Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sugar on Snow

Due to COVID, there's no Winter Carnival this year. No ski jumping contest in town. But more importantly, no Sugar on Snow.

In New England, Sugar on Snow means packing a bowl with snow and pouring boiling maple syrup on top. The syrup hardens and forms taffy. Chewy and sweet.

As so often during this past year, i decided to DIY--make my own.

Boil the maple syrup to 235 degree (soft ball stage on a candy thermometer).

Pack a bowl with snow. Last night's snow was light and fluffy. This morning's snow is heavy and wet. Heavy is good.

Pour the hot syrup over the snow.

Spiritual practice is another DIY thing. No one else can do it for you. You already know the recipe.

Meditate or pray. 20" a day is a good start. Use a timer.

Read a spiritual book.

Meet with your spiritual friends at least once a week and meditate together.

The heart softens, and practicing kindness becomes easier and easier.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Baby Polka Dots

This morning i noticed tiny polka dot seedlings growing in the pots of various houseplants. Even though i shook the polka dot seed stems over some flowerpots a couple of months ago, i'm sure i didn't sprinkle any in the pots where they are showing up. Oh, the mystery of tiny seeds.

This is the reason we need to pay attention to our ethical conduct. Not because there is a divine judge. But because you are judging your own actions. 

The seeds of our speech, our actions, and our behavior fly off in who-knows-what direction. Will we harvest a weed from that mean word? We never know the repercussions of our words.

Plant seeds of kindness wherever you are. You may be surprised by little polka dots of happiness 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Pink Thunbergia

Pink thunbergia is blooming in one of the front step flowerpots i brought indoors in October. Thunbergia is a vine, usually with a yellow flower. When i saw this pink flowered variety, i splurged.

Although the plant's name honors a Swedish scientist, we can think of it as honoring another Swede--Greta Thunberg, who, at the age of 15, became a world-known climate activist.

Due to climate catastrophe, hundreds of plant varieties are being lost forever every year. Hundreds of creatures go extinct every year.

Yes, change happens, but fatalism is not the answer. We do what we are moved to do. 15-year-old Greta was moved to call a school strike in Sweden. What are you moved to do?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Diamond Frost

I'm taking cuttings of Diamond Frost euphorbia. This airy annual looks beautiful in a flower pot on the front step. It's lovely as a houseplant. And it's an ever-blooming edging for a flowerbed.

The cuttings root very easily. I always prefer free to paying $5.95 at the garden store for a single plant.

The Buddha offered his teachings freely because the Dharma is priceless. The Dharma is more valuable than diamonds.

Every blog i write is just a single cutting from the ever-present, abundant Dharma. I offer this sprig, and every sprig, in the hopes that the Dharma may take root and grow in your own life.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Handicapped Black Cap Chickadee

A chickadee with a useless leg visits our bird feeder. A couple of days ago, i was happy to see her, all alone, nestled on the deck railing pecking sunflower seeds. A handicapped bird is unlikely to live very long.

She flies funny. She does a lot of flapping as she comes in for a landing. Will she be able to gather enough food to sustain herself?  She uses a lot of extra calories with all that extra flapping.

Since there's nothing i can do, i have to let Nature take its course. I have to accept life as it is, even if it means this particular chickadee's life is short.

According to my Advance Directives, i'm all in favor of letting Nature take its course.But it’s hard to watch how Nature is treating this little bird.

I offer what i can to this sweet little chickadee.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Snowy Sun

The sun is shining while the snow is falling, giving a hazy bright orb in the sky. The elements seem all mixed up--sun and snow, cloudy and clear. These cold days, we are at the mercy of the elements.

We can feel the elements outdoors--cold and warm, hard ice and soft snow, breezy or still, wet or dry.

The Buddha instructs us to notice the elements in our body. The hard--bones, finger nails, teeth--the so-called earth element. The wet--blood, sweat, tears, and saliva--the water element. The hot or cool--the so-called fire element. And the breath or passing gas--the air element.

We take a drink of water and swallow. We know the water goes down a tube, through various ponds (e.g., the stomach and bladder), and then down a long canal (the intestine), and an even smaller canal (the urethra), before water pours out of our torsos.

That water wasn't "me" before it entered my body. And it wasn't "me" when it exited. Was that water "element" ever me? How is "our" inner water different from outer water?

The elements are playing with us. Today the sun shines through the snow.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Path of the Squirrels

The squirrels have worn a path in the snow. When i catch them eating sunflower seeds, i open the door to the deck. They gobble a few more seeds. When i open the storm door, they scramble down a post, and hightail it to safety.

Where do we head to for safety?

Every morning i take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. I seek sanctuary with my community of Dharma friends. I look for wisdom in the Dharma--the teachings of the Buddha. My intention is to take the high road and wake up to what i am doing, wake up to the effects of my actions.

I sit still, and the squirrel makes a run for it.