Monday, January 20, 2020

If Trees Could Dream

I've always maintained that if you don't like the weather in upstate New York, just wait a minute and it will change. Such was the case last week when the temperatures shot up into the low 60's which was followed by a huge wind and rain storm that ushered in more normal weather for this time of the year (whatever normal means in this neck of the woods). Looking out of the window at the poor trees waving back and forth in 50+ MPH wind gusts while the warm rain pelted down, I couldn't help but feel sorry for them. Here they were, quietly enjoying their own version of winter hibernation, and along comes this freak, summer-like storm to jar them our of their sleep. From there it was only a short trip to this thought: "I wonder if trees can dream?"

I've read dozens of different articles and blog posts about the idea that trees can communicate with each other and with us. If that is true, then wouldn't it also be possible that they sleep, and, therefore, dream? Here they are after a long of season of blooming, producing food, shelter and much needed oxygen for the planet, followed by all that work of dropping their leaves and finally settling their roots down for a long winter's nap. So why shouldn't they dream? And if they do, what would they dream about? 

If I were a tree, I would dream about that first breath of fresh air when spring starts to make it's arrival known, when the sun feels warm on our branches and our roots start to wake from their winter slumber. I'd dream about new birth, new growth, and a call to "branch out" and do what we were put here to do. I'd dream about new beginnings.

Come to think of it, what trees may dream isn't so very different from what we humans dream after all. We all spend the winter hunkered down dreaming of spring, new birth, and new beginnings. We all want to stand in the sun once more. Wow. Maybe the trees have been communicating with us all along and we were just too asleep in our own lives to hear them. I think I'll go sit by the window, look at the trees, and listen ... who knows what I might hear?

And so it is. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

...And To All A Good Night

Well, here we are at the end of another year and so very close to the dawn of a new one. Most folks I know celebrate theses two back-to-back events with lots of noise, music, drinking, and hugging. While that is fine for some, I have my own way of acknowledging the passing of one year to another, one that is marked not by noise, but by silence.

When midnight is near, I like to turn off the noise of the TV, go to my bedroom window and look out at the night sky. If I am lucky, there will be some stars to see. If I am very lucky and it is not too frigid, I like to open the window and inhale the crisp, clean air. As the countdown begins. I say a silent good-bye to the old year and thank it for all that it has taught me, good or bad. Then at midnight I welcome in the new year in prayer and affirmation. I affirm that I am open to new and wonderful, experiences, and that I will do my part by staying present and willing to follow the signals I will receive. Then I sit for a moment in silent meditation.

To finish my New Year's ritual, I pull out the letter I wrote at midnight on the last New Year's Eve and see if what I affirmed and/or committed to came true It always amazes me to see what I have learned or accomplished in the year just passed, as well as what I still need to work on. Then I write a new letter for the new year and tuck it away in my special "God Box" where I put all my prayer requests and wait until next New Year's Eve to take it out and see how I've done.

I love this ritual. It places the reins of power and accomplishment in my life back in my own hands and at the same time connects me with my silent partner, be it God, the Universe, Source, or whatever you choose to call it. It gives me hope for the future and closure for the past.

I hope that this new year will be one of joy, accomplishment, and happiness for you and your loved ones. From all of us here at Flower Bear's Garden, have a wonderful 2020. See you next year!

And so it is.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Oh Christmas Tree

 There are many stories and legends out there about how Christmas trees became one of our most beloved and enduring holiday traditions. Some say it started back in the days of the Druids when they would bring a tree into the home to represent the coming of spring and new life after the long, dark winter. Along about the 16th century, it is believed that church folk started to bring trees inside to decorate as a way to celebrate the coming of new life with the birth of the Christ child. Whatever the reason, I cannot image a Christmas without some form of tree to usher in a time of hope and celebration.

Christmas trees have run the gamut from huge and ostentatious to small and humble in my life. Growing up in New York City, it wasn't officially Christmas until the huge tree in Rockefeller Center was lit up. As a child, I remember the old and treasured ornaments that we unboxed every year with love, and the shrieks of laugher as we attacked the poor tree with handfuls of that awful tinsel that got in everything. Once my own girls were grown and putting up trees in their own homes, I downsized to a smaller, table top tree ... plus I grew tired of the destruction caused by cats trying to climb up a big tree and bringing it crashing down.

Last year I saw a sweet little artificial woodland tree that spoke to me of a simpler, more holy time and my daughter gifted it to me. Now my little tree sits on the table decorated with tiny woodland creatures, homemade decorations from the little ones, and simple golden stars. It seems to me that this is more in keeping with what our ancestors had in mind when they brought forth a tree from the forest and hung it with symbols of love and life. This tree fits me perfectly.

Regardless of what your holiday traditions are concerning trees, I hope that this year you will take a moment to think about the symbol of the tree and its message of hope that promises new life to come.

And so it is

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mother Nature's Calendar

I know the calendar says that the first official day of Winter is December 21st, but according to Mother Nature's calendar, it started yesterday! Here in update New York, as well as many other parts of the country, the sleet and freezing rain started glazing the roads and every other surface before the snow moved in last night. This morning looks like a winter wonderland and the for forecast is for more to fall throughout the day. The new predictions are for 12-15 inches.

I'm sure all the kids were thrilled when they woke up to another day added on to their Thanksgiving break. The parents weren't as happy. Cars and sidewalks had to be shoveled out, childcare arrangements made if they had to go to work, and, speaking of work, were the roads even passable?

I know we should all be used to this if we've lived in this neck of the woods for even a little while, yet even for us this feels awfully early. In fact, everything seems as if it's all moved up on the calendar, from the changing of the seasons to holidays that fly past in the blink of an eye. What the heck is going on?

I'm not a time specialist or even a close buddy of Mother Nature, but even I am old enough to know that the only things that one can count on are death and taxes. Everything else is open to change just like the weather. The only way to get through it is to go with it. In essence it means rolling with the punches. So an early snowstorm is a chance to start practicing your snowman building skills. Driving slower gives you a chance to think about things. A December snow day for the kids is a free day to make their own Christmas cards or start their letters to Santa. It isn't a lousy day, or a miserable day, it's just a snowy day.

Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two people will view change the same. It's up to you to decide if that change is the beauty of a snowy day, or just a lot of bothersome shoveling. The choice is always yours.

And so it isn't

Monday, November 25, 2019

Gratitude On A Plate

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No season brings us a better opportunity to be grateful than the season that also brings us the celebration of Thanksgiving. The harvest has been brought in and the bounty is there for us to see right before our eyes. It's no wonder that Mother Nature chose to paint the harvest with such lively colors, especially in all of the squashes, pumpkins, apples and cranberries! 

If we ever question what we have to be grateful for, we only have to look to nature and all that it provides for us to know that Creator (or God, or the Universe, or whatever you choose to call it) knew exactly what they were doing. As George Burns said in the very first "Oh God" movie so eloquently: "I gave you everything you needed to make it work. The rest is up to you."  Nature provides us with everything we need to house, clothe and feed ourselves. On Thanksgiving Day, we gather together in our warm homes, dressed in our warm clothes, and share the bounty of the earth. We can look around at our loved ones and the wonderful food on our plates and know what true gratitude feels like. Even if your feast is a frozen turkey dinner and the Thanksgiving parade on the TV, all of it is there to remind us that we have everything we need to make it work. The rest is up to us. What better way to say "thank you" than to use what we've been given to the best of our abilities?

Have a wonderful, bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving ... and all those leftovers afterward!

And so it is. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Color of Gratitude

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We've just come through quite a cold snap with temperatures in the teens and twenties, and wind chills in the single digits. That's colder than normal for this time of year even for us folks up north. I was perfectly happy to climb under my favorite blanket with a cup of tea at my side, a cat on my lap (for extra warmth), and some good books. At sunrise on the coldest of those mornings, I was awakened by a sound that came to me as if in a dream ... bird song! I climbed out of bed and peeked through the curtains. There on the huge pine tree across the way sat a cardinal whose bright red color stood out starkly against the green of the pine and the early morning frosty sky. I couldn't help but worry how the poor thing hadn't frozen stiff during the night. Then I remembered that cardinals, like blue jays, do not go south for the winter. They stick around and tough it out like the rest of us.

It amazes me how something so small, with such tiny bones and respiratory systems, can withstand the brutal winters we get up here, yet there they are every day, out doing their own thing. They sing each morning awake, call out to find their mates, go about their business of finding food and shelter. That's it. It seems to me that if they manage to wake up each day and survive it, it's a good day.

I think we sometimes take our lives for granted. When it gets too cold we complain, when it gets too hot we do the same. We can move south hoping for warmer climates but we'd probably find something to complain about there, too. It certainly seems as though the cardinals and the blue jays have it over us in the gratitude department. So, what if we woke up each morning and were grateful for the cold instead of complaining about it? What is we were grateful just to wake up, to have one more day on this beautiful earth?  Like those hardy birds, we would wake up, say "I love you" to our loved ones, and go about our day doing what needs to be done. That would change the color of our days for sure, from drab to bright and beautiful, just like those wise old birds!

And so it is. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Color of Our Memories

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It had to happen sooner or later. Back-to-back rain storms with high winds, followed by our first big frost and dusting of snow, ended our yearly love affair with the colors of Autumn. The trees that just a week ago were still struggling to hold on to all those beautiful leaves are now standing bare. What is it about humans that yearn all year long for that small window of beauty just to have to let it go after only several weeks? I sometimes think that our memories of what we love are just as colorful, if not more so, than the real thing.

It's a part of human nature to let time color our memories so that when we take them out to look at them years later, they may look quite different from the actual event. Some memories we color with dark colors because they evoke a time of fear, loneliness, or grief. Some we color with bright colors because they remind us of happier times. I wonder what would happen if we took some of those dark memories and gave them a different color, one that would help us to remember them, perhaps not with fondness, but with a better understanding of the lessons they taught us. Maybe, like the memory of the colors of Autumn, we can brighten those memories so that they remind us of how far we have come and how even farther we are capable of going. Like the trees, they can come back in the Spring as something new and filled with promise like the first buds on the branches. Perhaps we can color our futures even brighter if we take those memories out of the dark and put them in their proper perspective. Even a bare tree in winter holds the promise of new life in Spring.

And so it is.