Aiming for a week in slow motion

I sometimes feel my life is perpetual motion, but once in a while I manage to slow down, and even STOP! This weekend was quietly delicious as I fully let the air out of my tires!

I had plenty of time to watch the birds.

 

DSC_9524

Every year about this time we have an Oriole or two stay for a few days of feeding before moving on. I’m so glad I didn’t miss his arrival.

DSC_9588

This little guy has been hanging around. I’ve never seen him before. Does he typically live near you?

DSC_9581

I caught sight of these two prospective parents pulling nesting material out of one of our lighting torches.

DSC_9548

 

DSC_9556

The finches are frequently on the spillway, but I’ve never seen this particularly colorful hummingbird in my garden before. It’s amazing what one may observe when sitting quietly.

DSC_9619

Someone else was caught in the act. These little thieves are a nuisance, but they need to eat, too.

Even a couple of hours of rain! Every drop brought celebration, and the doves thought it worth celebrating with a little meal.

So how am I going to carry the slower weekend pace into the new week?

Honestly? I’m not sure. But I’m going to try. And perhaps if I feel I’m getting in the way of that peaceful intention, I’ll just have to think about one of my other favorite creatures. He takes life in stride.

You’ll definitely want to read  HERE about this patient pet-owner on the most unlikely stroll! 

I think this gentleman may just have the right idea! If I get moving too quickly this week, I’ll have to see what Darwin has to say about it.

I hope the week moves at just the right tempo, whatever that may mean to you.

And be sure to breathe lighter!

Earth Day, California. Changing the focus.

New tactic. I’m plugging my ears. I’ve reached saturation point and can’t absorb one more apocalyptic message warning Californians that water tables are dangerously low and the economy will implode, slightly before or after we turn on the taps and nothing comes out.

Droughts are synonymous with California, and although I personally believe that climate change is contributing additional havoc with strange weather patterns fueling drought conditions, our water problems, and certainly our water management issues are not new. Not new at all. I’ve written before about the California Water Wars and the issues are so old that it boggles my mind that anyone is surprised we have a problem.

So to breathe lighter while sharing an Earth Day conversation from drought-plagued California, I’m peppering the post with favorite photos of some of the places around the state that offer peace and tranquility. It hasn’t dried up yet!

Santa Ynez Valley

I am committed to conservation measures and think waste is deplorable. I also think ecological responsibility is for good times as well as under mega-drought conditions. I probably wouldn’t object to scare tactics if I thought they worked!

Lompoc, California

The late Native American activist and first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, is quoted as saying, “In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.”

When is the last time you saw that principle in action?

San Clemente Beach

Traveling through the center of the state in rich agricultural areas you’ll see “Stop the Congress Created Dust Bowl.” Sometimes the messages are on a slickly produced billboard but more often they’re crudely spray painted by a farmer forced to let crops and orchards die because of water shortages. Water allotments are not equally available. Often it’s the smaller enterprises negatively affected and it’s hard to see those signs and think of families and livelihoods.  It’s also hard to see dead trees and vines.

I was in the fifth or sixth grade when we started learning facts about the Dust Bowl.  I didn’t understand the magnitude of the  worst environmental disaster in American history, and what did a child living in the middle of suburban Los Angeles understand about Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority Act, crop rotation, terracing and other beneficial farming practices?

California Wildflowers

Nevertheless, I won an essay contest about environmental responsibility, although that would not have been the language of the mid-60’s. I had also been chosen to participate in a special program of classes at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and I was slowly introduced to an age-appropriate knowledge of the importance of creating a healthy balance between water, soil and sunlight for optimum plant health. I was learning to care about “the environment,” even though I didn’t yet know all that word encompassed.

Earth Day officially took stage as a grass-roots effort in 1970, and although school children today, much like I experienced in the 1960’s, are given cheerful and hopeful projects that imply we are all naturally committed as good stewards of the earth, reality is that one of the most polarizing dinner party hot topics is environmentalism.  I know.

Coneflowers

Californians will need to have many difficult, often uncomfortable conversations, but I would like to see a huge shift from finger-pointing to a concerted effort at changing the way we relate to water usage in the first place.

I’m disheartened to see particular farmers targeted as though removal of their water-thirsty crops will greatly improve the circumstances.

Almond farmers are currently taking a lot of heat as Californians learn, probably for the first time, that it takes a gallon of precious water to produce one single almond. If you want to read more on this politically complex web, THIS is a great article from Mother Jones.

 

Oak Groves

Frankly, I don’t think we need to be the almond growers for the world, but I would like an equal serving of sincere scrutiny in other areas. I don’t hear an honest challenge to the environmental costs of animal agriculture. Want to start a small war? Start with this fact: Crops, although indeed water intensive, use a fraction of the water consumed on California’s factory farms

California grows over 200 different crops, some grown nowhere else in the nation.  Your guess is as good as mine as to the future of these crops. But what I can say is that “crop demonizing,” currently very popular, isn’t going to address any of the major issues. Change will come because people see the need to adapt to our climate conditions, and significant changes in habits will be slow for those who didn’t see this coming.

I’m naturally drawn to people who do make a difference and take bold action in their own lives.

Split rock Silent Valley

We can all use a little inspiration.

This Earth Day I would like to recommend you visit a beautifully sensitive writer at “Through the Luminary Lens.” Bruce and his wife, Francis, live in an off-grid home on Vancouver Island. His topics interconnect conservation, renewable energy and social ecology with a variety of other interests he weaves in so well. I’ve included the LINK to a favorite post that seems particularly satisfying to me for Earth Day.

I’d also enjoy sharing an award-winning short documentary that shows what one family has done with their city lot. The Dervaes family lives very close to my home, and what they’ve done with 1/10th of an acre is nothing short of impressive–maybe in my mind miraculous. To learn more about their family operation, you can see “Homegrown Revolution,” HERE. 

People in action always inspire me. Many of YOU inspire me. What are your Earth Day thoughts? I’m listening.

 

Garden learning curves and letting go of perfection

The birds like our back yard. They should. We provide a very dependable open buffet.

 

On the other hand, I haven’t been successful in creating the same open invitation to the highly endangered Monarch Butterfly. For the last two years I’ve tried to learn about native milkweed versus some varieties potentially disruptive to the monarch’s migratory path.

I didn’t want to contribute to the problem, but native milkweed has been hard for me to source, so I kept waiting.

Once again I was unable to find Asclepias californica (California milkweed), and I’ve learned that some natives are uncommon with very restricted  distribution, but I was able to find “suitable” substitutes for now, with the warning that in the fall I must severely cut them back so the Monarch will continue on her migratory path. In our hospitable climate the plant will not naturally die back and my failure to do so could harm the butterfly. I’ll keep learning and searching for natives, but I won’t forget my pruning shears.

I have been thinking about Einstein’s quote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.”  In a way I was paralyzed by too much research.

On the other hand, some people just jump right in and don’t do any research at all. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good idea, as this quote from a confused gardener would indicate.

Posted on Dave’s Garden, a favorite site, this gardener was very concerned about her milkweed plant.

“I’ve been trying to get a specimen established in my yard for several years now, but it never seems to get much of a chance except become an elongated green stick. Every time it gets to the point where it blooms, there is a species of butterfly (or moth?) that comes and lays eggs which hatch into larvae and devour each and every leaf on the plant, drastically reducing its stamina and basically halting all growth for a period of time.

I have tried my best to remain vigilant as to when it’s flowering, because I know that for the next several days afterward I will need to watch for eggs and/or larvae/caterpillars. If I see a batch of eggs laid near the flower, I spray them with a garden-safe insect spray. But often they hatch before I’m aware. Occasionally I manage to get rid of the larvae before they’ve done too much damage, but this is only a temporary reprieve, because as soon as the plant blooms again, the cycle repeats and it’s only a matter of time before the caterpillars get all the leaves before I get all the caterpillars! I occasionally see articles about this plant in the local paper or mentioned as a nice garden plant to attract butterflies, but I don’t understand how anyone would want butterflies to come and have their larvae eat every single last leaf off the plant! Perhaps other gardeners’ plants are more healthy/developed and are more able to withstand the caterpillars–perhaps being only partially devoured.”

EGADS!

I hope someone was able to impress on this milkweed lover that the point of milkweed IS the caterpillars, but if not, just to be sure the Monarch has a chance, won’t you spend some time researching how you might throw in your gardening support for this beautiful, but severely threatened butterfly?

As soon as I see caterpillars, you can be sure I’ll be back bragging blogging all about my success!

Fingers crossed!