Sunday, 30 May 2010

Spring Snow

We've been getting some precipitation lately, which has been good news given our drought situation here in Alberta. It hadn't begun raining yet on Friday as had been forecast, and when it was still dry Saturday morning I was a bit apprehensive that the rain wouldn't come. But mid-morning it did, and by mid-afternoon it was snowing!

It snowed well into the evening, to the point where I went out twice to shake some of our trees to get the snow off of them. I was worried most about our chokecherry and willow trees, which we planted shortly after we moved here to our acreage in 2003. These trees have done really well, probably tripling in height, and I really didn't want them to get damaged. It would have been no big deal if the snow came a few weeks ago before the trees all leafed out, but now they're full of leaves and blossoms, and so the heavy, wet snow builds up on them quickly.

It was a bit of a strange experience, going out at 9 pm (when it's still light out at this time of year), and shaking the leafy snow-laden tree branches, getting soaking wet, all the while smelling the gorgeous scent of the cherry blossoms - a weird combination of sensations! Gratifying though, to see the boughs spring back up into their more normal position once their burden was lifted.

And this morning the snow is mostly gone, melting away and soaking into the ground. Things sure do look green. And as a bonus, when I went to check out my garden this morning, the kale seems to have sprouted up overnight!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Fairness and Generosity

I'm a "Libra." I've always liked being a Libra, because I've always considered myself a fair person (on average) and the scales of the Libra sign reflect this. I don't put a lot of weight into astrology, but in my case I thought that for what ever reason, my personality really did seem to match what the Libra scales represent: fairness, justice, equality, etc. Fairness is a quality I really value in others and in myself, and I have reasonably good 'self-esteem' in that area, I guess you could say.

That is until I was at work the other day and found myself getting all grumpy because no one had filled up the filtered water container for tea, again, and I had to do it, again, even though lots of us at work drink tea or some other hot beverage that we use the filtered water for. I was grudginly filling up the water container, all the while thinking, "Why doesn't anyone else ever do this? Why am I stuck with doing this all the time? It's just not fair that other people don't take their turn."

Then it hit me: all my concern about fairness was sure putting a crimp in my ability to be generous. It washed over me all of a sudden: putting such a high value on fairness was really just a cover for only doing my "fair" share and no more. And resenting others for not doing their "fair" share gives me an excuse to feel all superior and better-than-them-y. Silly Theresa. I broke out into a big grin and shook my head at myself. And proceeded to fill the water container with a much lighter heart and generous spirit.

In the days and weeks since, I've embraced my role as "water jug filler," doing my best to top up the container in the daytime and making sure it's filled in the evening so that there is water to put in the kettle first thing in the morning. And I enjoy my first cup of tea of the day much more now that it is flavored with generosity rather than resentment.

(Here is a nice little dharma talk by Clark Strand on generosity, in the context of the practice of 'green meditation')

Monday, 24 May 2010

Better late than never...

Gord bought me this "starter" greenhouse last year, in the mid-summer I think. So I didn't set it up then, and of course it sat in its nondescript box over the winter and when Spring came around I completely forgot I had it! Then, a couple weeks ago I was at WeeStock, (where my talented sister had a table for her home-based notable business) and her friend was there, talking about all of the tomato plants she started from seed that were thriving in her mini-greenhouse. D'oh!

It took me another couple weeks, but I finally got it set up today and it fits perfectly on the porch, where it will catch the morning sun. It's probably too late to start tomatoes from seed, but I have put my two sturdy echinacea seedlings from last year in there. And I might just start a few other seeds in there and just see what happens...

Super Sprouts!

I planted most of my veggie garden last weekend, and I think the record for fastest sprout ever has to go to......endive! I decided to plant these particular leafy greens this year because our guinea pigs just love them, and it is a type of green that we don't get from our CSA farm share. I popped out to the garden yesterday afternoon, not expecting to see anything, but there they were: three rows of adorable endive seedlings! Usually it is the beans that sprout first, but these little guys just couldn't wait!

We've been fortunate and had several days of rain last week, but it was also very cold (with even a frost warning last night) so I figured sprouting would be delayed for everything. The garden has new lessons to teach me all the time...

How are your gardens doing? How has your Spring weather been?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Sore back, Full heart

Today was my first work day this year at Sparrow's Nest Organics, our CSA farm. This is the third year we're participating in the CSA and it really feels comfortable and cozy when I go there now, which is really nice. I always like chatting with our farmers, Graham and Allison, and with the sharers that come for their work days. We talk about things like food security and eating locally and growing our own gardens and things like that. Today several of the people there had just watched "Food, Inc." on PBS and so vegetarianism and veganism were also discussed, while we were doing our assigned tasks. Even Graham and Allison's adorable son Ben (pictured right) gets in on the action, toting pails and taking charge of the garden hose!

Today an abundance of potatoes were planted, and we got about five thousand of little onion seedlings out of their germination trays and tucked into the cultivator bins ready for tomorrow's crew to plant. We helped get the drip irrigation system set back up in the fields, and took down the ripped plastic sheeting and webbing off of the four big greenhouses.

Graham and Allison have constructed two cabins and are in the process of building a cookhouse/laundry/shower building for their international practicum students - they are studying at Olds College and have come from Mexico. They're also setting up a windmill, the power from which will be used to circulate the water in their irrigation dugout, to keep algae from getting out of hand. With the help of the practicum students, they will also be contructing platforms for raptor nesting, with a view to keeping the ground squirrels and rodents in check. The two cabins, cookhouse and harvest shed all have metal roofs, and Allison and Graham collect rainwater into a huge cistern, which is now full after our recent rain/snowfall - ready to water the raspberries and rhubarb!

So even though my back is a bit sore, my heart is full after a day of working with people who are committed to a healthy, safe, local and just food system for all!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Spill Baby Spill

I'm sure I'm not the first one to make that twist on Sarah Palin's "Drill Baby Drill" mantra. In fact I saw Elizabeth May use it in one of her tweets earlier this week, referring of course to the horrible oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. This spill keeps getting worse and worse, and no one seems to know how or when to make it stop.

A metaphor for the stupidity of off-shore oil drilling keeps coming into my mind and I thought I'd flesh it out a little and share it:

Let's say you have a jug of nice clean drinking water. You're thirsty and it's important to keep the water clean, for the drink you're going to have now and the one you're going to need later. You keep the covered jug of water on the counter. In the cupboard under the counter is where you keep a small container of bleach. You think you need that too, because it is a quick and easy way to keep your white laundry really sparkling white. You are careful with the bleach and keep that container well-sealed because the bleach can really wreck stuff or burn your skin if used improperly. You sure don't want the bleach getting in the water unintentionally. A very very tiny amount of bleach in the water isn't a problem, but too much would contaminate it and maybe even be lethal to anyone who drinks the water, including you and your pet dog Rover, not to mention the ficus plant in the front room. You know that you definitely want to keep these two substances separate from each other.

So the one thing you definitely DON'T do is drill a hole through the bottom of the water jug and the countertop and stick a hose down through the water into the bleach bottle in order to have easy access to the bleach. What's more, you don't need to actually try this out first to see it's not a good idea; just imagining having bleach running up through your jug of drinking water is enough to know that this would be a really stupid thing to do. Even with the best quality hose, the best quality seals and someone watching for leaks all the time, it is a really really dumb idea.

Especially when you (and Rover, and the ficus plant) need the water to live, and you only 'need' the bleach to keep up appearances.