Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Aging Mums

The Old and the Young
I bought mums in September from the garden club mum fundraiser. For 3 weeks, they were camouflaged by the beautiful flowerpots on the front step. They had about a week of lovely solitude on the front step before the first hard frost came, and now they look pathetic. Off to the compost pile with them.

I stopped at our local farm stand and bought 2 more pots of spectacular mums. I know from previous experience, that these late-in-the-season mums will have a short lifespan.

How much am i willing to pay to resist the frosty season of old age?

We too resist aging in various ways. Anti-aging creams (as if such a thing exists), exercise, weight loss, dying our hair, and, perhaps our favorite, new clothes to cloak the aging body and distract attention from the wrinkled body.

I have "clothed" my front step in new young mums.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Somebody's Been Eating My Gourds

My neighbor gave me half a dozen gourds, which i put on the front step as seasonal decorations. Somebody's been eating my gourds--all of them. And they've taken a few bites out of my lone pumpkin too.

 Sometimes, we are making offerings that we didn't expect to be making. Notice how the sense of  "my" creeps in here. "My" gourds! Gone!

Who's to say they weren't the squirrel's gourds?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Star at Dawn

A hard frost came last Sunday and killed all the annuals. Sudden death. Suddenly the slow drift of seasons has become dramatic. Leaves falling, falling. Bare trees all around. A different season is definitely here, yet i am not resisting--at least, not yet.

I take joy in the yellow leaves still clinging to trees, the copper beach leaves. I delight in the blue of the sky, gaze at the last two stars twinkling brightly in the dawn.

Take 30 seconds and drink in some beauty right around you. Been there. Done that kills our joy. Let your joy shine like a star at dawn.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Vole-Hunter in Disguise

A couple of weeks ago, i complained about a great blue heron fishing in my little fishpond. Bill often saw the heron farther down the lawn, near the stone wall. In reading about blue herons, i discovered they mostly eat fish and frogs, but they also eat voles! My vole-hunter has arrived! And i didn't recognize her.

You may recall that voles decimated my vegetable garden, eating almost all my broccoli, cabbage, and bean plants. All gone. Gone. I haven't figured out what to do about the voles. Should i give up vegetable gardening? That sounds blasphemous.

Sometimes we get what we ask for. A vole-hunter. But it looks different than we expected. A great blue heron.

The herons have flown south for the winter, so the voles are safe. For now.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are falling like rain now that we've had our first frost. Or maybe i should say "falling like snow" since it also snowed immediately after the killing frost.

Old age dallied a long time, fooling us with a too-warm and lovely September. The killing frost came late--October 18--but it did come. Suddenly the gardens look dead, but they are quickly covered with a quilt of leaves--yellow, red, and brown.

Leaves falling. In our lives as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Magnificent Foliage

Fall foliage is spectacular this week. The tourists went home yesterday, and still the red maples shock the eyes.This year, the reds are redder than they've been in a long time. They say this year's magnificent colors are because the trees received more water early in the year.

Let's water our meditation practice while we may, so that when we come to the autumn of our lives, we too may be seen to be magnificent.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Blue Heron is Still Fishing

When i pulled up the shades in the kitchen this morning, a blue heron flew away from the fishpond. That must mean that fish still live there.

Our bad habits "go fishing" for us. They want us to bite the "hook" of craving. It's time to clean up our act.

My fishpond is about to be cleaned out of fish.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sweet Potato Happiness

Sweet Potato seedlings--sold bare-root in a bunch
In June, i bought sweet potato starts at our local farmstand. I just harvested my first crop of sweet potatoes! I feel thrilled to discover a new vegetable for the garden, and an easy one too.

Because i planted them too close together, my sweet potatoes are the size of carrots. Still, they taste delicious.

We keep the garden of our mind fresh, and even thrilling, by experimenting with new meditations. Currently, i'm teaching a class on Hardwiring Happiness. My new practice is to focus on a happy-making thing for 30 seconds. Like sweet potatoes.

Yes, sweet potatoes may be a mundane happiness, maybe only 3 on a scale of 10. Still i pay attention to that little happiness for as long as i can. A little smile comes to my lips. I breath that tiny ember of happiness throughout my body.

Sweet potatoes. New happiness.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Perennial Ageratum

Several years ago, my cousin Jeana in Indiana gave me some perennial ageratum from her garden. They are about a foot tall, taller than the annual variety. And they are blooming now.

I have a fall garden, and these ageratums are a welcome addition of color in my flowerbeds. They perfectly match a short aster in one of bed, so i've put them close together. A yellow mum from last year actually survived! Luckily it is growing near another clump of ageratum. Nice color combination!

Today i am visiting a new hospice client because her usual volunteer is away for a couple of weeks. The hospice coordinator tells me this 92-year-old woman is taking her failing body in stride. A couple of months ago, she was found on the floor where she'd been for 28 hours. When asked why she didn't use the Lifeline hanging around her neck, she said that she didn't want to bother anyone.

A person like this, who doesn't complain, who appears calm despite her failing body, this is what i call blooming in the autumn of life. An ageratum in disguise.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Houseplants Come Indoors

The houseplants have come indoors after a 5-month summer vacation. Wow! That is the longest summer vacation they've ever had.

For years, i brought my houseplants in on Labor Day weekend. Then... Shall we call it global warming? This is the first year the plants have stayed outdoors until October, and still there's no forecast of frost.

We can put our minds on vacation, any time we want. Simply pause the story you are telling yourself. The mind-vacation may not be long. Maybe half-a-second. Maybe a whole second. Notice it. Breathe into it. Before the mind launches into its next "and then...." Pause. Take a break from that stressful story. Notice you are breathing.

The houseplants are breathing indoors now. Ahhh. Fresh air!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Applesauce

Everyone agrees. It's a great apple year.  I have yellow apples on a "wild" tree that hasn't produced apples in 35 years. They're not pretty. (I'm not an orchardist.) But they do make good applesauce.

When i cleared the land where my house now stands, there were a handful of apple trees in the woods. I left two of them and managed to kill the others by pruning too severely. Their location is not ideal; they are in a partly shady spot. Bill pruned them into lollipops for many years before i asked a veteran pruner to attend to them. This year--apples!

Sometimes, i feel like my meditation practice doesn't produce much. I still am not adept at concentration practices. Then something happens. This year--a cancer diagnosis--and i see that my meditation practice has produced bushels of fruit.

I'm making applesauce this year, even from that other apple tree with the small apples that make pasty, blah applesauce. I'll use the blah applesauce for cooking. I'll use that blah diagnosis to support a delicious mind.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Great Blue Heron at the Fishpond

A great blue heron has been spending a lot of time at our little fishpond. Herons have a reputation for eating all the fish in fishponds, but so far we have some goldfish remaining. The frog population seems to have been decimated though.

Death comes to those we love. This is the way of nature.

When i raise the window shades at six in the morning, the movement scares the heron away. It goes to roost at the top of the weeping cherry for a couple of hours. It is a much more patient creature than i am.

When i look out the window at dusk, the heron flies away. Oh, it is persistent.

Patience and persistence are two of the qualities we need in meditation. We wait without "waiting." We effort without efforting.

The heron flies away.