Monday, July 29, 2013

Consequences, Intended and Otherwise

The seeds for this spectacular display of sunflowers came as a Christmas
 present from my niece, Callie, who lives in Kansas City, Kansas.
The sunflower is Kansas' State Flower
At a very early age I learned that my behavior had consequences. If I was "responsible" my mother loved me; if I was "a good girl" I escaped my father's ire. Early behavior seems to imprint. At best if we are not awake in the present to this learned behavior, our early life experience may not bring the desired outcome, OR in the worst case scenario it may produce serious or life threatening unintended consequences. The unique to each individual story, along of course with genetic makeup, plays itself out in our physical bodies. As we get older the resiliency of youth slows, and aches and pains or downright ill health occur.

BEing a quarter of a century student of the dynamic system known as the Enneagram provides me with a map for the internal terrain (how one negotiates life without this map is a mystery to me). This map assists with identifying one's story line and its consequences. Another tool is Louise L. Hay's Heal Your Body in which she provides suggested new thought patterns for maintaining a healthy body.

The idea of consequences, intended and otherwise evolved from my personal internal discussion with myself about our decreasing duck flock. Early this Spring I decided to "sheet mulch" (a Permaculture practice which I have used often here at MuRefuge) with cardboard, old worn out natural fiber clothes and wood chip the septic mound in the ducks' area. Unfortunately this practice, along with the lack of rain since last December, has provided the just right environment for Aspergillus to flourish.  The small Indian Runner flock that also calls MuRefuge home forages amidst the wood chips where, where a plethora of Aspergillus organisms grow. As the mulch progressively covered more area, one of the oldest ducks and another of the next older ones died from this organism affecting their respiratory system. Then recently one of the two youngest ducks began having significant breathing problems, most strikingly noted by her severe sternal retraction with each inspiration. I freaked out: "I am killing my ducks." Now what? No more covering massive areas in the duck yard with wood chips! The remaining wood chip pile on the driveway will be delivered to areas where the ducks do not forage. And perhaps it is time, after 20 years of this activity, to let go of accumulating wood chips for dispersal onto the land occupied by MuRefuge. 

Back to the ill duck: I identified flower essences (Self Heal and YES, aka Yarrow Environmental Solution) to support her healing. The good news is she back with her flock foraging and exhibiting normal breathing.

Vickie, my extraordinaire weeder, and I have been getting rid of invasive grasses on the entire property.  This practice has been going on for several years now. Quite large areas of bare dirt now exist, many in the ducks' area. My practice in previous years has been to start native grass seeds in Todd planters, then once they sprouted, to plant them out in the areas mulched with wood chips. This coming rainy season they will be planted directly into the dirt. 
12 Todd planters, each with 32 cells, have been scattered
with native bunch grass seed: 2 planters of June grass
and Blue Wildrye grass, and 10 with Idaho fescue.
There is no illusion here that much weeding will be needed once the rains have come and the massive seed bank for weeds in the soil has sprouted.
These Stinging nettles in bloom give one an idea of
the massive volume of seeds produced by what some
call a weed.  My belief is one can not have
enough Stinging nettles in the Spring
when the young leaves can be made into a tasty soup.
Everyone's gardening practices have far reaching consequences. The prevalent use of Monsanto's Roundup and other pesticides is causing not only the honey bee hive collapse globally but the Monarch butterfly population decline here in the West as well as in the rest of the country and Mexico. As you can see viewing the two pictures of milkweed below there are no holes in the leaves because there are no Monarch laying eggs on their caterpillar food plant. Pristine plants does not equate to an ecosystem where Monarch butterflies flourish.

Davis Showy Milkweed in bloom.
This plant is caterpillar food for the Monarch.

Newly formed seed pods
of the Showy Milkweed.
Tithona flowering.
This Mexican sunflower is favored by the Monarch butterfly for nectar.

Madeline Albright writes of unintended consequences in her book Madam Secretary: A Memoir. The mighty and The Almighty Memo to the President Elect. Two other books I am reading right now also relate consequences, both intended and otherwise. Steve Solomon writes of eating nutrient dense food vs. nutrient depleted food in The Intelligent Gardener. He also relays information gathered by the dentist Weston Price who noted the difference between the troublesome teeth and jaws of people who ate a modern diet devoid of nutrients as opposed to the healthy teeth and their well developed bone structure of those eating nutrient dense food. And the biography of Rachel Carson by William Souder, On a Farther Shore: the life and legacy of Rachel Carson, brings to mind her concern (aka consequences) about DDT and the further use and development of synthetic pesticides.  Now we have the prevalent use of Roundup for weed control. This synthetic pesticide is not only more detrimental to the environment than DDT but causes an array of cancers to not only humans but to other creatures who also inhabit this planet.

Snowberry in the background with asters and California fuschia
in the foreground with dormant fescue all around.

Some consequences we can predict, others we as humans cannot. May we each BE awakening to the effects of the stories we tell ourselves AND to the 
behaviors that effect not only ourselves but those around us close and distant. And keep in mind Dali Lama's perspective of consequences aka karma:
One of the characteristics of karmic theory is that there is a definite,
commensurate relationship between cause and effect.
There is no way that negative actions or unwholesome
deeds can result in joy and happiness.

The display of goldenrods is spectacular this year.
Fall seems to have arrived several weeks before the Fall cross quarter day.
In years past these flowers have come in late August or
early September, providing nectar for the Fall butterflies.

As you ponder, or not, this humble offering from this One, may you feel free to leave a comment, or not, about your own personal experiences with consequences. May you 


  1. once again your thoughtful writing and Dwight's beautiful photos have brighened my evening. Thank you.

  2. Ah unintended consequences . . .
    bravo to you for seeing, responding, reacting and loving your way through this. . . may we all be so responsible on our own paths.

  3. Awesome!!!! Always appreciate your amazing blog fun and so amazing!!
    xoxox.....Vickie & family