I am swearing off my complaints.
I am not going to complain about the deer anymore. There are plenty of Flowers.
This is what I saw when I took a quick walk around the gardens this morning.
So much of
my life this summer has felt like a game in which I’m aware I’m playing a game, but I have no idea the rules or what is happening on the board.
It helps me to know it’s a game. It helps me to remember the game didn’t come with a rule book, so I don’t have to feel badly that I lost it. It helps me to know that we don’t get cash at the beginning of the game, we get cluelessness.
Being clueless and knowing it has its advantages. It made me look for wise teachers and by the grace of Divinity, I found some. Turns out they were whispering in my heart all along. They were NOT that guy in the mountains.
Part of me wants fun beach party bingo as game activities or as one of my spiritual helpers calls, “a personality picnic” all the time, but I listen better when the game’s afoot with
mayhem challenges versus non-stop fluffy fun. Though I try to say thank you a lot when I have fun in an effort to change the plot of the game so that more fun is included.
Even when I am begging for answers, my spiritual helpers don’t explain the game fully. Maybe that is one of the rules of the game. I’ll get the rule book when I don’t need it anymore.
So I go back to the things I know for sure: the game’s afoot and I have allies. We all do.
I recently heard someone say that the secret of a happy life was to lower the gratitude threshold.
Maybe THAT is the game??? You see how even when I know that no one is going to tell me the precise nature of the game, I still ask leading questions.
This summer, the damage the deer are doing is so over the top that its impossible to miss that this is the game of this summer. This damage is the gift to be grateful for.
Exactly why remains to be seen.
I remind myself that this is as productive a learning summer as two summers ago when the gardens were spilling forth lavish amounts of Flowers for Emily Sheehan’s wedding including the Flowers in these photos.
Meanwhile, this summer, take a look at my bean harvest from our 220′ spiral of bush beans and three bean towers of pole beans.
They were good, all nine of them shared among five of us, but really, did the deer need to eat ALL the rest?
Or look at the Venus Garden.
This garden is the garden where we stick in a twig and a towering specimen of 10,000 Flowers springs up almost overnight. This year it IS twigs as each night the deer come through to make sure not a single leaf stays undamaged and not a Flower bud survives.
So in the spirit of
what I think is maybe the game….
I am grateful for the nine beans. Yum!
I am grateful that deer don’t like the taste of Red Shiso.
I am grateful for deer medicine,
and we have heaps of it.
I am grateful for Wildflowers like this Titan Orchid that I found on a woodswalk this week, shining its light so strong it positively glowed.
I am grateful for the ways the deer deflate my vanities.
I am grateful that the deer can’t eat my sense of humor.
I am grateful that fall will come then winter and spring, and I will get to begin a new chapter in the game and sow new gardens.
Is this the right time to ask for fewer deer?
The deer population has exploded in our neighborhood and consequently most of the Flowers and vegetables in the gardens have fed frolicking families of deer (and no humans).
Every time I get really cross with the deer, say for eating all the day lily buds during an evenings stroll, I stumbled on a spotted fawn tucked in the grass of our hayfield.
It is hard to be furious at a fawn.
Yesterday a pair of fawns ran in front of me then tucked themselves in the grass to look at me. WITH FAWN EYES. It’s an understatement to describe fawn eyes as irresistible.
Where was mom? Probably in the main vegetable garden chewing the last of the cucumber vines or making sure she had eaten every sprig of Sweet Pea.
I haven’t completely thrown in the towel on harvesting SOMETHING from the gardens. As you know from a previous blog post, I made a fence around the bean garden to stop the deer from eating all the bean plants. This was an enormous flop as the deer sailed over my six foot effort as if it wasn’t there. Frost cloth was my next effort. I covered the bean spiral with this frost cloth and anchored it all securely to the ground. The deer quickly learned how to pull up the frost cloth, anchor pins and all.
Each morning I repair the damage. I think there are beans under some of the frost cloth. It could just be crab grass. I don’t really think any surviving beans are enjoying their summer under cloth even though as a self pollinating crop this should work. Should being the operative word.
With the gardens under siege, you would think that the netting I have over our blueberry patch would be a bright spot of bird and animal free harvesting. This net is easily 150 feet by 50 feet, and it is draped over a wooden frame high above our blueberries. The netting is anchored around the outside of the patch with 2x4s and other long pieces of heavy piping, You’d think this would be enough. But it’s not.
Nor was the scarecrow Grace and I made a deterrent in any way. I don’t think it has scared off a single bird. You’d think faux fur gloves would do the trick, but no.
Squirrels, chipmunks and ever so many birds are constantly working the perimeter like the raptors in Jurassic Park. Once one (or five) of them find a way in (and they always do), I have to roll up a corner of the netting and shoo everyone out. Every time I free a bird or squirrel that has broken in but can’t break out, I talk firmly to them, “Stay out and tell your relatives to stay out too. I’ll give you your share of the harvest as soon as I have taken our share.” After about an hour, their nephews or cousins, aunts and uncles disregard the information provided by their newly freed relatives and give it a try.
It doesn’t help that Sheba finds it very entertaining to bark at everything that gets trapped inside the netting.
One thing I have learned during my efforts to free imprisoned blueberry thieves: There is nothing quite like being charged by a squirrel on the run.. It’s completely adrenalizing but somehow very funny too.
So what with the nonstop deer festival, complete failure of my protection measures and a growing season without rain ( until this week) the gardens are not looking their best.
All during this time, the Angels have continued to have me do the detailed energetic cleaning and clearing I wrote about in a blog post earlier this summer. And, surprisingly, the Angels tell me the gardens’ vibrations have never been better in spite of what things look like. Sometimes when I stop chasing deer (they hardly move when I come out to shoo them away), I can feel the wonderful vibration too. It’s such a good reminder that we can never tell what is happening by appearances.
The Angels also remind me frequently that things often look worse before they look better. They also note that the appearance of things is not the reality of things.
Beyond the comfort this brings in regards to the events in the world, these pep talks also reminded me of this small organization that the little village of Meriden began in the 1980’s when nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States felt dangerously close.
When some very sweet buddhist monks walked through town on a peace march, it galvanized a group of us in town to start the Meriden Peace Trust. It was not a religious organization or a political one. I am not sure any of us had a clue what we could do, but the next thing we knew, we were sending various people from our town to the Soviet Union on community exchanges.
The sentiment behind the exchanges was summed up by this postcard which I kept close then and keep close now.
We sent school children and grandmothers. We sent the postmaster’s wife and the town plumber. And soon Soviet citizens were also coming to Meriden for potlucks and homestays. Cynics said that the Soviet Union was only sending us communist party members. All we knew was that the first place the lady visitors wanted to go was to JC Penney’s for some American underwear. This seemed pretty normal to us, especially after our visitors told us that bras were almost impossible to find in Soviet shops.
I don’t remember how we funded this. I think we must have sent out letters to folks to raise the money for airfare for those we sent abroad. I just remember the gatherings with or visitors where hopelessness was left at the door and we ate together and danced together and heard each other’s stories.
Some would say our efforts couldn’t possibly have made a difference. But who knows. It seems to me that these small acts of kindness and connection are the only thing that matters. And these small things are always possible for us to do.
I can continue to talk gently to the deer to encourage them to share the gardens. We share this world and these gardens together even if imperfectly. I can continue to laugh with the nutty squirrels and not take myself so seriously about the gardens looking so bedraggled.
The mail today was so full of loving letters from you. These cards and letters lifted us up. Not only had the deer eaten every edible in the garden, but we had an enormously busy week with almost everyone on the staff out on vacation. Your cards perked me up. They perked up the skeleton crew here.. We had a skip in our step after I read all the notes aloud. We finished the day in high spirits. And as far as what’s for supper, there is always the farmstand down the road. Last time I checked the deer didn’t have the cash for raiding that place.
I’m very excited to re-introduce Allspice/Spice Tree (Pimenta officinalis) once again!
This time of year I make Flower Essences in glass bowls all over the gardens. This is to replenish supplies of Flower Essence made here at the farm.
The obvious difficulty with our collections from other parts of the Earth is that it is much harder to keep stocked with these Flower Essences. Allspice/Spice Tree was one casualty of geography: We ran out of this Flower Essence as I never seemed to be on Bermuda when Allspice/Spice Tree was blooming.
Problems with sourcing extended beyond this friend. So many wonderful tropical plants of Bermuda and St. John are beloved Flower Essences and key ingredients in our combination Flower Essences. However trips to both islands are infrequent. So more than 25 years ago I started to raise tropical plants in our greenhouse, so that when it was impossible to get to the islands, we would have a bit of the islands here at the farm.
This time of year these tropical beloveds are particularly happy as they are sunk in soggy peat moss out in the cold frames, directly soaking up the sun, rain, warmth and humidity of summer while also keeping their roots nice and cool and damp.
In this rather muddled picture, the Frangipanis rise up above the many Limes, Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruits, Bougainvilleas, Jasmines, Calliandras, Pink Tecomas, Bananas, Bignonias, Pomegranates and other tropical plants. The Frangipanis are ten feet tall now with many other tropical friends almost as tall.
We sourced most of these tropical plants from Logee’s, a supplier of tropical plants in Danielson, Connecticut. Logee’s has offered tropical plants since 1892. I grew up near Logee’s. Many a winter afternoon saw me in their amazing, ancient and enormous greenhouses wandering to my heart’s content. If you live anywhere near Logee’s ( and even if you don’t) a visit to Logee’s is worth the trip. Some of the plants are over a hundred years old and the fragrances and abundant Flowers are a joy to experience.
And interestingly enough many Bermudian gardens were built with tropical plants from Logee’s. This importing went on until the customs got too difficult about 20 years ago. I was always so happy when I found a plant marker in Bermudian friends’ gardens with the Logee’s logo.
Anyways….a decade ago I noticed that Logee’s offered small Allspice plants. I purchased a tiny pot and then I waited, repotting on occasions as the specimen because a small tree. The wait was worth it as now for the first time it is covered in blossoms.
What a thrill it was to see the first Flowers this summer!
Aren’t they interesting?
Given the intensity of the spice, ground from the berries of this tree and redolent with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg scents and flavors in both berry and leaf, it’s no surprise its Flower Essence is all about the senses.
Here was my original post in the fall 1994 green newsletter introducing Spice Tree/ Allspice..
Any of you out there that remember those green newsletters? I wrote the newsletters and my children, so little at the time, did the art. What fun it was to create those newsletters!
We used to get many thousands of them printed, then we’d hand sort them into matching zip code bundles. The sorting process would take over every room in the farmhouse and from room to room we would call out what we learned as we discovered pockets of Green Hope friends. “We have 25 friends in Fort Bragg, CA.” Did you know we had THAT many friends in Puerto Rico?” All this sorting meant we could send the newsletters out with our postal permit #5 which gave us our first and last savings on postage.
Then came the internet…..and all things online! ( and the kids grew up and weren’t so interested in doing art for their mom’s newsletter).
This last week the Angels, Elementals and I made Allspice/Spice Tree into a Flower Essence again. 24 years later, the Angels and Elementals tell me that they are content with the original description, but they would like us to call the Flower Essence Allspice not Spice Tree so more people can connect it with that spice in their spice cupboard.
I ask them for an I AM affirmation.
I AM my awakened senses.
Okay a bit of a grandiose title, but bear with me….
The garden designs got switched up in late winter from one set of plans to another. In over 30 years here, this was a first to have plans I received in January be discarded by the Angels and Elementals in March. The new plans involved spirals in every garden. It was fun to plant these spirals and now as they grow, the feeling of all these spirals is wonderful. There is a dill and cilantro spiral, a dahlia spiral, a potato spiral, a sunflower spiral, a beet, radish and chard spiral.
You get the drift.
One large garden is a spiral entirely of beans. I was feeling pretty smug about how well the bean spiral was doing. Then two days ago, on my morning tour of the gardens, I discovered the deer had munched a big section of bean plants.
I already lost so many crops to the cats and mice who ate or destroyed almost all the seed flats in the greenhouse this spring. As I looked at what was left of the bean plants, I was mad about losing yet another crop to the deer. So I built a fence of stakes and twine all the way around the bean spiral with a big energetic “THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER THINGS FOR YOU TO EAT THAN THE BEANS.” Deer could easily jump my fence, but I hoped it would remind them they know how to restrain themselves.
What it reminded them of was that the beet and chard spiral was not fenced in. That was dinner for the deer the night I put up the fence.
Which brings me to the point of this post- a new way to work in partnership with the Elementals- a specificity in asking for help and a deeper letting go in complete trust.
As I wander the thirty plus year old gardens here, all worked in partnership with the Angels and Elementals from the beginning, I see how different all the plantings are than they were ten or twenty or thirty years ago. Some trees, shrubs and perennials, no matter how many times I replanted them, just didn’t settle in and stay. Others have thrived beyond my wildest expectations. This letting go to the wisdom of the garden has been stepped up a notch this season, and not just because of my skirmishes with the deer.
It’s like all the threads have been there, but I finally can feel how the cloth goes together.
Yes, Deer Family, I do not always do this gracefully, but I DO keep asking the Elementals to manifest what is in Divine order and NOT what me or any other human thinks this should be.
As a part of this process, I have long asked for the generic removal of all negativity, but now I am more specific. I ask the Elementals to clear from the land ANYTHING that is not in Divine order including but not limited to negativity, toxic heavy metals, radiation, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides that might have blown in with a wind or rain, ANYTHING not serving the Light.
Somehow, this specificity represents my deepening awareness that if we all ask for the Elementals’ help, they will help us heal this entire planet. No job is too big or too small for them.
The Elementals are THE KEY to restoring Earth. They stand ready to work with us if we but ask. They NEED US TO ASK in order to do all they can. The wonderful news is that as we ask them to do this work, garden by garden, building by building, geographical place by place, IT WILL BE DONE.
Elementals can transmute anything. We don’t need to limit our requests to the generic “negativity”. We can ask for help with anything we think might be a specific issue on the land we are on and then in addition ask for the generic removal of all negativity. In this deepening conversation with the Elementals comes a greater sense of working together to heal a planet we love.
When we ask them to remove and transmute all that is not in alignment with Divinity, it releases the land we are asking them to work into natural alignment with Divinity.
Transmute means literally change in form, nature or substance. This request for clearing is not just moving one place’s toxic stuff to somewhere else. It is a request for the Elementals to do what they do, dissolve what is not in alignment with Divinity back into the formlessness from which it came. That is the Elementals’ work after all- to manifest form and also return form into formlessness.
I really hope you’ll join me in asking the Elementals holding your part of the world in form to do this clearing and transmuting process. This is a way forward for all of us.
And as I go forward, I try to remember that I do not know exactly what this transmuting process is going to look like. I need to continue to work to let go of my expectations and TRUST.
Divine order is beyond my understanding. I simply need to ask for the Elementals’ help and let go. My work is to embrace what happens and savor the mysterious and wonderful unfolding of a healing Earth EVEN IF IT MEANS NO BEETS OR CHARD THIS YEAR!