Apples and Onions

Rainy fall Saturdays put me in the mood to bake. It’s the rest year for our apple orchard but hidden among the Wolf River and Cortland branches I managed to find a five-gallon pail full. Enough for a batch or two of applesauce and a family favorite, Apple Cinnamon Cake. I don’t know of anyone whose dull spirit isn’t polished to a shine when the scent of apple and cinnamon greets them at the door of home. Perfect choice for the mood my relative, Weather, is in.

While the apple cake was baking, I decided to string up the onions I had laid out on the dining room table to dry for a few days now. I hang the onion string in my kitchen. Easy access and I think they are pretty.

I struggled with tying them at first. But then I began to tie them like my prayer ties. A loop knot slipped over each dried tip. Each onion is now a prayer for our family; good health and well-being, peace, joy, laughter, abundance, good relationships. I’ll probably wonder which prayer the onion I’m using is and cry while I’m wondering. The purest form of prayer is crying.

As I stood back to admire the onion prayer tie’s prettiness a teaching came. I’m going to have to use whatever onion is at the end of the string. No picking through them. Just like life you have to take it as it comes. One onion at a time. Layer by layer.

Bee Kind

Honey Haiku

Thick drop of honey—
What flower do you taste of?
All of them at once.

Like a river of sun, the honey pours from the extruder’s spigot. I’m preoccupied licking sticky places on my hands and forearms but I pause to be fully present during this glorious moment overflowing with gratitude.

From a summer of frequent rain came unrelenting blooms. From unrelenting blooms came an abundance of life’s sweetness. I taste it in friendship, in a sunrise, in a soft-spoken word of encouragement, in a door held open, in a smile… kindness sticks sweet to everything it touches. Bee kind.

* If you look closely at the featured image you will see the honey bee on the sunflower 🙂

Pie Potential

Early in its life a rabbit nibbled away the tender bark at the trunk base. Exposing a swath of naked wood, the length of a fully extended rabbit body nearly all around the tiny trunk. I did my best to care for the wound. No apples this year but she lived.

A late Spring cold snap brought snow. Delicate blooms fragrant and supple the day before were now vacant of scent. Frozen stiff. Some leaves anxious to begin again followed the sun’s subtle cue to unfold. The cold hardness of the world nipped the new growth. When touched the scarred tips disintegrated into a brown powder. The potential to taste pie crumbled like the dry brown leaf tip pressed between my fingers. I witnessed the vulnerability of opening. I witnessed how not to let the hardness of the world stop you from growing. No apples this year but she lived.

By all appearances last summer seemed to be the year we’d taste pie! July brought pests of biblical proportions, hell-bent on devouring every last tree in the orchard. The August sun melted summer’s green into the earth. Each day the mother tree struggled to continue her simple life. Beneath her laid the enormity of her sacrifice to do just that. Dozens of immature apples carpeted the ground. To sacrifice is to make sacred. I knew one day I’d harvest apples. The only question was when. The horses appreciated the taste of apple. No apples for pie this year but she lived.

Last week I made two pies with apples from the Prairie Spy tree in our orchard. As I peeled and sliced the sweetness of life in my hands, I reflected on the tree’s many teachings over the years. What I saw was pie. Potential In Everything life takes from us to give us what we need to grow.

And that first bite…heaven never tasted so good.

Patches to Ponder

I woke before the sun kissed the sky good morning. Picked the blueberry patch at first light. Deep blue bodies shrouded in a soft silvery veil covered the bushes. Raspberries ready to burst dangled on tall stems in wide rows barely hanging on. I willed them to wait until I finished the blueberry patch. Here and there an impatient branch bowed over the guide wire as if to say, “Pick me first, pick me now!” Dew drops heavy with wetness washed me with cool refreshment. Every other day for the last 8 weeks I’ve began my day in this patch to ponder thoughts. Any thought about anything that was ripe and ready to be picked.

This year’s berry harvest looks to be a bucket buster. Easy pick’n. As I gently fingered and freed the soft blue beads hiding among their Mother’s maze of twigs and leaves, gratitude ripened in me. Like the plump berries, gratitude has to be harvested, picked and plucked in an untroubled manner from our day to nourish our Spirit. It feeds our heart sweet juicy joy — a heart harvest.

My heart harvest is for…

my horses for feeding the earth what they could no longer use
a strong back bone to pile up what my horses piled up over the winter
the creepy crawlies that feasted on the compost transforming it into rich ground
all the natural elements for breaking down to build up
a strong backbone to haul the rich ground to the bushes
the magic of bees to turn blooms into berries
water living its life through all of us
hours of conversation shared between a Mother, the bushes and her almost 20 year old daughter—pure delight
the time spent with the Mother bushes to pick patches of thought to ponder
that Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake on the countertop
that taste of summer frozen in the basement freezer

Don’t let a patch of gratitude go to waste. Make your heart harvest a bucket buster.

Hay Day

It has been an unusually soggy summer here in Northeast Wisconsin. Both in rain and humidity. Instead of making 2nd or 3rd crop this time of year, most farmers are just getting off 1st crop. The worry that comes with the struggle to harvest hay was getting real. That was until a four day break in the weather was forecast two weeks ago. How quickly lack can turn into abundance if we are willing to cease the opportunity….even if it means a whole lot of hard work. The inspiration for this piece.

Bronze skin leather tough
Drenched in salty drops
Thirst burns
I drink in the sky

Prayers pour out of my heart
Machinery and God be merciful
Long windrows lay ready to make perfect hay
Keep breakdowns and tears of dark clouds away

Bound tight with twine square bales bulge
Full wagons waddle over the bald field
Each one—together—enough
Winter’s hunger aches for your green

As stars usher in night’s moist breath
I walk up to the house feeling spiritually quenched
Exhausted muscles and mind rest peacefully in gratitude’s joy
Hard work fears me

Remember

What I am is a short, stocky white women of Polish descent with silver hair. The what is external. Who I am is a strong women that knows her worth, whose Spirit travels the Red Road with an open heart and mind. The who is internal.

Understanding the distinction between the two can be difficult. The mind only sees the what in our relatives. To know who people are you have to open the eyes in your heart. Those eyes are accepting and compassionate. They give us keen (in)sight.

Vision from this powerful place of perception, where the eyes of our heart and mind see as one, we see through humanness. We begin to appreciate others for who they are.

We remember how to be a good relative.

Thankful Thursday

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

A dear friend and I started a grateful practice some years back. Gosh, it must be six or seven years now. Everyday we email each other five things that gave us gratitude. Somedays it’s more. After all this time, the gratitude is a flow of thoughts easily put into words. I don’t wonder about what to write. It’s just there. Take joy from something today. Open gratitude’s gate and life in all its fullness will come in.

On this thankful Thursday I am grateful for…

the bright sunshine burning off the cold from the snow and my soul
the winged one’s song of spring filling up the woods this morning
good dogs walking by my side. Those here in physical form and those I feel in Spirit
believing in what I believe in
time enough in this day…this hour…this moment to create what it is I want