Courage

The vibrations rattle my bones and like a seismic shift I can feel everything unfolding.

Centuries deep these wounds are flushed with blood thick and poisoned for far too long. My grandmothers, great grandmothers, great great grandmothers, great great great grandmothers, and beyond - they surround me now.

I’m bearing witness to the break down. I’m begging for it. Implode. Kick me. Harder. Spit on my spirit and shake me up. Rip everything out of me. Do it. Do it.

I’m summoning the fear that’s strangled our spirit for far too long. I’m bending the grip and staring into it, dead on. Roaring, try me. Crying, try harder.

For the voices lodged in the back of throats beyond their last breath. For the lives less-lived on hillsides in the hushed walls of old cobblestone lined farmhouses. For every woman whose heart my blood ran through, this is for you. This is for us.

All the births before mine aligned for this. The fear of fear ends with me.

woman on motorcycle in the woods

Where Rosemary Flourishes

When we moved into our new home in January of this year our little Rosemary bush made the move along with us. At the time I thought it was quite a large Rosemary bush; little did I know. Now, just 8 months later it’s probably four times the size that it was then. Under the energy of the full moon, I pruned some of the branches, creating a little structure and harvesting the clippings. I bound 4-5 branches in cotton string and hung them to dry in our laundry closet, where I left them for several weeks. Despite being rather small, the laundry closet has turned out to be the perfect place to dry herbs. This is also where I dry my chamomile and any seeds I’m saving.

Once completely dried I combed through each branch by hand, breaking every leaf from the woody stem and sifting through any debris. With hands covered in the aromatic oils I was nearly lost in euphoria of the scent and the process. My quart of dried Rosemary is infused, not just with fresh flavor, but with love and wonder, and with all the wildness that crossed over each branch as it pushed upward toward the call of the moon.

This Rosemary will become tea and will likely make its way onto Rosemary Lemon Roasted Potatoes (just in time for the holiday season). If I’m working toward Yang energy (during the follicular phase, or first half of my cycle) it seems to resonate the most in a tea blend. Combined with chamomile, blue lotus, and Raspberry leaf I find it quite magickal. And while I don’t have any documentation to back up this theory, I do feel that Rosemary warms and energizes my blood.

An old English saying goes, “Where Rosemary flourishes, the Woman rules”, believing that Rosemary only really flourished under the watchful eye of a powerful woman. I quite like this idea.

quart jar of dried Rosemary rosemary-3.JPG dried Rosemary on plate next to bundles of Rosemary

Insects of the Garden

One of my favorite things about gardening is that it encourages an abundance of life and energy where there once was not. The transformation of a humble urban backyard into an oasis of natural activity is truly magical. Life begets life. Insects are a part of this network, some we deem to have pest-like qualities and others beneficial. Regardless, they all serve a purpose in the balance of life. I, the gardener, must advocate for the plants when the success leans closer to pests and further from harvest. At the same time, I must recognize the purpose behind each of these beings and intervene only as needed. It’s a motherly endeavor, this growing of plants. This video is a brief glance at some of these wonders of the garden - specifically those that challenge my harvesting efforts.

Hand-Sown & Home-Made

Hand sown, home grown, hand picked, hand washed, home-made pesto. That’s hard to find in a store. A bounty of basil is a joy in the garden and in the kitchen. This pesto is very easy to make and can be frozen for quick and delicious meals in the depths of winter, when the basil plants are long gone. It is lovely on breakfast sandwiches as we discovered with our friends in Raleigh. We also made a big pot of pasta with sauteed veg, fresh parmesan and pesto - one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.

To freeze, put into a freezer-safe container and drizzle more olive oil over the top to prevent freezer burn. Use within the next season or two for best taste.

Walnut and Garlic Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 medium or 2 large garlic cloves
  • 4T extra virgin olive oil (or more as needed)

Instructions

In a medium to large sized food processor add garlic and pulse until minced. Next add walnuts, basil leaves, and olive oil into the processor along with the garlic and run until basil leaves are chopped into to small (1cm or so) pieces. You may need to scrape the bowl and run the processor a little more. Add more olive oil as needed for desired texture. It should be creamy, not dry and crumbly. This recipe makes about 1 half-pint.

Basil plant in the garden Basil on towel next to woman in kitchen basil and oil in food processor pesto in jar with basil in background

Insects of our Virginia Garden

Some are friends, some are not, but all are truly beautiful. Nature never ceases to amaze me, with it’s diversity of designs and patterns, logic and engineering. Each creature with it’s own line in this single song we call uni-verse. This gallery is only a brief collection of all that we witnessed over the summer season. Many, I am sure, evaded our eyes altogether.

Honeybee on Borage
Borage is one of my favorite garden herbs, simply because it's a magnet for honeybees. This worker bee is busy collecting nectar and pollen to return to the colony. Honeybees use pollen for protein and nectar for carbohydrates. I do hope our collection of Borage and other blooms resulted in a waggle dance back at the colony.
Black bee feasting from a cucumber flower
I'm in the process of trying to identify this bee. It's not one I've seen before. In person it looked as black as a polished shoe and was about the size of a honeybee. Here, she is feasting on the offerings of a cucumber bloom.
Jewel Wasp
This Jewel Wasp is gathering pollen from a Black Brandywine Tomato bloom. Some Jewel Wasp species are parasitoids - meaning they choose a host insect to kill in order to complete their life cycle.
Brown grasshopper in Sage leaves
Grasshoppers are generally frowned upon in gardening as they're quick to destroy an entire crop. Fortunately we didn't see such behavior this year and never saw any damage to the sage where the grasshoppers were always living their best lives.
Green grasshopper resting on a sage leaf.
Another grasshopper minding its business in the sage. I never saw them anywhere besides the sage bush and even it was left unbothered.
Hornworm with Wasp Pupa
This hornworm has been attacked by a bracanoid wasp. The wasp lays eggs inside of the worm where they feed and emerge into the pupa stage. This event results in death of the Hornworm. Wasps are a garden ally, as these worms can cause enormous damage to a tomato crop.
Cabbage looper eating cabbage leaf
Cabbage loopers are quick to destroy your cole crops. At this size the damage is minimal, but they grow quickly and the larger they become the more damage they create. Wasps are helpful, but picking them off of your plants early will help manage their destruction.
Squash bug eggs laid on the edge of a Patty Pan leaf.
Squash bug eggs are easy to spot, usually found in 10-15 tiny brown or red-hued clusters on either side of squash plant leaves. If your plant's leaves are turning yellow and dying these bugs could be the culprit.
Orange colored bug with black and white legs
I am still working to identify this crazy looking creature. It was quick on its feet and is not one I've seen very many times this season. I love the pattern on its legs - very dramatic indeed!
Swallowtail caterpillar on Dill
This Swallowtail caterpillar nearly doubled in size daily for the week we watched it. It and many others were quite content to devour the Dill in order to thrive. Fortunately I planted more than enough to share. I look forward to more Swallowtails visiting our garden.
Swallowtail butterfly on marigolds
Yellow swallowtails are great pollinators of the garden. The females are slightly larger than the males, though their patterns are similar. Their only diet is flower nectar, making Marigolds like these and other flowering plants an important element of the garden.
Paper Wasp explores the garden
This Paper Wasp is another ally of the garden. Earlier in the season I witnessed one feeding on the remains of a cabbage looper that was destroying our brassicas.

The truth is just that I care. I can’t not care. I don’t know how.

The moments between the breath. The silence between calls and texts, where memories bubble to the surface and I let them drip down the pane/pain in my mind and absorb into the atmosphere. Starting new, clean and clear.

A long road this winding place that began before words could fall from my tongue or enter my ears. I knew it all then. Everything unfolding around me, out of me. I was there, with you, when it was dark and heavy and scary and uncertain. When your feet lost their ground. In the evenings when you stared into the darkness out of your window with fear of losing me, I was there too. I saw all of it from where I was.

Our words get tangled and bad decisions blur what’s true, but the truth is that there’s a cord between you and I that goes beyond the noise of this world. And in the emptiness I feel it. In the space between my heart beating, breath breathing, noise hearing, words speaking. I am there. And so are you.

Diversity

Little plant on it’s own, doing it’s best but struggling alone.

I plant a friend, or two or three. Together they thrive alongside the arriving birds, worms, and bees. Everybody with their own line in this single song called Universe.

Branches of fruit winding among the flowers and herbs; more friends arrive, wasps, moths, beetles, and tiny things of wildness.

The garden is vibing, glowing, humming, and living. Alive. Life becomes life. The life in this becomes the life in me and the life in everything I brush against. Thriving on diversity.

I Let Go

I let go of formal education because it made it hard to think.

I let go of social media because it made it hard to hear.

I let go of striving for the future because it made it hard to feel.

I hear the birds mastering their songs, and the tapping of tree leaves. I feel the edges of my feet connecting to the cold soil and soft grass beneath me. I feel the wind weaving between each strand of my untamed hair. My thoughts are simple and sweet; few and seldom. This is enough.

cabbage with curve of water drops on leaf.

Biblical Rains

As my memory serves me, May is always pretty rainy. Two years ago as my husband and I were planning for our early June, outdoor wedding I remember getting to the end of May after nearly 30 days straight rainshowers and wondering if I’d made a mistake not planning for anything but the perfect sunny day. As luck would have it, our wedding was the first day in more than a month the rain passed over. We said our vows out in the pasture, under the most welcome sun rays I can ever remember.

This May has brought a similar amount of clouds and precipitation, but with flood-level downpours included. After nearly 4 days of nearly non-stop pouring rains, flooding of local rivers and creeks, and some crazy winds it has finally slowed down. We’ve even gotten the occasional cloud break letting the sun have a go at pouring some rays.

Our garden beds held up swimmingly (ha, ha!) with no ponding, washouts, or other issues you might expect from record rainfall. A testament to the work we put into the soil. It both managed drainage and kept our plants nourished despite the near endless days of cloud cover. But with every triumph awaits a challenge and this time it’s been slugs. Prior to all of this I noticed the wild birds would forage through the garden beds throughout the day, eating bugs and probaby slugs. Even in weeks of more sane levels of moisture I hadn’t noticed an enormous amount of pest activity. Bring on the floodlevel rains and the birds tend to stay up in the trees more. The slugs had a true hay day in our greens bed. Near decimating our beautiful chard, very young spinach, and lettuces. Each leaf torn through like it was the last supper. One by one I picked them off. We elected to use an organic slug bait as well because I just didn’t think we’d have a fighting chance otherwise. It’s acute care, really, with the hope that as the weather resettles the birds can manage the few slugs that come on after this onslaught.

As I write, we’re about a week out from that madness. The slug activity has slowed as I’d imagined it would. Clouds loom today, with a few welcome breaks of sun. My basil starters have taken off so I added those to the beds this morning in place of the bolting radish that’s clearly over this wack weather. As I picked through each of the beds I noticed flea beetles on the eggplant starters. I’m trying out an all-natural DIY spray mixture recommended by Farmers Almanac and will write about the outcome as it unfolds. Hoping I’ve caught it quick enough that they don’t become a big problem. I’ve got a few more basil coming in that I’ll probably plant parallel to the eggplant in the hopes that it prevents the flea beetles from spreading too far. As I’ve said before, always a dance this gardening business. Sometimes it’s elegant and other times it’s more like running barefoot across hot coals.

Closeup of slugs on lettuce biblical-rains.jpg

Gemini Twins

This is our first spring in our new house. I’m still learning the rhythms of nature here. Still discovering the beings that also call this little space home. Every morning Isaac and I (or Matt) head down to the back yard, so he can take care of his puppy dog business. We see all kinds of creatures - squirrels, rabbits (lots of babies right now!), crows and various song birds. In the evenings I like to sip an herbal tonic on the back deck and watch the sun lower just west McAfee. That’s when I see bats, an occasional racoon, and hear the robins giggle just as the light fades into darkness.

One morning when we first moved here we spooked three does snoozing down in the ivy. Something I didn’t expect to find in our little urban space. Back at the farmhouse we were used to the herd of 15 that had a routine daily traveling pattern. We were used to watching fawns nurse in tall spring grass and call for mom when she’d been away too long.

Those are the magical moments I love, that I dreaded missing when we moved into town. It is nature’s rhythms that ground me, make me feel whole and a part of a bigger story beyond my own. Where I find alignment and my truest source of self.

Changing spaces on earth did not fade this for me. It made me realize that my awareness is engaged in nature, that no matter where I am, I am whole.

As Isaac and I were out one recent morning, I sat at the edge of a garden bed to pick through weeds while he collected olfactory data. From my periphery I noticed something down at the end of the yard in the ivy moving around. Larger than a rabbit, but quieter than a cat or dog. We both sat, still as stones in the morning light, waiting to see what would emerge. To our delight, a pair of twin fawns just hours old and still wobbling appeared at the edge of our yard.

For days they stayed in the safety of the pines and ivy - secluded from the noise of urban existence. As Matt and I were working in the garden, the fawns began to bleet for mom. Just moments later she tore down into the yard, ears perked and eyes searching. We snuck quietly back inside, letting her nurture in solitude.

The following morning as I was out on the deck for my morning meditation. The doe appeared quietly, slowly making her way around a few shrubs. With a bob of her head a fawn appeared and began nursing. The fawn’s legs spread wide, stablizing her tiny body. Her little tail flicking with seeming joy as she nursed her belly full. The doe licking and nuzzling her the entire meal. When she finished nursing, the doe walked back to the edge of the fence and waited for the fawn to bed down. The doe jumped the fence and waited once more for the fawn to bed down. She’d take a step, and look back. Not leaving until her little babe was safe and settled.

These twin fawns arrived just as the moon was shifting new and settling into Gemini. As I pulled the lovers card, ruled by Gemini. I lay in bed and listen to them take turns calling for mom; these two, all legs and lungs. My cells vibrating with instincts. I’ve been meditating a lot on what it means to exist as a female. On creative energy. On our innate nature to nurture. On love. All of this, manifesting into this moment.

fawn and doe behind trees fawn sleeping in ivy twin fawns walking in yard fawn peeking behind branches twin fawns in ivy
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