Taking a Stand

A week ago another small pasture was enclosed and Maggie and Answer are enjoying long green grass for a half hour each day. As Maggie adjusts to the new diet, the time will be expanded. Amazingly, she is cooperative about leaving this delightful space after such a short time.

Yesterday as I approached them to say, “Time’s up for today,” both the mule and the llama suddenly turned around and in a panic raced back to the shed. The cause of the great concern? A groundhog stood up two feet outside the fence near where they were grazing and challenged them! A 20 inch tall groundhog successfully protecting his clover patch against a 350 pound llama and a 900 pound mule! Two species used to guard sheep and goats against predators. Isn’t that interesting?

Two questions come to mind. What little groundhogs are we running from and giving our power to? Do we recognize our power to take a stand for a cause we are passionate about?

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Easy and Simple

Yesterday Maggie the mule and Answer the llama had their first jobs. They mowed and cleared part of the driveway and the hilly space between the pastures. What a good job they did! Maggie concentrated on the grass at the edge of the drive and Answer skillfully handled the brushy, weedy mess on the hill, weaving between saplings and thorny bushes. At the end of the hour’s work each of them smelled like wild onions! With firm direction they returned to the grassless pasture, Maggie blowing and nickering in contentment.

The drive looks neat. Two critters had a tasty treat. We are all happy. Putting up the short fencing took about an hour. Now it can be attached across the drive whenever the grass and weeds get long enough. What could be easier?

How often do we do something a convoluted way because that’s the way we always did it? Or that is the way the media tells us to do it? Last year after a class in Forest Gardening, I realized that wood nettles grow abundantly at the edge of the woods by the house. They are delicious with some rice. So is the chickweed spreading in the garden. No need to drive to the store to buy a fresh, nutritious green vegetable, no need to plant greens in the garden. Just go to the woods and help yourself! With gloves, of course, so you do not get stung..

What other ways can I make life easier? What other assumptions am I making?

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Deep listening

Recently my head has been swirling with reactions to almost daily hateful and hurtful political actions by the majority in the NC legislature. The disregard for fellow humans and for the air, the water and the earth we all depend upon is stunning in its scope. Nothing is sacred. The point seems to be that a few will have a strong hold on money and power. Pitiful winner-take-all games are being played that can only be won by changing the rules, by cheating.

Meanwhile the cardinals, bluebirds and phoebes are chattering away in voices that seem to be politely working out details of planning new homes. A lovely tone to hear, quietly working together to make a safe future for the coming nestlings.

The ground is talking, too, kindly offering wisdom. Several open places are drawing me in while whispering, “Wouldn’t an apple tree be just right here? You tried vegetables here and I half-heartedly tried. I am not a vegetable garden. But an apple tree? Ah, that would be just right!” Asking so nicely, how can I refuse? The year old apple tree grafted with a scion from the old hollow tree at the top of the waterfall is gently planted there. The ground is tenderly and proudly nurturing the tree and at the same time centering my being.

The garden is calling out to be planted. “I’m ready!” The roots of a winter cover crop have been working since last fall breaking the clay soil into small particles just the right consistency for the snow peas to push through and find the sun.

One place above the old log cabin long since dismantled and moved never asks to be planted. I am never drawn to sit there although the view is pleasant. Grass barely grows. Even weeds don’t bother. What happened here? It feels like something hateful and hurtful happened here long ago. Perhaps a lopsided game of power? I don’t know. I can promise this place and whoever may have been hurt here that I will be a voice for justice for all creation.

How can I be silent? All creation is speaking out. Do you hear it? Be quiet and listen. Do you hear your own true voice? What is it saying?

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Maggie the mule is a great teacher. She points out when I ask too much of her. She tunes me out and turns away. If my offense is serious, her rear end will greet me. “You are rude and I will be, too!” Sometimes I am asking for a response too quickly, not giving her time to think. Sometimes I am asking more than she knows how to do instead of breaking the task into smaller, easier chunks. She is teaching me about enough.

If I reward her for the smallest right response, she relaxes and seems to say, “Thanks for letting me know I am on the right track. I appreciate that!.” Why do I have to learn that lesson over and over?

Maggie can tell when I show up if I am rushed and thinking I do not have enough time. She gives me the look that says, “Oh, here we go again!” If I show up appreciating her and grateful for the day, she will look at me softly, blow out some air and I can almost hear her say, “This is going to be a good day!”

There is enough. Enough time, enough love. Enough.

Thank you, Maggie, for being a patient teacher!

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I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

“Bird on a Wire,” Leonard Cohen

Amid so much abundance all around us, so many feel they do not have enough. I am not talking about those who indeed are looking for their next meal and a place to stay. I am talking about those who have plenty and are looking for more, bigger, better. We talk about entry level cars, starter homes. There is an assumption that we will have more. We are told the economy must grow to be healthy.

The poplars seem to agree, taking over any open space, filling it with skinny saplings inches apart. “Hey, why not ask for more?” They crowd out the slower growing oaks. I used to think that eventually the oaks would have a growth spurt and overtake the poplars. This is not happening. The stands of poplar are expanding; the oaks are diminishing. The two deer that survived hunting season are not voracious enough to eat the vast numbers of poplar sprouts. I, too, am a part of nature. Now when I find a young oak, I clear away the surrounding poplars. “You must not ask for so much.” The sunlight can then smile down on the oak as well as the poplars.

Why do we feel we do not have enough?

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So many gifts are in the woods and fields. It is hard to believe I have walked by so many times without noticing many of them. There is so much. The young beech trees several years old and just this year part of my awareness. The large chicken of the woods mushroom that must have been growing out of a fallen log for years to reach such a size. The wood nettles found in abundance for a huge pot of spring greens. There is so much right before my eyes. If I will only see.

The richness of life around us radiates an energy that is dizzying if we stop to notice. The earth itself regenerates us if we accept the power it is always sending through our feet, through our whole beings. Nourishing us, filling us with energy.

We are part of the earth, too. What do we give? Respect, appreciation, gratitude. Living gently in partnership with the muchness.

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February 1, 2013

Living in an isolated cove gives a space for listening. To the birds, the animals, plants, trees, mushrooms, the earth itself. Each has a view unique to itself and, if asked, will gladly share it. What I hear is gentle laughter echoing Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”  Their timeline is longer than mine, perhaps considering themselves part of a species, not an individual. Perhaps not even limited to a species, but part of all life. I am grateful to be here with them listening and learning.

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