Hummingbirds are Kindergarten Teachers

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A rest stop in South Dakota holds a little gift that will change what I think is possible with animals forever.

In 2010 my husband Brett and I had the bright idea that the most prudent way to get our family to a wedding in Minnesota would be to drive cross country. We thought that we could both be economical and turn the trip into an epic homeschooler’s adventure by stopping at landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, ending the trip at our summer camping spot in Beaver, Utah with my parents before heading home. We mapped our route and headed off with ridiculously optimistic expectations.

The trip was epic, to say the least. One needs little imagination to envision the calamities that might await two adventurous and well-meaning parents with an SUV packed to the gills with luggage and kids smashed in like sardines. Before we even arrived at the wedding, we lost my son Ashton’s Heely shoe in a labyrinth of corn fields during a potty stop. Why had I only packed the child one set of decent shoes for a two-week trip? And how was the shoe still in the road waiting for us after 45 minutes of backtracking?!? I also left Brett’s suit for the wedding in a perfectly packed luggage bag, at home, in our closet, 3 days drive away.

Somewhere close to Mount Rushmore, the computer in my car showed that we had a major transmission failure when we were packed to take off at 6 AM. We were hours, or maybe days from a Land Rover dealership (or anyone who had ever seen a Land Rover for that matter), but were saved when we discovered that it was really just a battery problem. My daughter Alexis also had an altercation with an ATV during this trip that could have ended with an ER visit or worse instead of just revised rules of operation. Woven between these moments of resistance though, were some of the most beautiful, life-changing moments of this season of our lives. I continue to notice that life requires me to overcome obstacles with integrity before some amazing grace pours in.

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We call this work of art Geyser with Brooding Teenager
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That’s a mini buffalo nursing!!

Everyone has different desires and expectations for what makes a road trip excellent. Some people want to see rich history or meet new people. Some want to eat great local food. I like all of this a LOT, but what I want most is to see wildlife! This trek was brimming with close encounters. After visiting Yellowstone National Park, my animal interaction tank felt full to bursting like the geysers we had marveled at there. We’d seen creatures of every kind who were quite relaxed with humans and so abundant that it was like Disneyland for nature lovers.

Little did I know that something so special was still waiting for me at a rest stop in South Dakota. After driving all night to make our way to Utah and meet up with my parents for the last leg of the trip on-time, Brett pulled off the highway for me and our waking kids to stretch our legs (and pee!). There were dew covered hummingbird feeders scattered around this mountainside rest stop and it was very early so the birds were coming out for their first sips of nectar. There were just swarms of them! The kids and I ran to stand in the middle of the frenzy even in our morning haze.

Brett, always encouraging me to up the ante where animals are involved, silently removed a feeder from its hook and put it in my hand, positioning my fingers above the tiny perches. Inside, I was momentarily hesitant thinking I might be breaking a rule of some kind. But before I could protest, there was a hummingbird eating breakfast from my finger. The kids gathered around and also held feeders, feeling the vibration of wings by their cheeks and tiny claws on their thumbs and forefingers. We stayed at this rest stop for at least an hour taking pictures and drinking in the awe. I’m pretty sure I didn’t need my morning coffee that day. I was buzzing all on my own.

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I think Brett and I should publish a coffee table book called “The Crazy Faces Of Jessica Bingaman When She Plays With Birds”

When we got home from our great, cross-country expedition, ripe with lessons and wild nature experiences, I became obsessed with the idea of getting hummingbirds to come to my balcony and yard to eat. Brett helped me get feeders set up all over the yard and the whole space turned into a hummingbird haven for a long season of our life. It took a tremendous amount of work to keep the feeders clean and full, but like anything that we have an internal drive to do, it nearly always felt like pure joy to keep it all going.

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Audree uses an Audubon app to call birds to the balcony. This works!

At first, we just sat in awe of the tiny bird’s beauty when they came to visit. We looked for personalities in the “regulars” and named them. Scruffy was a beat up, older, magenta headed Anna’s that commanded the yard. He tried with all of his tiny might to keep the territory clear of other birds. Blueberry, whose gorget sparkled deep violet, was a little Costa’s male that was much more gentle. He had no natural fear of us, knowing that he could speed away at even the slightest hint of danger. He would sit on the feeder and go back and forth between eating and looking at us with curiosity, tipping his head from side to side like he was solving a complicated puzzle.

Eventually, the bird word got out that there was abundant food at Casa Bingaman, and the numbers of visitors skyrocketed. Every evening that we were home, I sat with Brett and the kids in complete stillness as we watched them come for their last feedings before sundown. This time we spent felt so important and even reverent because of the awe it produced in all of us. We began to make it a priority every single day.

I later learned that we weren’t just craving the rejuvenation and wonder that was created by these magical evenings, but there was actually something happening to our brains in this state of stillness. And it wasn’t just happening to one of us. We were sitting each night together, syncing up on the very same joyful, wondrous wavelength of rapture!

Awe finds all of us and can come from an endless variety of sources. As I’m sure you have already gathered, these moments are often fueled by animal encounters for me but I also love delicious food, music, wild places, and reading other’s inspired work. You surely have felt awe many times singing a favorite song in church or in front of the mirror as a kid, watching the full moon rise over a mountain horizon, or reading a poem that seemed like it was written just for you. Time stops, attention to the physical world around you ceases, and rapture takes over. Sometimes it’s punctuated by getting the chills or truth bumps. Then at some point, you find yourself back in your body, feet on the ground thinking, “Where am I”?

Biochemically, the brain creates a surge of nitric oxide and a chain reaction of other feel-good hormones whenever we are overtaken by rapture. This produces an incredible sense of well being, wonder, and delicious relaxation that is healing medicine for a human. Once it’s released into the system, nitric oxide works with anticoagulants in the blood, increasing its flow, signaling white blood cells to fight infection, balancing neurotransmitter levels in the brain, reducing cellular inflammation and even preventing heart attacks and strokes. Our urge to satiate this craving was more than just looking for a fun time! We were under the spell of beautiful brain chemistry which was creating deeply rutted neural pathways to help us learn to purposefully create awe in the future, healing our bodies and minds with nature.

All of this nightly hummingbird observation was pure bliss, but I always had this little voice reminding me that they ate from my hand on our trip and I wanted a redo of that. Audree and I tried quite a few times but our birds seemed a bit more skittish than the ones we’d first met. We could get very close to the feeders where they would inspect us, eating right within reach, but never perch on our hands.

One blustery, lazy afternoon I resolved to figure out how to get them to sit on my finger until it worked. I took all of the feeders down and hid them away so that the one I held was the only possible option for food. The birds would come to investigate but then look me in the face and zip away. Moments later, they’d be back to see if the crazy lady had reassembled their nectar buffet. They just weren’t falling for it.

This went on for some time. They’d fly up and I’d think, “Please just eat on my hand… please!” As my arms started aching, my brain started problem-solving. Physical stress is often the impetus for a new thought. I questioned, “What is the element keeping them from just sitting down?” It occurred to me to try changing my internal dialog from “please” to “thank you”.

Instead of thinking “Please, oh please sit on my finger” when they buzzed up I’d purposefully think “Thank you for sitting on my finger”, wondering if I could cultivate the outcome that I desired before it happened with more inviting thoughts. Sure enough, it was only seconds until Scruffy perched on my thumb, drinking up his lunch. I was elated! Could their willingness to light on my hand be that directly tied to my own thoughts and the messages my body emitted?

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Scruffy wonders if he can trust the freezing bird lady enough to sit down for a sip of nectar.

I ran inside and got Ashton and my daughter Audree to help me experiment with what I’d discovered. I gave them each a feeder to hold and asked them to think and try to feel the word love or welcome in their hearts and bodies to see if the birds would feed. Within just a few minutes, they did. Then I asked them to imagine and feel the word want or need. The birds zipped around the feeders but wouldn’t stop to eat. We tried other feeling states like contentment, fear, desire, and lack. Sure enough, the negative feelings repelled the birds, and the positive ones attracted them. We sat outside and played with the experiment until our fingers were freezing off, giggling with excitement that we’d figured out the puzzle.

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Success! Those tiny feet feel awesome.

The dramatically obvious results of our little hand feeding experiment were the perfect material for contemplation at this particular stage of my personal development. Later, I’d discern that all of these animal lessons always came to me perfectly timed containing a divine direction manual that I could learn to read based on each animal’s meaning historically and by observing their behavior.

Once I learned to watch and listen closely, animals became more than a simple fascination. Instead, they began to help me work to heal old patterns and move through some furiously intense times in the coming years. At this moment though, all I knew is that I had physically been able to act out a concept that I’d previously understood but had never effectively integrated.

“External circumstances do not create feeling states, feeling states create external circumstances”.

~Martha Beck

I have always been a highly sensitive, feeling, loving, grieving, empathetic little human! I am never just happy, but elated, never just sad, but devastated. My emotions don’t naturally hang out near the center where balance is found. I also could always feel the mood of the people around me with reliable accuracy. I knew exactly what state my parents were in when I hopped in the car each day after school or the mood of my co-workers as they walked through the door to begin a shift.

This empathetic perception gives me tremendous insight and makes me a sensitive parent and friend but also has a troubling downside. Without a mature understanding of it, I could allow myself to be too easily influenced by others emotions. If one of my friends was sad or upset, my mood synced right up with theirs, seemingly without my consent. Equally, if a close friend was feeling excited or my family was buzzed about some future fun we were planning, I found myself surfing on good feeling waves. I spent my teenage and early adult years stuck on a roller coaster of feelings and emotions, tossed around by whatever was going on with those I loved or even whomever I chatted with in a grocery store line.

By the time I found myself feeding these hummingbirds out on my balcony, I had a nearly desperate desire to be more in charge of my internal ecosystem. I grew up surrounded by adults trying to effectively use positive mental attitude principles and read people like Wayne Dyer and my beloved Christiane Northrup’s writing about staying present and in love and gratitude as a young mother. It’s not that I had a lack of good upbringing or material for growth to construct a balanced internal life. I just struggled intensely with putting it all to use while adulting. By now, I yearned to find a way to stay more centered without giving up my effervescence in the process. I knew if I could solve the puzzle of how to master my emotional states it would stabilize my daily living and also create and attract better future experiences.

But what I knew just made me feel like I was going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I constantly watched myself roll down into the pit of anxiety, or depression, or fear, all the while knowing I was the only one who could stop it. When I was on the joy upswing, it was contrasted by the reality that it would soon pass and I’d be cast back into my internal struggle as soon as the momentary high ended. I tried cognitive/behavioral techniques like the Sedona Method, read voraciously about the mind-body connection, and tried till I sweat to take charge of my feeling states with no lasting success. I understood that there was no magic formula that an author or scientist had recorded that I could follow for instant healing. What clicked during that moment on the balcony is that I was able to intentionally control and create my desired experience by feeling it first, instead of waiting or begging for it to come to me, for the very first time.

Hummingbirds are excellent kindergarten teachers because we can practice these concepts completely unattached to the outcome. The kids and I easily found this flow because there was no real risk. The worst thing that could have happened inside of our experiment was that they wouldn’t sit to feed; certainly not a life or death scenario.

This experience created a brand new neural pathway in my brain which I would continue to work with for years. Animals were always willing to help! The effort created so much fun in me and my family’s life that it didn’t feel like therapy, but ultimately it would be the exact the medicine I needed to master my own energy, healing the fear, anxiety, and sadness I’d had running the show in my head.

The hummingbird kindergarten lesson is that grasping, begging, feelings create resistance to what we want and need and therefore repel the very solutions to difficulties that we are trying to create. Just like the “Little Engine That Could” had to change his mantra from “I think I can” to “I know I can” to make it up the hill, these little, winged gems teach me to master internal dialog and begin to form what I desire from knowing to being.

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The children survived! Even the ATV scrapes were evidence of tremendous gifts.

Hawk Teachers

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Whenever I spend time in nature or with animals, I come away with lessons and direction. Sometimes they are just for me but more often, I get waves of insight that could apply to anyone watching. Last Fourth of July when the young hawks living close to my house took flight for the first time as a result of some ravens pestering them, I was reminded that fear is often the impetus for growth and transformation. So you might imagine that I was overwhelmed with insights on Sunday when Brett and I visited Sky Falconry. I’ll share one here.

The amazing thing about the sport of falconry and the raptors we worked with Sunday, is that the relationship between bird and human is totally cooperative and ultimately up to the raptor. Hawks and falcons who work with humans are flown un-tethered quite quickly. Sky Falconry’s newest member “New Kid”did his second free flight with us and he had only been with them two weeks. Every single time these birds fly, they DECIDE to come back. This occurs because the human creates a safe, enriching environment and guaranteed meals, so the animal chooses to continue the relationship instead of flying away.

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Steam Punk is going after a small tidbit that I threw high into the air. She was so excited to play this game that she took off into the air and then back to her perch over and over before we started. Also note my ridiculous statue posture. If you give me a rule about how to do something new (like “keep your hands to your side”) I follow it! I didn’t notice my “hawking statue” pose until Brett and I saw I was in the exact same position in every picture and cracked up.
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She’s got it!
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Now time to enjoy her prize.

For me this illustrates the potential for humans to live much more cooperatively on this earth. In 2016 the ideas for living with less negative or even positive impacts on nature are truly endless. Solar roadways, backyard beekeeping, small plot farming… These aren’t even the wild ones. Do you know that technology exists to mop up oil spills and nuclear waste with mats made of mycelium (the vegetative part of fungus)?

Historically there seems to have been two sides to the conservation conversation. Either humans are a useless drain to the planet and should put nature over their well-being for everyone’s survival, or nature is simply looked at as a bottomless resource for humans, the planet’s rulers. I see that the potential for a whole new view. We have technology, ingenuity, and drive for both nature and humans to flourish collaboratively. We can make win-win choices that vastly increase human well-being while simultaneously honoring and enriching the nature we depend on. The hawks decision to stay with their humans illustrated this concept to me as they waited expectantly to play games, took the risk to work with strangers, and returned back each and every time. They showed me that they WANTED to work together. What can we accomplish if we approach our decisions from that foundation? How much good could we do one tiny choice at a time?

Stay tuned for more hawk talk coming soon. There is lots more to share!

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Lanner falcon Habibi with Denise
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Nice to meet you!

Instant Pot or Stove Top Poached Chicken & Chicken Soup

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I start my batch cooking each week with a poached chicken. It is one of the easiest ways to cook a whole chicken and leaves you with delicious and very versatile meat plus lovely, clear stock. It also makes the chicken very easy to pull apart so the bones are ready for bone broth in a snap. Both stove top and Instant Pot instructions are below!

Even if you don’t do batch cooking, this perfectly cooked chicken can be turned into multiple meals, making this recipe both delicious and economical. Everyone can afford a local-organic chicken if it is going to stretch into many dishes! I buy a really ethically sourced chicken at my local health food store each week for about $2.89 a pound. This is a lot more than what I can find at the regular supermarket for $.69 a pound if it’s on special.

Here’s the thing though. We made a commitment a long time ago not to spend our dollars on food that harms us and our ecosystem. We are willing to stretch the more expensive meat into several meals. The higher priced chicken doesn’t increase my grocery budget even a dollar but we can feel great about our food. We know that the chicken we are eating led a totally normal life outdoors, foraged and ate it’s natural diet and died humanely. This can’t be said for the grocery store brand. In fact, I would never make one of those chickens into bone broth because it would only be concentrating the junk that it had been exposed to during it’s life before we consumed it.

So out of this one chicken, this is what I make each week:

4 Quarts Chicken Soup – Once my poached chicken has cooked and cooled, I remove all of the dark meat and reserve it for soup. You’ll find the whole recipe below. We eat this throughout the week topped with fresh herbs as a side to our lunches. You can also easily turn chicken soup into a chicken pot pie or chicken and dumplings dinner if it doesn’t all get eaten up.

1 Quart Chicken Stock – Before I make my chicken soup, I reserve one quart of plain chicken broth for the base to another soup. You can use it for anything but I like to make nettle soup in the spring, cream of broccoli, lentil, or white bean with preserved lemon. When I’m batch cooking, I get this soup made as soon as my chicken is done and put it into a container for later. The stock will save nicely for up to a week in a mason jar you choose not to cook with it right away.

1 Family Dinner – After I remove the dark meat for my soup, I am left with the perfectly cooked breasts. If you are not batch cooking, this meat will save nicely if it is covered in some of the broth and refrigerated or frozen. I like to turn it into my meal right away so that my time is free on other days. We shred the breast for lettuce wraps, add it to pasta with sauteed  greens and Parmesan, add it to an easy mushroom and Dijon cream sauce that tops rice or pasta, stir fry it with lots of veggies,  or eat it simply sliced with mashed potatoes and broccoli. There are endless chicken breast recipes so you won’t have trouble making use of your perfectly cooked meat.

Bone Broth – There are a lot of cranky food know it all’s on social media that complain that some big distinction has been made between stock and broth as a marketing hook. I don’t know if this is true but I grew up with grandparents who always cooked from scratch and they used broth and stock differently.

Stock is the liquid that is the result of cooking meat in water, just until it is done. It is usually served along with the meat like in chicken and rice or dumplings. The broth my grandpa Clarence had eternally simmering on the back of his stove is made from the bones and bits of meat that can’t be removed from a carcass. Veggies are added for nutrition and flavor. A good broth has to be cooked for a very long time to extract its healing properties and will be rich and dark in color when it’s finished. This can be sipped plain or used to replace some of the water in recipes that call for cooking liquid.

So as far as me and my grandparents, broth is not stock. So with ALLLL that background info, I’ll get to my point. Each week, I take bones from my chicken and the veggies that I poached with it and turn it into bone broth. The recipe for this is in a separate post.

Ingredients

1 5 lb chicken

4 carrots

1 whole celery heart

2 large leeks or shallots

1 large onion cut in half

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 inch of ginger

Whole fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon and sage

1 bay leaf, fresh if possible

8 peppercorns

3 whole cloves

1 cup white wine (optional)

3/4 lb small mushrooms

1 Tbs salt

1/2 tsp of dried chili flakes (optional)

Stove Top method

Start by chopping all of the vegetables that you have to add to your poached chicken into large pieces. Those suggested above are just a rough guide. You can use absolutely anything you have on hand. Leave out or go light on cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, or turnips. Their strong flavor will overwhelm your dish. Rinse your chicken and remove the giblets.

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Leave all of your herbs as whole as possible to make them easier to remove from finished stock.

Place it in the largest stockpot that you have along with all the other veggies. Add the wine, spices, salt, and herbs. Now cover the chicken with cool water, about 10 cups or more.

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I like to use a generous amount of water so that I end up with lots of stock. If the chicken is floating to the top, place a colander over the top of it to weight it down before covering the pot.

Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil quickly. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes. If you needed a colander, you can remove it now. Cover your pot again and bring the pot back to a strong boil. Turn the heat off and leave the covered pot to sit for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the exact size of your chicken.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the veggies to a bowl if you would like to eat them with the cooked chicken breast. They are perfectly cooked but will get soggy if left in the broth. You may also reserve these vegetables to use to make bone broth later.

Now remove the chicken into a casserole dish with a pair of strong tongs. Be very careful to approach this part with Julia Child confidence and courage since the chicken is extremely hot and slippery. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more until it has cooled enough to touch. The chicken may fall apart as you remove it so be sure to get all the pieces out of the pot.

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Carefully begin to pull the chicken apart into large pieces. The bones should literally slip out. You may have to work slightly harder to take the breast apart but it should not be difficult. Unless you plan to serve the whole chicken, put the dark meat and breasts into separate containers. Leave the bones and skin in the casserole dish if you plan to start your bone broth on the same day. If you’d like to do your broth on a separate day, put them into a container and refrigerate or freeze them.

Instant Pot Method:

The instructions that follow are for an 8 quart Instant Pot and a 5 pound chicken. If you have a smaller pot and chicken you can use less vegetables and water. The cooking time decreases by about 3 minutes per pound for smaller chickens. You can’t really overcook the meat by cooking it a few minutes too long since it is in liquid. If it’s under cooked, just put it on for a few more minutes.

Start by chopping all of the vegetables that you have to add to your poached chicken into large pieces. Those suggested above are just a rough guide. You can use absolutely anything you have on hand. Leave out or go light on cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, or turnips. Their strong flavor will overwhelm your dish. Rinse your chicken and remove the giblets. Place it in the Instant Pot along with all the other veggies. Add the wine, spices, salt, and herbs. Now cover the chicken with cool water. I like to fill my Instant Pot all the way to the max fill line so that I get tons of broth from each chicken.

Use the pressure cook button to set your pot for 25 min on high pressure. When the pressure cooking has finished, let your pot natural release for at least 20 min.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the veggies to a bowl if you would like to eat them with the cooked chicken breast. They are perfectly cooked but will get soggy if left in the broth. You may also reserve these vegetables to use to make bone broth later.

Now remove the chicken into a casserole dish with a pair of strong tongs. Be very careful to approach this part with Julia Child confidence and courage since the chicken is extremely hot and slippery. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more until it has cooled enough to touch. The chicken may fall apart as you remove it so be sure to get all the pieces out of the pot.

Carefully begin to pull the chicken apart into large pieces. The bones should literally slip out. You may have to work slightly harder to take the breast apart but it should not be difficult. Unless you plan to serve the whole chicken, put the dark meat and breasts into separate containers. Leave the bones and skin in the casserole dish if you plan to start your bone broth on the same day. If you’d like to do your broth on a separate day, put them into a container and refrigerate or freeze them.

Chicken Soup

Dark meat removed and reserved from poached chicken

Broth reserved from poached chicken

4 carrots, chopped

1 whole celery heart, chopped

2 large leeks or shallots, finely minced

1 large onion, finely minced

4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped fine

4-6 Yukon gold or red potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 capful apple cider vinegar

dried chili flakes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas

fresh herbs like dill, basil, chives, or parsley chopped for garnish

1 handful soft greens like mizuna, watercress or arugula

1 green onion, chopped for garnish

Start your soup by sweating the onions, shallots or leeks, carrots, and celery in a large stock pot until they start to soften. Adding a little salt while they saute will help this process. Add the garlic and continue to saute for 90 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the potatoes and the reserved chicken broth.

Simmer on low until the vegetables become soft but are still al dente. This can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on their size. Add the capful  of apple cider vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.

Taste the soup and add chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the peas and reserved chicken. If you are using fresh peas, simmer the soup for 3 minutes to soften them. If the peas are frozen, no further cooking is needed.

At this point, you can cool the soup and refrigerate or freeze it. When you are ready to serve it, put fresh herbs, greens, and green onion into serving bowls, then top with the hot soup. Add cooked rice or pasta for a hearty, nourishing meal.

Spring has sprung!

My love for animals and flowers was certainly cultivated my Grandfather Lapp.  He also started me reading Julia Child but that’s another post altogether.  Today to celebrate the first day of my very favorite season, I’m posting a few of the beautiful blooms that he tended on his ranch in Auburn California.  The time and love invested is evident in their beauty.  I’m grateful that I took the time snap these photographs and that his spirit is always near when I recharge my mama batteries by enjoying nature.

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Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.  ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

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The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!
~Robert Browning

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That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ.
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.
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The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian GrenfellDSC_0111

Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Countdown to Spring: Day 3

Last week I posted about my mom’s green thumb.  Today, with only a few winter days remaining, her blooms are reaching their slender necks for the sun and smiling!

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People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.  ~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

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With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters purple asterisks for autumn –
~Conrad Aiken, Preludes for Memnon, 1930

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I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.  ~Ruth Stout

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God loved the flowers and invented soil.  Man loved the flowers and invented vases.  ~Variation of a saying by Jacques Deval (God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.)

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The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets

Countdown to Spring: Days 4 and 5

In honor of the amazing weekend weather and celebration of Saint Patrick’s day I’m posting one of my very favorite green blooms.  Though they are not four leafed clovers (which are also poking their heads up everywhere), I think Saint Patrick would have loved their heart shaped leaves!

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“When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd’s purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.”

~Ryokan

 

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Countdown to Spring: 6 Days

Today’s photograph is of the flower I think my mom my loves best… Although, to a flower lover this may be sort of like saying you have a favorite child.  There is a green thumb gene somewhere is her Lapp family heritage that she and her sister have carried on from my Grandpa but just never really took hold of me.  I guess I photograph the blooms instead of plant them!Countdown 6

Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest,
Who, armed with golden rod
And winged with the celestial azure, bearest
The message of some God.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from Iris

Countdown to Spring: 7 Days

Abundance!  With only one week to go until the official start of Spring, there are new little  blooms everywhere.  Today’s photographs are from a quick stop at my midwifery teacher’s home yesterday and taken with my iPhone.

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How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor!  ~Colette

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Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.  ~John Ruskin

Countdown 7 Lilac

Perfumes are the feelings of flowers, and as the human heart, imagining itself alone and unwatched, feels most deeply in the night-time, so seems it as if the flowers, in musing modesty, await the mantling eventide ere they give themselves up wholly to feeling, and breathe forth their sweetest odours. Flow forth, ye perfumes of my heart, and seek beyond these mountains the dear one of my dreams! ~Heinrich Heine, “The Hartz Journey” (1824), Pictures of Travel, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, 1855

Countdown 7 poppy

Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.
~Francis Thompson, “The Poppy,” 1891

Can you find the tiny little spider friend in this photo???
Can you find the tiny little spider friend in this photo???

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…  ~Susan Polis Shut