Words can be fertile ground…(a garden fairy tale come true.)

Some of you will remember a post about my friend Marion.   Marion and I were planting a medicinal herb garden at her home in Piedmont, CA this spring when she passed away suddenly.  This was a very sad happening, and her family wondered what to do with the herbs that she had planted.  There was much consternation, and then her husband Zafiris said the magical words “Take them away.  I don’t know what to do with such things.”  Really?!?  (Tears watered the soil beneath Marion’s oak tree.)

And so I bravely dug those happy plants out of their home dirt, and ferried them across the Bay Bridge to land in their new location–an under-utilized garden in the Inner Richmond.   A vast landscape of quick-draining soil, amended with homemade compost.   Hip hop music blasting in the background.  Old relics of the past garden lying around.  Woodchips from the trees that used to stand on site.  In other words, a blank canvas, a new beginning.

Forgive for a moment a narrator’s interruption:  I want to be clear.  I’m not the hero of this story.  I’m just the dopey sidekick.  The plants are the brains.  And despite all the unpredictable variables of their new destiny, and in spite of the gardener within that keeps saying “we’ll see…” they are looking really good!  Like sticks of a plant, with brand new basal growth where dirt meets aerial parts!  New growth!

And this gardener is so happy I could spit.  Honestly.  I’ve been waiting for this moment for such a long time:  sunny San Francisco location meets herbal medicinals.  An herb garden of my own!  To share with others, eventually.  First we’ve got some growing to do.

Sticks and stones get moved around to host Solidago, and Chamomile, Blue Vervain, and a ton of Grindelia…

Take a peek.  It may not look like much, but come next Spring and Summer, these baby plants will be usefully engaged in soothing your sore throats, calming your fried nerves, and pepping up your tired bones.

For now they look like sticks among the stones.  We are moving toward the winter solstice.  It’s cold and dark, it’s raining.  But eventually the rains will stop.  And then the plants will be lush.  And I’ll pick some of their leaves, and make you a tea.   See?

A deep thank you to Mary and Ted


What if?

April 10, 2010

What if our religion was each other
If our practice was our life
If prayer, our words
What if our temple was the Earth
The forests were our church
Holy water – the rivers, lakes, and oceans
What if meditation was our relationships
If the teacher was life
If wisdom was self knowledge
If love was the center of our being?
–  Ganga White

Spring feels like a prayer these days

(whatever your version of prayer…).

The  new foliage is simply bursting with a feeling of “let’s do this again…“Let’s do LIFE again this year, this decade, this millenium, this cycle.

On and on.  Endlessly.

Borage blossoms held in loving hands

Speaking of on and on…

The aphids on one of my (client’s) roses were so abundant today–the unopened buds were completely covered.  Brilliantly disguised, the bugs almost exactly matched the color of the leaves.

As I stood there looking at them, admiring the way they were clustered and how well they were feasting, I inevitably started to think about endings.  Death. These aphids could not be much longer for this world (for a series of complex reasons I won’t now go into but which gardeners will understand.  Aphids are a cyclical phenomenon…)

The aphids were going to die, sadly.  They were literally sucking the life out of my rose blooms, and stunted rose blooms look well, less gorgeous.

Lately I must admit to having very mixed feelings about the way I (as a gardener) destroy and create habitat.  I move a pot and a whole clan of Rolly Pollies runs for cover.  Moms and dads and kids.  Then I must sweep…some of the little guys get swept away and join the compost bin.  Some become injured and die.

It doesn’t seem right that I should have so much control over the destiny of another being, and yet this is a part of life’s cycle too.  Even as I advocate for treading lightly and carefully, I don’t believe one can refuse to take a step for fear of crushing the numerous things beneath one’s feet.   Similarly one can’t possibly take into account all the ways our actions contribute to another’s destiny. Life and death must coincide and continue to dance, to give and take.   We are no exception to the rule.  We too will die and our bodies will become soil.

This week I lost a friend.  Her name was Marion.  As her death was so unexpected, it gave many of her friends pause:  we didn’t realize how fully we appreciated her until she was gone.   All our future plans were simply and suddenly wiped away.

I want to say thank you to Marion for making relationships her meditation, her priority, and setting a beautiful example of how well we can love.  She was truly remarkable in this way.  And on goes the cycle…

Love you Marion.