Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cyclamen: Warm & Chilly

On the left: Kept in the kitchen. On the right: Kept in a chilly room.
In December, i gave a talk on holiday plants. I encouraged people to keep their cyclamen in a cool spot. Joanna did an experiment. She bought 2 cyclamens at the same time.She placed one cyclamen in her kitchen, near the wood stove. The other one she put in her study, which is too chilly for her to use in the winter. Three months later, here are the results. The leggy cyclamen with no flowers is the warm one. The compact fabulously blooming cyclamen has been living at 50 degrees.

It's counter-intuitive that warmth would lead to legginess and no blooms at all, and that chilly leads to continued blooming. It's almost as though too much pleasantness leads to a "lazy" plant. Resilience comes from a seemingly difficult climate.

This conforms to my experience. My siblings and i have a high level of resilience, perhaps partly due to a slightly chilly upbringing. Children who are accustomed to having everything provided for them lose their vigor. Uber-protection can lead to a lack of resilience.

Resilience is a key factor in happiness--happiness despite outer conditions.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Dog Who Loves Flowers

a poem by Mary Oliver

I had a dog
who loved flowers.
Briskly she went
through the fields,

yet paused
for the honeysuckle
or the rose,
her dark head

and her wet nose
the face
of every one

with its petals
of silk
with its fragrance

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen

hovered -
and easily
she adored
every blossom

not in the serious
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom

the way we praise or don't praise -
the way we love
or don't love -
but the way

we long to be -
that happy
in the heaven of earth -
that wild, that loving.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hostess Gift: A Bottle of....

We went over to a friend's home for Easter dinner. Although my sweetie and our host couple drink wine, i do not, and i don't feel quite right about bringing a bottle of wine to dinner. I finally solved my little problem: I now take a bottle of olive oil. The bottle sometimes looks like a bottle of wine, and yesterday's olive oil came from a company that also sells wine.

I can't tell you how happy i am to have put this niggling not-quite-rightness to rest.

As we go through our day, we have all sorts of trifling little ruffles of our conscience. We may breeze over most of them. No one else may even notice, but in our hearts, we know something is not quite right.

Living a skillful life calls on us to be true to ourselves, whether or not anyone else notices.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weed-Free Garden

I recently gave a talk about how to have a weed-free garden: Mulch! Now!

Now, while there's nice bare ground. But don't let that bare ground fool you. There are thousands of weed seeds per square foot of dirt, just waiting for the right conditions to spring up. Apply mulch now, and then they will remain dormant.

We do the same thing with our mind. There are all sorts of unskillful thoughts waiting to spring up. We mulch our mind with meditation. We create the right conditions for kindness, friendliness, and
patience to grow in our minds and in our actions.

Mulch your flower beds soon. Enjoy the flowers without those pesky weeds.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

All Snow is Impermanent

Raking Around the Snow
Big piles of snowplowed snow are disappearing fast--evaporating from the top and melting on the bottom. This means the ground is rather soggy. Squish, squish, squish. Add in yesterday's April showers, and i am surrounded by various forms of water--in the air, on the ground in puddles, and in the ground as mud. Fortunately, there's more air than water, so i can breathe comfortably. (And my west Texas dry skin has softened considerably now that i'm home in the North Country; my lips are no longer chapped.)    
All things are impermanent. I've been learning this chant, and applying it to many events in my life. All snow is impermanent. All mud puddles are impermanent. All the gold fish in my pond are impermanent--20 of them have disappeared, leaving only one. All lives are impermanent. All bodies are impermanent. I hum this chant throughout the day. 

All things are impermanent, including me.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Florist & Cafe

While we were in Marfa, Texas, we had breakfast at Buns 'n Roses--cafe & florist. Now that is my type of cafe. Being Texas, the cafe/florist shared its place of business with a welding and wrecker service.

The breakfast was delicious, and the decor inside the cafe in the quonset hut was a florist's refrigerator, a table of potted plants, and a wall of vases and gifts.

Although i think immediately of the Joan Baez song Bread and Roses, I suppose the name of the cafe is a nod to the hard rock band Guns N' Roses. How do we reconcile the use of guns to kill people, with the roses that decorate a funeral casket? Perhaps we are trying to come to terms with the use of really big guns to bomb Syria, the resulting loss of lives, and the very disabling results of nerve gas among the survivors.

Fear drives defensiveness. To act fearlessly does not mean that we are entirely vulnerable. Now is the time to act from our heart--a beautiful rose, which nevertheless protects itself with thorns. Now is the time to respond with non-violence.

Fear has two meanings.  
Forget everything and run 
Face everything and rise.
--  Zig Ziglar 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Elements

I've returned home to the North Country, skin tanned by the west Texas sun, hair blown wild by the wind, and the body slightly dehydrated from the heat. The elements of heat and wind (air) showed their strength, but didn't arm-wrestle me to the rocky ground, though most plants looked parched. Surprisingly, standing in a 105 degree hot spring beside the Rio Grande on a 101 degree day felt really good on my bare feet..

Here in the North Country, the day is chilly, the sky is clouded, and mud and mud puddles are drying up. Green begins to twinkle in my brown gardens, inviting me outdoors.

Hot/cold, sun/clouds, heat/chill, wet/dry--our skin feels all of these. Some are pleasant; others unpleasant; and we react accordingly.

Really, the air is blowing through us. We breathe air, which is never ours anyway, and let it go when we exhale. We marinate in the temperature du jour--the sensations of our skin responding as it loses or gains heat continually. We drink water from the tap (from a well, from the city water tanks, which come from rivers and reservoirs). Our body feels solid, yet is ever-changing as water, heat, air, and solids enter, pass through the body, and exit via the trap doors at the base of the torso.

We ourselves are plain old elements, recombined.