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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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


Garden Mushrooms

From the time I was an imaginative child immersed in my experience of the world as a magical place, I have been attracted to mushrooms. My love of Alice in Wonderland, though I didn’t understand the references at that time, endeared me even more to the mystical mushroom. I love their taste and unusual textures, their mind-altering potential, the danger of their potency and the hidden mystery of the way they grow.

Fairy Mushrooms

Fairy Mushrooms

When I became a home owner 16 years ago, I was enthralled with the first mushrooms I found popping up in the late winter. As I was crawling around on the ground, weeding the yard for the first time, I unexpectedly came across a patch of mushrooms. As with everything that I saw for the first time in my new garden, I was excited, exhilarated and ran for the camera and my family to document it.

It felt like I had stumbled upon a secret fairy garden. This hidden world that is not usually visible to the human eye was revealing itself to me. I felt honored to be privy to this secret place, my heart opened and accepted the privilege, and the responsibility, of caring for their well being.

 

The Mighty Mushroom_pr

The Mighty Mushroom

As the years have passed and the property has become richer in its effervescent life there have been more and more mushrooms popping up.  I realized recently that I have seen a wonderful variety of mushrooms all around the yard. Sometimes they are large, and other times they are tiny, and usually in between.

Mushrooms are a wonderful indication of the health of the soil. Plants and trees rely on the reproductive function of fungi to enliven the soil they live in. There are even soil amendments that are made from composted mushrooms.

button-head-mushroom

button-head-mushroom

round-head-mush

round-head-mush

mushroom

mushroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this is interesting and valuable for the avid gardener like myself. Ultimately, though, my infatuation is more of an emotional one than a practical one. I don’t trust my knowledge of mushrooms well enough to actually identify them and eat them from the garden or the wild.

popping up

popping up

mushroom heads

mushroom heads

stems revealed

stems revealed

standing tall

standing tall

 

As you can see here, they happily grow in composting wood chips. In a happy garden, though, anywhere is just fine. When they appear, I know that the garden is becoming more alive.

 

 

spring-shroom

spring-shroom

upright-mushroom

upright-mushroom

top-view

top-view

 

 

Each one is unique. Their beauty is out of this world.

 

 

 

mystery-mushrooms

mystery-mushrooms

Garden Mushrooms

Garden Mushrooms

fairy grove

fairy grove

How can I not run for the camera and then observe them in awe.

mushroom forest

mushroom forest

forest canopy

forest canopy

 

 

 

 

 

Striped-black-and-white

Striped-black-and-white

delicate-black-and-white

delicate-black-and-white

black and-white-trio

black and-white-trio

striped-duo

striped-duo

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know their scientific names, but it doesn’t matter. They speak to me in other ways. Every time a mushroom reveals itself in my garden, I am fed deeply in a place inside that is touched,

wooly mane, inky cap

wooly mane, inky cap

 

somehow,

wooly mane

wooly mane

 

 

wooly mane closeup

wooly mane closeup

 

by the truly wondrous world of nature.


Why Bother?

I was out in the garden yesterday morning (what a gorgeous fall day!) and as I was digging a hole to plant the fennel,

fennel

I found myself thinking, “Why do I bother to do all of this out here?” As I paused to give my back a break, I looked around at all we’ve accomplished this fall. I took in the sweet little plants that are starting to peek out of the soil and heard the cluck, cluck, cluck of the chickens next to me. A deep breath filled me…. Such a blessing to be part of the rhythm of life. My eyes move across the garden, taking in the incredible abundance and growth surrounding me.

baby romanesco broccoli

Turnip seedlings

So, why do I bother? I realize, yet again, that this sanctuary is not only a place of physical labor. It is also a place of inspiration and comfort.The food that I grow sustains me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined without experiencing it.

onions and squash

In the busyness of our lives, it is easy to become disconnected from the cycles of the seasons. The excessive amount of food in the grocery stores woos us into the feeling that we can have anything at anytime. The cost of this excess is hidden by colorful displays, bright lights and happy music.

When I get caught up in this frantic energy of modern life, I have the garden sanctuary to embrace me. Simply walking out

into the garden, smelling the humus of the soil, watching the chickens or the cats at play all bring me back to myself and what is important in my life. The cats are wonderful examples for me. They move around busily for short bursts of time and the stop and watch to see what is the next step. Putting my hands into the soil, so hard to resist, brings me deeper into myself and my inherent connection to what surrounds me – the bigger aspects of life.

Following the natural cycles of the seasons teaches us the true order of life. As people our lives mimic the garden’s rhythms even when busyness keeps us from seeing it happening. If you look back across the years of your life, you can see periods of growth just like a young plant, times of flourishing that bring a feeling of having bloomed in spring. In the fullness of our lives, there is a feeling of productivity and accomplishment – of bearing succulent summer fruit – juicy and ripe. We reap a harvest every time a goal comes to fruition or we reach the end of a chapter. In the autumn of life, there can be feelings of melancholy and letting go, just as a tree lets go of its leaves each year.

Perhaps you can remember a moment in life when everything was at a standstill, waiting for seeds to sprout – a new direction in life, growth. This is a dark time, a time of quiet and reflection, like winter. This winter-like experience has a purpose in our lives, just as it does in nature. Without these times of quiet dormancy, there would be no integration and rejuvenation. The spurts of growth that come following times of dormancy set the stage for the harvest that is reaped further on. And on and on it goes…

Here’s a recipe from my cookbook for you to enjoy the fall harvest.

Delicious Delicata Squash Barley Soup

2-3 cups delicata squash, peeled and cut in squares                            6 small-medium carrots, shredded

½ head green cabbage, chopped                                                                 ½ daikon radish, shredded

1 cup barley                                                                                                      2 stalks celery, chopped

handful of wakame seaweed                                                                        1 tsp. Dried orange peel

6-7 cups water

Place water in large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add barley, turn down to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Add vegetables after barley cooking time is done. Simmer another 20 minutes. Add orange peel. Turn off heat. Serve after five minutes.