A Garden, Some Latin, Ai Weiwei

Beltane                                                     New Last Frost Moon

The potatoes are in the ground.  The lettuce has two leaves, as does the spinach, a few beets have emerged.  The leeks look a bit droopy, but they’ll pick up.  The garlic is well over 6 inches now as it makes the final push for harvest in late June, early July.  None of the carrots have germinated yet and most of the beets have not either. The onion sets we planted havecropped-free-ai-weiwei mostly begun to show green.  The bees show up now around the property, working as we do, tending the plants in their own, intimate way.  The gooseberries we transplanted look very healthy.  The daffodils are a carpet of yellow and white.  A few scylla out front brighten up the walk with their blue.

Most of today went into Diana and Actaeon.  I’m down to verse 227, the finish line is 250.  I’m close and moving faster now than I was.  One of the things I’ve learned is that doing this at a pace which would allow you to complete a project in a reasonable time frame would require real skill.  I’m a hobby Ovidist, to be a Latin scholar would take decades.  Who knows though?  I might make it.  When I finish this first tale in the Metamorphosis, I’m going to have some kind of celebration.

Buddy Mark Odegard has come up with three remarkable designs for a Free Ai Weiwei t-shirt.   Here’s an example and the one most seem to prefer:

Breakthrough!

Spring Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

I have made several entries private and will explain that decision on Sunday. Stay tuned.

The snow has only a few strongholds left in our front yard though the back and the woods still has plenty. The garden behind our patio has daffodil stems through the 06-27-10_marigoldeyeviewearth, a bit yellow at the top, then light green, then a darker green. Soon there should be other bulbs breaking through including some I’d forgotten I planted in the orchard.

This is the transition week for our place, when the snow disappears and the greening begins. I’m excited to see the garden come to life. When the bees come, some time after April 23rd, it will feel like the whole gangs back together. I’m hopeful that the orchard will start producing this growing season. We’ll see.

I want to get some more woodchips down right away in the orchard, perhaps in the vegetable garden, too. 670_0300

It’s also time for serious clean up work in the back. I got distracted last fall and didn’t keep up with the maintenance as well as I could. Then, there’s all those tree branches split by the heavy first snowfall last November. So, plenty of outside work.

We ate the last of our potatoes just two weeks ago and still have garlic, yellow onions, honey, and canned vegetables from several years.  We couldn’t make it as pioneers but we’re doing well at supplementing our diet.  More.  We tune our lives to natural rhythms, especially in the growing season.

That original revelation to us that Emerson talks about is coming along out here in Andover.

Keep That Gray Matter Working

Winter                                                            New Moon of the Cold Month

Geez.  I felt affirmed by this paragraph in a longer article by Oliver Sacks.

Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness.

Oliver Sacks is the author of “The Mind’s Eye.”

Moving From the Theoretical to the Concrete

Lughnasa                                            Waxing Back to School Moon

Kate has had a nasty cold since Monday and I can feel it trying to claw its way up my esophagus, making my throat scratchy.  My hope is that the recent two time bout I had with some bug in July, then August has revved up my immune system.  With rest I can pound this sucker down before it takes hold.

Starting back on Latin today.  I took part of July, all of August and the last couple of weeks off with the bees and the vegetables and the orchard.  Thought I’d get work done on Ovid, review, but in fact I got very little done.  An old student habit of mine, if it’s not pressing, it’s not getting done.  I’m looking forward to the weekly sessions, building toward enough confidence to tackle Ovid and others on my own.  It’s a project, like the bees, that keeps the gears turning, not giving them a chance to rest.  Best that way.

A few years back it was the MIA docent training.  Then the move into permaculture and vegetables and fruit.  That one’s still underway as I learn the complicated dance of seasons, cultivars, pests, harvest and storage.  The MIA training, for that matter, only gives you enough legs to get into the books and files yourself, training you to look and think about art, but each tour demands specific self-education on the objects and the purpose of that tour.

(Minoan Gold Bee pendant from Crete, circa 2000 BC)

Part of my impatience with the seminary experience is that I’ve moved so deeply into more concrete endeavors.  Art has the object as an anchor, then its history and context.  Latin has words, grammar and literature as well as Roman history.  Vegetables and fruit have real plants, particular plants with needs and products.  The bees have the bees themselves, the colonies, woodenware, hive management, pest control, honey extraction.  This is, probably, the world I was meant to inhabit, but philosophy and the church lead onto another ancientrail, that of the abstract and faraway rather than the particular and the near.  It’s not that I don’t have an affection, even a passion for the theoretical, I do, but I find my life more calm, less stressful when I work with art, with potatoes and garlic, with conjugations and declensions.

I now have almost three decades of life devoted to the theoretical, the abstract and the political so I bring those skills and that learning to my present engagement with the mundane, but I no longer want to live in those worlds.  They are gardens others can tend better than I can.

Bees

Imbolc                      Waning Wild Moon

Tomorrow and Sunday I study bees.  The U puts on this course for beginning bee keepers each year.  It’s popular, there are 250 signed up.  I need better information because all my bees are dead.  I think.  I suppose I should check one more time just to be sure.

Have to have my Latin done by Tuesday afternoon because the tutor is going up north.  With the next two days devoted to bees, that will make Monday and Tuesday Latin days.

Not much else right now, so, see ya on the backside.

Pictures

westorchard709Summer                       Waxing Summer Moon

From top to bottom:

Western half of orchard + three oaks

Cathedral at Seed Savers Exchange

Southern half of our vegetable garden

Lilies, Bees and Beans

Carrots

Vega the Wonder Dog

Vega (right) and Rigel (left)

ssecathedral400

southgarden709400

beansandbees709

carrots709

vega709400

vegarigel400

Bee-ing

Beltane                      Waning Flower Moon

Tomorrow morning Mark Nordeen and I will zip up our white bee suits, put on Wellies and gloves, secure the veiled bonnet that makes us look like prim Victorian ladies headed for a stroll in Hyde Park circa 1880 and do the third check on the bee hive.

When I checked it a week ago, I saw capped cells and a lot of activity.  As I’ve watched scouts come and go over the last week, I’ve noticed that between 1/4 and 1/3 of them return with pollen on their hind legs.  This is a key transition, meaning they will be able to make their own food, wax and propolis.

As each new piece has become a part of our overall property, the gestalt increases.  It grows in size, has grown in size, from the first decisions about boulder walls and perennial flowers, through bulb planting, hosta and ferns, the multiplication and division of iris, day lilies, true lilies, hosta, bug bane, ligularia, dicentra.  When Kate began to grow vegetables, the gestalt pushed out some more.

Hiring Ecological Gardens and putting in the orchard last fall has pushed the boundaries of the whole further out, while integrating it more.  The bees have added an animal component, a lively and complex bee-ing.

Growing vegetable plants from seed under lights, then planting them outside adds another layer.  The work that Ecological Gardens plans for May 26 and May 27 will enrich it yet again.

The feeling is hard to express, but wonderful.  Mabye the bee hive is a good analogy.  It feels to me like the whole property has become an interdependent whole, with the land working for us and us working for the land.  I’m not talking about just food production.  The beauty of the flowers, the grace of the ferns, the broad green presence of the hosta are part of it, too.  Each part feeds into and amplifies the other.  The bees enhance the fruit trees, the vegetables and the flowers; in turn they provide pollen to the hive.  We care for the whole and harvest food, aesthetic pleasure and a sense of connectedness.

Make Meadows, Not Lawns

38  bar steep fall 29.49  2mph N  windchill 36   Samhain

Full Moon of Long Nights

Another TED video worth watching:  Where Have All the Bee’s Gone?  In it apiarist Dennis vanEnglesdorp gives a brief overview of the honeybee disappearances in the U.S.  We have lost about 1/3 of the total hives each year for at least the last two years.  Beekeepers have prevented this from reducing our total bee population by splitting hives and buying queens, but the price of doing this year after year will become prohibitive.

Just this year I saw some honeybees in our garden for the first time since we’ve lived here.  They surprised me.

At the end of the video he diagnoses the primary problem behind the bee disappearances as NDD:  Nature Deficit Disorder.  We have become, he says, too distanced from the natural world and no longer pay attention to how our lives influence the rest of the nature.  His solution?  Replace lawns with meadows.  Works for me.

This is an example of the followers of the old faith.  Each beekeeper, amateur or professional, is in the community of the saints, necessary in large, large numbers for this old faith to survive.