Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ancestors

Between the late season and my asthma I haven’t spent a lot of time in the garden this year.   I was on Blog Talk Radio the other day talking about magic in the garden.  I mentioned one of the beds I have is an ancestor garden.  Given that it’s Memorial Day Monday and that I’ve been trying to get the annuals in (between thunder showers) that seemed to be a good topic for today’s blog.

Heather doesn't grow well here, and the lavender doesn't winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

Heather doesn’t grow well here, and the lavender doesn’t winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

My ancestor garden is the one along side the driveway, next to the entry we most frequently use.  That way I see it all the time, winter and summer.  Winter gardens are a real challenge up here, and my ancestor bed doesn’t make it, but just knowing it’s there under the snow is a reminder that my ancestors may no longer be with me, but that they are still there.

My ancestors are a mish-mash.  I have represented ancestors of blood, ancestors of heart, and ancestors of spirit.  My best friend from college is an ancestor of heart.  He died 16 years ago and I still miss him almost every day. You’ve seen my bulbs, the tulips and hyacinths.  (The trails are fading under the lavender.)  He was a big fan of the spring flower shows.  The bulbs I started there were from a spring planter he’d gifted to me the year before he died.  My hope in the spring is also a hope that he’s still watching out for me.  I usually manage to get a fall mum in for him as well.

viola's (the nursery was out of pansy's)

viola’s (the nursery was out of pansy’s)

My grandmother’s were both gardeners.  My maternal grandmother grew sweet peas, but I’ve never gotten them to go.  She also grew pansy’s and petunias.  This year I put in viola’s for her.  Those old-fashioned wild flowers are all very much representative of her country farm wife ways.  My other grandmother had a flair for the exotic.  She’d plant cotton bringing the seeds back from a trip south.  Or she’d plant silver dollars for good fortune.  There’s a hybrid daisy that thrives in that garden for her.  The colors are bright and cheerful and I’ve never found another in the seed catalogues quite like it.  Maybe I’ll post a photo when it blooms.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

The kid’s paternal grandmother loved dusty miller.  It was her favorite, I asked.  I don’t particularly care for the plant, but when I put it in honoring her, it even winters over.  I’ve come to appreciate its strength, resilience and alien simplicity.  Now when I see it grow I smile and think of her kindness and patience.

For ancestors of the spirit you may see some Russian sage coming up between the chocolate mint.  The sage is for one of my teachers.  Russian sage is perennial and he had a fondness for Occidental cultures.  The mint is a nod to the cooks, family and otherwise, who have influenced me along the way.  I got it out of a friend’s garden in Detroit so there is an extra nod to her along the way.

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

The cycle of the garden is a microcosm of the cycle of life.  Honoring my ancestors in this way I spend time tending their memories throughout the growing season and even in the winter.  I pick and choose my annuals, filling in the blanks and sometime adding a new memorial for a season or as a permanent addition.  These people are my foundation.  They continue to nurture me in my journey as I nurture my garden.   Blessed Be.

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Little Stories

I watched I Remember Mama the other night.  The accents are off.  The audio was a little rough.  The movie itself is in black and white.  I loved it.   It struck me that this is a little story. I Remember Mama clip

from I Remember Mama

from I Remember Mama

I remember little stories growing up.  Rascal is a little story about a racoon.  There was another with pet skunk named Betelgeuse.  Erma Bombeck wrote simple stories, funny ones, about being a housewife.  The Little House on the Prairie series is really a collection of  little stories about growing up.  Even Profiles in Courage, whose author goes on to a large and dramatic life, tells a story simply.  (If you’re not smiling click the link and find out who that author is.)

We don’t see these little stories much any more.  There is still a human need for them, a demand.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul books are filled with stories that could be little, if they weren’t so dramatic or inspiring.  Reader’s Digest still prints an occasional “I’m just a normal every day person” drama with a rescue or recovery at the end of a great trauma.  Memoir has become a publishing niche.  That’s what I Remember Mama is, a memoir.  But the memoirs I have read seem written to highlight the unusual rather than the ordinary.  Every day, even painted with vivid colors and glorious language, is just not enough any more.

Are we part of someone else's little story or have we made it our own?

Are we part of someone else’s little story or have we made it our own?

But we all have our little stories and we still want to know we are not alone with them.  Where do we turn?  To the bloggers.  It is on-line in these blogs where our little stories play out.  They may not be as carefully crafted.  Time moves at a different pace in the blogosphere and the pressure to put something, ANYTHING, out there on a regular basis is pretty high.

The blogs we choose to read let us know that we are not alone in the world.  Other people have struggles, just like we do.  Other people have wonderful insights and moments of clarity, just like we do.  Other people can make us laugh, or cry, or reach out in sympathy.

The advantage of the blog is that most of them allow for comments.  The dialog is short.  But over time friendships form.  This is especially true when bloggers read and comment with their fellow bloggers.  There are several that I read regularly, a few I comment on pretty often but only one or two where I feel I’ve made a real friend.  That’s typical for me of friendships.

I know other bloggers who count everyone who’s a “regular” as a friend.   I feel that way too, but that’s a different kind of friendship.  Those are friends like a good book is a friend.  They are there to snuggle up with when I need a reminder that maybe my life isn’t so different from everyone else’s after all.  They are there to make me laugh or to remind me to look at the sun shinning through the clouds.  There are days when those commenters, those other bloggers, are my lifeline to the world.

I treasure the little stories.  I am grateful to share them, as well as my own.  I only hope that I can be that ray of hope, or little laugh, or small reassurance for someone else sometimes.  I like the idea of giving back when I have gotten so much from this blogging world.  So check out the other bloggers on my blogroll, and leave a comment here and there like breadcrumbs to a possible new friend.

Tulips

934163_10151450430341347_2079875829_nFinally things are starting to bloom here in Minnesota.  Not the least of which is the legislature passing the Freedom of Marriage Act.  I’ve been listening to the debates all day.  (That’s my excuse for the late posting and I’m proud of it.)  It’s quite incredible to me how threatened people feel by something that doesn’t really affect them at all.

The business arguments, “What if my religion prevents me from selling my product to ‘those people’.” are as hateful today as they were when they were used against black people, or immigrants or women.  When you sell bleach do you ask if it’s going to be used in a bomb?  When you sell guns do you ask if they are going to be used to kill people?  These things violate most religions principles as well.

Does marriage count if it’s sanctioned by a religion other than your own?  If not then it really isn’t persecution of your religious values, it is your religion persecuting others.  If it does count then who are you to say what other religions may or may not sanctify?  Pagans have been marrying same sex couples for years.  The issue wasn’t the sanctity of the union, it was the legality.  This law rectifies that on a civil and public level.  Maybe soon the entire country will understand this issue from that viewpoint.

(not this year's) magnolia

(not this year’s) magnolia

There are people who believe this law somehow requires them to marry someone of the same sex.  Seriously, that’s how confused people are by the debate.  There are people who believe this law somehow requires ministers in their church’s to marry people who don’t conform to the religious values.  Actually, ministers have always had autonomy regarding who is and isn’t allowed to be married in their churches or religious ceremonies.  I’ve known people who shopped for Christian ministers who were willing to concede that their “mixed marriages” were worth sanctifying.  These are couples that don’t share the same religion, although there was a time in my lifetime when other kinds of “mixed marriages” were equally frowned upon.  There isn’t agreement on this issue even in the religious arguments.

The magnolia trees burst out in blossom last week.  Now we shouldn’t have magnolia trees.  The ones we do have are ornamental and are tucked into microclimates in people’s yards.  Magnolia’s bloom in their native environment sometime in February.  They are an old tree, probably survivors of the Jurassic period.  They predate bees in the geologic record.  They bloom before the leaves come out.

In flower languages the magnolia is a bloom of nobility.  It is joyous and bold.  As an ancient species there are also associations about perseverance.  They are a magnificent flower.  What an appropriate sign of the times for them to be blooming when the state declares marriage legal for a joyous and bold population.

opened 5/13/2013

opened 5/13/2013

Which brings us to tulips (two lips).  Tulips need the ground to thaw all the way down to the base of the bulb, and they get planted fairly deep.  It takes awhile.  Mine just opened today.  It feels like spring.  In flower language tulips are the flower for the perfect lover.  Like roses, a bouquet of tulips can be seen as a declaration of love.

Tulips are one of the plants Michael Pollan covers in Botany of Desire.  A really interesting read if you are fascinated by the way humans manipulate their environment.  Pollan’s take is that there are plants in the environment that recognize humans as a resource and have manipulated us.  I can see it with tulips.  The desire, the anticipation, of the color and variety that signals a true end to winter is palatable.  The way they retain their stately form, even as cut flowers, until the very end is also appealing.

The tulips are coming out and so are the couples who have been together for years.  The partners who want to share their property without paying inheritance taxes are coming out.  The families who want to be allowed into emergency rooms and ICU’s are coming out.  The lovers who want to hold hands in public are coming out.

Tuesday Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, will sign into law on the capitol steps the  Freedom of Marriage Act.  The anticipated crowd will be filled with all the colors of the rainbow.  Tulips being one of the most diversely colored species on the planet they are a perfect symbol of a community uniting for love.

Soon there will be daffodils and iris, violets and borage and lilacs.  Remember last year’s post about Weather?  Check the date on those photos.  When I said we were a month early I wasn’t kidding!  I just hope that we have a mad “catch-up” in the next two weeks or there won’t be a long enough growing season for many of my favorite plants.

Hopefully the rest of the country will do it’s mad “catch-up” as well.  Minnesota is 12th of 50.  There are plenty more to go.

Spring

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

One of my dear readers actually said she was looking forward to hearing about my Beltane celebrations.  See what happens when you comment?  It’s been a whirlwind of a week since I last posted.  The weather has almost been as crazy as the schedule!  Here’s the recap with editorial commentary about the season.

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

When we celebrate Beltane in my Wiccan tradition we make a may wine for the chalice.  Traditionally this starts with a Rhine wine but I’ve found I like a lighter voignier.  We infuse this with strawberries and woodruff.

Woodruff blooms in England at this time of year but it’s always at least up in my yard.  I maintain that woodruff is one of those smart herbs, something you can predict planting weather by watching.  This year as I went out in the May 1st snow to gather my herbs it was barely peeking out of the ground.

a ball team I could cheer for!

a ball team I could cheer for!

Too early!

contortunists

contortionists

After a snowy morning we spent the evening at Circus Juventas.

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German hoops

German hoops

How can you not think of spring with butterflies coming out of their silk cocoons and bright colors rolling across the floor?

butterflies springing forth

butterflies springing forth

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These kids were spectacular and it was definitely a great way to spend an evening.

A mood altering cacophony of colors and lights.

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941712_466430953438690_1617446858_nThursday was Pagan Coming Out Day.  Because it isn’t safe for everyone with alternative religious practices to tell their families, or their employers, or sometimes even their children, this day serves to encourage those who can to “come out”.  By identifying publicly as Pagans we demystify the religion.  When it stops being a scary myth and becomes about someone you know it’s easier for people to begin to accept the idea that we’re out there for real.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

The great thing about making this an event is that it’s provided a support for people choosing to stick their tows in the water.  It’s also become resource center for Human Resources departments asking questions about how to deal with employees claiming unfamiliar religious holidays.  We had dinner out with one of the organizers at a local family friendly pub.

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snowblossoms

snowblossoms

It snowed yet again on Friday.  Most of what I got was gone by the afternoon, but just east of here there was as much as 12″ on the ground.

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May wine on the altar

May wine on the altar

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The coven celebrated the holiday on Saturday with flower crowns and may wine.  One of our devoted coven members got up at dawn for fishing opener.  We had fresh trout for feast, caught standing in 6″ of snow left over from the day before.

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

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Aztec Dancers

Aztec Dancers

Sunday was the Heart of the Beast May Day Celebration. (I talked about this last week.)  It was a beautiful sunny day in the park.  Eventually coats came off as we welcomed the sun.

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

I have it on good authority that the weather has truly turned and spring has arrived.  We will have rain rather than snow and warm sunshine to light our digging in the dirt.  I’m looking forward to spending some time outside!

 "King of the May"

“King of the May”

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