Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Air is Beautiful

"Look, up in the sky.  It's a bird.  It's a plane..."

“To even mention all the things the bird must constantly keep in mind in order to fly securely through the air would take a considerable part of the evening.....The air is beautiful every day this last week of September. 85 degrees every day; 65 degrees at night. The weather is perfect. And the air.... The air--i can't describe it. I drive on the interstate with windows rolled down, just to feel the soft air buffeting my arms. I'm not paying attention to the highway noise. The sensation of air all around me is so delightful.

Mindfulness is the interplay between what we are focusing on--air, for instance--and our peripheral awareness of everything else--the traffic, the noise, the trees, the median, the bridges.

The hawks are migrating south, as the season of beautiful air will soon come to an end.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Woods Asters

Woods Asters & Phlox
Perennial Swappers swapped perennials for the last time this season, and then came to visit my fabulous fall garden. Lots of color here. One combination, i particularly like is lavender woods asters and plain old pink phlox.

Only in the past few years have i decided to just let woods asters grow in my gardens on the edge of the woods. Before that, i weeded them out. But now i love them, especially en masse. Asters have no problem with massing. They love each other's company.

Whose company do we keep? Who do we hang out with? It's important to spend time with our meditation friends. I've had the good fortune to teach the Dharma every day for the last 4 days--Sunday, i gave a Dharma talk; Monday i taught meditation at the jail; Tuesday i taught mindfulness to hospice volunteers; and today i met with a Dharma friend for tea. The result? A low-grade pervasive joy.


Phlox, Purple Aster, & Sanguisorba

Saturday, September 23, 2017


My neighbor gave me 4 acorn squash plants at the end of May, and they have yielded a dozen children including a set of twins.

Two squash from one stem reminds me that both compassion and wisdom are needed for our meditation practice to take off. They are often called the 2 wings of awakening.
Compassion without wisdom can be mushy and saccharine. Wisdom without compassion is dry.

In our meditation practice, we want to practice self-compassion, and we also want to deepen our insights with wisdom practices. When we speak, we want to to be gentle and straight-forward. Resting in the middle of these paradoxes, we find the Middle Way.

I'll be baking some compassion-wisdom squashes later this fall.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Draininge Ditch

It's been a rainy spring and summer, and already it's a rainy fall. Rainwater has drained into my garage and puddled in the basement. My sweetie has been waiting, waiting, for the road maintenance guys to put a crown on our private dirt road, a crown on our dirt driveway, and to do something about the drainage. When he flew to Portland, Oregon to meet me after my retreat, one of the first things he talked about was his exasperation with the process. "There's a great big ditch between your gardens. I can't possibly drive the truck over it. Call them and tell them to do something about it. They took away your beautiful garden soil. Now what are they going to do?!!"

Since the father of the road guys carved my driveway out of the woods 38 years ago, and his then-teenage boys were his crew, i have the utmost confidence in their artistry with a backhoe. Bill was the one who was bothered. "You call them," i said. "I can't quite picture it being as bad as you say."

When we returned home from our vacation, we found the ditch filled with crushed rock--all the better to drain the driveway. Hooray!

Worry is believing that something bad is going to happen in the future. Curiosity waits and wonders, "I wonder what's going to happen."

This ditch full of rocks is a better solution than i could have imagined.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Portulaca Pot

My friend Nancy, in Olympia, Washington, has a flower pot that goes around the umbrella in the middle of her patio table. Very cute. She has filled the flower pot with portulaca.

The terracotta pot is actually 2 pots, each going halfway around the umbrella stick. By tying the 2 halves together, there's the illusion that one pot goes completely around.

How often do we see something beautiful, only to later recognize its "brokenness," its unsatisfactoriness?

The portulaca pot is beautiful, but it's not quite as it seems. The illusion certainly fooled me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mt St Helens

While i was on retreat in August in Washington state, my borrowed landscape was Mt. St. Helens. Two or three times a day, i walked down to the end of the driveway of Cloud Mountain Retreat Center, to take a peek at the still snow-covered mountain.

Gazing at a landscape has the effect of relaxing the mind, and, therefore, the body. Relaxing the mind is the first meditation instruction.

Begin now. Look out the window at the view of your yard. Go out to your deck and sit a spell. Relax.

Photo courtesy of Portland Monthly.