Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Generosity

It is early in the season, and I'm already having trouble keeping ahead of the Strawberries. The Arugula is turning into a small hedge and the Rhubarb is three feet high. Rogue Foxglove is popping up in several spots, Violet greens are everywhere, and the Blueberries are turning from green to blue.


I am struck by the generosity of Earth. I am surrounded by overwhelming unconditional abundance. Today, I will be paying attention to how and when I can take up this model of generosity in the face of the invitations of fear of scarcity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Different

This morning, as I sat in my spot, I noticed something different. It was to the North East, out in the Pine Grove. The silver shine of pine exposed to the weather for a long time shone bright in the morning sun. Something had flown in front of it, and this registered to me as “different.” I was struck by how, after sitting in the same place at roughly the same time every day for some time now, I can see slight shifts in the view and register things as different. What is striking to me is that I can't tell why it's different, but simply that it is different. It comes as something less than a thought. More like a, “Hum,” then I know. Something has changed.


Today, I will be noticing when I notice, in things that are familiar, that something is different. I will be letting go of trying to figure out why it's different, and just noticing that it is different.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pain

The strength of the summer sun always seems to take me be surprise. I got a sunburn picking the Strawberries on Saturday. It got worse yesterday, so sleeping last night wasn't easy.

I appreciate pain. I find it centering. It reminds me to be grateful for the times when it is absent. It reminds me that, like all things, it will pass. It reminds me that everything is always changing. Sometimes the sunburn pain is really bad, sometimes I don't even feel it. It reminds me about acceptance. Acceptance disconnects me from what might be or what might have been and brings me back to what is happening right here, right now. I can't make the pain go away, but I only have to experience it in the moment I am in.

Today, I am paying attention to pain,
And experiencing it,
As it is,
In the moment I am in,
Right here,
Right now.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Catbird Medicine

This morning, my path to my sitting spot took me out around the South side of the cabin. I was approaching the grape arbor when a bird flew out. I was struck by it because it flew as gentile as rain. It didn't chirp as it flew, nor did its feathers unsettle the air enough to make a sound. It was not a bird I was familiar with.

It flew out ahead of me then banked East. It had the same coloration as Catbird, but its tail feathers were much shorter. It bonked into the deck railing, righted itself then flew down into some tall grass. I went ahead and sat down in my spot. That's when Catbird showed up. She sat on the deck rail looking, in turns at me, then toward the tall grass. Catbird squawking, but quietly. Catbird squawks at me a lot, but not quietly. Catbird is a generous squawker. This squawk was very different. Somewhere in the midst of all this I figured it out. I had spooked Baby Catbird.

A second adult showed up. This one swooped under a Ceder tree and hopped around, looking for something. I noticed one of the pair appeared on the grape arbor, squawked a bit, then disappeared. I saw the two adults fly up to the Maple tree and chase each other around, than soar North. One of them appeared again on the deck rail, looking at me, then flew off.

I could discern no pattern in the adult's actions, just a simple centeredness around the apparent location of Baby Catbird. They appeared to be doing what they would do anyway; eating and hunting, soaring and perching, chasing and following, flying away and returning, squawking and feather flipping.

It got me thinking about how I teach my children. I imagined that Baby Catbird was watching everything the adults did, taking it all in. Learning, not from instructions, but from actions. Learning how to be. Seeing what adults did and learning what was possible. There were no requirements, only possibilities.

And the tests were built in. When Baby Catbird evaded me, it was an opportunity to try out some skills, but the stakes were real. Baby could not know whether I was walking, or hunting. And Baby's parents could not protect her. Baby was taking what had been taught and putting it into action.


Today I will be thinking about how I teach my children through my actions. Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. I think of this as Snake Medicine. Snake Medicine is instruction. Stories are Snake Medicine. This writing is Snake Medicine. Catbird is reminding me that my actions are powerful teachers. Catbird can't tell stories or give instructions with human words. Catbirds teaches by living in the presence of Baby Catbird. Today, I will be practicing Catbird Medicine.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Valerian

I woke this morning and my wife had already gone downstairs to feed the animals. I had missed the dog nudging her with a quiet whimper. I had missed her getting out of bed. I had missed the squeaky stairs. These things usually wake me up. It's the Valerian. Not that I used any last night, or chewed it, to be more accurate. It is in bloom., however.

Valerian is a great sleep aid. Better, in my opinion, than home grown Chamomile. Some of the Valerian plants that grow around the cabin are five feet high, with flowers ten inches around. The sweet and somewhat off putting smell wafts around the land this time of year, replacing the scent of Wild Rose that has just gone by.

There are lots of studies about how many people experience the effects of medicinal and mind altering substances before they enter the body. It is well documented how people begin to relax and unwind upon ordering their first drink. Is it possible that simply having the Valerian at our disposal is what gave my such deep and restful sleep?

This gets me thinking about how I come to believe that I need some form of aid in order to accomplish something. I used to think that, in order to really be free, I had to take a shower before singing. I still wear the same tee shirt when I work out, even though I don't believe it does anything but keep me from sticking to the bench. I am wondering if there are any other hurdles that I put between me and whatever it is I have come to believe I need “x” to be able to do. It seems there is so much that we are capable of that we doubt because of some prerequisite we have been told has to come first. I am obviously not sleeping well because I am chewing Valerian. Is it just reminding me that I am capable of good sleep? Am I giving myself permission to sleep because it is in bloom?


Today, I will be looking out for roadblocks I don't even know I have put up that get in my way. And I will be asking myself, “What are you waiting for?”

Friday, June 23, 2017

Strawberries

A couple of days ago I got to do the first big Strawberry harvest. I picked a lot of berries. I also ate a lot of berries. Thing is, there are times when you pick a berry and it is just this side of begin over ripe. It's not rotten, yet. But it also isn't quite hard enough to survive in the bowl under all the rest of the berries you are about to pick. The only option is to eat it. That's about as fresh as you can get. But it occurred to me that it is also a sublime wonder. Coming onto that berry just as it is about to cross the line toward rotting. The perfect juncture of time and sunlight and, well everything.

And sometimes they are amazing. Like, the best berry I have ever eaten. Like no other berry. And unshareable.

Thing is, there's no telling if the berry you are about to eat is going to be one of those amazing berries. It's not until you've eaten it that you know. So you can't say to someone, “Here. Taste this. It's going to be amazing.” Because it might not be. Sometimes these just this side of mush berries taste terrible, or bitter, or bland. You just have to pop it in your mouth and hope for the best. Even describing it to someone is impossible. It's one of those things you just have to experience yourself.


It got me thinking about other types of experiences that are the culmination of so many seemingly disparate events that come together to make something amazing. And how they can't be described. To say that a berry was amazing doesn't really get across what it was like to find and eat that berry. What it was really like. You just had to be me in that moment. Me, in the patch, finding that berry, then. It defies description, because a description is about now, not about then. Seems like the best way to honor that moment is to head out to the berry patch and see what happens next.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Abundance

As I sit on the back deck, I see an old Apple Tree to the East surrounded by Maple and Oak trees. To the North, there is a woodland meadow of Enchanters Nightshade, Jewel Weed, and Wild Raspberry. To the South the Grape leaves flow out from the arbor below the Peach trees. Here, in the woods of Maine, we are at the beginning of months of abundance, but to recognize the true measure of what is available, I have to be able to see it. One of the most striking things that happened to me when I started to learn about edible plants was when I began to actually see them. Once I knew what they looked like, I couldn't not see them. Dandelion greens, Lambs quarters, Violets, Queen Ann's lace, we are surrounded by wild edible plats in such numbers that it would be difficult to harvest them all. But if you don't know what to look for, it can look like nothing more than a carpet of green.


This gets me thinking about how there are always months, or weeks, or days, or moments of abundance in my life. Times when I can relax, and know that there is so much available to me, even if I miss something, there will be more around the corner. The abundance is there, but, like edible plants, I have know what it looks like to be able to see it. One of the biggest challenges I faced in my foragers journey was breaking from the supermarket culture that taught me that something edible and safe couldn't possibly be growing next to my driveway. And how could something nourishing possibly be free? I receive so many invitations from our culture to be “saving for the rainy day,” or “being prepared for the next shoe to drop.” It can be hard to recognize the times when, even if it does rain, there will be more than enough to get me through; Even if I don't prepare. Our 24/7 culture invites me to think I have to always be on guard in anticipation of the bad times, but today I am remembering that sometimes there is so much good, it will outweigh the bad anyway. The real danger is in missing these times and the rejuvenation they offer. Today, I will be keeping my head up and my eyes open, looking for those possible but perhaps unfamiliar moments of abundance. And I will be taking the time to stop and fully relax into their warm embrace, trusting that in this time of plenty, there will be enough.