Saturday, January 24, 2015

Signs of Spring as I depart for Summer in the Southern Hemisphere

As I pack today on January 24, it is a glorious spring-like day with temperatures hovering in the low before I leave here is what I found in the garden....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” ― Dom Perignon

Making champagne at RainSong Vineyard.....

...where champagne is drunk once the sun has sunk and the season of summer is alive in spicy bloom"  - Roman Payne

Last Fall at RainSong Vineyard the hills were cloaked in golden finery as the vines gave up their grapes for the harvest...


Every season hath its pleasures,
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vinyard's ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn's sob'rer time.”

Thomas Moore

The skilled harvesters of Oregon's wine country know how to cull these ruby treasures - the precious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes come into the winery where the wine-master begins to prepare for the magical conversion to the heady pleasures of wine.  Into the barrels go the harvest to rest and dream and while away the cold winter days.....

Fast forward to June and now Summer begins to assert herself.  This week, on a hot afternoon in the Willamette Valley just north of Eugene, the crew is getting everything in order for the intense process of bottling up last year's harvest and is working up quite a, it is time to bring out the beer, for, as they say at RainSong, "It takes a lot of beer to make champagne!"......

With the crew sufficiently hydrated we begin the process....first the sparkling wine bottles need caps that secure the wine during the fermentation in the bottle.....June 2013 will be a very good date.....

Next, the bottles are staged at the filler....a beer at the ready....

Then, they are moved to the filler station....

.....where six at a time are filled rapidly.  The station attendant has to look sharp and pull the bottles quickly or risk spilling the wine...

....on to the plugging, a temporary plastic cork is inserted....

...then the bottle is sealed with the temporary dated caps.....

...and carefully placed in storage as the fermentation begins......

....approximately 1380 bottles were processed that afternoon.  Here they rest until the wine-master considers them ready for the riddling rack...

.....where the sediment is observed and each bottle is carefully and lovingly turned by hand, before the temporary plastic cork is removed, and they are sealed and ready to consume......

Now the crew is ready to take a break and enjoy some of last year's vintage served up by Marcus, the wine-master.....

As the afternoon glow settles upon the weary but satisfied crew we enjoy the Summer's spicy bloom in each of our champagne flutes. Meanwhile, high up on the hill, the grapes are drenched in the setting sun, slowly swelling and preparing themselves for another Autumn harvest......

(Blogger's note: We have been very lucky to have made friendships with Mike and Merry, Marcus and Allie, and all of the great people at RainSong Vineyard. I hope that you have enjoyed this little slice of life from their piece of paradise in the Cheshire Hills of is a link to their webpage if you would like to learn more )


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Instead of To Be Or Not To about, simply, To Be a Bee?

While thinking deep could easily miss the lovely details that rest on the surface of things, or that float by us, going about their daily habits....

Take the bee, for instance.....first a poem...

Bees and Morning Glories

Morning glories, pale as a mist drying,
fade from the heat of the day, but already
hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg
hooks have found and are boarding them.

This could do for the sack of the imaginary
fleet. The raiders loot the galleons even as they
one by one vanish and leave still real
only what has been snatched out of the spell.

I've never seen bees more purposeful except
when the hive is threatened. They know
the good of it must be grabbed and hauled
before the whole feast wisps off.

They swarm in light and, fast, dive in,
then drone out, slow, their pantaloons heavy
with gold and sunlight. The line of them,
like thin smoke, wafts over the hedge.

And back again to find the fleet gone.
Well, they got this day's good of it. Off
they cruise to what stays open longer.
Nothing green gives honey. And by now

you'd have to look twice to see more than green
where all those white sails trembled
when the world was misty and open
and the prize was there to be taken.

It turns out, that bees do have consciousness, so says the latest science.  Well, poets have told us this, there is nothing new here.  But, science can now confirm it according to the latest research on mapping the workings of the brain at the neuronal level...Science Friday on Decoding the Most Complex Object in the Universe.
From Ray Bradbury's lovely book Dandelion Wine, which celebrated the magic in the everyday comes this thought...perhaps bees also have a scent...
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Here are photos of bees hard at work last summer....I wonder what they were thinking on that day as they lined up to dive into the heady sensuousness of the garden of delight that the artichoke blossom offered?  Oh, to be a bee!

Artichoke blossom

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ponderings on the approach of the Summer Solstice....

"The days might seem long, but the years are short"

Gretchen Rubin - author of The Happiness Project

I've been thinking a lot about the paradoxes of life, how contradictions come together and startle us with the small quiet truths that reveal to us what it means to be here.  I'm reading a bit about the Buddhist concept of being in the "now".  I'm still not sure that I get it yet, but when I am in the garden, I feel that I am very close to understanding what I need to know. The summer solstice approaches and it has always meant something to me - resonating in a way that feels more like a part of my DNA than of memory.  Perhaps it is because it seems to represent one of the ultimate paradoxes of life....the beginning is the end.  

On a different but slightly related subject:  The moments when I tend to "get" this, I can only describe as inspiring a feeling of awe - a chill, or a sudden welling up of tears.  Great music, a sublime piece of art - it is connected with inspiration and also with the recognition of the creative process at work.  I've often thought of this experience as being in the presence of pure truth.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Birds in mind......

We've been doing a great deal of bird watching in the garden and down by the creek.  After the major restoration work was done to contour the creek bed, much of the vegetation had to be removed.  Mostly just grass, weeds and willows, but I missed it all, nonetheless.  And, the birds and wildlife missed it, too.  But now, they are returning.  Testing the waters.  Perching on the branches of the small new native tree plantings.  Nibbling at the ripened seeds on the wax myrtle shrubs.....and, the great horned owl gave us a brief sighting not too long ago.  As we sat down by the creek, on a rather chilly afternoon sipping hot tea, a winged form glided out from the woods, and perched on a Dug Fir snag.  He gazed at us....then flew away.  But we heard him that night....calling, and so this poem, of a different type of owl, really spoke to describes so beautifully how it feels to be so transported by a bird on the wing.....

A Sighting

The gray owl had seen us and had fled
but not far. We followed noiselessly,
driving him from pine to pine:
I will not let thee go except thou bless me.

He flew as though it gave him no pleasure,
forcing himself from the bough,
falling until his wings caught him:
they had to stroke hard, like heavy oars.

He must have just eaten
something that had, itself, just eaten.
Finally he crossed the swamp and vanished
as into a new day, hours before us,

and we stood near the chest-high reeds,
our feet sinking, and felt
we'd been dropped suddenly from midair
back into our lives.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mostly poetry today....and a few recent photos as evidence of Spring....

I am reluctant to let go of the poetry just yet, although I'm turning my attention more to the outdoor pursuits of the, in this vein, a few selections from Mary Oliver's latest book A Thousand Mornings must be noted here.....

All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing.

And, a photo from the garden to go with it....sword fern fiddle-heads, imitating little seahorses in the morning....

Next, the poem that created the special mood that I was looking for after an exhausting week...

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
An iris appears to inhabit stillness by the creek...

And, finally, 
The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers

Who can guess the luna's sadness who lives so
briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone
longing to be ground down, to be part again of
something livelier? Who can imagine in what
heaviness the rivers remember their original

Strange questions, yet I have spent worthwhile
time with them. And I suggest them to you also,
that your spirit grow in curiosity, that your life
be richer than it is, that you bow to the earth as
you feel how it actually is, that we- so clever, and
ambitious, and selfish, and unrestrained- are only
one design of the moving, the vivacious many.
The creek on its way to the clarity of the river

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Restorative musings as we approach the winter solstice...

On a rainy and chilly December afternoon, thoughts turn inward as we move to nature's cycles.  I'm doing more time looking out into the winter garden than spending time out there, and that is to be expected.  Cozying up by the fire, mug of tea warming my hands, I am feeling the deep peace of a restorative yoga session just completed at The Yoga Center in Corvallis.  Each year around this time they hold these sessions and I was lucky enough to jump into an open spot for someone who couldn't attend at the last minute.  Once again, the experience was heightened by poetry readings from Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and others.  This one came to us today.....

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
Peace and our place in the nature of things is a key theme of my thoughts lately.  And, as I begin the process of creating the woodland garden, this feel right.  A quote from Ann Lovejoy's "A Year Along the Garden Path" sums it up...."We make gardens not just to embody our dreams but because our spirits are uplifted each time we touch the earth."
And, I would add, to find peace in the grace of the world.