Archive for May, 2011

I began the practice of mindfulness while reading “The New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle, although I admit the practice was sketchy and I did not finish the book.  I did begin to experience mindfulness more fully based on my weekly walks in the park.  Unlike the older park about a block from me, this park already had many tall trees when it was created.

When I began being mindful in nature, trees become a focus of my attention.  Because I live in the  desert, I appreciate them more, because I come from northern Wisconsin, rich in forests.

To me, they are a sign of strength, of timelessness.  My favorite part of “The Lord of the Rings” was when the Ents came to the rescue.  I wrote several years ago about a stand of over 100-year-old trees that were destroyed in my hometown.  Those trees had been there longer than any  people, and there was a picture in the paper of a man grinning like he had just conquered Mount Everest because he had cut down the stand.

About a month ago I really began noticing the trees on my way to work and errands.  We had a  record-breaking cold spell of about a week in February.  Water pipes busted in some peoples’ houses.  The gas company turned off the gas supply to hundreds of homes because of the lack of supply.  I was lucky and did not have any of those problems.  But those problems were  temporary and did not cause a lot of long-term damage.  Sadly, the damage it did to trees seems longer lasting.  Some palm trees have new green sprouts, but some magnificent old pines and other large trees do not.

And then there was a new twist–pardon the horrible pun.  In the fierce tornadoes of April, trees, like the ocean, became dangerous.   Of course they did not choose this.  But it seemed ironic the very tree you had cherished over the years could kill you, as it did in several cases.

Of course, those storms were not normal, and trees have many benefits besides shelter and shade.  For the most part, they are “peaceful and diligent” as Mary Oliver wrote in “About Angels and About Trees”:

“The trees, anyway, are

miraculous, full of

angels (ideas);even

empty they are a

good place to look, to put

the heart at rest–all those

leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly

ready to be

the resting place of

strange, winged creatures

that we, in this world, have loved.”

And this little tree, which I thought was dead, bloomed like this in a week.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, one of my angels; and to Mother Earth.


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I was lucky to go to an elementary school in New Jersey that celebrated May Day with a Maypole.  There would be a little homemade carnival, too.  There also was an annual flower show, although I’m not sure if it was at the same time or where the flowers came from.

This year, in light of all the recent disasters, I decided to do prayer ribbons.  I found out they are a tradition of many indigenous people and are used by Buddhists and Native Americans.  Then I found a page on Celtic Holidays that suggested doing prayer ribbons for Beltane/May Day since going out and chopping down a tree was impractical (although it does give you a way to use one of your own trees).

I needed something to cheer me up.  Friday was the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death, and tomorrow is my dad’s birthday (I lost him 4 years ago).  I don’t shop at WalMart for ethical reasons, but yesterday I found a craft store listed in the phone book that I didn’t know existed.  It had lots of neat stuff for many arts and crafts, and the owner is very friendly.

So I made my ribbons after my studies this morning.  I have one each for Japan, marine life (especially in the Gulf and Pacific),  wild horses, and the tornado victims.  There are four because of the four elements, four directions, and four Archangels.

You ask the tree’s permission first, and then you remove them in three days out of respect for it.  Then you burn or bury them in your garden.  I’ll probably tie them to my garden fence, although with the wind we’ve been having they might not be there in three days.

I also love the old tradition of May Baskets.  I was going to make one, but I found this one in a grocery store for $20 and decided it was perfect and a bargain because it had so many pretty flowers. So my May, which is also my birth month, is off to a merry start.

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