Little Green Tomatoes

Tiny Seeds of Goodness


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Remembering Friends

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~ Let us give Thanks ~

For generous friends with hearts as big as hubbards, and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends, as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions & cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For funny friends, as silly as brussels sprouts

And serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages

and friends, like parsnips, who can be counted on to see you through the winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time

And young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And, finally, for those friends now gone, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For this bounty of friends, we give thanks.

~ Max Coots ~

I have a calligraphy print of this lovely blessing hanging in my hallway.

I often pause to read it and I say “Amen”.

For where would I be without all of my friends?


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The Color Parade – Spring marches on

Parade 1

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!

Purple Main

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

Buteo Lineatus

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 –