Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day dreaming and doing...

It's Earth Day tomorrow! Many, many thanks to The Sage Butterfly for inviting me to join this blog meme in honor of our beautiful planet. Sharing resources and inspiration with others who strive towards a creative, gentle and responsible relationship with Mama Earth is a great pleasure and a serious responsibility too. We need each other more than ever as we come to realize the full extent of humanity's devastating impact on our Earth... and through these communions it is my brightest dream that we help wake the shrouded consciousness of those who might still not be seeing as clearly as they might. It's time to dream our dream alive... walking in gratitude for the incredible gifts we are bestowed by this amazingly beautiful planet of ours.

As an empath and an Earth centered spiritual being, I've found this last year almost unbearable to witness and experience, and at times have found the despair seems almost like what drowning must feel like. What can we do in the face of all of this incredible struggle? Oil spills, mass animal die-offs, nuclear disaster, corrupt governments, toxic crops and the loss of alarming numbers of honeybees? Where to even begin, so many of us wonder? Well, we can come HOME, and make home one spot of light in a sea of darkness. Each of us who deeply care can create that, in our own ways, and soon, these spots of light will begin to overlap one another and light the way to our new way of being... one that is in communion and co-creation with Earth that brings abundance and deep nourishment to all of us, in the ways that matter most. It's my belief that we can get there consciously as we choose new ways to live more authentically... or, we can wait a little longer and be forced into them just to survive.

I'm sharing today three books that shaped my life in big ways towards living more sustainably, respectfully, and creatively in my relationship with Earth. I've followed an intense path of nature based spirituality for 30 years, so, when folks say "Every day should be Earth Day!", I like to remind them that for some of us, it is!

Inspirational Reading for Earth Day

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This is the book that cemented the ideas of sustainable living for me as something we could, should and WOULD do to the best of our ability. It truly brought it *home* for me. It made me think about things in ways I hadn't before, and made me more deliberate in all of my choices~ and helped me realize how much joy there could be in the process.

Sacred Land~ Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political and Environmental Change by Clea Danaan

If I were to write a book, it would a lot like this little gem. It delves deep into "Green Spirituality" without excluding anyone who just loves gardening and nature. I think this intuitive aspect of working the land is sorely missing from most in our modern, noisy lives. There is so much to be learned from actively listening to the Earth. One must stop talking so much to do so, though!

The Barefoot Beekeeper~ by P.J. Chandler

This is our family's second season as beekeepers, and this book is a must-read for those who want a way to keep bees in a healthy, humane and respectful way. Bees are in serious peril worldwide, no doubt from a myriad of reasons that humanity has created. This book is one of the only presently available that teaches natural, sustainable beekeeping practices, which just might be the saving grace of these precious little beings that give so much. Please support your local beekeepers, and be kind and gentle to bees when you see them... they're a blessing in every way.

Healing, love and deep peace to our beautiful Earth and all her children on this Earth Day. Walk gently and with deep gratitude, for this is all we have... and it's a good thing, since it's all we need.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Springtime 2011~ The Tree Year March Challenge

It's been the longest winter anyone around here can remember. It was truly epic, and has led to a longing for Springtime in all her lusciousness like we've never had before. And so, as it would be... Springtime is taking her sweet time in arriving as well. I planted snow peas today in the garden, in between the shiny earthworms and the icy crystals of rich earth. Deep in the dark cellar seedlings are starting under lights, and a new beehive is making it's way into being. We are preparing for a wonderful season ahead!

I'm excited to tell you about The Tree Year project. We'll be participating with our beautiful Grandmother white pine that stands center court at Hemlock Hollow. The Tree Year is a beautiful communal blog based on the simple joys of nature observation and the incredible richness that can be gleaned from this kind of appreciation. I participated in January, but missed out on February, and am happy to be back again for March and the rest of the year. Please check it out by clicking the button up top of our blog, and enjoy.

In the 11 (or 15) minutes I observed our tree, she was visited by several squirrels... as well as the crows who nest in her branches. One blue jay sat on a low branch for a few minutes, watching me. There are many, many fallen limbs under her boughs from winter's long and snowy days... I am hoping to build a trellis for my morning glories with them again this year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sweet, somber summertime....

It has been an unusual summer here in the wilds of suburban Connecticut. A very hot summer, it has an intensity that makes it seem as though it will burn itself out early. We at the Hollow are lying low this summer, staying close to home and enjoying lots of quiet days and early nights. The goal for me was to have some healing time, while still managing to make some progress on all that we want to do here on our little acre 'homestead'. Some of that has been accomplished, but some plans are still firmly standing their ground on the to-do list.

For nearly the entire time from my last blog post to this one, the incredible tragedy of the gulf~oil 'incident' has been unfolding. This event once again shook me to my core and leaves me reaching for hope that we are able, even with the most aggressive actions (that we never actually take) to change humanity's destiny. As an empath, it has been extremely difficult to feel the agony of the situation without it effecting every aspect of my life... and so, it has. What was to be a summer of healing and rejuvenation did not wind up as such. I feel blessed to be treading water, and though it feels sometimes like failure, I know it is not. Keep on keeping on! As I type this, the powers that be will have us believe that this nightmare is all but over, and I want to believe it. I have never prayed so much and so deeply as I have this summer. Blessings to Gaia, may she know more love every moment of every day...

I return often to this sentiment by the wonderous and sparkling Maya Angelou..."Surviving is important, thriving is elegant." I have it on a pretty card on my kitchen windowsill... where it reminds me daily of this most simple yet sacred shift, and again I renew my will to *thrive*. Struggling with severe adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia these last few years has been eye opening in lots of ways... and I am slowly, slowly healing. Hemlock Hollow is not exactly patient, however, and either is my own vision of what I want this place to be for us. I have plans!
The gardens this year were and continue to be a challenge, but we are happily drowning in tomatoes, which after last year's blight (total loss!) and the threat of the blight's return is a wonderful thing. We reaped lots of peas and beans, many cucumbers and squashes before the squash beetles took over. The summer greens were amazing, and the fresh broccoli! We are overflowing with peppers of all kinds and beautiful eggplants... we had probably 30 pounds of strawberries and 15 pounds of raspberries. The elderberries are ripening up now, and I am slowly drying them so I can make lots of elderberry elixir to keep us healthy over the winter.
The chickens are doing fabulously, our new ladies are due to start laying any time... and finally, the new coop is almost finished and ready for paint. Soon, we'll have upwards of 16 eggs a day and we'll be looking to sell a few dozen a week! If you want the most beautiful, fresh organic eggs around... you'll know where to find them!

The bees have grown their colony to mass proportions and have gotten away from me a bit... a fine lesson for this first year beekeeper. I was not nearly nosy enough and left them alone long enough for the hive to settle offcenter a bit, thereby encouraging the bees to build cross-comb, which they certainly did! So, I have what seems to be an extremely healthy, vibrant colony that I can't get into until spring! I am disappointed that I let this happen, but not terribly upset because they are doing beautifully and doing their own thing... which is why I wanted to do this in the first place, after all. So, come early spring I will attempt to ply my bee mentor with pizza and beer in hopes of opening up my hive and resetting it, a huge project no doubt, and hopefully one with some honey as a reward!
As summer wanes, we are looking forward. New projects, new ideas... Zach has formally begun training with the AODA (The Ancient Order of Druids in America) and is considering learning to play the Mountain Dulcimer! I am busily working with my amazing shamanism mentor and teacher... charting deep new territory after over 25 years of spiritual study and practice. I am preparing for her visit to Connecticut in September with much anticipation, nothing like a magical houseguest to kick one's tushie into high gear... ;-) Zoe is preparing to head back into the forest at Great Hollow Wilderness School as well as finally showing some real readiness to start reading, this is going to be an exciting time for all of us.

As the harvest season settles down around us, we are full of gratitude for the abundance around us, as well as the many lessons along the way. We continue to offer prayer and hope for the healing of the Earth and her waters, and for the healing of the human heart.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Moon, New Beginnings...

Spring is in full swing, swiftly filling the world with it's sweet green-ness... we are scrambling to keep up the pace with all that seems to need to be done ~ yesterday ~! It's times like these that we see how much more we have to learn, how to flow with the grace of Gaia herself during such times of outrageous transition as the swirl of the seasons! How is it that it all happens so effortlessly? If you figure it out, let us in on it?
We have our bees!! We spent a fantastic day building our very own top-bar hive and brought it home with the girls themselves. It has been exhilarating, joyous, and a little nerve wracking! We are delighted with the prospect of sheltering these beautiful, magical beings and look forward to many years of exploration and hopefully, in due time and not until, some of the sacred gifts of the bees' sweetness... the honey, propolis, and wax.

The process of installing the bees was not without it's minor snafus, in the attempt to be gentle, I didn't shake enough of the little ladies out into the hive the first time thinking they'd just fly in, but they weren't getting the idea and finally needed to be moved in by hand from the cluster they'd formed on the leg of the hive. A good misting of sugar/water (which makes them too heavy to fly and too busy eating sugar to care) and I was able to gently brush them into a bowl and right into the hive. I am looking forward to feeling more at ease as I get to know them, and they me. I kept thinking of a recent article which reported that scientists have been able to prove that bees 'recognize' faces... I wonder when I will become recognized! I am very much in love already, and looking forward to building more hives in years to come.

Zoe turns six years old today! She is such an amazing kid, who now wants a bee suit of her own so she can help me with the girls. She continues to be our resident 'Chicken Whisperer', and if we can find some time in the next week or two to build another coop will be caring for another eight chicks... which will finally give us enough eggs to sell some!

Lastly, some beautiful shots of the Bloodroot and Trillium I planted last year and was so sure would never come up this spring. Sometimes, it's SO good to be wrong! We wish you a blissful spring, may the seeds you plant both in the Earth and in your heart bloom brightly!

Monday, March 8, 2010

....we join our story, already in progress...

Happy springtime, friends! This blog is a long time in coming... it's stood ready and waiting for the last few years, we've just been too busy to pick it up and make something of it. We came to Hemlock Hollow in late 2007 with our sweet little dream of creating an oasis of green bliss just outside of the heart of the mid-sized city of Bristol, Connecticut... the town from which three generations of my family hail.

This blog is first for Zoe, so she will have this record of her history to remember these sparkling days of her childhood. It's also for us as a family, to share and expand our many interests and ideas with friends and family. We're so inspired by the evolving and rapidly changing world around us, and are passionate about exploring and learning at every opportunity we're offered. We hope to use this venue as incentive to keep our focus and maintain our vision, something that can slip when times are busy and life is full to overflowing.

This first post comes as spring is stretching it's tendrils towards us, as dawn breaks on an exciting new season for us all. The last year brought us much change and new growth, sometimes painful, sometimes joyous, always necessary. We are recharged after a long, slow and comfortable winter... and are integrating the infusion of new energy that comes with the rebirth of the Earth herself at this special time of year.

Within the next few months, we will have built a new coop for our expanding flock of chickens and introduced honeybees into a top bar hive we will have built ourselves (fulfilling a long time dream for Mama)! We will be busy with planting our big, beautiful organic gardens with the help of the moon and the Old Farmer's Almanac, dreaming of sugar snap peas (with their magnificent fairy flowers) and fresh spinach already!! This spring will have us busy planting more flower and herb gardens, and at least a million other chores and projects that this old cranky house is asking for. We're striving with intention to make time for our other interests, in some cases long ignored and just being rediscovered, in other cases brand new. We could not be more excited by the future! In gratitude to all, for all. Blessings!