January in Southern California…
January in Southern California…
“It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks” — Van Gogh
A Secret rose in the garden today…
Heron stands in the blue estuary,
Solitary, white, unmoving for hours.
A fish! Quick avian darting;
The prey is captured.
People always ask how to follow Tao. It is as easy and natural as the heron standing in the water. The bird moves when it must; it does not move when stillness is appropriate.
The secret of its serenity is a type of vigilance, a contemplative state. The heron is not in mere dumbness or sleep. It knows a lucid stillness. It stands unmoving in the flow of the water. It gazes unperturbed and is aware. When Tao brings it something that it needs, it seizes the opportunity without hesitation or deliberation. Then it goes back to its quiescence without disturbing itself or its surroundings. Unless it found the right position in the water’s flow and remained patient, it would not have succeeded.
Actions in life can be reduced to two factors: positioning and timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us. Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and the place. But we must be vigilant and prepared. Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately, or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts. When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to seize it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this one. One of the comments my yoga teacher often makes is that yoga is about creating “steadyness of mind”. I think this is what this passage means. We have to steady and quiet our minds, creating awareness. Then, when opportunities are presented to us, we can easily know what needs to be done and take action.When your mind is confused or distracted with conflicting ideas or feelings, it can be impossible to know what to do. But Tao trains us in quieting and steadying the mind, just as yoga does. The two are very effective together.
I think I would like to learn other techniques for this as well. I know the medications I take have a great effect on steadying and quieting my mind and my thoughts, which is very helpful. My gardening becomes like this for me as well, as I get into an almost zen-like state of seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without doing so much that the overall effect is ruined. Not that I have a zen garden, it’s far more of a cottage garden. I don’t care for the over-manicured look of most meditative gardens, really. I prefer a natural look.
People often remark these days on how calm I am; how so little seems to upset me. Oh, sure, I can get upset when it matters. But little things don’t bother me. I am learning to trust Tao to work things out, and start to look for what comes to me when my plans are upset. Often I’ll find just what I’m looking for when things seem to have gone awry. So I’ve learned that sometimes Tao is telling me that what I need may be different from what I have planned, and learn to be less upset.
I suppose a lot of people would say their belief in their God is like this, but it’s different for me. I don’t look to a god, unless you could consider everything in life some part of god. For me, it is all a connected whole. I don’t see myself as separate from god, or other people as any better or worse for what they believe in. Perhaps I’m more Hindu in that, just accepting all gods as part of the pantheon. But I go further in accepting all spirituality as basically the same. What I don’t accept in religion is the imposing of one’s beliefs on others.
So, I guess I am learning to stand more quietly in the stream, hoping to catch more fish. Hey, last night I caught a pretty great salmon, all nice and cooked and brought to my table in a tasty sauce. The fishing doesn’t get much better than that.
(originally posted on Friday, January 14th, 2005 )
The garden was happy this week…..
And this evening, the neighbor kids came up to the door and asked, “Can we see your worms?” I had given a presentation on the worm bin up at the Escondido Humane Society, and the neighbor’s kids were there for their summer day camp. I guess they were intrigued by the worms since they wanted to see them again tonight. They played with the worms for a good hour, then proceeded to demand to see my garden and picked all the ripe tomatoes out of it!
Good thing they are such cute little guys. Apparently their mom/stepmom won’t let them do science experiments, either. I can see we’re going to have to do a lot of science education with this little troop of boys! I love corrupting the neighbor kids…
The “renters” currently occupying our patio heater — so cute!
The first brandywine tomatoes out of the garden — nom nom nom!
Giant crane flies. I hate these things. There are about 50 of them outside my front door right now. I’ve killed six of them in the house tonight.
Thank goodness they die in a few days and are easy to kill. I smack ‘em with a towel.
“Natural objects — living things in particular — are like a language we can only faintly remember. It is as if creation had been dismembered sometime in the past and all things are limbs we have lost that will make us whole if we can only recall them…. the reception of objects reveals that the gifted self is a thing that breathes. Their entrance is itself the lesson. We are not sealed in clacium like the clam. Identity is neither “yours” nor “mine”, but comes of a communion with the world. “Ever atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”… Identity is specific, sexed, time-bound, mortal. It is drawn together and then dispersed. The self is more enduring… the self takes on identity through its reception of objects — be they perceived lilac leaves or the atoms of the physical body — and the self gives up identity as it abandons these objects. It is the process (the breathing) or the container (the lung) in which the process occurs. ”
“… there is a middle phase in the process of the gifted self: between sympathy and pride, between the reception and the bestowal, lies a moment in which new identity comes to life as old identity perishes…. Old identity breaks to receive the new. The new may simply replace the old or.. old identity may fuse with the outer object, a marriage, a new flesh…”
“The self that identifies with a cycle of gifts takes its own activity as its identity — not the reception of objects, not the bestowal of particular contents, but the entire process, the respiration, the give-and-take of sympathy and pride…”
“The self becomes gifted when it identifies with a commerce of gifts and the gifted self is prolific. In nature the Osiris-force is the resurrection of the wheat; in a commerce of gifts it is the increase; in the gifted self it is creativity, and for a poet, in particular, it is original speech.”
– Lewis Hyde, The Gift
Tagged by Kathryn with this meme! Arrrgh!
Ok, ok, let’s see…..
Remnants of ham and vegetable soup….
Some seeds getting chilled to plant between our rain storms …
The only apple from my Fuji apple tree this year….
Zombie Devil Duck!
I won’t tag anyone, but play if you like and post a comment if you do…
Yay, more rain!! I haven’t had to run the sprinklers since the last rain, and now we’re getting more!
I guess lots of people don’t understand the sheer joy some of us feel in SoCal when it rains. My kids love this weather since they see it so rarely. They dream of moving to Seattle or someplace rainy and I just smile and wonder how long it would be before they missed all our usual sunshine. I walk around like a nut with my raincoat hood down, smiling and enjoying the rain.
But SoCal rains do have a tremendous beauty and their rarity makes them very appreciated. My garden will be so much happier with fresh water and it helps wash out some of the salts that build up from the months of sprinkler irrigation.
My only complaint is the muddy golden paws…..
The one red flower in bloom in my yard today. Named, strangely enough — Donna Darlin’
“Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do.”
We’re remodeling our side patio and it’s almost done – I’ll post pictures soon. I’m looking for a big outdoor table (6-7 feet), preferably recycled wood if I can find a nice one. Anyone know any good sources, preferably in the San Diego area or that ships cheap/free?
I’m checking Craig’s list and such, too….
Off to our friends Devin and Jamie’s wedding in Sonoma this weekend…. back Tuesdayish…
The wedding was great, the bride was beautiful, our birthdays were a lot of fun and the wine was fabulous!
I have a new favorite wine. I got a couple bottles that some friends are driving home with for us (we flew up to Oakland and didn’t trust TSA to send it back home on the plane. As it was they messed up stuff in our luggage and broke one of our wine glasses….) Good luck getting any of this wine, though – there were only about 320 cases made!
We ordered some other wines from Imagery Wine (another Viognier, a White Burgundy, a Sangiovese, and a Port) and Benziger, too. We chose these wineries because they are growing organic and biodynamic grown vines, and the wines are excellent.
There are some days I’m grateful for a house that sits on a granite hill, even if it is a pain to try to garden in a foot or two of topsoil….
What people don’t realize is that many of the San Diego area hillsides are unstable. One good earthquake or heavy rain season, and we might find this even more common.
A disaster foretold in July by cracks appearing in pavement and homes along Soledad Mountain Road struck suddenly yesterday morning when a massive slab of hillside broke loose, sending tons of dirt cascading toward streets below.
Two homes were destroyed, 15 others were left uninhabitable and three streets were rendered impassable in the La Jolla neighborhood built into the east side of Mount Soledad overlooking Interstate 5. In all, the city included 111 homes in the affected area.
No one was injured.
A bruising battle looms over what caused the massive slide and whether the city could have done something to prevent it. Litigation seems likely.
Great article at Takoma Gardener about the effects of climate change on our gardens – and what we can do to help.
In my own garden, I’ve developed the idea of “canopy gardening”, so the large trees provide shade for most of the yard and smaller shrubs offer some protection from winter frosts and freezes. I still lost a lot of plants this year due to the big chill in December and the long dry summer. Our extremes here in SoCal have been severe this year, from five nights in a row of freeze in the winter to five days in a row of 100 plus temperatures this summer. Overall it’s been much cooler in San Diego in the past year. May gray and June gloom this year extended into July, and we didn’t have a very hot week until late August / early September.
Coming into a La Nina year, there won’t be much rain, so we’re looking for our eighth year of drought conditions. I’m going to need some very tough plants! Go read the full article, it’s well worth it.
How Gardeners Can Help Reduce Climate Change
To borrow from one of the central tenets of organic gardening, the first goal of gardening should be to do not harm. Here are some ways:
* Stop using gas-powered lawn equipment or products that use fossil fuels in their production, like synthetic fertilizers. Gas mowers spew as much pollution in one hour as a new car does in 40 hours – that’s how terrible the gas-mower technology is. And those synthetic fertilizers can be replaced primarily by compost and organic mulches, supplemented with organic, slow-release fertilizers when an extra boost is needed.
* Instead of blowing leaves into plastic bags for them to be trucked away to landfills or to an incinerator, turn them into soil, by composting. Home compost operations help lighten pressure on landfills and result in more water-retentive soil for the gardener – that really cool circle of life thing. Some municipalities collect leaves and turn them into free leafmold mulch or compost.
* Grow your own food. It’s fresh, it’s as organic as you want it to be, and it doesn’t have to be trucked or flown in from far away. In the alternative, frequent our local farmer’s markets.
* Finally, the quaint suggestion that we bring back a garden ornament from our grandmothers’ gardens – the clothes line – comes from the Goracle himself.
Eight random things about myself
Whig tagged me.
1. All right, here are the rules. 2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts. 3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. 5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
3.) I spent a couple of years studying and blogging about Taoist philosophy. A search for “Tao” on my blog will turn up hundreds of posts. It is the defining philosophy I try to live my life by these days.
4.) My current philosophical and physical passion is yoga. I’m studying yoga this year mainly to get in better physical shape, but also to enjoy the mental and spiritual benefits of this ancient practice.
5.) My other main physical practice is pilates, which is wonderful for the core strength it gives me. It is an excellent complement to my yoga practice. I also need to do a lot more of both, since I’m not very good about practicing regularly.
6.) I got politically active over the last few years in frustration at how screwed up our country has become. When I started, I couldn’t see how people could be so fooled by this administration. I’ve found great comfort and gained tremendous knowledge from all the political bloggers I read, and am grateful that so many devote such energy to informing us all about what is happening. It saddens me deeply that so many people in this country really don’t even seem to care, or don’t feel that they can create change. One of my main hopes is to present my own examples for change in my blogging, and encourage others in making changes in their own lives, and in our country’s path.
7.) I love to garden and watch things growing. There are lots of posts here about my garden, as sometimes it has been one of the few things that has kept me going when I was very depressed. My own garden has taken a lot of effort since i only have like a foot of soil in my yard to garden in. The house is on a cut on a granite hill, and literally has about a foot of top soil in some places. It is a difficult terrain that I’ve worked hard to make both beautiful and practical for this area. I have another blog called Native Growers that I don’t post at often enough, trying to encourage people to learn about and grow the plants native to their area. It is so important for us ecologically to become more aware of our environment and live more in harmony with it.
Whoever would like to blog on this meme. I think it’s gone through most of my blogging community already! Please comment with a link if you take up the challenge! BTW, tracing back through the tags takes me to PZ’s place. His stories are pretty good there.
I just love Cecile Bruner – such a beautiful rose! My garden is glorious right now. Fourth of July is blooming, too:
Hmmm. Oh well, Happy East…
Well, Happy Easter, anyway…
Here, look in my garden bed –
Something beautiful is growing!
Bright shaped like a cup of red
Tulips open to the sun!
Last night it was small and green,
flame-like now it is a-growing,
This one is the first I’ve seen,
Now sweet weather has begun!
– a song we used to sing in girl scouts