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.

 

The Time Traveling Hibiscus

With ephemeral traits hallmarking the gate to past and future, have you considered gifting a hibiscus for the New Year?

Once it’s Gone, it’s Gone
You know the sayings, “Out with the old and in with the new,” or “Here today, gone tomorrow.”  True for so many things — like each year, our youth, good health, and hibiscus flowers.  “Hibiscus flowers?”  Yes, lovely hibiscus flowers last only one day.

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“Appreciate what you have in this very moment,” the flower bewails.  It’s spectacular bloom will be gone by night.


For Yesterday or Tomorrow
Yet as short-lived as hibiscus blooms may be, this plant offers medicinal properties to improve health and hopefully extend longevity!  Tea made from Hibiscus sabdariffa has been known to lower LDL cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure as well as aid digestion, weight management, and the immune system.

Preferring complementary and alternative medicine, I’ve been drinking organic Hibiscus with Tropical Fruit tea by Celebration Herbals.   My recent blood pressure was 99/69!

Capturing a Moment in Time
The antioxidants in Hibiscus sabdariffa tea also help skin remain youthful by improving moisture and elasticity, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Considered a feminine flower, and often symbolizing young women, hibiscus was given in Victorian times to recognize the receiver’s beauty.  No wonder Hawaiian females tuck anti-aging hibiscus flowers behind their tender ears.

Out with the Old…
The orangey-red/yellow Hibiscus kokio was Hawaii’s first state flower.

 

However, in 1988 the Hawaii legislature traded her in for (a younger model?) the striking yellow Hibiscus brackenridgei to become the new official state flower.  


Youth, good health and hibiscus flowers can be fleeting.  Savor them while you can.

young girl with hibiscus

Medical Disclaimer:  Sorry to say in today’s world it’s necessary to note that this content is informational and educational in nature only.  It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice and should not be solely relied upon. Under no circumstances is wRighting my Life responsible for the claims of third party websites or educational providers.  Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional before trying anything you have read on this blog or in links to other sites; otherwise, it is solely at your own risk.  The information provided in this blog is only from personal experience.  While I offer what has been beneficial to me, everyone is unique and may experience different results. 

Cardinal Inspiration

The color red symbolizes steadfast faith.  Some Christians believe it represents Christ’s blood.  But the cardinal inspiration I’m talking about isn’t from the Catholic church — it’s  from those eye-catching red birds that perk up winter’s indeterminate grey, like a spark of hope in darkness.

When faced with challenges like enduring the winter cold, the cardinal bird chooses to sing a lovely song.  It stays strong and positive, exhibiting persistence and grace.

I am increasingly convinced that Mother Nature guides us by offering her own Divine space to us as a spiritual well.  We simply need to open our eyes to see, accept, and contemplate her generosity. 

Such is the case with the red cardinal.

  • Some believe the cardinal encourages us to “find our life song,” to create new ways to love our life and show our gratitude for it.” 
  • Others say the cardinal warns us to be mindful of our thoughts and what we are creating.  Are we continually replaying past hurts, thereby deepening the groove of misery (and setting the stage for more to come), or are we choosing to be at peace in the present moment?  It may be helpful to visualize that red stop sign when these negative thoughts occur.
  • Many cultures believe cardinals are messengers from someone who has passed. 

Five years ago on the morning of New Year’s Eve, my dear friend Mary died from breast cancer.  A lover of nature and all animals, Mary encircled her home in the woods with numerous bird feeders.  On the day of her memorial a red cardinal held vigil at the window to the room where Mary passed in her home.  We believed it was telling us that Mary’s spirit lives on. 

Others have had similar experiencesHow ’bout you?  Do you have your own story of a symbolic message a cardinal carried into your life?

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The cardinal is said to represent kindness and goodwill.

May it inspire us to carry its message into the world.


 

 

 

 

Poinsettia Miracles

flower-1829706_1920 pointsettia

Starring the close of each year and darkest, darkest night, the Poinsettia’s striking winter appearance hails worldwide wishes of generosity and good cheer.

A Plant of Many Miracles…

Love

Rooted around miracles and the power of love, Mexican legend paints a heartwarming story around the Poinsettia.  While details vary, it’s essentially about a meager child having nothing to offer the baby Jesus except some roadside weeds. Once placed on the Christmas Eve altar, however, they miraculously transformed into brilliant red and green flowers.  Can you imagine witnessing the unfolding of such beauty, like the ugly duckling turned swan, or springtime buds bursting into bloom?  You know, it’s how your heart feels when overflowing with love.  How you feel when giving (or receiving) from the heart.

Abundance

Exemplifying the giving season, Poinsettias achieved stardom once sold under the botanical name Euphorbia Pulcherrima.  Nearly 70 million plants now sell from Thanksgiving to Christmas, generating $250 million in sales.

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Diversity and Individuality

The Poinsettia garners its name for world traveler, botanist and diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in the early 1800s after falling in love with it near Taxco Mexico.

Today, more than 100 varieties of Poinsettias range from burgundy to red, salmon to apricot, yellow to cream and white, and solid to marbled, not to mention the dyed blue and purple ones or those speckled with glitter.

 

The United States commemorates December 12th, the date of Poinsett’s death, as National Poinsettia Day.

Care

As much as I love gardening, and can rarely bear discarding any broken plant stems  (several cuttings are rooting on my windowsill now), I admit I never gave Poinsettia’s their proper care.  Sure, I didn’t toss them  after the holidays when their bracts (often called flowers) fell, and a few hung around awhile as green house plants, but I didn’t keep them in total darkness so they would turn red for the holidays next year — a process Certified Nursery Consultant, Rick LaVasseur calls photoperiodism.  A process I call a miracle if I remember to do it.

poinsettia-1841877_1280 white speckled

Spirituality

Also known as the Christmas Eve Flower or Flowers of the Holy Night, some Christians symbolize the plant’s shape as the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red color as the blood of Christ.

The meaning of the Pointsettia reflects standard Christmas and New Year wishes for Joy, Love and Hope – my universal wish for the coming year.

God gave me a memory so that I may have roses in December.  But, I have the Poinsettia too.

pointsettia

 

Who’s Bringing the Holly Home this Year?

Love the way holly’s distinctive green leaves and vibrant red berries adorn your holiday table, especially under candlelight? Then you better wait close to its show off date to bring it indoors. This robust winter beauty begins to shrivel in the heat. And if you are superstitious at all, wait until Christmas. Legend has it that it’s bad luck to bring holly into the house beforehand…or removed before Epiphany Eve on January 5th.

Of course there are some who avoid these problems altogether by decorating with artificial holly which doesn’t wilt but contributed to the economical decline of small town Milton, Delaware.

Holly is What You Make it…

christmas-992827_1280 wreathOnce claimed to be the holly capital of the world, Milton thrived in wreath-making businesses from 1920-1950 when holly grew wild and abundantly in Sussex County.  (Two men could pick enough holly each day to make 450 wreaths.) When state resident Charles C. Jones, Sr. began shipping holly wreaths and products, Delaware became the leading supplier of holly nationwide; and in 1939 Delaware named American Holly (Ilex Opaca) as its official state tree.

This cash crop was short-lived though and by the 1960’s Delaware’s commercial holly industry died. The introduction of industrialized production, plastic wreaths, wage laws for piecework businesses, and development depleted much of Milton’s holly groves.  Sadly, the only holly harvesting in Delaware today is in backyards. Hmmm…an early lesson in conservation…

…And What You Believe it to Be

If you don’t live in Delaware, any idea why you decorate for the holidays with holly?  Is it simply a standard at this time of year? The lively colors? Perhaps it’s family tradition, religious symbolism, or superstition from long ago.

  • Believed to have magical powers, Druid’s hung holly in homes for good luck and protection. Cutting down a holly tree was considered bad luck.
  • Christians associate holly’s red berries to blood spilt by Christ, and its prickly leaves to Jesus’ crown of thorns.
  • Romans connected holly to Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and decorated with it during the popular Saturnalia festival. Originally a two-day event beginning on December 17th, changes in the Roman calendar extended the celebration to December 25th, near the date and time of the winter solstice.
  • Scottish tradition placed an ivy leaf in a bowl of water on Hogmany (New Years Eve). If the leaf remained fresh and green until January 6th (Little Christmas) a good year was forecast; if it withered with black spots, ill-health would come.  Hopefully, the house was cool…

winter-1265063_1280 he-holly

  • Considering holly’s prickly leaves as masculine and ivy’s smooth leaves as feminine, pre-Christian parades costumed a boy in holly leaves and a girl in ivy to bring Nature through the darkest part of the year and re-emerge for another year’s fertility.

ivy-456550_1280 holly and ivy

  • Some believe the household will be dominated for the coming year by the gender of either the holly (prickly or smooth) or the person first bringing it into the house.

Who brought the holly home at your house— was it Mom or Dad? Are you thinking of offering to bring it home this year?  Before you do…

The Truth

In heraldry, holly symbolizes truth. So when you say, “Honey, I’ll pick up the holly this year,” will you tell them why?

Better yet, decorating with both prickly and smooth (aka he and she) holly is said to create a very balanced and harmonious year for the household. Makes sense to me.  Why not get them together, make some luscious hot chocolate while decorating, then snuggle by the fire?

 

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