overdo excessively and continue to ignore our deeper nature that is calling us to retreat and go inside of ourselves.

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STOP! Breathe for a moment and examine your motivations. Step outside and FEEL what winter is calling for you to do, and BE.

“Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright…” This well known song (without getting into the religious references) elicits feelings of winter. The quiet that descends during the rain or after the snow falls. The brightness of the sun reflecting off the snow. The candles (lights) that shine in the dark.

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Here are some images to help you get started in feeling winter, deeply… inside your soul.

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Take time each day throughout the rest of the year to absorb the peace and quiet that they offer. Feel the embrace of the winter as the arms of each tree reaches out to sustain you.

 

And, remember, when the New Year comes you can keep yourself in this lovely place of internal calm. Allow the incessant chatter of resolutions to die back. Fuel your New Year with the silence of a holy night.

 


A Lifestyle of Gratitude

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll through November each year, we are bombarded with the message that we are supposed to be grateful. The commercialization of a spiritual principle, like gratitude, can be confusing and in fact, downright annoying. I myself have found over time, the development of an aversion to the originally meaningful additions around the Thanksgiving table of sharing our gratitude. My problem with this practice is that it is only done at this time of year. That, somehow, I’m suddenly supposed to be expressing my deepest feelings of gratitude right before I eat a huge meal. Not the best time to be bringing up deep emotions. I prefer to eat my meals without swallowing my emotions, even when they are lovely ones like gratitude.

This request is never asked of me at other times of year nor offered by others (except surprisingly on FB). Doesn’t that seem strange to you? I find that in my own life, on any given day, I may find myself expressing to my wonderful husband, Ofer, gratitude for my life. And for our lives together. How does this happen? It is a direct result of my awareness of what is happening around me, and the ability (developed over time) to judge less and be grateful more.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So many times we are focused on the “bad” things that are happening in our lives or around us in the lives of others. With a little reframing, we can see each situation as an opportunity for gratitude of some kind. Every experience is neither good nor bad, simply an experience. We can choose how we perceive life and our response to it every moment.

For example, I may read of a tragedy in the paper and say, “I am so grateful that we do not have that happening in our lives.” Or, I’ll see someone when I’m on a walk and say, “I’m very grateful that I am moving more easily than they are.” Or “It’s such a privilege to have the knowledge and support I have to keep myself moving well at this age.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI remember when I was pregnant with my son and feeling the pinch of our finances. I went to look into getting food stamps to help us get through. I drove the van, parked it in the lot and went inside the building. As I looked around the room at all of the people there, I realized that I had so much more than they did.  I had a vehicle to get there in; I had credit cards I could use to buy food while waiting for money to come in; I had a home to live in. It would be unfair of me to apply for government support because it could take away from those who needed it more than I. So, I turned around and got back in the van and drove home feeling endlessly grateful for my abundance.

Sometimes, the gratitude is for the passage of time and the stage of life we are in. When shopping, watching young parents struggling with a screaming child, we often say, “I’m glad we aren’t doing that now. It’s wonderful to have a grown son.” Stories of children failing or being taken advantage of in schools and we are deeply grateful for the way we raised our son.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGratitude can be expressed in other ways as well. When I’m reading a novel, I may think, “I’m grateful that I have a family that listens to me and I live in modern times.” Even when I’m sick in bed, I find myself thinking about my gratitude for a warm place to snuggle up, hot broth and an understanding family to support me while I regain my health. Or, perhaps, I will be grateful that it is only a passing flu that will be gone after a few days of rest. I used to be resentful when illness (or jury duty!) interrupted my life. Now, I see it as simply another way I am spending the time I have in my life and a way to learn and deepen my relationship to myself.

Life in the garden provides resplendent possibilities for gratitude! On a regular basis, our family will see something blooming or peeking up in the garden, maybe a change in ripeness or plant size, and the excitement is shared with each other. “Come out to the garden, I want to show you this!” may be uttered by any of us. Sharing gratitude for the abundance and beauty of the garden is a daily gift.

Take a look at your life, and consider, what are you grateful for today? This daily practice can be done anywhere that nature is found. On a street corner, in a neighborhood, a park, or just gazing up at the sky.

 

Hope LS024

 

 

This photo was taken looking up at the sky in the middle of the day while standing in a parking lot in the suburbs. I call it “Hope”.

 

 

 


Times of Change

I’ve been thinking lately that it is time to stop raising chickens. It seems a good time for me to make such a large change as it is fall. Fall is a natural time for letting go, for purging the unnecessary from life, for making room for something new. With the descent of winter, I will be spending less time in the garden. The rains will wash away the old detritus of the year. As I live more fully in sync with the seasons, I am able to recognize the ebb and flow of my life and allow it to unfold without getting in the way.

Y with chik 2_prbalancing chicken_prWe first got chickens when my son, Yo’el, was nine. A friend brought a pet chicken to school one day and he was completely enamored. Ofer and I had been wanting to get chickens for years, so it was finally time. In a short period of time, it became clear that these were more than pets, they were comforters. During times of upset, the first thing that Yo’el would do is run to the back yard and watch the chickens. Years later, I asked him why he did that and he said that their sounds were comforting and helped him feel better.

Now, it has been thirteen years of raising chickens. We’ve raised four flocks or so and had times of both abundance and heartache as they laid excessively or not enough to keep us fed, and over time, they died. It became a way of life for our family.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt also became part of our public image. We have been known for our “urban farm” environment by people who come to our place for healing. I know a number of farmers and we do not have an urban farm. The life of a farmer is far more difficult and devoted to the ongoing process of sowing, harvesting, death and renewal.

 

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We have created a sacred space that includes animals. All forms of life are valuable and we want to share the healing benefits of nature with everyone who steps into our world. We are also devoted to the ongoing process of sowing, harvesting, death and renewal, in a broader sense, in terms of the spirit and the creation of a healthy lifestyle.

We, too, feel that the chickens are a valuable part of our sacred space. So, you may ask, why are you now getting rid of them? Well, the truth is that much as we sometimes resist it, things change over time. We are currently in times of change.

When we first got chickens, it was hard to find healthy, free-range eggs in markets. We have always been committed to eating the freshest foods, so raising our own chickens made sense. Since then, the farmers have responded and are now offering reasonably priced, free-range eggs in our local markets. And we love to support the local farmers, so one more way to do that is to buy their eggs.

y e (18)_pry e (35) pry e (65)_pry e (12)_prOur son is now almost 23 and he may fly the coop at any time. Over the last few years, he has been less interested in the chickens and helps with them only because I asked him to and he’s a helpful guy.

 

I, too, am changing and finding that without a child running around the place, there is less that holds me here. I am letting go of old dreams and looking at expanding my activities. I am stepping back out into the world which includes more frequent travel. In 2016, so far, I have six trips planned. That sort of travel hasn’t happened in many years. When I am gone, the animal care falls to Ofer, who wouldn’t have animals if he lived on his own. So, you see, there is a ripple effect as times change.

The ease with which I found someone to adopt the entire flock of chickens is a sweet validation that this is the right decision. A Big “Thank You!” to Heather Thomason of Goat Girl Farm for taking them and providing a good new home.

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As I said earlier, after the winter I will be ready to plant something new in this sacred space of the Sugi Garden.  I don’t know yet what it will be. Maybe it will begin to reveal itself in the darkness of my internal reflections this winter. Winter is the time of my birth so it is an especially auspicious time for me to pull forward a new direction to move towards.

Eggs are an age-old symbol of spring. We will continue to have eggs in our lives to feed us, inspire creativity and growth. And with the beautiful eggs raised by the organic farmers, you will still be able to enjoy our Sunday brunches and homemade ice creams. Spring will bring a feeling of freshness and renewal, a time for hope and possibility. Let’s let go of what no longer serves us and open up to the possibilities that lie ahead.


Healing Flowers

With all of the extreme fires that have been happening all around the state of California there has been a feeling of emergency throughout much of the summer. Even though the fires are at a distance from our lovely place, the heaviness of the destructive, cleansing forces of fire linger around us frequently. Just knowing that people, animals and nature are going through such a sudden and extreme change brings a combination of sadness, anxiety and anticipation.

This type of change is also an opportunity to rid ourselves of old patterns and to take steps towards a new way of being. I look to nature for support during such times and find that Flower Essences are a phenomenal form of therapy to soothe away these challenges. I’ve chosen just a sampling of the flowers that may be useful during this stressful summer/fall. Some of these flowers will help in the immediacy of the traumatic moment and others will address the effects of a trauma that can linger over time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABleeding Heart –  Intense feelings of brokenheartedness and loss often  occur with the loss of a loved one, including a place or animal that has been dearly cherished. The response can be an emotional dependence that is unhealthy and extreme. Bleeding Heart will help these people fill themselves from within by connecting to their own spiritual strengths and learn to love and honor others from a place of openheartedness and fullness.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABorage – Another wonderful remedy for the heart is Borage. I especially love this one in the garden as well as in my flower essences! It pulls up a feeling uplifting joy and courage, particularly during challenging circumstances. Borage will assist you in overcoming deep feelings of grief, heavy-heartedness and depression. Feel the lightness and optimism that fills you when Borage is your friend!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalendula – When we are under a great deal of stress, our spoken words can become cutting and sharp. Impatience and self-protection influences our communications. Calendula will allow for a more balanced way of interacting with others through speaking. This flower will bring forth feelings of compassion, warmth and healing into verbal communications, especially within our personal relationships.

clematis closeup webClematis – This flower helps us become more fully present in life. When tragedy strikes, it is easy to escape by moving our awareness into a dreamy state, another world where life is better. Clematis can support the strength of the inner self to allow a deeper experience of being connected to ourselves as physical beings, the physical world and those around us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACosmos – Cosmos is another wonderful communication flower for times of crisis (or every day) when the thinking becomes overwhelmed and disorganized.  When we feel overwhelmed by circumstances and unable to process everything quickly enough the mind goes into overload; speech becomes rapid and unfocused. Cosmos will bring together the speaking and thinking aspects of the nervous system for fluidity and clarity in communication.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGoldenrod – During times of extreme change we can discover that deep inside there is the desire for something different than what we have been living. Our lives are often profoundly influenced by those around us, through community or family ties. This can be difficult to break away from in order to create the true life that is desired. Goldenrod develops a more complete sense of Self, bringing into awareness the unconscious choice to conform. Individuation becomes possible with the help of Goldenrod. As a result, social pressures are not felt so deeply and balance is achieved between the needs of the individual and the group.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALove Lies Bleeding – The experience that comes to a community when disaster strikes is often surreal. Love Lies Bleeding can pull us from the depths of despair into a place of consciousness that transcends the personal and offers a larger context for understanding suffering. This overpowering experience brings into focus the awareness that one’s personal pain is an expression of the human condition. When using Love Lies Bleeding flower essence, we can discover a heartfelt bond with all of life and feel the deep-seated compassion that is hidden in our hearts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMariposa Lily – Traumatic events exacerbate the patterns that we have developed for self-preservation. Many of us have never developed a clear bond with the essence of Mother. This can be experienced as a separation from Gaia (the Earth and environment), from our own feminine aspects, and from personal relationship with human females. Mariposa Lily is a flower that manifests feelings of nurturing that heal the broken bonds of mother and child. Being embraced by the maternal gives us a strong foundation for forgiveness that results in the ability to move forward in a state of grace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATansy – The chaos of a sudden, dramatic life change can trigger feelings of intense overwhelm, instability and confusion. When faced with this situation, many people withdraw to cope and are unable to take meaningful action to move forward in life. Tansy stimulates self-awareness which creates the ability to respond differently. The energy of Tansy brings forward decisiveness and purposeful action to reach goals.