Thursday, December 31, 2009

Full Blue Lunar Eclipse Moon

The full moon gets me every time.  I have been up all night; didn't sleep a wink and this has happened for the last four full moons.  This one is a blue moon and a lunar eclipse so there must be some pretty potent ju-ju happening up there in the heavens. 

Yesterday was a jam packed day and I ran out of time to post, but since the day never really ended for me anyway,  here I go. 

I had a ton of errands to do and at 4:30 I realized that I was going to be losing my light in a little over an hour.  It felt great to say to myself  "this can all wait" and steer my car back to the homefront.  I grabbed my clippers and started chopping away at the lantana that had turned to a mass of brown vines on the slope down to the street.  Last year I never got around to cutting back the freeze damage and the new growth had to contend with the old and probably fight for nutrients.  It felt good to clear the way for whatever wants to emerge in the spring.  I'm trying to do that in my life right now - cut back some self destructive patterns and make room for the new growth that I can't quite see yet.   

I also did some trimming on a stray ligustrum that sits next to the lantana.  Twice I have hacked that down, carved it up with a chain saw and dosed it with stump killer.  It comes back stronger and more vibrant than ever.  I have surrendered. Who do I think I am anyway?  It's lived here longer than I have and is apparently very happy with its home.  So I'll just give it regular haircuts and we'll live in peace like a parent and an unruly, stubborn teenager.

I was invigorated by the work in the middle of a busy day and before I knew it the moon was rising and I was once again pushing my wheelbarrow around in the dark.  As the days get longer I'll have a larger window to work with, but knowing me I'll still end up out there as the sun is setting and the moon is rising.  Maybe I got too intense a lunar dose, thus the blogging at 8 AM.  Good night and Happy New Year.  I better get some shut eye so I can sing in 2010 tonight. 

(Angel full moon photo by Lindy Hearne)


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Rainy Night in Texas

40 degrees and constant rain made the prospect of time in the garden not too appealing today.  So the office won my attention and it was quite comforting actually.  The phone didn't ring and I chipped away at long overdue tasks - getting ready for the new year and a trip to Belize next week.  I'm about to get into bed and read a Texas gardening book.  That's about all I can muster today but the wisdom I glean from it will be transplanted from my brain to the ground soon enough. 

I just looked up "glean" to make sure I was using it right.
One of the definitions is: "to go over a field or area that has just been harvested and gather by hand any usable parts of the crop that remain."   My vocabulary intuition is right on target tonight. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Waning of the Day

This is the first day since I began this blog that was a "normal" work day for me.  The holidays allow us to suspend our regular routines for a bit.  Although the dollars I earn come in at night from standing on a stage, the business that allows that to happen occurs in my home office during the day.  Today I was back at it, sitting at the computer all day and working with my pal/assistant Leslie across the room at her computer.  Now the real challenge begins.  How do I allow the time and space for this even when people are back in the office and waiting to hear from me?  I kept looking up at the clock and out the window at the dimming light, taking care of one more thing before getting out to the garden.  Finally at 5:30 I let the emails remain unanswered, closed up the accounting program, turned the press release over to Leslie (who is ten times better at this stuff than I am anyway), bundled up and went out into the chilly waning of the day.

Once again 1/2 hour proved to be more than enough time.  I had developed quite a headache throughout the afternoon and by 6:00 it was gone, vanished with the movement of my body, the change of my focus and the company of my kitty, Chippy, who loves to scamper around me while I work.  As I toiled with my nose to the ground, I became aware of a new light illuminating the dusk.  The moon was rising above me and calling me to look up, celebrate her beauty, enjoy the show.  You can bet I would have totally missed that at my computer. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Painting the Golden Gate Bridge

What took me so long to start this little gardening journey?  My body and my psyche are already calling out to me with a chorus of "thank you, it's about time!".  I found a folder of garden photos from January 2005, because I toyed with this idea back then.  But I also created a non-profit that year, my husband Chris had back surgery, we toured Europe and next thing I knew five years had passed. That's the thing with time.  It's going to keep marching on so we have to choose carefully how we're going to fill it.  

After just a few days of regularly getting outside, drinking in the elements and dosing myself with free vitamin D from the sun, my spirits are up, the anger and resentment I've been hauling around lately are dissipating, my Virgo body feels good and grounded and my creative itch is being scratched by writing everyday.  All in all, a pretty inexpensive alternative to therapy and supplements.  

I noticed another pattern today.  I have a tendency to avoid something if I don't think I have time to complete it then and there; why start if I can't finish it pronto and tie it up with a neat little bow?  I rarely have chunks of time that allow me to completely organize my office, clean out my closets, write a whole song, learn a new guitar part, landscape the entire front yard.  So, I'll avoid it all together. 

By saying yes to gardening and writing every day, I am finding that even ten minutes of effort can be gratifying and productive.  Today I continued my work on the beds I've been cleaning out.  I had left some piles of debris yesterday, knowing that I would be back to it today and could clean it up then.  Actually, a whole hour flew by and I was happy as the clams that were sacrificed for the chowder I had for lunch when my work was done.  (Thanks guys) 

I've heard that the city of San Francisco has people on salary whose full time, year round job is to paint the Golden Gate Bridge.  As soon as they get to the end they start over, because it needs it again.  Gardening is like that.  The garden is a living, breathing, growing entity - a work in progress that will never be complete.  Come to think of it, so is everything.     

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reclaiming the Day Lilies

The day after Christmas is always quiet and slow. I finally made it out to the garden for the last hour or so of sunlight. The esperanza and plumbago were in dire need of a haircut. The early freeze had left a huge tangled mass of brown vines and stalks so I cut it all back to the foundation - leaving just the plants themselves to settle in and wait for new spring growth.

It's hard to find the roots sometimes amid the twisted brambles. I've never been great at curbing growth or pruning at the right time, so I tend to let things go and spread and grow until suddenly some of the sweetest flowers have been overrun. In this particular bed my day lilies had been smothered by the esperanza. I uncovered them today and will move them to a spot of their own before spring.

I too spread and grow in many directions - I serve on three boards, eight committees, manage a recording studio, a performance career, a record company, have a home, a husband, a son, two stepsons...Once in awhile it gets so tangled and overgrown that I don't notice that I have buried something that used to bring me great joy. I have to stop and cut back some stuff to see what's underneath. Working outside in the silence slows me down and allows the little sage inside to speak to me - to give me some clues about where to prune and trim in my own life to get back to the roots and find the hidden flowers.

Now to take the clippers and do it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Peanuts Christmas

The nog is gone, the cookies are crumbles, the recycling is overflowing and I am in my new flannel pjs. Christmas night and again there was nary a moment to spend in the garden today. But intention is a powerful thing. At a family gathering this evening we exchanged $5 white elephant gifts. All seven of us ended up with the most appropriate gift, intuiting through the wrapping paper which one to choose.

Mine is a "Grow Your Own Peanuts" Windowsill Greenhouse starter kit. It's "Ready to Harvest in Just a Few Months"; I'll start the seeds inside and move them outside when my incredible green thumb tells me it's time. I never fancied myself a peanut farmer, but I knew that the "As Grows the Garden" blog was probably going to open unexpected doors for my future. Here we go.

More to come later. I've got to go call Jimmy Carter and get a little advice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Blustery Eve

Christmas Eve. A front came in last night and brought with it cold temperatures and high winds. It sounds like the blizzards I grew up with in upstate New York out there, but there's no snow to go with the howling wind. With a family gathering tonight, singing at a Christmas Eve service, cooking, last minute errands and wrapping, the garden went untended today. The wind is blowing the last of the leaves off of the pear tree and has cleaned off the driveway for me. Thanks for the help Mother Nature. I'll cross that off my list today. Our huge and gorgeous Live Oak trees are badly in need of a trimming. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this wind doesn't bring down the limbs that are weaving and waving right over our roof.

I am so grateful for the home, hearth, health, family and friends I am blessed with. Those are all the gifts I need.

Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet - And I Don't Mean Twitter

At 4:30 today I was lying on the couch trying to head a migraine off at the pass. I've felt it coming on for a few days now. I don't get them often, but they are a new pal that started hanging around when I went careening into menopause. Another "slow down" mechanism that my body has adopted in its fifties.

The sun, air and this blog were calling me so I went outside to pick up sticks. I know it doesn't sound like much, but there has been a big mound of those guys all tangled up in front of the house for forever. I add to it before I mow and it had gotten pretty tall and intimidating. It took all of 25 minutes to snap them in half, load them into a brown recycling bag and put it out on the curb. I have way too many in the compost pile already, so I'll donate these to the city and probably buy them back as
Dillo Dirt later on.

My new iPhone has been sucking me in to relentless connection - gotta check that email or look at Facebook sixty times a day - even though I swore I wouldn't do that. I'm working on it. I took it out there with me for my stick excursion (so I wouldn't miss any earth shattering comments on my postings) and set it on the railing of the deck. The sun, air and song of the birds were so sweet that I immediately relaxed and decided to give myself a soundtrack for my project. So I put the iPhone to work and chose some
Eliza Gilkyson to listen to. She is an old friend and her voice comforts me. In person she always knows what to say and her wisdom hits the nail on my hard head every time. The first lines she sang to me were "sunshine and the air smells sweet, little birdies go tweet, tweet, tweet".

Okay then. I'm on the right path. Sometimes the most profound wisdom is as simple as tweet, tweet, tweet.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"had just settled down for a long winter's nap"

As soon as I got out of bed this morning I gathered a pile of gardening clothes - the beat up old pants and tshirt, permanently stained socks and baseball cap that I always wear for yard work - and carried them downstairs with me. Already my commitment to this blog is changing my behavior and patterns. Quite often I stay in my robe and start doing business before the tea water has even boiled, with every intention of going to the gym after I "get a few things done", only to end up five hours later with no exercise, never made the bed, still in my sweat pants and sleep shirt and frustrated even though I took care of 1001 things. But I didn't take care of myself.

Today I did attend to some urgent business matters, but my eye was on the window looking out on the "farm". We live in south Austin and have a plot of land 60'x130' that slopes down to the street. Our house sits in the middle of it - I hear that's great feng shui . Our place is far from manicured, has a vegetable garden of raised beds with lots of wayward plants growing among them, a windmill, a three bin compost pile, uber bamboo that is constantly marching towards the center of our universe from the perimeter of our property, a gnarly, beautiful old cedar tree that has fallen to its side and is being propped up by a "y" shaped branch wedged into it, a storage building that we call the outhouse, various fire pits and chimineas, mismatched lawn furniture, the wrought iron arch that we were married get the picture.

So I kept my eye on the prize and my pile of gardening clothes, keeping in mind the six followers I already have for my blog! By 11AM I was out there with my hands in the soil. A breakthrough change in priorities for me.

I spent my hour cutting back the freeze damage in one bed - the Hibiscus, Mexican Heather, a flowering vine that was now a dried, brown stalk winding its way around the iron shelves where I keep my extra pots. I noticed that when I first began the work, my mind was flitting from one potential project to another. "Maybe I should go work in the shade garden"; "I need to pick up those sticks in the front yard"; "I ought to go to Home Depot and get some mulch". I recognize the pattern - the restless mind that I struggle with when I sit down to meditate, when I work in my office and keep hopping from one project to another, when I start to work on a song and have a hard time staying with it long enough to let it evolve. But in the garden the smell of the earth, the breeze on my face, the obvious needs of the plant in my hands keeps me there, grounds me long enough to slow down into that moment and before I know it I have tended to an entire bed and I can step back and see tangible progress.

When we first moved in here, 10 years ago now, I planted a Euryops in our backyard. I didn't grok the whole perennial thing yet, and when it died back in December and turned brown, I yanked it out and felt like a failure. I've never been very patient - I want to see results or move on. I know better now and when my perennials need to hibernate for the winter and take a break from all that showy flowery stuff, I let them and support them by getting rid of their excess baggage and surrounding them with an extra layer of mulch for warmth during their little winter nap.

Hmmmm...sounds like exactly what I need.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

As grows the garden, so goes my life. That has always been the case. If I am too busy to be tending the natural world around me, then chances are my personal world is way out of balance. For several years I have had a deep yearning to spend one entire spin around the sun taking at least a few minutes everyday to dig my hands in some earth and chronicle the growth that takes place on the vine and in my heart. Today - Winter Solstice 2009 - seems like the perfect time to begin this journey. Last night I gathered with some friends to celebrate the solstice and we wrote our wishes on a yule log. My wish was a simple drawing of a tree. To me, in that moment, it represented earth, nature, creativity, writing, health, simplicity - all the things that my busy, over active life has been pulling me away from. I know that I can move closer to all of it with one commitment - my daily garden blog.

I live in south Austin, Texas. We're in our "cold" season - an occasional 30 degrees at night, lots of 40's-60's. A couple of freezes have turned my Esperanza and Hibiscus into brown stalks but the lettuce in the vegetable garden is thriving and blessing us with a perpetual salad bar in our own backyard.

But this blog is more about my interior world and the transformation that arises when I dig in the earth. I am relatively new to gardening and not much of an expert. But I love how I feel when I am out there following my intuition about what needs my attention the most and especially how I feel after moving, breathing, digging, trimming, singing, reaching, pulling, planting, raking, hauling...Creative insights always come to me; I am a songwriter and lyrics and melodies start to flow. My worries and anxiety melt into the water that pours from my hose, or I can throw stuff around and vent some rage without anyone noticing.

I have wondered - if I gave myself permission to do at least one little garden task everyday for a year, how would my garden change and blossom and how would I? It's time to find out.

Today my time in the garden consisted of walking past it on my way to do Christmas errands and looking at the weeds in the front bed while making business calls from the deck. I did water the house plants and I felt a rush of pride just getting that done.

I make no promises as I begin this. It's as much an exercise/experiment in commitment as it is a chronicle of the seasons in my garden. It's one woman saying "yes" to something that doesn't pay the bills, knock much off the to-do list or further the career. But those garden fairies are calling me out to play and the muse is calling me to write about it. And anyway, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature, so I think I'll surrender to what she's asking.