The snow has been plentiful this season. Myriad individual flakes piled up to create a fluffy blanket.
Bitter cold created sparkling white glitter. While warmer temperatures brought snowcone slush. Gravity worked on the moisture, forming delicate daggers dripping so slowly that my camera could not catch them.
Observing the snow changing made me aware of transformation. Transformation: a thorough or dramatic change in appearance or form. Water takes many forms and appearances. Vapor, Clouds, Flakes, Slush, Ice …
Although it takes on many forms in many different places, over 95% of the water found on earth is found in the ocean. I have felt the fearful joy of being completely immersed by this seemingly infinite amount of water. It was an experience that reinforced my insignificant, significance on this planet. It was the place I felt most connected to the whole while realizing I am only a minute player in the grand scheme.
The snow transforming made me think about my own transformation. From an innocent babe with soft skin; to a kiddo who’s skin had to toughen up; to a young lady who wore her heart on her sleeve and wondered why it got broken. Now I am at a new stage in my life. I see the laugh lines around my eyes which remind me of all the good times. There are more stray strands of silver streaking my hair. They are a vivid reminder that my time here is limited.
I feel compassion creeping into my soul as I live through more experiences and relate to the struggles we all go through. Maybe the real reason I am focused on transformation is because I am staring a birthday in the face. I welcome the coming year knowing that just like water is transformed by forces greater than it, my next transformation is inevitable and will be driven by forces greater than me. It is this awareness that keeps me in the present moment able to appreciate the beauty of nature and the passion of life.
I have been barreling through life at break neck speed. Anytime anything happened that warranted grief I wrapped it up and put it on a shelf labeled “to deal with later”. It is finally later. I never fully understood loss and I don’t think I have ever really been capable of grief. Until now. Grief is not an emotion. It is a complex unraveling of an event or series of events in order to come to a place of understanding. I am letting go of something that is so intrinsically woven into the fabric of my being that it has been a slow, delicate surgery with no anesthesia to remove it. As the last pieces are peeled away from my core it dawned on me I think I am grieving. Looking back I think I have been grieving for awhile. The point at which the denial set in is not really clear, but this “thing” was clearly dead years ago. I clung to it like I was hanging on to a flotation device in open water. Anger has been a hornet’s nest that I kicked and just kept getting stung. Bargaining is sneaky, and I tried to make a million deals with it so I did not have to really face this. I found out that depression is a part of grief. This is not depression in the same sense of a person who suffers from depression. It is a subtle form of sadness, despair, dullness and apathy that soaks into flesh and bones and slowly sucks any remaining ounce of life out of the body and soul. I did not want to admit this feeling. Once I named it, a huge burden was lifted and energy is seeping back in giving fuel to my spirit. This thing that I am letting go of is just a thing, but everything I have been stock piling on that shelf labeled “to deal with later” tumbled down as I stacked this box on top. Acceptance hit me and whispered let go. Acceptance is the doorway to hope and healing. It is time to slow down. Take a breath. Let it all sink in and fully, completely grieve for a life I am done living.
I woke up thinking about healing. The definition of healing that I dig is growing sound. Grow- increase, mature, come into existence. Sound- free from damage, firm, solid. Healing is a process. Certain conditions must take place for healing to happen. Healing is also an abstract idea that encompasses more than the eye can behold. Two more thoughts came to my mind. At what age did I get the idea that I was no longer growing? I am now grown up. What does that even mean? I don’t know and have decided I don’t want to know. Instead I want to be healing or growing sound. Coming into existence free from damage. That is what I will reach for. That is a concept I can truly wrap my mind and heart around.
My feelings about poinsettias swirl from thinking they are so very cliche to appreciating plant breeders working their tails off to provide fresh colors and styles. What’s a lady to do when she adores the simple beauty of the plant, but lived the labor of love growing this crop, often wishing they would just go away like the proverbial monkey on the back? No matter how I feel I always buy one. I am a poinsettia snob so it takes me an eternity to select the one I want. I hold them up, set them on the ground and check them from every angle. Mine must come from a local locale. Lucky for me I work at a top notch nursery. This year pink is the color with fat, slightly drooped bracts. I knew exactly where I wanted to showcase this princess. Towering above my monkey on an over turned pot. Every day I see this beauty and smile at the hilarity of the arrangement. My monkey offering a pot of fragrant pinyon pine to the plant gods and a pretty in pink poinsettia towering above.
Gardenias in their full glory scream delicious perfection. The fake looking blossom appears perfect for plucking and popping in my mouth like a sugary handmade cake flower. But it is their scent that makes me feel like I am punch drunk on love.
I walk by this gardenia multiple times during my work day. I always take a moment to inhale its intoxication. I instantly feel content and at peace with whatever is going on in my day. It has become my secret love. This is fitting since secret love is one meaning for gardenia. I would never own one to grow in my home. Gardenias are too fickle for me. My experience with them is droopy, dingy flowers, bud drop and spider mite infestations. My opinion may be lightening up a bit with the spell this one has cast over me, and a story a friend relayed to me. She said her gardenia blossoms made more than one appearance. She purchased the plant in bloom and when the first show was over, more buds popped up and popped open. The leaves on her plant are a rich, shiny green just as they are meant to be. Hers sits in indirect bright light on a pebble filled tray to boost the humidity. And she mists it. As far as I am concerned, misting is an act of pure love and commitment when it comes to a plant. Although her story gives me immense hope, I will continue to admire and smell my secret love until some unsuspecting fool falls for it and takes it home. There will be a sense of loss when this happens, but I heard the greenhouse manager ordering a new plant shipment the other day. I am sure there will be a heart-breaker in the mix. A beauty that catches my eye, a new secret love to stop me in my tracks every time I walk by.
My Worry Stone hanging out in my hibiscus tree. He’s attempting to take a break from worry for the holidays by doubling as an ornament.
My Mama gave me a worry stone years ago. She told me whenever I have a worry whisper it to this little guy, then rub the smooth spot on the back of his head and he will work on making it go away. Some people carry worry stones in their pockets. I hang mine in my bathroom so I see it every morning and night. Many of the stones are pretty, polished gemstones. Mine is a dollop of clay with a seriously cute face.
This year it struck me that this stone would make a nice ornament for the holidays. I am not decorating a traditional tree this year so I hung him on the hibiscus tree that lives indoors during the winter. He dangles from a sturdy stem, peaking out from the leathery green leaves catching a glimpse of almost everything that happens in the house. How could there be a worry in such a lively spot? This season he will act as a symbol of healing all the worries of the world.
On a foggy fall walk I spotted this dew dropped aspen gem nestled among verdant life and decomposing leaves.
I had to take a closer look at the perfection the moisture created on the leaf. Kneeling down for inspection I still had this sensation that my eyes were playing tricks on me. It appeared as though someone had taken the time to place each drop in its exact location. I captured the stillness of this moment to remind me how mesmerizing nature can be.
I can take down a bag of corn chips dipped in tangy tomato delight like nobody’s business. A jar of salsa does not last long in our home.
When homegrown tomatoes are ripe, it’s time to, Salsa! Pineapple, Glacier, Red Siberian, Brandywine, Black Krim, or Cherokee Purple diced = mouth-watering sight.
Chopped garden fresh peppers, cucumbers, carrots, onions and garlic tumble into the mix. A squeeze of lime, handful of cilantro, salt to taste and now we’re dancing- Salsa!
Loving hands cradle the bowl then spin me around the kitchen as we pulse to the beat of the food processor.
And finally we get to dip.
Beets are beautiful and delicious. Until recently my husband thought they tasted like dirt. After I grew these beauties, he had a new flavor for beets. This spring I lovingly tucked the seeds for detriot dark red, chioggia and a random beet blend into my raised garden bed. As the tops pushed through the coco coir in my Soil Mender raised bed mix I knew it would be a delightful season for beets. I patiently watched them grow and wondered how big they would be when I pulled them. After harvesting, I wished I had planted more. I kept it simple with this crop and boiled them to experience the pure flavor of the beet. We ate them like slippery apples and relished every bite. I did not have luck with slipping the skins. In theory it sounded simple, but I resorted to peeling them. A fall crop of beets will go in my bed this weekend for my first try at extending the beet eating season!
My first attempt at zucchini pizza boats! I saw a picture of these a while back and they looked yummy. I thought I can make that. Then my mother-in-law was telling me all about them the other day. And again I thought I need to make those. I discovered some big zucchini in the garden that I needed to do something with. As usual I looked at one recipe and jumped right in to cooking. So now I am saying to myself, next time I’m going to…
Either way these were quick and simple and edible. My boat is filled with spicy chicken sausage and tomatoes, peppers and onions grown in my garden tucked in the filling. The sauce is canned tomatoes a friend gave me and topped with mozzarella cheese. For a gal who is still learning to cook, my zucchini pizza boats were a success and can only be improved in recipes to come! Any tips or feedback from all you zucchini pizza boat bakers out there would be appreciated. And what else do you make pizzas from?