Calming And Decluttering
Like so many people, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and battered by the news lately. If breaking news is breaking your spirit, take a break and focus on something positive. While reading through articles and interviews for Martin Luther King Day, I was reminded of something Dr. King once said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” Even in our various states of shutdown/lockdown, there are dozens if not hundreds of actions we can take from home to push for positive change and social justice. If you can’t think of any offhand, I sympathize warmly; if I didn’t have a couple of helpful tools to keep me focussed, I wouldn’t be able to think at all. Some of my favorite tools offer prompts and reminders that make it, if not easy, at least a lot simpler to keep contributing with thoughts, words and deeds. Here are a few:
Americans Of Conscience
Jen Hofmann’s website says: “If you believe that diversity is our greatest strength, that respect, truth, and compassion matter, and that we are called to love our neighbor, you are an American of conscience.” Visit here to learn more and sign up for notifications:
This site helps us target issues we care most about and offer constructive comments to those who can act for us.
Calming Meditation Practices
While walking this morning I met a neighbor who’d just had a heart attack scare; thankfully, it turned out to be acid reflux but she and I agreed that our anxiety is at an all time high, for ourselves, for family and community, and for our country. She said she was looking for some new guided meditations to try, hoping they would help her find her balance. My own favorite meditation guides include wildlife sounds and temple bells as well as the sound of waves on sandy beaches. There are zillions of wave video loops to watch and listen to but they vary greatly in intensity and types. I had to search through dozens to find the one I now use a great deal. (See below for links.)
Support Local Bees & Beekeepers
Seeking a little sweetness? I sure am, but was horrified by an article detailing the way adulterated Chinese honey is crashing the market and putting small scale beekeepers out of business around the world. Clearly, we can help by not buying any honey that isn’t local and/or Fair Trade, starting with local farmer’s market vendors. We can ask local stores to only carry unadulterated honey from trusted sources. As gardeners, we can go a step farther and devote as much space as possible to plants that nurture and support bees and other pollinators, many of which are in dire decline. Native wildflowersare a great place to start, from Nemophila and Clarkia to Eschscholzia and Limnanthes and many more.
We can also plant all sorts of season extenders, since research shows that when native pollinator plants are supplemented with long bloomers of many kinds, a wider range of pollinators will flourish. In one four year study, beds with the most flowers at any given time got the most pollinator visits. Beds with native and near-native (related species) mixes were the most popular with the greatest number and variety of pollinators overall. However, as the flowering season wore on, pollinator attention shifted to exotic plants that extended the floral displays. The final recommendation was to plant mixtures of native, near-native, and exotic plants with the aim of having bloom for as long as possible. What gardener can resist such a delicious challenge? We can even learn to identify at least some of the pollinators as well, a fascinating study in its own right. North America is home to over 4,000 kinds of bees, many of which admittedly look pretty similar. Others, however, are quite distinctive and it’s well worth spending some time with an insect guide to learn to recognize our tiny neighbors. Good resources include bugguide.net and the USDA/Forest Service online guide called Bee Basics.
A Sweet Soother
The more we learn about our companion pollinators, the more we want to nurture and support them. Happily, simply offering a broad palette of pesticide-free plants will take us a long way toward that goal. While European honeybees are social creatures that share a hive, most of our natives are solitary bees that nest in the ground, in fallen logs and old stumps, or even in clumps of wild grasses. Like organic farmers, we can establish untended ‘bug bank’ areas where beneficial insect nests won’t be disturbed. Another great reason to be less tidy!
In the meantime, here’s a lovely way to enjoy real local honey, especially if you have a seasonal scratchy throat.
Honey Lemon Ginger Soother
4 cups water
1/4 cup chopped organic ginger root
1 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
1/4 cup raw local honey
Bring water to boil in a saucepan, add ginger, grated lemon zest and honey and bring back to a simmer. Simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes, then strain into a glass jar. Add lemon juice and stir well. Drink hot; refrigerate extra in a glass jar for up to 3 days, reheat before serving. Makes about 4 cups.
The story behind fake honey:
Zen Ocean Waves (no music)
Guided Meditation: Clear The Clutter