Nature Teacher: Nothing is as Nothing Seems

Opening the compost bin lid reveals decomposing garlic skins, leek greens, maple leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and other unidentifiable by now but formerly salubrious consumables. Dirt from last summer’s potted flowers (probably the water-logged ones that couldn’t withstand the heavy rains) is mixed in. I suppose most would view this as rubbish or waste — something without purpose, and quickly dump it into their Glad bag lined garbage can or down the disposal. But, long-time gardening has unearthed a prismatic perspective for me.

My compost bin is my glad bin you could say.  Saving kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable parings, and egg and shrimp shells enhances the soil like nothing else but it also enriches me — and my thinking. These unsightly scraps once endowed delicious meals that contributed to my good health, and will continue to be of benefit. Now they are transforming into nutrient rich soil that will grow my garden full of herbs and vegetables which I will share and eat, and save their parings for the ongoing compost bin. This unattractive, thought-provoking phenomenon is food for thought in its purest form.

Digging deeper and deeper to aerate the compost, I begin seeing below the surface. Nothing is as nothing seems. My thoughts turn to the good in what seems offensive, to the beautiful and nutritious soil that this senescent matter will become, to the duality of the taijitu (yin-yang symbol), that nothing is 100% all good or all bad, and to the stories of people who look like they own nothing but have the most generous hearts. My mind wanders to the elderly who were once young and vibrant, firm and glowing like lemons or frilly and brilliant as carrots but are now devalued and often cast aside because they no longer produce or are too wrinkly or shriveled for our youth worshiping culture to see beyond the outside. I say, “Look below the surface. Unearth those unapparent gems. Nothing is as nothing seems.

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Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

 

Mother Nature Made my Lunch Today

I made this salad for lunch. Well, actually Mother Nature made it for me, I simply chose to partake of her delectable edibles that nourish me in boundless ways when I choose to look her way.

Convenience or Necessity — Which is it and What Matters Most?
Too often, I grabbed a bag or box of processed food because I thought it was quicker, easier. But, digging deeper I asked what am I trading off for this “convenience”? Being sold on “convenience,” I’ve found is often a cover up for something that is actually not so healthy like the increased health risks from Fitbit or extended cell phone use.

At one time I bought into the “fast” food trap, thinking it would save me time in meal prep. But when I noticed the long drive-through lines and realized I could prepare a steak, vegetable and salad within 20 minutes — AND relax at my table to consume it, rather than behind the steering wheel at a red light — I began to change my ways. It didn’t make sense to be handed a bag of virtually dead food tainted with GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and any other nasty ingredient that deteriorates good health when I could choose more wholesome and satisfying real “food.”

Thinking Behind the Goods
My thinking was lazy. Naively trusting big business and government I thought if products are allowed on the market they must be safe, right? Right. When the money trail of lobbyists controlling government, health and essentially our lives uncovered that fallacy, my thinking turned circumspect.


Think those chicken nuggets are simply “breaded “chicken”? If you knew a chicken nugget is “made from” 38 ingredients with nearly half of them derived from corn, or that they contain TBHQ which is derived from petroleum, would you still eat them? You may want to think twice before ordering again, or feeding them to your kids for Heaven’s sake.


Taking Time for All of You
There’s truth in the time-tested saying, “If you don’t have your good health, you don’t have anything.” I had to decide what’s more important — rushing to a class or making a deadline by quickly eating bad food, or nourishing body, mind and spirit through Mother Nature’s generous offerings for vitality and vigor? The answer seems obvious, but those “self-imposed” time constraints often get in the way.

Think you’re too busy to grocery shop for fresh produce? To rinse the spinach, red oak lettuce and red raspberries? Not enough time to chop some red bell pepper, and slice golden beets to roast? Too overloaded you say to whisk some strawberry balsamic vinegar with light olive oil while toasting the pecans…then dabbing some Chevre cheese on top and adorning with dried tart cherries? Think again. The benefits exceed the eye.

Creating a salad like this satisfies more than the belly, while a box or bag of processed food harms it. (No coincidence that shelves are flooded with probiotics and OTC remedies for stomach distress these days.) Rampant busyness robs downtime, a necessity for mind and body regeneration.


Still think you don’t have time to support your well-being?

This salad is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, protein, and nutrients through vitamins and minerals like A, B6, boron, C, calcium, copper, E, folate, folic acid, iron, K, lycopene, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, quercitin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and zinc.

Additionally, pecans which are high in healthy unsaturated fat, help lower “bad” cholesterol. Golden beets also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease heart disease risk, help prevent various cancers, and cleanse the kidneys. Tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan which can promote better sleep. Goat cheese offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and contains healthy fats, including medium-chain fatty acids that can improve satiety and benefit weight loss. These are only some of the “physical” benefits. 


Selecting ingredients I thought would work together tapped into my creativity, while preparing the produce was an in-the-moment meditative experience. How divine to then taste each layer of color, flavor and texture. Raspberries and cheese melting in my mouth under the ying-yang, sweet-tart balsamic dressing and crunch of spinach and roasted pecans was far more pleasing — and nutritious too — than any bag of processed whatever I could pick-up. Mother Nature endows us with her riches. It’s simply up to us to accept the gift.


 

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This photo: Pixabay

It’s all a Matter of Time

Daylight “saving time” is an oddity to me.  The only time I think I’ve saved is when I am more efficient like writing my store note while my phone call is placed on hold.  Other times it’s planning my route to accomplish the most along the way — or speeding up (just a little bit) to get somewhere sooner than later.

Being highly organized, I think I’ve saved a lot of time over the years but, sadly, there’s no place for its safekeeping — like a rainy day fund.   Boy, I wish there was.  Just think.  If you could bank all those hours — kind of like the vacation time or sick days allotted at work — and use them where ever and whenever you want — like when you’re rushing to an appointment, just pull out an extra hour and that traffic jam doesn’t matter.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

We could extend a vacation with extra time or in a macabre sense, have more time if diagnosed with a fatal disease.  A friend with esophageal cancer told me, “Six months to live is just not enough time.”  Think of it; if he could have been banking hours to extend his life,  he’d have enough time to complete his bucket list.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find the time.”  So where is it?  How can we find it?  Numerous articles exist on time management.  The one I offer here is by a favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott.

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Photo credit: Markus Spiske temporausch.com from Pexels

Regret often bears the lament, “What a waste of time.”  Yet, in hindsight and particularly if lessons were learned, it was not a waste of time but an invaluable training ground.

My concepts of time have changed as time has changed me through the years.  Going too slowly in my youth, they said I was wishing, wishing my life away when I could barely wait to be five, then thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.

Years thereafter I lived in the past and worried about the future.  Too often what was happening in the “now” was unpleasant and not where I wanted to be.  It took a lot of retraining to attempt to stay in the moment.

Lately though, I’ve been so in the moment I’m wondering where did the time go?  Somehow its evaporated, transformed into one longer moment from this moment into the next until the day is gone.   Am I on accelerated speed?  Are the clocks running fast?  Time no longer lingers as when I was very young.

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Photo credit: geraldfriedrich2 on Pixabay

For most of my life, nature’s timing of the seasons seemed perfectly natural.  Until these last few years, there was a consistency I do not feel in my own life even though I’m often living from one task to the next, one project, one calendar page to the next.

Now, my time spirals like a spinning top that one day will just stop.  At least in the physical sense of here and now.  Like perennials that bloom then wither and die to return again next year, being one with Tao offers eternity.  But eternity sounds like “the future” to me.  The traumas I’ve experienced and bagged up thus far have been exhausting.  I don’t know if I could take eternity.  Better to stay in the now.

Here’s 20 quotes about living in the now

And did you know Daylight Saving Time was originally conceived by Ben Franklin?

If I could freeze this exact moment in time, my skin would stay supple, my eyesight strong, and I would remain spry.  So, even though I am staying in this moment in time, time itself is moving ahead — whether I like it or not — and I am running out of time.

The Daylight Saving Time change ill-affects me.  Preferring to keep things as natural as possible, I don’t want my circadian rhythms messed with.  They already have enough trouble from my PC, thank you.  The Earth continues to rotate in 24-hour cycles.  Are we going to try to change that too?

How do you perceive time?  Has it felt different as you age?  How do you feel about  Daylight Saving Time?  Does it have any affect on you?

 

 

Multilingual without Words…

I communicate in many languages.  But my lexicon doesn’t contain words per se.  No, I’m not talking about texting but of a communication so beautiful no words are necessary.

In seasonal poetry gatherings each of us brings a random poem to read aloud.  The words we share are not our own but the understanding we glean from the words of others.  While some may be serious, others witty, or thought provoking — and on any topic of choosing, a common thread soon appears.  Ah, no doubt the Universe is at play here we chuckle each time we recognize the unintentional theme that connects us together.

The languages I convey do not use technology, social media, or heaven forbid a cell phone.  A verbal silence in hand drumming makes room for magic.  When words do not appear, the voice of the drums speaks profoundly through our creative energy.  Rhythms intertwine, calling, responding, supporting, expressing, wandering, somewhere…but together.

Standing in my kitchen, I cook.  My focus is lovingly preparing a tasty meal, and setting a table that honors the food and the ones it nourishes.  Sitting together then and savoring  this offering of utilitarian sensory art reveals the unseen ingredient.

Sharing the bounty of my garden, holding the door open for someone, offering a smile, anyone can understand.  I do not need to say one word to communicate with anyone anywhere.  All of us can speak the same language when we do not use words.

Multilingual

 

 

 

Nature Teacher: The Natural Timing of Things

Plants wither and die

in time

as we experience it.

Everlasting physical beauty

is contrary

if not impossible

or simply a matter of perception.

Why tamper with the natural timing of life?

Shriveled leaves talk of acceptance.

They do not worry.

Crinkles speak of wisdom.

It is humans who do not understand

and self-inflict suffering,

trying to erase

a life lived

well or not.

Timeless Meditation: Viewing Vastness

Worlds Away
Savoring outdoor time during my recent reprieve in the temperate Caribbean, I hoped the warmth would cradle me through another 72 icy winter days back home. Mother Nature’s wizardry transformed the oppressive grey I left behind into sparkling and vibrant blue, a welcome relief in this world that seemed worlds away.

Lounging on the balcony at night with vast stars washing over me, I felt an incredible sense of wonder. This feeling continued through daytime gazing on a tryst of blues from sea to sky, the all-embracing horizon suggesting I was worlds away.  And in some aspects, I was. 

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The Andromeda galaxy at 2.6 million light-years from Earth is visible with the naked eye. With one light-year equaling nearly six miles, I find this almost incomprehensible — that I could indeed be seeing a world trillions of miles away. Viewing the horizon at three to four-and-a-half miles — or even 30 miles at night, dwarfs in comparison. But when  considering that mileage in terms of traveling from my hometown to the next one, I’m still awash in wonder.

Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza
Awe-inspired, I pondered how long have humans contemplated the sea, the sky, the vastness to a place far beyond imagination? My search revealed this Longo (Tanzanian) proverb: Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza. Translated into English it means:  “The water of the sea is only to be contemplated.” A worthy proverb and so apropos to the universal social issues of today, but not exactly the information I was seeking.

Many philosophers, however, regard the universe in similar terms of human insignificance. They feel loneliness and worry. I felt none of that. Completely opposite, actually.

The Whole Package
Viewing vastness soothes me — whether ocean, sky, stretches of white sand, even fields of green grass, rolling hills, and mountain ranges at home. Their expanse is an aspect of a power greater than ourselves, offering an infinite abundance of support, a glint of life everlasting.

A blanket of peace and calm is only a blink away. Let Mother Nature freely wrap herself around you. Go outside and wander in wonderment.


“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan in Cosmos

 

It’s snowing now. Trees sway in bellowing winds. Hazardous forecasts have appeared for days, maybe even a week, I’m not sure. I try to tune most of it out. Heck, I just returned from a reprieve in 80 degree Jamaica. The northeast grey and cold I so easily left behind hasn’t yet set in. It’s usually a good 10 days before my neck reacts like a telephone pole, the abundant warmth still clutching my bones.

e-mail warnings hailed my return, “Sounds like we’re getting a snowstorm this weekend. Not sure exactly what areas, but something is brewing.” “Well the storm that was South of us did not hit this past weekend, but there’s something coming. Weather reports are looking ahead at potential snow for Sunday.”

Alerts surge like the Caribbean waves that soothed me a week ago. A foot of snow they say. Or more. Ice. Single digits. The utility company cautions customers about possible power outages and demands patience. If the electric goes out there will be no heat, or plumbing for that matter. No lights, no frig. Sub zero temps threaten to freeze pipes.  Frenzy is in the air but I’m not gripped with worry. I’m still riding those warming trade winds and Jamaican blue skies. beach-1029012_1280

I disconnected from the incessant media hype a few years ago when they sensationalized simple thunderstorms. It was just too much. Even the silent Web catastrophizes with headlines like “Big Ice Threat,” “Snowstorm Lurking,” “Dangerously Cold,” “Emergency Measures in Place for Weekend Weather…” Who writes this stuff? Being prepared is one thing but our culture seems addicted to worry. No wonder anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million persons age 18 and older (and one in 20 children). And now we have weather anxiety?!

The good news is, we have a choice. I use to plan my day around the forecast to best work with Mother Nature. Now, I look out the window. It’s snowing. I’m prepared. Really important news always finds its way to me without my tuning in to the constant drone of fear. I’m stocked with the staple eggs and milk that neighbors run to the stores for in times such as these. If the power goes out, I have candles and matches…long underwear, heavy socks, gloves, a hat and warm coat. Plow trucks salt and clear the roads.scene-863040_1280

Oh what to do. Just be prepared. Turn off the noise and tune in to the quiet. Let go as easily as the gently falling snow. Last week I listened to rhythmic waves on Seven Mile Beach. From an expanse of sand to an expanse of snow, it’s all just a moment in time.