Month: May 2014

A Time of Peace




There is something calming about noticing a flower that you have never noticed before; there is something that is exciting about waking up in the morning and seeing that the plants have been busy the night before. There is something that is humbling when we realize that life goes on without our taking the time to notice, that we are a mere blip in the endless sea of time that laps over the beachhead.


That life goes on without us forces us to realize that we live on borrowed time; no one owns their time, and peace of mind comes from realizing that we are on borrowed time. I notice this when I stop to realize that my new bees only live for six or so weeks. I realize this every time I think of the twenty-five years of marriage that I have enjoyed. These relationships and the things that we deem as so important come as waves on a beach, dissipating into the sand. Time is limitless but our time is limited.


Our time is limited, but what we do with our time is not. How we spend our time is up to us, but that we spend our time is not. Perhaps this is why peace of mind is so often found in nature, on a piece of land: time is free there because nature is time incarnate: timeless.


This is perhaps the reason that real peace of mind can only be found in noticing a flower that you have never noticed before, or hearing the buzzing of a few bees in the honeysuckle. This time is never wasted because it is time not being spent. I am learning not to waste my time because I am learning that my time is borrowed. I am learning to spend my time wisely because again, my time is only borrowed. That flower that I notice today will be gone tomorrow, another taking its place. That piece of land that is so beautiful costs nothing to notice, but not noticing it costs so much.


The wrinkles that show up on my face remind me of the things that are so important, and that they are important only because my lack of time makes them so. I have found that it takes time to enjoy peace of mind, and that such time is well spent. I have found that like everything else, truth is embedded in time itself: it is a process, and such is life as well as death.


There is no cheating time, we only get so much. We will only have time to barter with in our dying breath as Mr. Death comes to take the last coins of seconds that we have left. This is why it is so important to spend your time wisely. Notice the flower in the garden, the bees in the hive, the garden and everything else which is timeless. It is only these things that are free, and perhaps because of that bring peace of mind. Peace of mind comes with no buyer’s remorse. Perhaps this is because in the end it is the only thing that gives us a time of peace.



The Right Thing



It is amazing that growing your own food, buying local and seasonal, and trying to consume less is such a revolutionary act; but it is. Being self-sufficient helps us realize the difference between right and wrong. Self-sufficiency is, in fact, the realization of what is right. Being self-sufficient is the right thing to do because it is a good in itself. I am new to this realization of the need to be self-sufficient, and the most disconcerting thing about realizing this need is two-fold: first, how could I not have realized it before, and secondly being self-sufficient is very difficult in today’s society.


It is an interesting experience to realize that you have been living your life with your proverbial eyes closed for most of your life. The experience is un-nerving yet it is motivating; it motivates you to either make excuses or do what is right. I’ve found that there are a number of ways that we can do what is right, but it takes work.

These days I am reminded of doing what is right in some peculiar ways. I am reminded when I look out my window at the green lawn that surrounds my house: I need to replace it with a more suitable and sustainable landscape. I am reminded when I am weeding the garden or planting food. I am reminded when I am at the grocery store (the failure dome as I now call it) making choices about the food I will buy. Of course, I am reminded of it every time I read the news and often when I talk to friends.


Doing the right thing is not really a choice that we have. We can no longer choose to support the corporate food industry and call it an ethical decision: it is not. That being said, doing the right thing is not easy. We can no longer call ourselves independent simply because we make a good living: we are not. Being independent is not as easy as making a lot of money. We know a right thing when we come across it, and in fact, there is only one thing easy about the right thing: we know what it is. Being self-sufficient is the right thing because being self-sufficient forces us to realize that we are not separate from the world we live in, but a part of that world.


It truly is an amazing experience when we realize our moral beliefs in an objective way. And, as strange as it may seem, being self-sufficient is the way to realize the difference between right and wrong. Being self-sufficient is not right because it allows us to live in a sustainable way, or protects us from Armageddon, or prepares us for the end of society. Being self-sufficient is right because it is good. It is good to live honestly, independently, considerately, and responsibly. Doing the right thing because we can choose to do so is the greatest human capacity. Doing what is right may be difficult, but it is always the most moral choice.


Homeward Bound



When I received my first package of bees I was intent on giving them a good home, replete with ample room and plentiful food.  I worked hard several week prior to their arrival to set up the hive “just right”, and plant flowers that would bloom at different times during the summer.  Of course, the bees were not aware of my preparation work nor were they aware that the newly situated place they had found themselves in was home.  But they had one, and their home made me happy.


The idea of home is not as simple as a place, however.  Rather, home is (perhaps) a feeling of comfort, a point when you can let your guard down, and “stay awhile” as it were. Fast food is out of place, advertisement is unwelcome and the smell of cooking is prevalent; home is welcoming and not too fancy.  Home is intimate and it affords a feeling of intimacy when we are there.  Home is quiet and warmth, love and friendship.  Home is comforting.


Home is the past: the memories that we cherish and the love of our parents when we were small.  Home is the smell of cooking, welcoming intimacy, quiet, warmth, love and friendship and it can be found anywhere.  Most creatures want a home, but most creatures (such as bees) do not belong to a specific place or even time; having a home is similar: it is not specifically defined.


Being raised by loving parents, making friends, finding someone that you love and that loves you back, having experiences, adventures, learning, losing, loving, laughing.  All of these things and so much more make up our homes.  A home is often a process of building memories.  In fact, memories may be the only building blocks of a home, much more than the brick and mortar, the wood and nails that we often find solace in.


A home cannot be bought and sold but it is not free.  We must create our homes and live in them as best we can.  We must accept the homes we have built and know that we can build a new one if need be.  Having a home is remembering why we are who we are, and planning who we want to be.  Home is comfort in the knowledge that we are self-sufficient, that we made choices and took responsibility for them.  Home is that quality of happiness that is rare and often fleeting; it is that feeling that we do not belong, but not because we are outcasts, but only because that is the nature of the human house.


Everyone and everything needs a home.  It is the ultimate goal.  We all belong to the human household, but not all of us have built a home.  Somehow, my bees have reminded me of this, and the chickens that I will soon get; the vegetable garden and the fruit trees.  The memories of long past times, and the achievements and failures that linger, and the wishful dreams of times to come; this is in essence what makes a house a home.  I wish you luck in building your own.

Ever Changing        



As the seasons change they remind me that time does undeniably pass us by.  In the past few weeks I’ve seen the tiny seedlings that I started indoors grow leaps and bounds.  I’ve seen the parsnip poke its miniature shoots out of the soil covered in dead leaves and compost that itself has stood the test of time.  I see the kale and the carrots beginning to show out of the earth itself.  The weather is getting warmer and as it does our new bees begin to become more and more active.  We did our first hive check this weekend, and “my girls” are doing fine.


“My girls” indeed!  As I watch them busily about their business it dawns on me that these “girls” will not be the girls that my family meets when they come to visit later this summer; these “girls” will not be the ones that I take honey from (if at all) later this summer.  This hive will not be the same hive at all.  They will all have passed their jobs on to their sisters that they so diligently raise as I watch them fly in and out of their new home.  It saddens me…at first.  I realize, once again, that this is the nature of the seasons, is the nature of the years that have passed me by and continue to do so.  Change is the nature of life itself.


I watch as my parents get older and my nephews and nieces begin anew, with wonder in their eye: young and not thinking about time at all.  Like the hive I call my own we are not the same people we were a mere seven or eight years ago, literally or figuratively.  The cities we live in change; the landscape, the people, our friends, our jobs, our plans, our goals, our desires.


In fact, change is the only consistent.  As I complicate my life (to eventually simplify it) I realize more and more that this aphorism rings true.  As I see the very ground in my garden go from unfertilized lawn, to newly dug soil, to composted mulch full of worms and life I realize that I did not start this cycle of evolution in my garden; that this cycle never had a beginning nor will it have an end.  I watch the plants come up excited in anticipation just as I was last spring and will be in the springs to come.


Perhaps adding to my newfound goal of complicating my life, I must realize that I have a choice: to act with or react to the nature of life and the living.  As a gardener and now a keeper of bees, I try to be a steward but I am really an audience member to the grand change this is life.  But life, our lives, is short with no intermission, no stage, no actors, and no scenery.  I started out a suburban gardener, but I slowly realize that the garden has always been there and that I am only reacting to it.