The robins are back! The star magnolia, weeping cherry, Asian pear and hundreds of daffodils are blooming. After a bleak midwinter, spring is gifting the land along with the stirrings of hope it brings!
Earth Day in the time of Coronavirus
A favorite “wisdom voice” featured in my book Soul Space is Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century Benedictine abbess. Considered the founder of scientific natural history in Germany, and an avid early environmentalist, she encourages our attention to nature with her poetry, much like Mary Oliver.
Glance at the sun. See The moon and the Stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now think. What delight God gives to humankind With all these things…. All nature is at the Disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without it, we cannot survive.
“Gazing at the beauty of the earth’s greenings,” clearly a healing gift during this season of coronavirus offers a resource to our children and adolescents too. A thoughtful 13-year-old friend, admitting to boredom while staying home, decided to write snail-mail letters to those she misses. “Lately I have been spending a lot of time in nature and in the grove in our backyard,” she writes. “It’s really quite refreshing. I found that by going outside more, I’m actually feeling a lot better about myself and not so overwhelmed by stress.” Remember your stresses as an emerging adolescent? Knowing everyone carries stresses now living in this pandemic, I wish we could invite you all for a stroll to share the exuberance and peace in the Hearth gardens.
The Miracle and Wonder of Seeds
What never ceases to astound me is the miracle of seeds that become edible foods. Since we have few places with full sun in our gardens, most of our vegetables are planted in containers on our sunnier patio. I’m in awe that in just a few weeks or months they will emerge as magnificent golden beets, delicate snow pea pods, mesclun lettuce, arugula, radishes, swiss chard, kale, all the wondrous varieties that provide sustaining food for our planet. Even our tomatoes thrive in pots, producing weeks ahead. Seed companies say the coronavirus has caused a resurgent interest in backyard gardening, reminiscent of Victory Gardens during war years.
One characteristic of seeds seems especially informative to today’s reality.
A seed will stay dormant in unfavorable conditions, germinating only when the seed senses survival.
Do we have such passionate patience during COVID19?
In our nation’s understandable rush to reopen,
the very survivability of the vulnerable is at stake.
If you have favorite seeds you plant, please email me at the end of this newsletter. I’d love to hear!
Discovering New Interests
or Rediscovering Early Ones
Are you using this rare pause to either learn a new skill or further developing an earlier interest? We know a doctor who is baking his first pies, a young couple planting their first raised gardens, and a mom teaching her video-game loving teenage boy traditional card games, after being mildly shocked when she discovered he didn’t even know how to shuffle cards!
Years ago, I attended a five-day Ikebana flower arranging class taught by a Buddhist practitioner at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Center. Our land is abundant with plant life, so I’ve enjoyed experimenting. However, such a formalized skill takes years to learn. Instead, I’ve enjoyed more free-flowing flower arranging and find it a peaceful meditative practice.
If you’d like to grow your talents and pleasures in arranging flowers, I highly recommend The Flower Chef by Carly Cylinder. She’s a creative bicoastal owner of a Los Angeles and New York floral design studio. Inspired by Julia Child’s book that taught basic skills to home cooks, she realized there wasn’t a similar resource for flower design, accessible to novices and professionals alike. This modern guide to do-it-yourself floral arrangement is filled with practical guidance, clearly explained. From how to select and prepare flowers, fundamental techniques and tools, and recipe-like instructions, her exquisite illustrations for dozens of designs can become springboards for our own creativity. You can also visit her Instagram @theflowerchef
Gratitude for Finding Another Engaging
Anne of Green Gables, the 1908 classic book about a young orphan on Prince Edward Island is now an award-winning historical drama Anne with an E. The three-season series has been praised for its unflinching portrayal of adoption and family life, slavery, indigenous experiences, sexual harassment and feminism. Best of all, both my husband and I agree on watching it and find the acting exceptional!
Surprise Gifts from Sheltering-in-Place
Sunken Treasure! One morning, while continuing our decluttering efforts from inherited basement memorabilia boxes, I discovered a cache of letters my mom had written to a beloved cousin. Beginning in the 1930s as a young woman of 18, she describes her marriage to my dad at 19, their early home life in the Depression, being a young mother alone when he was in the Merchant Marines in World War II, and my brother and I as toddlers. I spent a morning in the deepest of connection, even reading her joy of fashions as she purchased a navy straw hat and a navy and white checkered suit one spring. I treasured every moment! Plus, I found an adorable picture of my big brother when he was a baby. Since we were extremely close, only 18 months apart, and he died in a car accident at 23, seeing this photo was a gift! Are there treasures waiting in your home too?
Coconut Cake Celebration
Good news always needs celebrating! After a recent PET scan, my oncologist announced, “you have an excellent report; your cancer continues to be in remission.” This seemed to call for a rare coconut cake, so I simply enhanced a cake mix by changing a few ingredients and added the classic 7-minute frosting that I hadn’t made for 20 years! Absolutely delicious!
One white or yellow cake mix (follow package directions) Substitute 1 cup of whole coconut cream (NOT light) for required 1 cup of water Add 4 eggs instead of suggested 3 eggs Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond (or coconut if you have it on hand)
I do not have a double boiler and just placed the bowl of the Kitchen Aid large mixer in a boiling pan of water. Easy! It stayed moist for days, but so tempting we needed to give half to our neighbors!
Thinking of You
During this time filled with such sorrow for the world, yet seeing the goodness inso many courageous and caring citizens, it seems vital to stay aware of the power of living with daily gratitude. Rumi a 13th-century Persian poet, wrote,
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.
Hope gazing at earth’s springtime beauty, surely God’s gift to humankind, stirs your spirit of gratitude, a resource for strength and resilience in these stressful times.