Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bear Eating Sunflowers

Everyone in the neighborhood has either seen the bears or has piles of bear scat in their yard. My neighbor, Connie, says her sunflowers have all been bent in half and the seed heads have been eaten.

Our forester neighbor has been on all of our cases for years about bringing in the birdfeeders in March. But some of us cheat. We like to see the birds up close; they bring us so much joy.

But the birdfeeders bring bear, who then become used to people food and the sources of people food. In the confrontation between people and a bear, the bear always loses--its life. The bear will be killed. It's a life-and-death situation for the bear.

We like to do things our way. Wisdom suggests a different way, a different action. But we think we can get away with our little cheat. "Surely, it won't hurt anyone," we reason.

The Buddha was very specific. We have the 5 precepts of doing no harm, not taking what isn't offered, using our sexual energy wisely, speaking truthfully and helpfully, and not using intoxicants.

Perhaps one of these precepts sticks in our craw. Oh, surely, we think, it's not that important.

But our actions are extremely important. Our actions are really the only, only thing we own.
Our actions are a life-and-death situation--for us.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Now or Never

The first day of fall, and kiwis are available at the farm stand. Northern kiwis, I mean--the ones that are a little bigger than green grapes. The farm stand markets them as kiwi berries. I love this fall fruit, which is only available for a week or two in late September. I have to enjoy it now because I won't have another chance until next September.

"We've been eating the same thing for dinner for 6 weeks," I tell my sweetie as he munches his corn on the cob. We eat one ear every night.

"We have to eat it now, because when the season is over, then it's gone," he says. No more corn on the cob until next July. No more summer squash. No more fresh green beans. No more ripe tomatoes.

It's now or never. Whether it's a fresh tomato or a relationship with someone you love. Let's enjoy the Now.  Let's be grateful for the gifts that Now brings us.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Neighborhood Bears

My neighbor Lynn looked out her kitchen window this morning and saw a bear playing with a metal mobile she has in her backyard. The black bear, yearling-size, couldn't quite reach the mobile, and was gazing up at it and trying to bat it. Then Lynn noticed another bear walking out of the woods, the same size. Since Lynn is a forester, she assumes that the two smallish bears are sisters.

I have some fiber-optic LED lights in the garden that are a lot of fun to look at in the dark, as they change color every second. During the daytime, they look like a long-haired white nylon brush. When one of the bears visited us last week, they "played" with the fiber optic garden lights by chewing on them.

This morning Lynn said she could feel how calm the bears were as they ambled through her yard, and she herself became joyfully calm simply watching them.

Joyful calmness is a good way to describe meditation, once we are really focusing on our meditation object, when fear, worry, anxiety, and restlessness drop away for a few minutes.

Maybe we could just meditate on our new neighbors, the bears.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Last

The last stalk of gladiolus has been cut. It sits by itself in a vase on the island in the kitchen. Standing alone, blooming its wonderfully peachy-pink and white flowers.

I could look at this gladiolus as "the last." Oh, sigh.
Or i could look at this gladiolus as "beautiful." Mmmmm.
Or i could see this gladiolus as both beautiful and the last.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bear in the Neighborhood

After 30 years, a bear found and destroyed my neighbor's black plastic compost bin. We found 3 piles of bear scat here in our yard, but our open compost pile was not touched. Another neighbor saw a bear as she was taking a walk in the woods around dusk--a small bear, she said.

As cute as they are, we are talking about a life and death situation--for the bear. If a bear becomes habituated to people food, then the game warden will remove it.

If we become habituated to unskillful actions, then we too are talking about a life and death situation: our own. These habits--good ones or bad ones--are called karma. I'm not asking you to "believe" in karma. I'm asking you to look at karma, at your own habits very directly, with clear seeing.

Many of our habits are quite ordinary: brushing our teeth or driving a car. Many of our habits are skillful--anytime our heart reaches out to someone in need, anytime we do a good deed. And some of our habits are unskillful: you already know what yours are.

It's time to clean up our act--even though our friends may continue to practice unskillful acts of drinking a bit too much, expressing hurtful opinions. We clean up our act because, really, it's our life at stake here.

And it looks like i better clean up my compost act too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Flower Fairy

Linda, who owns the Cottage Hair Studio, welcomes her customers with a flower garden beside the front door to the Cottage. She has a flower fairy who takes care of the flowerbeds, perking them up with colorful annuals. Linda smiles every day when she walks in to work, and every lunch, when she sits out on the front porch.

Whether or not we believe in fairies, devas, or guardian angels, sometimes we ourselves can be helpful to others. The path of service is an act of compassion.

Linda pays her flower fairy, but sometimes we serve others for the sheer joy of it. I'm serving vegetables from the garden--squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes--giving them away to anyone whom i see.