Collecting Leaves ~ A Poem With Little Punctuation

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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!

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

 

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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]

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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

 

~ : ~

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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

Autumn’s Artichoke

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There is something very satisfying, even decadent, about being able to settle down to a solo lunch of home grown artichoke. What a luxury!

Somehow, with this being the last artichoke of the season in our garden, there was a special tang of just (yet mingled with guilt for not sharing) reward about the perfect plate of goodness before me …

Nothing nicer than a freshly picked, steamed organic artichoke, with freshly melted, organic lemon butter and lashings of pepper  …

Ah. Some days one really feels like a “King”!

 

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How slowly I savoured every last morsel, feeling utter gratitude that I had managed this year, at long last, to produce our own artichokes from the little plants that had held onto dear life in the greenhouse, year upon year, as I tried to figure out whether we had the right garden (climate) conditions for them, and how on earth to go about it.

And what did I do with the precious green liquor remaining in the saucepan that had steamed the delicious artichoke?

 

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Well, it looked far too healthy and full of goodness itself so, instead of tipping the vegetable water down the sink, as so many do, I collected it, diluted it with cold water, and fed it to some thirsty pot plants.

Oh, and the remains of the artichoke?

Well, they went into the composting system, of course!  Winners all round.

In Autumn health and wholeness,

Holly x

Harvesting Blackcurrants

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At our current home we have a little courtyard area, where I have collected a number of plants in pots, in order to experiment and easily study them, while I learn about plant habits in the British climate. Gardening here and learning to live here is a challenge unlike any I have known, and having my most special plants in a protected environment around me helps to ease the transition at times. It would have been easier learning to garden productively in the northern hemisphere first, and then going to live and garden in the southern hemisphere, but my life has worked the other way around. So, for now I am learning the harder way, but the lessons are, at last, reaping bountiful rewards.

Besides being a study zone and handy to the house, there is another reason why the little courtyard, which still houses the original cobbled floor stables, is used as a sanctuary for my pot plants, one that is a deeper, more personal reason … perhaps I shall write that story another day. The photograph above hints at the part-wilderness, which I have allowed freedom in the enclosed courtyard space. Whilst not entirely private, it has become a space that, for me at least, offers solace to the soul. The growing numbers of wild creatures that join me there seem to think so too.

About a year ago, I bought two fairly large pots of blackcurrants, from a small local nursery who pride themselves on growing their own. They are not an organic nursery, which I would naturally prefer, but a small concern who deserve local support and whose heart is definitely in the right place. Much of what the nursery sells is for the benefit of bees, butterflies and ladybirds, which is what appealed to me when I first saw their sign, and curiously followed a road I had never been on, in order to discover who and what they were. Having semi-nursed my original two small pots of blackcurrants through a few ferocious Winters here, I know that without some proper care or replanting their fruiting days are numbered, so I was delighted to discover, at very little cost, the big black pots of prolifically fruiting blackcurrants. Can you imagine the impossibility of resisting such delights?

Over the past nine years, since setting off from Australia (where I’d lived in a fairly un-rooted way for fourteen years), leaving behind (more like “being dragged away from”) a rather substantial, elegant and valuable plant collection, I have almost sub-consciously amassed an impressive (or obsessive) number of new botanical treasures. Plants are my one true and enduring ‘weakness’, that is clear. Other than providing bird seed and fresh water, I have learnt to leave wildlife to take care of itself, and to let others adopt needy stray creatures, but I still find it impossible to walk blindly past a beautiful plant. Thus, despite my meagre spare means and full intentions not to collect any more botanical treasures on that day, a plant that was not only beautiful, but also fruiting prolifically in a pot, providing food at a cheaper rate than a bought beef burger, meant that it was coming home with me – and that was that.

If truth be told, I hardly expected the two tempting blackcurrant bushes (yes, two, not one) to make it through the Winter – they looked too lush to be hardy – but could only hope and see. I told myself that, if they did not survive, I could reuse their large pots – perhaps even for the blackcurrants I already had, which remain pot bound and awaiting roots-into-soil release. Well, my hope was not in vain: this year the lush new blackcurrants’ bounty has been tremendous, and so I set myself up to harvest each pot’s offering in style … as you can see!

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I realise that, without proper care, there is little chance that any of my potted blackcurrants will continue to prolifically produce and that, if they are going to live in pots ad infinitum, I shall have to manage their living conditions appropriately, of course. I have also learnt that one has to make the most of what Nature offers when it offers it, a lesson not always fully appreciated in the southern hemisphere, where so much grows all year round. I have learnt too that, when the sun shines, one must go outside and make the most of it … it so rarely shines in the part of Britain where we live … and being outdoors, gardening or harvesting in the very long colder months, for a warm-blooded creature like me, is nigh on impossible.

Thus, despite eating almost the same amount as that which I harvested, while comfortably seated and soaking up the sun’s gorgeously balmy rays, I have squirrelled away into our little deep freezer about four punnets full of delicious, juicy, fruity, vitamin-packed organic blackcurrants, and am incredibly proud of myself!

Holly x

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When Bees Are Safer, We Shall Be Safer Too

Bumblebee resting on a daisy flower, in July 2012.

Bumblebee resting on a daisy flower.


Below is a combined version of a couple of notes which I wrote about our environment in mid 2013, still sadly and incredibly relevant … Although great strides have been made, and it looks as though possibly the tide is slowly turning at last, there is much work to be done. We must listen to the signs that the bees are giving us. We must protect them.

*****

Around the World, wild bees, honey bees and other important pollinators are dying. Species of plants, amphibians and other animals are dying out. We are all ultimately affected by this, whether we realise it or not, and the demise of these creatures is indicating to us the gravity of our manmade situation, which is negatively affecting our own health too. This is serious, and has been largely caused by Man’s harmful practices on the planet. Increasingly, as shown by the mass death of bees, it is becoming a potential global catastrophe. Losing our pollinators could have serious consequences.

For a mere sixty to seventy years we have been using unbelievably poisonous chemicals in farming (as well as gardening, cleaning, clothing, furnishing and elsewhere) on this incredible Earth, which was here for millenia before we were born.

When the bees, butterflies and other beneficial creatures are safe again, we will find that we are too. We’re all in this together, and we can turn it around, if we care to.

Please stop using harmful, toxic chemicals and non-sustainable practices, and think about the effects of every action. This is now critical, as so clearly shown by the tragic loss and ailments of bees worldwide.

Please listen to the signs and act wisely.

*****

Remember: when the bees, butterflies and other little creatures have been made safer … we shall all be able to breathe more freely, once again.

We must save our bees.

*****

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All bees are vulnerable right now. We must act urgently to protect them.

*****

 

In May 2014, I initiated a community page called “Towards Greener Borders” being launched on Facebook, to help bring awareness & effect positive change, regarding these very issues. If interested to learn more or join the discussions there, please go to http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders.

Holly x

Happy Birthday “Towards Greener Borders”

Founded 2 May 2014

Founded 2 May 2014

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Happy Birthday, Towards Greener Borders … One year today!

Managed entirely voluntarily at the present time and grown organically by ‘word of mouth’, Towards Greener Borders is a platform promoting a vision for an organic, sustainable & healthy environment for all, with a mission to encourage, empower, inform & inspire positive outcomes.

We are passionate about doing what is possible to nurture people, plants, animals and our precious environment, leaving the Earth in better shape than we found it, in order to give children a safer future, while encouraging the mindful awareness of our connection to all on this planet.

Thanks to all who are on the positive journey too.

It has been quite a year!

~ : ~

For more information, please visit TOWARDS GREENER BORDERS
at www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders

 

In health, hope and trust,
Holly x

What would Jesus do?

In my quietest moments, and sometimes even in the midst of a current or a raging storm, I wonder to myself “What would Jesus do?”

Over twenty years ago, I sat on a panel in London, speaking to an audience of other Christians who attended the Church I loved to be part of too, and I told them from my heart that I believed we needed to take care of our bodies, our ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’. My voice was a lone one in the room that night. And many times since, amongst similar crowd.

A few years after sitting on the panel in London, I stood on a beautiful property in Australia, longing with all my heart to convert it to organic, and I told the ones whom I was with at the time, whom I also loved, that we believers have to take care of the Earth. I was looked askance at, many a time. Once, when my little daughter ran up to a tree and lovingly hugged it (as she had seen done, I’m sure, on Sesame Street, but the action clearly came straight from her heart), I was looked askance at, as her mother, and my daughter was told that she was a “Tree Hugger”. That was not an endearing term and I was horrified from whence it came. I walked on, and sometimes I think I should have walked away. But I loved more, and I continued on my path.

As time has gone on, the fire has burnt ever brighter inside me and I have faced all sorts of ridicule and opposition to both my faith and my belief in how important it is that we show our love to the Earth. I have not wavered from my path, and nor have the many others who have been on this path too, around the world, because we hear and see the messages, intellectual or otherwise, and the situation is now a critical one.

If Jesus walked into the room right now, I hope he would say I have been a faithful servant, but I don’t know. All I know is that we are now hearing from religious leaders too, about caring for our planet, and I thank heaven that they have heard the message at last. I do not call myself ‘religious’, I have no rituals to my belief and will not allow another to own me ever again, having been burnt too many times, but I have a reverence for God, my father, whom I believe created all of this, and listening to the Holy Spirit is fundamental to my life.

I hope I’m right in saying this: we must take care of our bodies, our temples, and we must take care of the Earth too. The Earth is our home while we live in our physical shapes, and it behoves us all to work towards its longevity and good health. Is that what Jesus would say? Is that what Jesus would do? I don’t know … but Genesis tells me clearly it is exactly what he would want to hear.

And what of the Native American Indians, so in tune with who they are and where they came from? And the other tribes and groups who too remember their connection? I think Jesus would sit well in their midst, and they would all take bread together, in reverence for our spirit and our beautiful Mother Earth.

Our bodies are our ‘temples’, our Earth is our ‘home’. Surely we ought to do the same?
Love them.

Holly x

Broad Beans and Swallows Arriving

Today I planted our lanky broad bean seedlings, into wonderful organic soil (all ‘made’ on the property). It was so good to get them in at last, and lovely to get my hands into the friable soil after months of cold! No sooner had I finished my work, than a sweet little robin appeared to check on things. I didn’t have my camera on hand to capture his inspections, but am hoping he wasn’t thinking I’d planted them too soon. Stay away Frost, please!

What a beautiful day to bond with the living earth … Earth Day … with the sun shining brightly, the sky true blue, many birds making their cheery bliss sounds, bees and butterflies in evidence, and suddenly everything growing like crazy … Spring is certainly here. All of a sudden, there are huge amounts of work to be done in our garden, and I have no idea how on earth to manage the load, but the most wondrous thing of all? The first house martin appeared at my bedroom window this morning! For that, I felt the utmost relief and thanks.

Swallows, swifts and house martins are amongst the many birds who are in severe and sharp decline. When they arrive, they come as a blessing, but their presence carries a sad and sharp message for us all too … we need to change our ways. What we are doing to the land is having a dramatic impact on the health of all creatures, and our cheery migratory friends are being sorely affected.  With mindfulness and a change of attitude and action, we can each play our part to reverse this.

Happy Earth Day, everyone … whether you’re in Spring or Autumn season …
Here’s to our bountiful Earth!

Holly x

Spring planting of broad bean seedlings, into raised beds filled with homemade compost etc ... beautiful organic soil 'made' on the property with many living, natural materials.

Spring planting of broad bean seedlings, into raised beds filled with homemade compost etc … beautiful organic soil ‘made’ on the property with many living, natural materials.

 

On Teaching Our Children

It is all very well teaching children Academic subjects, Sex Education and how to pass Examination with perfect results …
But how about teaching them how to THRIVE in the big wide world?
How about teaching them to LOVE… themselves and others?
How about teaching them how to SAFELY and sustainably GROW food and trees and flowers, so that they can have a beautiful world – and even perhaps be free of dependence on big, greedy, soulless corporations?
How about teaching them how to create wealth in ways that are POSITIVE?
How about teaching them about MONEY, and how to MANAGE their finances?
After all, they’ll shrivel up and suffer in innumerable ways, or do untold harm to others, without these fundamental basics!
So, how about it?
How about TEACHING THEM WELL?

~ Holly

[Thoughts hastily, but pensively, penned on 18 April 2013.]

Mushroom Soup

Delicious organic Mushroom soup, made with love.

Delicious organic Mushroom soup, made with love.

 

Holly’s Organic Mushroom Soup

Note: As with all of my cooking, baking and other food preparation, ingredients are organic – or at least as natural and fresh as possible.

About four servings.

Ingredients:
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil
1 Punnet Chestnut Mushrooms (approx 250-300g)
1 Leek
1 Red Chilli (with or without seeds – hotter with seeds)
A sprig of Thyme
2 Garlic cloves
2 level teaspoons Vegetable Bouillon powder (or to taste)
Water to cover (no more than one litre)
Black pepper to add, once tasted, at end of cooking.

Alternative ingredients:
Organic Coconut Oil, odourless (instead of olive oil)
Ordinary button Mushrooms
1 Medium Red Onion (instead of leek)
Additional: 2 Courgettes


Method:
1. Chop vegetables and prepare all ingredients, ready to cook, and set aside.
2. Gently sauté leek (or onion) and garlic for two minutes, add mushroom (and courgette, if using), and continue to sauté together for 2-5 minutes, until just golden, stirring from time to time.
3. Add water to cover the vegetables, to desired level, but no more than one litre.
4. Add vegetable bouillon powder.
5. Bring up to a simmer; simmer for about 2 minutes, take off heat.
6. Blend in saucepan with handheld electric blender, before serving.

To serve: Can be presented with a drizzle of cream and/or a sprinkling of fresh parsley or chives, to make it extra special.

To your good health!

Holly x

 

Link: https://thehollytreetales.wordpress.com/recipes/

 

Nothing like a hearty, nutritious mug of soup to warm the soul.

Nothing like a hearty, nutritious mug of soup to warm the soul.