Sunday Dinner: Awareness

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“Look at everything always

as though you were seeing it

either for the first or last time:

Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

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Betty Smith 

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“It’s all a matter of paying attention,

being awake in the present moment,

and not expecting a huge payoff.

The magic in this world

seems to work in whispers

and small kindnesses.”

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Charles de Lint

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“The really important kind of freedom

involves attention, and awareness,

and discipline, and effort,

and being able truly to care about other people

and to sacrifice for them,

over and over,

in myriad petty little unsexy ways,

every day.”

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David Foster Wallace

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“Earth’s crammed with heaven…
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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“These things will destroy the human race:

politics without principle,

progress without compassion,

wealth without work,

learning without silence,

religion without fearlessness,

and worship without awareness.”

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Anthony de Mello

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“Awareness has infinite gradations, like light.”
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Ignazio Silone

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“A healer’s power stems not from any special ability,

but from maintaining the courage and awareness

to embody and express the universal healing power

that every human being naturally possesses.”

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Eric Micha’el Leventhal

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Blossom XXVII: Life

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“You think that it’s not magic that keeps you alive?
Just ‘cause you understand
the mechanics of how something works,
doesn’t make it any less of a miracle.
Which is just another word for magic.
We’re all kept alive by magic, Sookie.
My magic’s just a little different from yours, that’s all.”
.
Charlaine Harris
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“To love. To be loved.
To never forget your own insignificance.
To never get used
to the unspeakable violence
and the vulgar disparity of life around you.
To seek joy in the saddest places.
To pursue beauty to its lair.
To never simplify what is complicated
or complicate what is simple.
To respect strength, never power.
Above all, to watch.
To try and understand.
To never look away.
And never, never to forget.”
.
Arundhati Roy
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
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“It means much to have loved,
to have been happy,
to have laid my hand on the living Garden,
even for a day.”
.
Jorge Luis Borges
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Asclepias incarnata

Inspiration

July 28, 2015 garden and flier 033

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“What inspires you?  What motivates you to keep going? What brings you happiness?”

That is an interesting question.  I believe that each of us is inspired by something deep inside, which keeps nudging us to move forwards. 

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July 28, 2015 garden and flier 034

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I’m not even certain that we can always put our finger on exactly what that something is, either.  We may tell ourselves it is one thing, when actually it is something else.

Biographies always intrigue me, because the best seek to answer this question.  We humans remain such peculiar creatures.  We will forgo love and nourishment, comfort and even health in pursuit of our passions. 

We make choices whose logic is clear to no one as we continue striving for that elusive something we expect to bring us satisfaction.

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I’ve pursued many peculiar paths during this lifetime.  And many of them I’m pursuing still, falling ever deeper into this rabbit hole or another. 

It is often easier to offer neither explanation nor justification for what we do.  But at some level we hope to articulate these things, at least to ourselves. 

Like a seasoned traveler, we often follow the path not with a particular goal in mind; but rather to see what we will see along the way.

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July 20, 2015 garden 005

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But at least in the garden, I can tell you that I am inspired by the many small creatures who find sustenance here, and by the sheer beauty of it all. 

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July 16, 2015 Hibiscus 026

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I appreciate the opportunity to be a participant in the process of creating sustainable habitat for those creatures who are endangered. 

I am endlessly fascinated watching the progress of the seasons; the growth of plants; the comings and goings of frogs and turtles, lizards and butterflies, bees and squirrels.  I’m happy watching roots sprout, leaves unfurl, flowers open, and seedpods ripen.

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What inspires you?  What beauty touches your heart and ignites your mind?

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In response to The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration 

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 28, 2015 garden and flier 015

Our Hunger

July 13, 2015 flowers 035

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“It seems to me we can never give up

longing and wishing while we are still alive.

There are certain things

we feel to be beautiful and good,

and we must hunger for them.”

George Eliot

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July 13, 2015 flowers 036

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Have you ever considered how much our hunger inspires our gardening? 

Whether we hunger for peace, we hunger for beauty, we hunger for our own home grown fruits, or we hunger for purpose…  Our appetites may be fed through our efforts in the garden.

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Yet the garden feeds so many more hungry mouths and hearts than just our own.  July shows us just how many creatures gather here for sustenance.  They congregate peacefully, sharing summer’s feast. 

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July 13, 2015 flowers 028

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Some scuttle out of sight at our approach, or fly to a further branch or higher blossom.  Evidence of their passing may be seen in a leaf ridden with holes, or a nibbled stem. 

Others take their meals alive and intact.

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July 13, 2015 flowers 022

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Little of what we plant for ourselves will we harvest.  Perhaps some herbs, and a chili here and there; if we are lucky, a handful of figs. 

Experience has shown us that fruits go mostly to the squirrels before they can ripen.  They enjoy the hazelnuts, too.  Birds take the berries. 

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July 13, 2015 flowers 010~

But we don’t really mind that much.  We consume the garden’s essence with our eyes, our hearts; breathing in its tranquil beauty each hour of the day.

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July 13, 2015 flowers 002

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A gardener’s mind is restless. 

Perhaps our original sin is covetousness.  We wake in the night thinking of what we will plant in daylight. 

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We scheme to multiply the abundance.  We collect cuttings, hoard seeds, expand the empire of compost we steward. 

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July 13, 2015 flowers 006~

We live in hope of attracting another species of bird, of spotting another sort of butterfly or bee. 

We hunger for those things we have not yet grown.  We dig, we build, we plant; we manifest the living vision which haunts our thoughts.

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July 13, 2015 flowers 007

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Ours is the hunger which also nourishes. 

It leads us to to nourish our own hearts, and so much more….

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“If you don’t feel strong desires

for the manifestation of the glory of God,

it is not because you have drunk deeply

and are satisfied.

It is because you have nibbled so long

at the table of the world.

Your soul is stuffed with small things,

and there is no room for the great.”


.

John Piper

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July 13, 2015 flowers 009~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Feed Them, But Will They Come?

June 18, 2015 bees 026

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As I wander around our garden, watching for pollinators to photograph, I notice the quiet.  Where is the hum and buzz I’ve grown accustomed to in other summers?

The feast is laid, but there are very few guests today.

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June 18, 2015 bees 024

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We began work on our “Butterfly Garden” during our first spring in this new garden.  We constructed a huge raised bed and populated it with butterfly bushes, roses, Zinnias, and various herbs.

We delighted in watching the constant activity of butterflies, hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, and varies sorts of bees, wasps, and flies.   This is great entertainment for the newly retired!

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June 17, 2015 pollinators 007~

And every year since, we have expanded the offering of nectar rich flowers.  Our “Butterfly Garden” now extends from the street to the ravine.  We’ve developed areas to attract and sustain these flying creatures throughout our property.

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Thyme

Thyme

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We garden organically, without harmful pesticides; we provide habitat, sources of water, and host plants.

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Asclepias, a host plant for Monarchs which also provides a long season of nectar, grows in our new bog garden.

Asclepias, a host plant for Monarchs which also provides a long season of nectar, grows in our new bog garden.

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We plant a variety of nectar rich herbs to sustain the pollinators in all parts of our garden.  We also choose flowers, like Fuchsia, Zinnia, Lantana and Canna, to appeal to nectar loving insects and hummingbirds.  We allow nectar rich shrubs and trees, like the Mimosa, to grow on the edges of the garden.

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June 11, 2015 garden 017

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Still, we are thrilled to spot a single butterfly visiting our garden.

I realize it is yet early in the season.  I understand that there will be more activity as summer progresses.  Yet, we spotted our first butterfly in April this year.  Why are there still so few?  And where are the bees?

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June 17, 2015 bees 025

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This is a disturbing mystery for us.

We follow the news closely, and know it has been a difficult time for wildlife across the planet.  Rogue weather systems have disrupted normal migration patterns and habitat.  Chemical leaks, oil tankers bursting into fiery infernos, radiation in the Pacific, eruptions and climate change all make it that much harder for wild things to sustain themselves generation to generation.

This is a global challenge.  What can one family, gardening on a little suburban lot, do to make a positive difference?

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Tiny new dragonflies hover around the Comphrey.

Tiny new dragonflies hover around the Comphrey.

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I wrestle with this question a lot, actually.  Maybe this issue helps fuel my passion for photographing and writing about our garden.  I know it drives our decisions about how to manage the garden.

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We leave these tree Hibiscus, 'Rose of Sharon' because so many pollinators visit them to feed.

We leave these tree Hibiscus, ‘Rose of Sharon’ because so many pollinators visit them to feed.  They self-seed prolifically.  A fairly weedy plant, their flowers are beautiful each summer.

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I know the butterflies are free, and freely fly from our garden to another.  In the next yard, they may meet up with deadly chemicals sprayed by the lawn company our neighbors hire.

No matter how organically we manage our garden, the environment remains full of pesticides used by others, and barren of many of the native plants they seek to raise their young.  We don’t plan to string up netting and keep our beauties safely here.

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July 2014, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys the Echinacea.

July 2014, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys the Echinacea.

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At some point, most of us wise up and live with ‘The Serenity Prayer’ in mind.

And in accepting those things we can not change, we think carefully and courageously about the change we can instigate… both in ourselves, and in others.

And so here are the simple things we can do, and we have committed to do:

1.  Refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides.  Find organic controls for problems of infestation.

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed, July 2014

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed, July 2014

2.  Leave parts of our property ‘wild’ to provide shelter and habitat for a variety of animals.

3. Allow many ‘native’ plants, which provide food and habitat for pollinators and birds, to grow on our property.

4.  Select most ‘new’ plants we bring to the garden for their value to feed and sustain wildlife.

5.  Provide sources of water.

A butterfly shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee.  August 2014

A butterfly shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee. August 2014

6. Leave end of season clean-up until spring, so wildlife may continue to use available resources through the winter.

7. Learn as much as we can about the wildlife who visit our garden in order to better care for them.

 

“Everything takes time.

Bees have to move very fast to stay still.”

David Foster Wallace

We hope that by offering a safe and supportive environment, pollinators and other wildlife will find safe haven in our garden.

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Parsley offers nectar when it blooms, but many butterflies lay their eggs on parsley, also.  It is a good host plant to sustain caterpillars.

Parsley offers nectar when it blooms, but many butterflies lay their eggs on parsley, also. It is a good host plant to sustain caterpillars.

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For every generation of butterfly and bird, bee, lizard, turtle and dragonfly that we can allow to grow here, we will contribute in some small way to their continued survival.

This is a tiny effort, but many of us all making this tiny effort can partner to preserve these beautiful and ecologically important creatures for another year; another generation.

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These catmint plants attract many pollinators when they bloom.  By cutting them back, they can be kept blooming for several months.  Our cat believes we plant them just for him....

These catmint plants attract many pollinators when they bloom. By cutting them back, they can be kept blooming for several months. Our cat believes we plant them just for him….

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We look forward to each spring and summer when our garden is filled with the buzzing of bees and the ballet of feeding butterflies once again.

And until then, we will continue to celebrate and appreciate each individual who finds their way to our Forest Garden.

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June 18, 2015 bees 022

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 27, 2014 garden 005

For more information, please explore:

Pollinator Week June 15-21, 2015

‘June Gap’ in butterflies explained, by Butterfly Conservation

Our Pals, the Pollinators, by Tina Huckabee

Lavender Lovers

August 19, 2014 lavender 016

 

When Jennifer issued her One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender this morning, I headed out between showers to capture a few photos of our lavender flowers in the garden.

We have been admiring the lavender Rose of Sharon from the living room windows.

 

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

In fact the hummingbirds have been hovering near them them all morning between the showers, and we enjoy watching them come and go.

But I suspected there might be other lavender flowers blooming this morning, if only I’d go out and notice them.

Chocolate mint in bloom

Chocolate mint in bloom

How does one draw a firm line between what is lavender and what is blue or pink?

There are so many shades, and all shine differently depending on the light.

Salvia nemerosa with Artemesia

Salvia nemerosa with Artemesia

 

Soon I was straying off the patio and into the wet grass, following the trail of lavender flowers through the garden.

August 19, 2014 lavender 011

And despite the wet, overcast weather, the garden was still buzzing with hungry creatures flying from flower to flower.

August 19, 2014 lavender 019

Perhaps moving a bit more slowly today, they seemed not to mind  me closing in with the camera to capture their portraits.

I wonder how these flowers appear to our bees, and to our dragonflies.

Bumblebee on Joe Pye Weed

Bumblebee on Joe Pye Weed

 

Do their compound eyes see these colors even more intensely than ours?

Can they see flowers in ways we can only dream them?

A butterfly shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee.

A moth shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee.

What must it be like to spend one’s entire lifetime in pursuit of flowers, and the sweet nectar and pollen they hold?  Might bees, like whales and dolphins, have a level of intelligence in advance of our own?

We have learned much about bees, and their language of dance, in recent years.  

Now scientists have learned they can be trained, even more quickly than dogs, to sniff out certain odors.

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New technologies are in development which use trained bees to sniff out drugs and other substances.  It is all quite amazing to realize that bees can communicate with us in so many ways.

The low hum of their contented buzzing filled our garden this morning, much like the hum of a cat’s purr.

Hearing from friends across the country that bees are scarce in some gardens this summer, we feel special appreciation for the bees who choose to visit ours.

 

August 19, 2014 lavender 001

Another vital link in the web of life which brings food to our own table, we  appreciate the lives of bees;

and all of the other small creatures who spend their lives in pursuit of nectar, moving from flower to flower in the garden.

 

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender… Forest Garden

More One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender photos

 

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