Not a big ask…

I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing […] But warm, eager, living life—to be rooted in life—to learn, to desire to know, to feel, to think, to act. That is what I want. And nothing less.

~ Katherine Mansfield, (1888-1923) in a diary entry featured in Letters and Journals of Katherine Mansfield


Notes: Quote via minima. Photo: Jac Graham | wood worker & mead maker (via small & tiny home ideas)

Riding Metro North. A Voyeur.

6:25 pm train home. Tuesday. It’s been a very long day.

I’m 8 minutes early. I find my aisle seat, set my bag down, remove my coat and place it on the luggage rack overhead. I close my eyes, and pause. My right hand clutches my iPhone – activity is frantic inside the device. News. iMessages. Emails. Work. All churning forward. Just let it be for a moment. Rest. Let it be.

My eyes remain closed. Thoughts flicker, and latch onto Jack Kornfield’s “Your Mind: Friend or Foe” as he passes a cautionary road sign, “Your own tedious thoughts the next 200 miles.

I hear footsteps. She settles one seat up and to my left. She slouches in her seat, knees up against the seat in front of her.

She scratches items on a yellow note pad with a 2H pencil, her to-do list for tomorrow.
List fills, too far away for me to see details. Neat, on the lines. Cursive.

She then grabs her smartphone. Pans through a long list of emails. Then text messages. Then back to emails. Then back to her yellow note pad, to jot down another to-do.

She puts down her phone, and stares out the window. Hair, shoulder length, rests on a light, Patagonia windbreaker.  Clean, white sneakers, must have a long walk from the office to the train. Her heels tucked in her bag.

She lifts her phone, and scans more emails. Sends a few more text messages. Flicks through a few web sites. For some reason, you can’t take your eyes off this woman, her show, her frenetic activity in her private space. A peeping voyeur. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

One day when Buddha was walking with his disciples he pointed to the ground with his hand and said, “It would be good to erect a sanctuary here.” — Book of Serenity, Case 4

“…One day I ran across a single line in a thick book that made it all simple. It told the original meaning of the word paradise before it became a mythical ideal, imaginary and unattainable. Before it pointed somewhere else. The word paradise originally meant “an enclosed area.” Inside the word are its old Persian roots: pairi-, meaning “around,” and diz, “to create (a wall).” The word was first given to carefully tended pleasure parks and menageries, the sporting ground of kings. Later, storytellers used the word in creation myths, and it came to mean the Eden of peace and plenty. Looking at it straight on, I could plainly see. Paradise is a backyard. Not just my backyard, but everyone’s backyard. Teeming with weeds, leaves, half-dead trees, moles, mosquitoes, mud, dust, skunks, and raccoons. With a novice gardener and a reluctant groundskeeper.

Like the entire world we live in, bounded only by how far we can see. I began to garden. I got scratched, tired, and dirty. I broke my fingernails and ruined my shoes. I yanked out what I could have kept and put in more of what I didn’t need. I pouted and wept, cursing the enormity of the task. I was resentful and unappreciative. But when I ventured afield, sidelined by things that seemed much more entertaining or important, I always came back to this patch of patient earth. Time after time I realized that everything I want or need —the living truth of life, love, beauty, purpose, and peace —is taught to me right here, no farther away than the ground beneath my feet.”

~ Karen Maezen Miller, from “Prologue: Paradise” in “Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden


Photo: Mark Benbenek

Saturday Morning Market

I am awash with a deep abiding love
For shiny purple eggplants,
Real and rounded in such womanly ways.
I am beside myself with wonder
At the many shapes and hues
Of crook-necked squash and new potatoes,
Earthy red and ochre tan,
Goldfinch yellow and deep summer green.
I am grateful to tears
For fresh beet greens and rhubarb,
Green peppers and Swiss chard,
And for the first vine-ripe tomatoes
That are so perfect you go ahead
And eat one like an apple,
Leaning forward
Without looking
To see if anyone is watching.
I am blessing the names
Of the farmers and bread bakers,
Sunburnt and beautiful,
Freckled and friendly,
Who make change
And comfortable conversation.

This is real abundance
Of the senses and spirit,
A true kind of church,
With its arms open wide
To the eaters and eaten,
The growers and grown,
To all who come looking
For what is common and earthly,
Luminous and lasting,
And to be dumbstruck with wonder
By what we carry back home
In an ordinary basket.

~ Carrie Newcomer, “Saturday Morning Market” in The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics 


Notes:

 

‘The’ Onion

Peter Glazebrook poses with his 14.6-pound onion, which won its class in the giant vegetable competition on the first day of the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show in Harrogate, England.  He has won the onion competition multiple times. He has also won awards for the world’s largest carrot (20 lbs), potato (11 lbs), cauliflower (60 lbs), beetroot and parsnip.

This post was inspired by American author Lawrence Sanders and his Deadly Sin series where his mouth drooling description of sandwiches have never left my consciousness for over 25 years.  His lead character is Francis Delaney, a New York police homicide detective who eats wonderful sandwiches while solving grisly murder cases.

Francis X. Delaney is standing at the counter in the kitchen of his two-story New York brownstone, making himself a sandwich. First, he slices beef from Sunday`s leftover roast and piles it on a thick piece of black bread. A couple of slabs of Muenster cheese goes on next, covered by two circles of raw onion. There`s a can of sardines in the refrigerator, and he places several of the little fish on top of the onion. He dabs a little horseradish over the growing stack, then adds two tomato slices. No lettuce. He slathers mayonnaise on another slice of black bread to complete the sandwich.  Standing over the sink so he can drip all he wants, he eats it with pleasure.


Notes:

 

Sunday Morning

rain-drop-light-flower-garden

I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday.

It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain.

You can feel the silent and invisible life.

― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Celeste Mookherjee

Seed: I wonder where it is right now.

hand-seed

A seed knows how to wait. Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed. Some unique trigger-combination of temperature-moisture-light and many other things is required to convince a seed to jump off the deep end and take its chance— to take its one and only chance to grow. A seed is alive while it waits. Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the three-hundred-year-old oak tree that towers over it. Neither the seed nor the old oak is growing; they are both just waiting. Their waiting differs, however, in that the seed is waiting to flourish while the tree is only waiting to die. When you go into a forest you probably tend to look up at the plants that have grown so much taller than you ever could. You probably don’t look down, where just beneath your single footprint sit hundreds of seeds, each one alive and waiting. They hope against hope for an opportunity that will probably never come. More than half of these seeds will die before they feel the trigger that they are waiting for, and during awful years every single one of them will die. All this death hardly matters, because the single birch tree towering over you produces at least a quarter of a million new seeds every single year. When you are in the forest, for every tree that you see, there are at least a hundred more trees waiting in the soil, alive and fervently wishing to be. A coconut is a seed that’s as big as your head. It can float from the coast of Africa across the entire Atlantic Ocean and then take root and grow on a Caribbean island. In contrast, orchid seeds are tiny: one million of them put together add up to the weight of a single paper clip. […]

In the laboratory, we simply scratch the hard coat and add a little water and it’s enough to make almost any seed grow. I must have cracked thousands of seeds over the years, and yet the next day’s green never fails to amaze me. Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be. After scientists broke open the coat of a lotus seed (Nelumbo nucifera) and coddled the embryo into growth, they kept the empty husk. When they radiocarbon-dated this discarded outer shell, they discovered that their seedling had been waiting for them within a peat bog in China for no less than two thousand years. This tiny seed had stubbornly kept up the hope of its own future while entire human civilizations rose and fell. And then one day this little plant’s yearning finally burst forth within a laboratory. I wonder where it is right now.

~ Hope Jahren, Lab Girl 


Notes:

  • Photograph:Katherine with Mmm.
  • Related Posts: Lab Girl
  • Inspired by: Albert Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Hear it as a low continuous rustle

Patty-maher-corn-photography

My strongest memory of our garden is not how it smelled, or even looked, but how it sounded. It might strike you as fantastic, but you really can hear plants growing in the Midwest. At its peak, sweet corn grows a whole inch every single day and as the layers of husk shift slightly to accommodate this expansion, you can hear it as a low continuous rustle if you stand inside the rows of a cornfield on a perfectly still August day. As we dug in our garden, I listened to the lazy buzzing of bees as they staggered drunkenly from flower to flower, the petty, sniping chirps of the cardinals remarking upon our bird feeder, the scraping of our trowels through the dirt, and the authoritative whistle of the factory, blown each day at noon.

~ Hope Jahren, Lab Girl 


Notes: Photo: Patty Maher “Still Life with Corn 2013) (via My Modern Met)

Silence of the morning rain

rain

After a long absence,
I put on a record of Bach,
inhale the fragrant earth in the garden,
I think again of poems and novels to be written
and I return to the silence of the morning rain.

— Pier Paolo Pasolini

 


Notes: Pier Paolo Pasolini Bio. Poem Source: YourEyesBlazeOut. Photograph: Jordi Gual via Yama-bato

Skip Spring Break? Far better to escape to spring.

flowers, spring,yellow

George Ball is the chairman of the Burpee Seed Company and a former president of the American Horticultural Society. Here’s the intro to his article titled: “Spring Is Here. Why Take a Break?”

As Thursday is the first day of spring, it seems timely to ask, why does anyone go on spring vacation? It seems odd to fly to a tropical destination at the very moment that one of the great astonishments of life on Earth is taking place right at home. When friends tell me their spring-vacation plans, they mention the word “escape.” Really? You want to escape from spring? That’s like fleeing paradise. Far better to escape to spring.

You cannot access the season’s magic on your laptop or smartphone; you can’t watch it on TV or catch it on your radio or simply read about it. If you wish to apprehend spring in its ineffable splendor, you have to show up in person, with every one of your senses engaged, and personally participate in this annual miracle.

The media world in which we dwell offers us a shared spectacle of limitless images, constant chatter, endless noise, infinite information and mountains of data—at once a stimulant and a narcotic. What’s lacking in this man-made media galaxy is everything that matters: beauty, love, magic, mystery, grandeur, rapture, the miraculous. Not to forget poetry, delicacy, refinement, purity, splendor, intimacy, innocence, fulfillment, inspiration. And then there’s nuance, drama, poignancy, integrity, harmony.

Where will you find these? On your smartphone? Non. On your tropical vacation? Unlikely. Discover the magnitude, mystery and wonder of life at home, working in your garden, in springtime….

It gets better. Read the rest here: Spring Is Here. Why Take a Break?


Image Source: My Favourite Web Photos

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