Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Transplanting Onions and Other Reflections

I transplanted onions today. Walla Wallas. It isn't customary to plant onions in the fall, that I know of, but they were already growing and needed to be divided. Here's the story.

I bought young onion plants in the Spring of 2013 from Pinetree Garden Seeds and planted them upon arrival in a 4 x 8 foot raised bed. They were growing well, until the weather got really hot in mid June. This triggered the plants to go dormant. At that time, however, they were only about one inch in diameter. Walla Wallas usually grow to 5 or 6 inches in diameter. I left the bulbs in the bed. Just because. In early autumn of last year they began to grow again. Still too small to harvest, I left them in the ground over the winter.

This spring they grew, but they also divided and tripled! Instead of one large onion, there were two or three smaller ones. In August, I harvested onions from half the bed. These were more than we would be able to eat and as I didn't have time to chop and freeze them, I gave away more than half of these. Walla Walla onions are not storage onions. They are wonderfully sweet and mild, but don't keep for too long.

The ones left in the bed began to grow again in early autumn. I could not leave them where they were for another winter. The double and triple bulbs were so close together they had no more room to spread out. So today I pulled them out, divided them and planted them in a new bed, again filling a 4 x 8 foot area! I do hope that these will continue to grow next spring to that classic Walla Walla size and that I will have the time to chop and freeze some when they are ready. If not, you may get some too!!

I could get philosophical and say that life is  a lot like growing onions. That sometimes unforeseen events happen in our lives that stunt our growth.  Or make us feel stuck. Or unable to move ahead. And time passes. And maybe we don't realize it, but all of a sudden we are green and alive again! Or maybe we've become complacent. Not growing and thriving, but maintaining our small, familiar world. It is only when we allow ourselves to be transplanted, to move onto something new, that we feel freedom. We have room to expand. And when we allow ourselves to do so, we get to experience just what our true potential really is. But I think you already know this.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Farewell Ball

The Farewell Ball
A Poem
by Susan Ernst

It is that Golden time of year
The maples, birches and sassafras
are dressed in their glowing gowns
of crimson, gold, russet
For the farewell ball.
I will miss these friends
who have been my companions,
who have surrounded me and
welcomed me in
Who created a sanctuary for me

Though they are gone,
   I am not alone
Now I can easily see the
birds among the naked branches
Bluejays, sparrows, finches.
They too miss the sanctuary, the protection and
loving embrace of the trees.

We will keep each other company,
encourage each other,
remind one another that
although the days are dark and gray,
Life will return again.
We will not despair.
We will sing together
and eagerly await
the Green and Golden
Days ahead.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Morning Quote - October 26, 2014

"Take care you don't know anything in this world
 too quickly or easily. 
Everything is also a mystery, 
and has its own secret aura in the moonlight,
 its private song." 

- Mary Oliver

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bird Watching, Old Age and a Lesson

 Eastern Phoebe

Phoebes, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, Juncos (they have returned), I think a Kingbird, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, an unidentified Sparrow and the many regulars are all out in the perennial garden, visiting the birdbath, hopping through the privet hedge, looking under the rhubarb leaves in the Hortus Conclusus. I so love watching them! I never get tired of it. A phoebe has spent a good amount of time here on the roof outside the dining room window, so I have been able to make eye contact with it and admire its soft feathers. It seems so much smaller up close than how it appears from further away.

view from my seat in the Dining Room
It is Sunday morning and I am sick. I have a very bad head cold. Stuffed up and face pain. I did not go with Bob to church today. I don't have much energy. So it is a delight to sit at the dining room table with my coffee and watch the birds outside. Especially since Bob removed the screens yesterday as the temperatures have begun to drop. No more opening the windows this season.

Where I sit each morning with my coffee to write my Morning Pages, read, reflect
 At this moment I think that if I had to pick one thing that I could do for the rest of my life, it would be to sit here and watch the birds. I must make it known to my husband and children that in the event I have a debilitating stroke or develop Alzheimer's, they need to place me each day in front of a window that overlooks a garden. A garden that contains a bird bath and feeders and that isn't overly manicured. I would be content.

This reminds me of Pops. Pops was an old man who lived with his family two houses away from us in Howard Beach (a suburb of NYC, in Queens) where I grew up. There were no houses across the street from us. There was a ten foot or so wide strip of sandy soil between the street and the fence that marked the back of the Big Bow Wow parking lot. Pops would go to that area across the street from his house each morning with a coffee can filled with bird seed. He would scatter it on the ground with his hand. Then he would sit at the window and watch the house sparrows and starlings come and eat it. He did this every day. I remember there came a time when he couldn't go out to scatter the seed anymore, but he still sat at the window. I believe his family members continued to put the seed out for him, but I don't recall seeing them do so. I do remember at least one time when I scattered the seed for Pops. I don't recall if my mother suggested I go over and ask if I could, or I was already outside and the neighbor invited me to do it. Regardless, it was a special privilege! I do remember my mother telling me when I went out to walk our dog, to look up at the window (it was one of those large bay windows that they put in raised ranches in the 1970s) and smile and wave at Pops. I did that often. He would always wave back. Until one day he didn't. He was still sitting there, I would wave, but he didn't wave back. He looked somehow different. It wasn't too long after that that he was no longer there to wave to.

Reflecting back on this now, I realize that was good advice my mother gave to me. We can, in even a small way, pay attention to someone and let them know that we see them. Simple, yet powerful.

Sunday Morning Quote - October 19, 2014

 The aim of life is to live, 
and to live means to be aware,
joyously, drunkenly, serenely,
divinely aware.

- Henry Miller

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Quote - October 12, 2014

 Originality does not consist in saying 
what no one has ever said before,
but in saying exactly what you think 

- James Stephens

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spruce, An Old Soul

Old Soul
reaching to Heaven
verdant green fragrant needles
gray and brown flaking bark
History at your feet
Keeper of tales
Present, Past

-Susan Ernst

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Morning Quote for October 5, 2014

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. 
For in being what God means it to be, it is obeying Him. 
It 'consents', so to speak, to His creative love. 
It is expressing an idea which is in God 
and which is not distinct from the essence of God, 
and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

- Thomas Merton