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Gardening in the Dark June 19, 2012

Filed under: Gardening,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 5:55 am

Gardening in the Dark

For Maritza and Eric


We are  gardening in the dark,

Sinking our shovels into dirt

we can barely see, sinking

our feet into loam littered with the detritus

of winter gardens gone

to seed, lifted

Shovel by shovel into the night wind,

seeds scattering, roots ripped,

turning, turning

the soil over

On itself,

Turning over.


We are gardening in the dark,

Taking out what once was

And getting it ready

for we don’t know what

will grow, trusting something

will flourish

When the  sun rises again.


Note:  The ancient Greeks said that humans could not look upon the true face of a god without being destroyed. Sometimes  it seems like that’s true when God reveals  such a powerful, incomprehensible nature — death, suffering, even  beauty — that I’m struck dumb, small and helpless. The refrain that goes through my head is, “I don’t understand.” Many things have been this difficult face of God for me.  September 11, 2001, the wildfires of 2005, the deaths of people I love, losses. All I can do at those times is FEEL — and sink my hands into the earth, and  garden.

I began gardening when my mother died. I gardened on 9/11 and the weeks that followed. I gardened through my worst loss of all. And tonight I gardened in the dark, in the company of a rogue raccoon who sat in my apricot tree and ate all my favorite fruit. I gardened to to reconnect with the earth, in honor my friend Maritza, an amazing gardener and kind friend, who has suffered long and hard, and in honor of her husband Eric, who has supported her  all the way to the end.





Wind Wonder June 18, 2012

Filed under: Everything Under the Sun — explorergarden @ 5:43 am

The first day back in ocean water is always a shock to my senses. I eased my way back into open water swimming today with a swim in the bay — slightly warmer water, no sharks to worry about, and the shore very close if I got too tired to make it back to my starting point. 

We sailed to the south end of the bay on a rented Hobie Cat. The wind was brisk, and our sail was tall and curved. 

I did not handle the sail, but this was the first time I felt the thrill of the wind catching the sail. We slunk off the beach sand and drifted away from shore and turned the boat, the jib flapping hard in a brisk breeze. Then the wind caught the edge of the sail, we pulled the jib tight, and voom! The wind filled the sail and we were partners, the wind and our boat, flying. Three of us leaned back off the edge of the boat, balancing out the pull of the wind like the sway of your body when you stand up out of the seat on a bike, swaying back and forth in perfect balance. It must be like this to be a bird, catching the wind for the first time. Like — is this really going to work? What if I fall? Then — whoosh!!! Wow! We flew across the bay, the sky misty with a grey marine layer, a brilliant sun burning it away, the air cool and salty. I balanced on the edge, my hand looped through webbing to stay aboard, leaning into the wind. On the way back we had to tack, dashing back and forth from side to side as we turned the boat and tacked. It was a thrill. I’d love to learn to sail myself. Maybe that’s next on my list!


Franny June 10, 2012

Filed under: Everything Under the Sun — explorergarden @ 6:42 am

Franny died last night along with her adopted sisters Cleopatra, Houdini and Bruce. I left the coop door open and forgot they were wandering around the yard at the end of the day — long week, very tired, went to bed — and a hungry animal got in the coop. In the morning, I came out early to feed the girls, and found the door open, feathers scattered in piles around the yard, entrails and blood — signs of a terrible struggle. Beautiful Franny’s rusty red feathers made the smallest pile, quite near the coop. Nothing else was left. I called out for her — Franny?  and desperately tore the back off the nesting box, hoping I could find her, hoping she had survived. But nothing, no one, no hen was left.

She was beautiful, our Franny. Is it silly to say her eyes were kind. She was dainty and delicate, quiet and retiring, our Franny. She felt warm and soft, her body like a feather bed someone has been sleeping in, the same temperature as a person. She was very willing to be held.

I will never forget you, Franny kicking out of your egg like a Power Ranger, rolling over and over like a crazy Weeble, standing up within minutes of hatching. I will never forget your little peep, and how it turned into a cheep. How uncertain you were when you met the other chickens, moving around among your  new siblings with such uncertainty. I will never forget your friendly exploratin of my classroom, or the way you sat on our arms, settled in and went to sleep, so secure in our care.

I am so sorry, Franny. I have piled too much on my plate, too much to do, too much to remember, and like a block tower of To-Dos tottering, you were the first to fall and I could not catch you. I’m so sorry. I am so sorry. I will miss you terribly.


Franny in the Classroom

Filed under: Animals,Environmental Education — explorergarden @ 6:26 am

Frances Chick visited our classroom — the place where she was hatched — last week for an end of year chicken-fest. She walked around our circle while children observed her carefully — her physical characteristics and her behavior — and wrote.

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Building Franny’s Coop

Filed under: Animals,Environmental Education,Gardening,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 6:20 am

I built a coop out of our old wooden play structure. Here’s how I did it:

First, I lined the bottom with hardware cloth and replaced the bottom boards with Trex.

Next, I built a platform 3 feet off the ground as a nesting box.

Then I enclosed the bottom in hardware cloth and built a ramp up to the nesting box.

Then I made a door in one end with a lock.

Here are the results! Happy chickens!

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