Friday, July 24, 2009

Amaryllis Belladonna

Has anyone noticed the rain managed to beat the garden to death? Granted it was welcome, but does it have to have a velocity that pounds the good soil to well below the blow sand? The trusty hoe and garden tiller are the best tools of the trade for this week as it will take quite an effort to invigorate the flattened and hardened crust left behind by last week’s rain.

The lovely Amaryllis Belladonna has made her arrival at the garden party this week. Commonly called ‘Naked Ladies they appear from a leafless base and are also called ‘Surprise Flowers’ for their overnight appearance in the garden from a barren spot. The stunning Naked Lady comes from a clump forming bulb. Each year the bulb will increase in size and the flowers will appear at the outermost edge so over the years one bulb becomes a mass of exquisite flowers. 

The foliage appears in the garden in the very early spring and looks at first like jonquil leaves. Very soon however the foliage out-grows everything around it and begins to collapse early in the season requiring binding or staking to keep it from overshadowing its neighbors. The foliage dies away and is easily removed as debris by late May. The spot in the garden now appears quite bare until mid-July when suddenly the flowers begin to appear.

A tall sturdy stem supports a mass of with six to twelve flowers which have a heady and intoxicating fragrance. This wonderful plant seems undisturbed by severe growing conditions and will bloom faithfully in shade or sun regardless of the heat. The ease of these ‘Ladies’ growing habits makes even a novice gardener joyful and will add beauty and grace to any garden setting. Often planted with Shasta daisies to cover the bare base, they bloom at the same time allowing for a visual garden bouquet.

As with so many of our lovely flowers this one is originally from South America where it grows in wild abandon in dry and dusty sites.   
Mine arrived in my garden quite by accident. When my father died in July of 1994. I was distraught and could not be comforted. I was walking in my garden the day after his funeral when miraculously before my eyes was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen. It was the first of 12 Naked Ladies to arrive, one each day for 12 days, each in an odd place in my garden. Since no one planted them my family has long been convinced my father sent them to me. These flowers will always seem special to me and each time I see them I think of my father and thank him for sending them to me.

Thoughts on Death and Dying

Thoughts on Death and Dying

I was very ill as a young girl and died at one point when I was twelve. As I died, I was lifted, floating upwards. I saw my bed with my body in it as small as a match box, my parents on either side of it weeping. I felt no pain and there was a lightness about me as I went higher and higher until I was called back by my parents. Suddenly, I was back in my body to fulfill my life’s destiny.

Michael had undiagnosed peritonitis years ago when our children were young. Surgery had been delayed and his chances of survival were less than 2%. As he lay there, hearing all that was said in his conscious/unconscious presence, he felt no pain but could hear his moans. He knew that passing over would be such a small step. He could hear my voice asking him not to leave and in the darkness of the second night I saw a shimmering blue/white light appear and slowly travel up his body. It was the holy light of healing so he was able to come back and fulfill his life’s destiny.

A few years ago I attended a 49, the Cheyenne ceremonies honoring the living warriors who returned from battle. As the evening deepened and the drum beat mesmerized, I had a trance-like vision and my astral body traveled beyond the building, beyond the forest, the mountains, the sky and further still into the universe. Along the path, I heard the drum beat, which echoed my heartbeat, which echoed the heartbeat of all of it... a continuum which connects all things. I saw it all with awe and when I came back I felt peace, perfect peace, for three days. I have never felt such an emotion as I did then.

I have not been afraid to die since that time for I know that the energy that is “us” unites with the universal energy of the whole. It is so far beyond earthly imagination of a heaven with golden streets or unification with loved ones. None of those human emotions are necessary... for uniting with the whole of everything is beyond earthly comprehension.

Point being: Death is not some awful unknown to be feared, it is part of the journey… and it is such a small step over.

A Reckoning

A Reckoning

I believe that the planet is in distress because all of the spiritual ’points’ on it have been compromised. I always believed that there were special places that kept the planet in order. The meanings of the Eqyptian Pyramids, the Inca’s Machu Picchu, and Stonehedge have been lost. Nepal and the Acoma Mesa have been compromised and gambling is set up in those locations. Could the source of the natural disasters we are seeing be that the healing, guiding ’points’ of balance are gone? The Hopi believed that mankind’s thoughts and actions balanced the planet, but I think it was possibly these points.

The planet is a living being. Just like any entity, its health depends upon every part working in harmony. Disrupt that harmony and you have sickness. I believe the Ancients understood this and many of the astonishing works they created were placed at sensitive parts of the planet to channel the energy of the sun and moon for the benefit and well being of Mother Earth. Caring for the earth that gave of her bounty to sustain human life was the first and overriding duty of mankind.
And of course the earth was tangible. People could see and feel when the planet was out of harmony and made efforts to do something to correct this imbalance. But as the human race grew in intellect and complexity, they looked for something even more complex and inexplicable to worship and ceased to care for Mother Earth through the ancient sites.

They came up with God. God, an overarching, all embracing entity that encompasses all things, all worlds, all universes is not a singularity. Our planet is part of God. Standing in a church or mosque singing praises to an ultimate being is not the way to worship. First and foremost we should worship by caring for the planet on which we live.

Sadly, the world has lost sight of this in the dogma, bureaucracy and self interest of modern religions. Add to this the selfish, money orientated society in which we live and you have an impossible situation. Are we at the edge of apocalypse? Will Mother Earth no longer stand for the injuries inflicted on her…the taking of everything and giving nothing back? Possibly we are due a reckoning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dining in the Garden

In the Garden
By Catherine Dougherty
High summer in the garden is the perfect place to dine. If one remembers to brush a little catnip over exposed skin, the mosquitoes will not be a bother for the entire evening and there is nothing quite as magical as this time of year. Besides the plus of gathering with friends while the sun sets and the frogs and crickets begin their song, collecting from the garden to prepare a meal is a joyful experience.
Like the proverbial Easter egg hunt, searching the garden then planning the menu can depend on what can be found just outside. A summer menu may consist of freshly picked green beans, snapped and cooked, simmered to a perfection. Corn may wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. Squash may be steamed or sliced, bushed with butter, broiled and sprinkled with a dusting of Parmesian cheese for zing. Glazed carrots, a salad using your own tomatoes and cucumbers, and potatoes cooked with rosemary are wonderful with grilled chicken or beef.
The new potatoes are still being harvested now so dig a batch and enjoy their delicious flavor. Wash them then cut in quarters. Add a handful of fresh Rosemary, a thinly sliced large onion, salt, pepper, and toss with a stick of butter. Cover the whole mess with foil to bake for an hour.
Latvian salad, aptly named for Olga Prancan who introduced it, is delicious! Freshly picked cucumbers, unpeeled and quartered then sliced to bite size are added to tomatoes, thinly sliced and diced onions or scallions, all of which is liberally sprinkled with fresh dill. Add sour cream then allow it an hour to chill before serving. Collect then slice carrots very thinly, about pencil sized. Cook until they are still firm but done, drain and then glazed with a stick (or two) of diced butter and a handful of brown sugar, all of which is tossed about. Guaranteed anyone who hates vegetables will find them irresistible. The two sticks of melted butter in the above recipes are not an issue when one realizes the produce is so ultimately fat free!
After collecting the fresh produce, the herbs, and grilling the meat, it is delightful to sit back and enjoy a delightful summer evening. The obvious delight of all of the guests who receive such a fresh and healthful culinary treat is worth the effort.