Little Green Tomatoes

Tiny Seeds of Goodness


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The Color Parade – Spring marches on

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Two weeks ago there was a Purple Parade of Spring flowers.  This week, pink, magenta, fuschia, white, and lots of yellow tree pollen have joined in the celebration.

Weaving in and out, and fluttering all about are the pollinators – always a pure joy to see.  The first hummingbird was sighted a few days ago – visiting the nectar feeder, the pansies, and the azalea.  He or she drank deeply at the feeder, perhaps tired and thirsty from the long migration journey.  Bumble, Carpenter, Solitary, and Honey bees have been busily working alongside me in the garden – I am thankful for the early flowering plants and trees that tide them over until the massive April flowering happens.  A few early Swallowtail butterflies are about as well.

Interestingly, the tiny lavender flowers of the Ground Ivy (Creeping Charlie) seem to be everyone’s favorite.  The Ground Ivy has been flowering for about 30 days now, and as one of the earliest nectar sources, it is popular because there are few other native flowering plants in abundance in mid to late March. But, even now, with an abundance of trees and plants in blossom, the humming and buzzing of the bees is most audible at the Ground Ivy.  How can I call it a weed when it feeds so many crucial contributors to an abundant environment? After pulling up armloads of it from under and around our raised garden troughs, and being aware that I was a bit unpopular for doing so (🐝🐝🐝),  we’ll wait until the flowers have faded before mowing the Creeping Charlie carpet along the ditchline, the woodsy edges, and around the Muscadine arbor.  “Anything I can do to help” – my personal Mantra – my promise to Mother Earth.

Parade 2

Spicebush Swallowtail (I think) feeding on nectar of lavender Ground Ivy flowers.  My camera was having a hard time finding focus, most likely because the butterfly was fluttering his wings constantly.  But I love the colors in the photo, and it almost seems to have a dream-like quality to it.

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Dogwood blossom.

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First grape leaves unfurling.

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Montmorency cherry blossom – I would love to have enough cherries to make a cobbler this year!

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Azalea blossoms and new lime green leaves.

I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

~ e.e. cummings


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United States Clean Water Act

(Updated to include exact information for time deadline on comments- 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 15, 2019)

In a previous post on this blog I noted that I originally had no intention of giving any space to topics that aren’t positive, or that don’t have “seeds of goodness” encompassed within.  Tiny Seeds of Goodness is my subtitle, after all.

However, in light of current political and monetary power issues and the increased pressure certain current political and governmental actions are putting on the fragile health of our planet and all life on Earth, I feel compelled to post this. My only regret is that I didn’t post this information earlier (as April 15 is the deadline for U.S. citizens to respond to the EPA), and that I haven’t blogged about this issue continually since first hearing about it.

If you live in the southern U.S. the changes that are at risk of being made to our United States Clean Water Act should deeply concern you.  If you live in any other part of the United States, these proposed changes should deeply concern you.  If you live outside of the United States, which some of my followers and readers do, any threat to clean water should deeply concern you, as water on planet Earth is a universal requirement for life.

This video highlights the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act, as well as the ensuing effects on our environment and water supplies.

 

If you feel compelled to voice your opinions to the EPA, for their consideration of these changes, the deadline for doing so is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time April 15, 2019.  Written comments can be submitted via the information below, copied from the EPA’s website.

The public is invited to submit written comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. General guidance on making effective comments is available at EPA’s Commenting on EPA Dockets.

I submitted my comments earlier today.  It was the least I could do.  They are my “Tiny Seeds of Goodness” for today.

Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America,

Clean water is a vital RIGHT of all our planet’s inhabitants, not a privilege of the very wealthy and powerful.  The Clean Water Act was put in place for a reason – those who should have been doing the RIGHT thing for our planet’s water resources were NOT. 

You are the Environmental PROTECTION Agency, and you need to do the job you are tasked with, for ALL American citizens, for the planet we ALL share.  You must NOT proceed with the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act.  If a business, developer, or industry cannot be profitable without polluting our shared water resources then that business, developer, or industry needs to either find a resource-respectful way to conduct their business or not be in business at all.  You must not proceed with the changes to the Clean Water Act as proposed under this docket.

Every part of my family’s life is affected by clean water!  Our household is sustained by ground water via a private well.  We have a small stream running through our property, alongside our vegetable garden and berry patch, which ultimately feeds in to the Haw River and the municipal water supply for nearby communities in the Piedmont of North Carolina. We have friends and family who reside in those communities. There are organizations and individuals who have been working tirelessly for decades to clean up the Haw River and bring it back to a cleaner waterway, as it has been terribly polluted and degraded by industry and sewage for a hundred years or more.  Through hard work and determination, and through regulations and monitoring, the Haw is finally a waterway that can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, tourists, and communities adjacent to it. Why on Earth would we want to backslide to a time when industry and municipalities could just send their waste and pollutants “away/down river”?  There IS NO “away/down river” – all water is connected on this planet!

In addition, the municipal water supply of the Burlington North Carolina Metro area is supplied by surface reservoirs which are fed by a network of small streams and large creeks.  Our friends and neighbors just one road away from us are served by this municipal water supply.  My husband, our friends, and co-workers drink the municipal water that serves their employer’s places of business. The kids in the schools drink that water.  Was Flint Michigan not enough of a travesty for the richest and most powerful country in the world?  Are you willing to see that scenario play out time and time again because the PROTECTIONS that you are charged with upholding are not upheld?

Aside from the human water supply impacts, I see first-hand, every day throughout all seasons, how wildlife of all sorts is drawn to the small stream that courses through our property – pollinators, amphibians, hawks, turtles, herons, all types of songbirds and migrating birds, mammals of all sorts.  Pollution in small waterways such as this stream has far reaching affects – it does not remain localized to the immediate area.

It is long past the time that large corporations, private citizens, and government agencies with the word “Protection” in their title, use foresight & respect for planet Earth, and do the right thing for all of us, now, and for future generations.  I would hope that we can see that decisions made for monetary gain, “the easy way”, and for power/control are not in the long-term best interest of all.

You must not proceed with the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act!  Do the right thing! Myself, my family, my friends, the voiceless wildlife and future generations are counting on you!

 

 

 

 


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Needlepoint View

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The way the sunlight pierced through the blossoms of this azalea just outside my window was so striking that I wanted to capture it.  But I was afraid the window screen would detract from the beauty.  Instead, I love how the screen gives the photo a needlepoint appearance!  It reminds me of the floral needlepoint and cross-stitch pillows that lovingly graced the sofas and the armchairs of my grandma’s and my adopted grandma’s living rooms.

“Sometimes it is the thing we perceive to be the problem that turns out to be the solution.”

~Nib Loblolly


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Colors of Earth – Purple!

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Sometimes when faith is running low

And I cannot fathom why things are so…

I walk alone among the flowers I grow

And learn the “answers” to all I would know!

For among my flowers I have come to see

Life’s miracle and its mystery…

And standing in silence and reverie

My faith comes flooding back to me!

~ Helen Steiner Rice, Sunshine of Joy, from my grandmother’s bookshelf

I’ve been away from my blog for a while.

Beautiful Spring weather and a very long list of yard and garden “must-dos” & “desperately want-to-dos” have turned my thoughts elsewhere. Toiling away in the fresh air and sunshine, with birdsong as my cadence – oh, such heavenly work it is! – makes for sweet deep sleep at day’s end. (In other words, I’ve been too tuckered to type by nightfall!)

Last week, while conducting Spring plant and pollinator “reconnaissance”, it occurred to me that purple seemed to be the color of the week.  And some purples appeared to be popular with the pollinators (say that 3 times fast!).

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Look at the beautiful translucent wings on this honey bee gathering nectar from the tiny lavender flowers of Ground Ivy, known to many as “Creeping Charlie”.

Purple 8

Wild Violets. Perfection – with their delicate flowers and heart shaped leaves!

Purple 3

More Wild Violets, Ground Ivy, and Moss cascading down the stream bank.

Purple 4

Honesty Plant, I like the latin name better – Lunaria annua, self seeds in the leaf litter under the Cedar, Oak, and Tulip trees.

Purple 6

Creeping Phlox – a blanket of lavender over a thick cushion of evergreen foliage.

Purple 5

Pansies – blooming since late November in my window box.  What a wonderful way to greet the morning during the winter months!

 


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Winter Green

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Late Winter. One of my favorite times of the year in North Carolina!

Most of the russet Oak leaves have succumbed to wind, snow, and rain – only a very few remain in the tree tops – dancing and twirling as if invisible puppeteers dangle them from strings. The coppery Beech leaves have faded to translucent, the color of pale rose gold.

Daffodils, Pansies, and Camellias are in bloom, each lending color and beauty to the landscape. Flowering Pear and flowering Cherry – always first, and usually too early – are covered in clouds of delicate white and palest pink blossom. Saucer Magnolias – one of my favorites – reduce my vocabulary to single syllable exclamations of “ohhhhh”, “ahhhhh”, and “mmmmm”. Drifts of tiny blue Wild Flowers open to warmth on sunny slopes. Yes, Spring is almost here!

But it is the Winter Green that catches my eye today!  Grey brooding Sky, cold Mist, damp chill to the Air, the smell of woodsmoke – Winter is not finished yet.  There are treasures to behold, for it is now that the tiny ones, the unassuming ones, draw me in to the Woods. It is their turn to shine. Perfectly complimented by the silver-grey of late winter Tree trunk, Tree limb, and damp carpets of Leaves, they go quietly about their work – returning Matter back to Mother Earth and protecting Her, holding Her, with a beautiful blanket of green.

 

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The Moon and I

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There’s something about Her,

Sister Moon.

The Sun is the Sun. But, ooooh, that Moon!

She shifts and moves,

at times assertively sharing her all, at times offering only a sliver of herself.

Changing how she chooses to reflect color, knowing that subdued and subtle are her strong suits.

She has finesse.

She is coooool.

And oh, how beautiful and soft she looks in the early morning Sky,

Looking more like a reflection of Earth Herself.

Oh, if only I was as stunning as Sister Moon!

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Her Personality ~ Gravitating, Irresistible

Mine ~ not so much

Her Purpose ~ Great

Mine ~ small

Her Path ~ Confident, Serene, Knowing

Mine ~ unsure, frustrating, riddled with doubt

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And yet, she allows me to gaze upon her,

wide eyed,

unblinking,

soaking in her soft white light,

folding me in to the circle of shadows, silhouette of Trees, white-silver carpet of Grass, skittering of Leaves,

taking me back in memory……

To soft summer nights at the Lake,

to the first kiss at Water’s edge, Waves lapping and a million silver rhinestones dancing in her Light.

To autumn in farm country,

brassy Moon, slung low, so close,

the sweet smell of Alfalfa, Corn, and evening Soil thick all around.

To winter walks,

cold, quiet,

frosty clouds of Breath,

air sharp in the lungs,

dark shadow of Tree limbs on crystalline Snow,

warm glow of lamps through Jack Frost window.

To the cool of spring evenings,

pausing,

the chorus of Spring Peepers and Tree Frogs

celebrating,

moist, ready Ground,

pinkish-silver of Azalea and Redbud and Iris,

silver-grey of unfurling Leaves,

white stars of Dogwood reflecting back toward her Light.

Of respite, of no-thought, of nothing-but-thoughts.

Of a loving and a knowing so deep, so connected, that no words are necessary.

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No need for sunglasses, sunscreen, or broad-brimmed hat to bathe in her reflected light –

Only a moment, awareness, presence……and courage.

Aaaahhhh, what a sight!

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Sausage, Kale, and Orzo Soup

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In the spirit of my focus on “Souping through January”, here’s a tasty recipe.  This soup is rich with winter vegetables, seasoned sausage, and lovely orzo, all swirling around in a delicious fresh-made poultry broth. The aroma speaks to home and hearth, and there is nothing quite like a warm bowl of delicious soup, crusty artisan bread, and a Belgian beer enjoyed on a chilly January evening.

Sausage, Kale, and Orzo Soup

  • ½ pound ground Sweet Italian Sausage or Chorizo, browned and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle
  • 1 teaspoon ground celery seed
  • 4 cups homemade poultry stock (see my Use What Ya Got Stock recipe via link)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • ¾ cup uncooked orzo
  • 4 cups kale, rinsed, coarsely chopped, & drained
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • Shredded Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano cheese

Toss carrots, onion, and garlic with the olive oil in a heavy soup pot or dutch oven, and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Some light browning adds flavor, but watch closely so that garlic doesn’t burn. Stir in the browned and drained ground sausage.  Stir in the salt, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, chipotle, and celery seed. Continue to cook and stir for about a minute. Add the poultry stock, water, and orzo. Turn up the heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low/medium and cook, covered, at a strong simmer until the orzo is tender (about 10 to 12 minutes). Turn off the heat. Stir in the kale. Allow to sit, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Ladle in to bowls, top with the shredded cheese and fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste. A thick slice of warm, crusty artisan bread is a nice accompaniment! And if you have a favorite Belgian style beer, it will pair nicely. Enjoy!

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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