Little Green Tomatoes

Tiny Seeds of Goodness


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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”.

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Whispers in the Snow

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The empty chicken coop, with its door propped open and its aged red metal exterior, whispered to me. The sight of unbroken deep snow at the back edge of the yard, along the stream buffer, brought a little flutter of sadness, a soft tug in my heart.  No deer tracks, as there had been in prior years.  No feral kitty tracks.  No rabbit tracks.  No flock of frustrated Rhode Island Reds clustered in the doorway of the coop, yacking and complaining about the white stuff on the ground.

The chickens brought so much life to the “Back 40”. In my Grandpa’s lingo, the “Back 40” referred to the 40 acres of field behind his barn.  In my slice of the world, the “Back 40” refers to the 40 yard depth of natural wooded area at the back of our property.  Not only did the chickens bring their big personalities and their industriousness, but with their presence there was food, and a little food chain flourished in their area of the Back 40:

~ The mice that, no doubt, helped themselves to a bit of the chicken feed that spilled on to the floor of the coop ~

~ The feral yellow Mama Cat (named Dinner by our 3-legged Border Collie Mix – but that’s another story) and her many kittens who lived in, around, and under the neighbor’s outbuildings, dining on a steady supply of mice, well-fed and plump from chicken feed ~

~ The black snakes who had quite a racket going with fresh eggs offered up daily ~

~ The Red Shouldered Hawk family, nesting at the top of a tall pine across the road, soaring in ever-widening circles high in the sky, no doubt dining on the snakes and the mice who had been so well-fed by the chicken’s presence ~

As I stood just outside the back door of the house, admiring the beauty of the snow, missing my beautiful chickens, my thoughts turned to the hawk family.  I had not heard their piercing calls recently, nor noticed them circling in the sky.  I had not recently noticed the hawks perched in their usual vantage points, hunting along the stream. The unusual and frequent summer & fall flooding of that stream had very likely drowned or swept away many of the frogs, toads, snakes, etc. who lived in the nooks and crannies along the steep bank.  I wondered if the hawks had moved elsewhere to find food, or, if they too had been swept away or injured in the tropical force winds or torrential downpours.

I stood there in the snow, wondering about them. Thinking back to our first winter here, noticing them daily, watching through binoculars as they took turns flying food up to their nestlings in the tall pine across the road. In that moment, I realized how much delight their continued presence had brought to our lives. And, how, as with many neighborly relationships, there were “complications”.  For, on more than one occasion (and far more than I was aware of, I’m sure), the hawks set their sights on my chickens.  There was no delight in those moments.

Those were moments in which the normally docile grey haired woman morphed into a screaming banshee – running to the rescue, waiving her arms or whatever towel, rake, or walking stick that might be handy, clapping, hooting and hollering all the way. Those were moments in which the Mother Hen in me switched in to high gear.  Those were moments in which both the hawk and my neighbors undoubtedly thought I had lost my mind. Thankfully, although the hawks traumatized the flock on a fairly regular basis, and tore up a couple of the girls pretty badly, none of the chickens perished due to hawk inflicted injuries.

The girls (and I) learned to tune in to the warning calls and behaviors of the wild birds, the neighborhood gang of crows, and the squirrels.  We learned that the hawks usually hunted along the creek and from the trees near the chicken yard twice a day – at about 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. and again about an hour or two before dusk. The girls developed a morning routine of fanning out and foraging near cover and in close proximity to the coop.  Late in the day, toward dusk, the hawks seemed disinterested in the chickens, and by that time of the day the girls were usually hanging out under the huge Japanese Holly bush that we called The Chicken Bush, or they were already in the coop, getting settled and ready to roost for the night.

It worked out.  We all co-existed. 

As I stood in the snow, late in the day on Thursday, the chicken coop whispering to me, my head and my heart full of memories of Rhode Island Reds and Red Shouldered Hawks, I felt that unbroken snow along the stream buffer beckoning me, enticing me to break through the ice encrusted top layer, leave some footprints of my own.

I made my way to the earthen bridge, each step crunching as my boot broke through the icy crust. The water in the creek was gurgling happily as it swirled around and over the rocks and exposed tree roots along the bank.  There was twittering and the sound of wings flapping as songbirds rose out of the cover along the stream bank and into the tree branches above.

I stopped at The Chicken Bush, near the gate, its branches laid low and sprawling under the weight of the wet snow.  A large rabbit broke from her cover, popped through the fence, and headed for overgrowth behind the neighbor’s tractor shed. I walked to the grapevine arbor and looked all around for signs of wild neighbors – paw prints, hoof prints – there were none.  I turned toward the chicken coop, stopping to free a couple of Redbud saplings from their heavy snow burden.  As I approached the door of the coop I expected a couple of little wrens or nuthatches to drop down from the roost above the door and zoom past my head.  Nope. Nobody.

The coop stood silent and dim inside, only the sound of a slow drip from snow melting above the entry.  Standing there, looking in, I wondered why the coop had whispered to me.  Was there something I was missing? I stood there for a moment, listening to the drip drip in the dim entry, and then turned and crunch, crunched my way back past The Chicken Bush and to the earthen bridge.

And then, there she was! Swooping and banking along the creek and through the tree branches.  I could hear the sound of the air in her wings as she pulled up and landed on the lowest branch of a young oak, not more than 15 feet from where I was crunching along.  I froze, drew in my breath sharply.  I had seen her dark eye as she steered toward her landing spot.  But now her head and her view of me was blocked by the trunk of the young tree.  I could see her fluttering her striped tail feathers – shaking them from side to side as she sat there, focusing on the creek bank, waiting for some small prey to move.  I remained absolutely still, a knot forming in my throat. Never having been so close, I literally felt her presence.

Beautiful Sister

Deadly Hunter

Fragile Miracle

Soaring Majesty

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For some reason, I wanted to let my presence be known as well.  So I slowly leaned to my right and peaked around the tree trunk.  She caught sight of me, I saw the flash of recognition in her beautiful dark eye, and with a surprised little muffled squawk/gurgle, she rose from the branch, spread her wings, and disappeared among the trees lining the creek bank.

I stood there a moment longer, exhaled, and a smile started to form. I chuckled as I started my crunch, crunching back to the house. For I’m sure I heard her say “Eek!! It’s YOU!!  The crazy grey-haired banshee woman!” (wink)

My hand on the door latch, I turned toward the creek, wished her successful hunting, and thanked that little red chicken shed for whispering me back to the chicken yard, late in that snowy grey day, about an hour before dusk.

Be still

Listen to the whispering in your heart

And know that it is the voice of all life

– Nib Loblolly –


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Little Bits of Goodness – December 2

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

– Robert Brault –

 Hmmmm……I can think of a bunch of little things to enjoy about small batch hand-made soaps.  To name a few – the colors, the shapes, the creamy lather, the lovely aromas, and, if you read the labels, many are vegan, they are not tested on animals, they are made with natural oils & milks, contain no sulfates, and are scented with essential oils – not chemical fragrances. And who couldn’t benefit from a little grin and a giggle when that sudsy little bar escapes and surfs across the counter top or swirls around the sink?  Remember, enjoy the little things……

Even though I’ve often thought it would be cool to make my own soap, I’ll probably never get around to it, so I’m content to buy from people who know what they’re doing.  I buy most of mine from the local berry farm – I know, who would think, right? There are also a couple of goat’s milk soap makers at nearby farmer’s markets, and their soap is lovely as well. I’ve never ordered on-line. I need to smell before I buy!

A friend who was visiting a few years ago purchased the cute soap dish in the photo from a local artisan shop. She left it on my bathroom counter, along with a nice bar of soap, for me to find after she had gone.  What a nice surprise!

There are video tutorials on-line, and loads of ideas on the web for making your own soap dishes from air-dry or oven-dry craft clay.  Crafty kids might like to make a simple soap dish for their teachers, or for auntie, or for family / friends who may be house guests during the holiday season.

Happy Holidays, and, perhaps, Happy Lathering!


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Little Bits of Goodness – Advent 2018

Happy Holidays!

I’ll be posting a little Gift of Inspiration for each day of Advent 2018.

Simple ways to put a bit of Goodness into The World

Quotes that embody the Spirit of the Season

Ideas that spring from my personal principle of “Triple G” – Good for Gaia, Good for the Giver, Good for the Getter

I hope you will find some inspiration here.

** Perhaps an idea for a Little Gift of Goodness for someone in Your Life **

** Perhaps a treat for Yourself **

** Perhaps a little Time together with A Loved One **

** Perhaps a way to show support for a local Business or Artist or Farmer who works hard to make The World a better place **

** Perhaps you will find Peace, Joy, or Timeless Wisdom in one of the daily quotes **

Whatever it may be – please accept my wishes for Happy Holidays and Abundant Simple Goodness!

Oh Holly Tree,

How bountiful laden with fruit are thee!

~ Nib Loblolly ~


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Of a Frosty Morn

It twas a wee bit frosty here this morning – alright, downright cold – but the clear blue sky and the golden light beckoned to me and encouraged me to bring my camera!

I continue to be amazed by the abundant seasonal beauty that reveals itself on this little patch of ground.  It was the chickens and the dogs who drew me in to it initially.  And I thank them for it.

 

As a child, I was an avid observer of nature – the environment surrounding a space, the sounds, the smells, the light.  I would spend hours wandering about my grandparent’s farm, observing the sheep from a perch on the pasture gate, exploring the barn, the edges of field, the garden…..swinging endlessly on the old wooden swing beneath the branches of a stout maple tree….dozing on the porch swing, enveloped in the crisp clean scent of the bridal wreath blossoms, listening to the bees busily collecting pollen and nectar.

Early and mid adulthood took me in other directions, and while I still always enjoyed my time outdoors in nature – in my yard, on walks, during vacation trips – I became more of a traveler through it, most of the time with a destination in mind or a task to be completed.

And then, at about age 50, the chickens and the dogs brought me back to nature; encouraged me to linger there – to just be.

Look up, look down, look closely.

Be aware of the sounds, the songs, and the warning calls of the wild birds.

Feel the curve of the dogwood tree that perfectly cradles my back when I lean against it.

Notice the abundance all around. 

I began to take note of how the tension in my neck and shoulders eased upon arrival.  How it was easier to straighten my spine, pull my shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  How the sounds of the hens cooing and clucking, scratching and pecking, soothed my frayed edges.  How observing the dogs using all of their senses – to communicate with one another and to detect the environmental details of their surroundings – reminds me that there is wisdom far greater than ours all around us, each day, each minute, each second.

This morning I spent some time resting back against the dogwood tree.

Listening to the wild birds and the squirrels going about their business.

Drinking in the golden light.

Remembering the hens and the pups who gently pulled me back to linger awhile with Mother Nature. 

And I thanked them for it.