Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Hoed a Toad

This morning, while planting potatoes, i hoed a little
toad right out of the ground. She was surprised, and i was surprised.

Maybe you've felt sort of stunned yourself. For instance, when you're on retreat and something unexpectedly bubbles up from the sub-conscious or the unconscious. Maybe it's sort of ugly, which is a good reason to have repressed it all this time.

I just reviewed the last 12 hours of my father's life (18 years ago), and i suddenly saw it in an entirely different light.

Bringing things to light is part of what is called the purification process. We purify our minds, just like water is purified.

Surprising, yes! And unexpected. And lighter. I feel lighter without that dark thing hiding underground.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Gazing Globe on the Ground

A silver gazing globe blew off its stand a couple of weeks ago, and i haven't picked it up. It sits there on the ground waiting for me to decide what to do. This morning 2 little sparrows were running around it, looking at themselves in "the mirror" and scaring themselves

Isn't this exactly what we do when we worry? We look into our mirror-mind, which is simply a big projection screen, and we see... An intruder! An intruder into our space! (Never mind that this thought is a creation of the mind.)

Like those little brown birds, the redpolls, we jump, we startle. And we keep replaying the event, the situation in our mind. Running around and around the gazing globe mirror. Aaagghhh!!!

We fail to notice the places where we don't see our projection in the mirror-mind. There's one good viewpoint, and we keep going back to it. Notice that space, the place where the thought is not. That's the place of Wise View.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ramps for Lunch

I dug ramps today. Ramps, also called wild leeks, are one of the earliest foods to forage from the forest. Ramps smell like garlic, but cooking quickly dilutes the garlic flavor. If you're making ramp pesto, do NOT add garlic.

It feels appropriate, this day-after-Earth-Day to dig my lunch out of the earth--ramps sauteed in butter with pasta, which is not me, and not mine.

Earth "element"--of leeks--goes in my mouth. Still not me and not mine.

Sometime tomorrow, an unrecognized version of earth element--my composted lunch--will exit via the trapdoor at the bottom of my torso. Earth element returns to earth. Still not me and not mine.

Ramps--a fun meditation on the relationship of how my body is entirely dependent on the earth.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear Sweet Violets

Violets are blooming in the lawn. Dear sweet violets.

Violets are such an old-fashioned flower. Being edible, they are very pretty in salads. Or imagine having the time to make candied violets. Imagine having the time to pick a violet bouquet!

The violet's heart-shaped leaves remind us to practice good will and loving-kindness

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bird's-Eye View

Yesterday, i went for lunch to a friend's third-floor apartment. The window beside the kitchen table looked out on a budding maple tree, which made me feel like i was in a tree house. Those buds and tiny flowers are beautiful up close--30 feet up in the air. A real bird's-eye view.

If we had a bird's eye view of our life, how would it look? Encased in our five or six feet of skin, flesh, and bone, it all feels up close and personal. Very I-me-mine.

But what if we could look at that person walking down the street in our body or driving a car from an altitude? What if we could see the big picture?

Hmmm, we might say. She's so worried, so busy in her own mind, and she's really missing the beauty all around her.

Like the spring green springing forth Like the budding maple trees. Oh, joy! Joy is right here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Squirrels Plant My Bulbs

I'm not too happy when the snowplow "transplants" some my perennials for me, but i rather enjoy it when those rascal squirrels and chipmunks transplant various bulbs.

Walking on a woodland path, i find cobalt blue squill. Now how did that get here? Near another path, I have a colony of the aptly named squirrel corn, a relative of Dutchmen's breeches. And how did that get there?
Squirrel Corn
I guess squirrels are gardeners too. I knew they planted acorns, and now i know they plant bulbs and wildflowers.

What are we planting today, this week in our minds and in our hearts?

You can't beat that perennial bloomer, mindfulness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Anthuriums on the Altar

At my most recent meditation retreat, 2 bouquets of anthuriums sat on the altar next to the Buddha. I loved looking at the shiny red heart-shaped flowers before i closed my eyes for an hour of meditation.

When i arrived at the meditation center, Dorothy from Hilo, Hawai'i registered me. Hmmm. Last time i was in Hilo, i went to the farmers market where anthuriums cost $1 per bunch. I wondered if Dorothy had brought these anthuriums with her. At the end of the 8-day silent retreat, i asked Dorothy, and she smiled.

Her generosity rippled out to provide this pleasant reminder of our heart practice. Loving-kindness in action.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Snow on Daffodils

The earliest daffodils were snowed upon 2 weeks ago, so they remain bent over. They bloom facing the ground instead of the sky.

It doesn't seem fair when people's bodies are prematurely disabled, perhaps from birth, perhaps from an early accident or disease. Some people die well before what we think of as an allotted lifespan.

My neighbor's son has been disabled from birth. That doesn't stop him from fully enjoying his life. One of the great programs our community offers is the Theater Adventure program. (Watch a YouTube here.) Every time i go to one of their productions, my heart swells with the love and care these people have for each other and a few tears come to my eyes.

Some flowers are bent over from an early age, and only a few people notice them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Naturalizing Wildflowers

Several years ago, i planted some bloodroot in my white garden. This ephemeral spring wildflower is dainty and doesn't last long. I've been happy to see it spreading and jumping into other flower beds. This spring, i have several patches of bloodroot in several flowerbeds. Oh, joy!

This process of wildflowers spreading themselves around in a new environment is called "naturalizing." Bloodroot have made themselves at home and naturalized themselves in my flower beds.

The Dharma is naturalizing itself in my life, i am happy to report. The first seed of Dharma was planted when i was 30 years old, and now it is flowering all over my life.

Oh, joy!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sweet Parsnips

While cleaning up the vegetable garden this afternoon, i found parsnips! Oh, right. I planted those last April. I immediately dug them up. They were small and hairy with roots, but i was going to be home alone for dinner, so i could eat as i pleased.

Fried in butter and salted. Oh, my. Melt in your mouth. And they were all mine.

It's wonderful to harvest a beautiful mind state--perhaps one we planted quite a while ago and have sort of forgotten about. I've been working on basic friendliness. Simply acting like a friend toward people i know as well as people i don't know. As an introvert, feeling at ease with people is not my strong suit.

Yet, yesterday i managed to act friendly and conversational toward people i barely know. Sweet!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tulips on the Front Step

In November, i potted up about 60 pots of tulips and put them in my garage. And now i have a tulip extravaganza on my front step.

In addition to smiling every time i walk toward the front door, i also have the pleasure of giving away pots of tulips to whomever i see that day. Yesterday, i gave a pot to the receptionist at the doctor's office and the service manager at the car repair shop.

My sweetie's mother, also named Sweetie, taught him to "be good to the service," so he's always friendly with the wait-staff at a restaurant. I decided to be good to those who were offering me various services yesterday.

Generosity--it's good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

That Sneaky Invasive Weed

Last summer I weeded a patch of bishop's weed (Aegopodium) out of one of my flower beds. This invasive grows from the tiniest piece of root left in the ground. Usually I cremate my bucket full of bishop's weed in my wood stove, but it was July. I set the bucket aside. I forgot about it. The bucket looked brown and dead in August. Then it was rained on and became a putrid mess. I forgot about it some more. There the bucket stayed, behind my compost pile, all winter long.

This morning, I wanted to use the bucket, so I picked it up, and little green leaves were sprouting inside the bucket. Now, I took the slightly soggy clump into the wood stove for cremation tonight. This invasive will start growing again the minute my back is turned.

When we are ready to root out the weeds of our mind, we have to be assiduous. We don't need to hate the enemy weed; that's useless, a waste of our energy, and only builds the unwholesome habit of hatred.

We keep our attention on our inner weed patch and perhaps root it out as best we can. And when it sprouts again, as it will, we renew our attention. We refocus our intention: I don't want that weed in my mind-garden, thank you very much. We want the flowers of kindness, patience, and investigation. So we practice kindness and patience toward this unwanted, unwholesome habit. Then, we are building our kindness and patience muscles.

I'll feel the burn tonight when it's chilly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Rats have arrived in my neck of the woods. My neighbor, who has chickens, saw a rat yesterday in her chicken coop, followed quickly by a mink who chased the rat across the lawn, caught it by the neck, and took it home to the baby minks for breakfast.

Living in the woods, i expect a certain seclusion--no traffic goes past my house--and i enjoy the wildlife. Now i expand my definition of wildlife to include rats.

This new "neighbor" with its unsavory reputation has moved in. If i resist and cry "Not in my back yard!" my mind suffers the conflict of I-don't-want with but-I-have. What we resist, persists.

After all, i'm also neighbor to a mink.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mulch Those Bad Habits

April showers bring May flowers. Or, in this El Nino year, April flowers. What joy to see flower gardens springing to life. Color in the spring garden is made more dramatic by a background of mulch. The little yellow daffodils really stand out against the dark brown mulch, which looks like fresh dirt. In the beds that haven't been mulched yet, the daffodils are lost in the tan leaf litter--they are hard to see and just not as striking.

When we mulch our bad habits and unwholesome words and deeds, our kindness stands out beautifully.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Promise of Pansies

Violas are a smaller form of pansies.
The farm stand is open for the season and selling pansies! That's about all they are selling right now--pansies, bulbs, and seeds. All with the promise of flowers and future flowers.

I'm just home from a fantastic week-long meditation retreat. The practice instructions were clear and hold promise for reducing my stress so that seeds of wisdom and kindfulness can bloom in my life.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Serene Tulips

I found a half-eaten hyacinth bulb on the sidewalk. One of the forced hyacinths, my February hyacinths, that i just planted in the ground. Some cute little rodent--squirrel or chipmunk--was eating it for breakfast.

This is the reason i plant my tulips (and hyacinths) in pots. That way i can have my tulips and a squirrel can eat them too.

Oh, for years i fought with the squirrels and chipmunks. I tried all sorts of methods to prevent them from eating my tulip bulbs. Eventually, i decided to accept things as they are. This is called serenity or equanimity.

I can have beautiful tulips on the front step, and a beautiful peaceful mind.