I love the Pacific Northwest. We have real white-capped mountains that we can see on clear days and occasionally we have snow nearby in our neighborhoods, that doesn’t last too long or get too deep, but provides a beautiful dusting that adds contrast to our many trees and hills. Today there is snow on the golf course and in the background you can see the Olympic Mountains across the Sound. If you look east you can see the Cascades, also with snow.
Snow in the neighborhoods can make driving and walking a little more dicy, but it won’t last long – just cause people to slow down a little, and maybe be more aware of their surroundings. The main roads get plowed and have plenty of traffic so getting around isn’t too bad.
It’s not like my college days in Ohio, where we used to joke “they don’t get the plows out until there’s at least a foot of snow on the ground”. I lived in the oldest dorm on campus and on the coldest days we would have frost on the inside of our windows. And we were on the warmer, south side. On the colder north side they might get ice on the windows. And space heaters were not allowed – they would blow the circuits.
I have experienced the opposite – the blazing heat and dryness of Arizona. The endless sunshine with nothing but rock piles and cactus. When people complain about rain and snow I just smile and say “that’s where the green comes from”. This is in my mind the best climate to live in and I am fully at home.
Wherever you are open your eyes and see what is near and what is far and see the beauty all around you.
How do you make roses bloom. Ordinarily you plant them in good soil, with plenty of compost and natural fertilizer. Feed and water them regularly and trim them back when necessary. If you have aphids either purchase lady bugs to clear them out or use a natural bug spray in order to run them off. The same holds true for black spot, which I had on my roses. There are natural treatments that aren’t crammed full of chemicals that tend to leak into the soil and harm everyone downstream.
The same goes true for our relationship with our environment. If we want to keep our living spaces uncluttered and yet not stuff the landfills to overflowing we need to think critically and plan ahead for what we need to get rid of. There are several ways to downsize responsibly while remaining green.
Recycle: tin and aluminum cans, cardboard and paper, even batteries and some plastics can be recycled. Solid Waste locations in your community are perfect places to bring recycled materials if you don’t have regular recycling pickups. Even things like used oil and propane tanks (now that camping season is over) can be recycled.
Reuse – think of the containers that you have and try to imagine another use for them. For years I used shoeboxes for storing old letters (I ultimately tossed most out) or printed pictures – back in the pre-digital days. Cottage cheese, sour cream, margarine all are useful containers for small items. And used gallon water or milk jugs can be quite handy for watering flowering pots. Grocery bags are great for lining small trash baskets -especially if there would be food waste in them.
Repurpose – similar to reusing but with a specific purpose in mind. Think of the cardboard packages that deliveries come in. They are handy for storage. Or use coffee grounds for adding nitrogen to the soil of household plants. Even skewer sticks can be used to support plants as they grow- like my cherry tomatoes.
Compost – this is an area that is still lacking in availability. Most rental properties don’t have the set up for compost, even while they have recycle bins out the yin-yang. If you have a yard you can set up a compost bin or pile. Growing up in the suburbs of Portland we had a regular compost pile in the backyard. Grass clippings, tree branches, rotting apples and pears, all went in there. After the massive Columbus Day storm in 1962 when we lost a few trees the compost pile grew greatly. There is so much waste from meal making that often goes into the garbage that could easily be added to the composting pile if it is only there.
Give away to charity. If things are in fair shape they can be donated to Salvation Army, Goodwill, St Vincent De Paul, etc. Your trash can be transformed into someone else’s treasure. They even take furniture and appliances. If it has run out its course with you it can be reanimated and find a new life with someone else.
And you might be surprised that old clothes with holes and tears can be recycled as “threads”. There is a local outfit near us called Ridwell that will take many items that aren’t usually recycled – bottle caps, margarine containers (clean), plastics, batteries, and “threads”.
The biggest way to be environmentally friendly and help those roses bloom, is to cut down on the non-biodegradable stuff that comes IN to your home, so that there is less to toss OUT of you home. Try to only purchase things with a minimum of packaging. Heed the health advice when grocery shopping of sticking to the outsides of the store and avoiding the processed and heavily packaged inner aisles. If you can buy in bulk – for better value and less containers. And try to limit your shopping trips so that less pollution goes into the air. Maybe even consider a hybrid or fully electric car.
These steps will help to keep our planet green and preserve the roses blooming.
I viewed a video recently that shed some new light on mushrooms. Typically we have looked at them as evidence of decay and the breaking down of the forest. But the process of old-growth forest specifically is one of a cycle of death and rebirth. Like the nurse tree (see photo below), which supports the sprouting of new trees, mushrooms also break down matter and lead to the sprouting of new vegetative life in the forest.
I have often seen the “blooming’ of mushrooms that come from newly laid compost or topsoil on lawn areas, but today I saw the sprouting of a new batch of mushrooms on an old stump and I thought again of the video I had seen, called Fantastic Fungi some of it might challenge the way you look at mushrooms but aren’t we all up to a little challenge sometimes? People don’t usually think of communication in this context but maybe we should.
Mushrooms are like compost which always provides the right soil balance to encourage new growth. They are not a sign of poor soil, but of rich, life giving space. Even if you don’t like the taste you should look on them favorable
The cherry tomatoes are coming – starting to turn red!
I have been growing cherry tomatoes this year. I have carefully watered and fertilized and stabilized the plant as it has stretched tall and wide. It stretched so far that some of the branches are resting on the neighboring container’s cage. That one used to have another tomato plant growing in it but it didn’t survive the heat in early summer, so I planted a jalapeno pepper plant there instead and it is now showing signs of bearing fruit
Last year I had quite a number of tomato buds, but they quickly turned red too soon, when they were quite small. This year I have applied more Miracle Grow fertilizer and so I not only have oodles more tomatoes, but they are growing consistently bigger and these are the first 2 to turn red.
There is nothing like the taste of fruit or vegetable picked and popped in your mouth. I pick blackberries from the neighborhoods around and eat them right off the bush. When I grew up I could pick cherries, blackberries, pears, apples, plums, and grapes right off the bush or tree or vine and eat them sun-warmed. Yum. I plan to do the same with these cherry tomatoes.
I also have a bell pepper plant that I think may get multiple peppers from. The last time I grew bell peppers they were the size of my small jalapeno peppers, but I am hoping that this time (with more fertilizer applied) they will grow larger.
My garden may be small but I am enjoying the results anyway. Remember to bloom – or grow – where you are planted.
Nature is calling ‘come out and play’ Put down the work, you are done for the day All work and no play makes Jack a dull child Put down the work and let yourself go wild
I love to walk and I do it daily, right before starting work. I’ve always liked to walk and hike. It always puts me in a good frame of mind, provides needed exercise, and keeps me in touch with nature. I never am plugged in, either to music or podcasts, when I walk. I want to be able to hear all the sounds of nature around me. I love hearing the frogs on a cold winter morning, the woodpeckers that I occasionally see, and even the crying crows out in the street playing chicken with cars. I see the scampering squirrels that I urge to keep moving out of the street, and even saw a pair of raccoons slinking across the road.
My favorites, however, are the wild bunnies. They, and the ever-present robins, are a sign that spring has arrived. And since the advent of summer, they are more prevalent than ever. Today I counted eight along my two-mile walk around the neighborhood. I love being in the Pacific Northwest with the forests and rivers and mountains. And I love all the variety of creatures who also call this home. I spent my time in the deserts of Arizona and don’t miss it. There are those who find that fascinating, and they are welcome to it, but it’s not for me.
Make sure to take time to appreciate your surroundings and the creatures that live near you. Feel the breeze, smell the new grass and blossoms. Especially in trying times we all need to breathe deeply of nature. Stop and smell the roses, and say hello to the wild bunnies. They won’t understand a word you say, but it will still be good for you to say it. Nature is calling, make sure you answer.
Every day is a fresh start. An opportunity to build on the successes of the past, correct past mistakes, or just do something different. We have no requirement to continue our lives in the same manner as part days, nor any compulsion to change just for change’s sake. We have an opportunity to live out our lives as we see fit.
Examine your life and take stock of the discoveries you have made each day. Has your life been a stretch of the same routine, day after day? Or has it been a series of ups and downs, constantly changing? How about a third option—choose to make each day a discovery day. Whether it is a new friend, a new place to visit, or just a new perspective on life.
I am a hiker, taking daily walks, partly for exercise and partly because it livens up my mood for the day. Whether I am taking on a new path, or looking at an old path in a new way, I seek to see the new and wonder in it. Like the stone above, you never know what you’re going to find. I discovered a new park yesterday and hiked some new trails, getting temporarily lost and then finding my way out again.
Have you ever spent time brainstorming? Perhaps thinking about new ways to do things or new things to do? It is good to spend some time daily to not let our minds get old. It is also good to stretch ourselves, challenge ourselves with the new. It helps us avoid ruts that we so often fall into. It is also good to dream, close your eyes and imagine. You might be surprised at what you discover—about yourself and about the world.
Spring is here and planting has begun. I went round and round in Lowe’s choosing plants to place in my containers on the patio, starting with a cherry tomato start. I love fresh tomatoes right off the vine, better than anything store-bought. And they are easy to grow. I chose bell pepper and mint, plus some flowers and two root crop seeds—carrots and radishes. And of course, I bought potting soil to rejuvenate my containers so they would support growth.
I love to garden. I love watching plants grow and produce flowers or vegetables. Or berries—I once grew strawberries and raspberries from starts. Nothing like hot fresh berries off the vine. It reminded me of growing up in the west hills of Portland where I could gorge myself on blackberries in my own backyard. Something about digging in the dirt and then seeing the fruits of your labor is so refreshing.
I also love to speak, sharing stories with others, and see their eyes light up with understanding. I want to encourage people to share their stories and not be afraid to be open with others. We all benefit from the stories are told. We need to encourage growth in others by the same techniques we use in gardening: watering with giving freedom to speak, fertilizing with feeding encouragement, weeding to help them identify and remove the obstacles that are prevent their progress. Sometimes those are people who hold them back, sometimes it is their own thoughts and messages from the past. We need to affirm them with the sunshine of our praise when they overcome their fears.
And we also need to remember our need to grow. No matter what our situation we can grow. We need to identify and remove the barriers that are keeping us back. We need to dream and stretch out our limbs to the sky. And sometimes we may need to improve the soil that we are planted in. But we also need to remember to grow wherever we are planted. Not just for ourselves but for all the others with whom we are planted.