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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Yes, that is the title of a Bones episode. But it fits!

As in, the garden has ended:

The Empty-For-Now Garden

Last weekend my parents came to help us out before the baby. Mom and I spent some time pulling up all of the spent vines and all of the buggified vines. It was sad, in a way, but also left me with a great feeling of accomplishment. I had finished a garden season, from preparing to planting to harvesting to giving the vines back to the earth in the form of the compost bin.

But even as that part of the garden ended, yesterday Jonathan planted corn and pumpkins for the fall. In six weeks, after Claire, the kitchen garden will start again with spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, leeks, lettuce, carrots…It’s not that far away.

However, the more present beginning on my mind is having a baby.

I like the idea of having a Lughnasadh baby. Claire and I have been on a journey together since Samhain, followed through a dark winter into Imbolc, and with Beltane and the Summer Solstice I really began to accept motherhood and the changes that would follow. It just seems so perfect that I’d have her around harvest and that we’d become more acquainted as the sun waned again towards Mabon and Samhain.

Anyway. There’s not much to say besides that. I’m definitely in a period of waiting. I’ve been full term for two weeks now and have another three to go before any sort of drastic measure might be taken. I’ve had “signs” but “signs” don’t mean much, so I’m just here waiting.

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Happy Summer Solstice/Midsummer/Litha, everyone!

I intended to wake up this morning to watch the sun rise. Instead, I woke instead at 7:38, precisely 10 minutes after the official solstice time in my time zone.

Alas. Such is the value of sleep to a 8-month pregnant woman.

So today I have been taking photos during my errands of things that seem ‘solstice-y’ to me and making notes in “that journal”–the one that’s not my main one, but I don’t know what to call it yet.

Hope you enjoy.

Solstice Breakfast: biscuits and honey, watermelon and blueberries, eaten while observing the early-morning garden

Some lily in our yard. I love the vibrant orange color.

Solstice tomato: our tomato plants are doing well and beginning to blush in earnest.

Cucumber blossom. I mainly took this picture for the lovely spiral...creeper thing.

Sunflowers at the Natural Gardener

Another sunflower at the Natural Gardener

I added lemon verbena into my iced tea this afternoon. It smells like the sun.

Getting ready for our own harvest ;): cloth diapers and accoutrements.

Musings:

It’s been interesting to pregnant along with the Wheel of the Year. I’ve seen a lot of images of heavily pregnant women for Litha and it’s…well, it’s encouraging. Being heavily pregnant has been difficult. It’s easier to focus on the pain-in-the-ass parts of pregnancy (which are many and hard to ignore) instead of enjoying the body’s capabilities.

As I look out at my garden I’m reminded that this is a time when ‘Nature’ is doing an extraordinary amount of work as well. The resources even a small garden like mine takes (and the garden only provides 50%, maybe, of our spring-summer produce) are astounding. The soil, the fertilizer, the water, the time, the materials—and we’re not even doing it well. We’re bumping along in our first season.

Today has reminded me to be grateful for the work the (literal) earth does for me, for my family. It reminds me to be grateful for my body, which through its stretch marks and contractions, pains and indignities, is preparing for an amazing event.

Driving around to all of my various errands I also thought about what summer meant to me as a kid. How days spread out, endless in possibility, hot and boring, and to quote an Iron & Wine song summer held “our endless numbered days”. School would start back…eventually…but there was a liminal quality to summer, a caught-in-between-ness. My summers were filled with sno-cones in unnatural colors (split pina colada and margarita, flat top, double cream), the beach, books (books, books, books), trips to the library, sleeping in and the Beach Boys.

Now that the demarcation of school has passed, summer, especially July and August and September, is more of an annoyance. The time of year when the you can never get cool, when energy bills rise to extreme levels, ice tea is consumed by the gallon, your car is a hellacious oven of doom.

But today…the beginning of summer…also marks, ironically, the beginning of its end. The days grow shorter now as we edge towards Lughnasadh, and then Mabon and then Samhain. In Central Texas Lughnasadh is the last of our harvest, when we set our gardens and fields to rest throughout the relentless eat of August and the beginning of September. On the holiday of Mabon we’ll start again, planting cool-season crops to bring us through the winter months.

So really…it’s not that far away. Time won’t stop. The garden will die–in only a few weeks. The baby will come—only a few weeks after that. Then it will be time to start anew.

Enjoy your longest day everyone! Thanks for sticking with this wandering post 🙂

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Black Cherry Tomato

That is the picture of my very first tomato. I picked it about two weeks ago and my husband and I split it at dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a more delicious tomato, but perhaps I’m prejudiced. In fact, I know I am.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about daily spiritual practice. In Christianity, at least in the church I went to, prayer, meditation, fasting and Bible reading daily (well not fasting daily, but regularly) were (are) strongly emphasized. I suspect it’s the same in most denominations, especially those with more conservative leanings.

As I’ve transitioned out of that church/Christianity I’ve wondered what life looks like being in another set of beliefs (or having no firm set of beliefs).  Do people cast circles everyday? Do they meditate? Yoga? Pray? Is there fasting? Maybe they read books on their god/desses, research their pantheon…I don’t know.

And then, like two magnets pulling on each other, the confused burble of Christianity/pagan/whatever belief practices began to run through my mind. I have no other way of explaining it, except as I showered a few minutes ago my mind erupted into thought.

(In full disclaimer, most of it catalyzed by the fact that tomorrow is my evening to share at our church home group. What in the hell am I going to talk about? I wondered as I stared off at the tile, counting the small holes in the grout.  The Great Rite in high/ceremonial Wicca traditions?)

So as I stood there both streams of thought that had been alternating throughout the week merged into a rapid confluence, chaotic as a mountain stream in spring.

And then, for some reason, all of this reminded me of our garden. I thought of the big Purple Cherokee tomato that is ripening on the vine, and the Black Cherry I had picked, and how J had hung CD discs in the yard yesterday to discourage the birds that were discouraging me, and how I needed to fertilize but wow…the basil might have died but weren’t the lemon verbena and the pineapple sage just beautiful?

Then this word came to me, clear as a bell:

Tending.

And I promptly soaped up, rinsed and toweled off, and came to write, the word tending, tending, to tend, tending ringing in my ears.

So here I am.

Tending.

I’m looking out at my garden right now, through the sliding glass doors, and I can see that it needs watering. We had rain last week but the temperatures have been so hot, and the sun so relentless, that the earthen plots look like they’re fresh from the oven. Nothing has begun to droop yet, except the borage, which is the garden version of a canary in the coal mine. Once the borage droops, I water.

I can honestly say that this garden might be the most consistent thing I’ve tended in my life. For sure the most (visibly) successful. The garden started with a flurry of activity: we bought hay, compost, had dirt delivered, shoveled, planted, dug, watered, fertilized and mostly watched with bated breath for the first signs of growth, the first flowers (gasp!) and then—the first fruit (gasp! gasp!).  However, since the plants have been planted tending slows down—a lot. I water every couple of days. I curse the tomato cages at least twice a week. Jonathan hung the CDs. I fertilize occasionally.

The garden has been established; now, we tend. We harvest the fruits. And, in distant parts of my mind I have begun to gather lessons learned and anticipate fall planting in the waning days of August.

(Central Texas has two planting seasons, one for hot crops and one for cool crops. In late August we will begin preparing for the cool season.)

Much has been made about the connection between spirituality and gardening, so I’m tilling (excuse the pun) no new ground here. But the concept of the act of tending and how it relates to all spiritual practice rings so true to me.

Spiritual practice, or craft, whatever it may be, is the act of tending something already there–and I don’t think that necessarily means a certain religion. More, it’s an act of tending the soul, or the spirit, or whatever makes you human and makes you feel alive.

For me, tending comes in the form of gardening, yes, and my daily walk, and reading good books, whether they be fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Sometimes it does come from reading the Bible, especially Jesus and the Psalms.  Yoga and meditation. Sweeping and dusting. Baking. Driving a long distance with really good music.

There are other kinds of tending too, and I would be remiss to leave them out of this musing. I think they grow out of tending our own self. I tend my relationship with Jonathan, in various ways. We read out loud together,  we enjoy good food (and wine, back in the day) together, I make him biscuits and gravy on Sunday mornings. We air out our dirty laundry to each other on a regular basis, without judgment. Most importantly, for two introverts in a relationship, we give each other space and understand the need for it.

When this image came to me, or concept, that there was no set, specified way for me to tend—and indeed, what good gardener doesn’t have to improvise sometimes?—the mountain rush slowed down to something more peaceful. I felt I could sit next to the proverbial stream and stare into its depths instead of running for high ground.

(Truly, I hope this post makes sense. I wrote it fast, but I don’t feel like I should reorganize or edit to thoroughly yet—it’s probably a first draft to something longer, later.)

(And a p.s.: I think if I write the word spirituality one more time I might have a fit. There has to be another word, right? All of these posts feel so redundant..)

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Lavander, provence (Lavandula intermedia 'Provence'). Just bloomed two days ago.

Today I am in the midst of a cleaning frenzy, pregnant style. Meaning that where frenzy would have been an apt description before the third trimester, right now it’s more like a cleaning…putter. But the same amount of work still has to be done.

Truthfully, it’s the kind of cleaning I like the least. It’s pressure cleaning, when people who you want to impress are coming to your house. Not cleaning for pleasure (it’s possible!) or cleaning for cleansing purposes. At least, I thought it wasn’t.

But as soon as I started sweeping I felt a change. I could see the dust and cat hair gathering and the house just began to feel…cleaner. More pure. I wiped up grime in the guest bathroom and guest bedroom and felt a certain joy that my guests (my parents and in-laws in this case) would have a clean, fresh place to sleep and dream.

These moments of clarity were definitely interspersed with hot flashes, sweating and a stiff lower back. I can’t squat very well, or kneel, or rise. It’s one of the most obvious but also the most difficult to accept aspects of pregnancy: for all of its work to create new life, pregnancy takes from the mother, most notably independence. Independence in the way that we are never alone, always toting a little baby with us, but also that as we grow bigger we grow less able. More dependent.

Truthfully, I haven’t accepted that yet. I still do too much and don’t ask for help. My husband gets on to me, especially during the night when I try to roll over by myself and end up giving myself charlie horses. It seems so simple—roll over in bed! But yet I need him to give me a push. Or get out of bed—I need him to help me out some mornings too. It’s almost embarrassing.

Even more than asking my husband for help, I haven’t begun admitting to myself that I need to help…myself. Take it easier. Enjoy pregnancy more. Not be so frantic, not give in to mental confusion and mental dust.

So that brings us to today. Sweeping, mopping, bending, kneeling, rising, dusting. Cleaning and cleansing, both the house and the mind. Making room for new energy, new thoughts and ideas and dreams. Putting the confusion and stress in its proper place, and welcoming instead peace and joy.

Easier said than done, just like cleaning the house.

The garden, May 2010. We've harvested squash and cucumbers and one tomato! More squash, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and melons are on their way. We'll plant corn this weekend....hopefully....

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New Home

It’s been a pretty crazy week. We moved last Friday and Saturday into our new home (yay!) and then, on Tuesday, I came down with a cold that still lingers.  However, as I sit alone in my new living room, the peaceful quiet of a Sunday morning surrounding me—everything seems right with the world.

Last Sunday, I sat out in the yard for an hour in the morning.

The 'Oak Grove'

This Sunday, with the help of some friends, we are putting in the first beds of our garden. I’m hoping to do four raised beds (‘lasagna style’, as our soil is shallow and full of clay), and then put the fountain (which came with the house) in the center of an herb wheel.

Spring is uncovering herself in Central Texas. Though the trees are still bare and cold fronts sweep in every two weeks, today is in the 70s and the sunshine is hot. The promise of dusty summers is in that heat,  but right now I can’t seem to mind. Right now it warms the earth and allows me to think about melons, tomatoes, eggplant, lavender, rosemary, pole beans and bush peas…

I don’t really have much spiritual pontification right now, except that a peaceful, quiet Sunday morning gives me a lot of joy, and so does gardening, and so does being in a home of my own.  Is there a god(dess) I should thank for that? 😉

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