Saturday, July 26, 2014

Share Our Surplus

The township i live in (population 1,800) has 3 tiny villages. One committee, the Transition (to Energy Independence) committee, has a Share Our Surplus program (S.O.S.). Every Saturday in July and August, they set up 3 farmstands--one in the east village, one in the west village, and one in the center village. If you're driving by, you can pick up or deliver the surplus from your garden. At the end of the day, a volunteer takes whatever remains to the Food Shelf in the nearby town.

All sorts of generosity are at work here:
  • the generosity of the gardeners who donate their extra veggies
  • the generosity of the volunteers on the committee who do all sorts of schlepping
  • even the generosity of the people who pick up free vegetables, thereby saving someone the work of disposal

Generosity is the first step on our spiritual path, and that path begins with a trip to your vegetable garden. Share your surplus with someone today.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Black Plastic Pros & Cons

Carole laid down black plastic in her vegetable garden to absorb and increase the heat in the soil for her peppers and tomatoes as well as to suppress the weeds. Now, a tribe of voles has taken up residence under the black plastic, and are pruning every plant in sight. Not only the broccoli and the beans, but also the peppers, including the hot peppers. (I wonder if the leaves and stems are as hot as the peppers?)

 We too lay down various forms of weedy thought suppression: Oh, i shouldn't think that or Oh, i shouldn't feel that way or I don't want to feel this painful feeling.

We try to grow nice-ness as our cover crop. And what happens? When we're not looking, our best efforts are nibbled away, undermined by the very feeling/thought we are trying to suppress.

Mindfulness is our refuge. Lean into that unpleasant feeling as if it's an acupressure point. Make friends with that unpleasant thought/feeling.

That's the way to grow a garden. Pepper your life with mindfulness.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Goodbye, Lawn Mower

It's time to trade in the lawn mower. It has become incontinent--leaking oil onto the garage floor. Even though it just had its annual physical exam at the hardware store a couple of months ago, it's now back there again, on life support. This faithful servant of 22 years has to be retired from service.

The man who is the mower of the lawn at my house still loves to ride around in green circles for an hour every other week. He's 78, and he probably doesn't have 22 years of service remaining. Nevertheless, he is choosing a new riding mower and continuing to serve his community in many different ways. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Zucchini: While It's Still Small

I picked my first zucchinis this morning. I caught them while they are still less than 8 inches long. Whew!

We try to catch our bad habits while they are still small, still just a thought in the mind. We pay close attention to that thought, just as we (hopefully) pay close attention to that baby zucchini.

Sink into that thought, whether it's irritation, impatience, desire, or what have you. Label it. Label it out loud, so that you can hear yourself being mindful. Label it out loud, so that you can hear mindfulness above the inner din.

I'll be eating zucchini for dinner this evening.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kale Salad

I went to a day-long retreat with Shinzen Young on Saturday. At lunch, a friend and i went to a vegan restaurant, and i ordered Baked Kale Salad.

Kale leaves, halfway to becoming kale chips--sort of crispy, sort of leafy--were served with caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, and a lovely dressing. Delicious! I made my own version for dinner last night.

We know kale is good for us. We know meditation is good for us. "Raw kale salad is too chewy," one friend complained. Our mind is busy, sometimes really busy, chewing things over when we sit down in meditation and notice just how noisy it is.

We have our strategies for getting away from the mind: add more noise--music, TV, movies--some form of entertainment. We have our strategies for getting away from kale: ignore it.

Only when we stop ignoring the mind does it begin to quiet down. Our mind is like an insistent 3-year-old--it wants to tell us something. And we are tired, tired, tired of it.

Pay attention to the mind with mindfulness. Accept those repetitious thoughts with kindness. This is best done on the cushion, while having your "noisy" meditation. But you can notice the mind while you're eating kale salad too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Compost Grows in the Garden

Kay is the gardener of her family, but in April she asked her husband Tom to put the compost on the garden. He spread the entire contents of the black bin over the garden, then he rototilled.

Kay is now finding dozens of tomato plants sprouting in her garden, along with a couple of peppers, an unknown squash (oh-oh), an avocado tree, and maybe a watermelon? For Kay, tomato plants are a weed; she's pulling them out wholesale, except in certain spots, such as where the spinach didn't show up. May as well have something growing there.

Pulling weeds, she comes up with a lobster claw, lots of eggshells, and an interesting chunk of wet soil that turns out to be a rotten grape.

Burying your kitchen scraps in your garden is one form of composting, but that is not what Kay intended.

Here are the phrases that teach us about karma:

When we act upon intention,       such as spreading compost on the garden 
all beings are the owners of our actions,
and inherit its results.         such as stray tomatoes and an avocado tree

Our future is born from such action,  Tomato plants, peppers, lobster claw
companion to such action,
and its results will be our home.      such as weeding out tomatoes

All actions with intention,
be they skillful or harmful,             (I'll let you be the judge of this.) 
of such acts we will be the heir.      Exasperation? Or laughter? Or both?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Green Beans and Kindness

Here comes the summer garden. I picked my first batch of green beans, and the cherry tomatoes are ripening. I stop by the farmstand on my way home every day, and buy 2 ears of corn for dinner. For the time being, i'm buying tomatoes too so i can have tomato sandwiches for breakfast, for lunch, and, well, for dinner too when i don't get home until 9:30 p.m. Let's eat summer.

Now, we can see the direct connection of food to plate because we're going out to our gardens and harvesting the food that appears on our dinner table, maybe less than an hour later. We know where that plant came from, perhaps we even know where the seed came from. We know the soil, and we know where that soil came from--last year's compost, perhaps.

The source of our thoughts, our actions, our habits, indeed, our personality is lost in the mists of time. Just for today, we watch our thoughts with care. When we have a stressful thought, we substitute the opposite, which is often loving-kindness. Loving-kindness for ourselves, first of all.

Serve yourself a nice green helping of goodwill and kindness toward yourself. Now.