Sunday, December 15, 2019

Solar Sun Flower

For the gardener who has everything. A solar flower tracker! It follows the sun just like a sunflower. What a garden ornament!

With all the talk about renewable resources, we can see and hear one of the Buddha's teachings about impermanence. We need renewables because everything arises and ceases. The re-new of renewables is literally a new arising. Even though it looks the same as the thing that just died. One tree looks very much like another.

The sun is constantly re-new-ing itself. Let's use that re-new-able energy to power our home and our car.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Last Chance

Snow is coming tomorrow. Today is the last chance, THE LAST CHANCE to dig leeks or carrots out of the garden. The last chance to put away lawn chairs and garden ornaments. The last chance to get the wood in. The last chance to move things out of the way of the snowplow. The last chance to turn over buckets so water doesn't freeze inside and crack them.

We usually don't know when it's our last chance to say good-bye. Sometimes people slip away before we are ready.

This year's garden slips away tomorrow. Farewell, dear garden.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Coco Puff

I bought an amaryllis kit that surprised me. The "potting medium" was a coco disc, about 3 inches in diameter and an inch thick. That's it? That's the potting soil?

I added 2-1/2 cups of water, and the coco puffed up to not quite fill the flowerpot. Just enough room left, to add the amaryllis bulb and leave about 1/3 of it uncovered.

Wow. That was easy and not messy. No muss; no fuss.

The Four Noble Truths are a telegram of the Buddha's deeper teachings.

1. Dissatisfaction (dukkha) exists.
2. The cause of discontent is craving and attachment.
3. Dissatisfaction can cease.
4. The 8-fold Noble Path is the way.

When we start to unpack them, they expand into a hologram of teachings.

But for now, let's just admire the compactness of this telegram. When we water it with meditation and attention, our understanding will expand.

The coco disk was compact. And then, when i added water, it grew.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Growing Kale Indoors

Image result for redbor kale
Last summer, i put redbor kale in three of my flowerpots on the front step to add color and height. The pots--with the kale--came indoors in October. My kale plants are now 3 feet tall. I harvested the leaves for dinner tonight.

Kale is a cold weather crop, so it's still growing outdoors in the garden. And it's fun to have it growing indoors as well. One of the plants has baby kale sprouting all along its naked stem.

In the summer of our lives, what can we plant that will bear fruit (or vegetables) in the winter of our lives? Many people rely on family as their refuge. I remember my grandmother sitting in her recliner looking out her picture window and knitting slippers for her ten grandchildren. Nine out of ten of them lived hundreds of miles away as did two of her three daughters.

I rely on the Dharma for my refuge. Not matter the circumstances, no matter the internal "weather", the Dharma bears fruit.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Snow While the Sun is Shining

Yesterday it snowed while the sun was shining. Small snowflakes danced in the air, and dusted the frozen grass.

Sometimes, a person is the picture of perfect health and received a surprising diagnosis. Suddenly, the end is within sight. The winter of life has begun, and the sun is still shining.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Talking with Your Houseplants

by Guest Blogger, Dawn Downey


The leaves on my houseplant were yellow and limp, except for the ones that were brown and dead. When I leaned over to give the poor thing a final sip of water, my arm started tingling. The closer I got to the leaves, the stronger the tingling. Was the dying philodendron taking revenge, shooting a death ray at my innocent arm?

This required a lunch confab with Sami, the plant whisperer.

She said, “You were feeling the plant’s energy. The plant might communicate through the energy, to tell you how to revive it.”

Here was my chance to be one with nature, without the inconvenience of going outside.

Sami said, “Ask the plant yes/no questions. Something that’s obviously a no. Like, are you on the patio? Feel the tingling. Then ask an obvious yes. Like, are you in the bedroom? The yes energy will feel different than the no. After you can tell the difference, you move on to questions about what it needs to get healthy. You’ll be great at this. I knew you were a closet nature-lover.”

I was feeling oneness already.

“Most important,” Sami said, “you have to ask permission to be inside the plant’s energy.”

 After lunch, I ran straight to the bedroom, where the philodendron was wheezing out a death rattle. I leaned over, giving it an air hug. “Are you on the patio?”

Instead of tingling my arms this time, a downdraft of energy ruffled the hairs on the back of my neck. The plant was talking to me. Energy on the back of my neck meant no.

“Are you in the bedroom?”

Once again, the back of my neck was alive with vibrations.

But, was it more intense? Less intense? I couldn’t tell. I tried another yes. “Are you sick?”

The vibrations were definitely more intense. Then again, maybe not. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back in concentration. Aha! Now, the energy was brushing my face. Eureka. Energy on my face meant yes.

I opened my eyes. Damn. The ceiling fan was on.

When I need really smart answers, I rely on magic—I douse with a pendulum. When it takes me an hour to decide which sweater to wear, I ask the pendulum. The days I look really put together, that means the pendulum picked my outfit.

I held the pendulum (bargain model: car keys dangling from a leather shoelace.) in front of me. “Show me how the plant will say yes.” The keys swung side to side. “Show me how the plant will say no.” The keys swung in a circle. I repeated the exercise. Same result.

“Is the plant on the patio?”

The pendulum keys swung in a circle, for no. Excellent.

“Is the plant in the bedroom?”

Side to side, yes. Fabulous. Oneness, here we come. Today I save the plant. Tomorrow I save the planet.

Time for the big questions: Do you need more water? More sunlight?  A different owner? Then I remembered Sami’s final instruction. Get permission.

“Is it okay to be in the plant’s energy?”

The keys swung in a circle.

No? What do you mean, no?

“Does the plant want to talk to me?”

The keys spun faster than the ceiling fan.

Obviously, the pendulum was hard of hearing.

I shouted. “Does the plant want to talk to me?”

The rotation of the keys sped up.

“Stop kidding around. Does this plant want to talk to me?”

The keys rotated faster, the circle wider and wider. A tornado. My dreadlocks whipped around my head.
That’s it. The budding romance between the leafy world and me is off. I wanted to be one with Nature, but Nature didn’t want to be one with me.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

First Frost Finally Falls

When i woke up at 5:30 and the temperature was 33 degrees, i had a faint flicker of hope. But after an hour of meditation, the verdict was in. Frost. Frost after all. Yes, i expected frost, but denial is strong. Delusion hopes not really. Not yet. But yes. Yet. Now.

Only for an hour or two. But that hour is sufficient to kill the impatiens, the zinnias, the basil.

No use imagining excuses. If only.... But i could have.... If i'd only known.

Frost is. This is the is-ness of this morning. Frost.

No excuses.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Unhook the Hose

Related image
It's time to unhook the hoses from their outdoor faucets before water freezes in the hose. One more garden chore for this change of season.

I recently filled out my Advance Directives. I said that i did not want feeding tubes because, as a medical professional pointed out, tubes in means tubes out. Think catheter, for instance. When my body slows down, i want to allow Nature to take its course. That's when it's time to unhook the tubes.

The hoses watered the garden in its prime, but now that the garden's old age is here, it's time to put the garden to bed and unhook the hoses.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Hydrangea Bear

Here in New England, i often see scarecrow-type figures out on people's lawns at this time of year. My favorite this year is a bear made of dried hydrangea blossoms.

Isn't it funny how i say "bear" and see "bear," but there's no bear there at all? This is what our perception does--sees resemblances and patterns and names it "bear." Like the constellation Ursa Major (big bear), which includes the Big Dipper. There's no dipper, and there's no ursa (or bear). We are simply naming the pattern.

Our entire world is made of these perceptions. Fear is one of them. Anxiety another.

But this is the time of year when we sort of like to be scared; we like to scream--especially if we're trick-or-treating with friends.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Calavera Norteamericana

Mexico has its Calavera Catrina--dancing skeletons celebrating Dia de Muertos. Once in a while, i find a New England version of La Catrina. This one has long white hair, a long skirt, and many scarves. She sort of looks like someone i know.

Actually, we all look like this skeleton. But we are so busy looking at the packaging--the body shape, the skin, the clothes--that we fail to notice what's inside the package. Bones. Bones that will remain much longer than the lifespan of our flesh-and-blood bodies.

One meditation practice is to walk down the street, and simply notice the skeletons all around you. What a great practice to celebrate these next few days of Dia de Muertos.

For one of these days, we all will be muertos.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Glowing Mums

As i'm sitting at the breakfast table, i look across the lawn to the woods. There, in a 3-foot square corner, i've planted some eye-popping mums, which are a pleasure to look at.

This little area is not an official flowerbed. It's usually just background. In the spring, it's filled with forget-me-nots and ferns in the summer.

But as i look across my now barren flowerbeds, the mums make me happy.

In the autumn of our lives, as age muddies our sense doors and hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting become more fuzzy and indistinct, where do we find our happiness? Happiness despite outer conditions.

The mums glow even on a rainy day.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Japanese Maple

I am loving my Japanese maple trees right now for their brilliant red leaves, which really stand out against the bare branches of trees around them. The red leaved-tree is a focal point--a place where my eyes rest every time i look out the kitchen window.

In meditation, our focal point is often the breath or body sensations. Our focus aims to keep our mind tethered to the body. Since the body is always in the present moment, tethering the mind to the body puts the mind in the present moment also.

Garden Zen.
Red maple
Falling leaves.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Fall Anemones

Fall anemones are still blooming in white or in pink. These tall, graceful flowers light up the fall garden.

Several years ago, i focused on buying fall-blooming plants, so nowadays, i have a blooming garden throughout September and into October.

In meditation, we set an intention at the beginning of our sitting practice. This morning my intentions were to name the hindrances and, especially, to be aware of the early warning signs of dullness (my most frequent hindrance). Bit by bit, our meditation comes into alignment with our intentions.

Plant by plant, our gardens come into alignment with our intentions.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Still No Frost

Still no frost.

Global warming is happening right here in my garden, in my yard. I used to bring houseplants indoors on Labor Day. Last year, the first frost came in mid-October. This year, it will be November.

Oh, there have been some close calls. It was 33 degrees when i woke up one morning last week. By 7 a.m., the thermometer said 32 degrees. The rain on the outdoor table had turned to ice. But the dahlias were still blooming.

My neighbor's garden, downhill and about 100 feet lower in elevation than mine, was frosted in mid-October.

Aging is like being on a battlefield. People (or plants) are dying all around you, and you are still standing. You don't know why.

Gratitude for the life--and death--that is all around me.

Friday, October 25, 2019


The difference between a weed and a flower is one of judgment. In the spring, i allow wild asters to grow in my flowerbeds because they add a white or lavender mist of color in the fall. When their flowers have finished blooming in October, i pull them out as if they are weeds.

What about those people we would like to pull out of our lives? Those weedy people whom we have a little grudge against, those weedy people who rub us the wrong way. It's all a matter of judgment--ours.

The fault lies not with "them," but within ourselves. Even then, we have already judged ourselves as having a fault, but since it's too ugly, we cast out our projection and land that fault on someone else.

The fall asters are not to blame. They are simply being their aster-ish selves.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Full Solarium

My solarium is packed full of all the flowerpots from the front step, the back step, and in front of the garage. Geraniums and petunias are blooming as is one agapanthus. I even have cherry tomatoes growing in one pot. Not sure how those got there.

Some annuals, such as coleus, are leggy and woody, and i don't expect them to last long. I take cuttings in order to root them.

As much as i like to keep old plants, some plants have a short lifespan. In order not to lose them completely, i keep taking cuttings.

Death is certain. The time of death is uncertain.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bear-Proof Compost Bin

My neighbor, Ahren, showed me his bear-proof compost bin. Made out of 2x6's and "nailed" into the ground with rebar rods, this compost bin is heavy-duty. The bears won't be getting into this bin nor tearing it apart nor rolling it away.

What kind of protection do we use when a bear-of-a-problem is lurking in our minds?

Our number one defense is mindfulness. Our number two defense is not putting ourselves in problematic situations. As soon as we notice worry, for instance, we remember that worry is not a healthy habit, and we redirect our minds toward an antidote. Mindfulness, for instance. Or gratitude.

Let that problem compost itself.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ground Cherry Surprise

While cleaning out a flower bed, i found a surprise. Ground cherries!

Ground cherries are a husk tomato, similar to a tomatillo, but much smaller, sweet, and yellow-orange when ripe.

I planted them one year, but found that my growing season wasn't really long enough. Plus they're small and, therefore, labor-intensive to harvest. Even though that was years ago, these ground cherries keep showing up in unexpected places. I suppose they go into my compost and, from there, into various vegetable or flower beds.

We need to be careful about what mental seeds we sow in our minds and what action seeds we sow in our behavior. "Just this once" lays down the track for a habit, which becomes easier and easier to follow.

Let's sow sweet and delicious seeds of kindness and patience.

Monday, October 21, 2019

More Beans

My pole beans kept producing beans into October, right up to the first frost. I was astounded.

My sweetie groaned. "Not more beans!"

I felt delighted. "Yes! More beans."

Our freezer is already full of green beans.

"But look at those big beans," he said.

"Yes!" I said. "Just look."

I grew up on overcooked green beans. My sister calls them hundred-hour beans. With shreds of ham from a ham hock, and a lot of onions, the beans are more like a stew than a fresh vegetable. Tasty (according to me).

This little civil war in the kitchen continues. Yes. No. I want. I don't want.

Fortunately, we remain civil and kind to each other.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pink-Orange Dawn

This morning's dawn startled me with pink-orange clouds in a blue sky.

Any day can dawn with startling news--news that we didn't expect, news that we don't want. Surprise!

We know and yet we don't know that Life can go in any which direction. Some of us have more resilience than others. Some of us have more tolerance for ambiguity.

A new day dawns. And i am startled.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Raining Yellow Leaves

A heavy rain last night rained yellow leaves off the maples, the birches, the hickory, the ash. The yellow leaves that were up above yesterday are now down below my feet.

The world is upside down. The sun sinks lower and faster. Fall is falling through my hands, into my lap, onto the ground. I can't catch or stop any of it.

Life flows through my fingers.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Breathe In Sweet Bouquets

Related image
by Guest Blogger, Dawn Downey

I was the only black person touring 30 Americans--an exhibit of American life seen through the lens of thirty contemporary black artists. I felt out of place among the white onlookers, even though I was an onlooker, too, gawking at my own life. Four hundred years of black emotions—mine, the artists’, our ancestors’—compressed into claustrophobic passageways and alcoves. 

I chuckled at a historical montage of black hair. Yup, I’ve used that hot comb, endured the sizzle and odor of burning hair. I levitated with joy at the human-shaped sculpture made entirely of flower blossoms. You couldn’t identify gender, race, or age. Yes, let me see only gardenias when I look at my enemies. Let me breathe in sweet bouquets, instead of noxious opinions. But as soon as each happy piece disappeared from my sight line, its inspiration evaporated. 

Maybe I have a greater capacity for despair than optimism. Despite the intermittent uplift, four hundred years squeezed me down to: It’s hopeless to be black in America.  

Read the rest of this post at

Find out more about Dawn Downey at
Dawn Downey

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Beneficial Ladybugs

Image result for suddenly ladybugs
Suddenly, ladybugs are everywhere. Crawling in the window casings, flying, even swarming.

Ladybugs are a beneficial insect. They eat aphids, mealy bugs, and other pests, so i like to see them crawling around on my houseplants.

Let's be as beneficial to the ladybugs as they are to us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Alyssum & Nicotiana

Midway through October, the perennials have petered out, and the annuals rule. White clouds of alyssum puff along the sidewalks and patio. Nicotiana stars smell intoxicating at night. A little verbena here; a little silene there. Color!

Six months ago, i sprinkled alyssum seeds along the edges everywhere. One teeny tiny seed gives rise to a white cloud of joy.

Now in this closing-down season color and fragrance prevail. May it be so in the closing-down season of my life.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Delicious Dogwood Fruit

My variegated dogwood tree (Cornus kousa x wolf eyes) has lots of red fruit this fall, which makes the tree look quite festive. The fruit is small and delicious. I think it tastes like paw-paws; someone else thinks it tastes like a cross between mango and pumpkin.

I love a tree or shrub that looks interesting in at least two seasons. The variegation of the dogwood makes it interesting to look at in spring and summer, and now in the fall, it looks rather Christmas-y with red balls of fruit hanging all over it.

I planted a fruit tree without knowing that i was doing it!

Our meditation practice yields the fruit of the spiritual path. Two of the first fruits are equanimity and fearlessness. Both of those sound delicious. Calm and freedom from fear.

Even beginning meditators notice the calm of meditation. There it is. The first fruit waiting for you to notice it.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Chinese Forget-Me-Not

Chinese forget-me-not (Cynoglossum) is the show-stopper of this late fall season. It's sky blue flowers grab the attention of visitors to my garden. "What's that?" they ask.

I pull up the dead ones and hand the entire plant to my visitor. "Here. You'll have it next year."

Each blue-blue flower turns into a tiny bur of a seed. I often find dozens of them sticking to my pants legs or gloves or shoes. This sort of sticky seed is called a hitchhiker because you can carry it for miles, unaware of your role in the dispersion of this plant.

The word "meme" originally meant a behavior or gesture or manner of speaking that is transmitted by repetition and replication (in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes), such as when you find yourself sounding like your mother or using your good friend's turn of phrase or gesture.

When we clean up our moral act, we can transmit kind and caring words and gestures. And isn't that what we truly want to do? Perhaps especially in our polarized society, where memes of meanness and even cruelty are too often perpetuated.

Forget me not mindfulness.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bandana Protection

Image result for dog wearing bandana in the woods
It's hunting season here in the north woods. Time to wear bright orange or dayglo yellow when i go for a walk. Neighbors tie red bandanas around the necks of their dogs.

The subject is deer. Those sweet Bambis who graze in our yards. Deer are so over-populated (30 per square mile instead of the optimum 18) that they are desperate for food. Our rhododendrons and other shrubs suffer. My star magnolia has a "waist" at deer nose height where all the buds and branches have been nibbled.

Deer also carry deer ticks, which in turn are carriers of Lyme disease.

We want to protect ourselves and our loved ones when we are walking in the woods. This wish can be incorporated into our loving-kindness phrases: May i be safe and protected. May i be safe from inner and out danger.

Loving-kindness is our antidote to fear. Fear of hunters, fear of ticks, fear of our own minds.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Leopard Moth Caterpillar

Amazing how many butterflies are still flitting about. And what about all those caterpillars? Today i saw a BIG black fuzzy one with red skin underneath. Turns out this is a leopard moth caterpillar, which i cannot say i have ever noticed before.

This is the fun of nature-watching. Seeing beautiful and amazing creatures I have never seen before. Though i'm pretty sure they've been here all along. I just haven't been paying close attention.

Paying close attention is what meditation is about. We begin to notice things we have previously breezed right over.

For instance, i've been paying attention to how i fall asleep in meditation. I can tell you the precursors. Sometimes i can even catch myself falling asleep.

This is one definition of awakening: When falling asleep wakes you up.

Image result for leopard moth
Leopard Moth photo by scooterwolf

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gray Turkey

A flock of turkeys often visit the field near my vegetable garden. Yesterday, i did a double-take. A gray turkey with white wings strolled in their midst. The turkeys didn't seem to notice this difference.

We all know that a turkey is a turkey. One is not better than another. No difference except feathers.

Do we know--really know, deep in our bones--that skin color is also no difference. Except that we act as if there is a difference.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Little Shop of Horrors

Image result for spikenard aralia
Several years ago, i planted spikenard (Aralia racemosa) as a big background plant in my woodland garden. Last spring, i found several spikenard seedlings in a 30-foot radius from the original plant. I began to get a sinking feeling--this was going to be way too many five-foot tall plants. The closer i looked, the more seedlings i found. Finally, i asked the gardener to dig the original plant out of the ground and throw it on the burn pile. I didn't want to take any chances with this plant, which i nicknamed Audrey, after the monstrous plant in The Little Shop of Horrors.

The gardener chopped off the greenery and dug around the plant and got down to a five-foot wide woody rootball. Oh-oh. Dangerous! It took her more than an hour to uproot the little horror.

Sometimes we plant habits in our life, thinking how beautiful we are going to look with this habit. My mother, for instance, smoked cigarettes like Bette Davis. And she did look beautiful. But... Then it's awfully darn difficult to get away from that habit. The root is thick and deep.

Today the gardener discovered another big spikenard growing in the opposite corner of the garden. Oh-oh.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Fire Fly Cherry Tomato

Image result for tomato fire fly
My favorite cherry tomato this summer was Fire Fly, an All-America Selection for 2019. This blond, pale yellow tomato surpasses even my very favorite Sungold.

I'm just now harvesting my very last tomatoes. Alas, the tomato season has come to an end, as we must also.

I'm taking training at hospice to become an Advance Directive volunteer. But first, i need to update my own directive for the end of my "season" here on earth.

When tomato season ends, i simply pull the dead tomato plant out of the ground, and store away the tomato cage. When the season of a human body is coming to an end, the decisions are not so simple.

Have you filled out your Advance Directive? Named your agent? Given them instructions for what to do when you can no longer speak for yourself? It will be so much easier for you and your family if you take care of this.

Monday, October 7, 2019


Image result for pole beans
I am still harvesting green beans--a basketful every day. In the midst of all that greenery, some beans have escaped my notice and become big bean-y beans; others are young and tender. No matter. I blanch and freeze both. My sweetie insists on labeling the big beans so that when he takes a bag of beans out of the freezer, he'll know what he's getting.

Labeling our meditation object is a good practice to remind ourselves what we are doing in meditation. Hearing. Hearing. Or Feeling. Feeling. Or even Seeing. Seeing. Labeling is a big help in our mindfulness practice.

I'm wondering if i can be mindful enough to pick my pole beans every day.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Yellow Leaves

Poplar, Yellow Leaves, Falling Leaves, Autumn
Yellow leaves are falling, falling. A blizzard of golden leaves in the air. A carpet of sunny leaves on the ground.

Leaves that were once high up in the treetops, fluttering in the air now lie in stillness on the earth.

Fall. Falling. Change. Changing.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Earth Worms are Migrating Too

Image result for earthworms
Birds are flying south. Monarch butterflies are winging south. Snowbird friends are migrating to Florida, North Carolina, or Arizona for the winter. 

Earthworms are migrating too. They head deeper down into the soil to spend the winter below the frostline. Here in the North Country, that's at least 3 feet deep.

As you consider the cool and cold seasons ahead, where do you want to burrow down?

There are lots of distractions out there, but what does your heart of hearts really, truly want? Listen.

Mine wants to burrow into a couple or three particular meditations. I want to burrow into the subtle dullness that so often arises. I want to practice loving everybody. Yes, that's right. Everybody. That's where i'm burrowing this winter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Wild Grapes

While on retreat last week, i took several quarter-mile walks along the country road which is more like an extension of the retreat center driveway. Every few hundred feet, i could smell grapes! Wild grapes. So deliciously grape-smelling.

I picked a few. The grape skins were sour; the seeds were mouth-puckeringly sour; and the inner grape--well, it was sour too. Oh, but that smell of grapes was over-powering.

The sourness of New England grapes stems, in part, from the acidic soil in which they grow.

What's your inner mood? What's your "inner soil"?

Meditation helps us change our natural mood setpoints toward positivity. When the inner climate is sunny, the words that come off your tongue will be sunny too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bee Stings

Backyard Beehive & Starter Kit | Williams Sonoma - Home Beekeeping Accessories - Beekeeping Gear - Apiary Equipment
While visiting a neighbor's garden, he showed me his beehive. He was just demonstrating how friendly the bees were by putting his bare hand near their entrance/exit at the bottom. That's when i felt a bee buzzing in my hair.

I tried to gently shoo the bee out of my hair, but that only made her mad. When one bee stung me on the scalp, i started running away from the hive, but i could feel a couple of bees still in my hair. Another sting on my neck. Then the owner of the beehive started chasing me and swatting bees (and me!) One more sting on my arm, and i hurried away from that garden as fast as possible.

I could be mad at the bees. I could be mad at the beekeeper. I could be mad at myself for not just standing still. Or i could simply feel the next-day itch of each sting. Itching is what's happening in the present moment. The bees have come and gone. The stings have come and gone.

I'm going to look for the anti-itch gel.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Plop in the New Mums

I ordered my mums through the local Garden Club. The mums are so large ($8 each) that eight mums nearly filled my truck.

The change of seasons means it's time to change the flowerpots on the front step and the back step. Some of those flowerpots still look pretty darn good; others look tired or even very tired. I take the tired ones out of their ceramic pots and plop in the mums. There! That was easy.

We too go through a change of seasons--retirement, moving, or the death of a dear one, to name just a few. We can't just plop another friend in to replace the dearly departed one. We have to adjust to the new season, and often this means losing a part of our history. When we retire, we lose our working identity. When we move, friends who have known us for decades drift away. When a dear one dies, it feels like part of our heart has gone with them.

These transition times are good for realizing the self we thought we were, we actually aren't.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fall Gardens

I celebrated the first day of fall by going on a local garden tour--a fundraiser for a little K-6 alternative school. What i saw were some of the most beautiful gardens in my town (population 2,000).

Just when it seemed like the gardening season was drawing to a close, i saw loads of blooming flowers.

So it is with aging. Just when it seems like an 80-something should be closing up shop, they're still vibrantly contributing to their local community.

A young relative once asked me, "What do you do anyway, now that you're retired?" Ha! There are lots of blooming flowers in this old gal yet.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Fragrant Nicotiana

Image result for nicotiana
I sit out on my deck in the dark on these warm September nights and listen to the chorus of crickets and tree frogs. I smell the overpowering sweetness of flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), an annual which liberally reseeds itself every year. Just a few years ago, i realized the Nicotiana was out at the vegetable garden, but since it releases its fragrance at night, it should really be blooming near the deck, the front step and the back step.

The right flower in the right place. Ahh. Now there's a challenge. Are we in the right place for us? The right place to meditate regularly? To exercise regularly? To calm our minds and to be mindful?

Where is the right place for us to flower?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bouquets for the Wedding

Image result for dahlia zinnia bouquet
I was on the flower committee for a neighbor's wedding. She choose dahlias and zinnias from a local flower farmer, plus a scattering of celosia, dianthus, and even spider flower. Five of us spent the morning arranging flowers into 30 vases for the dinner tables. They were beautiful.

Sunday morning, the flowers traveled to the post-wedding brunch. And then, they dispersed. I brought one bouquet home with me.

The flowers, the wedding, the preparation, and all those worker bees created a beautiful setting for the wedding, the reception, and the brunch. The wedded couple launched into their married lives. All around me sat divorced women, widowed women and men, a young woman married two years ago and now separated. In the moment, we rejoiced in the happiness of the wedding and ignored those other feelings.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Red Malabar Spinach

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In July, i bought Red Malabar Spinach to spruce up the flowerpots on my front step. Even though the name sounds like a vegetable, the plant looks very decorative--shiny green leaves on a red-stemmed vine with small white-pink flowers. Best of all, the spinach continues to grow happily during the hot days of summer since it comes from Malabar in the southwest coast of India.

My green, leafy vegetable is waiting for me every time i walk in the front door. Mindfulness is waiting for me every time i walk from the garage to the front step.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Snake Skin

Last evening was cool, so i fired up the woodstove. In between the first two logs i pulled out of the woodshed was a snake skin. Which gives the word "woodshed" a whole new meaning now that a snake has shed its skin in it.

I am shedding my summer clothes in favor of long sleeves and corduroy pants and fleece vests.

A change of seasons. A change of skins. From warm bare skin to cool.

Summer changes slowly, quickly to autumn. Wriggle out of warmth into a new day of freshness.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sweet Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I came home to a pile of cherry tomatoes, and, yesterday, i finally got around to drying them. I particularly like grape tomatoes for their meatiness. They are okay in salads, though i prefer the sweetness of sungolds. But the grape tomatoes make very flavorful sun-dried tomatoes.

Some of us are sweet when young; some of us learn to be even sweeter when we are old and wrinkled and dried out.

Sweetness happens when we stop resisting the flow of Life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Departure Time

Image result for hummingbird migration
Hummingbirds are still here, but they will be leaving on a jet stream any time now. They arrive in my garden around May 10 and usually leave on September 10. That's 3 short months of hummingbird joy.

Sometimes, our dear ones leave us before we are ready. We want them to stay around longer. But it's time for them to go. Early departure is especially hard when friends younger than we leave this life.

But they are migrating on to a place we cannot go with our physical bodies and cannot know with our physical minds.

Trust the spirit, trust Life to know exactly what to do. Life knows far more than our little birdbrain minds ever can.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Butterflies on Boneset

While i was in North Carolina, my sweetie broke a rib. When i returned home he excitedly told me that he had seen 10 monarch butterflies on the Joe Pye Weed. "The common name for that flower is boneset," i said. "Bone-set."

He's not complaining much about his broken rib. When his car crashed, the seat belt and airbag jolted a few other parts of his body, and he feels those aches and pains more strongly.

Our physical bodies surprise us with various breakdowns. But i feel confident that my sweetie will heal. After all, he seems to have 10 monarch butterflies on his side.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Okra. Well, Okay.

I'm visiting family in Georgia, and on Saturday we go to the Farmer's Market. All the vendors are selling okra. I am a true Northerner. I have no idea what to do with okra, but my niece buys a batch and fries it up for our fish tacos. Okra is delicious.

Okra has a reputation. People who love it, love it. And people who aren't so sure about it are relying on word-of-mouth instead of taste-of-mouth.

We don't like it when someone sullies our reputation. We want a fair hearing, and we want people to like us for who and what we are.

Let's give okra a fair hearing, a fair tasting. We might even like it, just as it is.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gardening for Bear

A bear wandered into my meditation at 6:45 this morning. I opened my eyes just as he walked out of the woods and across the lawn. He meandered over to the hobblebush at the other edge of the lawn, and breakfasted on some hobblebush berries.

I have heard of bee and butterfly gardens, but i didn't realize i have a bear garden.

Sometimes, our minds are too welcoming for our particular bear-of-a-problem. In his sermon on dealing with distracting thoughts, the Buddha outlines 5 methods. The first is to change the subject. Another way to say this is "substitute the opposite." "The opposite" is usually a form of kindness--metta or compassion or gratitude. Choose your kindness now, so that the next time that bear-of-a-problem wanders into your mind, you'll be ready to feed yourself some kindness.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Rocky Soil

Image result for garden rocky soil
I have visited my sister in northern Idaho each year for 15 years. This visit, she took me to her neighbor's garden, and Barb explained to me that her entire lawn is rocks. No wonder everyone has raised beds or a dozen flower pots brimming with flowers--or vegetables. Gardeners being who they are, some homes do have a small flowerbed beside the driveway or near the front door, but really, the rocks prevail.

Another of my sister's gardening friends Carolyn said she didn't have rocks; she had clay about four inches down. Her flowerbeds were slightly more extensive, surrounding her deck, but there were those raised beds and flowerpots again.

Some of us plant our meditation practice in rocky soil where it's difficult to make it grow. When our friends proceed along the path of "eat, drink, and be merry," it's hard to find support for following the 8-fold path of Wise View, Wise Attention, Wise Action, Wise Speech, and Wise Mindfulness, to name a few.

Here's a verse from the Buddha:

Life is swept along, next-to-nothing its span.
For one swept to old age no shelters exist.
Perceiving this danger in death,
one should drop the world's bait and look for peace.

     Saṃyutta Nikāya 1.100

Let's look for peace in the sanctuary of our garden, and follow our heart's true intention.