April 22, 2013
Happy Earth Day everyone. I really mean it.
Because deep beneath the designation of this holiday, the events, the greenwashing, and even the celebrations, is buried a very quiet, very sacred truth. This truth not sexy, or shocking or hip, but it’s ours. It belongs to everyone of us.
The secret is that we all deserve to feel connected to this crazy living sphere that sustains us so well. From it (and all the elements that govern it) we receive what we need to be alive. And so do billions of other beings. We’re all breathing together as we go round. And it’s a pretty profound mind-blowing thing when you think about it.
Honestly you don’t have to do anything special to celebrate earth day. There are so many points of access–take your dog or your kids or yourself to the park, and then take your shoes off. Remember how good that feels?
Or maybe do something nice for someone or a fellow struggling being (pick up that earthworm from the sidewalk and return it to the dirt). Little acts of kindness are contagious and the end result is a feeling of interconnectedness.
This past week was a rough one for our country. One evening before bed, my son expressed anxiety about random acts of violence. I told him that we cannot predict who will be violent or when this violence will show up. But we can be kind everyday. We can be inclusive and reach out to someone we know who is lonely. We can show love.
These simple actions over time can help someone feel less isolated and an increased sense of belonging. And the simple truth is that we all belong to the earth, and it to us. Not just some of us. All of us. Everyday. All the time. Not just today.
April 9, 2013
It’s spring again, and whew are gardeners busy. We are so consumed with thinking about plant needs (everybody’s different!) that we forget to find a moment’s peace to reflect on just how dang cool it all is. Stuff is growing, literally popping before our very eyes. Buds are whispering. Blossoms are singing either operas or Billy Holiday songs. The bees and other buzzers are back. When we stop a moment to take in all that wonderment, there is no gladder heart than a spring time gardener’s.
And so, in homage to the insistent wind, the much-needed spring rains, and all that glorious green, here is a pictorial love letter. (Bloggettes, double click on the pictures to make them bigger…i know I need a new blog style that shows off the photos, but i am apparently not done with this sweet, intimate one just yet.)
I love you dirt. I love you brand new frond. I love you Sun. You sustain us all so well. Thank you.
February 10, 2013
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
Where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that
sight becomes this art.
Dear loved ones,
Now is the time when we focus on the heart. Of course the heart permeates all that we do every day of the year, but in the month of February we make a conscious effort to remember that which makes ours beat.
I have a few heart-centered teas and chocolates for you and your valentines…
Loving Kindness: Hibiscus, rose, hawthorne berry, elderberry, schisandra, and red clover blossom
*Medicinal Properties: Cardiovascular tonic, blood purifier, magical heart-opener
Taste notes: Sweet and sour, mildly astringent, grassy
And the (almost) famous and dearly beloved…
Nap in a Field: Wild oatstraw, skullcap, linden, nettles, lavender, and motherwort
*Medicinal Properties: Nervine, blood purifier, elixir of ease and good flow
Taste notes: Sweetly grassy, floral notes, a tiny bit salty
Teas are sold in 1/2 oz and 1 oz quantities, with prices being $6.00 and $12.00 respectively. Also, limited quantities of…
Herbed Truffles: Dark chocolate truffles infused with Damiana cordial and rolled in rose cocoa powder. Six generously-sized truffles for $10.00
The Sweetheart Sampler: Six Herbed Truffles and 1/2 oz of both teas, Nap in a Field and Loving Kindness all wrapped up pretty $25.00
Get in touch if you’d like to order: 415.613.7010 or email@example.com. *Teas are for supplemental use only, not for treating a medical diagnosis or serious health care condition
Hatred paralyzes life; Loves releases it.
Hatred confuses life; Love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; Love illuminates it.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
October 29, 2012
It is fall already. The foggy winds are blowing hard. The stone fruits are about finished. The California hillsides are dried up golden, and leaves are starting to wither and hit the dirt.
And I must say I don’t feel quite ready! I personally love fall, but this year I find myself fighting the seasonal change–maybe because late summer was so sweet. Consequently I am just not living up to my own (high) expectations that I will gracefully transition into WHATEVER: a new season, a new job, a body transition or a mini-life crisis.
I admit I’ve been hiding out in the bathroom a little. I know it’s reclusive of me, but that is part of the fall transition too. Let me try and explain.
A friend pointed out to me that I always feel a bit deciduous this time of year. Certainly I grow tired of gardening (though there is always one last push through the cutting back of the perennials and moving things around before winter and the holidays set in). Heaving my hoe is slowly giving way to resting on my shovel…it’s almost that time. Maybe another month and a half to get through before the big rest? It depends on the rains.
So anyhow, in the evenings, (as I try to escape the sounds of another baseball game) I occasionally take a bath. It’s the remedy for my autumn malady: a pretend rain, filled with the sounds of actual rushing water, spruced up by beeswax candles and fragrant herbs to bathe in. A little herbal ocean…
Just a few of my favorites are: redwood needles or passionflower vine, fresh calendula, rose petals, sage. It is amazing how alive one can feel after slipping into a bath with actual plants floating all around you. I am so grateful that Kami McBride, my first herbal teacher, encouraged myself and fellow students to experiment with the healing powers of the herbal bath. I remember her describing this incredible outdoor tub that she had taken in the woods beneath the stars. As she told her story, the bath became a metaphor for the cosmos, with the immersed human body as galaxy and plant bits as individual floating stars. It sounded literally out of this world.
While most of us don’t have access to a star-infused setting, the benefits of herbal bathing still run very deep.
I for one feel closer to nature and more aware of my amazing skin suit and the job it has to do. More importantly, a bath helps me slow down and feel that relaxation can be a state of being, something I am trying to cultivate more of these days. It helps me remember that within the human body, we contain all the elements of the cosmos. Even as the winds and rain of autumn whip us around on the outside, we can take comfort in the quiet expanse within.
May 2, 2012
I just spent a week at my parents’ place in Wisconsin, and there is nothing like the country to lend perspective on all human endeavors. My city slicker problems melted away as we discussed more relevant matters: Which recycled materials in the basement were going to become a proper chicken coup? How were my brothers and partner going to extract a giant boulder from the middle of the garden? What shape would this year’s deer fence take? What was for dinner?
Admittedly, I sat out on most of the physical labor. My sciatica has been bothering me, and my body needed a rest from the very regular work it does as an urban gardener. I took a few naps, played with my son, and practiced not doing much (something quite challenging for me, actually.) But as I observed the projects in action, I felt refreshed from the sidelines. Country living is more about survival, and there is something both difficult and thrilling about that fact.
Please don’t get me wrong—this city mouse isn’t trying to romanticize “the land.” I think I was just excited to get back to a tangible Process. Can you build something from the materials you have? Will your contraption keep the critters out? And so on. It’s almost as if life feels like more of a process when you are engaged in a practical project. What can I say? I’m from Midwest farming stock.
The end results were good. The boys built a stylish coup for the new chickens. I did some cooking and with my Mom’s expert guidance, I learned to make a Schaum torte (an old family recipe.) My folks got some work done, but most importantly we celebrated my Mother’s 70th birthday. Another poignant reminder that life is a project, best done one day at a time.
Spring has been a little messy this year–not so great for projects. Here are a few examples from my life (though I am sure you have your own.)
Bay area rains have come very late wreaking havoc on my schedule.
My son’s school is having an administrative meltdown for the second year in a row, and community moral is very low. More serious conversations are in store, with no resolution in site. I am feeling very sad about this, and have been looking around for some kind of fourth party perspective to help me understand why people will treat each other like like dirt (back to surviving…)
I’ve not had the stamina to market my business, and have been struggling with how best to represent what it is that I do in the world. In short, “microcosmic” emotional work is still a very humbling project.
Yet I am still doing this work of herbalim and gardening, even though many don’t know about it and I don’t know where it will lead me. I can’t stop even though there is some part of me that just wants to sign up for the ‘couch potato’ or ‘I don’t care’ position. I know they have openings…
I’ve also learned a few things, like:
Some projects just take a long time, even though I wish it were otherwise.
Projects with other people take as many times as long as there are participants. And some steps in a project are simple, but others are extremely complicated–one must take the long view.
It is good to just start by asking “what’s next?” What’s my next step in my life’s project?
Happy Birthday Mom.
January 31, 2012
So I’ve been ruminating on roots…inspired by their undergroundedness.
Roots are the below to what is above. It’s deep.
In a healthy plant, the root structure reflects the foliage. As the leaves and stems reach wide, so do the root hairs branch below. It’s the literal, physical foundation for the beauty we witness and appreciate on the surface of things and a wonderful metaphor for these winter times. A mirror image in the darkness. A good, quiet secret.
Now that all the rushing of the holidays is finished, we need to rest and restore. Most likely our nervous systems were overstimulated with travel, parties, and tons of social time. When all that goes away, there is a tendency to wonder “Is that all? It happened so fast.” Enter the root as metaphor…
A root moves micronutrients and water up into the aerial plant parts. It’s also a storehouse that feeds the plant in lean times.
Similar to a dormant plant, it’s important to get back to what roots us–to go back to listening to our our inner dialogue. Really take the time to ask yourself “Did I have a good holiday?” “Did I really enjoy that (literal or symbolic) wild airplane ride?”
The New Year is a great opportunity for coming back to the “underground” energy that feeds us. The pulse of what gives us our vision, strength, and stability.
This late fall and early winter season I’ve had the very good fortune of making some amazing roots into medicine. Both are adaptogenic in nature– a plant that works on moderating the human stress response, helping to develop stamina for life’s bumps and thrills. Introducing the dynamic duo:
Rhodiola~Rhodiola rosea, a northern beauty!! Literally smells like a (rootish) rose. Native to Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia. Used to nourish the lungs, and often taken to prevent sickness in said cold climates. “Shown to enhance alertness, reduce fatigue, and improve memory and depressed mental states” (Adaptogens, Winston and Maimes.) Beneficial for the heart, helpful for regulating blood sugar levels and compromised immune systems. Life feels a little brighter with this plant on your side.
And then there is…
Ashwagandha~Withania somnifera: the Hindi name for this plant, asgandh, refers to its horse sweat odor. This fellow may stink up your kitchen (if you are processing it into medicine) but it will also strengthen your chi like no body’s business. It is calming plant, yet perfect for perking up a sluggish thyroid gland (suitable for hypo folks, not hyperthyroid.) Works on anxiety and nervousness. Good for stress-induced insomnia. I love this plant for how strong it makes me feel…just a small dose once or twice a day makes a noticeable difference when I’ve got projects and no one to complete them but me.
Both handsome roots do so much more than I’ve just given them credit for. They are the tonics of the winter, the quiet yin heart dirt energy. Root medicine. I love that we can both be rooted, and take roots into our bodies.
It’s time to get deep…
November 17, 2011
Lately I’ve been thinking a ton about being deeply rooted..being planted, really.
Secret: there are days when I long to actually be a plant. It seems to be a more peaceful, predictable experience. But when sense starts talking again, I realize I am personifying the phyto-experience, and that is the wrong thing to do. Both humans, plants, and all species are in the same boat when it comes to control. That is, we have very little. We respond to our environment, and respond again. Leaves move to greet the sun and are literally shaped by lack of water or other extreme conditions. Roots grow directly into sewer pipes when necessary.
While I am a bit fragile in extreme conditions, I can at least water myself. I won’t forget and die of thirst, thank goodness.
This fall has been full of lots of harvesting and chopping…Yellow Dock, Skullcap, Blue Vervain, just to name a few. I am learning how to be an herbalist, and to remember the deeper cycles of things.
For instance: Guess what? You have to harvest when the harvest is ready. You can’t just put it on your to do list and get back to it. I am reminded of my mom putting up food (tomatoes, green beans, peaches) until the wee hours of the night. As a child, I was always so amazed at how late she would stay up to get the job done. Close enough to being a farm girl, she would fret about picking the peas and what to do with all that zucchini. Poor dear. I get it now. Even though I am tired, getting the herbs chopped up and soaking in the alcohol (to make the medicine) is very important to me. They receive a lot of star energy as I work late at night after my family has gone to bed.
So as I am dwelling on rootedness, and how I am not so good at it, I am cooking up roots. Pots of them. Because I’ve had a bad cold, and now I must make medicine for me. (Roots for rooting.) I like this…