Celebrating Renewal & Home-Grown Food

Breakfast and Journaling on our Back Deck
Balmy mornings are perfect for eating breakfast and writing on the back deck overlooking our gardens.

The Easy Breezy Longer Days of Spring and Summer

Spring has finally settled in New England.  Most days are warm and breezy, so we can walk around free from extra layers of clothing.  The children in our co-housing village have already kicked off their shoes and run around barefoot.  Days of sunshine coax daffodils and tulips to blossom.  The rainy days hold their own charm with the fresh fragrance and vibrant colors they bring forth from Earth as she awakens.  Tree buds adorn branches in an exciting array of soft pastels that will deepen as spring becomes summer.

When the sounds and scents wafting in through our windows diminish our powers of concentration, nature holds the antidote ~ we can regain our focus with a brisk walk to soak in the generous energy of the sun.  Adding to the charm of the season, longer hours of daylight give us extra time to relax and play after work.

Rewards for the Hard Work of Gardening

Blooming Rhubarb
Lush stalks of rhubarb are some of the first “fruits” of the growing season.

Springtime means longer hours to play, but it also makes the weeds grow taller and our gardens become jungles if we don’t spend some time preparing them for growing flowers and food.  I am grateful that my body is whole enough this spring to spend time in our gardens, working to clear our beds of debris and feed them with mulch.  I am also grateful for help from my daughter and her friends:  weeding our veggie beds, sewing seeds, watering and mowing the grass.

Love from the Earth

Chives!
Chives and mint co-exist happily in the small bed by the stairs of our back deck.

The Earth has rewarded us for our care.  Our spending time and attention on our gardens has created beautiful spaces for flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables to grow this summer.  The rhubarb has ripened, mint leaves have blossomed for garnishing our sun tea, and chives have sprouted tall enough to cut some for sautéing in the skillet with vegetables.

Eating the satisfying delicious early harvests that have grown and ripened already gives us hope to anticipate a continued bountiful harvest this season.  Around the cycle of planting, watering and continued weeding, there is time to enjoy the critters who visit us often: frogs, snakes, grasshoppers, dragonflies and birds.  The healthy glow of our gardens and music of the chimes in the rock garden below our deck is sweetest for me at sunset.

Anticipation for the good things our Earth will give us is the result of a hope that is conceived from the combination of hard work, vision and trust.  Time and energy spent cultivating the spaces we’ve built for food to grow has already been rewarded with the blossoming of flowers and edible new life.

veggie beds incl weed fabric and gravel

Gardening Tasks Completed and Adventures that Await Us

The image above reflects the work I’ve done to transform our gardens into the spaces I envision them to become.  In addition to weeding and mulching the beds, other work has been done to the space around them:

  • The chicken wire fencing and trellises that have surrounded the three beds for the past 8 years were given to our chicken club to use in expanding the run around our coop.
  • One of the trellises was replaced with colorful red caging purchased last year.
  • Weeds were dug out of the earth and replaced with fabric, gravel, and slate to create a path for walking around the beds.

The tasks that we look forward to completing by the end of the summer:

  • Eventually, a stone wall will stand between our gardens and the swale in back of them.
  • More weeds will be dug up and replaced by fabric, gravel and slate.
  • Late-summer vegetable seeds will be sown in the middle bed.
  • Sunflower seeds will be sown around the periphery of the garden and in a dedicated bed.
  • Old, battered fencing around some of our bushes (e.g. hydrangea, black currant, sunflowers) will be replaced with fresh border decor.

The Journey Continues…

Over the course of the summer,  I will photograph the progress we make on transforming our gardens into places of deeper enchantment for my family and friends, and to celebrate the harvests that grow in our beds.  The fruits we look forward to celebrating in June are our strawberries.  I’ll likely include a recipe that features them.  See you next month!

 

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The Transformative Power of Letting Go

 

Samantha the Christmas Star
Samantha Merry, our Christmas Star

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to the Gardener Dragon’s blog.  I hope that 2018 has been good to you.  It’s off to a roaring start here in New England with the biggest snowstorm of the season upon us.  I am grateful that I have the warmth of company from my husband, my hamster, my daughter and her friends in my home as I write.  At 6:45 we’ll gather with our neighbors at my co-housing community’s common house for a delicious meal of black-eyed pea stew, collard greens and corn bread.  I will be heading off for some gaming before that.

With a grateful heart I welcome this new year with wide open arms, and I resolve to write 12 fresh blogs this year ~ one per month!  I give myself that goal because in addition to this blog, I write for SheWrites and Hub Pages.  I am also working on two novels.

Letting Go

When seeking inspiration for my writing, I often look to nature.  When the weather is mild, i.e. a range from warm summer sunshine to light snow flurries, I walk the wooded labyrinth at the south end of my community daily.  I witness the wonders of life in the activities of the flora and fauna that live there.  Birdsong, chirping crickets and the calls of peeper frogs are some of my favorite forms of music.  I also enjoy the shower of rain sprinkling over me through the tree canopy above the labyrinth.  In autumn, the vibrant colors in the leaves embrace me in a warm and cozy aura of love.  After a light dusting of snow, sunlight is reflected in rainbows on the soft carpet blanketing the path.

One day in October, I walked around the woods by the labyrinth until I captured an image of a leaf falling from a tree.  The leaf floated gracefully to the ground in the breezes ruffling the canopy of branches.  The grace of the leaf’s descent came from the grace with which the leaf let go of the life it knew as part of the tree branch it sprouted and grew from.  I imagine that the elder leaf bid her leaf siblings and nearby oak and maple friends a fond farewell as she let go of her hold on the branch and let herself descend to the ground.

Falling Leaf
A golden autumn leaf falling from a tree branch

Transformation

The elder leaf was ready to let go of the life she knew in order to become part of the earthy humus that feeds the tree she fell from.  She gave herself back to the earth as a gift.  She was ready to become food for the tree that gave her life, or a gift found by a wanderer and pressed in a favorite book.   She was ready to let go and give herself over to becoming part of a new reality without forethought of what that new reality would be. She was open to whatever she was called to be next.

Lying on the ground, she was the same leaf she had always been, but also more than what she once was.  Her earthy fragrance became like a balm that lifts the heart of the pilgrim who picks her up and breathes her in.  Her life became connected more closely than ever to the other leaves that had already fallen to the ground. Together, their lives ended.  They were ready to rest under the frost and snow that covered them throughout the winter.  They were at peace because they knew that that they would eventually become warm and glisten in the vernal sunlight as the wheel of the earth turned to the next place in her cycle of life.

I strive to be like the gracefully falling leaves of autumn.  I want to let die within the parts of me that don’t fit anymore in order to rise to a new me in the spring.  Winter gives us a transformational gestation time to reflect, renew our homes and ourselves, and emerge in the spring more fully the people we are meant to become.  But that is not the end.  Our lives are the journey, ever transformed by the moments we live among our fellow travelers of every species.  Let us be transformed by the darkest, coldest months, to rise to the warmth of spring.  Let each of us be a new life ready to blossom.

Frosted Fallen Leaves
Frosted fallen leaves waiting for the peaceful sleep of winter

A Fond Farewell to Autumn Leaves

As Autumn wanes and we await winter’s cold and snow, I bid a fond farewell to the colorful leaves that have graced my days the past couple of months.

September escaped my grasp and I have nearly allowed October to run away from me, too, as I have spent these past couple of months walking wooded paths and enjoying the glory of Autumn in New England.

As September glided into October, my family and I spent a weekend exploring Acadia National Park in Maine, one of the first parks in our national system founded a hundred years ago.  The flora, fauna, and geological diversity at the site captured our interests and imagination.  We were also treated to an early foliage peaking as the state of Maine is very close to Canada, and very close to the top of our continent. Brrr.

During the month of October, we have enjoyed the peak foliage season closer to home.  I have reveled in the glow of warm colors in the leaves as I walked our wooded labyrinth, took an art class around drawing fallen leaves with colored pencils at our local botanical garden, and watched my daughter jump into fluffy, fragrant piles.  Together we love to throw armfuls of leaves into the air and stand in the middle of their showering over our heads.

We have seen more rain fall from the sky this fall than we had all summer. The first frost bit our pole bean bushes and snap pea vines.  I am grateful for the kale that still grows and the butternut squash continuing to ripen in our pantry.  The beets still have some time before they are full grown and are hardier, so I have left them in the bed for now, and planted garlic bulbs for next year’s summer harvest.

As more colorful leaves begin to carpet the grass than flutter from the branches of trees, I extend my best wishes to you for a cozy and productive winter.  The world is ready to rest.  I am ready to spend more time indoors than outdoors.  As Garrison Keillor used to say at the end of his Prairie Home Companion show every week ~ “be well, do good work and keep in touch.”

A Garden of Poetry

On May 2, 2016, my family and I attended the 45th anniversary of Stone Soup Poetry at the Out of the Blue art gallery in Cambridge, MA.  This poetry open mic was founded in 1971 by the late Jack Powers. who encouraged writers to share their work in a supportive atmosphere.

We are grateful for all or our poet friends and were happy we could enjoy the transformational power of poetry as expressed in the spirit of community.  The last time we were there was in July of 2009.  Our daughter was small.  She is now a little older and was given the chance to stand up and read 2 of her papa’s poems.

Below is the reflection I have written about my time in the company of fellow poets at last Monday’s poetry open mic.

Butterfly on a flower

Lyrical words washed over me this evening, as gentle waves lap a sun-toasted shoreline.

Sirens screamed above hums of acknowledgement and the clapping hands of appreciation.

The chalice of my heart filled up, my soul was nourished.

Moments of beauty tumbled after each other as poets read the works of their hearts, written with pens and other tools. They gifted me with fresh ideas to feast upon.  Their words lighted the lamp of my imagination.

My brain floated through the night sky filled with stars and moons that were painted on the podium they stood behind.

From the Alaskan tundra to an urban laundromat, from navy yards to salty shorelines,  I traveled.

Kissing, welding, flying, falling, I have done, thinking about tossing together a bowl full of words to throw into the soup of my life.

Porcupines, cats, fluffy puppies and sing-along songs saluted the memory of Jack Powers, the founder of Stone Soup Poetry.

We were all dreamers of a world we love that night, healers of broken-hearts with words that let them know we are there to walk their journey with them.

The balm of understanding we applied to fellow wayfarers near and far, giving our own voices to the concerns of creatures whose voices are seldom heeded.  Our sharing brought us closer to the possibilities in all of us.

JackPowersphoto
Photo of a young Jack Powers

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Maiden Voyage

Welcome to The Gardener Dragon’s blog.  Step aboard to join me on my maiden voyage.  Sail with me to find fresh adventures, both in my home gardens and in gardens tended by fellow wayfarers.  Discover fresh ideas, recipes to use with your own garden harvests, and reflections on the way my family engages in home-schooling.  Exchange thoughts and information with me.  I am looking forward to having your company on my journey.  Welcome aboard!

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