Tending

I just finished deadheading the petunias around my mailbox. Noticing how much I enjoy doing it. I like to check how the flowers are doing, see whether they have enough water, pause to enjoy their colors and scent. I like to touch them, talk to them, spread their stems so that they have air and space (a little like fluffing pillows). Especially after rain when they are a bit bedraggled it is satisfying to tidy them up a bit. I do this with my potted geraniums too, pinching off the dead flowers, pulling the yellowed leaves, checking moisture, while I murmur encouraging words and gratitude for their beauty. Come to think of it, I enjoy weeding too. I don’t show much compassion for the weeds, I guess, but I like how pulling weeds gives the garden plants room to spread and breathe. Ensures there is nothing to steal nutrients from them, or to blur their lovely shape and blooms by crowding them. I doubt that any of this is necessary–the plants do fine on their own when I am out of town–but they seem a bit forlorn if I ignore them. Or maybe it’s me that’s forlorn– I feel sweetly content each time I connect with my plants this way. (Actually, it reminds me of the pleasure of changing my kids’ diapers. Though I was glad when they could eventually go to the potty themselves, until then diaper changing was a precious time. A time when I would talk to them, touch them lovingly of course, sing to them—I made up songs, probably to keep us both interested—little operas,...

A Tall Order

It’s amazing what you can get on Amazon. Recently, when I was in Lanesboro Minnesota visiting my friend, I learned that the nearby town of Peterson, population 200, had taken up a collection and ordered an 8 ½-foot gnome to honor their Norwegian heritage (and for fun and to drum up business I imagine). (Who knew you could get an 8 ½-foot gnome on Amazon?) Well, the gnome got lost somehow en route, so Amazon apologized and sent them another one. (How do you lose an 8 ½-foot gnome?)    Eventually, the lost one showed up, leaving Peterson with two 8 ½-foot gnomes. (Apparently Amazon thought it was too much trouble to ship one of them back.) Of course my friend and I had to drive to Peterson to see them. One gnome sits in Peterson’s city park and the other next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town. Turns out 8 ½ feet isn’t as large as you think (though still impressive). See photo. If gnomes are not your thing, we later discovered that the company that made these gnomes also sells (among many other items): A Welsh dragon that is 6 ½ feet high and 9 feet long; An African elephant that is 8 feet tall and 12 feet long; A giraffe that is nearly 12 feet tall and 6 ½ feet long; A charging triceratops that is 10 ½ feet high and 20 ½ feet long; and A Brachiosaurus that is 15 ½ feet high and 18 feet long. These huge items are probably intended for cities or companies, but I laugh, imagining one (or more!) of...

Gift from a Horse

Nearly three weeks ago I went to a daylong personal growth workshop with horses. Because horses are powerful, gentle and extremely sensitive they are used for confidence building with special needs adults and children, in leadership training and team building and in personal coaching. In personal growth work horses are not ridden; participants touch, lead and observe them. I had read that they are excellent mirrors  because they attune to what our bodies, emotions, thoughts and energy tell them and they detect and respond to any conflicting messages that we send. I’d been looking forward to the workshop for weeks—though I was also a bit nervous because I had no experience with horses and had always been rather afraid of them. The day of the workshop I woke feeling tired, spacey, weepy and fragile. And I was limping a little with a sore hip. Yet I had paid my fees and a friend was picking me up, so I went. We worked in an indoor ring with four male horses and their handlers doing a series of exercises, beginning with greeting each horse and deciding which one to partner with. In between exercises we met in circle to discuss our experiences and observations. During the course of the day we spent time breathing with “our” horse, listening for messages from the horse, and leading “our” horse on a path which represented a life challenge. I chose to work with one of the white horses, Shooter, because he seemed the most gentle. And I felt affection for him right away. Shooter taught me something during every activity (and everyone there experienced different...

Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Buoyed by the Unexpected

I’ve been marveling at a small miracle this week. I bought a Gerbera daisy, but somehow between the store and home I bent the stem of one of the blooms, bent it at a ninety-degree angle. I apologized profusely to the plant, and I assumed the flower on that stem would die within twenty-four hours. To my astonishment and wonder the blossom remains as lovely as ever a week later, with no signs of fading. Maybe this is some special ability possessed by the stems of Gerbera daisies. Maybe the plant is strengthened by my affectionately cheering her on every day. Maybe it’s one of those miracles of Nature. In any case, every time I sit at the table and see that valiant stem I feel grateful. And heartened. I suppose it sounds trite, but the stem has given me hope, buoyed my spirits, when I’ve badly needed it this week. I guess that little flower shows me there is strength hiding out of sight. And if it is my love for her that has mattered, that’s good to know too. So much life around us now here in summer! Perhaps it’s the unexpected, though, that flings the heart wide open.  Jan L. Richardson describes it well in her poem, For Joy:  You can prepare but still it will come to you by surprise   crossing through your doorway calling your name in greeting turning like a child who quickens suddenly within you   it will astonish you how wide your heart will open in welcome   for the joy that finds you so ready and still so unprepared....

On Being Silly

Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.                                                                                                                    Ludwig Wittgenstein Acting silly is one of the primal pleasures.                                                                         Marty Rubin It’s such fun to take a lot of people and create something silly.                                                                         Eric Idle A friend was telling me the other day how delighted she was to have discovered someone new who she could be silly with. I was a bit wistful, realizing I hadn’t been silly in awhile and I miss it. We talked about how fun, and how rare, it is to find a true companion in silliness—not only someone willing to be silly, but whose “brand” of silliness meshes with your own (there are so many different ways to be silly!). Kids are often joyously silly together, but adults less so. Were you discouraged from being silly as a kid? My childhood foolishness was mostly unstoppable, but as I matured, it was dampened by the firm lesson from my mother that one should always be dignified. Being silly is rarely dignified. Nor did I want to be thrown in with the usual crowd of silly people, those either empty-headed or drunk. The older I got, though, the more the sheer pleasure of playful silliness outweighed any concern for my public image. Being silly with others just feels too good. More like its original definition (in Old English)...