Green Fire: the force that through the green fuse* feeds the world

In the buzzing radiance of the  garden, everything I see is alive. My neighbors looked up from tending their plants as my dog runs a woodchuck into the woods. “Good dog! Protecting the garden!” they cheered. (NB: no groundhogs were harmed making this blog.)

Every plot in this community garden is different: Here edges made with locust logs, for their rot resistance. There, someone has used tree branches for trellising. Another has tomatoes suspended by adjustible twine to lend support as they grow. Some still rich bare earth, others bushy with green. Some weedy, with bolting kale waving yellow blossoms. A hill of strawberries, crinkled leaves all jaunty, and such treasure beneath the green!

My half-plot is all the way down the end, so I admire the changes as I arrive, tools in hand. It’s the first vegetable garden I’ve grown in 10 years, and my first experience with a community garden. I took on a half, since at 12 x 15′ it’s already bigger than my last successful city garden. I learned long ago that bigger can be too much, and I really want this to succeed.

My nearest garden neighbors are in Afghanistan, and their strawberries are burgeoning with fruit, even though many of us gardeners have been harvesting by pints and quarts. I taste a few, crushing the warm sweet berry on my tongue as I survey the changes from two days ago.  I see that since spreading home compost I have hundreds of tiny tomato plants coming up, and two fast growing squash-pumpkin-gourd-melon things. Plus, peach pits!  My french breakfast radishes are popping out of the soil, asking to be plucked. The little beets are crowding more, and I thin and thin until I have a nice pile of beet greens for supper. More potato plants are crowning through the soil  and my own tiny strawberry patch has 2 ready to eat gems. Next year, sweet abundance!

garden harvest for May 15, 2010
mmm, organic goodies

While I am admiring the potatoes, my neighbor K warns me about potato bugs. She takes me to another plot to see them. At first glance, they are roundish and orange with spots and might remind one of the beneficial ladybug. But no, I look closer: these fiendish beasties are actively chomping the leaves in a voracious manner! She shows me how to pluck them (less pleasant that picking berries, alas) and I squash them with a plank. MY potatoes.

I spend an hour or so puttering: pulling weeds, harvesting , setting up a field washing system so less grit goes through my drains at home. I transplant one mystery gourd to a nearby untended plot — if it’s pumpkin, gourd or melon, I don’t have the space — and feed some of the feeble looking plants more top dressing  of composted manure. My dogs have come to rest in the shade outside the gate, and the birds swoop overhead and chatter on the fence. I sow some new seeds: Russian Kale and climbing beans. I stow my tools and admire the box of greens and reds I take home.

*Link to Dylan Thomas poem The Force that through the Green Fuse drives the Flower

Deep water flows within

This week the Potomac River is over her banks in the rite of spring, flooding streets, sending whole trees whirling through churning cafe au lait water as all the rain and snow come surging seaward.

from lreed7649's Flickr

Floodplain from lreed7649’s Flickr

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Last night  a friend and I went to a meditation group that we once attended regularly. We had heard it was going to be the last meeting, and even though we hadn’t been for some years, we felt a need to be there.

Continue reading Deep water flows within

All creative work builds on what came before

Here is an amazing video by Nina Paley made from photographs of sculpture taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Nina is a big supporter of the Organization of Transformative Works, a nonprofit organization run by and for fans to provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan cultures.  With the rapid evolution of media culture, the spectrum from plagarism to derivitive to inspired is blurry, evolving as well.

“Snowpocalypse!” or, a cold storm and a warm hearth

So named by the ever-subtle Washington Post, :Snowpocalypse was slow to begin. Warm wet snow fell lackadaisically all afternoon, not bothering to stick until after dark.

On Thursday night I paid a visit to the grocery store, a ritual performed by every adult in the metro area, and found our local store devoid of milk, bread, eggs and any fresh poultry, so I bagged a small frozen turkey. Turkey and fixings leftover would make good food to have in a power outage.  This proved to be a good assumption.

My intrepid friends came to help us eat the turkey, but by mid evening the snow was getting thick and we sent them off in their 4wd in 8″ of silvery snow. L and I finished the dishes and watched a bit of news, non-stop coverage of the storm by breathless reporters who apparently had rarely seen the stuff. We congratulated ourselves on being cozy and well prepared. Then the lights went out.

Now I was raised half-suburban, half country and I’m no stranger to bucket flushing and card playing by lamplight. But it seems mellow mid-Atlantic weather and urban life has made me soft. True, we supplement our heat with wood, burning a true cord each  year in our fireplace insert. It’s not one I’d choose, but it does have a blower that circulates hot air around the firebox. When there is power, of course.

It gets so quiet when all the machinery of a house wheezes to a halt. No fridge, no furnace, no fans, no pump. And the snow stops the outside world as well: no airplanes, helicopters, no local traffic and no highway whine. Despite living in the woods, the traffic noise is notable when absent.

It was dark as tar and quiet in the house. The world of snow outside was glowing, although from no moon nor electric light. The night air seemed luminous, filled with snow crystals, and all the limbs and leaves are coated in white, the ground a reflective blanket.

Well, at nine-thirty on a Friday night  there was no better thing to do than to go to bed. With two large dogs and two quilts, one down-filled,  I  was completely warm and snug.

In this house, no power means no stove for cooking. But we are on the ‘city water’ so we can flush and wash up. Neighbors with wells are not so lucky. When the lights go out, so does the water. But some of them have gas cook stoves, so we each have our advantages.

We kept the fire burning and by morning had good coals for cooking. But one important thing I overlooked: ground coffee! But soon there was hot water, and a strong cup of tea. Later my aunt told me a mortar and pestle would serve to grind beans, and voila! my survival was now assured.

All day long it snowed. Every few hours I’d re-dig my path out to the cars parked at the edge of the drive. The cell battery died, so I shoveled out to the car to plug it in. After a nap, there were over 4 more inches to clear in order to fetch the thing back to the house.

I had pretty severe internet withdrawl, but it was lovely to sink into uninterrupted reading. The quiet is so deep and soothing. I  picked up The Grey King by Susan Cooper. I did the Sunday crossword in the Post, since the Sunday sections were delivered Friday. I wish I had the Sunday paper, but I give our fearless R. a pass for this one! Sometime early Saturday they gave up trying to plough our road.

Today the sun came out. It was DAZZLING. I shoveled us out to the rutted road, not ploughed but less than the 32″ that lay on everything else, and the dogs were ecstatic. They hadn’t been able to run since Friday, and one took off in each direction, galloping down the road.

As I hiked out toward the county road I could see numerous loblolly pines bending low. Near the corner several were half-fallen across the road, explaining why no plough had been through. Even the county road was snow-covered. I could see the trees leaning on the electric lines, but they weren’t broken.

The latest weather forecast called for lows near zero Farenheit. This house has been cold at the extremities for two days, and we were more and more huddled by the fire. I’ve been leaving faucets dripping to keep the pipes from freezing. Another day or two of this and we’d be in danger of that.

So I called the automated system at our electric coop, again. This time I pushed a few extra buttons, and left a message about the trees leaning on the wires. Not long after this I was out shoveling and lo! one of their trucks! Two guys with chain saws were making their way down my road. I waved madly at them. My saviors!

So now, all these noises! There goes the microwave: whirrrrrrrrr. The furnace is rumbling and I hear the water moving through the radiators. I’ve thrown on a load of wash. The blower on the fireplace is helping warm the main room.

And hah! Friends just stopped by with their cooler full of food. They have no power yet and were asking for fridge space.  I’ll go one better: roast their pork loin and help them eat it, and let them take warm showers.

It’s getting cold outside. The snow makes otherworldly sculptures out of a flower pot, a deck chair, a chimenia, and they are turning that dusk blue colour. The sky is a vague peach glow with icey aqua blue above.  And it’s warm around my hearth.

Welcome to Art*Spirit*Nature

The wheel of the year has brought us Northern Hemisphere dwellers to Candlemas, aka Imbolc, Groundhog Day and often Chinese New Year, give or take a week or so.  Though snow may lie on the ground, below the earth the seeds are beginning to stir, and the days have grown noticeably longer since the bottom of the year.

This morning I rose as the nearly-full moon was setting, framed by holly trees lined with snow. It made a delicate image, like and engraving, but it was a living scene, and it passed in a few moments as Luna sank into the horizon. The dog and I were exhaling steam, and the sky grew paler rose-grey with each breath.

It’s time to become aware of that quickening within: when you step out your door in the morning stay open to the small miracles all around you, and feel how they connect inside.

there is a web that connects all things