Thyme

After church last Sunday, I purchased a small container plant in my old Oakland neighborhood. The weather was quite hot, over 90 F. The person outside the hardware store was busy watering the sparse remaining stock. The specimen in question is a little rosemary plant in a two-inch pot, which I repotted into a larger clay pot.  It now sits in front of the door, in cosy proximity to the tiny olive tree, that my son Christian gave me. “Creeping rosemary” — the label informs. Indeed it tells the truth — having watered it every day this past week, my little culinary friend has already breached the rim of the clay pot it resides in. In my old loft in Oakland, I planted a rosemary bush just about the same size as my present one in the ground, and it grew to over four feet in all directions — a haven for bees when it bloomed.

Staying on the subject: taking a short walk recently, I saw a small garden, where the gardener had staked several signs in the ground: the first one read — there is never enough thyme, and a second one stated: “weeds” — a gardener with a lovely sense of humor. I hope a bird drops a flower seed — or two, into the “weeds” planter box. Nearing the corner of the lot, I noticed a warning sign  that stated unequivocally: “Area patrolled by Schnauzer” — this however, I was not able to confirm visually — perhaps he, or she, was taking a nap.

Have a blessed peaceful week, in Jesus name, Amen.

Little pumpkins

PumpkinsAs I wrote last year, Erntedanktag is the German equivalent of the American Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving here is a celebration for family and friends, and a time to invite people, Erntedanktag honors God for the harvest he has provided at the hands of farmers and home gardeners who till the earth.

I’m sometimes saddened when I see the incredible variety of fruits and vegetable that we have here in California in the supermarkets, where produce is often taken for granted — often thoughtlessly dumped into a basket. I have also seen vegetables or fruit dropped on the floor and not get picked up. I’m grateful my parents taught me to respect food. It is all the more fun to see when someone shops carefully, selecting seasonal delights to prepare into something sumptuous.

I have noticed some changes in the culture recently. At least in California and Oregon there seem to be more and more farm to table communities popping up, and chefs are opening restaurants relying on fresh, seasonal, and organic produce from local farmers and markets — sensible — and you sure can taste the difference.

That reminds me of a long time ago, when I grew some ornamental decorative pumpkins at my parent’s house in Germany, and then in the fall when they were ripe, tried to sell them at a local farmer’s market in Bad Hersfeld. I am not a good salesman, and at the time decorative pumpkins were unknown in Germany. At the market I would get questions ranging from “can you eat that?”, to “how come they are so small?” Restraint on my part, as to a reply was in order. I think I may have sold five or six of the pumpkins. It was a bit discouraging, and I learned to see the market from a farmer’s perspective, making me appreciate their profession even more. I guess I like the planting, and tending to part.

Have a blessed Sunday

Cloudy ponderings

I inadvertently had to think about the summer mishap, as I hung out my laundry this afternoon. The sky was overpopulated with clouds, some gray, some white, and some of a rather more than ominous dark gray. I felt like they were mocking me, as if to say: “go ahead we dare you, we have plenty of rain stored up”. Another quick glance at the Internet weather site: “Overcast, cloudy, 0% chance of humidity”. I hope the Internet is telling the truth.

Walking to the library under the cloudy skies was a nice change of pace from the bright skies the past few days. There is definitely a hint of fall in the air now. The ginkgo trees (written about so much by Goethe) are still a vivid green, but a few of the leaves show a just hint of the glorious golden-yellow yet to come.

Have a blessed week, in Jesus name. Amen.

First Day of Fall

AvocadoAlthough the wind did its share today in rustling and whipping through the leaves in the trees, it accomplished little to nudge them into a descent. Perhaps it had more success in other parts of the Country. Blue skies and sun pervaded at least the East Bay today. Our leaves turn color late — a lazy bunch here.

A bit tired and lethargic today, I nonetheless baked some banana bread this afternoon, and was rewarded with the sweet aroma of it drifting from the oven, when I opened the door a couple of times, to check its progress. Leftover food cleanup today, I also made an avocado sardine sandwich — which was a first for me, and it’s not bad at all, if I may say so. My cat Calvin also had his first sardine of his feline life, just devouring it, without lifting his head even once. I have never seen him eat like that. So — brain food for the both of us — we both hope with positive results.

May the Lord bless you with his peace on this quiet Sunday evening, and for the coming week.

Summer Memories

As I sit at a new small wooden table with my brother Holger under the Linden tree, a slight drizzle ensues. The table — a birthday present — is made of a very unusual wood. I don’t know what kind of wood it is, but it has a wonderful aromatic smell and it changes to a darker color when it gets wet, revealing the intricate pattern of the wood grain. Wood grain has always had an attraction for me — nothing compares to its natural beauty. We are enjoying the last of the late evening summer light under the canopy of the old tree, listening to the stream, and enjoying the smell of rain in the air. “Oh crap, my laundry!” I jump up and run behind the barn to retrieve several towels and some pants that I had hung outside to dry. I keep forgetting, that unlike California, where its dry from May until November as a general rule, the rain has its own timetable and playful unpredictability in Germany. Oh good — the laundry got only slightly wet — I hang it over some chairs in the barn. My brother grins at Mr. Forgetful, as I reemerge from the barn. “Wipe that smile off your face!”

I can be as quiet as a church mouse, but when I come from the barn in the morning to go into the house, I am always detected by Holger’s dog Moana. “Good morning girl!” She rolls on her side, and I rub her tummy as she wags her tail — a happy dog. As I turn on the burner under the water kettle, I see a tiny snail stuck to the outside of the top window pane. That’s quite a climb you have accomplished there Mr. Snail — your own skyscraper assent. I wonder what inspired such an endeavor.

The four wild cats have detected me as well, and are jumping up against the glass door, paw prints everywhere. Alright, alright, already — one order of crunchies and warm milk coming up. Usually I can pet them just a bit when the milk is served, as greed then outweighs fear, although they still shrink back or dart away sometimes. There are two new wild kittens, one of whom I am able to pet now, as he has discovered the milk dish. The kitten usually shows up only at dusk though.

It’s time for a walk with Moana. She has waited patiently for me to drink my cup of tea. She loves the morning walk through the forest, and as we get to the large downslope, she waits behind the same tree where she always waits on every walk, looking expectantly at me to throw a rock down the slope. When I throw the rock, she goes tearing down the hill after it at breakneck speed, once in a while even overtaking the rock. She doesn’t necessarily return the same rock that was thrown however. But then again, retrievers are not exactly know for being the brightest bulbs. The rock is then proudly carried in her mouth all the way back to the barn. She has a collection of them next to the stream, some of which I occasionally take to reuse on the walks.

Skipping to evening: the Linden tree, the barn, the house and the meadow have all melted into a charcoal darkness. A few bats — fleeting shadows — are flying over the stream (briefly barked at by Moana until I hush her) gathering up lots of mosquitos one hopes. Blink, blink, blink — three fireflies have appeared. I love fireflies, one of God’s prettiest creations. I opt now to go for the same walk I usually take in the morning, to see if I can meet more fireflies. It’s almost pitch black now. I am rewarded soon: more and more fireflies turn off and on here and there, occasionally illuminating the silhouette of a tree. They make me so happy. On the way back, I count twenty-five of them, or did I miss a few?

Have a blessed week

Laziness

I started to read a small book that has been sitting on a shelf for an inordinate amount of time. Transported here from Germany some years ago, it is the top book of a diminutive stack of books and thus the main candidate for collecting dust, much to its annoyance I’m sure. Even more inexcusable than not reading it, is the fact that there are only a few books around the apartment (most of my books are in boxes in storage) and the television has no reception here — probably a good thing. Thus — dust brushed off — the initiative to finally read it is taken.

The book states that it is a collection of light humor by a broad variety of authors. I started reading, but found the dust jacket statement to be an exaggeration and I almost put the book away, only to find a gem of a story just before doing so: an amusing anecdote about laziness. Not exactly a virtue by any means, but the author has taken great care to expand on the subject, of course at a very leisurely pace.

Having enjoyed the short story immensely, (sitting in a lawn chair outside while reading it — appropriate to the subject matter) I walked back upstairs to the apartment and what did I see? My lazy cat, who had managed to get his lazy cat butt off the kitchen chair where he had been sleeping when I went downstairs, only to move the short distance to my office in my absence to sleep under the table, exactly to where the last ray of sunshine was falling, caressing his tummy — his eyes closed in great pleasure. Words failed me at the sight, but a chuckle did escape me.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you this week and give you rest, and perhaps a ray of sunshine on your tummy.

Perspective

Vantage PointI love to photograph fields: be they the first green of spring, the wheat, barley, and rye fields of summer, the stubble of fall fields, or the barren frozen ground of winter, before the earth thaws again.

One of the things I learned a long time ago in one of my photography classes, is that from a camera perspective, a “bugs eye view” can sometimes be very interesting. Alternately, squatting down and taking a child’s point of view is fun too. We tend to forget what is at that eye level — it can open up new fields of vision.

As you may notice, the bug pictured here above, apparently wasn’t content with his “bugs eye view” perspective. On the contrary, he may have been inspired that day to take our point of view. Quite adept at climbing too, if I may impart my opinion on his feat.

May your perspective be heavenly this week.