Plants For Air Quality

With a certain amount of excitement on his part, and some natural trepidation shared, I delivered my son to university at the weekend – packed, prepped and ready to start his journey within the new academic arena of his choice.

We arrived … only to discover that my son’s allocated hall of residence had just been refurbished. The smell of paint in the stairwell was cloying. The smell of brandnew carpet and MDF furniture in his bedroom stuck in my throat and I felt it everywhere. The knowledge of the air pollution and indoor toxins burnt in my brain, but I refused to panic.

It was impossible to get the bedroom window open wide enough to freshen the air – my son figured out how to free it substantially, 24 hours later, thank heavens – and so we set to the great unpacking procedure, despite the cloying stuffiness. I tried not to worry, but knew that I needed to do something to rectify it or I would not relax, given what I know about these things.

Once unpacked and supped, instead of accepting the status quo, refusing to cave into fear of what the toxins were doing to everyone in the apartment block, I made a beeline for the nearest supermarkets in the town. They are located, thankfully, nearby – all other shops were closed by that stage anyway – and was relieved to find one that had a few peace lily plants. Of the four on the shop shelf,  I gratefully scooped up two in best health, in order to help clean the air of the apartment.

My children are used to this, used to my concern about indoor and outdoor air quality. They ‘get’ that it’s about health and wellbeing, as well as adding effortless hygge (a Danish term I learnt recently), something they’re accustomed to as well. They take it in their stride when I start placing plants everywhere, indeed even listening when I give care instructions for the healthy maintenance of the green. My children have grown up hearing about healthy spaces, they both understand that it’s worth considering the materials we use for renovations. Air quality can make a huge difference to our health or otherwise.

Four days hence, and my son has settled in fast … as I’m sure have the plants. It is just a shame that the rest of the building was not health screened in this way. His bedroom received special treatment. Lucky chap.

It is worth making the effort to use eco paints and install natural carpets, as well as choosing wooden, rather than synthetic, furnishings. Using products that do not contribute any harmful elements to the air that we breathe, would make the world of interiors a much calmer and safer place – for the workers and the inhabitants, alike. Renovators, designers, building managers, handymen and renovation rescue teams of television fame, take note! If in doubt, add plants … Or add them anyway, to suck up fumes from materials, as well as those from electronic devices of all sorts.

It pays to take care of our environments, both indoors and out. A penchant for plants is never wasted!

 

 

In good health,

Holly x

 

 


 

Pingback to WordPress “The Daily Post” – prompt: Penchant
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/penchant/

Sunday Morning Mindfulness

Quietly and sleepily sipping my first cup of Earl Grey tea early this morning, I slowly and absorbingly read the pages of a beautiful hardback book given to me by my mother and stepfather a few years ago.  I think it was a Christmas present – there will be a note inside to tell me, as I usually note these things nowadays – and I remember being instantly delighted by the sight and feel of the book, when I received it.

The cover of the book is white, with fine black writing and an elegant picture of a blue flower on the front, details on the back of those writers whose work has been included and form the body of the book, and the inside cover is a lovely blue. Published by the Royal Horticultural Society, it is a collection of prose and poetry with lovely pictures, artist sketches, of the flowers and plants that have been written about.  A coffee table book in a sense, or one to simply pick up and feed your senses with … which is why I picked it up this morning.

I read the other day, in a most unlikely place, that Table Mountain in Cape Town has 1,500 species of plants – whereas the entire United Kingdom has no more than that, indeed less than.  The fact astonished me, as Table Mountain forms only one very small part of the vast and beautiful country of South Africa, a place rich and awash with abundant flora and fauna; a place I miss to my very soul, because of this.  It was, believe it or not, this morning that the realisation dawned on me: “I miss the flora and fauna of South Africa”. More than anything, I miss the sights and the sounds of the natural world … and that is saying a lot, as there is much else in that gorgeous rainbow nation which I miss very much as well.

The little book that I was dipping into this morning, is about plants that grow in Britain, many of which I have come to know since my return here from Australia in 2006, and mostly since purchasing our current property in 2009.  I have learnt a lot about the British climate and natural environment while living in Berwickshire, experiencing life ‘out in the sticks’ much of the time, observing what is going on in our own tiny patch and what is going on all around us.  The monocultures that are witnessed everywhere in the United Kingdom, concentrated in the areas of countryside, are a depressing sight to someone who knows and longs for the biodiversity of a beautiful, natural world.  Instead of focusing only on those sorry and disastrous states, however, I take my focus back to the beauty of individual plants and absorb the wonder of life wherever I see and feel it, plants being only one way (and a potent one at that) of feeling the connection, a tangible connectedness, with the source of all life.

This is another thing I have realised only within the last few days … I ‘drink’ from the beauty of plants and feel drawn into closely observing the presence of bees and other wild creatures resting on or feeding from plants, because I feel a sense of connection to them, a connection to something deeper than myself, something and someone who is my very source.  I am easily uplifted by the sight or smell of a flower, a plant that is in excellent and robust health, a bumblebee or butterfly supping from pollen laden faces or drinking nectar from the trumpets of exquisitely designed little or large flowers. These things really draw me in, momentarily, for seconds at a time even, but powerfully and satisfyingly.  No matter if they quickly pass, the next moment soon comes.

All of these things of nature, strange as it may sound, feed my soul … and yet, so does the sight of a beautiful painting in a gallery, the feel of a special book, the experience of seeing a magnificently designed building or a chic, sophisticatedly detailed car (I have been known to stop and stare, mid conversation, when a Ferrari or Lambourghini has been sighted), a fabulously crafted pen, a stunning dress or creations of our recent past, like blue and white crockery and Bentwood chairs, a cared for old Morris Minor, a mirror or bowl of beautifully crafted glass.  Anything that is beautifully styled for elegance, efficiency, for peace or for speed,  will always draw me in, like a honey bee to nectar or even a monkey to a scene of curiosity, I suppose! I am simply fascinated by beauty, simplicity, form, ergonomic and eloquent design.  I see all of this in nature, and in miniature form it is always communicated to me through a beautiful plant, tree or flower – or even in sand or soil, in sticks of all sorts, in pebbles, rocks and gemstones!

Thus, as I turned the pages of the book my mother had given me, reading with pleasure about primroses, plumbago, giant white lilies, meconopsis (delicate blue poppies), blue iris, hyacinth, and even dandelion, I appreciated every word as one who closely knows the subject that she is reading about.  I feel the essence of a flower so easily … try it, next time you have the chance to inhale the fragrance of frangipani (in other climes), or jasmine, or the deliciously lemony tang of citrus blossom … you’ll connect with the source of all life that way too, I’m sure.

Digressing from my original subject of this piece, I realise, this issuing of invitation to others to feed on and drink from the well of life is a natural one to me too … I love to share what I have been blessed to know, to experience, to have for a season, to love, to learn from (good or bad), to achieve, to grow through, to expand within. There is so much joy in having others on the journey too and the invitation is usually a spontaneous one, invitation being something that has been a natural instinct of mine from a very early age.  In recent times, living in a place so remote and far from most of my friends and loved ones, I have extended the invitation through publishing (mainly online as yet) many writings of my own. Everything that I write and share with others, is an invitation for someone else to share in the experience of, a form of hospitality, a hand outstretched, an open door of sorts. If anything I write helps another, that is a bonus and hearing about it comes always as an unexpected gift.

And so, back to the book and the early morning cup of tea which helped to waken me for the new day …  I looked into the pictures opposite each page of poetry or prose, I read the lines, I felt the scenes, I appreciated the closeness of observation that had enabled the writers to share their presence as they wrote about the plants, and I felt loved. Nature does that … whether out in nature, or in word, or in image, nature nurtures somehow, I find.   There is nothing quite like experiencing the real thing, the sights and smells and feel of life inside elements of plants, flora, or the quirkiness of the fauna of a place, but to read about it is a close thing at least.

As I closed the book for the time being, having finished my cup of tea and feeling that a piece of writing needed to be birthed, I held it briefly in my arms and felt my mother’s love. Knowing that the book had been especially chosen for me, not least I am sure because of its colour scheme on the cover, the white enhanced with shades of blue, for content and for sight, becoming freshly aware of this was another nurturing of sorts.  My mother was born in this country, in Edinburgh, and these are the plants of her country of birth which I am tending and reading about these days.

Perhaps I shall soon find a way to travel easily between the other countries and continents that I love but, for now, I drink in the beauty of elements of the country where I am currently based, as I dream of and plan for what can be. Always, I am grateful for what is and has been, and always I drink in the awesomeness of now, all around me.

It is in the plants, the flora, of a country that we read deep into her soul.  It is in the plants that I find my connection to my source.  It is in the plants that we find our nourishments, our medicines, our fragrances, our hope, so much life, the essence of so much that is sustainable and needed for healthy longevity, our groundedness, our environmental stability, and the source of so much joy and of so much that is meaningful in real life.

Holly x

 

 

 

 

 


~ : ~

Link to WordPress “The Daily Post”:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/inhabit/

 

A Visit to RHS Harlow Carr in Spring

IMG_7130 - THTT signed

This is more than just about a garden visit.

I am writing this blogpost retrospectively, having visited RHS Harlow Carr in early Spring this year.  Our visit this time, occurred just as the buds were opening on the blossom trees (prunus of several types), the fresh leaves were unfurling in many shades of green on chilly trees, the bulbs’ leaves were emerging from their cosy soil beds, many flowers bravely blooming in the still and freezing-cold Yorkshire air, and various heathers and ericas were in abundant show-off pink colour blaze.

Harlow Carr has become a special place to me, a place where I have enjoyed a few visits since my children attended boarding school in that British county, which is several hours’ drive south of our current home. Visiting gardens is a way for me to connect with the pure life force that I sense is so lacking in society today, a vital way for me to unwind and to find inspiration for all the tasks I’m still learning to understand and to manage, and for strength in the journey of life itself, as well as simply to be in the presence of beauty and grace, for wonder and for fun.

On this day back in April 2017, my husband and I had driven down from the area where we live south of Edinburgh, met our daughter at a train station nearby, and we’d all set off for an afternoon of grounding, family time and chatting about life plans, on a very rainy afternoon. We were lucky to find a table fairly quickly in the very busy cafe on site, and happily enjoyed a simple lunch in an attractively glassed area, which afforded us the privilege of seeing the beautiful grounds around us, while keeping warm and snug inside.  Magically, the heavy dark clouds had moved on just as we were sated from a few hours of chat, so we gathered our coats and cameras and stepped outside into the crisp, damp, fresh air for a quick and intentional walk around the tidy paths.

 

 

As we live further north than this garden, it was interesting to note what was happening there, and to know that our turn would come next. The further south one travels in Britain, the earlier the seasons begin and the warmer the climate is.  Our growing season is brief, when it finally starts, and I always sense a wave of panic when everything suddenly begins to grow like mad up here, all maintenance and other jobs becoming necessary at once.  Thus, it helps to see gardens further south, for the warning signs before they take place where we are.

As we wandered about, strategically and fast (by then near to closing time), I was surprised to see so many heathers in bloom at Harlow Carr. Most surprising, I thought, was that the hungry bees were already out and feasting on their tiny little blooms … a sign that this (the various types of heather or erica) is a good plant, one type of species to encourage others to include in their plantings everywhere – at least in every area of Britain where it does not already naturally grow in the wild (where still allowed).  The British landscape does not currently afford much scope for wildlife to find either food or haven, there being little naturalness or biodiversity left on the main island of the United Kingdom; in most areas a begging starvation of diversity exists wherever one looks.

Gardeners can address this suicidal environmental travesty, but alone we cannot – the large landowners and land managers must take the situation into their hands too. We urgently have to address the plight of our wild pollinators  and other creatures that exist to form a healthy eco system, which we each will benefit from. I digress.  Lungwort (pulmonaria) in its many forms, is another plant that bees love in the early months of the year, flowering profusely before much else is in bloom.

IMG_7084 - THTT signed

Lungwort (pulmonaria)

It was lovely to see everything looking ready to receive the new season’s growth, beds tidied and mulched … no doubt left a little wild during the winter, to afford habitat for wildlife and to allow some seeds to feed birds, as well as to drop into the ready soil.  I especially loved the little area near the potting shed, which boasts elegant garden architecture, as well as tastefully careful landscape design.

 

 

 

The potting shed itself was delightful to visit – attractive and of great interest; it was useful to find a description there of how pest control was managed in the past. Nowadays so little thought is given to the damage that we are doing to ourselves, to wildlife, to ecology, and to the future of our children’s experiences of the natural world by the use of so many toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, all manner of cleaning materials, genetically engineered plants, etc. Indeed, we are “shooting ourselves in the foot”, instead of learning from and following in the footsteps of our clever ancestors, who knew how to work with Nature, to create something out of little, to harm few or none in the process of fending for themselves. I think about these things, when I wander about!

 

 

 

The notice on the potting shed wall reads:

“The Potting Shed

The potting shed is the gardener’s laboratory! Before commercial pesticides became available, gardeners mix their concoctions of chemicals on a stove in the potting shed, using recipes that have been handed down over generations.

Most ingredients can be found easily and cheaply such as soot, elder leaves, dung, urine and ashes.  Other materials that are used can be bought locally such as soap, lime, sulphur and tobacco.

It is a real factory … in order to realise why gardens have so many flowerpots, it is important to remember that every plant in the garden will  have been grown from seed, carefully nurtured and then planted out (there are no garden centres for instant effect at this time).

Potting sheds are the domain of the workforce and the gentry never visit them, just as there is a definite line between ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ in the house.

Use of Poisons

Dangerous ingredients, such as arsenic and strychnine, are used regularly in the garden as they can be bought very easily – however the Arsenic Act (passed in 1851) allows only people over 21 to buy it, and the sale has to be recorded in a Poisons Book.

The most dangerous ingredients are generally kept in a poisons cupboard in the potting shed. In true Agatha Christie style, if there is a murder on the Estate, the first place the police tend to look is in the potting shed!

In order to keep flies out of the potting shed and prevent them from laying eggs in the compost mix, the walls of potting sheds are painted with Reckitt’s Blue.  This is a blue powder added when washing clothes in order to produce a clean blue-white appearance.”

I find all of this fascinating, don’t you?

IMG_7051 - THTT signed

A thirsty honey bee, sipping raindrops from the petals of a white daffodil flower.

IMG_7048 - THTT signed

Lovely white narcissus (daffodils) at RHS Harlow Carr ~ and the little honey bee I spied, which features in another photo here, captured close up.

As we ambled quickly along the paths, we encountered a few surprises, such as the very tall willow statue of a Roald Dahl story character, The BFG, which would surely delight every child who visits there and also provides inspiration, perhaps, for what one might do with natural materials found outdoors.  He, the BFG, was a ‘friendly chap’ ~ I took a quick photo to remember the artwork by …

IMG_7142 - THTT signedIMG_7143 - THTT signed

Heading uphill, onto the side of the garden opposite the entrance, we wandered through tall trees and shrubs, admiring the majestic trunks of rhododendrons, many of which were in beautiful (and some fragrant) bloom.  The honey of rhodendron is toxic, apparently, but the bees need these blooms too and the flowers are always a wonderfully welcome sight, after a long, dark period of Wintry gloom.  I have learnt, at cost to one or two of the mature garden shrubs at our home, that only some rhododendrons (of which azaleas form the same general family) are fit to be pruned!  Would that ours could look as tall and elegant as those at Harlow Carr, which have been cared for by clever people in the know about these things.

IMG_7144 - THTT signed

I think this must have been about my fourth or fifth visit to RHS Harlow Carr, since our first visit there in September 2011.  On that day, we had been travelling back up north, having taken our youngest child to boarding school for the first time, and my emotions were in torment.  I remember wandering around Harlow Carr on that day, with my heart in my throat, tears brimming, feeling as though I were a tree whose limb had been ripped off in a whirlwind.  It was an ache I shall never forget … and I thank the universe for making sure that everything turned out well, despite the pain and the challenges and the things that were to come, after that agonising time.  My soul was soothed by Harlow Carr, stopping there as if to apply a plaster to a gaping wound, and it helped me to keep breathing as we left the county, where both of our children were now boarding … it is a relief to have all of that behind me now.

If you have the chance to visit any of the Royal Horticultural Society gardens in Britain, do consider doing so; I am sure you will not be disappointed.  So much care goes into preserving precious plant species, designing landscapes that stand out, inspire and motivate and heal the soul … and now the RHS are also behind a great push to make the public, citizens of all ages and all walks of life, aware that we must take care of our natural environment, our pollinators, our precious and vital earth.  I am so grateful for the chance to see such places, to absorb the positive energy there, to benefit from the calm and order and consciousness … very grateful indeed.

In mindfulness,

Holly x


IMG_7064 - THTT signed

Test it all against the truth of Love

img_4469-thtt-signed

While we whinge about aspects of our First World lives, so opulent in so many ways, babies are starving, people are aching for unconditional love, mothers are desperately trying to rise above the humiliation of poverty, business people are seeing the futility of the fast buck when they receive medical shocks … people are sleeping rough on the streets, children are crying and afraid, parents are carrying their children away from war torn conflict, the earth is heaving and groaning in agony as we treat it like a useless machine … Every man has a duty to wake up and examine himself. Every woman has a duty to forgive her peers and show them unconditional love … Every one of us has a duty to work on returning to what really matters and that is not One Upmanship … What really matters is how much we love. Love is an entire subject of its own. Love does not rob, covet, nor harm in any way. Love loves. That’s what brought us each into the world. That’s where we came from. That’s where we might return … To Love. How we live now determines how we’ll be then. Love applies to everything. Test it all against the truth of Love.

~ Holly ~

Being Optimistic – A Quote

Ifafa Beach - rescanned - 1960s - THTT signed

 

“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

~  Nelson Mandela

 

from his book “Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela”

 

 

~ : ~

 

Keep hope alive,

 

Holly x

Friday Thought ~ Break The Chains

DSC03963 - THTT signed

Keep calm and breathe …

 

 

 

Friday Thought

Gratitude, helping others, appreciating the abundance of the planet and doing what you can to tread lightly, sharing out of what you have, opening your mind to the possibilities of making a difference right where you are, trusting in divine providence, minding your own business, refusing to gossip, attending to your own responsibilities, always speaking the truth, being honest in all your dealings, bringing things out from the darkness and into the light, facing difficulties, taking care of your own attitudes, looking after your body, practising compassion, doing the correct things that you expect others to do … all of these and more, help to free the mind from mental chains … and all of these produce good brain health.

Good mind health = good brain health = good body health = good life = peace (regardless of your outward circumstances).

 

‪#‎BreakTheChains

 

Live Free!

 

 

With love,

Holly x

A Moment Before Christmas

DSC01493 - THTT signed

A moment of mindfulness, under this year’s fresh and fragrant Christmas tree.


 

 

Written on Monday 21 December 2015

 

I have stolen away from all the things I am ‘supposed’ to be doing, to do something that I need to do … to write a few thoughts down and to catch a moment, to consider and to prepare for the coming Christmas days.  Less than an hour ago, I was in a blind panic, about all that remains to complete on my To Do list, and then I pulled myself together with the remembrance that there are so many around the world right now, for whom Christmas will have anything but a To Do list, a To Buy list, or a to invite list …

I know that this is the time of year when many around the world feel the deepest sense of aloneness, purposelessness and loss. I am aware that we are among the fortunate few on the planet, who have a roof over our heads, food in our tummies every single day, warmth as we snuggle down into our beds at night in the northern hemisphere, know comfort as we do the same in the south, and so much around us from whence we can each draw joy, if we will but stop a moment and see how much we are each blessed by.  And so, I stopped.  In the midst of my busy, modern Christmastime anxiety, I just stopped. I breathed. I remembered those less busy, less encumbered with ‘blessings’, and I gave thanks that I have people in my life for whom I ‘must do’ and complete my To Do list for.

What has happened to Christmas?  What has happened to the Christ child in the meaning and the midst of Christmas?  What has happened to the hearts of those hell bent on spending their cash on things that they and others truly do not need?  What has happened to this time of year when, despite the shops being full and the banks’ coffers overflowing, so many go without everything that we take for granted, and so many have not one loving soul to warm their hearts with?  Why are so many doing so much to sell us what they and we know that none of us truly needs for life to go well?  Why have we become so needs orientated and so acquisitive, anyway, so goal orientated rather than love inclined?

Why have we forgotten that this is the time when we remember how Love came down to meet us where we are already at?  How can we imagine that materialism and things can fulfil us, when those who are totally alone at this time of year know only too well that they cannot?   How many would give their eye teeth to have someone loving to hold?   How many fear the alcoholic rages that follow the “Christmas Cheer”?  How many children wait expectantly for Father Christmas, or Santa (who has stolen the show), and yet many live in fear of what their own fathers might do to them, and have no knowledge of the Father who is our very own and loving God?  How many have grown to hate Christmas, because it hurts, or sends them into spiralling debt?  How many dread the gatherings and the opulence, when all they really want and need is love?

At the start of this day, a mere four days before Christmas Day itself, I had so many plans and intentions of things to complete, my list long and courageously ambitious, as I continue to struggle with the pain of a recently strained back.  At the beginning of this day the morning sky lit up, with tones of pink highlighting the clearing grey clouds, offering hope and promise of strength and resolve and fortitude … and I have done the best I could with those. However, the end of the day is here now, and I have left most of my List a dream and a hope for tomorrow, undone and only with the help of a miracle to be completed in good time. I believe in miracles, have seen and know a fair few myself, but it seems that this time my List really is ridiculous and life is showing me to calm it all right down.

Four years ago, for the first time, I hosted Christmas (with all the traditional British trimmings) in our own home here, with and for my wider family in the UK.  In previous years, we had either been living in Australia, or had spent Christmas in one or another of my UK family members’ homes, but that year I had begged to be the one (as the eldest sibling), to do Christmas for everyone in our home for once.  I look back now at all that was so lovingly created for that day, by myself and by my children and a friend from Hong Kong who was staying with us, and I marvel at the beautiful homemade Christmas crackers, the food (so simple and yet for me, coming out of a breakdown, such a major feat to produce, tasty and on time).  For the first time in my life, I had made Christmas pudding (organic and to my own experimental recipe) for our family to share. Adventurously, I had baked an impressive organic Christmas cake (partly my own recipe too, a scary first time process, baking it nervously in my trusty round Le Creuset), completely homemade and iced, even the marzipan was made by my own hand. That Christmas had every element of magic and joy that I could conjure up, working against so much that had been and was holding me back, and I think I and my team of merry helpers managed to pull it off well … the pictures, in hindsight, certainly looked respectable!

This year, with only my small nuclear family around our table on Christmas Day, I want to create the magic that we have all enjoyed at other festive occasions and places, in previous years.  This year, however, we are keeping everything very, very simple.  Our gifts are simple, things that each person really needs, lavishness a thing for others, our company much decreased in numbers, our peace and goodwill at the centre of our meaningful time, rather than all the trimmings that create the chaos, the bling, the acquisitiveness, the potential for debt along the road … We have been beautifully blessed by the arrival of Christmas cards, each one appreciated for the love and the time that went into its creation or its thought, and it is in these little things that we see the gifts of presence, of friends near and far, and loved ones who are missed, too far away to touch and hug and feel nearby.

In days long past, as I was growing up in Africa, we would usually only put up our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  Now, I often wonder how there was the time to attend that task, with so much else  to attend on that day.  Some put up their tree many weeks before Christmas, but ours usually appears to take its stage in the fortnight leading up to Christmas, once both of my children have returned home from boarding school or university, and are here to enjoy its choosing, as well as attend the decoration and sparkly splendour that goes with the desired end result.  Having stood our fresh tree in a metal bucket of water, the trunk held steady with variously sized stones, we light the interior of the deep green needled branches with warmly coloured strands of Christmassy light, then surround the base of the tree with a plain calico cloth, upon which our gifts are placed on Christmas Eve.  As we build the scene, we try to keep things calm and co-ordinated, choosing baubles, little wooden ornaments and glistening stars from a selection that has travelled from southern to northern hemisphere with us … the shiny red apples a gift from my mother on my first Christmas in Australia, always a regular on our tree.  Nothing is ever hung before the little wooden nativity scene has been safely secured in a visible spot, nestled amongst the boughs, the real meaning of Christmas taking pride of place in our home.

Today, I broke with tradition once more and began to create a Christmas pudding for Christmas Day … something I had intended to do on the weekend of “Stir Up Sunday”, a month ago.  No doubt I have left this task too late for the flavours to mellow and mingle, but a wish and a prayer might see it through to become a taste sensation, hopefully producing a good waft of dessert joy.  This year I shall attempt to create our pudding successfully with a gluten free flour and, if it turns out really well, we might enjoy it at a future gathering with the wider family, where everyone can happily tuck in.  I wish I had started this process earlier in the year, but the ‘ideal’ time had other pressing commitments, and so this one will happen now, traditional timing out the Advent window, so to speak.

Four days before Christmas … if said pudding works and I pull it off in this time, a new pudding tradition may well have begun.  The very act of stirring those fruits and zests and liquids, as the Christmas Pudding’s raw ingredients came together bit by bit today, was enough to get me powered forward.  As I breathed the lovely, familiar smells of Christmas, in calm silence, without any music needed to add to the ambience, I was filled with hope that, despite all that remains on my list To Do, I shall manage to do only what needs to be done, and only in a way that retains calm and can be done lovingly and well.

In closing my record of thoughts leading up to Christmas, I have been pondering too that yesterday I read a mindful piece about Christmas, written by a Buddhist monk.  In his thoughtful article, the writer mentioned that “The Pope has shared that this Christmas there is nothing to be joyous about, because there are so many among us choosing hate and violence instead of peace and love.”  It is a sobering thought, and so sad that Pope Francis should feel moved to say this, isn’t it?  We, who are safe and loved, have so much to be grateful for. If you would like to read it too, the full article is at http://plumvillage.org/news/a-green-santa-and-a-hug-of-love/

I hope that in these days leading up to Christmas, you will know an abiding peace in your heart, and that all your plans and hopes for Christmas will be beautifully and fruitfully realised.  Let’s spare thoughts and share our hearts and treasures with those not quite as blessed as us.

In Peace and evergreen Love,

Holly x

 

 

DSC06092 - THTT signed

Our 2011 homemade Christmas cake.

DSC01801 - THTT signed

Our little homemade angel, atop our 2011 Christmas tree, her flowing hair made of the purest wool and wings of softest felt.

DSC01902 - THTT signed

The beautiful wreath for our front door, made lovingly by my daughter and a friend, with plant offerings from the garden.  December 2011.

Collecting Leaves ~ A Poem With Little Punctuation

DSC00942 - THTT signed


Gifting myself an hour outdoors in the weak Autumnal sunshine this morning, the intention being to collect what I could, in that time, of the bounty of leaves lying piled up and scattered all around the house and under nearby trees, I savoured every minute of the precious outdoor time. Every bagful would, in only one year, become freely acquired luscious soil, a friable bounty known as “leafmould”.

As I walked back inside afterwards, my fingers frozen to the bone, peeled off my cosy outdoor boots and set my sights back onto working at the computer, I heard a beautiful tune playing on the radio: “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis.  The haunting melody seemed to contain a mirror of the mood I was wafting through. I sat down, with intentions of attending other projects, but instead I wrote this poem.

I hope it will make sense  … there was little punctuation added whilst writing, not wishing to interrupt the flow of the poem writing itself!

~ : ~

[Please continue reading until the Post Script, dated 21 November 2015, at the end of this post. Thank you.]

 

~ : ~

DSC00880 - THTT signed


Collecting Leaves

Golden sunshine captures me as I look into the leaves …
Smells and sights and sounds I feel
As into the depths of golden hues
I allow my spirit to sink and swim and swallow wholeness
From without into within and all around and all beyond me
When all of a sudden the wind whips up and darkness descends into the daylight
Clouds overhead look to me like mighty thunderous promise
While hard drops of icy water hit the surface of the layers on the ground
Sleety icy cold and glorious, windy wet and perfectly sound
I feel the ice begin to enter through my too thin and puny rubber gloves
Knowing soon I shall have to head back inside
But I wish to remain outdoors where I can smell the Autumn and play in her gifts to all mankind
It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day
All I want to do is stay outdoors and be warm enough to play
I look up and see the holly berries ripening on a holly tree
And quickly realise that there lies more promise, more gifts from Nature on this day
Soon I shall gather boughs of berried holly, before the little birds take them all away
And that way we shall have some festive season redness of natural beauty in our home
As we sit in front of log fires, catching up with loved ones who so often are very far away
Playing games and sharing stories, looking at photographs and reminiscing on times we’ve loved
Knowing that every moment is a precious gem, one not to be squandered
But that day soon comes, when we know not when.
And so for now I gather in my harvest of leafy gold dust,
Which when it turns to dust will become my gold
As leaves of many colours and types and sizes become transformed
From rich, papery, vibrant shades of Autumnal tones in every golden hue
Into the rich brown, sweet smelling earth from which they once came …
Once more they are and will become … leafmould.
As we go from dust to dust, so leaves too return to the Earth
From whence we died, we each become new birth.

*

by  Holly Maxwell Boydell

*

[all rights reserved]

~ : ~

 

DSC00886 - THTT signed

DSC00935 - THTT signed

DSC00928 - THTT signed

DSC00946 - THTT signed

DSC00923 - THTT signed

DSC00925 - THTT signed

DSC00936 - THTT signed

DSC00939 - THTT signed


 

Note: If Readers too would like to hear the beautiful tune I heard before penning this poem, and replayed while I collected its stream of words, here is a link that I found to “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis, via YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71KIvYOKLk

 

~ : ~

DSC00853 - THTT signed

Blessings,

Holly x

 


POST SCRIPT

Saturday 21 November 2015

I wrote the poem “Collecting Leaves” at lunchtime last Friday, 13 November 2015, and posted it onto The Holly Tree Tales that afternoon.  Little did any of us know that, later that day, the most atrocious tragedy would hit Europe, matched only by some of the atrocities being carried out in other parts of the world too.  Two lines in the poem have been haunting me all this week:

“It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day”

At the time of writing, those words seemed relevant to the ambience and experience on the day, but in hindsight they appear truly crass – which is not and was not, by any means, intended. Out of respect to all those who were hurt on that day, in untold and known ways in Europe and around the world, and to all those who are still hurting in the aftermath of the atrocities,  I have since removed those two troubling lines.  There is now a revised version of this poem, which appears later in the blog, republished and with more punctuation inserted.

In mindful consideration, I continue to hope for peace to come into all of our lives.

~ Holly Maxwell Boydell