Befriending the Dark

With Solstice behind us, the light is circling back, yet we are still enfolded by the dark moons. I’ve always loved the cold months and the dim light. I’m a woman who likes cocooning and snuggling and pondering, and winter is a perfect season for such things.

Gardening chores and bee chores are done for the year, and the naked trees stand expectantly, waiting for spring to dress them in new finery. Rain drops chat softly with window panes, and every now and then a sharp, insistent wind screams dark and fierce up the Gorge… Continue reading

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Shameless Commerce Department

Hi Friends. While there are many, many places to put a few extra dollars these days (Irma, Harvey, Maria, Mexico…and the list goes on) I have a dream that is very big and that I would like to ask your help with.

My bee mentor, Jacqueline Freeman, and I have been invited to attend and speak at an international natural beekeeping congress in Holland next September. As you may imagine, foreign travel is not in my budget. Three nights at the coast is about as good as it gets for us in any given year. But as many of you know, bees have called me loudly and deeply these past few years, and Holland would be a dream-come-true in terms of the experts who will be there, exploring how to best care for bees in ways that are respectful and life-enhancing… Continue reading

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Raising Happiness

Lady Mantis, in all her pregnant glory.

This past weekend, I remembered that I had a kitchen. It is a fact that escapes me for most of the summer months. Entranced by my garden and all of the precious tiny creatures who visit me in surprising fashion each day, food and cooking is the last thing on my mind from April to September.

Usually in September a day will come when the slant of the afternoon shadows finally touches me on the cheek, and autumn whispers a quiet greeting. When this moment happens—and each year it is, indeed, a precise moment when the realization that summer is leaving hits me—I take a sharp inhalation and murmur, “Oh… Oh.”… Continue reading

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Duck of Earl

Master of his domain

“Oh m’god, what is THAT?!” This is the reaction of most folks who meet The Duck of Earl for the first time. One friend mistook him for a large, concrete garden sculpture, until he moved. A few have been surprised to find him standing suddenly behind them, making a noise like those raptors in Jurassic Park.

I’d like to share Earl with you, because he deserves his very own story. In the few weeks he’s been with us, he has shown himself to be a real character. Not a day goes by without hubby Carter or I telling each other, “Gads, did you see what Earl did today?” Because he is always doing something.

Duck of Earl is a young, huge muscovy drake. He came along as a “bonus” to the nine fertile duck eggs his owner gave me for our duck Lucy to brood… Continue reading

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My log hive

Years ago, when I was reading about the meditation technique of Centering Prayer, Abbott Thomas Keating wrote that the great contemplatives either meditated or spent a great deal of time in nature. I never forgot that: That I could exchange hours on a meditation bench for hours in deep nature and somehow achieve similar benefits.

I’ve shifted over to a Buddhist meditation called Vipassana now and I especially love the writings of Tibetan Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, famous for his practice of walking meditation. I do a bumbling version of that when I move very purposefully through my back yard, quieting my mind so that I can focus on the tiny perfections of nature.

Hahn says that there is perfection in each moment, but we must be quiet enough inside to recognize it. Each day, I realize more deeply than the day before how addicted most of us are to moving very fast, racing into the future with no appreciation for the present… Continue reading

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After a full night of freezing rain, MillHaven is coated once again in clear, glistening glass. The ducks, Bella and Lucy, hid in their coop yesterday afternoon and I had to push them out to add more fresh straw just as the ice rain began falling.

They waggled their tails at me and muttered “Woot woot woot” while I filled their feed dish and cleaned out their kiddie pool. “Woot Gawoot!” they trilled as soon as they realized I’d drawn them a fresh bath, and into the pool they slipped as ice pellets thunked against the sides of the pool and splashed into the water.

“You two are freakin’ nuts,” I told them… Continue reading

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A Simple, Heated Hummingbird Feeder

Froggy, it’s cold outside!

Here in the Pacific NorthWest, we have Anna’s hummingbirds. These little jewels are a bit larger than most, and their larger size–and habit of eating many small insects–enables them to stay in area that get pretty cold come winter.

As folks feed them, the Anna’s hummers are moving northward, counting on winter hummingbird feeders for sustenance. I only put out feeders in winter, to accommodate these hearty souls. In summer, I grow plenty of flowers so no need to give them sugar.

In really cold weather–like the kind we are having now–the feeders freeze, which can be deadly to the hummers. Each cold morning, it takes a hummer over an hour to come up out of torpor. They go into this hibernation-like stage at night to conserve energy. By the time the little bird finally awakens, her energy reserves are about exhausted… Continue reading

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Feast for the Animals

Just a bit of moonlight peeked into our house early Christmas morning. Hubby John Carter made my morning with this bee-yoo-tee-ful glass ornament!

Wowza! And slippers and a garden raven and lots of strong coffee and morning hugs. Lucky me! Early afternoon, when the sun was bright an cold, son Johnny and granddaughter Taylor came by for Christmas dinner. Taylor wore her new reindeer outfit, but we all thought she looked more lambish than deer-ish… Continue reading

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“Anahat” hive enters the primordial, manure-plastered Sun Hive

It has been five months since I brought my bright and beautiful Sun Hive home, and just three months since I escorted a small cast swarm up a wooden ramp and into its dark and enfolding interior. Small the swarm may have been, but the bees took to the woven hive like they had been born to it, building up their comb and their numbers in an explosion of creative energy… Continue reading

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Bless the Mothers


Mothers have been on my mind lately. My friend just lost her mother last week to cancer. My own mother passed just a year ago now. Chipper, the mama squirrel who has been visiting me for peanuts for four years now has not come around for several months now, and I fear the worst. In my beehives, the queen mothers are working hard to keep their little universes afloat: Some are thriving, some have failed… Continue reading

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