Monday, June 22, 2020

Our Country's Cactus

Our Country’s Cactus

Tucked away on the side of my house are some small cactus plants. They are normally fairly unobtrusive but when they put out their flowers, they are hard to ignore. The buds are big and the flowers are exuberant. I look forward to seeing them each summer.

There are things to consider, however. A cactus plant has spines.  Spines can be stiff, hard,  or soft. They may be long or short. The spines on my cactus are so thin they can be ignored when I weed around the flowers. But they can’t be ignored for long. They push in under the skin and are uncomfortable reminders of not being careful in the garden. They cause sharp hints of pain until they are removed.

This duality of beauty and pain is a reminder to me of what is going on nowadays. Underneath the beauty of our country lie the spines that effect so many of us. The pain caused by conquering, slavery, exclusion, and racism that has resurfaced in recent times all over America has been in us from the beginning but we haven’t been addressing the causes – until now.

I hope that we are finally becoming able to appreciate our incredible diversity, to value the beauty that all people bring and to take out the spines that discrimination has implanted in our country’s body. Only then will we be able to truly appreciate our amazing American garden.

My cactus – the Eastern Prickly Pear:

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Hibiscus Family Tree

The Hibiscus Family Tree

Each year the hibiscus plants in our yard seem to be finished. Other flowers come and go and still, no hint of the hibiscus coming back. And then…

The leaves start to pop up from the seemingly non-fertile earth. And once they do, the plants are on their way to growing the most amazing blossoms!

The brittle, white stems from last year’s plants provided good roosts for the birds who came to drink at the bird bath in the winter months. They also had an artistic appeal as they reached out and up in their irregular formations. But now, I’m suddenly aware of a deeper picture. They seem to be embracing the upcoming growth, like the older generation supporting the younger ones coming into the family. There will come a time when the new flowers will burst forth and the brittle branches will snap off but the family connection remains.  

At this time, it is important to remember that we are part of a larger family connection. Yes, people are diverse in many ways but share our human heritage. And even when times seem bleak, let’s try to remember that like the hibiscus we can, we will, blossom again.

The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Hibiscus:

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Puzzling Times

Puzzling Times

I love to travel. There are so many places in this world that are amazing. Nature offers a look at different plants and animals, birds and landscapes. And there are so many people to connect with who are willing to share their lives and perspectives. I see the whole world as part of Ferida’s Backyard, a place to explore and enjoy.

Unfortunately, foreign travel is not an option right now. We are mostly staying at home, though we have discovered an interesting diversion; we occasionally drive around local areas that we haven’t been to. We stay in our car and explore housing developments, farmlands, small town centers. We often come upon nature paths that one day we will go back to.

Meanwhile, I am into jigsaw puzzles. This one keeps me hopeful that I will one day be able to travel again. It is called “Safe Travels” (Masterpieces Puzzle Co.) and it reminds me of what traveling is all about. It shows snippets of other countries and their residents, some foreign currency, photos that were taken, a journal, and other travel details. It isn’t an easy puzzle but its 1,000 pieces provide a meditative process that helps me focus on the now and not obsess on the “what’s next?” 

I hope I get to travel soon again but meanwhile, I am peaceful where I am and hope you are, too.

Puzzles are beneficial for many things: