IN MY BACKYARD (CREEPING CHARLIE)

I was out in the backyard observing some of the plants I have planted in the last two years. I noticed an evasive plant with a lot of scalloped leaves and pretty blue flowers. The plant seemed to attract bees and smells of strong mint.  When I pick it up, it comes up easily, as it is not a deeply rooted plant. It seems to always grow in clumps around the yard. Usually, this plant is found in the shady parts of the gardens around the base of other plants. It does pull up easily and with the regular pulling of weed plants around the flowerbed, it can be pulled up, but never goes away.  It comes back year after year. 

I looked up the plant in several plant guides and found it to have many names, and seems to be referred to as Ground Ivy most of the time. I kind of liked the one name, Creeping Charlie as this plant can quickly spread to take over any flower bed. Mowing does not stop it from continued growth. 

I like the plant as it is a wonderful green color with interesting leaves.  When it blooms with blue flowers, it is actually very attractive. I just pull some of it up when it starts becoming evasive. 

On the Scientific side of my research, I found this Ground Ivy ( Glechoma hederacea) has quite a history.  Historically, Ground Ivy was used as an herb, eaten in salads, and used to make medicines and tea. It was also used to flavor beer. The plant is very high in iron. Young leaves and sprouts are eaten like spinach. Tasting a leaf produces a very strong minty flavor. 

Although technically a weed, to me, Creeping Charlie is simply another interesting plant in the backyard.

IN MY BACKYARD (VIOLETS)

I will always wait for the blue violets to grow in my yard.  I do not have regular pruned grass; I just let it grow and mow it. In early spring, the wild violets congregate in my yard in various locations. Sometimes, they appear in one place in the front or backyard and sometimes in surprising places in the yard where I would not expect them. I like them; they would be unwelcome in a yard treated with chemicals. I just consider them to be gifts from nature.  

Science gives them the name, (Viola odorata). They grow in groups of heart-shaped leaves with beautiful blue flowers that just are so delicate. They continue to seed, low to the ground. What seems to be dead flowers really are the flowers reproducing seeds.  I noticed after mowing, they continue to grow.  The seed is spread so easily that they can get transported all over the yard. 

If you do not have a treated lawn with chemicals, an added feature of violets is that they are good for food presentations, and both leaves (heart-shaped), flowers, and stems are edible. I like to include the flowers on desserts or in salads to add that wild touch. This is also a plant you could pot grow, especially if you treat the yard with chemicals or have pets in the yard. 

I hope that your yard gives you a treat with these beautiful wildflowers.

IN MY BACKYARD (GARLIC MUSTARD)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a plant that has two seasons, one as a small plant with heart-shaped leaves, followed by a second year with tiny white flowers and then seeds.  This plant is biennial, meaning it lives for two years. The leaf, when chewed in the spring, tastes like garlic.

I found out quickly from what I read just about everywhere, that the garlic mustard plant is very evasive and not a native plant; it takes over because of its ability to change soil conditions making it difficult for other native plants to grow.  Eventually, the Garlic Mustard plant crowds out native plants. Most insects and wildlife do not eat the plant.  It is so evasive, that the only way to kill it is to pull it up, bag or burn it.  Composting allows the seeds to survive and grow new plants so that just perpetuates the cycle. 

Sadly, the plant is edible and many recipes are out there that use the plant as a healthy salad herb. It also can be cooked and eaten as a side dish. It has a garlic flavor but should be cooked if you eat a lot of it.  The plant in large amounts raw can be dangerous as the plant contains cyanide. 

As history goes the plants were brought from Europe. The colonists used garlic mustard as an edible plant grown in gardens. It began to escape the gardens and run wild. It has not stopped and today is heavily concentrated in the midwestern forest and plains. 

I tried it and it is garlicky, but one should look up the recipes and then pull up the plants you are not using and bag or burn them. They die off in June, but they will come back if not pulled out by the roots.

In my Backyard (Butterweed)

It still amazes me the number of plants that are in someone’s backyard. I had this one particular wildflower grow from a small plant to a foot tall in a few days.  I let it grow to see what it would look like through its stages of growth.  I was rewarded by my patience with a pretty cluster of flowers atop a very strong stem with kite-like leaves. It was very green and healthy-looking.  You might say the plant was, “Wild Strong!”  I encourage plants like this in my backyard.  I set up a mystery of search and learn using my skills of observation and research.  I find the plant in a book or on the internet and learn about its life cycle and how it fits in with other cycles. 

When my wife and I looked it up we found it to be classified as a Butterweed. You find this weed more to the South but seems to be evasive. Vacant farmlands are covered with fields of these yellow-colored flowers until the cycle of the plant is finished.  More than likely the plants get plowed under with the planting season. They always come back.

On the science side of terminology, the plant is named (Packera glabella), a name given by the followers of Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, who developed a classification system to name animals and plants.  So, the weed we know as Butterweed has a scientific name, and is more important than being just a weed. This weed is important to the South for providing food for crayfish; the flower feeds many pollinators that are attracted by its bright yellow flower. 

It is a happy reminder that when you want that perfect lawn, you are missing out on the beautiful weeds like Dandelion and Violet and many others that give beauty and natural life to our backyards. They can be tamed and sometimes used as an added floral to attract beautiful birds and helpful insects.

Shadows

Reminded of the Shadows

It would be a reflection of what is to be.  Lately, close friends are passing at an unusual rate.  First we are born with a lot of people looking at us, just shadows.  We do not or not able to look at the people looking. We basically are born with the instinct to suckle and nothing more. All the senses must be developed to potential over time with a lot of help from the shadows.  Shadows, yes shadows, many people who affect our learning (mentally) and development (physically) are shadows.  Just like shadows they appear and disappear.  They can appear as long shadows and you deal with those people long term. For example, Mom and Dad shadow you for a longer time than say your first grade teacher.   This first grade teacher only a short time compared to your parents.  Shadows can influence you positively or negatively.  Then there are the shadows that guide you when parent shadows are not around.  With me it was a scoutmaster, a counselor, a teacher and close friends. Many of those shadows have set with the sun.  They pass from the Earth and no longer cast a shadow over me.  They become only reflections in my mind. 

The close friend that I grew up within the Boy Scouts was a shadow. I think I always looked up to him for strength through adolescence, as he was a boy leader and was easy to talk with about my growing up stuff.  He gave me heads up because he already had been there.  I used to see him once a week as an adult, and we would reflect upon our youth, the fun times.  It was a shadow that lingered with stories of youth.  That is now gone, that part of my youth, I only have memories of our talks to reflect upon. It is a reflection of what is to be.  He no longer casts that positive shadow, it is now gone with the sun. 

Meditation

Look at the picture of a Back Alley concert of a musician.  Notice the shadows looking at him.  He is truly playing for the shadows. He himself is a shadow, he gives music, hopefully, the short shadows give something to him before they set with the sun. Do you reward those who help you in some way?  Is your shadow the only company you have?

Thanksgiving – New Beginnings

Thanksgiving, always a wonderful family get together. I often wonder how interesting the first Thanksgiving was when I was a kid. I studied about the holiday that represented when pilgrims new to the surroundings of the North American Continent, joined with the natives of the land sharing a harvest. I would ask where are the Indians Dad? How come they do not come to our Thanksgiving dinner? I cannot imagine he gave me an answer to that question since we drove them from their lands, eventually killing them or forcing their assimilation into the American culture by placing them on reservations.   

The first Thanksgiving was a gathering to celebrate a good harvest and natives were present, and if it had not been for them, the pilgrims would have not made it through the winter of their first year. The natives and pilgrims ate fowl such as ducks or geese. On a trip to Plymouth, I remember reading in one of the museums, the turkey was just another name for ducks and geese, probably not any turkey as we know it now.

That brings me to wonder how the gathering went. You are in your first year in a new place. The plants certainly were different. There were probably animals they had not met with in their home country of England or even the Dutch countryside. The natives that they eventually met lived in different houses and dressed differently. The strangeness of someone entering this territory alone would cause the natives to be in protective mode. Oh, and the natives had a completely different culture and language.

Yes, the pilgrims, found a different climate for growing crops. It made it somewhat difficult to plant the seeds they brought with them. They were not so successful at first. The natives however, did not allow the pilgrims to starve and helped them with their crops, introducing to them squash and corn which can be stored and provide one with food all through the winter. I imagine that some of the food at that gathering and the way it was prepared would have been strange to both the native and pilgrim. The native allowed the pilgrims to settle on the land. With all this cooperative sharing the natives and pilgrims gathered frequently to share and learn from each other.

I know for a fact that to be true. Our Thanksgiving meal this year was probably like the first gathering. My wife and I have been eating a whole food diet instead of the American Standard diet. It is truly a healthy way of eating, but you must make concessions. We eat no meat, no eggs, and drink no milk. Yes, we do eat a lot of vegetables. Usually, when family comes over we have a large turkey, oyster dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberries. Sweet potatoes with cinnamon and butter are an option. Then pie, cherry or pumpkin topped with whipped topping for desert is always a favorite.

Now our meal had to be vegan. No meat, but we had a tofu turkey roll stuffed with wild rice. No dairy, so I used silk soy milk where milk was required for baking. Butter was soy based so it was not dairy. We could not eat oysters nor the turkey broth that mixed with the stuffing. We made a separate one with mushrooms and used vegetable broth. The green beans and corn are vegetables and needed no changes. The sweet potato was a good substitute for mashed potatoes and gravy.

Compromise and substitution are necessary with a gathering involving food. The cranberries had to be made sugar free, but some people in the party had an allergy to artificial sweeteners and one person was diabetic. We made two cranberry dishes, one with artificial sweetener and one with sugar. We had vegan pies for desert and they tasted great, crusts made without milk or real butter. It was a different kind of thanksgiving, much like the real one, note that potatoes that the natives offered were considered by the pilgrims poison and some of the pilgrims would still not eat them. Some of the pilgrims at my Thanksgiving did not care for the tofurkey when we offered a taste. Everyone had a wonderful time and all the other food was eaten and consumed with much pleasure.  I am sure the pilgrims and the natives felt full and happy, too.

The Pirate’s Curse

To live a pirate and a smuggler’s life meant a dangerous path to eventual doom.  A constant fight with other pirates and smugglers along with the crown seeking your head.  All this for a hoard of treasure that had to be hidden and the secret of its hiding death to all who would choose to seek it.

There is a garden in Charleston South Carolina that is in the courtyard of an old Inn.  It is said to have been visited by many pirates who would meet and make deals with what they smuggled from their attacks upon the merchant ships. It is said Blackbeard frequented the inn to do business with other pirates and smugglers.

The garden itself is enclosed with a fountain with a pirate’s face that is green from age and stares from a fountain. It is a warning to all of those that might be near what will happen to you if you give up any secrets you may hear. The pain shows up on the image of the pirate trapped in the bricked-in fountain, that he be an example to all who enter the courtyard. The secrets must be kept avoiding being trapped in the wall for eternity with the pirate’s curse.

All ye who enter here, speak not of the secrets ye hear.

Let no coward tell who be here by name. Let no blood be drawn here.

We barter and make plans for the sale of booty for profit.

Here we be brothers’ smugglers and pirates all.

If ye tell of treasures and secrets, a pirate’s curse be upon ye,

For ye will be trapped in the garden wall for eternity.

It is a Reflective Thought

I look at a picture of mirror reflections from time to time. I like some of the scenes taken near the edge of a body of water. It really makes the mind play tricks. The reflected picture over water showing you everything that is on the banks. The real reflected by the unreal, the unreal reflected by the real. So in your mind’s eye, you see two very perfect images. Are the images you see both real?

Pyrite is fool’s gold. Many people who are familiar with it and have held it in their hand would find it looking very much like gold. It sparkles and is heavy in mass much like gold. It can be mistaken for gold as it appears within gold seams. Many amateur prospectors were fooled by it during the gold rushes, I am sure after all the mining of the mineral by mistake must have cost them fortunes.

I can say that sometimes reality hurts, sometimes it is not as it seems. It, in fact, can fool you. What you think is the reality comes to be only a reflection of what you perceive as real. This mistake happens based on what you think, versus the real facts.

If we look back at the picture of the bank of a lake, the water reflects back to you an image of what is on the bank, real enough you say to be identified by the mind’s eye as reality. It is exactly the same. But, no it is not. If you were to touch the water the reflection would distort and no longer give a clear perfect reflection. The real is what you can touch and will not change and distort. Those trees on the bank are very real in their physical appearance. You can apply all your senses for proof. You can walk upon the bank and touch the bark of the trees; you can hear the wind blow through its branches. This cannot be done with using all your senses upon the reflection. Sight without touch can really fool you. One should not just rely on one sense for proof.

I probably could say art is a reflective process. An artist will try to capture the reality that the mind’s eye sees and puts it into a photograph or paints it upon a canvas, or makes it a movie on film. Creativity can take the unreal and make it seem real. But, remember things created from the reflective process can be made real only if constructed from real materials.

It was always a reflection of the dream that humans could one day fly. That dream was written about, found in drawings throughout history, then the unreal became real. Plans were drawn, the product built and tested, and humans flew, and continue to improve upon flight with the creative design process.

I continue to use my senses in the real world. I like the idea of capturing what I dream and writing it on paper as coming from some unreality in my mind. If it were not for my dream or thought, nothing would become of it. When I put the dream or thought to test of reality by physical construction, so then I can see it, but also touch, hear, and taste it, then it becomes something very real.

I like that idea that you can think of something, then design it on paper, then create that something you thought of, finally constructing it. Then you bring the idea to reality.

In essence, creating something out of nothing.

The Creation of Thought

Take it, grasp it,

Own it.

You have nothing to lose.

You have only to win.

 

Look carefully in your mind,

Look for intuition, not logic.

You can search within,

Forget the material thought.

 

Be original, take a chance,

Find it among the clutter.

It is not reality, you think it,

Things made from nothing.

 

Feel it grow within you,

It has been growing in your subconscious.

Recording all that you have said or done since birth,

Replaying as you dream to make sense of it.

 

No form of reality exists, it is all an illusion.

Take it, grasp it,

Own it.

You have nothing to lose,

You can only win.

I AM

I AM

 I can neither be created nor destroyed,

I exist in my universe,

There is nothing other than I,

I give to take,

I take to give,

I speak; I do not hear,

I hear; I do not speak,

I trust, but cannot be trusted,

I choose, but not always the chosen,

I change my mind often; I will not change my mind,

I create and I destroy,

I see good, I see evil,

The evil I see exists because I am good,

I understand, but am misunderstood,

I am found, I am also lost,

I demonstrate my presence, by all the beauty that surrounds me,

I create the ugliness and pain suffered by creating that beauty,

Evil must exist for there to beauty,

All good must have evil to be good,

If I take a step in the sand, I leave a footprint,

I have left many footprints in the sand,

I have extreme power to love, but extreme power to hate,

I know all, for I experienced nothingness,

I control the universe.

I can neither be created nor destroyed,

I am, I am, I am

Meditation

What is to be said about the beings we call man and women?  We are simple but complicated beings. We do great and humane things for the world, yet we also do harmful things. We do not control this universe but consider only the time we exist in this physical world.  We do not think of the world we will leave to our children and their children.

We all step in the sand and leave many footprints that crush life under our feet.  We forget how much of an impact we have on the existence of even the smallest organism.   Yes, we all will make them, but caution should be taken for the footprint may also contain a thorn we will carry on to our children.  We are mortal beings. What will you take to your grave to ensure the energy is carried on in a positive result? Life is good, do something to make fewer footprints and make all life even better. Even a small change can create more harmony in the natural world we populate.