Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tomatoes across the world

 This post was created in my mind over a month ago. It's been gestating slowly. I've always used only my own photos on this blog, but today I break the rules, and you will see why.
It began when in the same week I read two posts from favourite blogging friends. Both mentioned the same thing: gathering in the very last of the tomatoes.
Celi writes a daily blog about self-sufficient organic farming on the prairies of USA. She works hard, has a lively imagination and writing style, and a great sense of humour. On October 19 she put up a post called Peahens on the catwalk kitten in the garden, in which she posted this photo:
and wrote:
bringing in as much produce as is left in the gardens, tonight it is meant to freeze down to 35F (1.6C) so it is a race against time. Who knows if the tomatoes will survive that anyway.
 Now it was only a week earlier that I had planted the first tomato seedlings out at the bach. And in the same week discovered an accidental tomato plant, which had popped up beside the spinach in a pot on the balcony in town.
Only two days after Celi's post, I discovered Penny had posted on exactly the same subject. Her blog is about life on the Cutoff, a block of land in the midwest USA, visited by deer, grandchildren, books and whatever Penny's roaming imagination calls in. Penny tends a community garden, and in her post 'Soups and Shawls and Bittersweet', she included this picture of her last harvest:
She wrote how it was a good time of year to take stock: 
It is also time to clear out our plot . . . I harvested a good hat full of tomatoes last week, and Tom and I gathered more this weekend. Soon, very soon, the plants will be pulled and composted, the fencing will come down, and we will sigh a good sigh at the fruits we reaped from our efforts as well as the sense of community that prevailed.
Meanwhile my little tomatoes at the bach were growing fast. I took this photo on the same day that Celi brought in her harvest. That week, the accidental tomato on my balcony in town surprised me by bursting into tiny yellow flowers.
Now my blogging friends are hunkering down while the snow falls, the cold winds blast and the mercury plunges to the kind of lows that we never experience here in Auckland.
 Here, we are now fruiting and expanding. There, they are drawing in.
For several decades I've been writing about the seasons. ( My mission was to establish, very firmly, a seasonal calendar for the southern hemisphere. I wanted people to wake up to where they were living, to take charge of the fact that Christmas, for example, is a winter solstice festival. We don't have to spray snow everywhere in the heat of summer, pretending we live in the north. We can embrace our own seasons, bring in our own symbols, celebrate with pohutukawa and picnics, on beaches and balconies, with sun and sand.
This work kept me very focussed on the seasons of the southern hemisphere. My blogging friends from the north, who are so connected with the rhythm of the land in their hemisphere, have stretched my awareness back to include the whole planet. Autumn and spring, winter and summer: these are the polarities that we find ourselves in as one human family. 
Now, whenever I celebrate our seasons of Aotearoa New Zealand, in the other half of my mind I am remembering my friends who are in the opposite time. 
We are one family.
We share tomatoes across the world.

*Thank you Celi and Penny for being happy for me to share your images and words here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A line in the sand

 Oh no! We've gone down to the beach to find the swing, but the tide is full and rushing in, and the little one won't be able to swing today
 —or so I thought. She has other ideas. Maybe she can't swing, but the swing
can have a swing! There it goes.
You have to be so quick to catch it.
And again, and again. Then a question: 'Granny, is the tide coming in or going out?'
 Let's find out. We need to draw a line in the sand. Then watch.
We have to be patient. But we discover that the line in the sand stays intact. We had arrived at the beach just as the tide was turning, and now it's definitely going out,
 and it's time to swing out over the waves
 Wheee! this is such fun.
 And so is this!
Some days are just perfect.
And just to finish, lets catch some foam in our hands.
Every tide is different.
Every day is different.
We go to the same little beach, never quite sure what we will find.
One thing is for sure though: next time we bring our bathing togs. No more lines in the sand or waiting for the waves to recede. Next time we will jump in and get as wet as we wish.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Making Mandalas

 Every year, as summer solstice and Christmas approach, I like to create a mandala out of natural materials, and then make it into my Solstice card.
 It takes days of playing to get the one I want (none of these are 'it'; I'm saving that one to show you later.
 This one is made out of the little one's favourite shells. When she came to visit and saw my mandalas on the balcony, she wanted to make one of her own.
 And so I set her up with some leaves, shells and stones, all her own choice. She worked down the other end of the balcony, so she could play around without feeling she needed to copy me.
 Inevitably, there was some influence; however her mandalas, whether drawn or arranged, have their own style. They always begin to stretch and grow.
I guess that's inevitable if you are 5 years old and every morning when you wake up you find that you did a lot of growing overnight. Your world is always expanding and you discover new things every day. And so you create elastic mandalas like this one.
I printed her shell mandala out and pasted it on to a card. She was so proud and took it home for her parents to admire. Now it has a special place on her dressing table.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sympathetic joy

 Last night I helped create an altar for an Interfaith gathering on the theme of sympathetic joy. I forgot my camera, but someone let me use their cellphone to take a couple of photos.
Sympathetic joy is celebrated by Buddhists, and means rejoicing in the happiness of others. The Buddha referred to sympathetic joy as 'the mind deliverance of gladness.'
 My role in the service was to do an invocation to the 4 elements of life: earth, fire, air and water.
There is so much joy expressed in nature at present.  These are the native renga renga lilies which grow well on rocks and banks and are now flowering along the coastline.
Hilary, the ordained interfaith minister, who gave a beautiful talk at the service, told stories of sympathetic joy. One of them was about the astounding moment in a concert by Paul Simon earlier this year.
 After Paul Simon announced that he was going to play 'Duncan', a fan called out from the audience, 'I learned to play guitar on that song'.
Then, to everyone's amazement, Paul Simon called her up on stage.
Despite her reluctance, he kept calling her up, then handed her his guitar and invited her to sing. His whole face and body were radiant with sympathetic joy as he watched over her, encouraging her every step of the way. I've just watched the youtube clip and it's had me in tears.
Here's the link for you. I wish you many moments of expansion this week, as you rejoice in the good fortune of others.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Look what we found at the beach!

 Oooh look! Someone has climbed high in the pohutukawa with a very strong rope
 and made something that the little monkey just can't resist.
 It's very securely wound around the branch and expertly knotted in place.
 And now the sun has come out, making everything perfect,
 in fact as happy as can be.
 After all that excitement it's time for the little sea bird to emerge, and go hunting for treasures once more on the edge of the tide.
Well . . . maybe just one more ride . . .
 We are so happy that it's warm enough to play on the beach once more,
And we leave with a big thank you for the unknown swing-maker.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spring gates

 Walking around the streets in spring, I find myself noticing new things. Like the gates.
Some gates are inviting; you just want to go inside and be welcomed,
 while others are clearly designed to keep you out.
Some gates are disguised as sections of a fancy fence, yet they are open and let you see through.
Here's another that gives nothing away.
 Some are very formal.
 Most want no junk mail in their letter boxes, but beside this gate the slots are open to receive the Ponsonby News.
Some gates are not only fortress-like, but reflect back at you, throwing you off.
But others say, 'come on in and join in the party.'
What kind of gate do you have? Are visitors welcome?