SOUND

“In the world I am
Always a stranger
I do not understand its language
It does not understand my silence”
― Bei Dao

All I want for Christmas is some peace and quiet.    I need a retreat. A retreat from noise, a retreat from interruption. A break from the outside world that interferes with my thinking and writing.  I must do both of theses things and if I don’t for a while I become like a caged tiger. I pace the confines of my cell all stored up and ready to pounce, except that I don’t pounce–I suck it all in.

I am kind and patient. Seldom do I lose this demeanor but there are times that I feel as though I am a ticking time bomb ready to go off.  The pressure builds and builds, I cannot flee–I cannot fight–I hold it all in. This can’t be good for my health.

 

tiger art maxresdefault

 

There is no place where noise does not scream at me. I pretend that it doesn’t effect me like it does. I learned to fake nonchalance a long time ago but there is nothing nonchalant about me. I have prided myself in my outer coolness but I must confess and it feels damn good to confess that at times on the inside I can burn hot like a volcano.

 

WOMAN fire art

I try to meditate in my own way.  I seek out nature and I think good thoughts. I am earnest in my devotion to goodness, truth and beauty and all that. I believe I only lack one simple thing. Something that if granted to me would enable me to take on the world–whatever it takes. Silence, a wee bit of silence would save me. Time to listen to nothing would be utter bliss.

 

quote quiet still

 

If you have ever listened to silence you know what I mean.

Silence allows the mind to wander freely.  It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and relax.  The world is a noisy place, most of us experience a great amount of it in our daily lives.  These form the soundtrack to our lives. Most of it we cannot control.

 I seldom mention this but I am on the Autism spectrum (Asperger’s) and sensitive to sound. I have always been this way. Certain noises are amplified  in my head and at times this can be overwhelming.  Echoing reverberating noises, kids screaming, crowds of people talking, generally loud and unpredictable noises, these sounds can unhinge me but also small and meaningless ones too can set me on edge. I have learned to control my urges and I can block a lot of it out but this is tiring and doesn’t allow me to ponder like I like to do.

Noise effects me in good ways as well as bad. There are good sounds. Music is exquisite rapture and so are the sounds of nature; songbirds, the breeze in the trees, crickets, the ocean. These sounds speak to my soul. They call to the restlessness and the calmness in me. They soothe, invigorate and inspire.

These sounds are big and open like waves,  they do not mind sharing space with all the thoughts my mind.  These sounds not only allow me to think, to contemplate, they allow my mind to simply wander freely without intent purely for the sake of wandering.

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach Oregon sky water beautiful

 

I feel at one with the universe. I feel at peace.

Sounds can transport one to another place. I have listened to recordings of birdsong and whales and other natures noises. I will close my eyes and imagine myself there; in the forest or by a lake or in a bird sanctuary wherever it be my mind can travel there.

Music is especially magical.  Slack Key Guitar music instantly takes me to the Tropics and certain Heavy Metal songs from the 80’s take me back to my rebellious teens.  Melodies paint colorful landscapes across the universe of my mind.

color tree mountain lake water night sinset beautiful back

Just thinking of all this is good for the spirit. Already I am calmed.  It’s through expressing myself I’ll find the peace I seek. I know that I create my own reality and I know that if something is important enough I will make time for it.

Writing and putting this post together has certainly worked it’s magic on me. And I hope it will for you too.  Please take a listen to the wonderful sounds by clicking on the following links that will transport you to the mythical land called Youtube where the music of nature will play for you.  Enjoy and have a nice day!

~NLM

beach waves gif

 

Sounds of Nature: Ocean Waves

 

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) perched on a branch in Manitoba, Canada.

White-throated Sparrow: Whistler of the North

 

field of flowers

Bach, Air (“on the G string”, string orchestra)

***

Related Articles

Musical Landscapes (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Listen   (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

A Befriending of Crows

The morning sun shines in stripes through the slats in the blinds and onto the wooden floor. There is a golden hue to the light at this time of year. I see a squirrel bounding across the yard looking around for a nut or two to store away for the quickly approaching winter but you wouldn’t know it from today’s weather.  There is a slight chill to the air but the sun feels warm and welcoming. I step out onto the front porch, plastic bag in my hand. I pick a few peanuts (in the shell, unsalted of course) and toss them high in the air and onto the walkway that leads to the sidewalk. Immediately a black crow swoops down to the neighbor’s tree. It waits until I am inside then it swoops down again but this time it is right on the walkaway. It goes right for a nut and so does it’s partner. They both get a good grip with their beaks then it’s off to parts unknown across the street and behind the neighbors house.

 

I throw a few more nuts and the fun continues. We are joined by a pair of Scrub Jays. One squawks high atop the ornamental cherry tree broadcasting it’s new-found bounty. It hops down and captures a nut or two before the crows return. It is more timid and unsure of itself but is the first to see the three nuts I left on the step. It scores all three. Right on! I am impressed. In fact I am impressed with Corvids in general.

The Corvid Family of birds include Nutcrackers, Jackdaws, Ravens, Crows, Jays, and Magpies.

common_raven_calling_nps raven not crow corvid bird
Common Raven

 

 

crow _little_by_shochin-d4otx57
American Crow

Corvids are the most intelligent of all birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals. They have a strong sense of organization and community. Most such as Crows typically mate for life. They live in family units where members of an extended family care for all the babies collectively. They are also protective of all the others in the family pod. They readily accept other adult and baby crows into the group. They form bonds and attachments. Crows are even known to visit their parents years after they leave the nest.

 

Crows like most successful animals are adaptable.  They have  excellent memories and problem solving skills. They can remember a face years after an encounter. Which can be good or bad considering the encounter.

Crows are agile learners like all Corvids. Some have even been known to make simple tools and pass on their knowledge to others of their kind through observation and imitation.  Great apes are the only other animals besides Man known to use tools in such a fashion.

Crows are large, noisy, and social, and they’re not so shy in the presence of people. They have a sense of humor; they play pranks, tease other animals, and engage in aerial acrobatics for fun. They live alongside us and have found many ways to exploit our kindness and curiosity. They also give back and have been known to reward their benefactors with gifts.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.
Eight-year-old Gabi Mann feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.

They are seen as pests by farmers and city dwellers alike and a harbinger of bad things by others.  They are impressive: They are loud and brassy and can be aggressive if threatened.  They exhibit dramatic behavior. We find them in folklore, legends, literature and variety of artistic expressions.  Their voices are used to accompany dramatic images associated with bad situations. Crows are frequently used as a symbol of death .  A flock of them is called a Murder.

hitchcock and-the-birds-corbis-large movie crows
Crows were used in Hitchcock’s “The Birds” not only because of their impressive looks but because they are so trainable.

 

If any bird has a bad rap it’s this one. I think though that crows aren’t given their due when it comes to the positives of this magnificent animal.

I admire their pluck and tenacity and their intelligence. They are the ultimate survivors. They live alongside us in our cities. They thrive where others do not. They are misunderstood, underdog, misfits and considering all of this, of course I want to befriend a crow or two.  I know this may sound crazy but may not not surprise you.  My only concern was if the crows would want to befriend me too, hence the peanuts.  This has been a natural progression of adoration for me; the more I learn about them the more I am drawn to know more.

I feed them sporadically. I don’t want them to grow dependent on my help too much I suppose; a few times a week at most.  It’s the same pair.  I recognize them by their trust of me not by appearance, they all do look pretty alike to my ignorant eyes. I have not given them names although I reserve the right to do so if a flight of whimsy suggests it.

 

I think I am well on my way to befriending these two; My friends the crows I call them.  They seem to know me and we have become pretty close. The bolder one has hopped up onto the porch a foot away and  looked at me before securing a peanut and flying off to stash it near the rosebush; burying it under a few leaves with it’s beak.

I feel good with this Befriending of Crows. I like to watch them. It’s better than TV to me. My daughter has recently joined me in this bird watching which has added to the enjoyment.

We are all connected and it feels wonderful!  This becomes more clear as time passes: you and I,  the crow, the peanut, the earth, the sea. Everything. I stand on the front porch pondering this and watching the crows, I wonder if they feel this connection too…

 

~NLM

 

baby crow bird cute

 

 

References and Related Articles

Grateful Dead - Mountains of the Moon 3/1/69
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CROWS
The girl who gets gifts from birds (BBCNews)
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe read by Vincent Price
Secret Life of Crows(full documentary)HD
NATURE | Ravens | Ravens Playing in Snow | PBS
Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans  (io9.com)

 

Seeds of Love

Every action or non-action we take have repercussions that run like ripples in a still pool, constantly moving and changing. Out of randomness comes a chaotic sort of order we call life.

Life is a journey with twists and turns, offshoots, detours and about-faces.  We skip merrily, or unmerrily, planting seeds along the way.

Some seeds get blown away and never come to fruition, others find the right landing spot and with a little luck, care and attention erupt out of the ground bursting into life, red, ripe and beautiful like a shiny apple.

Most of the time we don’t know where they go. A small kindness is a seed that can travel far, farther than we realize. I’ve learned to appreciate the small and the seemingly insignificant.

Seeds are like that; small and seemingly insignificant. We all know that looks are deceiving and that a seed however tiny can pack a wallop. The potential of one tiny seed is incalculable.

apple-with-leaf

 

 “We can count how many seeds are in the  apple, but not how many apples are in the  seed.”

   ~Ken Kesey

 

We are always planting seeds whilst we know it or not. I like to think that every action I take however small and seemingly insignificant most likely has repercussions: good, bad or somewhere in between. The results of some of our actions are immediate, other results take longer, others longer still. Seldom does life work on our timetable, nature works on it’s own and we are a part of that greater whole.

flower nature determination dandelion crack

We are a part of the web of life. We take part in the dance of the seasons; springing forth with a rush of light and energy. We burst up through into the living world, bright, trusting and full of potential thrust into the wilderness of existence, a life with gardens and tigers and people and trees and owls…so much beauty and wonder…

…and indifference, greed, Monsanto and war…

box dark war explosion trinity-shot-nuclear-test-explosion-july-16-1945-us-government-photo-in-the-public-domain_thumb

The world is our garden, the garden of our making. We grow here and there is no other place for us. We must take care to plant the right kind of seeds.

maxresdefault girl children kid love

If we plant seeds of love and compassion and altruism and trust, if we plant a respect for all life and the environment, if we plant peace and understanding and tolerance with care and watering, luck and a lot of hard work, we could grow a beautiful garden with enough wonderfulness to sustain us all.

Of course this is all so easy to say….so lovey-dovey and some may say unrealistic. Yes, I know the world is an ugly place but it is also a place of beauty. It’s up to us to cull out the badness and plant the goodness. If not us, who? And if not now when?

Any farmer will tell you the best time to plant is yesterday. Get those seeds in the ground and pray for sunny days…the more seeds we plant the better.

~NLM

Flower petals spelling LOVE

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”
~Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

Related Articles

Eric Clapton - Let It Grow (2011 Remaster)
Johnny Appleseed Song (Youtube)

SEEDBOMBS (How to)  (Guerrillagardening.org)
List of edible seeds (Wikipedia)
Star seed (Wikipedia)
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault,The doomsday vault: the seeds that could save a post-apocalyptic world (theguardian.com)
The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”

Connected

 

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

~Walt Whitman

 

The sky is a deep cerulean and it is inviting. It is a spectacle decked out with puffy white clouds like cotton. The sun is warm and kisses my toes, inviting a stretch and a yawn. I am sprawled out on the grass, it is soft and cool and I feel at home here among the green.

The birds sing like mad and I can’t help but smile. I close my eyes and feel the sun’s warmth on them. I imagine being a feather on the wing of an eagle soaring ever higher in the sky. I feel the rush of air go through me, the power of the bird and the exhilaration of flight.   I feel a part of the bird and the sky and the sun beaming down…

 

…and I do feel a part of this greater whole. I can’t help it, especially out here, outside under the trees among the flowers and the weeds and the bees and the worms and the neighborhood owl that surprises me every time it hoots. I feel the grass under me…it’s alive and so is the soil that nourishes it, teeming with lifeforms from the obvious to the microscopic. We are all made of star-stuff. The grass, the trees my cat and me.

 

When I look at the night sky and gaze upon the lovely moon I cannot help but feel a kinship with its solitary light.  I imagine others gaze upon the very same moon with the very same thoughts. The stars twinkle and universe expands and time goes on and as I sit here in reflection I am awestruck by my existence and how really small I really am; like a speck…a drop of water in a vast ocean.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling and that comforts me. I also know that much of this feeling can be backed up with science and that is intrigues me.

The patterns of life…the sameness..the variety all beautiful, all beckoning another look…

 

For me it goes beyond The Fibonacci sequence and all that math I can barely understand.  It is more than pattern recognition and the appreciation of beauty and even the seeking of truth…

It’s a feeling, a real physical feeling and it’s emotional for me.  Perhaps it is because I am sensitive, perhaps it is because I am empathic, perhaps everyone feels this way…perhaps…

I can only speak for myself but it makes me more compassionate.  I see it as a gift although it hurts inside sometimes…but mostly it is the most wonderful feeling; this feeling of “connectedness”.

It allows me to imagine like I do and write what I do. It moves through me like music and this causes me to dance! The more I feel it, the more I yearn to seek it out. The more I seek it out, the more it finds me.

butterfly_blue_little_

~NLM

 

Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

 

gif spider

 

Related articles 
Pink Floyd. Grantchester Meadows (Youtube)
Do trees communicate? (Youtube)
Music and the Fibonacci Sequence and Phi (Goldennumber.net)
15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature

∞

Fresh Quotes EARTH

On this Earth Day please do something however small for the Earth. Plant a tree, walk instead of drive. Don’t buy anything new.  Look to the past for inspiration. We once were more in touch with the Earth and the basics of life and death. Life was messy and sometimes ugly but real.

We worked hard and got our hands dirty. More people grew their own food, made their own clothes and bartered with neighbors. Children played outside all day in the fresh air. We were strong and healthy…life was good and rich and full.. but somewhere along the line we gradually removed ourselves from the nasty bits of life. The dirty. the unpleasant, the time consuming.

Life is now for the taking,  prepackaged and ready to go. It’s been inspected and sanitized. And it’s on sale for those that can afford to pay.  Everyone else must make do…and we left the rural communities and farms and tight knit families. We worked in the factories to make goods and life was good, there was enough to go around…we reached a gilded age. A time of plenty.

It is not only unfortunate but starkly unfair that our spending spree comes at the expense of our progeny; the ones left in our wake who will not think so much of us I think.

On this Earth Day, plant a tree, plant several….do something, or better yet, do nothing. Go outside. Spend some time with the earth. With nature… 

I think if we all spent more time outdoors. learned to love the natural world all over again….and if we brought our children and allowed them this gift; the love and deep appreciation of nature.

I think we’d as a people would care more about our beautiful planet and take active steps to do as little harm to our home as possible and perhaps leave it a little better than how we found it. Hopefully they will look upon us as pioneers who blazed the trail and set in motion events that will subsequently save our planet from us and thus save ourselves too.

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2015

~NLM

great-smoky-mountains-national-park-1260512972022713YH
Great Smoky Mountains. North Carolina. USA

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
―Theodore Roosevelt

Our Galaxy over Queenstown ( on the evening of the Aurora Australis ) space star
Our Galaxy over Queenstown ( on the evening of the Aurora Australis )

 “The earth is speaking to us, but we can’t hear because of all the racket our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then – maybe – the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.”

 -Jerry Spinelli

butterfly-on-finger child girl

 “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”

~Native American Proverb (source unclear)


art woman blue

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” 
― Kahlil Gibran

 

the beginning ind native

“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!”
~Chief Seattle

 

flying-bee-flower

If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.
~Joseph Wood Krutch
Earth Blue-Marble-by-Nasa-Public-Domain-via-Wikimedia
Earth Blue-Marble-by-Nasa-Public-Domain-via-Wikimedia

 “We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life’s continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.” 

~Stephen Jay Gould

monarch milkweed

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~Margaret Mead

 

art earth jumping off

 

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.”
―Rumi

peace earth eye

Related Youtube

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) by Marvin Gaye

Earth Day 2014: Green Cities

Related Articles

Earth Day: The History of A Movement (earthday.org)

Dig it

 

 

The day smells fresh and new. It is sunny and warm for mid February and I have already stripped off my coat and sweater and I’m down to my Captain America T-Shirt.  The wind is brisk and invigorating. It drowns out the sound of all else.  I am working in the garden for the first time this year; turning the dirt over in what was and will be again  my vegetable patch.

This is got to be one of my most favorite activities; digging in the dirt out in the sun on a lovely day such as this. I am grinning like an idiot. I can’t help it.

 

Odin-cat-garden-quote-digging-iris

 

This feels so right. so symbolic. If I could create my own start of the new year it would be right now; the time that I first turn the dirt over. It is so hopeful; this whole thing. As I dig my mind drifts along so peacefully, so merrily. My thoughts wander to and fro, from this to that in a steady stream of thoughts that lead to a big quiet pool of lucid nothingness. I float there, mindlessly…mindfully.  I feel connected to everything and all seems right with the world.  I feel more myself than I have all winter. I have missed this I think, more than I first realized.

It has been an unusual winter. It’s been one of major growth for me. I am still working at my “seasonal”retail job. They have yet to kick me out. Who knows? I may stay awhile. Never before have I been so confident in myself.  I am a happy, confident, positive, bright and beaming person and it has taken my whole life to get this way.  I feel blessed to have a family that loves me and a roof over my head and a garden to work in.

I feel like I’m standing on the precipice of something wonderful; a something not far beyond my grasp and if I just reach and stretch a little more, I’ll get there.

~Nancy

 

 “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

 

tiny seedling plant

 

The Beatles – Dig A Pony

 

Cavorting with Nature

 

 

 

It happened so quickly: a flutter of wings, a white flash..and then I saw them…two cavorting butterflies, cabbage whites, I think.  Fluttering all around me; my head and legs, coming so close I can feel the gentle breeze on my face created by the fritterings of their little wings.  I sit as still as I can and take in this surreal and glorious moment. Then just as abruptly as they appear they flutter off together into the blue October sky.  It was quite a moment and strange as it sounds I got the idea they were thanking me for something. A place to cavort perhaps. A resting place amid the growing greenness in this nondescript urban oasis that is my backyard. A wildish place of ordered chaos. A pesticide-free zone with a little bit for everyone. Native plants and more. Providing nectar and seeds and shelter and safe spots to forage with berries and tomatoes and lots of tasty bugs and worms.

A respite from the lifeless urban jungle of hard concrete and indifference.

 

 

Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage
Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage

 

These moments bring me such joy; my encounters with the urban wildlife that visit my garden.   There are  the squirrels who compete for nuts with the squawky jays. They are beautifully blue and like to fly from rooftop to rooftop swooping down in the yard hunting and catching insects.

Along with the white butterflies, there are bees galore, buzzing from here to there, intermixed with hover-flies which seem to defy gravity. These beneficial insects love the sweet asylum that seeds itself freely and grows every summer against the southern wall that borders the driveway. This once barren slab of cement now teems with exuberant life. The other side is filled with a hodgepodge of annuals and perennials.

It resembles more of a science experiment than a tidy yard. I’ve never been a very tidy person but the urban fauna doesn’t seem to mind.

And as the season progresses and as October turns to November my time in the garden has decreased in fact admittedly, it has been nearly a week since I have been back here.   I take advantage of a much needed sunny day and plan to spend some time working and appreciating. All the work I do know will pay off next Spring.

Of course I leave much of the wildness for the urban wildlife who will winter here.

 

All the remain of the once vibrant yellow Susans are the jet black seed pods which the chickadees and finches have been devouring with a flourish. 

 

goldfinch-eating-black-eyed-susan bird
Goldfinch on Black-eyed Susan

I am always reflective this time of year and I do much of my reflecting back here. The fuchsia is still blooming and the Pineapple Sage is in it’s full glory. It’s scarlet spires provide nectar to the hummingbirds which still visit as the season progresses and progresses it does. The leaves have changed and many have fallen to the ground. I can hear them crunch under my feet. My mind goes back to the white butterflies and my brief encounter with them just a couple weeks ago. I haven’t seen any since.  Our next meeting will have to wait for Spring when they return. And so will the Canada Geese that I hear flying overhead, their distinct honking flooding the sky with such riotous sound. This brings me back to Autumn’s past. It is these living harbingers of winter who make me sit and pause and reflect upon life and time.   It will be the Geese again who will prompt the same reflection upon their return.

 

Canada Geese flying in V formation
Canada Geese flying in V formation

 

And now it is my turn to say thank you to the fantastic world around us. From the smallest proton to the largest supernova…from the tiny microbe in the soil to the hummingbird to the black and white house cat to the awestruck and humbled human. We are all connected and what a beautiful thing is that.

 

Have a fantastic day!

Nancy

.

 

“…Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Mary Oliver

goose-picture-3

Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me

Three Little Birds and One Fat Squirrel

 

 

The air is clear and slightly cold, just chill enough to notice.  A layer of glittery dew covers the grass. I stand on the back porch my eyes closed, face to the rising October sun. I feel a slight warmth on my eyelids and this makes me smile.

The birds are in riotous glory; I listen to their songs intently; trying to make out as many distinct songs as I can. I recognize the song of the chickadees accompanied by the expectant cluck of the chickens next door.   I hear the caws of the crows in the distance; calling to each other from neighboring trees. At once they all take flight, flying high into the deep blue sky circling the tall pines and calling out to each other.  I can feel their hurried energy as I do the squirrel’s. I think I hear one rustling in the large bush in the back, or at least what I presume is a squirrel. My imagination comes up with ” interesting scenarios” as to the identity of this “mysterious” creature when Jay, the Scrub Jay, bursts out of the very same bush and scares the zen-like serenity right out of me.  He lets out a distinctive SQUAWK, swoops down across the yard in perfect form and lands right on top of the roof.

 

scrub jay flying blue bird
SCRUB JAY in Flight–Credit: DianeVarner.com

 

A-ha! He then spots the peanuts “some kind human” has set out. I watch with delight as he goes from the roof down to the top of the fence. He  picks up a nut in his beak, tips his head back, the nut rolls into place and then he’s off with his prize…off to one of a half-a-dozen stash places located in the surrounding tree canopy. Every time he dives down he squawks and this sound reverberates all over.  I watch as he checks the ground for any missing nuts. He lets out one last flurry of distinctive calls then takes off somewhere beyond the neighbors Maple tree.

 

scrub jay blue bird nut

 

My listening has not ended as I try to make out as many sounds as I can; city intertwined with nature. The purr of lawn mower and the edgy beep beep of traffic noise and mixes with the sweet innocence of  birds. I hear the other neighbors goat, yes goat. A child’s laugh is drowned out by the roar of a  jet engine high in the sky, leaving a white trail behind it.

I am distracted once again, this time by a real squirrel. It has come to the fence and found the nuts gone. Again, taken by that dashing blue bandit. The squirrel scolds me; staring at me and barking. Its fluffy tail adding to the drama, twitching and and going in circular motions.   I laugh knowing it will soon be checking the bird feeder out front and gorging itself on mixed seeds.  All the while eyeing me out of the corner of its eye.

I can’t help but smile.

 

 

Jerome the squirrel, resident bird feeder raider and scolder.
Jerome the squirrel, resident bird feeder raider and scold.

 

 

 

Mario is obviously fascinated.
Mario is obviously fascinated.

This is a spectacular time of the year. The exquisiteness of the season deepens with every passing day. I feel intoxicated with the thrill of life as I live from moment to moment each changing from one to another like the seasons, deepening and becoming more and more beautiful.

Life is good!

 

 

♥  Nancy

 

The ground we walk on, the plants and creatures, the clouds above constantly dissolving into new formations – each gift of nature possessing its own radiant energy, bound together by cosmic harmony.

~Ruth Bernhard
bird gif hop

 

*

BOB MARLEY THREE LITTLE BIRDS

 

All The Things You Are – Helen Forrest & Artie Shaw

Save The Dirt

 
 
Dirt-525 
 
 
Dirt has a bad name.  We assign it to foul, perverted things. Icky nasty things we do not touch lest it taint us, infect us. We are a society bent on cleanliness; antiseptic-ness. We pride ourselves in our civilized approach to dirt.  Filth is what animals live in not we who are above such things. 
That dirt which lies beneath our feet, it is alive, that soil; a  mosaic of organic-ness which makes up much of our planet. We don’t think much of it but it’s there.  We walk on it, build our homes on it, plant our food in it. It’s what holds it all together and it’s more important than people realize.
 
Throughout history, civilizations have prospered or declined as a result of the availability and productivity of their soils.  Soil resources are critical to the environment as well as food production.

Soil is defined as a natural body consisting of layers that are primarily composed of minerals, mixed with organic matter. It is the loose covering of fine rock particles that covers the surface of the earth and is the end product of the influence of the climate, organisms, minerals and the passage of time.

When used in agriculture, it serves as the anchor and primary nutrient base for plants and soil resources that are crucial to the environment.  It absorbs rainwater and releases it later, helping to prevent floods and drought. It cleans the water acting like a sponge as the water percolates through it.

Soil is the most abundant ecosystem on Earth and is home to countless lifeforms; invertebrates, bacteria, fungi and algae.   It supports and plays a crucial role in all life on this planet.

 

Soil food web 

Good soil should contain a healthy mixture of soil-based organisms. These are the naturally occurring micro-organisms that release powerful enzymes responsible for keeping it free of molds, yeasts, fungi and other parasites which would otherwise make normal plant growth impossible. These organisms fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil and decompose organic compounds, including manure, plant residue, and pesticides; helping to prevent them from entering waterways and becoming pollutants.

The primary home of the vast soil food web is the topsoil. It’s the top layer of soil and contains most of the available nutrients. It’s where most of the biological activity takes place.

 

dirtFarmer_and_tractor_tilling_soil 
Scientists believe that 24 billion tons of topsoil are lost every year to erosion by wind, water and other causes including the way we feed the planet. Conventional agriculture encourages the depletion of topsoil because the soil must be plowed and replanted each year.  Many experts believe that our chemical dependencies are stripping the soil of its life-giving properties and turning it into unproductive, thus, lifeless dirt.  One inch of topsoil can take 500 years to form naturally. According to current trends, the world has about 60 years of topsoil left.
 
 

 Topsoil erosion occurs when the topsoil layer is blown or washed away. Without topsoil, little plant life is possible. This is a phenomenon known as the Aeolian processes.  This has happened before notably during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s when a period of severe dust storms greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies.

On a dry grassland, the grass rooted into the soil can be the only thing keeping the soil stable. If too many animals are allowed to graze for too long, the grass can be stripped away and the soil will lose its anchoring roots. The area can become a desert. This is called desertification. Desertification and soil loss is a worldwide problem.

 
Dust storm blowing into Dodge City. The worst storm recorded was Black Sunday, April 15, 1935. Survivors talked of dust so thick it drifted like snow.
Dust storm blowing into Dodge City. The worst storm recorded was Black Sunday, April 15, 1935. Survivors talked of dust so thick it drifted like snow.

 

“According to the United Nations desertification is a creeping catastrophe. Already creating millions of environmental refugees worldwide every year, one third of the earth’s surface and the livelihoods of at least one billion people are threatened.” 

 By The Future World Project

 

A Turkana man herds livestock back from grazing grounds in Kenya, Africa where desertification in a problem.
A Turkana man herds livestock back from grazing grounds in Kenya, Africa where desertification in a problem.

 

This problem only deepens through time.  As our global population continues to swell and demand for food increases, our ability to feed the world will become more difficult and in time perhaps impossible. Once land is lost it’s hard to gain it back. I know dirt isn’t exciting, most of us don’t think of it beyond a few scientists and the odd nut like me, but we all can do something about it. It is our planet and we have to right to our existence because it’s down to that.   We need responsible and sustainable land stewardship not just here and there but everywhere.

A great place to start is at home, in our own yards.  The website Wikihow features an excellent article; How to Prevent Soil Erosion . It is focused on what the average person can do about soil erosion at home and in the community. It is on the small scale but a good start.

Beyond that I think we the people need to raise awareness about this problem and through societal and monetary pressure persuade the movers and shakers in this world that we care about our topsoil and the future of the food supply. And that steps must be taken to prevent further loss and to reverse bad farming and land management practices. We need to adapt sustainable farming practices that encourage the development of a healthy topsoil by rewarding those who regenerate the environment and produce food that supports a healthier society.     Most importantly we need to change the way we think about soil and how we use it. We must treasure it as the precious natural resource it is.

Future generations are counting on us… 

Have a fruitful day,

Nancy

.

 

 

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

 
 desertification in Niger soil dirt
 
 
 
 “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry
 
community-garden-thanks-to-green-guerillas
 
 

References and Related Articles 

  

Woody Guthrie — This Land is Your Land Youtube

Health Benefits of Soil Based Organisms (positivehealth.com)   

Soil Food Web (soils.usda.gov) 

How to Prevent Soil Erosion  Wikihow.com.

We Are What We Eat: Topsoil erosion  YouTube  

Topsoil – 1948 Educational Documentary   

What if the world’s soil runs out?  Time.com  

Losing Ground: Re-thinking soil as a renewal resource (fewresources.org)  

Soil Food Web (soils.usda.gov) 

*

 

 

I AM Catwoman

 

 

A while back in a previous post I touched briefly on my uncanny almost supernatural power over cats;  it is a part of me that I am just now officially sharing with the world. Since bringing it up in “I Speak for the Cats” I have been inundated with endless queries as to the specifics of this power. I don’t know why I’ve been reluctant about sharing the story about this “gift’ I have.  I am quite proud of it. I mean…

 

selfie2 funny cat face

 

…it IS about cats.

.

Ever since I remember cats have had a thing about me and I have had a thing about them… And I’ve always had a cat, or should I say the cat had me. They’ve always been there and can I let you in on a little secret?

I’m their favorite human of all the humans–I hate to break it to you but yes, it’s me!

I know what you are thinking…

 

vintage gif woman cat
Cat Power GRRRRR!

How did I get this fantastic power and and where can you get it?

I know how you feel and I wish I knew. It seems I was born this way. Of course I am pleased by this; to be adored by such an adoring animal is one of the best feelings in the world!

It could be that I speak their language. It was difficult to learn. Did you know there are 34 different mews for the word “nap”?

I do understand them and I really like them. I am an obedient human in many ways; I keep the Friskies coming with a few treats on the side. I can give a good chin rub but beyond all that I am not anything special. Honestly, I don’t know why cats like me so much. I wish I could take credit for it but really, it is just dumb luck.

Ebony the cat and Butterfly Bush by N.L McKinley
Ebony the cat and Butterfly Bush by N.L McKinley

 

My yard, of course is the hip hangout for all the popular and “with it” cats of the neighborhood.  They like to nap in the back bushes or follow me around while I work in the garden.  It was strange at first but I enjoy the company. And my cat Mario seems okay with it all..in fact he seems quite proud.

What are you trying to tell me Spotsy?
What are you trying to tell me Spotsy?

But there is something else… I have heard the talk of late; the whispered purrs and silent meows….their ringleader…the one they call Spotsy,  often looks in my window.  I get the feeling he wants something….it’s the same look I get from MM around dinnertime but even more so…

I do want to mention despite how strange and wonderful this whole thing sounds it is not all fun and laughs and signing autographs. Some of these cats can get quite insistent and a way only cats can.  I sometimes find them inside my house, having snuck in the backdoor.  They wander around and then leave. We have gotten used to this including my son who has woken up a few times with a strange cat in his room just staring at him.

 

vintage odd cat woman funny

I often take walks through my neighborhood.  I like to walk. I like it so much that I take walks in other neighborhoods too. No matter where I am cats will come out of nowhere running to me and in most cases mewing up a storm. Some roll onto their backs, others purr…all want to be petted and I am careful not to encourage them too much lest they follow me home.

I used to think this sort of thing happened to everyone but over the years I have seen some surprised reactions.  I was once accused of  “hiding tuna in my pocket to excite cats just to freak everyone out”. 

Honestly, if I were to hide any sort of foodstuff in my pocket it would be chocolate. Anyone who knows me knows that.

And anyone with a cat who knows me  knows that their cat likes me better. This happens time and time again whenever I go over to someone’s house and meet their cat. It’s  just like that and it is embarrassing for all.  Cats can be overwhelmingly affectionate especially the ones whose owners have deemed unfriendly. It’s these sorts of cats that are the most love-starved. Whatever the case, it is known immediately that the cat prefers me and that is made clear in no uncertain terms.

cat mouse funny cute pair

 

 

I once was presented with a live mouse at a dinner party of a co-worker whose cat thought it a loving tribute.

I did too….and it was delicious.  The dinner I mean. The mouse? I don’t know what the mouse thought, the cat took off with it out the back door after it’s mistress screamed at the poor thing.

Well…I confess I made up the part about the mouse but the rest of it is true.   Ask MM. He has witnessed my power over cats many times. Whenever it happens he shakes his head and doesn’t say a word.  It’s a good thing he puts up with me and all my eccentricities.

Me and my endless ideas that don’t make a dime;  I am thinking of starting a group. A performing  acrobatic troupe comprised of…you guessed it, cats.

 

cat jump gif

We would train very hard, the cats and I. Then months from now…you will be watching a well-known cable variety program and you’ll see us and you will say “Wow!  How did she get this wonderful troupe of performing cats and where can I get one?

 

I  know what you are really thinking… This poor fool is primed to become one of those cat ladies who live with like 50 cats…the ones that you see on the news from time to time….

I want to assure you while I am Cat Woman I am not a cat lady. The cats of course will live in their own homes and I will pay them for their performances.  Whatever the going rate is for cats.  I may be nuts but I am not crazy…

And so I hope this answers some of the questions about my power of cats. Yes, it is a great responsibility but the rewards are well worth it….

I am Catwoman!
I am Catwoman!

 

Have a purrfectly wonderful day!

Nancy 

 

kitten gif cute 33

 

 

 

 

I Speak for the Cats (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

YouTube

.

PURRKOUR     

 (Didga is an amazing cat!  

.

China Cat Sunflower by The Grateful Dead

Al Stewart – Year of the Cat 

Bee watching

 

 

Mario my famous cat and gardening companion.
Mario my famous cat and gardening companion.

 

The miracle of life lies out there teeming in the dark rich earth. I can feel it.  I can sense it and it is a wondrous thing.  No matter how many times I see a tiny sprout emerge from the soil I  am awestruck at such beautiful complexity inhibiting such lovely simplicity. Everything has it’s place, it’s purpose. Exquisite harmony and balance reins supreme…or at least it used to.

I have spent much of my 44 summers enthralled in the wilds of an urban garden; laying in the grass staring up at the imaginative clouds, cavorting with the butterflies and communing with the bees. As a young girl I felt a kinship with nature that has only intensified with age.  I feel in tune with the earth and with all living things and I have always had a special affinity for the natural world and all the beautiful shapes and colors of life on our amazing planet. 

It has been only natural for me to embrace gardening as one of my passionate pastimes.

As an adult I have spent countless hours in glorious toil in the backyard sun, digging and planting and weeding and planning. I have transformed a weedy double lot into what I refer to as my sanctuary, my retreat from the artificial inside.  I feel safe there and so do many of the urban wildlife that visit.  The neighborhood cats especially like it here and it isn’t uncommon for me to have a clan of disinterested felines “cheering me on”.

I am a great observer. It is another one of my pastimes; watching and observing and drawing conclusions….and I am a great watcher of the earth and I don’t have to tell you how sick it is. 

How sick our mother is. Our planet Earth. Our only home is ill. She is dying. The signs are all around. Some people don’t want you to believe that because they are more interested in the status quo but if we don’t change our ways there will be no status at all. 

It seems so far away; all this unbalance, this poison that eats away.  It is all around us, in our plastics and pesticides, in our gas- guzzling machines and in our diet colas. It hasn’t hit most of us yet…not really, but can you hear the rumblings? I can. I do as I sit in my garden; my sanctuary.

California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley
California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley

I sit in a prime spot next to a huge swath of brightly colored California poppies. They are one of the stars of the garden at this time of year and a favorite among the bees, including my favorite, the honey bee. I remember a time when they would be in beautiful abundance; busily buzzing from one flower to the next. I have noticed them slowly start to vanish…little by little; just a trickle at first but now it grows more obvious every year. My eyes scan the flowers and I only see a clumsy black bumble. I patiently wait…I don’t see a honeybee. I scan the grass at the clover I allow to grow, still no honeybee. The sun is out on an 80 degree day in June and where are they?

 

 Ahhh there’s one.  One honeybee and two bumbles…

 

 

Honeybee in June by N.L McKinley
Honeybee in June by N.L McKinley

 

Bumble Bee in June accompanied by Orange Poppy. Credit: N.L. McKinley
Bumble Bee in June accompanied by Orange Poppy. Credit: N.L. McKinley

Perhaps it is still to early for them…perhaps I didn’t wait long enough…I will go out and look tomorrow for another one…

California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley
California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley

 

 

More stuff to ponder…

Just me Nancy reporting from the urban wilds of my backyard…SMILE!  Have a good one and remember what our friend Anne Frank said:

 

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 
― Anne Frank

 

Sometimes that is all we can do…

(And one more thing: please no more pesticides. I know YOU don’t use them but for anyone who may. Please as a personal favor for me…stop.)

Nancy

 

“The natural world belongs to us all and it is vanishing at an alarming rate. We the people of this planet have a responsibility to the generations that come after us. I believe we gardeners have a special and vital role to play in the protection of our dwindling natural assets.”

 

~N.L.  McKinley

 

bee gif flying

 

 

 Related Sound and Natural Tunes

.

Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy me
.
Counting Crows – Big Yellow Taxi ft. Vanessa Carlton
.
Blind Melon – No Rain
Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley
Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley

 

Related Articles and Items of interest

.

SAVE THE BEES (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

.

List of crop plants pollinated by bees (Wikipedia)

.

Mass bee die-offs reported in Portland area (Statesmanjournal.com)

.

A Disastrous Year for Bees: ‘We Can’t Keep Them Alive’ (New York Times on You Tube)

.

Feds aim to save declining honeybee (pressherald.com)

 

LoveSpring: The infatuation of a season

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” 


― Pablo Neruda

Cherry Blossom Skies

Just like love spring comes with a rush of sweet exuberance. No other season has a hold on me quite like spring. It is wondrous. It is glorious and I am totally and utterly in love with it. Springtime makes me giddy and weak in the knees. Let’s just say I get all “twitterpated” and before you know it I am thrown for a loop….but it doesn’t start that way. Spring is a subtle seducer.  It starts with a sign; a small indication that winter is losing its icy grip and this seems to come earlier every year. Crazy me pays attention to these things: I will notice out of the corner of my eye in passing a tiny green shoot daring to poke itself out of the sleeping earth. All it takes is the one and then my eyes are in constant scan looking for other signs of wakefulness.

It is the snowdrops and crocus that first appear. These are hardy ones and a little snow and blustery wind of late winter doesn’t bother them. They bloom anyway. As long as the pale sun continues to shine they share their beautiful color with weary eyes tired of the cold bland landscape.

I can’t help it. By this time my mind is in a whir.  I am all aglow and practically tripping over my feet. Any glimpse of blue in the sky sends me outside no matter the chill. I shiver under the sliver of sunbeam across the back deck and imagine how it will all be in a month or two. The gardener in me is making ambitious plans. This has been happening since late January and little by little I see nature at work in its ever moving dance of life.

It is that one morning that really does it; I am awakened by an optimistic sunshine that streams through the slats of the blinds. It tickles my eyelids and slowly and playfully beckons me to wakefulness. I linger near the edges of lucidity, between reality and dreams…but it is the faint sound of birdsong that lulls me to full arousement.

How could I not be happy waking up like this? How could anyone?

Spring is a time of renewal. There is a certain optimism in the air; a sort of bouncy happy effervescence and it is infectious.

The squirrels have caught it for sure. I can’t help but laugh at their antics. As they chase each other up and down the just about to bloom  flowering cherries across the street, they seem caught up in the season as well. The Robins have appeared, a sign of spring if there ever was one. I delight in the way they hop around the yard searching for their breakfast, which they are finding with a gusto; the rains of the night before have softened the earth and beckoned the worms to the surface.  This provides an easy meal not just for the Robins for for others as well. I can see four different kinds of birds just outside my window.

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

White Cherry Blossom in Spring (Credit: N.L. McKinley)

The flowering cherries cry out to be photographed and I cannot resist. The Yoshino Cherry in my front yard is the true essence of loveliness. The bees think so too…

bee in Yoshino Cherry blossoms credit N.L. McKinley

Cherry Blossom pink with stormy sky credit N.L. McKinley

There is a contrast between seasons this time of year; storm clouds and sunbeams clash and provide an interesting backdrop to a flowering cherry in the park down the street.

Yellow Spring Credit N.L. McKinley

The vibrant Forsythia in my mother’s yard in all it vivid glory.

Rhododendron pink by N.L McKinley

One of the many Rhododendrons in bloom.

Camellia pink at Grotto Credit N.L McKinley

Now that it is officially spring on this side of the hemisphere my love affair with the season can go into full swing.  Life is wonderful and so is being in love and in the springtime everything is possible.

Wishing you a lovely day!

Strawberryindigo.

.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” 
― Helen Keller
Happy Spring!
Happy Spring!

Related YouTube

Bambi – Twitterpated Scene

I Can’t Help Falling in Love with YOU by ELVIS

ANTONIO VIVALDI – La primavera ( Spring- full version)

Listen

 

Silence is rich. It is dark and viscous and it flows on waves of nothingness.  Silence begs to be filled and filled it must be. It is lonely and demanding and chill to the touch but it tastes smooth like the breeze. Silence is an opulent black pearl and one of the rarest gems on Earth.

There is a simple profoundness that can be found in the absence of sound. The emptiness that silence provides often gives rise to thought–the deep kind. The sort that give birth to leaps of logic and flights of the imagination. Silence is the canvas on which beautiful art can be created. It sits and waits patiently.

Silence isn’t in a hurry. It doesn’t need to explain itself or impress anyone or anything. It just is. It is the essence of cool. 

I love silence. I crave it even. It is sorely needed in this noisy world that we have created. Life passes far too quickly for proper reflection but the quiet gives our minds time to relax and reflect.

Of course there is no true silence, even in nature far away from the influence of man, there is sound. And it is these sounds in the silence that I take time out to explore.

Being a city dweller, the sounds I pick up are a mix of city hum and the song of nature. I have learned to appreciate the sounds I hear for what they are. Which I would have to say mostly traffic and birds…well let’s just say I try to focus on the birds and not the traffic so much. 

hope light in leaves
Credit: SBI

I will often go into the backyard, especially on days when I can find the smallest sliver of sunshine. I will sit in the golden light and close my eyes and listen. Listen to each and every individual sound I can possibly hear.  

This is not only relaxing, it is mind expanding. It is as if I am floating…

Each day is different. Today it is the caws of crows. They fly from treetop to treetop calling to each other. I can hear one and then another and soon a chorus rings out. The sound comes from high in the sky in all directions.  The atmosphere is alive and quick and I can feel their energy in my spirit and the warmth of the still-warm late October sun on my happy face.

Someday I will escape the city if only for a day and I will go to a random field or an empty beach or a hilltop among a grove of trees and listen and take it all in, keeping it with me always.  

For today though, the caws of crows do quite nicely.

Strawberryindigo.

crow in gray sky how times flies
Credit: SBI
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
― Chaim Potok
UNIQUE PICTURE: Earth as seen from the outer S...
UNIQUE PICTURE: Earth as seen from the outer Solar System (Photo credit: Icarus Kuwait)

****Related articles****

Morning Birds-No explosion (YouTube)

*

The Sound of Solitude  (theatlantic.com)

*