Tag Archive: nature


We have been enduring the bleak, stark monotones of late winter/earliest pre-spring here in New England..grey skies, white snows, black and brown dried frozen trees, shrubs and vegetation. It’s darkish often on some days, and foggy too, a drab palette that if enveloping us for too long, drains our spirits, speaking too intensely of loss, letting go and even death.

We can only be with that for a certain length of time without losing hope that color will once again return to our world.

But color WILL always return, as the Celtic Poet/Priest John O’Donohue taught in his pilgrimages and lectures. “If you are going through a bleak time in your life right now, remember this: “SPRING is the secret work of Winter“.

And with the return of Spring, is the return of color into our environment and even in the roughest personal season, into our lives as well, drawn forth by the warmth of the sun and and the warmth and love of supportive friends and community.

In preparing for today’s essay and message, I was going to write about this last Nor’Easter… a wet, wild, windy and dangerous winter storm that has just once more passed through our lives here. But in scrolling for a picture of it in my files and camera, I found that I just could not give that topic any more energy. Over and over again, I stopped and paused at pictures of other seasons with gorgeous hues, tints and vibrant colors of happiness, hope, celebration and joy.

Given that we are also in and suffering through a “winter ot our discontent” these days with cultural chaos,  non-compassionate coldness,  and the grey fog and mists of lies and deceptions from corrupt leaders and complicit media, I was magnetically drawn to images of green gardens, blue skies and LOTS of flowers to revive hope in a season and society that brings life for all instead of destruction.

And so, I have “picked” from my files, a bouquet of beautiful flowers for me, and for you… a variety of lovely zinnias from the summer garden of an artist friend. They lift my spirits with their beautiful shapes and colors and inspire me to not melt into the grey wet mud of a too long winter, nor allow myself to dry up and blow away with the harsh cold winds of nature and history-in-the-making…

With this bouquet of pinks, I,  like the Spring, prepare right now (!) to celebrate the return of color to the Earth and into our Spirits and Lives as well as we welcome and invite the warmth of sun and community to bless us.

Don’t lose heart! Remember ” SPRING is the secret work of Winter! ”

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Our family loves to roam about in land trust forests, parks and old estates that are open to the public, all with beautiful cultivated gardens and managed wild borders.  Most of these sanctuaries are home to magnificent ancient trees that magically draw us to come close and under their extended branches in order connect with the green-ness of their heartbeat and history.

 

Mel Gardens Oct 2017 Five

 

Our picture albums are filled with pictures of us near or under these awesome leviathons of the land and always we come back home to our civilized homes of four walls, a little, if not a lot, wilder in spirit and healed of whatever personal challenges we may have been wrestling with or life puzzles we are trying to solve.

 

I am so grateful for those lovers of gardens and trees who with their blessed bounty of financial means and properties, generously invested time and love into these places and made them open and available like sanctuary parks to visitors coming in out of the stressful fray of supposed “civilized” life composed of consumerism, political and social disarray, incessant media noise and speeded-up everything.

 

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We find Peace near or under these old wise Beings and we feel their pulse and slow and steady life force calming and blessing us. We know the science of our mutual intimacy in the exchanges of breathe between us.. they breathing out oxygen for our intake and we breathing out carbon dioxide for theirs. Our lives depend on each other. Knowing the science of this bondedness does not overshadow the poetry of our relationship.

 

     (photo credit: Bill Bragger  (my daughter L and grandaughter G/Pacific Northwest)

 

Ancient trees just beg for little boys to climb them. Though old, they have not forgotten what it was to be a seedling or even an acorn.  They have LONG memories….

 

 

(Noni says “no THIS tree is toooo big to climb!” )

Mel Vis Aug Noni

 

The Japanese say that “forest bathing” ….a walk in the woods…. is good for our health both physically and spiritually. I agree…no matter what season…being with the trees, especially the ancient ones is the best medicine!

 

 

Until you find YOUR favorite old tree, at least DO take a walk in the woods…

(My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woodswalk..a tradition)

 

If not near a woodland, take a walk around town. You just might find what magnificence you are looking for there….

 

  Rhode Island

 

Wishing the magnificence of Old Trees upon us all. Please protect them wherever they should be threatened or endangered.

photo credits: all pictures except otherwise noted by Christine Phoenix Green

From Christine, the greening spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

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What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

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And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

SOLOFof Scar PICA little blue boy (3)

share Lady on the rocks PIC Fisherwoman (2)

I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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Snowface David PICA WINTER WHITE (2)

Doesn’t it seem like Winter is endless this year? Cold, dark, windy, FOREVERRrrrrr!

I think Old Man Winter has fallen asleep in the woods and I hope he has not forgotten in his dreams that Spring is waiting impatiently to bring color back onto Earth’s canvas.

There has not been a lot of snow, but this HAS been a grey Winter in many of our spirits these days, with the intense flu season and especially the political upheavals, disarray and FROZEN icy heartless souls in power at the top in our government  right now who are stealing the lushness that belongs to all of us.

If we who believe in Spring don’t lose hope that all will dark, cold and seemingly life-less forever, if there are enough of us to soon, if not already, stir the soil, clang the pots and bells, sing songs and recount stories of our most colorful and generous dreams, then surely the green-ness, the “veriditas”, the flowers of freedom, as well as the Earth, will return in Spring.

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

As the Celtic poet Priest John O’Donohue has said:

If and when  you are in a bleak time, remember this: The secret work of winter…is..Spring”

May it be so (as it always has been….)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi hat 2

 

 

 

There are days and seasons when the world is grey. Days when the natural winter of the earth as well as the winter of our situations and spirits have almost drained us of energy and color.

And yet… hiding away from it is not the answer. Grey is a time offering its own virtues… releasing the judgemental nature of black and white, softening the edges of the ego, gently demanding patience until color begins to return to both our environment and our lives.

What always helps me in the grey times is to get out and meet it on its own terms, fully accepting and learning from it by a WALK in nature.

On this one particular day when I’d had enough of staying inside in inclement weather, I went out…bundled up of course…after the rain that was melting snow. There was mist and fog both ascending and descending, and lots of puddles.

As always, my camera was with me though I did not think I would see anything of worth or beauty in such seemingly bland landscape. But you know, it also pays to be awake to possible surprises, even in the grey times, and experience has taught me that we are never disappointed.

And there they were….everywhere. Puddle Trees!  Watery Reflections …or maybe invitations/magical portals to another dimension beneath ours if one could dive in to see what all this grey-ness was really about.

It is a worthy practice to once in a while look at things from another perspective. In the tarot there is a Major Arcana card called “The Hanging Man” depicting a man swinging upside down from the limb of a tree. He is not in trouble…just seeing things from an upside down perspective to consider things or situations in a new way.

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The Puddle Trees are a little like that.  A sort of fairy tale to ponder with several secret lessons to be revealed in meditation.

I was delighted with my “find”  and had fun meeting the Grey in a new (upside down) way!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

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Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served our city spirits. One was the chain-link fence bordering the back parking lot behind our apartment building. In spring and summer, the tall fence was covered by the climbing vines of morning glories. The blue flowers were a never-ending delight…the tight spirals of the buds before opening, which we would pick, blowing at their now- tiny opening at the base .. and out they would flare into full flower by the power of our own mini-godlike breath. Picking the full flower itself , we would also suck at the small opening at the base of it, pulled from the vine, to taste a delightful delicate sweetness,  coming to understand what the bees were collecting while visiting its center!

The second garden was for viewing only through the openings in the chain link fence to the back lot of the next-door neighbor. A German immigrant with a thick accent, he was a crabby terrible tempered territorial old man who yelled loudly and threatened any and all kids who might attempt to climb over the fence to receive a ball gone astray in the air, landing in his green sanctuary. But he was an amazing gardener and it was like peering into the Garden of Eden or a guarded oasis in the middle of the hood between buildings. As an adult, I now understand his fierce and protective personality preserving the peace and order of his sacred garden from a pack of potentially disruptive and invasive neighborhood kids….

My own gardens from marriage, parenthood, divorce, partnership and singledom on have varied. My first planting was of Lamb’s Ears (stachys officinalis) which first captivated me in a re-created colonial apothecaries’ garden at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT when I was age 21. The gardens that  followed throughout my life started with herbs and their charming and healing mystique, and later, flowers and vegetables. Always always green around me.  

Veggie Garden

( One of my earlier gardens )

Several years ago, serious vision problems with early cataracts began to develop and it became impossible for me to see in sunlight and also to just see clearly at all. For the past three years, that, plus a couple of stressful, attention-stealing life situations blocked the ability to garden. I thought that was okay. But there was a flatness in my spirit as a result…unrecognizable to others…but known to my own self. A loss of some sort of energy and meaning. A loss of “veriditas”.

Now, with much excitement and gratitude, my eyesight has been restored through surgeries,  and with the renewal of vision, I could not let another year go by without tending the “Green”.  Three years of not taking care of the yarden turned it into wildness except for the front. This year, I invested in Grow Boxes, not having the time or energy to tame field and woodland and in planting them and situating them in my yard,  I realized that in not gardening the last three years, I had lost some part of SOUL….my own “Greening Spirit/Veriditas”… by not participating in the cycle of the seasons in person and not tending the plants. But now! My Soul has come back home to both the inner and outer gardens!

Garden rainy

A week or so ago, as I walked through the front border to the road, I stubbed my toe on an exposed corner of a flat rock buried under moss and matted grass. I bent over to scrape away dirt and plant matter to find a garden plaque that my partner David had placed in my new herb garden almost 20 years ago when we moved in. I had at that time also been teaching a nine-month internship in folkloric herbalism, natural foods and earth spirituality, called “The Sacred Garden”.

Garden June Sacred

How synchronistic was its surprise emergence from “under” to welcome my SOUL back home as I became a “gardener” once again.

They are BACK! My garden, My Soul !

Veriditas! from  Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Please visit my other blogs!

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Cukes Overboard! Escaping!

Cukes Overboard! Escaping!

You don’t have to go far from the garden to learn lessons about life, plants and people. For instance, Cukes have a mind of their own…being such a watery vegetable, their emotions are quite sensitive. If the environment of their daily life becomes too small and contained, or they have to partner up sharing space with others who have a different temperament (like Italian Frying Peppers), they can only put up with so much.

Cukes have the propensity to wander…and wander far, as well as have a rather secret life. That is, in search of emotional freedom and adventure, they travel by their vines right out of the box and across and around the green, yet sending out their fine tendrils to hold on to something steady and reliable…you know… that means anything in its path, to assure a modicum of security as they wander far…just in case.

Cukes on the move.... vines heading out!

Cukes on the move…. vines heading out!

Their “secret life” manifests in tossing themselves..the cuke itself…right out of the back of the box where they remain hidden from your eyes even though you thought you had spotted and collected every delicious one.

But NOOOoooooo…. out back over the fence behind the box or border, hiding in a mass of tangle of their leaves and vines are the BIG guys. Having “jumped ship” before you could shout…”Ahoy…Cuke overboard!” they live out that secret life of competing for the biggest and best of the group before in a slant of light, quite by accident…you..the Master Gardner…catch a glimpse of them and fight your way through the vines getting all prickled and itchy to round them up to accompany you for dinner.

Fighting your way through the viney jungle

Fighting your way through the viney jungle

…Which of course, they are happy to do. Vegetables know they are here to serve as food, and are happy to fulfill their mission being at table with us.

I often think how necessary it is for creative people to break “out of the box” of traditional culture and our home base as we mature when the familiar and static patterns become too routine, and too small or tight for exploration and self-expression. Sometime to grow into our bigger soul-selves we just do have to jump ship, go over the side into the wilds of life to find out who we are. It serves us well to send out kind tendrils of friendship and connection as we move about, even if we have to hide out back at times to do our creative work inspired by imagination and dreams.

Sometimes we just have to go rogue and become “cuke”.

But after a while, we must remember to come back to the table and share our goodness! Our crispness, moisture and stories…

ps. As writers, how do we know if you liked this if you don’t tell us! Please click *like* if you did, share away, or leave a comment and say hi!

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Garden June Sacred Lots of inspiration on my other blogs! Come and visit!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

Yarden mow (2)

Every front has a back and every life has a public and a private reality. In the practice of “dreamwork” we use the terms “The Conscious” and “The Unconscious” to understand the parts of us that we ordinary identify with and know about ourselves in some sort of orderly fashion and predictability vs the part of us that is more hidden behind the scenes(or underground to use a green metaphor) and often surprises us with unexpected behaviours or bursts of unplanned genius and creativity. In truth, in a balanced life, we need to allow for the activities of both territories.

Ancient writers, philosophers and poets have often used the garden as a metaphor for the soul and I find that it is so, as an expression of the way we live our lives. Thoughtful awareness, intention, focus, purpose, conscious planning and follow-through often (but not always!) produce the results we intended. The garden, tamed and contained, has a pleasing order, and is its own delight. In my world it is on the front lawn……what I can see from the open front door of my living room and what others can see as they pass by. Well tended,  watched over for the expected daily bursts of growth, what’s been consciously and deliberately planted appears (mostly) as planned.

Garden June 25

What is NOT seen from the well-planned front lawn of the Conscious mind is that back yarden that is always there and active altho un-tended with deliberate mindfulness and attention. No human “control” issues back there. That does not mean it is not FULL of life and things not ordinarily thought about. It TEEMS with wildness and creativity, this un-mowed territory, and it teems with the encoded genetic and experiential memory of weeds and herbs and vines, and roots and ferns and mosses and all manner of ancient life still blossoming all around us. Stepping around the house from the front to the back yarden there is a kind of shock entering this world of seeming chaos. Isn’t that an appropriate and understandable response or reaction when the wildness of the Unconscious bursts through into our well-ordered lives?

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I  faux-lamented to a friend about this behind the scenes chaos, that in the  abandonment of control behind the house, my “lawn” had turned into an un-mowed field. Being an Englishman of proper language, he informed me that over there, it is called a “meadow“.

How lovely to think of this overgrown and untended area with the word “meadow”… a place to run through, investigate and play in discovering a wildness, as we should when immersed in living with “soul”. I much prefer now to think of that un-mowed part of my life as a meadow rather than a chaotic mess to tame and subdue with my imposed willfulness and intention, letting it reveal wonders and surprises to me if I just let it be.

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Later today, I will be stepping into that green chaos and see what’s out there and will report what I find in the next chapter here of  the My Garden, My Soul series…

Flower Child      Veriditas! from Christine,  the Greening Spirit

All my writing does seem to be a mix of order and wildness of thought! Check that out in my other blogs:

http://wordmagicandthelawof attraction.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

Radiance Melissa

“There is no creation that does not have a radiance, be it greenness or seed, blossom, (leaf) or beauty. It could not be creation without it.” ~ Hildegarde of Bingen  (1098-1179 c.e.)

It is true than everything has its own shimmer and radiant sparkling, but it is not always perceived except with the eyes of the Mystic or Dreamer. How lovely are those graced and gifted moments when Light opens and illumines for us the life force of the greening spirit that is of science, earth and heaven all dancing together.

Radiance 10

The delicious woods and gardens walk with one of my daughters in honor of Mother’s Day was filled with the radiance of life and love … in the land, the vegetation and air itself. It is no wonder that painters have often painted “halos” of light around who and what is holy and beautiful.

May the eyes of our Souls be ever open and perceiving of the Radiance existing all around us… 

(top picture, my daughter M…who is full of radiance herself)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

ALSO: Yellow 3                                                      http://sensuousoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

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