Thursday, August 17, 2017

Borrowed Landscape

I'm staying with my friend Nancy in her 800-square-foot condo in Olympia. Outside the sliding glass door, she has a small patio, about 10'x12', which is a lovely space to sit or eat meals while her cat roams around the adjoining lawn or crouches under towering Douglas firs.

The green space actually belongs to the condo association, but Nancy's eyes feast on the expanse of green outside her door. This is called "borrowed landscape." It belongs to someone else (technically), but you have the visual use of it, and, in this case, the cat owns the territory.

I often "borrow" wisdom from my meditation teachers, repeating it to myself or to students, until such time as i thoroughly know it for myself. Right now, the wisdom i'm repeating to myself is "Every being has her own journey."

The cat goes out to the lawn to meditate, while i sit on the little patio, savoring the Pacific Northwest landscape.

Blue Potato Vine

My friend in Olympia, Washington, has a blue potato vine growing up the bricks of her chimney. Solanum crispum looks like nightshade to me, and the berries it produces are likewise poisonous.

It turns out that other poisonous substances are also beautiful. I'm thinking of the word "toxic" hiding in the beautiful word intoxicating. Intoxication sounds likes a lot of fun, until you realize, decades later, that you've been poisoning your liver.

Shall you be seduced by the thought that beautiful people drink wine? Or will you recognize the poison?

The blue potato vine is beautiful.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spiritual Friend

I'm in Olympia, Washington for a couple of days, visiting a spiritual friend. We are on different paths--she's a Quaker; i'm a Buddhist--but i love our deep conversations. Plus, i'm in the Pacific Northwest, which grows beautiful roses.

Spiritual friends. Life doesn't get any better than this, no matter how free-wheeling our conversations.

Who is your spiritual friend?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monarch on a Zinnia Throne

Monarch butterfly on zinnia.I saw a monarch butterfly this afternoon, sipping nectar from a zinnia, not far from a stand of milkweed.

Yesterday, i found 2 monarch caterpillars on the underside of a milkweed leaf. Although i've heard that there aren't enough milkweed, i have plenty growing in my cutting flower beds.

When is a weed a weed? And when is a flower a flower? It's all in the eye of the beholder. It all rests with your personal judgment. Every judgment is a judgment, dividing the world into good and bad, yes and no.

Or we could practice non-judgmental awareness. "Oh. It's like this."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushrooms

At the farmers market today, i bought chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms. Oh, my gosh, they are delicious as well as beautiful. The texture is, well, chicken-y.

I love supporting our local farmers, who are growing crops you won't find at the grocery store. They are practicing Right Livelihood (whether or not they know it), and i really enjoy supporting them in their efforts.

Besides, local mushrooms make me a locavore.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Meditating with a Hummingbird

Two photos taken in our patio.  I saw a hummingbird a few days ago and so purchased a feeder and sure enough they have been regular visitors since.  

Comments are always welcomed and enjoyed.

The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) ...This morning, i sat on my deck and meditated with a hummingbird. She sat on the wire railing, looking this way and that. I watched her breathe.

She came over to sit just 2 feet away from me--so glittery green, this tiny bird-queen.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Groundhog is the Grass

Visite rare dans mon jardin, ce matin (24 juin).
Infrequent visitor to my backyard, this morning.

Marmotte commune -- Woodchuck

Order Rodentia -- Family Sciuridae

Bas-Saint-Laurent -- Province de Québec -- Canada

Canon PowerShot A6...We looked out the kitchen window to see a cute roly-poly groundhog grazing on the grass just 10 feet away from the house. Eventually, we walked out on the deck, and the groundhog ran right into my flowerbed. Ahem.

Today, Bill and i went exploring in the flowerbed and found a big groundhog hole right in the middle. Fortunately, i had some used kitty litter, which i immediately dumped into the hole. Would you go home if used kitty litter was scattered all over your front step?

What do we do when varmints take up residence in our minds?

First of all, watch it with mindfulness, interest, and curiosity. Where does this "varmint" live?
Eventually, you can apply the antidote of kindness. This might be called "killing it with kindness." That's really the only way to invite it to live somewhere else.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Minced Garlic

The garlic harvest is in, and i still have 4 dozen heads of last year's garlic that are starting to sprout. I'm rich in garlic, but what to do with it all?

One evening, after turning off the computer at 9:00 p.m., i peel all that garlic and throw it into the food processor. That makes a quart of minced garlic, which i cover in olive oil and store in the refrigerator. This jar of minced garlic will keep longer than the raw garlic, some heads of which had already turned brown.

We, ourselves, don't last forever. One writer-friend tells me that, at 80, she's forgetting many of the names she wants to write about in her memoir about back-to-the-land in the 1960s.

Now is the time to sprout your meditation practice or your own creativity. Don't wait. Life doesn't last forever.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Garlic Harvest

Time to harvest the garlic! I pulled mine yesterday, cut off the top stalks and the roots at the bottom. Now they are resting in a dark, dry place for a couple of weeks before i store them in the basement. In fact, they are stored in my woodshed, which is attached to my garage, and the garage smells like garlic. Fresh garlic.

The smell of garlic pervades my woodshed and garage. In our meditation, we pervade the world--or our little corner of it--with loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Choose one, and for today, just try pervading your body with the smell, with the taste of loving-friendliness, for instance. Can the people you meet "smell" your friendliness? Can they "taste" your friendliness?

We know garlic is good for us, and friendliness is also very good for us.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Shrinking Garden

It's too hot to garden, so i go out to the flowerbeds in the early light with my clippers to deadhead. Actually, "deadhead" means cut the whole plant down to the ground. Bucket by bucket, cart by cart, i am hauling my entire garden to the compost pile.

The entire verdant, blooming garden shrinks to the size of a compile pile. For me, that's 3'x3'x3'. It's mind-boggling. My entire landscape shrivels into dirt.

I can see it, if i pay attention. I fill a compost bin up to the top, overflowing even. By the end of the week, it's shrunk to 6" from the top. I fill it up again. Same thing. Shrinking and changing before my very eyes.

Sort of like my own body. Shrinking. I've lost more than an inch of height. And i don't want to look too closely at the shriveling part.

The garden ages. And so do i.