Now, where did I leave that?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Never Enough

Time, that is.  A staffing issue at work as September marches relentlessly closer and we get busier daily, and days lost to feeling crummy (in part because of the prescribed antibiotics which are almost worse than the illness!) have left me wishing I'd planted at least one bed of seconds this Spring. Why, imagine if I could be out there right now pinching off a few minutes here, digging up an hour there! How awesome would that be???? 

When time gets short, writing is the first thing to fall by the wayside. I come home too tired to do anything but stare into space and hug the critters. But having made a commitment to the Sagewoman blog channel, I snuck a little time away from chores to do a post. And now I'm going to cheat a bit, and rather than write new content today for this blog, I'm going to do a cross post. I know many of you aren't of the Pagan persuasion, but I like to think this post below has something to offer, even if you change Goddess to God, Her to Him.

And I promise to do an original Confessions post later this week! Wishing you a gentle week...

A Different Harvest

We're researchers, Linda and I. We don't just grab a bunch of seeds, stick 'em in the ground and wait. No...we think it to death, researching heirlooms, tracking down companies with organic seeds, amending our soil, measuring rainfall. We were the same way with getting chickens. I knew what breeds I wanted because I spent hours comparing the merit of Australorps versus Orpingtons. We built the coop to ensure the appropriate roosting space, and spent hours discussing placement of the nest boxes versus the roost. I have this idea I need to do things perfectly. A mistake at work costs me lost sleep and spiking blood pressure. A botched dinner prompts numerous apologies to Linda (who honestly couldn't care less), and when my sons run into life's walls, I just assume it was a flaw in my parenting that is causing them anguish. As for my writing skills, well, no one is a more brutal critic than I. Yeah, bring on that cat o' nine tails and hair shirt!
So when all that research is done, when we've planted things just so, in perfect organic soil, with organic fertilizer, watered exactly as we should, provided just the right sunshine, it's kind of a rude slap when the harvest is...well, nada. This year forty heirloom tomato plants yielded a grand total of a dozen cracked and blemished tomatoes. Our peas barely produced. Heck, even my kale tanked!  Seriously-who can't grow kale? The gardening year started with such promise, and is winding down with anything but a fireworks display of produce. 
But we did have a harvest. You know what grew this year? The fruits and flowers we didn't touch. As I write this, I'm snacking on sweet, juicy grapes, that aside from a March pruning, never received a moment of care. We never even got around to covering them to keep away Japanese beetles. In the freezer, there's a tray jam-packed with blueberries from the bushes we haven't fertilized or pruned. The garlic hanging to cure above the living room window was planted last Fall, covered with straw, and untouched (except for harvesting their scapes) until two weeks ago. Coneflowers, black-eyed susans and morning glories fill the yard with color, but we didn't plant them this year or last. We just let them be.
And so it can--and sometimes should--be in our walk with Goddess. Many of us have created or shared in elaborate rituals; even when solitary, we've smudged, cast the circle, invoked the elements, tossed in more than a few thees & thys. We've chosen the right colors and written poetry, researched which aspect of Her to call upon. Perhaps the ensuing ritual was profound and mystical, took us to a deeper place with Her and ourselves. and that's good. But it's so easy to over think, to strive for the perfect prayer, perfect ritual; it's easy to lose sight of what we seek because we're lost in the planning. 
There's a peace that comes with stepping outside with your coffee first thing in the morning and raising it in toast to the One that gave us that morning. There's a simplicity and contentment that comes from taking a walk in the woods and just having a conversation with Her. The whispered thank you breathing from our lips as we fall asleep can be the perfect prayer. The mundane can become the sacred with our intent; as we put our gardens to bed and preserve our harvests for the Winter to come, we can ask Goddess what in ourselves, in our lives, can be preserved or put to rest. We can wash the dishes or organize our desks while singing our favorite Goddess chants. I'm blessed with a short commute to a less than ideal job, and often use that morning drive to say a prayer and ask a blessing for the day (sometimes, it's simply Goddess, give me strength !). 
Don't let your mind shout over your heart and soul. Choose one small act to bring Her into your here and now without perfect words or the right incense blend. Just one. Maybe tonight, when you lock the doors before bed, whisper a hello to the waxing Moon and ask Her to shine on and protect your hearth and home. Take just one moment to see and feel Her with no preparation. I promise, you'll reap far more than you've sown!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Thursday was Lughnasadh for those of us who call ourselves pagan. It's a holy day in honor of Lugh, an ancient Celtic god often represented by light and a powerful sun. My path is Goddess-centric, and so I acknowledge the day as the first of the three harvest festivals (the second is the Fall Equinox, the third, Samhain--Halloween). The very first seasonal ritual I consciously observed as spiritual practice was Lughnasadh, about 17 years ago. I remember rising at dawn so I could go into the park across the street from us before the neighborhood awoke, and there I made offerings of corn muffins, gave thanks, and rejoiced at the turning of the Wheel. This year I honored the day in part by slow-roasting and then freezing tomatoes from a local farm, giving thanks for the bounty that will sweeten Winter evenings. 

But I don't like alot of things about Summer; it's a season that leaves me squirming in discomfort, languishing in heat and humidity. I'm deeply grateful for the bounty of this time of year; I know this morning the farm market will yield apricots and plums, tomatoes and zucchini, herbs and corn. And I love that the place I work is closed on Fridays most of the Summer. Friday mornings on the porch, drinking coffee while soaking in the glory of the morning glories and the songs of the birds are a blessing I don't take for granted. I'm kind of backwards; this is my hibernation time, the time when I have little choice but to dream and plan. I come awake as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, when pumpkins and apples replace tomatoes as farm market staples. But still, there is a harvest here in our corner of the world....

We gathered our first garlic today!  We've never grown it before, and got 28 heads for 72 cloves planted, but there it is, hung in a never-gets-direct-sun north-facing living room window, with a window fan below, our very first homegrown garlic! We have several notes of things to do better in the future (remove the Winter straw mulch and fertilize come Spring among them), but for a few months, we'll savor this very first garlic. 

Garlic is a fascinating thing; for those who haven't grown it, you plant individual cloves. About nine months later (!), after it has lived in the dark, put out tall green shoots into the world, and those shoots have danced in Summer breezes and then died back, you get big heads of the stuff, and you plant individual cloves from the best of those heads....if you get it right, you sow what you reap and then sow the best of that harvest. Isn't that a great metaphor for spiritual growth?  

What are you harvesting this month as Summer begins her final songs?