Gardening… you can’t grow a tomato?

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No, you cannot grow a tomato on the west side of Coastal Hwy 101, that is unless you have a greenhouse.  I rarely admit this but… I don’t even like tomatoes. When you listen to a coastal gardener talk you would think the whole reason one has a garden in the first place is to grow a perfect tomato. ‘How did your tomatoes do this year?’  <sigh>  Truth is you really need a greenhouse to grow anything on this wild coastline or a very protected spot.  I suppose I could list those among the reasons I never attempted to grow a ‘real’ garden. First, my eye just wasn’t on that prize and I couldn’t find that common ground with others in each year’s challenge of the juicy plump crowd pleaser. And then, maybe, it is that damp cold and the cold rain (except in the  summer),  the constant cold WIND, the fog (all summer)…. and there is our local fauna, our harmless and hungry visitors; deer, bear, raccoons, and birds. Coyote, bobcats and cougars seem to have little interest. And let’s not forget the time the bears smashed all my (store bought) pumpkins and ran off my the mums, several times taking out the bird feeders, digging up my compost piles, and again, moving huge amounts of ground in search of truffles…

Any gardening on the Oregon coast is challenging even if you’re not growing tomatoes.  Conditions are extreme. However, ‘we’ (meaning my husband gardener, Paul, and my almost paralyzed observer) have been able to grow (and some even thrive) many varieties of lavender and rosemary, coastal and rugosa roses, succulents, blueberry bushes if you don’t count the berries (deer nibble their tops ) ~  It’s always amazed me that whatever Paul plants grows. Then he leaves to go to sea for a few months with me in charge…  another reason not to garden.

We live on a sand dune overlooking the Siuslaw River, Oregon Dunes National Park and the Pacific Ocean; a magnificent spot!  Part of our property includes this very large hillside of cement slabs and slab terraces (to prevent slides) built by Paul, who was inspired  by our time living amidst the Incan polished dry stone walls of Macchu Pichu and Cusco, Peru. And like in Macchu Pichu, terraces and weather create unique eco systems making it experimental for growing and, well, maybe fun…  but that is Paul’s haven~ Our hillside faces south and is completely sheltered from our strong and cold NNW summer winds. Draught tolerant roses, berries and herbs love it!!  For hours hot sun reflects off those slabs, then our temps plummet into the 40′ and 50’s at night pulling in the damp moist sea air.  Also many afternoons as the Willamette Valley inland heats up, our winds pick up and we watch as the fog bank that sits offshore by high pressure is sucked onshore, and a smoke-like haze  fills the sky, enshrouding us as a cool, misty veil. All of these conditions make only the heartiest to survive.

So I ask, why put myself through this to grow vegetables when we have wonderfully fresh organic local produce available at our local co op and by farmers’ CSAs and markets most of our year? Locally, square foot gardens are popping up in every available lot, our Food Share land, and even in our local schools. Growing vegetables is part of our communities preparation for food independence  and interdependence as world conditions change and real concerns of corporate food dominance and scarcity arise. We are being encourage to grow, to work together,  to learn and to share~

Determined, this year, I decided to give it a whirl…  a vegetable garden, that lovely, luscious crop of edible growth. I can just stroll out the door, a lush variety of exquisites to choose from.  I will have garden talk with others. We can share secrets, swap seeds, donate the over abundance!  No, I won’t grow a tomato but kale and chard, onions and lettuce, beets, dill … most definitely! So after days of watching the sun and finding a coolish, convenient, FLAT spot with water nearby, then taking a two hour class on basic principles of square foot gardening, I went over to the local BiMart and bought three 3X6 cedar kits. Gratefully my friend, Robert, helped me even out the ground and set them up. Then I had compost delivered and bought my starts. That only took two weeks! However, today was the day… out I went this morning with my coffee (!), raffia, a hammer and little nails to create the lines, then weaving the raffia into 18 one foot squares per box. Happiness, happiness~~ enthusiastically tapping my hammer, weaving my threads… actually laughing!  LOL! Sunny, gorgeous, perfect. Took pictures! Big day so far!

Then I looked over at all the little starts that had been waiting patiently for several days. It was as if they were just vibrating with readiness; ‘let’s get growing!’ so young, so tender…  so (gulp) alive ! You know in the movie ‘Finding Nemo’ there is a girl, the dentist’s niece who the fish in the tank are terrified of? what’s her name? Darla? Okay… you get the picture~

Oh my goodness…  I take a breath… another breath…  I sit next to them … and wait… and wait…    GUIDANCE comes …  touch them, look at them, see them, hear them, talk with them, listen to them.  Let them tell you, show you… where they want to be, what they need. They have their own intelligence; their own brilliance…   You have chosen them of all the plants to be here with you.  Quieting down to listen shifted me into a new awareness and appreciation for the messages from the ‘little’ ones the of vegetable kingdom.  And why not?   We all know babies have their own ways to communicate, to make their needs known. In this kingdom its messages may be more subtle, but they are there. I felt very happy to realize this; that there colors, their textures, their sizes, their shapes all had meaning.  It is their language, their way to communicate. We only need to stop, be open, observe and tune in. It’s a language we hear, see and feel through our senses. It is also intuitive and through our hearts.  Relieved to know that now I had all of these green allies with this great power and life force of growth and potential, programed by biology and genetics to manifest destiny, I felt less intimidated. We are a team! WE can do this!

And then as I continued to relax among them ‘they’ spoke…   We are here to grow, to teach you how to grow. We need you… you have to give to us and to live we must receive from you. We will teach you this; how and when and what to give and how and when and what to receive. We are gentle and tender yet we are plants. We will teach you the boundaries of gentleness and tenderness, and how to be with us. We are generous, and we will flourish when you follow our laws. We want to please you, to grow, to be beautiful. We are also here to nourish you. All this we give to you when you give to us. This creates balance.  And we need certain nutrients to balance us. In return we will balance you.  We will show you. Every day, see us, notice, watch, water, weed, and take good care of us.  As we flourish you will flourish. What you give you will receive a hundred fold…

Laughing, I was consumed for hours with their chatter and our joyful play as we danced around the boxes setting each one or group in its potential spot and sensing a yes, or an ‘eh?’ It was as if each one participated in its own life, its own fate. They, no doubt, on a frequency or vibration, and just beginning to be measured by science, have their own ways of knowing and communicating.  I wanted so much for them to grow and do well, to thrive. And the more I opened to them the more they were there to guide me. I dug the little holes, made the little trenches, nestled everyone into their new beds. Pure glee! I started looking around at old potted plants barely hanging on and immediately like a claircognizant moment of knowing exactly what to do.  Then it hit me!  ‘Paul’s Wall’ success was that he had discovered plant magic, uncovered their teachings. He spent a lot of time there building, creating, imagining and planning; anticipating. He loved each plant he brought home. Paul took great care in deciding where each would go and then enthusiastically dug their holes and ever so lovingly place each one.  He observed, he watched, he noticed. he listened.  He loves to water; the best part he says. He learned the how, the when and the what of giving and receiving.  And he was joyful, happy! with joyful and very happy plants!

It’s now very late, and as I write I am again in awe of the plants and their entire kingdom; their beauty, their magic, their messages, their assistance, their wisdom, their support. I also realize there is a reciprocity in this; that the plants are aware of us as well.  I also see my husband in this new light, keeping a special secret in his knowing and understanding of plants, and his patience (and yes, long-suffering) awaiting my own discovery of the secrets and magic in planting my very own vegetable garden.

Again, Nature, the great teacher and all that she provides…we bow down in awe~~

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Rhododendrons along the Oregon Coast

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Every year  beginning in April and throughout June our Pacific Northwest woods come alive with the effusive pink blooms of our wild rhododendrons. The small community of Florence, Oregon proudly proclaims its title as the ‘City of the Rhododendrons, and  home to the 2nd oldest flower festival in Oregon; the Rhododendron or ‘Rhodie’ Festival.

Commonly and lovingly known as ‘rhodies,’ this particular genus (rhododendron macrophyllum) is unique to the Pacific Northwest coast from Vancouver, BC to Monterey, CA.  To drive along the Highway 101 and all secondary roads, to hike or walk through our woods is to experience the sheer riot of these prolific bloomers. For rhodies to be here at all requires many specific conditions. Their interdependence on trees- the Douglas Fir, Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, Western red  cedar, the coastal shore pine (and further south the Port Orford cedar, Myrtlewood continuing into the the CA Redwoods)  along with the temperate climate  and sandy, shallowly layered, low nutrient soil, brings a very specific eco system to our NW coast in which they thrive.

Rhodies can grow up 30+ feet tall weaving their long branches upward through the trees or hike their way along the ground creating  a thick underbrush supported and protected by the native salal, huckleberry and wax myrtle thus becoming needed shelter to bird and mammals both large and small. Through the  thick weblike maze Rhodies find their way upward toward the light in these dense , sometimes dark, coastal forests. They withstand drought by curling in their broad leaves. Liking moisture not rain, they look for drier spots and love to nestle among the trees where they can thrive off their coolness and moisture. They spring up from a mother root ball just below the ground and wander as far as mother allows which can be great distances yet still staying connected. Their surivial depend on that connection  to its mother root and its interconnection to the trees and undergrowth surrounding it. To move a wild rhodie  is like tearing a child from its mother, its family…its roots. ..  possible but takes tremendous care, patience, constant attention, training, nurture and, yes, love,  to re- create perfect conditions and environment in which to grow and thrive.

Almost daily I  walk through these woods with Scarlett at my side. I marvel at nature’ s lessons, nature’s truths of dependence and interdependence, of connectedness and interconnection, of thrive, of survive, of seasons and cycles; of life, of death…certainly of change. Nature teaches us… she teaches us to notice, to allow. She teaches patience, to trust her ways. Nature teaches us to see, to listen and to hear… maybe to let go and not interfere.  We see that the earth has her own system of intelligence, wisdom, brilliance.  She is alive and pulsing, from her core out, from her atmosphere in!  She is efficient and generous.  We continuously receive her bounties, her blessing, her beauty through all of our senses. Nature heals.

Nature is also a great teacher. She teaches that we need each other;  that the very success and vibrancy of  lives and our survivial depends on our interdependence one to another and to our earth. We do not exist outside the laws of nature. We come in through a planted seed. We grow rooted  into our mothers wombs which gives us the conditions and sustenance  to grow and thrive. Then we spring forth out of that root into our first breath lovingly connected  to the one there who will mother, nurture and sustain us. We are all born into our own unique conditions and environment. Our dependence is great until our gradual  independence allows us to extend out and upward toward our own experiences knowing we are supported by the the undergrowth, the thick and complex web woven around us of safety, of shelter never  far from the root ,that connection from which we sprung. We climb along the strong ones (the trees) trusting their steadiness, their support as we reach higher aspiring toward that higher ground moving ever closer to the light… the light  of knowledge, of understanding, of wisdom, of virtue.  And when we are uprooted or when there is loss, a tearing away,  there is something innate in us like in nature that will seek to reclaim or find again those conditions, that environment in which we can thrive.  We have the experience of a mother root. We use those innate and given qualities, our intuition, our perceptions, our intelligence, maybe our vision, and our learned skills to reach out, to extend ourselves, to look to ourself and  others as a source of  strength and support. We have to trust. We have to learn patience.  We give. We receive.  We care, we take care.  We create communities. We learn. We heal. And we seek our new way…  a way that will continue to sustain, protect, support and, yes, love…  and  we will thrive!

Heceta Lighthouse … Signatures

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Over the last few years I have been a volunteer for the Heceta Light House of Washburn State Park in Florence, Oregon giving tours to the many visitors we have each year.  The light, which now runs on a small 1/4 hp motor to turn it, once required 3 men, the lighthouse keeper and his 2 assistants, to maintain and stand watch that the light, lit by kerosine fuel, never went out. Today, Heceta is maintained by Washburn State Park.  However, if the light goes out the Coast Guard becomes involved in its return to functioning because it is still used today as an aid to navigation.

One of the terms we use for lighthouses are their ‘signatures.’ A signature is a pattern of ‘flashes (beams of light)’ a lighthouse gives off that distinguishes or identifies it one from the other. For example, Heceta has one ‘flash’ every 10 seconds. Winchester Bay (30 miles south) has one red, two white  every so many seconds, etc.  Mariners can tell a lot from that flash, identify where they are along  (in this case ) the Oregon Coast by the signatures, the beam of lights and the way they intersect. We think of lighthouses as a thing of the past because most people sea bound  are using satellite technology (GPS, etc.). However, satellite systems can fail; anything can happen at sea. And we are forced to rely on the old ways to access where we are; after the unsettledness, and more likely PANIC, we have no choice but to rely on ourselves, our gut, our quick response, to survive this and bring our craft safely to its harbor.

As a  body worker and intuitive healer  what I sense in people is what I have since called  ‘signatures.’ Each aspect, each subtlety  about a person has this same kind of unique pulse, energy, wave, frequency, vibration… call it any of these  whether physical, mental or emotional  each giving off  its signature; distinguishing one from another.   I distinguish them mostly through clairsentience ( touch or feeling these subtleties through my own body). They can have textures light to dense,  gritty,  soft, rough, heavy, etc. The energy can vibrate low to high. Sometimes there are odors, heat, cold, foggy, clear, and each degree of these can vibrate, resonate differently. Pain vibrates this way, in waves, as does healthy tissue, bones, cells. It can very subtle and other times quite obvious connecting the emotional pain, the mental strife/stress as it manifests into physical pain.

In medical intuitive work we look for those sublties ‘beneath/ beyond the radar.’ Many people contact us when medicine has no other answer or medicine has ‘given up on them. The highly technical machines that can brilliantly diagnose and save lives can also sometimes fail to find what is ‘wrong.’  Like a GPS failing at a crucial moment ! Machines are not (yet?) set up to ‘scan’ those subtle connections between body, mind and spirit. This can leave a person feeling very alone  like at sea in the fog or in a raging sea seeking another light, another way,  looking for those connections between their dilemma (illness or dis-ease) and their safe return home (to wholeness/wellbeing) .

There was a time when we relied less on technology, and more on our own guidance and intuition.  I often ask people ‘ what do you think this is?’ What do you think you need to do?”  Usually people have a ‘gut’ answer or an inkling of an idea.  This is the beginning. This is their lighthouse, their beam of light and hope. Like a treacherous stormy sea when technology has failed us…  when panic hits and leaves… when we are forced to quiet down, to use what is right in front of us; we have to survive this, navigate this. We find a beginning. We take out our chart (focus). We take a position, a fix (where am I ?). We look for the light, that beam of light we know is near that will guide us. A  lighthouse, its signature  … our intuition;  our answer… our way home.

the Beautiful Oregon Coast

DSC_0164Every day is an adventure and a new way to see, hear and connect to earth, sand and sea with Scarlett at my side. Scarlett came to us 3 year ago. She is a 12 1/2 year old coyote red wolf.  Terrified, isolated and not having been socialized, Scarlett has been on a journey of recovery and self discovery.  Bringing her daily into her natural element of the outdoors she has blossomed and claimed her birth right ! We have built a bond of  love and trust.  We teach each other from our worlds. What a marvelous companion! What a beautiful place to heal !

CA Redwood Forests

CA Redwood Forests

Our Ancient Sentinels, our true carriers of the physical light, light beings of our earth… our trees and plants.

Last summer I had a dream which revealed  ‘we are the true bearers of light on earth! We hold the physical light which create the energy that makes this all possible. We are here, and we see you. We feel you as you feel us. We rest in your embrace as you rest in ours. When you hold us, we hold you. We are encouraged by your presence with us. When you see us you see the world.’