CULTIVATING WONDER

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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KEEPING BEES IN STRAW: A New Joy

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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

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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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BLOSSOM: LISTENING FOR THE VOICE OF WISDOM

Wake up, Mommy!

Wake up, Mommy!

It is cloudy and cool, this pre-equinox day at MillHaven. When I walked out to the garden shed to check on Blossom O’Possum, the ground was still soft from the rains of the past few days. I did not expect to find him there in the shed, and I didn’t.

It’s been two days since I released Blossom for the second time. Between the first release a couple weeks ago and this recent one, he’d been living in my guest bedroom with his litter pan, fancy cozy bed, and bowls of tempting possum morsels like banana, cat food, pureed vegetables, and garden bugs. Oh, and my homemade yogurt. He could never get enough of my organic yogurt… Continue reading

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LATE SUMMER: THE BRAMBLES AND THE GOLD

Golden Rod flaming

Golden Rod flaming

The morning is overcast, with occasional bright bursts of sunlight. Up in the bee garden, late summer is making herself known on the tips of shriveling leaves, cracking flower stalks, and drooping sunflower heads laden with blackening seeds.

A few bright spots remain to sing of summer’s bounty and memories of lush abundance on the hillside of MillHaven. The goldenrod on her tall spikes lights up the yard like golden torches. The little blue and pink stars of borage still call to the bees. Deep purple asters are just beginning to pop like firecrackers… Continue reading

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ON BLOSSOM O’POSSUM, AND EXISTENTIAL DREAD

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Blossom sleeps in my slipper.

Last evening I sat nestled in the grass in the peach hues of the late-summer gloaming. Clippers in hand, I sat sifting dried stalks of phacelia through my fingers, breaking their seed heads into a paper bag. Across the yard in the still of twilight, the swift whose noisy nestlings sing in our chimney was busy diving headfirst to her babies carrying the last bugs of the day. Bella and Lucy, our Muscovies, wandered the bee yard on their short, thick legs like a pair of floating barges moving along green rivers of grass… Continue reading

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CALLING ALL KINDRED SPIRITS!

Singing the ancient song...

Singing the ancient song…

The morning of the “original” 9/11, I was scurrying about fixing a snack platter and drinks for the beginning of our very first Kindred Spirit Retreat in Jackson, Wyoming. At the time, I was a woman without a phone or a TV, so imagine my shock when the first out-of-state retreat participants arrived with eyes the size of dinner plates asking me if I’d “heard.”

No, I hadn’t. I sagged down into a plastic chair, my feet literally knocked out from under me in stunned disbelief. Continue reading

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My Sun Hive Adventure

Weaving in Beauty

Weaving in Beauty

Michael Joshin Thiele spoke as he always does—softly and deliberately: “How was this for you?” he asked in the most lilting German accent you will ever hear.

We circled around him, about fourteen of us hailing from different states and even different countries to attend the first-ever west-coast Sun Hive making class. In front of each one of us was one-half of a Sun Hive we had made to house bees. By magic, it seemed, we clumsy and mostly untrained weavers had managed to make one of the two rye-straw baskets that comprise a Sun Hive. When placed top to top, the hive forms a lovely egg shape.

I had constructed a top basket. It took me all day and some of the next. Sitting in front of me was the handsome young man who was gifting me his bottom basket. Only seven of the fourteen of us—me included—would be taking a completed hive home. I promised him I would be sending photos and “love letters” from the bees who will be calling this Sun Hive theirs. Continue reading

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