Tag Archives: In Nature

Finding the Sweet Spot

This is a story of renewal, perfect for the Spring.

This tree you see endowed with so many glorious orange orbs was, not so long ago, a barren and unhappy thing.  She was planted in the area of my yard most welcoming to citrus.  By that I mean it was hot, sunny most of the day, and protected from the wind.  It was also right inside the front gate, so every day, many times, I would walk by my little growing mandarin orange tree and mentally entreat her to “please grow.”  I put her on the drip system, I gave her citrus food, good earth, and I infused her with doses of iron and fish emulsion.  You know,  I paid attention to her.  And she responded.  Grew into a fine-looking specimen.  But she never, ever set any fruit.  Year after year, strong green growth, zero fruit.

The value in a fruit tree is … um … fruit.  Without fruit, it’s just a nice shrub, and in my little patch of warm, sunny yard, if a fruit tree was simply going to be a tree, then she had to make room for someone else who would provide.   But she was a healthy tree, and I’m a pushover when it comes to ending the life of a sturdy grower.  So we banished her to the backyard, in an afternoon-only sunny spot where the earth hadn’t been amended with all manner of lovely soil but rather had a clay-like consistency.    We gave her a nice hole twice as wide as deep, put her on the drip, and said a prayer.

She proceeded to drop each and every leaf, as if she was hot and needed to expose her branches to the fresh air.  Or she didn’t care anymore.  In the short order of two weeks, she went from a green, robust citrus bush to a craggy looking old lady.  The move killed her spirit.  Feeling like I had failed her, I took some consolation in knowing that I hadn’t simply ripped her out by the roots and dumped her unceremoniously into the compost pile.  We had at least given her a second chance.

But when, after a rain fall, I took a walk out the back door towards the compost pile, I noticed that my naked mandarin orange tree was adorned with delicate white flower buds.   Somehow, after jettisoning every bit of exterior life, this cagey tree was going through a re-birth.  And not just a few fruits on the maiden voyage.  Oh no, she was covered in flowers that I knew, weather and wind and birds willing, would turn someday into precious fruit.

So you see.  Sometimes we just need to find the right patch of dirt for us to fully flower.  And it might not be the patch of dirt everyone thinks is perfect for our growth.  Yet if it feeds us, then all is right with the world.

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Filed under Beautiful things, Delish Things

Patience

Some might call it neglect.

But I learned from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that the spice cardamom is the seed pod from cilantro.  Huh!  So as my cilantro plants bolted towards the heavens, I resisted the urge to clean up the garden and rip them out.   I let them simmer, and slowly the little hard green seeds adorning the umbrella-like tips of the plant turned golden brown.

They taste like a far-off cousin of some citrus.  I’ll use them in my next roast chicken.

So here’s to letting things go … really go.  It’s been a theme of mine lately.  I took the summer off from “being creative” and just decided to be.  I needed to recharge my batteries and decide on a new direction (or perhaps re-commit myself to the direction I was on.)  Many of the seeds that I’ve planted along the way, both physically in the case of my carrots and beets, and metaphorically in the case of magazines pitched and cancer contacts made, are bearing fruit now.

There’s a lesson in there, I think.

 

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Filed under Dead things

The End of Days

                                     Roxy the bounding dog.  This is a 6 foot tall fence.

You ever have one of those days when so many strange things happen that you sort of wonder if there’s something in the air?  For us, last Saturday was one of those days.  That was also the day that some sliver of the population believed would be the final bow for the human race.  And I’ve got to be honest with you … I started to wonder myself at a certain point.

It started with a stalking.  From a deer.  Not known for their predatory nature, this deer decided that Roxy, our dog, needed to be followed.  Badly.  Roxy was on the end of a leash, connected to Anders, who was walking next to me.  We were taking an (up to this point) lovely late afternoon walk in the neighborhood, when we both noticed the sounds of what we believed were steps of a fast approaching sprinting runner behind us.  When we turned and saw it was a large deer making tracks directly at us, with a car behind, we simply assumed that the car had spooked the deer, who was simply trying to escape PAST us and disappear into the brush.

As normal deer do.

But the deer stopped when we turned.  What ensued was a strange ballet, where we turned to walk away, and the deer continued toward us.  We’d turn, the deer would stop.  The woman in the car behind us, bless her, leaned out the window and said, “I think that deer is following you.  It looks like it wants your dog.”

We walked much faster, and the deer continued after us.   “This deer looks sick,” she offered.  She then used her car to gently herd the deer away from us and up a driveway, so we could make our exit.  We started walking quickly away, looking back at the deer who had paused on the driveway, only to take off again THROUGH the yard and brush to follow us.  Our angel in the Prius didn’t abandon us, but she continued to parallel the deer to keep him off the road.

Now, it’s hard to jog and look behind you, so I focused on the road ahead, and staying up with Anders.  And when I heard her voice from behind me saying, “He’s coming at you!!” I ran a bit faster.   Sounds of a car speeding up, slowing down, and a horn honking ensued.   And then, straight out of a slasher film, I hear her loud and clear, “He’s coming!  RUN!  I MEAN IT!!

Oh yes, we ran.  There is no shame here.  I put it in gear and ran as fast as my legs could take me, wondering how in the world I would ever outrun a deer, and hoping for a fork in the road that would give us at least a fighting chance of ditching this crazy thing.

We ran until we no longer heard the car, or the clack of hooves on pavement, and then we ran some more.  We chose a tiny off-road trail, and even so, Anders kept turning around, convinced that this deer had an ability to track us via our scent.

For the following two hours, in between huge stretches of silence and then the occasional, “That was sooo weird” comment, we contemplated reasons for this interaction.  End of Days was my first offering.  Animals, sensing The End, were losing their minds, clear as day.  Anders suggested that perhaps this was Roxy’s mother, as our dog has often been likened to a deer because she hops really high when she runs.   I threw down the idea that this deer just wanted to be friends with Roxy, but didn’t know how to show true affection through dialog.  Anders of course turned things sexual (men!) and suggested that perhaps Roxy and this deer had a thing going on, and she was one of those “stalker types”.   We ended up thinking that this wasn’t a well deer, and perhaps in her declining state she thought that Roxy was her baby, and was instinctively trying to herd her.

On a scale of one to 10, this pegged 10 as a lifetime “strange thing.”  But it was simply the first of many.  More tomorrow.

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Filed under Silly things

Seeing Things Differently

I was cut off this weekend.  Removed all the straight lines in my life.

The square box of the tv.  The computer screen.  I didn’t look through windows.  Or open a rectangular fridge.  Gone was the sexy  iPhone and the large  bathroom mirror.  I didn’t have a right-angled bed.  I never walked down an orderly hallway.  Or even opened a door.

I was in nature, in Yosemite.  Where straight lines hardly, if ever, occur.  And being so surrounded by the sensual curving of mother nature, I felt cradled (albeit a bit cold at night).

My girlfriend Paula, the one who always has the ideas for pushing outside of the comfort zone to do something ANYTHING different, invited me on a Balanced Rock backpacking trip.  Their motto?

Look inward.  Explore outward.

So 6 women (and two amazing guides), all connected through Paula and some connected with each other, strapped everything we needed for 3 days onto our backs and walked 6 miles in (and up) to a beautiful pristine alpine lake.   Yoga ensued.  So did amazingly delish food.  We slept under the shooting stars and learned the 7 D’s of proper poo-ing in the woods.   We adhered to a “leave no trace” mentality, down to the little itty bitty bits of food in the bottom of our always empty bowls.

And while doing all that, or perhaps because of it, we also paid attention to the things inside that were speaking to us.  Perhaps with a tiny little whisper.  Or, for some, with a howl that had been building and building over time.   We circled the wagons and open ourselves up to each other, and learned from collective wisdom.

What else did we have to do?  We had all the time in the world.  (We were reminded that we always have all the time in the world.)

So I’ve let go of the concern about “bothering” people to learn of my work, because all I’m doing is asking them to listen.  And offering something that is really quite beneficial.  And they are no different from me.   (Can I hear a “holla at cha girl?”)

And others put shape and form around ideas that I believe will make life more rich and interesting and full.

Let’s hear it for nature’s classroom.  May she only be a few steps away when we need to get things straight in our own heads.   Or just take some time out to chill.

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Filed under Beautiful things

Stepping Into It

Check out this crazy chartreuse-colored lichen-ish stuff.  I found it about 2 hours into a hike in Yosemite.  It was snuggling next to a crazy bright orange lichen, as if they were in cahoots to show off the  most vivid color Mother Nature could create. I pocketed a little piece of it that now graces a shelf at home.   I have a thing for decorating with items that are  a) free  b) from nature  c) unique.   We all don’t want to look like we’ve walked out of Pottery Barn ( … I wrote Potty Barn first, ha!).

Oh, and it hasn’t changed color.   Astonishing.

 

I appreciate life’s little treasures like this.

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Filed under Beautiful things