Body, Soul, and Bees

Facing this blank page, I’m a bit cowed. It’s been months since I wrote anything but a FaceBook post, and with the calamities colliding in my life, I’m not certain my ability to write has survived. Let’s see: Continue reading

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Letting Nature Have Her Way

I have been trying to get the gumption to let my yard “go.” Many of my friends would say that I’ve already done that, as MillHaven’s gardens are pretty wild as is. I leave all the weeds, and little here could be misconstrued as “managed.” The borders are amorphous at best, and birds are always planting new seeds each year, so we never know what will show up.

Yet for all this messy joy, I’ve had a pretty heavy hand in the yard for years, pulling grasses, moving plants from here to there, and trimming back all the tall things so they won’t flop over in midsummer. I mow and weed-wack as needed, and try to maintain some semblance of order.

This was our hillside when we’d been here a year or two….

Still, a small voice inside has been whispering, “Just let it rewild itself. Get out of the way.” 

Last year was a rough year health-wise for me and my husband. There were many days we worked hard simply to prop each other up through the days, and everything from housekeeping to cooking to yard work all pretty much stopped. We lived on TV dinners and canned soup. Carter’s fur-blobs rolled through the house like tumbleweeds. The yard exploded with tall grasses and entire tribes of lemon balm that snuffed out many established perennials. 

Last summer we saw a heat dome that took our temperatures up to 117—unheard of in the Northwest. Then came a winter with several hard freezes. Through it all, I could only look outside and fret over my inability to be on my feet in the yard. I pondered whether we would have to move to a smaller place as I was clearly unable to keep up with MillHaven. And I had no idea—still don’t—if I will ever be able to manage this small house and city yard. 

Having had cancer, I know painfully well that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much. And health has been eluding me for the past three years especially. Doctors still have no idea why my lethargy is so all-consuming, leaving me with only a very few hours—on good days—where I can be active and moving.

Some on my medical team encourage John and me to move into senior housing, or assisted living. This is something neither of us can bear, so I’ve been working hard to find help to keep me and MillHaven functioning.

 Then, seemingly out of the blue, a wonderful young couple have pretty much taken us on as extended family. They come and work with and for us at least weekly and there is simply nothing they can’t do: construction, house maintenance, yard work and tree trimming, pet care, and the list just keeps on going. Creative beyond measure, and funny as heck, Sean and Chandra have been angels sent by a kind universe, and we are in awe that they have decided to “keep and eye” on us.

With our own heath in such disarray, I decided that this would be the year I needed to get bolder with letting the yard go wild. At first, Chandra and I decided to do pretty much nothing with all the green beings, and see what happened. But as we head into June, I’ve realized that there are still things we need to do so that we can continue to walk across the hillside. 

Late and continuing rains have made MillHaven grow like crazy. While the flowers are slow in coming, all the greenery has been simply rampant. Plants that normally reach to my calves are up over my knees now. Many others will be over my head by the end of June. It really is a jungle out there!

New path through the hillside. Foxgloves, sedum, grass, Herb Robert, hemp agrimony, and an iris or two…

Our small concession to actual gardening has been to pull really tall grass, and to yank out the lemon balm plants before Millhaven becomes a dense forest of this lovely mint who simply can’t contain herself. But by leaving all the rest, we’ve discovered so much more life in the yard: This spring, I found a nest of baby garter snakes on the hill, and we have so many, many more songbirds! Insects are everywhere, inviting even more birds. Bumble bees and mason bees abound, along with some new bees I’ve never seen before.

sidewalk strip with milkweeds, columbine, sedums, plantain, and too many weeds to count.

I posted a small bulletin board in the front yard, explaining that my yard is not for pretty, but for life. Rather than make a lovely garden, I am making lovely habitat that encourages nesting sites for birds and bugs, and low ground cover that allows critters to slip safely and unnoticed through the plantings.

Front yard–the wildest place of all with no paths, and no plan save welcoming everything.

And…it all makes me just a bit nervous. A lifetime of conventional gardening makes for a bad habit of wanting to intrude too much into the workings of Nature. And I can see with my own eyes this spring that Nature always does a better job than I can ever aspire to.

So, I’m doing my best to keep my gardening tools in the drawer for the most part. I celebrate each spider, snake, and buzzing thing in the yard. I cherish new bird songs morning and eve, and delight in whatever plant makes a new arrival here. This year, we’ll be having a small field of evening primrose who planted herself all over last autumn. And the frogs have had many nights of singing passion in the bathtub pond, resulting in dozens and dozens of pollywogs.

A neighbor walked by the other day and said, “Wow, I love what you’ve got going on here! It’s insane—but in the best way!” Perhaps this all might encourage you to set aside a part of your own garden and let her rewild herself. You may be surprised at what she has to show you!

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Kissing the Sea

I awoke this morning to the sounds of seagulls outside. It took me a minute to remember I was not in my own bed, but snuggled into a warm bed in a seaside Air B&B. The day before, hubby John blessedly was able to “capture” a Covid vaccine. I could not, but managed to find an appointment for Saturday.

After John got his shot, and Krystal (the friend and angel who agreed to house sit for us) swept in and grabbed up Carter for a morning run with her pup, we headed for Seaside on the coast. It was a long drive through alternating rain, hail, and snow.

8am in downtown Seaside. I have no idea how these downs survive the lockdowns…

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Coincidence or Providence

NOTE: For some reason, FB will not allow me onto its site anymore. This may be a glitch of some kind or it might be a message from the Universe, but I’ve decided this: I’ll do my best to get back onto FB, mostly so I can tell everyone I’ll be leaving. I’m setting up a MeWe page for myself and wen it is ready, I can aim you there if you would like to follow me and keep up our conversations. Meanwhile, I’ll be communicating more with my blog, so be sure to sign up here for new posts.

Today, I’d like to share some surprises and little miracles with my healing journey, in the hopes that there is something in here that may help you in your own healing. Because we are either in the process of healing, or in the process of decay. It is that simple. You either lift yourself into healing, or you abandon yourself to the pit where you sit and suffer and wonder why. But the motion forward never stops, so it will carry you either up, or down. Your choice. Ouch, yes, but your choice.

Perhaps many of you saw this on my FB page. I purchased the print from marissaquinn-art.com. I felt that the print was a part of me. The old crone with the long braid, graced by bees. After the print arrived, I noticed the paw of the wolf wrapped gently about the woman’s kidneys, and how a bee floats inside the woman’s kidney area, bringing healing.It is a powerful piece of art I will be reflecting with for a long time.

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Come Walk With Me

On a cold morning when hubby John was off on his own adventures, I was overcome with an urge to take Carter to the forest, and to walk as slowly and exploratively as I wanted. I did not expect nor desire to go far. I simply don’t have the strength yet. So, I grabbed my phone, my walking stick, and my dear walking companion and headed off. Often, I post the photos with brief descriptions on my FB page, but this time, I wanted to go deeper into how I “see” and experience the forest when I am alone.

Here, we head into the woods.

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Routine and Ritual

My mother always told me that it was good to have a life bordered by regular daily routines. She learned will power and firm resolve when she was in the Hitler Youth in Germany. The Youth program was all about self discipline and strong bodies. Hitler was growing a powerful army out of those school children.

My mother’s grammar school teachers taught her the importance of daily calisthenics, and of handwork and needlework. Far into her 50s, she would do pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks at her bedside each morning. And her entire Wall Street wardrobe from back in her early years was all knitted by hand, seemingly spilling out of the large basket of yarn she kept by her living room chair. She made coats, two-piece suits, blankets, dresses, and all my baby clothes… Continue reading

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Starvation

Nourishment
Comfort
Warmth
Strength
Mental clarity
Hope
Sustenance
Vitality
Refreshment
Life

All these tender-filled words can be associated with Food. Food: that which sustains and nurtures and brings comfort, warmth, and hope. When I worked for humane societies and wildlife rehab centers, I had plenty of opportunity to bear witness for creatures on the edge of starvation, who were do depleted, they had lost all interest in food, in life.

Back then, I had no idea how it would feel to be so very wasted in body and spirit. Now I know, and I will never forget.

Little girl with ducks reminds me of the joy of sharing

Two years ago, I went through six weeks of a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, for severe depression. According to everything I read about the process, including all the information on the Mayo, Cleveland, and John’s Hopkins clinics, It was “safe, with very few minor side effects.” Continue reading

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Tree Medicine for Christmas

Just a few days ago, John and I took a forest walk and stopped to appreciate my favorite tree. Here she is in all her magnificence, with her thick, fern and moss dress, and her leaves bare. She is old and dying, but here’s the thing…

Grand old Dame of the Forest.

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Let’s Root for Roots!

Grab your trowel, and your dog. Digging is always more fun with company!

Autumn time is root time. At this time of year, all the “growing” energy of plants dips down deep into the roots, where the glowing energy of the core of the Earth is known and cherished by the soil and the roots she enfolds.

After the first frosts, root vegetables become sweeter. So, this is the time of year when I go digging for dandelion roots and dock. On a fine sunny day, there is such joy in plowing your hands deep into the dirt to loosen these nutritious, looooooong roots that are so deeply nourishing to our systems.

Dandelions and dock roots are cleansers and tonics of the liver, spleen, and kidneys. They are nature’s gift to us at the closing of the year—medicine for us to drink all winter, toning and healing our innards.

Here is a link to the many wonders of dandelion roots: … Continue reading

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SITTING WITH THE ENEMY

Someone in this photo is not like the others. Yes, this is a yellow jacket, head down in a honeycomb, side-by-side with hundreds of bees. I watched this scenario for a long time yesterday, with my butt planted on the patio dresser that is right in front of Valentine’s colony that lives in my room.

This bee hive is constructed between two studs in my room, and fitted with a double glass panel, so I am able to observe these bees without bothering them all year long. Right now, with all the smoke we’ve had, and the terrible winds before them that destroyed a lot of the flowers and plants in our yard, I am assisting my bees with food—combs of honey I’ve saved from hives that have perished. In this way, the bees who came and went are helping their sisters in this time of havoc… Continue reading

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