Uncovering hidden growth

I spent most of yesterday cleaning away leaf litter and the remnants of last year’s garden. What started out as a chilly morning quickly moved to no-coat status courtesy of a bright, warming sun. I sawed — yes, sawed — down the dried plumes of Miscanthus and removed spent Sedum, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia stems that provided texture and height all winter.

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Getting my math right

I deleted my Facebook account yesterday — the account that I opened in 2007 when the social media juggernaut was just starting to roll out of its college-only birthplace. It was a place where I posted more than 9,900 times — more than twice a day for over 11 years. It was a place where I met countless friends and shared so much of myself that I often ended up feeling exposed and empty. It was a place where I could be my best self, but often opened doors to my worst.

In the end it had to go because it was the place where I went to for the affirmation that I needed the most. I lived for the likes — and let their pulse become one with my own.

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Voter #1

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I wanted to be first in line at my polling place this morning. There was something symbolic in that notion. I arrived 25 minutes early to a parking lot devoid of activity, the only cars those of the poll workers inside. Some news story captured my attention and when I looked up, there was a person standing first in line at the doors. My plan up in smoke. As I approached, I saw it was a young African-American woman and smiled. I thought to myself, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t have to be first, I just have to be a part of the solution. I was proud to stand behind her as she approached the table as Voter #1.

Finding the way out of no man’s land

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now. It’s been swirling in my brain, heart, and gut for quite a while, but every time I feel like I’m close to putting fingers to keyboard, I shy away, worried of the reaction from all sides.

It’s a sensitive topic, you see. A white guy writing to other white guys about being a white guy in today’s society and culture.

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This choice called love

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My son is in his first real relationship at 16. It’s wonderful to witness how he smiles and laughs around her, how they just seem comfortable around each other. What impresses me the most is how he gives of himself for her. There’s a quiet ease in which he cares for her, so natural it seems innate.

I don’t know what their future holds, but I do know this: For their relationship to last, to thrive, they will both need to understand that love is not a feeling.

Love is a choice. Love is an action. 

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Presence over time

IMG_9271It’s interesting how those of us in four-season climates talk about the plants in our gardens — in terms of how long they’ll last. Annuals come and go in one growing season. Perennials come back every year, but mostly lie dormant below the ground in winter. Trees and shrubs — we think of them as the bones, the stalwart foundation, that last for years, perhaps a lifetime. We cherish them for their presence over time, rather than their value in the moment.

We do the same for people, don’t we? Read More

Bring out your dead

Frost took out the tender annuals this week, so it was time to do some cleanup. I walked through the garden, throwing the wilted carcasses of coleus, impatiens, and begonias into the wheelbarrow with the the voice of Monty Python’s cart master in my head.

Bring out your dead.

Bring out your dead.

I may have imagined one tougher than average coleus protest.

I’m not dead. I don’t want to go on the cart. I feel fine.

Pluck. Toss.

You’ll be soon dead in a moment.

Perhaps these thoughts are best left in my head, but I couldn’t resist sharing a little garden humor as the season comes to an end.

Our disappearing paths

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I bought this coffee mug in 2016 at the Glacier Point gift shop in Yosemite National Park to add to my collection of mug memories. My son and I were on day three of our summer trip to California. Printed on it is a quote from naturalist John Muir.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

It was the perfect senitiment to capture this adventure of ours through central California. We’ve hiked a lot of paths together over the years, and more than a few of them have been dirt.

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