Almost Beltane PotPourri


  •  “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  Those are the words of an old nursery rhyme and, in The Secret Garden, when British children in India wanted to tease the heroine, Mary Lennox, they called her “Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary.”  And Mary was an unloved and, therefore, unpleasant little girl.  But, as she actually became a gardener, she also became far less contrary.  Some mornings, when I wake up and Trump is still sitting in the White House and it’s still Mercury Retrograde, I feel pretty contrary myself.  But time in my garden never fails to make me feel better.  Because we had such a warm February, my garlic is way ahead of where it normally would be this time of year.  Some of the allium are budding and whenever I walk past the front bed, I’m overwhelmed by the scent of lily of the valley.  My white camellias & white azaleas are in bloom.  How does your garden grow?
  • Asia has violets in bloom and a wonderful discussion of the spiritual and physical medicine inherent in these tiny plants.

I started those first lonely weeks without a single piece of furniture or any connections in town. It was exhilarating and terrifying, and some days I wondered how I would handle the bigness of it all.

I was still sleeping on a pallet on the floor of my room when the violets arrived. It started with a few small handfuls of violets, scattered here and there, like tiny daubs of lavender amongst the winter-flattened grass. And then one morning I awoke and the entire hillside was alive with grape and hyacinth. Stretching for almost an acre, I was living amongst a sea of Viola. It was spectacular, and often stirred me to tears. When I looked at them I had the distinct feeling that I too was being seen. 

Violets grow here in Virginia like weeds and I try to keep them to a small patch by the shed.  When I was a girl, we had a huge patch out in front and I used to make nosegays of them by the basketful.

I have to find a new magic because it is telling me to find it, because I hear the thunder of running feet through streets and the crash of falling stone and broken glass and it waits behind all that, or just before.

It is easy to ignore, isn’t it, here where rivers carry away the dreams of sleepers down to the sea which drowned Ys, when the great floodgates broke because she no longer cared to keep their world together, no longer cared for their dreams that kept the world together.

  • Terri Windling is talking about kindness, and a way of doing science that revolves around meditative walks and knowing the plants.  She’s talking about how we can be both scientific and, at the same time, have the mystical experience that Mary Oliver describes when she writes:  “for a pure white moment/while gravity/sprinkled upward/like rain, rising,/and in fact/it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing.”
  • Check out the pictures of bluebells.
  • We all love Bill Moyers, right?  I do.  I’ve followed him for years because he does the kind of in-depth reporting so few people bother to do, because he interviews important thinkers such as Joseph Campbell and Wendell Berry, because he asks deep questions and is willing to step back and let his guests think through an answer instead of immediately re-centering himself.  And, of course, I follow him on Twitter.  Mr. Moyers’ practice on Twitter is to link to half a dozen or so articles a day.  They’re almost always good articles by smart people, writing about something that not every other Tweet is already covering.  And, as I came to realize over time, the people who write those articles are exclusively male.  Once I started paying attention, I saw that several days could go by without even a single citation to a woman writer.  It’s not that women don’t write about the topics that Mr. Moyers tends to cover:  the environment, politics, economics, etc.  Women write, prolifically and publicly, about all of those topics and more, but Mr. Moyers seldom cites them, features their articles, suggests to his audience that there are women with something important to say.  To be clear, I don’t believe that this is intentional.  In fact, I believe that it’s completely unintentional.  So I started simply responding to the Tweets with “Another man!” or “Why does @BillMoyers only cite men?”  or “Did any women have anything to say about this?” or “Ignoring women effectively silences women.”  Mr. Moyers never responded and weeks and weeks went by with me, whenever I could, noting how seldom he cited women and him ignoring me.  In the last week or so, I think I’ve noted an uptick in citations to women.  I’m going to keep just pointing out how often men are cited vs. women.  Could you pick a blogger or Tweeter and do the same?  Awareness is the first prerequisite for change.
  • A day is coming when water is going to be the focus or more and more of our attention.
  • Next year, in Edinburgh, next year in the Holy Land.
  • My escape reading for the last few days has been Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory.  She, maybe as much as Mary Lennox, understands how gardening can make us less contrary:  “Joseph and Johnnie filled the sacks with the Flame tulip bulbs.  . . .   Whether the price for tulips ever recovered or stayed as low as it had been thrust by the collapse of the market, still there was something rich and exciting  about the wealth which made itself in silence and secrecy under the soil.”  I’ve never been able to grow tulips here because the squirrels dig up and eat the bulbs as quickly as I can plant them.  This year, I grew them in pots on the screen porch and FINALLY have tulips.  May it be so for you.


Picture found here.






4 responses to “Almost Beltane PotPourri

  1. It was Bill Moyers who first introduced me (the world, maybe) to Elizabeth Warren.

  2. Jan, I love it! Thank you for sharing!

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