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Valuing the small and slow beginnings…

Caden and I started into his fifth grade curriculum today with a main lesson on botany. I loved working through this material with my daughter. The natural grace of a 10-year-old turning 11 is matched by the beauty and appreciation of the small things of the earth. Today we spoke about the mediating effects of plants as they spread and move around the planet. From the tiniest plants to the largest redwood trees we can appreciate their unique contributions to life on the planet.

We shared some reading, discussion, and writing. We painted a dandelion, and planted fall/winter seeds. As we were planting, we talked about the wisdom each seed has to grow into a beautiful (and tasty) plant. Caden chose to plant red beets, mustard greens, and kale.

I am appreciating the small and slow beginning to a year of sharing and learning and growing together.

dandelion water color

Learning from our Forest Elders (AUDIO & VIDEO)

What could be more vital? Caring for our forests, caring for and protecting the next generation…

Farming the Woods

catching and storing wisdom for future generations

by Steve Gabriel

01-09_MNGKenTour_SteveI was fortunate to take a twisty path through my college years; I attended a wide array of programs around the country and overseas that really opened my eyes to various perspectives and approaches to earth repair, which I came to realize also called for the healing of social relations, too. As a college student in the early 2000s, I struggled with two aspects of my emerging personality; one was the desire to spend time outside as much as possible in my life, and the other was my increasing awareness of environmental destruction and its devastating implications. As many young people at that age, I felt a bit daunted and helpless at the situation; how was I to do anything to make any change in the world?

During that final year of completing my degree at Empire State College

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Bird language

As I am sitting with my children this morning exploring word families (1st grader) and paragraph revision (8th grade grammar); negative exponents; chemical make up of sugars, starches and cellulose…the birds outside are singing their morning songs.

We live in a network of utility lines, fence rows, pasture areas, strips of forest, and houses. Our forest garden with its shallow pond and various shrubs, bDSC00597erries, insects, etc…makes for a bird haven. It is the language of the various birds that is pulling my attention. Not many alarm calls this morning. Lots of song, some territorial chatter. Yesterday a pewee caught my attention. Today the cardinal is the strongest voice near the window. I love that my daughter is my confirmation–that I am beginning to be confident–but her skills are better and continue to evolve.

In her skills I recognize that her literacy is broader than my own. I may have studied literature, history, philosophy, and religion. My years of German and Sanskrit studies went more deeply. However, her skills with language are quite possibly not only broader–but more useful in navigating the daily world and appreciating its beauty and life.

To find out more about bird language, check out this site.

Crafting Your Day with this meditation…

Find more about Mindvalley here: .

12 Steps to Thrive


I struggle often with the Be-ing vs. Do-ing aspect of life–wishing to give so much. As I was writing about some goals today, I wrote: “I want to understand that BEING in the world is a gift to others and I want to model that.”  Being in the world is a gift. I think it is a precious gift to be in the world–birds chirping, warm spring mornings, the cat curled up nearby. Coffee ready to pour. AND it is more than a gift for ourselves. We can make our BEING a gift to others.

Beginning of spring, CC-Takashi .M on flickr

Beginning of spring, CC-Takashi .M on flickr

Sacred time…

I have been, over the past two years, developing what is sometimes called a sit spot. There’s not a lot of mystery to it. I go out most mornings as close to dawn as possible and sit.

I take in the light,
the wind,
the plants,
the birds at the nearby feeder,
any insects that are moving…
and I take a moment to be thankful for them.
I take a moment to check in with what is going on within.
I set my intentions for the day
and connect with the mystery of how life unfolds around me.
I feel gratitude.
I open my heart.
This is not merely a sit spot.

Somewhere here is a "sit spot"

Somewhere here is a “sit spot”

A fun day to share FUNgi

Since I began my permaculture training in 2005, I have been hearing of Paul Stamets’ work with fungi. In this presentation to the Bioneers, published in November 2014, he shares not only some of his latest work, but connects key pieces of how our world works. He raises a vital point, which I’ll paraphrase as: If the language of nature is complex, nuanced, and beautiful, but we can’t understand it; then we have a responsibility to learn it–to understand it rather than destroy it.

In kindred spirit, I can echo his question–if you knew that how you washed your dishes or bought your electricity or cared for your lawn or shopped for food would make a huge difference for not just the world today, but for the ability of children and bees and trees and others going into the future, wouldn’t you make that change–and more? What change can you make today? Tomorrow?


More birthday thoughts…


40 is fantastic and I completely feel like I’ve earned it–the ups and the downs.

Here are two of my friends at a party to celebrate…

Friends at my 40th

…where we all agreed that we much prefer 40 to 30 or 20. The pressures are different. We don’t worry about the petty things we worried about at 20. It’s easier to speak our truths from a place of integrity–or to say nothing.


A thought and a picture on this birthday of mine…


To kick off a new year, I wanted to share something by my favorite poet…and muse on the joy and trust of these two friends.

“You must not ever stop being whimsical.

And you must not,


give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
― Mary OliverWild Geese

A few of my favorite plants…

I have been enjoying Jane Goodall’s love letter to plants–her new book Seeds of Hope–and it has gotten me thinking about how fortunate I have been to have a good relationship with plants in a part of the world in which many species can flourish.

Bee Balm, Asiatic lilies, lemon balm, and lamb's ear, June 2013

Bee Balm, Asiatic lilies, lemon balm, and lamb’s ear, June 2013


I love when I can design gardens with a free hand and incorporate some of my favorite plants for zone 6/7–healing plants (echinacea, yarrow, stinging nettle, motherwort…), edibles (blueberries, sweet potatoes, passion flower, nasturtium…), natives and non-natives that offer color or texture or an unexpected practical use (yucca, mimosa….  Or just a sentimental favorite like sweet peas… This year I planted pink begonias just because they reminded me of my Great-Aunt Katie and our long summer visits when I was a little girl. I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite, “go to” plants that provide multiple benefits and hope that it inspires others to find their own favorites and discover new ones…

  • sweet potatoes
  • pie pumpkins
  • patty-pan squash
  • amaranth–copperhead and other varieties
  • Maypop/passion flower
  • Corno-di-Toro peppers
  • yellow cherry tomatoes
  • dill
  • fennel
  • variegated yucca
  • meadowsweet
  • wintergreen
  • yellow raspberries
  • black raspberries
  • rhubarb
  • chocolate mint
  • yarrow
  • goumi (shrub, nitrogen-fixing)
  • blueberries
  • goji (shrub)
  • iris
  • solomon’s seal (shade)
  • wood poppies
  • sunflowers


There are so many more, but this is a good sampling. What’s growing in your garden?