Saturday, August 20, 2016

Appearance: Revisting Estivation

With the repeated comment by individuals coming in contact with Shasta for the first time identifying her as a “Golden Retriever,” I am struck by how inaccurate a human’s “first impression” can be and how it can be influenced by what that person wants to see (point of view). As some of you know, when we adopted Shasta from the Novato Humane Society we were told she was a mix of Golden Retriever and Spaniel. After a few days of her coming to MuRefuge it was clear from her behavior that she was neither. Wisdom Panel performed a DNA assay on her saliva verifying she is not a Golden Retriever:
  • Great Grandparents, Grandparents and Parents on one side Bearded Collie (Shasta’s      disposition of sweetness and exuberance)
  • On the other side Collie, the Lassie type, (Shasta’s “tail feathers”) and Pointer (Shasta’s white with lemon/orange fur color, and she does "point")
Then other ancestors (in descending order)
  • Chihuahua (Shasta’s front teeth and muzzle configuration when she barks)
  • Lhasa Apso (Shasta’s tail)

  • Curly-coated Retriever ( Shasta's soft, silky fur)
  • Bulldog (Shasta’s scissors bite)
  • German Shepherd
MuRefuge's 25 year old California
Buckeye tree (Aesculus californica) in estivation.
Some of you might recall a picture of the blooming in May?
Applying the “point of view” assessment of humans who have specific views of what plants should look like to the landscape here in Northern California at this time in the year’s cycle often indicates the deficit to that way of thinking. Often individuals talk about how their plants are dying when in reality the plants are just dormant. Dormancy is usually spoken about in relationship to Winter, while here in Northern California it happens in the “Fifth Season,” aka “Indian Summer.” 

Ocean Spray or Cream Bush (Holodiscus discolor) along MuRefuge's South fence
The plants are shedding their leaves and drawing down the sap flow to the roots to conserve their life force and longevity. The plants are not dead but in estivation aka dormancy. This way of BEing has evolved over the millennia in this part of the globe where it has been in the past dry in the Summer and wet in the Winter. The plants and other BEings of the soil and air are in rhythm with this way of BEing. Although, I want to add here that all BEings are affected by the erratic and not typical weather brought on by climate change.

Western Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
Watering these plants during estivation often shortens their life span which has not evolved to BE green all year round nor look like it is alive to humans with a certain point of view or experience of living elsewhere in this country where green indicates Summer and brown indicates Winter. The appearance of native plants can be deceiving to those not in tune with the seasonal cycles here in Northern California just like those not connected to Shasta think she is a Golden Retriever.

BEing with the flow of cycles has the added benefit of connecting ourselves with the natural process in the place we are rooting. This process of connection supports our well BEing on so many levels and allows us to step outside of our limiting “personality” which includes not only learned childhood behaviors but the physical body with its genetic DNA, and experience expansive “essence,” aka soul/spirit, which includes the surrounding energy fields as well.

Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)
with her droopy, drying leaves.
The bright shiny leaves in the upper left and towards to upper right corner
 Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) bushes now laden with dark almost black fruit.
Shasta is uniquely herself with a unique personality and DNA mix. She is also much more when her essence is included. Her sweetness that everyone comments on who spends any time with her is clearly a reflection of so much more than just her DNA.

Shasta, in her slimmed down body of around 55#,
bemoaning, "They don't feed me enough" with a smile.
The native plants here provide a similar opportunity to step outside of humanness (point of view of uniqueness and separateness) and experience the connection to the entire energetic web not only here at MuRefuge. Of course, as one expands his or her point of view or awareness one can feel how essence connects any/everywhere to all sentient BEings.

May we let go of our small idea of self and embrace a much larger one as we 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Message from Rio

Brazil is the largest county in South America.  All but two other South American countries share its border. Poverty, pollution and political unrest abound in Brazil.  In spite of the naysayers wanting to change the location of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the man and woman in charge of the Opening Ceremony put together on a “shoe string” budget a awesome and beautiful story of Brazil and her peoples as well as delivered a powerful message to the world: climate change is here. AND they provided a gripping demonstration for all who watched: an opportunity for each participating athlete to plant a tree to assist in the mediation of the toxic gases produced by humans worldwide mining coal and drilling oil,  and the global practice of burning these fossil fuels. These human practices are polluting Mother Earth’s atmosphere and threatening life as we know by accelerating the rate of the global climate change.

Global overpopulation of humans was alluded to as well as the diminishing diversity of plant and animal life. The celebration of the human diversity in Brazil was so clearly evident in the colorful attire and with the indigenous singing and dancing meshed with the European transplant influence. 

The overall theme was one of “celebrating what’s right with the world” and brought attention to possible solutions for righting what’s not right.

 One just never knows what might show up when space is created:
 last Spring I gave away all of my succulents and now I am
celebrating what's right in the world
with this picture of what filled the space:
a stunning Angel Wing Begonia in full bloom.
As the Olympians plant tree seeds to boost Brazil’s reforestation of Rio, those of us living in California are experiencing raging wildfires fueled by dead or dying trees. An aerial survey was done recently by four researchers examining the aftermath of California’s historic drought. They estimated that 66 million trees over five years have died and predict that tens of millions of trees will die even if heavier rains come this rainy season. As the most majestic plant, the tree, dies, fuel amasses for the wildfires now burning thousands and thousands of acres right here in Northern California. Climate change in California seems to bringing less rainfall with a roller coaster of unseasonably cool temperatures mixed with unseasonably warm temperatures, and poor air quality. So it cannot come as a surprise to anyone that millions of trees are dying and wildfires are raging.

On the left side of this picture is a Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
native to the Eastern U.S. and  naturalized in California.
This tree provides afternoon shade for especially our Great Room.
Along the right meeting the sky are Italian Alders (Alnus cordata)
which provide a windbreak for the duck yard. MuRefuge's tree
population is a reflection of my learning curve, moving from
Permaculture to native plantings.
Native Alders would be my choice now. 
Here at MuRefuge the towering, but yet to reach adulthood, Douglas Fir died this past rainy season. With heavy hearts Dwight and I cut off the branches which will be chipped.A goodly amount of the truck was left standing for woodpeckers’ use. Other trees, especially the fruit producing ones, are clearly stressed and have been provided Summer water heretofore not a practice at MuRefuge. The Persian mulberry tree was also dying so it too now has its branches in the brush pile to be chipped and the trunk available for woodpeckers’ use.

Looking South and slightly East from the gravel road in front of our house,
on the immediate left is the brush pile to be chipped and directly behind
is a Oregon White Oak (Quercus lobata) tree planted by a Blue Jay.
Behind or directly South of the house are two more Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) trees
 located on the other side of the fence which denotes our South property line.
May we all ask ourselves before engaging in any human action, “Is this beneficial to Mother Earth?" AND, of course