Everything Belongs

       About two or three weeks ago Justin and I paid a visit to his parents house out in the country of Carencro, off of a properly titled road named Wilderness Trail.  His mom, Peggy, is a big inspiration to me for my gardening and natural endeavors.  She has a large vegetable garden, an herb garden, about 3-4 other grouped gardens, around 10-15 bird houses, a rabbit named Petey Pie (my 4 year old niece may have played a hand in naming her), a bird named Polly, several fish, and probably close to 100 potted plants.  While we were there, Mrs. Peggy showed me a mockingbird nest under the patio on her shelving unit of plants (pictured to the right) just a few feet away from where we, adults and children, were hanging out and relaxing.  Within the nest lay four eggs colored teal with brown spots.  My initial response was excitement, but then waned into concern.  I don't know a lot about birds but I've always heard mockingbirds were pretty aggressive and here we all were standing around the nest just asking for the mom to show us who's boss!  I voiced my concern to Mrs. Peggy and she simply said, "Oh no girl, that bird knows me.  She's always coming around and she lets me get close to the nest even when she is around."
    This past weekend Justin and I visited again and I was wondering how the little eggs were fairing.  To my excitement (I don't use that term lightly here- I was REALLY excited), the babies had hatched!  I wanted to see the birds, but again a little fear crept up inside of me.  I had seen the momma mockingbird bringing nesting material and food back to the nest several times while we sat outside so I knew she was around and watching.  Again, Mrs. Peggy laughed my anxiety away and we checked out the hungry birds.  They were really living the luxurious life if you ask me.  These birds are nestled between tons of potted plants in the shade where most predators wouldn't be brave enough to venture to with the amount of human activity occurring.

     I was really surprised by my reaction to the birds nest being so close.  Growing up we are taught this idea of taming nature.  Nature belongs in the city park or on a camping trip but not under the covered patio two feet away from the playing children and toddlers, right?  With my undoubted love for nature- which I've always fostered to varying degrees growing up- I was even ready to tame the processes of Mother Nature to where I saw fit.  I hope that with time I can foster the integration of my cultural and daily life with the natural world around me.  Maybe one day I'll see a bird and be able to tell Mrs. Peggy, "Don't worry, she knows me!"


Rowdy Neighbors!

Does it mean I live in the country if these are some of my neighbors?

Mardi Gras Stir Fry

BEFORE: A few veggies from the garden.
Look at the size of that squash!!!

AFTER: Veggie stir fry...yummy!



Several years ago I left the church that I grew up in.  For me it was a long time coming and I found great relief in finally following my heart and instinct.  I have greatly missed one thing that church provides the space for and encourages: meditation.  Since meditation, for me, had always occurred in conjunction with a religion in a religious setting, I didn't know how to find and develop a space for contemplation after my beliefs changed.  Of course, I've read yoga and zen articles that tell you how to meditate or Buddhist thoughts on the topic but I was still unable to do it.

To a certain extent, my life is sort of a living meditation.  I work a job that I enjoy and perform well.  I come home and tend to the garden, cook, or read. I don't have the typical distraction of a TV (although the computer tends to take its place) or the hectic life style of a parent.  I intentionally try to keep my life simple and balanced.  Attempts are made to find life lessons in most things I do.  Yet, I still yearn for the sitting contemplation of my past but with a different focus then before.

One day a couple of weeks ago I decided to lug my flea- market blue chair to the very back corner of the property to position it right under a canopy of oak tree limbs.  At the time, I wanted to enjoy the lovely spring weather, watch the wildlife flutter around the property, and distance myself from the highway in front of our house.  I have continued to spend about thirty minutes in my chair each day.  I've begun to notice subtle changes in nature that take place daily and have started recognizing different plant and bird species- just in two weeks.  The biggest change that I've noticed, though, is in myself.  Reflecting on the external processes continuously leads me to reflection and contemplation on the internal of myself.   The quiet sitting and thinking has lead me to recognize disturbances within myself that I didn't know were there.  Its lead me to consider relationships in my life, past and present, and the positives and negatives those relationships provided.

Along the way, I've made a handful of true, soul-stirring friendships.   Some of these friends are still in my life actively, others passively.  The most striking piece for me though, is the grieving I've done for friendships that can no longer be what they once were.  People change, life changes, and that requires friendships to change sometimes.  Its a hard process to accept this simple truth when its someone that you felt so connected to at one point or another.   It wasn't until I found myself sinking into meditation on my little piece of earth, that I even realized one can grieve over friendships lost or changed.  It simply never occurred to me.  That's the beautiful thing about being still and listening.  Not to be confused, the feelings I experienced weren't regret or frustrations.  I simply allowed myself the space and time to realize and accept the passage of things that once were in my life in a distinct way and now are not in my life in the same way.

My longing for a spot and way to meditate has finally been met through a happy accident and a longing just to enjoy nature.  I should have recognized long ago that Mother Nature would be my passage way to contemplation again but I guess I'm not that bright!  For now this is my new found form of meditation.  Eventually, it will change because contemplation isn't a static experience.  It requires you to ebb and flow along with it and adapt to the changes it requires of you.  I'll deal with that issue when it arrives.