Tag Archive: nature


Share the Thorn ip(2)

 

There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine have been sweet reminisces, for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges as emotional and situational experiences in our personal journeys. This series so far  has been mostly re-blogged/newly written celebrating and sharing  about the gardens..my gardens …for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything and the time between my “old life” and my “new life” became a true personal paradigm shift from landowner to apartment dweller and the loss of my treasured gardens.

2015 was the “Year of the Thorn” in my life’s journey and relationship with the Garden of my Soul.

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The  invasive wild white rose vines bordered my garden on the back side of my land separating my front lawn from the lot next door, every year sending out a line across the yard and wrapping itself tightly around the water spout of the house. It was an arduous and often painful experience cutting this vicious plant back, as the vine…thick and hard..was covered with very large dangerous thorns with a tiny backwards tip at the end that pierced and embedded itself deeply even through protective gardening gloves.

The several years leading up to 2015 and specifically 2015 itself were the years of, and specifically the “Year of.. the Thorn” in my life’s journey. Due to severe economic challenges in our country of those years and it’s impact on my work…losing a major portion of my private music teaching income when my many students were also financially impacted and had to let go of their frills including piano lessons…I was no longer able to sustain myself, my home and my land. The thorn of personal and societal disaster hooked itself deeply into my life, wrapping itself around all that was familiar, piercing my Soul-filled life as musician, teacher and gardener.

In short, I lost everything. Income, House, Land and Gardens.

What was left to me..household furnishings, a vast library of books, piano and instruments, and all manner of the stuff of living went into storage.

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Packing up a life

 

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However, I was truly blessed by loving and generous friends who invited me to stay with them for a year between my “old life” and my “new life” …a year during which I had no clue as to what would come next for me, where I would go, how I would continue the Journey of my own destiny. A double blessing was that these friends were also gardeners of exquisite skill and magic, and though the gardens were not mine, they surrounded my exhausted emotional life with their green healing power and beauty.

 

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My friend Madeline in her garden…the year between my old life and my new life

My grow boxes, once overflowing with flowers, herbs and veggies, also become un-employed as they, empty of life,  were stored and sheltered under the trees in the forest of my friends.

 

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My growboxes stored in the woods during the Year of the Thorn

                                                                   Remembrances

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There is no escaping challenges and changes if we are alive on the Earth. Like the plants in the Garden, there are seasons for everything including us in our life’s journey. Some years of bounty, some years of barren-ness. It’s always a cycle of letting go and letting “in”, of deconstruction and re-construction, of loss and then renewal.

This is not the end of the story of “My Garden, My Soul”.

Stay with me. Chapter 24 is next. Like Life.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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You are invited to visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com  (music and memoirs of a piano teacher. Me!)

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (healing herbal recipes. Fire Cider!)

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (kitchen memoirs and recipes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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burdock, iris, chives, lamb’s ears, milkweed, daylilies

The Everything Garden is just that! The delight of green growing things, colorful flowers, healing and culinary herbs, delicious vegetables on whatever little (or larger) plot of land you are blessed to care for is a joy. If one is an artist in your spirit and soul, but perhaps “painting” is not your skill, one can plant and create painting-like images in your garden that invoke moments of stillness, awe and wonderful memories if you have a camera to capture and hold them…How I loved my morning walk along the garden’s edge above…a wild mix in the border..

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My years of gardening in the yarden surrounding the house that was mine for an extended time was supported and cared for with hoes, rakes, bags of soil, the best compost, trellises, grow boxes, raised beds, little fences, and garden decorations created by my artist partner, David…and…my CAMERA!

 

The Dance of the Femine Face of God

The Garden Dancer by Canadian Artist David Hickey

 

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The Great Mother by Canadian Artist David HickeyT

The pictures in this series was from that time and will be from that time since… But a primary part of my gardening adventures has always been a camera, for during the growing season I would be in and out of the house multitudes of times throughout the day to visit, tend and photograph the life journey and antics of my green Kin.

An exciting, interesting and humble way of life. Humble ..as from the word “Humus” ~ of the earth. Living with Humility as in the true definition according  Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister –

                            “Knowing one’s proper place in a Universe of Wonders”

                 ..and for sure, the garden is one place to experience those wonders!

 

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Aren’t these Poppy seed heads fun?

       

                                       More Images from a Universe of Wonders!                                                                                                                     

SIGNED Ed Bursting

Bursting

 

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Mountain Laurel by my front door

 

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Chives in bloom in the un-mowed border

 

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A Universe of Wonders ~ The stars in the center of chive blossoms

 

                                                                An Everything Garden!

 

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ONE of my Everything Gardens!

 

Well now. There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine are sweet reminisces for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges in our personal journeys. This series so far has been mostly re-blogged, written in 2015,  and celebrates and shares the gardens..my gardens for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything. (The last several chapters are recently written.)

Has there been a pivotal year as well somewhere in your life when things changed and you had to let go and live creatively between your old life and your new life? What does that new life look like now?

A few more chapters to come in this story of My Garden, My Soul  from 2015 to the present now of 2020 when EVERYTHING that was familiar for all of us is pivoting into the as-yet unknown and the now new-normal.

It is important that we still be Gardeners of new ways. Staying close to Mother Nature. Staying close to each other. To choose and attempt to make our lives and the way we live a Sacred Garden.

 

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Garden stone for my garden by Canadian Artist, David Hickey

Mary Oliver Gardener

From Christine, The Greening Spirit ~ July 2020

Moi FM

Please enjoy some of my other blogs here on wordpress!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (delicious and healthy recipes and kitchen memoirs)

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http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (herbal recipes and memoirs)

Fire-Cider_landscape

http://musicmistress.wordpress.com (music and memoirs from a piano teacher!  Me! )

Piano Teach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen

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Morning tea blend from my garden: Nettle, red clover, mugwort

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen   *(to be in a merry state is an important component of good health)

There is something particularly magical about Herb gardens and in particular, something mythically magical about Gardeners themselves who raise, tend and wisely use these herbs for the making of herbal teas and potions for healing.Those who knew and still do know about the inherent powers in the plants that offer healing to both creatures and humans alike were both admired and feared and in older times, labeled as wisewoman or witch for their knowledge of the secrets of Nature. What is odd about this view is that the healing powers in the herb gardens was also a tradition kept alive by monks of the medieval Catholic Church as apothecaries in their monasteries, most of which had impressive herb gardens to care for both the monks and the villagers where they lived. The awesome Benedictine  abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) amongst her other extraordinary gifts of music, writing, visions, prophecies and teaching, in her later years wrote three books of medicine based in the medieval use of herbalism and the greeningspirit (veriditas) energies of Nature.

 

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Herbal wise woman

 

 

 

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Brother Cadfael in his herbal apothecary

I have always felt like that magical wise woman as I tended the many herbs both medicinal and culinary in my gardens. Moving amongst them, gathering them, LISTENING to them, using them,  always stirs my imagination and images of ancient times dimly remembered and seemingly familiar. A felt-sense of history/HERstory. A scriptural quote that was presented to me serendipitously seemed apropos to this experience:

  “And the Holy One says ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, asking for ancient paths where the good way lies. And walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ ”  ~ Jeremiah 6:16

The herb garden with its ancient paths and ever-present healing gifts is certainly a good way to follow!

 

 

 

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Borage (for courage!)

 

 

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Echinacea and Milkweed in my garden

 

 

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Mugwort and red clover in my garden

BUT herbs have another virtue and that is saved for the kitchen and those of us who love to cook and adore delicious food! The herb garden is a scentuous symphony of flavors to tempt and delight even the most jaded or bored eater! Basils, rosemary, sage, chervil, lemon verbena, the thymes, sweet marjoram and oregano, chives, caraway and of course, the heavier spices from bark and seeds imported from faraway exotic places not near or backyard gardens. Fresh or dried they make us hungry for beauty on the tongue and for the tummy and stimulate creative cooking for ourselves or as loving gifts for family and friends! Or even a delicious tea to sip while reading a good book! A kitchen without bouquets of herbs on the counter or collections in the cabinet tells me much about who cooks dinner regularly or orders take-out!

 

 

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My special herbal vinegar with lovage, garlic and hot pepper

 

 

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Chives in my garden

 

 

 

 

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Tomato, Basil and Cheese  Quiche

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Spearmint, lemon balm and rose petal tea

    Whether you include herbs for either medicinal or culinary projects, know that you are entering a truly magical time filled with ancient secrets and wisdom… enjoy and share these virtues with others whom you love and treasure! In fact all herbs are a mixture of both medicine and food… you can’t lose either way…you bring the gift of love and healing from your garden of herbs!

Other herbal post on the Greening Spirit:

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/mugwort-magic-and-medicine/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/herbal-love-finding-my-plant-spirit-guide-mugwort/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/herbal-love-2-mugwort-dreams-and-dreamers-tea/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/herbal-fantasies-a-ladys-tea-recipe-1/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/herbal-fantasies-a-magical-big-hearted-tea/

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

I invite you to visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com    (Tomato, Basil and Cheese Quiche)

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com  (Herbal Fire Cider Recipe)

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

 

 

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“In a world without color, it would be impossible to imagine Beauty, for color and beauty are sisters” ~ John O’Donohue, Celtic priest and poet

“The eye needs color as much as it needs light” ~ Goethe

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There are all kinds of Gardeners and all kinds of reasons for gardening.  What one plants in a garden is a decision that each person makes for a particular purpose. Some love a variety of green foliages, some love flowers, annuals and perennials, some love the delicacy and purposeful mission of culinary or healing herbs, some love to grow things to EAT ! And there are gardeners who want it all…and I was such a Gardener myself when I had the land on which to plant EVERYTHING! And I DID!

 

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From my former garden: The year I planted a sunflower border

Today’s essay is about what might take our breath away at the the sight of BEAUTY..which is exactly what Flowers are all about…their physical Beauty and their scent and perfume that makes us..(and the pollinators) swoon, stopping and letting our senses of sight and smell be filled with delight.

 

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from my former garden: Milkweed

The earth…Nature’s  Earth..is a very sensuous and sexy place, if I may be so bold and slightly risque. But it is exactly the Beauty and Scent of flowers that are filled with the intoxicating powers to seduce birds, bees and insects to draw close and flit from color to color collecting and spreading moist pollens and sensuous sweetness for the continuation of the populations responsible for gifting us with such delightful and irresistible BEAUTY! Are we not overtaken ourselves entering a garden in blooms of all hues and shapes? Do we just look, or do we so often gather some to bring inside of the four tamed walls of our homes..How often then, do we stop and bend and sniff and admire the Beauty from our gardens, cultured or wild, that we have brought inside to keep that loveliness near us?

 

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from my former garden: mini-sunflowers and love-lies-bleeding

There was a time, I have read, when there was such a thing as “The Language of Flowers” when little nosegays or a single flower was sent..without words…to a beloved or for consolation in a time of sorrow, or for an invitation to meet…a time when knowledge of what a particular beautiful flower “said” without words. An almost magical communique between the sender, the receiver and the Flower. How lovely that secret language!

 

 

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From my former garden: The intricate Beauty of Nigella

I have a daughter who is a Gardener and until this summer, has mostly enjoyed the landscaping with green plants of interesting shapes…some flowering bushes and shrubs like roses and hydrangeas. But being home during Covid time, she expanded this year into her first vegetable garden plot and flowers. This is the summer she fell in love with ZINNIAS! Planted from seed in a special longish strip along her driveway, she texts me pictures of them as they come up, praising their Beauty and cheerful inspiration in a time of pandemic and community lock-downs. When I see the picture below that she sent to me, I can feel the joy and delight she feels when she walks by these flowers of hers!

 

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From my daughter’s garden-the happiness and delight of her Zinnias July 2020

The Celtic poet/priest, John O’Donohue calls God “The Great Artist” and that works for me especially in the Virtue of Flowers ~ BEAUTY

 

 

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From my former garden: Mountain Laurel in bloom

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

Please visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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!” )

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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.

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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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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

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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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