Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ecologia y yo!!!

There is a tradition here that the rainy season begins on June 24th. It's connected to a legend that the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado prayed for rain on June 24, 1540, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, and after his prayers, it rained.
And so it was this year.  The rain began steadily and gently after dark. During the rainy season we have rain and thunder nearly every night until November.
Our farm is on the hill behind the smoke 

The morning after, the veranda was wet with what looked like coffee. That has never happened before but then we have never had an asphalt plant in our village. A renovation of the plaza and a new road along the coast is the new busy-ness overwhelming our town. A gray cloud of smoke hovers over the asphalt plant alongside the river and meanders up the valley to the foothills where our farm is, causing the air to reek of asphalt and tint the rain black.

I think it's driving the mosquitoes up the hills to our place too.

The dogs have forgotten what rain is after 7 months of dry days and nights. They are loathe to get their feet wet, clumping up on the porch in front of the fan. I'm hoping the rain will kill off the ticks which seem particularly bad this year. Recently, I noticed that there are tiny spiders around with shiny, blood-red balloon bodies, their webs dangling mummified ticks. I've decided to receive them as allies and accept their part in the balancing act on Slow Living Farm.

The plants respond gratefully to the rain, brightening, baptized and washed from months of dust. It is an eye-feast of greens. The datura I thought was a goner begins again as a young upstart. The twiggy poinsettia from Christmas is flush with new green leaves veined in red.

Prior to the rain, la chicharras, our cicadas, sing the rainsong. It is one of the sure sounds of the season. The frogs sing too and in the evening they come to the windows of the office to feed on insects. They sleep during the day under pillows and in pottery on the veranda. Walking at night with the flashlight, I am overwhelmed by the dense insect-life in the air, on the ground, in the trees - the night is vibrating with humming, buzzing, clicking and clacking.
The view into the orchard below is a strobing lightshow of fireflies.

Silent, with one eye open to the frogs and mice, a large boa rests wrapped in the bars of our window grill.

A young rooster has found his voice. His crow is the first 5 notes from the old sitcom "Get Smart". I hear it all day long as a playful tease, get smart!

Wally and I are are witnesses to the complex balance of our ecosystem on the farm. It's a relational world, one thing linked to another. In tropical Mexico it's more vivid and apparent than any place I've ever lived.

Summer pickins' from the farm 

I'm preparing to teach summer school in two weeks. The theme this year is Ecologia y yo! - (Ecology and me!)  Raising the awareness of digital-addicted kids to seeing themselves as connected and related to everything in this richly diverse universe, and to get them to see this as a pattern that informs everything will take a transformation of consciousness. 

I know, I know, sounds too, too...ambitious. But it occurs to me that a simple starting point is to learn how to see.

My mother gave my sisters and me the gift of deep seeing. Her enthusiasm for the wonders of nature in the tiniest details were our first exposure to pure joy. They were awakening moments. I believe that might be the magic key:  to be startled awake by beauty is transformative. For me it was the spark that ignited a blaze of love for the things of nature that has fueled my whole life. When you love something you naturally care, naturally want to protect, naturally strive to live up to your part in the relationship. This heart-driven ecology feels like it might hit the mark of a true-love marriage between the sciences of the cosmos and evolving human beings, or as we say on the farm: human beans.

I'm not a scientist or an educator. I'm a romantic - a believer that beauty, like love can save the world. It saved me!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Junko's birth-day

Circle Dance

My mother birthed us into this life
Her daughters birthed her into death.
Now she carries us again in her spirit-body,
her wisdom flowering out 
filling the spaces and gaps, closing the arc
begun as a tentative love
 now ripe, stretched,
this time in surrender to the light
the one-longing
hers, mine, ours - since the beginning.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Punkin, Spec, and Wally
Yesterday some men came and stole our mango crop. They penetrated the fence the furthest side from the house into the north orchard where a deer lived a protected life. We don't know what happened, whether they tried to catch the deer or taunted him, but the deer escaped from our refuge by ramming a hole through the wire mesh fence. The terrible force caused internal injuries. We discovered him in the yard at the gate, in shock, bleeding from the nose, his head and horns battered. Our young dog, Punkin was curled up next to him, clearly empathetic. 

This morning the deer was still there, but gone.

My emotions traveled the range of wanting to booby trap the perimeter of the farm to shooting at the feet of the violators, making them dance in terror. I wanted the perpetrators, yesterday, today and tomorrow, to bleed too. But then, in my journeying around hate I came to an impasse.

Blessed are the peacemakers. 

I'm too sad and riled to think of peacemakers as defeated martyrs. I don't want cruelty to make me cruel. I want to be a peace-able, human being to spite cruelty and stupidity. I want to become genuinely free so that in the midst of violation, loss, persecution, whatever - they cannot find me anywhere - whered'd she go?! Talk about liberation! Can a slow distillation of these terrors and turmoils of life turn my journey into one of transformation? 

The wabi sabi is that there is sense to what looks senseless but you have to look and keep looking. We can see the pattern everywhere and in everything in this material, earthly world and even in ourselves:  birth, life, death and then something else. I believe the pattern was incarnated to bring the reality home to us. "I am the resurrection and the life"- it's the same thing! The catalyst is love, the love remains and the love is the spark of what follows. The pattern will continue to unfold ever wider and deeper until, until, until everything is HOME.

One day our grown up deer-seed- huanacaxtle

Wally journeyed his grief by digging a generous, commodious hole. He positioned the deer-seed with a view to the ocean and we covered him with dirt. Wally's words were simple: Go back to the garden...  

He circled the place with rocks and a huge wreath of almond leaves, and planted a young huanacaxtle tree at it's heart. 

Peace -able

Saturday, March 18, 2017

More scenes from my kitchen...

Lucy waiting on lovin in the oven...

It's a surprise to realize I haven't blogged in over a year... Just goes to show that sometimes the current is swift as we allow the river of life to carry us.

Today is baking day - the best day of the week for me. Tomorrow is market day. I put the satellite radio station on the music of Hildegard de Bingen and cross myself, asking the kitchen Virgin to bless these hands as I mix love into the flour and sugar. I'm not waxing poetic, I'm serious. The things I create come from the flow of God. I breathe in God and breathe out cake, or something for art's sake. What a magnificent economy that the Creator would perpetuate creative evolution by making us creators too...that's the flow I try to move in. How can it not be glorious when you throw in butter and chocolate - that feels like cheating.

It's Spring and the iguanas are wooing. The sounds on the roof are dramatic and exciting. Large bodies are scrambling and power-lunging themselves with nary a care of the slope, pitch and slickness of the roof. The sounds make the dogs howl and the chickens jump and squawk. This energy charges the kitchen.
Wooing dragon energy
Re-arrangement for love

When I came up the steps to my kitchen on the third story, an iguana dressed as a dragon flew from the landing to the veranda wall and climbed the coils to the top of my freezer. Oh great, I think as I ponder that enormous tail and the pottery carefully arranged to adorn its top. I get the stepladder and with my face inches from the amorous dragon I remove as many clay pots as possible.  Already, he has swept off a lid and a ceramic ball.  Stuff I'll save for a mosaic or mobile. Even the creatures are making stuff for art.

Where is St Francis when you need him - out mending a hole in the fence to keep the new chicks from becoming food.

Friday, November 13, 2015

All souls and stuff

An altar in our kitchen
All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead has passed. We drank, ate, laughed and cried with the company of all souls. The cemetery was filled was a cacophony of people, children, dogs, boom boxes and roving musicians. Graves were piled high with flowers and tables were laden with food and drink, braziers wafting the smoke of roasting meat. In the late afternoon, mass was celebrated. People gathered to sit on graves and to stand in groups awaiting the part where their beloved's name would be spoken. For many of the elders, the names read out loud are as familiar as the backs of their hands. Here, everyone knows one another for a lifetime. There is a complex interconnection of marriages and relationships so that the corporate memory is exponentially broad, wide and deep.

When people stop to linger in memories the dead return to us in their essence. They rise again in a tender, more merciful re-collection. Death awakens us, hopefully, to live like everything we do and say matters, that the ripples of our lives continue forward in time like the ripples of the dead that move through us. We are imperfectly-holy saints abiding alongside those who have gone before us. When we think we are separate there can be no healing.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nest and nester...

Lucy has a nose for chick-care
My husband, Wally's rough hands cup a chick.  The rainy season is a harsh environment for the little ones. He has brought the hatchling for me to keep warm and sheltered, to give her a chance of surviving this setback. We've done this countless times. Sometimes I put the little life in the front of my shirt in the space between my breasts and move about doing my chores as the little chick sleeps as if under a wing of different sorts. Sometimes I make a nest in the pocket of my apron with a torn piece of t-shirt to catch droppings - a chick diaper. 

The noise of the chicken yard is our soundscape. At times the chick I'm carrying responds to its sounds. Maybe she hears her mother's cluck or the cheep-cheep (pio-pio in Spanish) of her siblings. It's a good sign. Her low trilling is the sound of content like a baby's gurgle or the purring of a cat. She feels safe. 
I am a nest.

Caring for her is not just good for the chick, it's good for me too. I do things more slowly and finally sit to marvel for 20 minutes at the perfect markings on her wings and back, a collection of finest feathers that makes a unity of design in a rich array of browns accented with ink black calligraphy. If only I could decipher its message. Who says brown is drab? Brown becomes more than a color but an experience of velvet-soft darkness.  Brown becomes worthy of a long study into weightless, ephemeral, featherness. 

Are we any less a wonder? 

How much do we miss by hurrying?
Contemplative-worshiper-chick of the chicken species

My hands today are good for chick care and little else. Stung by hornets, my hands are like two inflated gloves on the ends of my arms. It's a reprieve from my chores, I can take ease without guilt. Like the chick, I let the full weight of my being rest in the shelter of this day, this place. It can be a gift to be small and helpless. I can still multi-task as nest and chick-care-giver, a contemplative-worshiper-chick of the human species.