The Red Ranger

She’s not much to look at on the outside; bare bones on the inside; stick shift on the floor; no cruise control; no heated seats; no automatic nothing. On her tail gate are two bumper stickers. I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN and NO FARMERS. NO FOOD. What she lacks in appearance appeal is made up in the heart that pounds under her hood.

“She” is a red 1995 Ford Ranger, Reggie White Signature Edition, complete with floor mats bearing the Green Bay Packer “G” emblem. Reggie White played defensive end for the Green Bay Packers football team in the early 90’s. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXI with a game-ending sack. Green Bay, Wisconsin raised his standing in the community to sainthood after that.

I’m borrowing her from my brother Eddie while my daughter is home from college during winter break. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money during her time off but we unfortunately are short on vehicles. Thanks to my brother’s generosity purchasing another vehicle can now be put off until spring.

On the first morning behind the wheel, I spilled most of the coffee in my mug trying to find the cup holder. Its awkward position almost completely under the dash and behind the stick shift on the floor created the dilemma. No worries. When I tried to wipe it up I couldn’t tell where the coffee spilled. I found it’s quite difficult to drink coffee driving a manual transmission anyhow. Every time I reach for a sip it seems I have to shift.

Adjectives to describe the complex interior aromas cover a wide range of essences. The prominent odor emanates from the three-inch long, one-inch round cigar stub balanced on the edge of the ashtray. I don’t think they put those in vehicles anymore. Do they? I love the scents that swirl around inside an old pickup. The Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror is long past its freshening stage. I was a little sad. I wondered what Black Ice X-tra Strength smelled like. My brain is constantly deciphering the potpourri of airborne wonders wafting past my nose. One deep breath in and all those cherished childhood memories bumping around with my Dad in his pickup truck were revived.

A two-inch round chip in the windshield with an uncanny likeness to a bullet hole, lines up squarely between my eyes. Highway speeds give me a palpable feeling of vulnerability as my body slowly slouches down into the well-worn hollow of the seat on the driver’s side. Seventy mph seems like I’m exceeding her engine boundaries so I keep her five miles under the speed limit. Traffic passes me; make that everyone in the slow lane behind me, with an aggressive attitude. I notice their vehicles roll slightly from side to side from the sharp steering maneuver to cut in and out of the lanes at Nascar speeds. “How rude of them,” I think to myself. With a quick glance from the passing lane they think they know where the Red Ranger and I stand in the world. I take her daily doses of humility to heart.

I’m going to genuinely miss driving her when Sophie goes back to college at the end of the month. I didn’t expect the driving experience to be so fun. Her energy was more zoom zoom then chitty chitty bang bang. She’s slowed me down and sharpened an awareness with my surroundings. Every shift in our lives, up or down, is impeccably timed to slow us down or speed us up. On the winding road of life freewill may be doing the steering but a higher power is working the clutch and stick shift. Getting us where we need to be. When we need to be there. We are all vehicles of Spirit.

Seed Catalogs: Positive Propagation

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The woods are slow to fill up with snow and cold this winter. I have yet to wear more than one layer of wool when walking Wally. Old man winter’s unpredictable emotions keep me wary. The snow shovel and extra woollies will be kept within reach. Unable to enjoy the usual playful snow activities has left a void in this winter. Then with impeccable timing they came! Slow at first. Soon opening the mailbox needed to be done with great care. Or an avalanche of shiny slippery catalogs would land on the ground.

One staple of the dark white season I can always count on is currently piling up on my kitchen counter. I save them for those especially long dreary days—seed catalogs! They come at a time when forgiveness for last year’s garden disappointments is easy to offer up. I’m ready for another go at the garden’s blank canvas.

I have my favorites, the tried and true. Oh, but on the next catalog page I’m tempted to believe the “too good to be true”. The colorful photos and persuasively written descriptions fill me with anticipation. Small seeds of optimism take hold with a promise to grow.

Life is like a mailbox full of seed catalogs. You never know what opportunities optimism will grow.

Wishing you and yours the best from life in 2019.

Seed Catalog

Spring seed catalogs
loyal as my old dog
piled up on the table
a late winter mailbox staple.

Slippery glossy pages for some
no frills no fancy for others
black ink on plain paper
for this one.

New and improved promises to create
bountiful blooms on the garden’s clean slate
last year’s disappointments easily forgiven
with one glance to the next page
I escape from winter’s white prison.

Favorite varieties come first
the tried and true-blue
but then there are the new
that make you utter, “Oooo”!
Could they be too good to be true?

Colorful descriptions shout
no pest no drought will kill you out
this one will grow anywhere
without a doubt!

In deep winter optimism can be hard to muster
these light moments keep their luster
dog-eared pages mark the best
scorn the limits on the sum to invest!

Give and Thank

I am grateful for you!

Expressions of gratitude tap into a deep down internal force that instantaneously shifts negative energy into positive power. Having a daily gratitude practice is a wonderful way to find a positive path on any journey you are on. As they say; Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.

Make ever day a happy day of giving thanks!

Divine Hands

Mild temperatures gave my husband and I an opportunity to check on our beehives. For the most part, we leave the bees be; only interrupting the hum of the hive when necessary. On this occasion, we wanted to remove mite medicine placed in the hive a week earlier. We felt fortunate that only two out of the four hives had mite counts high enough to warrant treatment.

As we approached the hive we could see the bees were very active and agitated. On closer inspection, it was obvious something had removed the entrance reducer, possibly a skunk or a raccoon. Wasps were trying to enter the hive and raid the hive’s winter stores of honey. Guard bees were protecting the entrance but the large opening was giving the wasps an advantage. Once we replaced the entrance reducer the bee’s demeanor quickly calmed. Our human help must have seemed like divine intervention to the bees.

As we watched the bees come and go, we noticed that some were bringing in pollen. I was astonished to see them collecting pollen in November but there it was! The robust yellow-orange bundles clinging to their hind legs was hard to miss. It felt as if a much greater hand was working with ours to help the bees help themselves survive the winter.

Helping…no matter who or what or how much…creates connection. We energetically weave another strand into the web of life, strengthening humanity. You know there is sacredness in the act of helping. You feel the intervention of divinity stir in your heart and spirit. We lend our hands to the Divine when we intervene on behalf of the helpless.

Note: In the featured photo you can see the pollen clinging to back leg of the bee in flight.

Anniversary Happiness

Gratitude Haiku

Thank you gratitude

Reflection of kindnesses

Everything’s a gift

September 29th was the one year anniversary of this blog. I struggle with words to communicate the depth of my gratitude to all of you that have given a moment of your attention to view or like my posts. You can’t imagine the joy I feel from those small gestures of kindness.

In the future, the posts will be more spontaneous then scheduled. Fields, family and four-legged’s keep life full. Writing posts will be more in the flow with the work demands of living close to the land. What I’ve learned from my blog journey can be summed up in this beautiful Mary Oliver quote, “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

 

Apples to Apples

Summer is drowsy.

Fall wraps a colorful shawl over her shoulders.

apple fragrance perfumes the crisp air.

In the orchard, youth’s tang has mellowed.

Tart and hard surrender.

 

Wolf River. Prairie Spy. Lodi. Zestar.

 

Bashful pink blushes streak down each apple.

Voluptuous ornaments adorn the length of each and every limb.

Branches bow as gracefully as the necks of swans.

Sweet wood bares sweet fruit.

 

McIntosh. Cortland. Red Delicious. Granny Smith

 

Teeth crush down through flesh.

Taste the juicy ripeness of a season’s end.

Running sky blue clear.

Soul sweet deep.

Wipe your chin ready.

 

Gala. Sweet Tango. Empire. Honey Crisp

Elderberry

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.

 

Elderberry Syrup

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.