Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice

 Native Clematis (Clematis lasianatha) in full bloom.
"The Summer Solstice is the time of greatest light. It is a day of enormous power. The whole planet is turned fully to the brilliance of the sun.

The great culmination is not static or permanent. Indeed, Solstice as a time of culmination is only a barely perceptible point. The sun appears to stand still. Its diurnal motion seems to nearly cease. Yesterday, it was still reaching this point, tomorrow, it will begin a new phase of its cycle . . . . All of life is cycles. All of life is balance." 365 Tao: Daily Meditations (1992), Deng Ming-Dao.

Shasta BEing with the zenith of Summer.
Photograph by the young man who assists in the care of MuRefuge, June, 2017.
As we enjoy the zenith of Summer like Shasta, may we

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Human Family

With the record breaking amount of rain
here in West Sonoma County, Northern California,
our artesian well is once again providing
water for MuRefuge's pond.
Dwight Sims' sculpture of hands
is a favorite place for the birds to drink.
The water sprite that inhabits this
area is joyous as well.
Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk in the Sacred Way.

Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion, and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.


As one spends time tending a native ecology habitat, listening as well as observing, the plants and other BEings will show and tell of their vibrancy or struggle to actively participate in maintaining the balance so ALL can thrive here at MuRefuge. Within a whole and healthy ecology a diversity of species support one another in their resilient will to survive in spite of instability in the climate, aka climate destabilization which is much more descriptive of what is happening both here at MuRefuge and around the globe than "climate change." 

One recent morning passed I was honored to watch a mother-to-be Pipevine Swallowtail lay her eggs on species specific Pipevine leaves. 

These eggs will soon hatch and small wiggling black and red caterpillars will begin to voraciously consume the leaves, to quickly grow into large caterpillars that crawl off the Pipevine and fasten themselves firmly to a structure forming a chrysalis where the mystery and magic of nature will happen: a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly will emerge.

One Monday afternoon past the young man who is assisting in the care of MuRefuge noticed a quite stunning spider, one we have not seen before.

A year ago, thinking it would be more efficient, we covered the noxious weed pile with a "composting blanket." For those of you who read the posts of last Spring, you aware the huge pile of weeds pulled and piled near the Persian fruiting mulberry tree. This is an excellent example of a human idea "run amuck" as the mulberry tree's root system was smothered with the human created blanket. To my surprised however when the blanket was removed after the weeds composted, the tree is now visibly coming to life.

The able young man who assists in the care and well being
of MuRefuge has spread the composted weeds
over the mulberry's root system
so they now provide nutrients to the tree.

The human family, focusing on themselves have strayed from the "Sacred Way" of living in harmony and honoring all sentients BEings. "Human family" "brokenness" seems to be the norm in the 21st century where living every day in search of the next new thing to make humans' lives easier, more fun and without regard to the enormous consequences to Planet Earth.

"I do not believe that we are fated to destroy the Earth by fire, heat, or technology run amuck. But if there is a happier future it will come down to this: to act with compassion and energy, our hearts must be in it; to act intelligently, we must understand that we are but one part of an interrelated global system; to act effectively and justly, we must be governed by accountable, transparent, and robust democratic institutions; and to act sustainably, we must live and work within the limits of natural systems over the long term." 

Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward 
David W. Orr (2016)

As each of us consider the impact of our taking advantage of the vast number of human advancements to make humans lives easier, may we each be enlightened enough to realize the folly and consequences of our unbridled consumption on the well being of Planet Earth. May we each live with less and less, returning to the "Sacred Way," and  

Friday, May 12, 2017

All Is Well

Last week I heard a ruckus in the
duckyard. When I went to see
who was so unhappy, I found
the broody Toostie Roll, in the background in this picture,
INSIDE the BE BEs enclosure. She had figured out
how to get in but not to get out, AND once
was not enough . . . she trapped herself several
times in an effort to BE with her younger sisters.
Sunrise, with the sun actually shining on this morning here at MuRefuge, casts a lovely glow upon the blooming 'Martha Roderick' Alumroot ((Heuchera micrantha) and all the surrounding lush green plants. Ah . . . meditating on the loveliness as I sit in stillness. "All is well."

This week on Tuesday past was a momentous occasion: the BE BEs joined their five sisters in the duckyard. This is the first picture taken of them all together beneath the just beginning to flower Buckeye Tree (Aesculus californica). "All is well."

The BE BEs quickly ensconced themselves in the "pond" which is actually a sunken antique bathtub. Overhanging the water are healthy, thriving Native Rushes (Juncas patens) which at this time of the year are beginning to flower and soon will produce seeds the ducks love to eat. "All is well."

Soon they were all foraging together as though all seven have always been a flock. "All is well."

And later on all seven ducks are pictured here near their food trays (located to the left of Coco who is on the far left) and stainless steel water bowls with nary a squabble. "All is well." Oops, Ms. Crone is missing in this picture;
perhaps BEing the most elderly of the seven, she has retired to a shady spot.

Not, here she is on the right with Coco and Ms. Blue. "All is well."

The picture below was taken with the evening sunlight illuminating the same as above 'Martha Roderick' Alumroot. "All is well."

Earlier today the flock poured through the veggie garden gate as it opened into MuRefuge's "backyard." Foraging among the Yellow eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) and beyond, all seven making joyous, happiness burbling sounds as creepy crawlies were found amidst the plants and mulch, and quickly ingested.

"All is well." May we each celebrate with a 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tribute to Miss Louise Hallberg

"Crummy pic. of  glorious little plant grown by Louise's mother.
I have had it forever - tough as nails and covered with flowers for a long time,"
says guest author 
of this post, Kathy Spalding.
She also shares that "Louise is my hero and I miss her everyday.
She's why I continue the fight."

Louise Hallberg had a funny effect on people. "She's so sweet!" gushed all who met the tiny old dear in the sun hat and butterfly-bedecked skirt. Luring one and all to her fairytale gardens with their overstuffed beds of blossoms, Miss Hallberg skillfully guided unsuspecting humans into her pollen-laden trap. Once captured, they would do the unthinkable: Serve insects.

Miss Hallberg was the Butterfly Lady, a fragile title for this powerful naturalist. Disarming everyone with smiles and chuckles, she was constantly learning, questioning, and observing right along with her visitors. She pursued answers with tireless drive, like a Monarch devouring milkweed. Or, more aptly, a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar eating Aristolochia californica.

Often her vision for the gardens made one question her sanity, but she would bring her seemingly crazy plans to fruition. A weedy slope became a wildlife paradise, a sterile patch a dragonfly-laden pond, a dull path transformed by a creek. (Yeah, Miss Hallberg had a creek installed. Who DOES that?)

While concentrating her efforts on her property, Miss Hallberg's labors extended far beyond its borders. Her work expanded our knowledge of habitat fragmentation and restoration, pesticide damage, and climate change. Her continuous value as an educator is incalculable.

On January 8, 2017, Miss Hallberg celebrated her 100th birthday (record-setting rain totals befitting a weather-reporter such as herself). "Keep the gardens going," she implored the celebrants filling Graton's Community Club. It's the least we can do and doesn't even begin to repay her tremendous contributions.

Miss Hallberg has shuffled off this mortal coil, but her work continues. The gardens' visitors have spread her vision like Pipevine, popping up as a garden here, a school program there. Many think of Miss Hallberg whenever we find a caterpillar, see a quail, or write a representative. She will certainly be on everyone's mind at this year's Open Gardens Celebration on June 25.

Want your own butterfly garden? Find out what butterflies live in your locale and grow their larval host plants. Add flowering native plants. Halt pesticide use. Then hold onto your sun hat, things are gonna get wild.

On February 25, 2017, Sonoma County lost one of its treasures when Miss Louise Hallberg passed. Even though we will miss her presence here in Sonoma County, Hallberg Butterfly Gardens remains vibrantly alive.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day, May 1, 2017

California Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewissi)
with this morning's rising sun shining on the
fragrant white blossoms.
May 1 is known as Beltane in "the old country" "across the pond", the cross quarter day halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. The Beltane festival has been celebrated for thousands of years by those connected to the natural cycles of Mother Earth. Here in this country May Day has been a traditional celebration marking the zenith of Spring with all her vibrancy. 

As children growing up in Iowa, my friends and I used to make "May Day" baskets and fill them with whatever early flowers were available. Then we would hang one on each door handle
 of neighbors, ring the doorbell and run away so the person would not know who delivered the May basket.

Since I cannot deliver in person a May Day basket to you, I will share with you pictures of flowers in bloom here at MuRefuge on this gloriously sunny morning.

Dwight's sculpture inscribed with Mu (the Japanese character
we have loosely translated to mean "everything or nothing,"
for which MuRefuge is named), is in the background with
Point Reyes Meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii ssp. sulphurea) in front.
May you each have a delightful Beltane and 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring Beauty and Unexpected Gifts

Comfrey beginning to bloom beneath the peach and apple trees
on MuRefuge's septic mound.
Teach your children
what we have taught our children-
that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground,
they spit upon themselves.

This we know.
The earth does not belong to us,
we belong to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected
like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life,
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves . . .

Chief Seattle

Blooming Service Berry or June Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

This Tuesday past the BE BEs were 6 weeks old. The natural tendency to flock has replace the earlier imprinting of human. Within their enclosure that protects them from predation, they follow their "big sisters" along the chicken wire AND if the adult ducks forage too widely, they raise a noisy ruckus until the rest of their flock returns. 

The Tootsie Rolls are in the background
and the BE BEs are the foreground
as they move in tandem along opposite
side of the chickenwire.
It has been interesting to watch the strong bond of connection develop. The older ducks now forage closer to the BE BEs and when they are at rest they choose to do so near the youngsters.

In the background near the duckhouse
you can see the BE BEs standing erect
against their  chickenwire enclosure.
 Ms. Blue (far left), Coco, Ms Crone stands in front
of the Tootsie Rolls.
This Spring with the record breaking rain that has fallen the native plants here at MuRefuge have burst forth in Spring beauty as not previously seen. The Serviceberries are just lush with flowers. Perhaps an abundance of berries will indeed be forthcoming.

The native Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) with their gorgeous purple flowers are absolutely stunning against the bright green leaves. As I let the Spring beauty seep into my pores, soothing occurs for the despondency that has surfaced since our neighbors have brought to their 3/4 acre a humungous motorhome which can barely negotiate the curve in our gravel road. While I focus on soil regeneration to decrease the impact of greenhouse gases, I am hit with the realization that this motorhome's negative impact on Mother Earth far outweighs the meager, positive effects of my hard labor and the carbon sequestering happening here at MuRefuge.

An incredibly unexpected gift, however, has been bestowed upon MuRefuge,, in the form of an energetic, bright, hard working, homeschooled older teenager who has agreed to assist with the care of MuRefuge working every Monday afternoon for four hours. He came to work here through an unlikely connection: an employee of the Hessel Church which heretofore has been "a thorn in my side" so to speak with their huge asphalt parking lot, use of Roundup, and general practices of harming Mother Earth. The employee "befriended" me a very kind and heartful way one day when Shasta and I were walking past the church. A hard learned lesson which is so essential for the times: we all need to communicate with one another and listen to one another to heal the contentiousness that is so prevalent right now from the politicians in Washington, D.C. to our neighbors.

As we not only recognize but express gratitude for the Spring beauty and unexpected gifts in our lives, may we

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Transplant Shock

"Behold, my brothers [and sisters], the spring has come,
The earth has received the embraces of the sun
And we shall soon see the results of that love!

Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being
And therefore yield to our neighbors,
Even our animal neighbors,
The same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.
Sitting Bull

For some of you the signs of Spring are still illusive. Those living in the Sierras are still in what feels like the dead of Winter with all the snow on the ground.
I hear that Tioga Pass through Yosemite and Eastward to Highway 395 is not predicted to open until mid to late June. Here in West Sonoma County we have had a few cool but sunny, windy days mixed with days of rain. The blustery, unseasonably cool weather has resulted in the BE BEs remaining in their cardboard box in the garage with only brief forays into the veggie garden. 

YIKES! At 4 1/2 weeks old here you can see their heads way above the
top of the cardboard box but it is dry and toasty!
Transplant shock seems to be a part of the process for both plant starts in MuRefuge's greenhouse as well as the ducklings who put down their initial roots in the cardboard box in the garage.

During this passage of time since the last post, the tomato starts have been transplanted into 4" pots from the six pack in which seeds were scattered. This will be "home" for about a month before transplantation into their permanent home in the basalt block, gopher proof, raised beds.

The transplant shock is ameliorated by spraying with a flower essence first the exposed roots and then again immediately after nestling each plant into fresh organic potting soil. Once the 4" pots are watered, both the little starts and the soil are sprayed. This is repeated several times over the next 24 hours.

Five-Flower, aka Rescue when formulated by Bach,
is diluted 4 drops in an eight ounce spray bottle
with 8 drops of brandy and shaken well.
Prior to each use the bottle is vigorously shaken
to activate the "magic potent." This remedy works
wonders for any sudden and difficult event for any sentient BEing.
So too during the first foray for the BE BEs into their chicken wire enclosure, they are generously sprayed with the same flower essence.

And of course, when the transition from their cardboard box home to their new home, the duckhouse in which their adult sisters reside during the nighttime hours, they are generously sprayed as well. The transition includes sectioning off part of the duckhouse and hanging the heat lamp for warmth since the BE BEs are not fully feathered yet.

Now 5 1/2 weeks old the ducklings have been "transplanted" to
their "forever home" here at MuRefuge.
This intrusion of the ducklings into the adult ducks' space is upsetting for all. The first nighttime they spend together is a big adjustment for all 7 BEings so once the adults are gently guided by both Cathie and Dwight into the duckhouse, not an easy task the very first time, all are generously sprayed with the Five-Flower Flower Essence. Peace and tranquility does prevail.

As life presents each of us with upsetting experiences, may we each

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Peppermint Candy Flower (Claytonia sibirica)
in bloom among the lush bunch grass,
Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis).
With the abundance of rain this year
at MuRefuge the easily reseeding
annuals have flourished.
"One hundred and eight counts make one cycle,
Constant turning creates all things. . . . 

Today is the one hundred and eighth day" [of the year,
well, actually today as the ducklings turn 4 weeks old
I realized I read this entry 8 days early, but the point is] . . . .
"Numbers are only symbols, a way for human beings 

to project order upon the universe."
Deng Ming-Dao

Recently during a conversation with my soul sister living on the Olympic Peninsula we were, as we often do, discussing our dogs and their behavior.
Upon reviewing our interaction I was struck by how we humans interpret behavior we see in other BEings as their effort to "control" their environment and others. Perhaps what we as humans see in other BEings is "ordering" rather than "controlling."

Definitions from The American Heritage of the English Language fourth edition:
Order: "A condition of methodical or prescribed arrangement 
among component parts."

Control: "To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over."

So the former is a process which has the potential for fluidity. While the latter, to my way of thinking presently, is a behavior which is potentially static if one is not awake to this behavior and one continues to repeat it without awareness.

I am reminded, considering all this, of a behavior we witnessed of Shasta's. We were driving at night time as we returned from viewing the full moon rise over Mono Lake to our cabin at Twin Lakes, California, North along Highway 395. I could feel Shasta becoming terrified so I unfastened her seat belt so she could climb onto my lap which she immediately did. Her whole body was shaking as she looked out the window at the rapidly passing reflector lights on the highway posts. Once we drove into the parking lot of our cabin she stopped shaking and relaxed. The following day in the daylight we drove along the same stretch of highway and she looked out her window at the same posts. I could see her visibly taking in the posts and attempting to "order" what she had seen the night before that had been so terrifying. Her process, to me, is so instructive of how one BEing attempts to make sense of her world.

And here the ducklings, now named BE BEs, are looking out
of their quickly becoming too small house,
making sense of their world and its inhabitants.

This afternoon's foray into the vegetable garden was cut short since it is overcast, blustery and spitting rain. The BE BEs are not fully feathered so are susceptible to getting chilled from the damp, cool temperature. Dwight, however, did get some good photographs of our brief outing.

The two pictures below are the ducklings getting hand fed young chard leaves which they gobble down more rapidly than the feeder can tear the leaves into bit sized pieces.

Notice the fawn coloring of their breasts and around their eyes
as well as their upright stances.
They are developing into stellar representatives of
their Indian Runner heritage.

Wiggling mass of not happy ducklings
as we returned to their garage "house."
Their distressing noises clearly upset Shasta,
whom you could "see" trying to figure out
what she could do to relieve their distress
to restore "order" for these two MuRefuge inhabitants
and herself as well.
Observing the Pipevine at this time of the year when the seed pods, evident in the picture below, are just emerging from the pollinated flowers, I am aware of the order: Pipevine only develops seed pods if there is the specific insect to pollinate the pipe bowl shaped flower. Many a devotee of growing Pipevines for the Pipevine Swallowtail comment that they have never had seed pods develop on their vines. The natural order is synonymous with "whole ecology" where all that is needed for the full cycle is present.

As we consider our process of ordering our world and let go of our rigid control, may we

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


"Behold, my brothers, the spring has come,
The earth has received the embrace of the sun
And we shall soon see the results of that love!

Every seed is awakened and so all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being
And we therefore yield to our neighbors,
Even our animal neighbors,
The same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land."

Sitting Bull

Early flowers of Blue eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
growing among Nodding Needlegrass (Stipa cairn).
The two female Fawn and White Indian Runner ducklings are three weeks old today. Even though quite a few ducklings have been raised here at MuRefuge, their rapid growth still astounds me. Here is a picture of them before their daily foray to the vegetable garden where they run around in circles, forage and follow Cathie around as she prepares the raised beds for planting starts.

Notice the wing and tail feathers that are just beginning to form.

Yellow flowered Edible Black Currants in bloom
among the native Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum)
with a trunk of one of the Italian Alders (Alnus cordata) in the background.
On this Spring day, may we rejoice in the diversity and abundance of Mother Earth. And about anything that may be troubling to us, may we