The Maples console

Snowdrops! I have Snowdrops blooming in the Arbor Garden and not just a few. A whole patch has poked up its heads and opened into full blossom.

This should be a long awaited, much anticipated moment of pure joy for our winter weary souls. Instead, I feel both deep pleasure in seeing these dear friends again and a bit of anxiety as well.

The timing feels off. Snowdrops usually don’t blossom here until the end of March or beginning of April. They come at the tail end of our maple sugaring season, not before we have even tapped the maple trees.

That’s another thing. It’s been so warm that I am sure the maple sap is running. I asked the maple trees we tap if I should tap them now, weeks before we usually begin our sugaring season. The maples suggested I wait, but not for long. Maybe next week? They too seemed a bit up in the air about when to tap.

I expected to remain concerned about global warming in general but glad for our micro-climate. New Hampshire winters feel like a small eternity to me. But this moderating weather is not leaving me glad for our micro climate either. I had a wake up call last fall that suggested a moderating climate poses unexpected difficulties for all the plants here on our hilltop.

Last fall, we went deep into the season without a killing frost. This seemed like a gift until we had a snowstorm just days after the first frost. Because of this late frost, the leaves were still on the trees so the snow stuck to the branches of trees that usually do not have leaves on them when snow falls. As a consequence, many trees suffered damage. Apple trees in our orchard and poplars along the hedgerows were uprooted by the weight of the snow. Almost every tree in our garden lost big branches with several trees split in half.

The Hawthorn with which we make our beloved Honeybees in the White Hawthorn Flower Essence went from being one of the most luxurious trees in our yard to a skeleton of just a few branches. The combination of its gorgeous orange berries and leaves still on the tree left this tree particularly vulnerable. The snow broke all but a few of its branches. Come spring, whenever that may be, I am not sure the tree will be able to go on. This lovely friend in our garden may be gone.

So now I am not so certain that what appear to be benign changes are benign. Is it a good thing for us to have Connecticut winters? I don’t know.

I close with a message the Maple elementals gave me after I finished writing this piece. I found their words consoling and comforting. I hope you do to. I share their message with much love.

“Winds of change blow in your valley Molly. We remain grounded in the eternal verities but weather is not one of them. So expect the unexpected but also know that we will prevail through this bittersweet time.

It is your community with us more than the fruits of your labor which matter most to us. So let go of your concern about the right window for sugaring this year. We cannot predict ourselves what will happen during this unusual spring. Rest in the knowledge that even if there is only a small amount of syrup made this season, it is your daily visits to us that are the real gift to you and us.

So look into each bucket with your same curiosity and wonder, even if the bucket is empty. Chat with us and hug us as you always do. Walk beneath our outspread branches and feel our love for you, unchanging season to season. And let go of your worries. To stand together in loving embrace and together love the earth beneath us all. This is the imperishable sweetness of our time together.”

Flying Mattresses and Fireside Moments

Perhaps I should have asked more questions as I made my glass of Flower Essence water yesterday morning. I remembered the Green Hope Farm friend who had a mattress fly off the back of a truck onto her convertible as she cruised down the pacific coast highway. On the morning of the flying mattress, her Angels suggested she take Jade Flower Essence which offers support for unexpected and out of control events. She wanted to know why her Angels couldn’t also suggest it wasn’t a good day to take her convertible out for a joy ride. Good question!

Yesterday, I wasn’t asking any questions. I whistled away while I got the nudge to assemble a glass of Flower Essence water, pink with Anxiety, Emergency Care, Golden Armor and a whole cast of characters for soothing the nerves. Yeah, yeah, I was probably daydreaming about this blog!

My morning began with a call from “the supervisor” at a label company we work with. It’s never a good sign when any supervisor calls and I knew this wasn’t going to be a hallmark memory.

Earlier in the year, I had ordered 100,000 of our Rose Flower Essence bottle labels. I signed off on the order when the press proof matched the dark pink roses of the last batch of labels. The new ones were delivered and the roses on these new labels were a faded coral. My account rep agreed that they were not the same color and needed to be rerun so I shipped back the 100,000 and waited for the next run.

This second group arrived with the same case of label anemia. When I got back to my account rep, she went quiet on me. I could guess what was going on at their end. I am not exactly their biggest client and the cost of printing these labels with consistency was beginning to outweigh my value as an account. When I got word a supervisor was calling, I knew they wouldn’t run the labels again and that I needed make the best of it.

Why? Because we have about 35 labels from the old batch left. Well, I consoled myself, it IS the same great vibration inside! And maybe you are going to LOVE the mellow rose color! And that chat with the supervisor? It WAS the most cordial drop kick I have ever received.

So, as I surveyed the boxes of labels I will learn to love, I sipped on my pink water and decided to make lemonade out of labels. The stars AND the supervisor were pointing out that maybe it was time to rethink our whole label design. The exciting work of Dr. Masaru Emoto in his book The Message of Water suggests that labels put on water bottles with the words love and gratitude on them amplify the vibration of the water within. Since that’s what we are all about, offering the best vibrational road maps of love possible, I am now excited by the prospect of seeing how we can redesign our labels to incorporate even more loving vibrations into our Essences via the packaging as well as via the Essence itself.

The real flying mattress drama of the day happened during our lunchtime walk with the dogs. A small group of us were hiking up a long winding dirt road across from the farm, past a house under construction. We heard a gun go off as we began the walk but weren’t sure where the sound was coming from. As we got closer to the construction sight, a man with the gun started firing in rapid succession from the porch of the half built house. We yelled out to him. We were clearly visible in a wide open field, yet he kept firing. I was close enough to see the barrel of the rifle pointed down the field, not quite towards us, but much too close for comfort. Poor Riley was very scared but all of us were shaking. We came off that hill at a run and the gunfire followed us all the way back to the farm. When I called the owner of the house, he suggested that we had heard a nail gun going off.

I do not quite know how to make lemonade from this lemon. I certainly was glad to return to my pink Flower Essence water and we gave Riley and May May Anxiety and Emergency Care too. While I was writing this, I stopped to do today’s e-mail and a Green Hope friend named Spring reminded me in her missive that it’s St. Brigid’s Day / Candlemas / Groundhog Day today.

She reminded me we are half way through winter and moving towards spring. The air does smell faintly of spring today and the light is wonderfully stronger than it was even a week or two ago. My friend Spring said she is going to have a traditional St Brigid’s day bonfire outside tonight to celebrate. I told her I would have an echo bonfire here at the farm.

Maybe that is all we can do in the face of crazy energy like the man with the rifle. Just keep on lighting our fires and building community. And tonight, when we are sitting around the crackling fire, enjoying its light and warmth with the dark snowy landscape at our backs, this circle of bright faces around the beautiful fire is going to feel like quite enough.

If a single mitten gathers dust in the forest, does it make any sound?

Thrilling news! Two brave souls actually read the first blog and weighed in.

Jan from NYC asked “ What DID you have for lunch?”
My answer? I don’t remember but Deb’s lunch was better than everyone else’s.

Laura from Bethesda commented “I have to laugh because over the last three or four days I have out of the blue been thinking about taking up KNITTING again! My first attempt was in Waldorf school — 5th grade — I made a pair of green mittens. They have always haunted me b/c I did a stellar job on the first mitten but lost focus and did a poor job on the other. I have always carried with me the feeling that the mittens represented my ability to do great things (mitten #1) and my equal ability to lose interest, flake out, and fail (mitten #2). Maybe reading of your knitting adventures will help me get past my age 10 emotions and try again”

Maybe not Laura! Though it may be a comfort to you to know that when I knit my first pair of mittens, I didn’t even get to mitten #2. I still have mitten #1 ( a fancy pink cabled affair) almost thirty years later just waiting for me to wrap up that project. ( And you wondered why it was called Green HOPE Farm).

In conclusion, you can count on me to lower standards. On the plus side, having faced the reality that I do not like knitting two of the same thing, I now knit both sleeves for a sweater at the same time so I don’t end up with sweaters with one sleeve. I call this second sleeve problem.

My children are already beginning their sentences with “This is not for the blog.” and the pile of paperwork next to my computer is exhibiting a rapid and unchecked growth pattern. Me, I am looking like the cheshire cat because I get to blog today!

PS Ben says that if you click on POST IT at the bottom of the blog you can post a comment right on the blog! Yahooo!

Angel Designs

My seed orders are done.

After hogging the communal table in the office with my piles of seed catalogs, charts, magic markers, lists, previous year’s seeds in enormous baskets, half drunk cups of tea, and various botanical tomes, the last order just got mailed.

My Angelic partners here design the gardens. I happily ask them to do this design work. I don’t have to bow to their superior wisdom, but find it crazy not to. They know what kind of growing season we are going to have. If they say it is not going to be a good year for winter squash here on our hilltop and they leave winter squash out of the garden, this saves me the trouble of growing some tough and tasteless specimens. If they say broccoli is going to flourish this season and have me plant sixty plants, I get ready for broccoli served a thousand brilliant ways and for everyone in the family to groan “Not Broccoli again.” when they see what’s for supper.

The Angels’ designs bring gifts beyond these practical ones. The Angels know what spiritual lessons I need to learn and build into their garden designs opportunities for me to work on these issues. This is stuff that my ego personality likes to avoid welcomes.

Say for example, the learning lessons of last summer a.k.a. FUN WITH SLUGS. At times, I was sure our main garden was no more than a delicatessen for these slime generators. But I knew that if the Angels created this learning lesson, I actually NEEDED to learn “slug medicine”. Well, that’s what I told myself as I patrolled the gardens each night in my nightgown, clutching a flashlight and sprinkling whatever organic miracle slug cure product I was trying that particular night.

Will slug duty be my main activity once again this summer? Will I ever stop receiving strange catalogs of toxic products because I tried all these bizarre slug cures? Does anyone want my “Slug Hotels”? These are questions that may get answered this blogging season.

There is another reason it is a no brainer good idea to have the Angels design the gardens. They are involved in everything to do with Green Hope Farm Flower Essences. This means that when they plan the gardens, they design energy mandalas that will create the best possible Flower Essences.

I find it refreshing not to have my ego involved in the design process. The gardens I made before I worked with the Angels were lovely but a little tentative. Books by gardening legend Gertrude Jeckyll wilted my confidence about my own color schemes. I tried to copy her rather complicated color theories here at the farm. Her designs for expansive acres of perennial beds at great English estates were attempted on the rocky hillside of our former hayfield. Ahhh you can imagine it well, can’t you?

Blessedly, the Angels’ designs are fabulously over the top and seem more about breaking rules, than giving them even a cursory nod. Blessedly their designs make me happy not nervous! Blessedly, the Angels don’t seem to feel that being at Bleinham Castle is a necessary criteria for a beautiful garden.

Take last year’s Venus Garden which resulted in the Alignment Garden Essence. This garden contained literally hundreds of annuals my inner Gertrude thought were ugly. Yes, my ego still has it’s opinions, it just knows that it is doesn’t have a vote at the garden center. As I amassed a cache of hideously clashing annuals to plant in this garden, my ego quoted Gertrude. Fortunately, no one was listening

This garden was so stunning that even my inner Gertrude gave up the ghost. Even Red Torch Salvias have a place in my heart now. In the garden, I am a new woman.

Of course now that even my ego is ready to embrace clashing colors, the Angels’ design for this year’s Venus Garden has just three colors of Flowers: yellow, white and purple.

From year to year, the designs are ready for me to receive from the Angels after the winter solstice. Up until then, these designs remain out of reach. This actually helps me stay in better balance. The autumn is necessarily a time of inner quiet even if new seed catalogs arrive. The winter, after the solstice, is a time of receiving the garden plans and ordering the seeds. The spring begins with a bang at the vernal equinox and goes from zero to sixty in a nanosecond as I grow seedlings, plant them out, care for all the gardens, and make Flower Essences. With the first frost, I put the gardens to bed (and also myself) and begin a quieter season of too many knitting projects reflection.

This year when I sat down to draw out the garden designs, I was glad to see the geometries were not going to require too much higher math. Some of the mandalas over the years have been so complicated as to demand thousands of feet of twine and a channeling of Fibonacci. This year’s are elegant and relatively simple.

The pile of seed catalogs reflected my search for a lot of purple flowering annuals for this year’s Venus Garden. It’s going to be an enormous swirling purple star in a sea of Sweet Alyssum. Yellow and white marigolds will accentuate all the purple.

When I first got garden designs from the Angels, I couldn’t imagine that they could come up with fabulous different designs each year. The growing season would end and I would be loathe to let a beautiful garden go. Its been almost 20 years now and their designs never fail to move on to amazing new territory.

Looking forward to showing you the whole enchilada. Won’t my son Ben be delighted when he comes home from the ceramic studio tonight and I want him to teach me how to post digital photos on here RIGHT NOW!

Nahhhh, I won’t have to bug him tonight. There is nothing but a clean table where the seed catalogs were to photograph tonight!

Molly begins her Blog

Tomorrow, January 31st, is the anniversary of the day beloved Meher Baba died. He kept silent, literally not making a sound, from July 11th, 1925 until his death on this day in 1969. I don’t really begin to understand his silence. Sometimes I wonder if, as the Avatar, he was so weary of us not listening that he tried silence to see if we would listen if there were fewer words.

Each year on July 10th, the day Baba stopped talking, people interested in Meher Baba sometimes try being silent. One year, Jayn Bier, one of the precious Green Hope Farm crew, decided to be silent on Silence Day. She was bottling Flower Essences not answering the phone, so it wasn’t too awkward. I imagine Silence Day on the phone would have raised some eyebrows. In fact, Jayn loved her whole quiet day and sailed through it impeccably. That is, until her drive home. There blocking the turn onto her driveway was a big painted turtle. Without missing a beat Jayn rolled down her car window, leaned out, and yelled “What do you think you are doing?” How we have laughed that Jayn accidentally broke her silence on Silence Day to yell at a turtle!

Anyway, it seems a bit of an ironic day to start up a blog, but I am going to anyway! Yup! Here I am deciding to talk more!

Why blog?

My son Ben, who is working on our web site while also working about 600 hours a week at another job, suggested a Green Hope Farm blog a few months ago. I probably made the same face as when I first heard about e-mail. A bad one. But now I LOVE e-mail. I am a serious e-mail convert. I LOVE all the friends I have made by e-mail. It amazes me that I can have far flung friendships despite the fact I am at the farm most of the time.

So despite my “I am too good for the 21 century and its technology” reaction, Ben sewed a seed of curiosity. When an hilarious knitting book (yes, this IS possible) ended with a mention of the author’s blog, it felt like the moment to study a real live blog.

Five minutes later, I had a serious blog addiction. Thanks to this Yarn harlot blog, I now have joined Yarn harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in her Knitting Olympics. As the Olympic flame is lit next month, I will start a complicated, ambitious, maybe even insane knitting project, visiting stress upon my body (something akin to the stress experienced by a Nordic combined athlete) with a similar stress felt by my family who must, of course, cheer me on in my deranged plan to knit an afghan for eleven year old William during the Olympic Games. According to Stephanie, I MUST finish this project before the Olympic flame is extinguished 10, 12, whatever, days later. Then I think they carry me to bed.

nota bene I won’t be answering e-mail, blogging or even in the office for these days in February. I will be ruining my family’s Olympic viewing pleasure.

Anyway, reading Stephanie’s blog about her life as a knitter made me feel that some Green Hope Farm friends might like to read about all the different things happening here besides the weird weather. Important stuff like what we had for lunch.

Actually, I really don’t know what is going to happen on this blog. I hope that things I learn from the Angels and Nature Spirits will get transcribed here. I hope to post pictures of the gardens as they grow, not just months later when they have become fond memories and compost. There are so many amazing things that happen here most weeks. I look forward to sharing some of the wonders and synchronicities with you as they unfold. You will probably get a lot of chances to swiftly scroll right through some passionate rants too. Think of the poor folks in the office who cannot scroll down while I am talking, but have to look interested instead!

Lucky you! You only have to read this if you feel like it.

Much Love to you all from your Blogging friend Molly

As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!