Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cool Tulips

My pots of tulips that i forced in the garage over the winter are blooming. Every day, i put them outside on the front step for a day of early spring temperatures, a bit of breeze, and a sprinkle. Every evening as temperatures drop below freezing, i bring a dozen pots indoors to spend the night in my mud room, which is a bit cooler than the rest of the house.

My pots of tulips are like silent pets. All this in-and-out, back-and-forth makes the tulips last for 3 weeks instead of 1 week. They like to be cool, and when they're hot, they shrug off their petals like we shrug off our sweaters when we get too warm.

When you get hot under the collar, how do you cool down? Breathe. And notice you are breathing. Take a 1-minute mini-meditation break. Notice the mood of the mind.

We don't meditate in order to chill. We meditate in order to notice the stress in our lives. We meditate to notice suffering. We don't have to do anything about it. The "doing" will happen on its own once we become aware of the sources of our suffering--news, work, relationships. We probably need less of those particular stressors in our lives.

Take a closer look. Go outdoors for a mindful walk and enjoy the cool spring breezes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Importance of Migrants

Hilary--friendly and curious
In our state, 3 men with Hispanic names have been arrested by ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). These 3 men were working for the organization Migrant Justice.

The farmers in our state rely on migrant labor. At Town Meeting two weeks ago, one farmer stood up to remind us of the importance of migrants to his livelihood and to our state economy.  Since this farmer had a pig named Hilary a few years ago, i had assumed that told me something about his politics. (Hilary herself was so friendly and curious that i fell in love with her immediately.)

Regardless of politics, migrants are important in order for certain local foods to appear my table.

The Buddha himself was a wanderer, a homeless person, a migrant of a sort (though he did no physical labor nor did he earn any money).

Now is the time to practice right speech and speak up--kindly and gently. I have written postcards to ICE asking for the release of these 3 men.

During meditation, i express gratitude for the migrants who pick my neighbor's apples, the migrants who harvest oh-so-many fruits and vegetables. We need our migrant workers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating Spring Equinox

Susan sends a Spring Equinox postcard instead of a Christmas card. This year's postcard includes the poem The Coming of Spring by Francis Duggan.

The spring in gown of green came at midnight
and stole along the parkland in moonlight
and people of suburbia fast asleep
when Spring from tree to garden tree did creep.

The Spring came in at midnight in her green.
A welcome guest though she has not been seen.
In still of night she shuffled down the street,
and no one heard her pass on silent feet.

It's official: Winter is over. Gone. Impermanence rules.
Welcome Spring. You impermanent and changeable creature you.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


I'm the email secretary for our little local gardening group, Perennial Swappers. Maybe you could call it a club, but the only business is that Bonnie arranges the bi-weekly garden tours. Then every 2 weeks during the spring and summer, we meet at 6:00, give our extra plants away (takes about 10 minutes), and head off for a garden tour of a local, ordinary garden. I am amazed by the variety of gardens within a 5-mile radius of my house!

As email secretary, i pass along emails i receive that are of gardening interest. The Smith College bulb show, the Mt. Holyoke College greenhouse open house, an Ikebana workshop, a gardening seminar.

I send these emails out to the 133 people in the Perennial Swappers group. Maybe 10 or 20 come to any one meeting, and you usually see the same faces. Still, it's fun to trade gardening stories and to get together with other good gardeners to discuss plant problems and garden questions.

Today, i received 2 thank-you emails--notes of appreciation for letting people know about these gardening events.

Appreciation is all the pay i get for this volunteer job of email secretary, which i do enjoy doing. It pays to appreciate everyone we see today.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Walking the Labyrinth on Snowshoes

What to do with 15 inches of snow? One of my neighbors decided to snowshoe a labyrinth in the snow.

A labyrinth was, historically, more like a maze--a complex pattern, which, once you enter it, is difficult to escape. Perhaps you feel this way about a particular situation or relationship in your life.

Yet, if you keep walking, keep following the path, the answer finally comes. You reach the center of the quest, the center of the question, a small still point. Honestly, there's no need for rancor or impatience, frustration or hurt feelings. The answer is right there in front of you, if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other with an open mind.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Expressing Gratitude

My neighbors are having their kitchen redone, and their downstairs bathroom accessible-ized in preparation for old, old age. Meanwhile, they are staying in our guest suite, nicknamed The Sweet, where they can cook, be warm, and sleep comfortably.

In gratitude, Diana gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Expressing gratitude reminds us to not take things for granted, to not take life for granted. When we are young, we think things are going to stay the same. After all, that's the only way we've known life to be. We expect our grandparents will continue to be there, just like they have always been. As grandparents, we know the end is coming, and we prepare for it as best we can--like taking out the bathtub and putting in a shower with handrails.

If we were really in touch with life and aliveness, we would express our gratitude for just about everything--even the difficult things which force us to loosen our grasp on something or someone or other.

In the end, we have to let it all go anyway--flowers, friends, grandparents, and handrails.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blooming Tulips

For Valentine's Day, i gave my gardening friend Paul a pot of tulips that i had been forcing in my garage over the winter. After a month of living in the warm indoors, they are blooming.

We plant ourselves in meditation. Maybe at first, it looks like nothing is happening. But as our roots are established, as we notice the warmth of what we are doing, an insight sprouts and blooms.