As a child I would steal away time from my farm chores to play among the white pines that grew wide and tall next to our land. They grew best in the coarse, sandy, well-drained soils on the top of small hills. On windy days the sway of the boughs motioned to me like the repeated curl of an index finger beckoning closer. This time of play among the peaceful pines strengthened my spirits gentleness. Many people wish for a heart of oak but I long for a heart of pine.
Nothing escapes pine’s restful rapture. In their company the spirit wanders free and easy. Whose soul isn’t soothed by the faintest tang of pine scent? Gazing at the whorl of branches rise and fall my consciousness slides effortlessly into the flow of creation. In the gentle whisper of the pine, listen for the silence. You will hear things.
Many people wish for a heart of oak but I long for a heart of pine.
Every year the school year begins with a new crop of little ones on my school bus—4Ker’s. They are four-year-old kindergartners filled with fear, excitement and every emotion in between. We are into the second week of school here in Wisconsin. I am beginning to see their individual personality’s blossom. There is nothing like a new clutch of four-year-olds to teach the virtues of a good sense of humor.
Usually I tell the little ones to call me, Ms. Angie or Angie. This year I have a sweet little 4K boy that insists on addressing me as, MrsbusdriverladyAngie. He is bursting with questions about the in’s and out’s of riding on a school bus. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hear them because our conversations go something like this…
4K Boy: “Mrsbus…..driver…”
4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriver…”
4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriverlady?”
Me: “What do you need Hun?”
4K Boy: “I forgot your name.”
4K Boy: “MrsbusdriverladyAngie.”
4K Boy: “I forgot my question?”
Repeat conversation every 5-10 minutes until you reach the school.
I thought he would tire of the long winded introduction by now but he shows no signs of shortening the preface to my name. He is a bright colored blossom! It is with great honor and dignity that I have decided to accept the title of MrsbusdriverladyAngie bestowed upon me by a gusty four-year-old. Life is so much easier with a good sense of humor. When life tickles you don’t hold back the laugh.
“A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.” ~ William James
The cleanup crew has arrived! Easy access to a food source doesn’t go unnoticed for long by the honeybee. After the honey extraction is complete, all the equipment and empty honey supers are set out for the bees. I took delight in watching the bees collect every last hint of honey. I could hear and feel their joy vibrating through the air. Maybe they even felt some relief. Knowing they didn’t have to “make” all the honey that will sustain them through the cold dark days ahead.
As I sat mesmerized by ceremonial procession from frames to hive, it occurred to me that I was feeding on the bee’s joy. We have easy access to joy’s existence. It’s all around and in everything. We need only to allow the joy, imagined or real, of other beings to be ours.
Joy increases each time it’s shared. Share your sweetness. Grow joy in the world. Allow the joy of others to be yours.
As I pick, the prominent creases in my palms fill with the deep purple, almost black, juice of the elderberries. The plastic fork I use to comb the berries from the stems, jabs and pokes the delicate skin, bursting the deepest flavored berries. I decide to use my fingers to coerce the berries from their stems. An effort to save as much of the precious juice as possible for the medicinal concoction I’ll be making. I relish the intimate hand labor to collect sustenance for my body. Ray Bradbury said it best when he described the art of doing things by hand as something that imbues actions with spirit and enduring significance.
Several years ago I discovered an enviable passion for the medicinal properties of Elderberries. Elderberry’s antioxidant capacity is one of the highest of all wild food sources. A tablespoon a day of elderberry syrup is enough to stave off the most arduous cold and flu season. As with many things, homemade is not only better but cheaper. So 15 years ago along a shallow ditch next to a wild space, I planted ten elderberry whips, a florescent ribbon marking their place in the wilderness. All I could do was let time pass.
The head-high bushes started producing at 10 years. Most harvests now produce enough to share with friends, family and a variety of bird species. The birds have spread the seeds by a method I lightheartedly refer to as “poop and plant”. Our property now has scatterings of elderberry bushes that are exclusively food for wildlife. The serendipitous way “passing it forward” occurred makes me wonder if nature had a plan for my relationship with the elderberry all along. The land has been waiting to welcome the elderberry. Evidenced by its proliferation into the hidden wild areas only a winged-one can reach.
With that thought, I would like to share my elderberry syrup recipe. I’m not really sure you can call it a recipe. It’s more of a creative adventure in food preservation. I hope during the process you feel the hand/heart connection … that your being is imbue with spirit, knowing the enduring significance this one action has on the health and well-being of all that surrounds you.
Ingredients: Elderberry juice (2-3 cups), 1 tsp Cinnamon, 3/4 tsp Ginger, Raw honey
Put clean elderberries into a pot with a good splash of water. Whatever you pick will be enough. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Crush berries in the pot. Let them cook at a simmer, crushing and mixing, for 5-10 minutes. A potato masher works well. Once you feel you have squeezed every last drop of juice from the berries, drain the liquid. I use a mesh strainer. To the liquid add the spices. Adjust amounts to your taste. The measurements I gave are a starting point. Add the raw honey at last, after the juice has cooled. Stir well. SYRUP MUST BE STORED IN THE REFRIGERATOR.
I take a tablespoon a day beginning in September. It’s yummy drizzled over yogurt or mixed into oatmeal.
Most days now begin before the warmth of the sun has a chance to drink up the dew clinging to smooth blades of grass. Nonetheless, I’ve taken precautionary measures. I know the sun will be high and mighty before I’m through harvesting the garden’s bounty. Stretched across my brow, a bandana folded over itself several times to secure hair and soak up sweat. We’re at the tail end of the dog days of summer here in Wisconsin but the sultry weather is hanging around like a bad case of fleas.
Basket in hand, I head to the peace of the berry patch to harvest abundance. The thing about abundance of any kind is seeing it through to the harvest. However you bring abundance into your life; grow it, attract it or visualize it. Know you will have to; pick it, preserve it and participate in distributing it. Prosperity is all around us rotting on the vine.
If there is one universal law everyone forgets it’s the Law of Action. To manifest anything in our lives we need to engage in actions that support what we have been visualizing or affirming. Take my gardens for example. The visualizing started back in January. Planning what crops to plant and where. Come spring the action shifted from my head to my hands. There was compost to move, soil to turn and seeds to plant. Nothing was guaranteed but without action the plan doesn’t get set into motion. It’s not so much finishing what I started as it is staying with it through the good(sunshine), bad(drought) and ugly(Japanese Beetles) parts. As my Mom used to say, “Don’t be afraid of a little hard work.” Nothing teaches that lesson better than a garden in my humble opinion!
Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to keep producing. Nature might be hinting at something here. Maybe that’s how it works with abundance. You have to be willing to pick an action when the opportunity is ripe. If we make a practice of taking actions that support a thriving life, the Universe responds by bringing in even more prosperity. Ever action, no matter how small, lets the Universe know what you’re striving for and it produces big time!
This time of year I lack for nothing. The garden’s overflow is shared with family and friends. With the pantry shelves filling up fast the feeling of abundance will last for many months to come. Which brings me to another gift from the harvest of abundance—gratitude. Most mornings you can find me in the garden, pick’n peace and grin’n with gratitude— harvesting happy.
“What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action”. ~Meister Eckhart
I wasn’t sure if the cheeks facing me were on the smile end or the seat end of this caterpillar but it didn’t matter. Either way, she made me crack a smile. What a delight to see this amazing cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) caterpillar in our apple orchard on this dewy fresh morning. She was nearly as big as my thumb!
With a wingspan of 5-6 inches, the cecropia moth is the largest North American moth. All winter will be spent in a 4-5 inch cocoon. In late May, the cercropia moths emerge from their cocoons. The female only lives about two weeks, just long enough to mate and lay eggs.
Because their skin doesn’t grow the cercropia caterpillar goes through several molting phases, each time attaching itself to a silken pad it has spun. When the new skin is fully developed it will literally walk out of its old skin. This cercropia caterpillar is in the fifth instar larvae stage.
If you have the good fortune to see an adult cercropia moth, I promise you will not be disappointed. Their spectacular color and size is something you will not soon forget. The cercropia moth is another example of nature’s marvelous metamorphosis; ever thing in sacred motion.
Moth medicine is that of inner knowing, determination, vulnerability and movement. I wish her well on her magnificent journey of transformation and hope we meet again in the May night, both of us with our wings.