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The seasons turned into years. Where have I been? What was I doing? And why have I neglected this blog?

I was writing a book, and writing the book demanded all of my attention. It’s been a labor of love and I’m delighted to report that I finally finished the manuscript. I’m savoring a quiet summer day and wanted to share my happy news before beginning the daunting process of finding its agent and / or publisher.

When I sat down to write this book, I thought about the people who yearn for something more. People who might have explored spiritual practices, such as meditation and yoga, but continue searching for that missing something. I used to be one of those people … until I forged my path to the sacred by engaging with nature.

Today, as I left my apartment to go outside for a walk, I stopped to admire owl sculptures that sit on top of a cabinet positioned in an alcove beside our door. My mother made those owls. She loved working with clay, and created owls perched on driftwood, large standing owls, and owl plaques that hang on walls. Her varied stoneware creations often included natural elements, but she was particularly fascinated with owls.

Among other things, my book suggests that following our fascinations can lead to spiritual practices that work for us. I wish I’d asked about Mother’s owl fascination while she was alive.

Survivor Tree


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When we moved from Harmony Farm, I retired from my psychology practice along with other professional commitments. I opened my heart to new opportunities and interests.

After settling into my new home, I began roaming Fox Hill’s woods. While walking along a newly formed trail, my attention was drawn to a couple of special trees. One tree I immediately named “Survivor Tree” because of its amazing root formation.

Survivor Tree stands near the crest of a small hill and reaches majestically toward the sky. Its gnarled roots twist and turn; they rise from the ground, travel around and over large and small rocks, then bend into the hill before rising upward to form the trunk. Its roots tell the story of a young sapling struggling to survive: growing around and over immovable obstacles blocking its path, then finally establishing enough of a base to support upward growth.

On daily walks through the woods, I developed the habit of greeting my special trees by name. Inspired by their presences, I touched them, walked around them and communed with them. I offered thanks for their gifts—of oxygen, shelter, shade, food. And I sang songs of gratitude for their lessons.

One season moved into the next. It happened gradually, but I suddenly realized that I thought of my parents each time I passed Survivor Tree. It reminded me of them–my parents’ ability to stay rooted and continue to grow despite daunting obstacles in their path. It also reminded me of their unconditional love.

Around New Year’s Day, I stopped and listened more closely to Survivor Tree. I felt its seed calling from deep inside my heart. Having lain dormant for many years, this seed now asked to be nourished, nurtured and encouraged to grow. Tuning into its call, I realized that Survivor Seed contains a manuscript I wrote while my parents were alive.

The manuscript told the story of my parents’ escape from Hitler-occupied Czechoslovakia—their homeland. While Mother read what I had written and patiently corrected my spelling of names and places from their past, she preferred that I not pursue having it published. At the time, I honored her request.

Now, twenty five years later, Survivor Tree reminds me of that long ago manuscript and my intention to eventually publish it as a book. It will need much revising, but if I help Survivor Seed grow it might reach up toward the sky and branch out to form a book.

Witch Hazel


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Upon moving to Harmony Farm, I bought guides for identifying the land’s wild vegetation. During rambles over fields and through woods, I became familiar with the green world living there. I learned the names of many species and, over time, their medicinal uses.

When I first met Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), I was struck by her beauty and the timing of her flowering. During October her leaves turned vibrant yellow and the woods grew awash with her brilliant color. Then, as fall progressed, she dropped her leaves to display delicate yellow flowers along her boughs.

As time moved on, I learned the rhythms of Harmony Farm’s year and lived the cycles of her seasons. I looked forward to Witch Hazel’s burst of glory occurring while the land prepared to enter winter’s hibernation. This happened around Halloween in Medfield, MA.

Witch Hazel’s tendency to flower during late fall, even into early winter, endeared her to me. By bursting into flower at the end of a cycle, I felt reassured that my elder years could be a time of blossoming and spiritual growth.

Our move to Fox Hill Village took place during early January. Looking out the window one late February morning, a brilliantly flowering shrub caught my eye. Due to its yellow blossoms, I assumed the shrub to be forsythia and bemoaned the effects of global warming, for forsythia usually blooms in early spring. A fellow resident corrected my misconception, identifying the flowers as belonging to Witch Hazel. At first I refused to believe him, but further investigation revealed this Witch Hazel to be an oriental variety that blooms in the midst of winter.

Having moved into our new home, I began acquainting myself with Fox Hill’s woods. As I rambled around this new territory, I discovered native Witch Hazel growing here too. Recognizing an old friend, I watched as she sprouted leaves in spring and when summer moved into fall, I eagerly anticipated her time of blossoming.

Her leaves turned yellow and still cling to her limbs. As I take my walk each day, I now study her closely, searching for signs of flowers yet to come.

Halloween nears and this will be my first time participating in Fox Hill’s yearly celebration, a costume party. I decided to adorn myself in Witch Hazel garb – her leaves and, hopefully, flowers too.

As I celebrate beginning the last phase of life, I look forward to my own blossoming. I eagerly anticipate a season of spiritual growth and flowering.

Nature’s Fury


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Howe’s Beach (Dennis) during Tropical Storm José

Day 1:

Wild ‘n Wooly
Wind Howling
Waves Pounding
Rain Pelting

Day 2:

Ocean Churning
Bubbling,  Boiling
Seagulls  Struggling
Soaring high above

Day 3:

Grey sky, Grey sea
Rolling in, rolling out
White capped waves
Rolling in, rolling out
Froth forming, Foaming
Rolling in, rolling out


José moved away
With sky still grey
Surf still pounding
Rolling in, rolling out




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Bill and I planned to live out our lives on Harmony Farm. When we contracted for long term care insurance, we insisted that it cover in-home care. We built a separate building, “the studio”, with our elder years in mind and even investigated whether it might be possible to be buried on our property.

I cherished living in harmony with the seasons. During summer months we slept with windows open, falling asleep to night-time sounds of owls hooting and awakening to our rooster’s loud crowing. We gardened, swam in the pond, walked in the woods, gathered herbs, picked fruit and harvested food. As weather cooled, we moved more inside, yet stayed connected to nature by eating food reaped from our gardens and continuing to care for the land.

As yearly cycles progressed and I anticipated turning 70, I began re-thinking our earlier plan. While Harmony Farm’s natural setting served us well during years of vibrant health and boundless energy, our bodies’ creaks and groans had become increasingly louder. Activities such as chain-sawing fallen trees and shoveling snow had once felt deeply satisfying. We enjoyed the physical work and felt smug about our useful accomplishments. Now inner wisdom screamed “caution,” warning of their price.

It took a while, but we finally admitted that we no longer thrived on the challenges of caring for our land. Swallowing our pride, we hired others to plow the driveway, shovel the snow and handle heavier jobs on the farm.

Concurrently, I began realizing that while the solitude of our home provided respite from the hectic pace of modern life, its isolation might prove too lonely in the years ahead. On my walks through the woods and while sitting by the pond, I reflected on what the future might bring and opened my heart to the possibility of change.

On one of my daily walks, I stopped, breathed in the earth-pine smells and looked around. I noticed abundant ferns growing on both sides of the trodden path beneath the canopy of trees. Light filtered down, nourishing the green world and me.

All of a sudden, a thought flashed into my mind. Like plants and trees, whose roots support and interconnect with one another, I need to live in community during my elder years.

Stunned by the enormity of this idea, I sank to a nearby log. And sat. Just sat.

Enveloped by the aroma of mossy dirt, I contemplated what this change would mean. Moving away from Harmony Farm – could I bear to separate from this beloved land? Adopting a different life style – what might that look like? Downsizing – how to choose what to keep and what to release?

Waves of emotion coursed through my body. The idea of moving, and what that would entail, hit me like a rock. Filled with panic, my heart thumped rapidly

Searching for safety, I hunkered down further to feel the solidity of the log beneath my buttocks and legs. Supported by the log, I focused on my breath, consciously breathing in and out, in and out, in and out.   After quite a while, the surges of feelings slowed, then stilled.

I calmed and decided to tap into the earth below my feet. Sending tendrils of awareness down, I sensed the vast network of mushroom mycelia running underground – between roots and rocks, hither and yon, connecting plant to plant, tree to tree, spreading out like a spider’s web, reaching far and wide.

Reassured by the reminder of interconnectedness, I realized that no matter where I live I would remain connected to Harmony Farm. And wherever I go, I will always be able to connect with nature.

I finally roused myself and slowly walked toward home along the woodsy trail. Passing the pond, I again felt pangs of what would be missed if we were to pull up roots and move. Yet as I watched the water trickle and bubble its way downstream, I considered entering life’s current and seeing where its flow might take me. Anticipating what living in community might bring, a tinge of excitement sparkled deep within.

Returning home, I decided to wait a few days before discussing my insight with Bill. I sat with my feelings and imagined living in close proximity with other people. What might that feel like? Where might that be? What kind of community?

Ideas percolated, feelings bubbled and then I checked in with my gut. Yes, it felt “right.”

When I shared my thoughts with Bill, he initially refused to consider moving from Harmony Farm. Over time, he gradually opened his heart to embrace the wisdom of living cooperatively with others. And so began our next chapter.


Moving On


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Fall’s energy invites us to let go of the old to make room for the new.  And so, during fall, I set my intention to release my ties to Harmony Farm.  I had been gradually separating myself, but the commitment to move on required that I sever the ties more completely.

The land let me know that it was ready.  One day, while taking my meditative walk, I stopped in surprise for a huge branch blocked my path.  I had intended to go up the hill to a ceremonial place – the area where I frequently offered prayers.  Knowing that the branch hadn’t been there the day before, I stood for a while and tuned into its message.

The land blocked my path – clearly telling me to stop my daily ritual of walking up the hill.  I asked for permission to go there this one last time, to say “farewell.”  Sensing that this might be alright, I bent down to see if I could push the branch out of my way.  The branch yielded to my touch, I pushed it aside and slowly trod up the hill.

Arriving at the top, I offered a prayer of deep gratitude.  Thanking the land for the ways it nurtured us over many years, imparting its teachings and helping us to grow.  As I walked down the hill, I felt Harmony Farm release me from its grasp.


Winter’s energy invites us to retreat within, to dig down deep, to rest, to renew and to dream.  So, during winter, I swam in the dark and dreamed big dreams.  I dreamt of the family who would answer Harmony Farm’s call.

During winter, Bill and I gradually moved into our apartment at Fox Hill Village.  This meant going back and forth between our new home and our old.  While I had intended to continue walking along Harmony Farm’s trails, the woods outside my new home beckoned and I began exploring their terrain.  I discovered an abandoned trail, put pruning shears to use and began creating a hiking path.  My heart expanded to embrace Fox Hill’s land.  And as I walked along the trail, I sensed new dreams bubbling beneath frozen earth.


Seeds germinate during spring – the time of rebirth, reawakening.  During spring, seeds sprouted and a lovely young couple answered Harmony Farm’s call.  They offered to become its future owners / caretakers.

Spring cleaning ensured, for we needed to finish clearing out stuff we had accumulated during 37 years of living on Harmony Farm.

As with every season, Spring’s polar opposite – Fall – kicked in.  We released more and more of the old, while opening to the new.


The Power of Place


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Harmony Farm

In Medfield, a small suburban town 45 minutes from Boston, you spot the Harmony Farm sign hanging from a tree and know you have arrived.  Turning into the driveway, you hear the wheels humming a different tune as they move from harsh black macadam to gentle gravel. The sound of cars fades into the distance.

The car slows its pace as you travel along the gently winding road. You unconsciously let down your guard, breathing out a sigh, letting anxiety dissipate, worry and stress gently release.

Harmony Farm - Shore, Tragakis family reunion, August 2005

Looking to your right, you watch a few sheep and a donkey contentedly grazing in the verdant green meadow. After a while you cross a bubbling stream and begin to notice a profound shift happening inside you. A change in energy, something magical is happening. As if you’re journeying to another time, a sacred space.

You continue following the road, passing a barn, then what looks to be a residence on your right. The road leads ahead, then bends to the right and you chance upon a building nestled inside a circle of tall pine trees.

This must be it, you think, as you park your car and enter the building. You’re here for a workshop sponsored by the non-profit, Harmony Center. Upon entering the building, you notice herbs hanging from beams above, then stop and stare ahead, awed by a high ceilinged octagonal room, three sides of which are glass.

Resuming your slow pace, you move toward the windows and breathe in the scene outside. Woods slope gently down ahead, a pond to the right and stunning flowers demand your attention.

You open to the peace and tranquility of this place.Foxglove outside Harmony Center


Wherever we are, we attune to our surroundings. The energy of place seeps inside us. This happens beneath the surface, outside conscious awareness. The vibrations around us affect every level of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Where we live and where we work affects us more than we may realize. It happens very gradually, almost imperceptibly.

Natural environments affect us differently from citified ones. We know this intuitively. If we live and / or work confined by concrete, we yearn for the healing energy of natural settings.

Tuning In

Your Harmony Center workshop includes experiential exercises held outside. The group walks slowly down a grassy path, arriving at a pristine pond. You watch sparkles of light dance upon the water as sunbeams play on its gently rippling surface. Birdsong fills the air and winged beings flit here and there.  You absorb the sound of water cascading over rocks below and open to sense water flowing through your veins, enlivening every cell in your body.


A reflection floats through your mind, “This land soothes my soul and pulls on my heart strings.

After crossing the dam, you walk along trails through untamed woods. Your feet feel earth moving up to greet each and every step. The softness of moss, smell of earth, vibrant colors of trees – your senses awaken and absorb sensation.


When the workshop ends, your car wends its way back along the driveway. Reflecting on your experience, you realize that something has shifted deep inside. You feel peaceful and serene, more connected to yourself and at one with the world. “How could this happen,” you wonder, “Is it this place?”

Turning onto the black-topped road, you enter the flow of traffic. You hold onto your sense of wellbeing, storing it deep within your heart.

Such is the power of place.


Note: All the above photos were taken on Harmony Farm, Medfield, MA.

Dare to Dream: Harmony Farm


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We Had A Dream.

Over 35 years ago, we fell in love with 23 beautiful acres in Medfield, MA. A bubbling stream ran through the property. It fed a private pond and excited our imaginations. We dreamt of living there, in harmony with nature, and gave this dream a name – Harmony Farm.

Building the Dream

After purchasing the land, we began the process of manifesting our dream. Wanting to experience nature as much as possible from inside our home, we designed it with large expanses of glass facing south, which had the added benefit of passive solar energy gains. We built the house overlooking the pond. . A barn for some sheep and a donkey, then a coop for chickens came next.


While erecting these buildings changed the land, we tried to do so in an earth-friendly manner. Most of the property remained as we found it, with trails meandering through untamed woods and open fields for a grazing and planting. And when planting and tending gardens, we did so organically, without sprays or chemicals.

 Living the Dream

We enjoyed living in harmony with the land. We drank pure water from our deep private well and ate many of our meals from the garden. Our huge vegetable garden grew various types of tomatoes, corn, carrots, peas, green beans, cabbage, potatoes – to name just a few. We also cultivated medicinal herbs and gathered others from the wild. The land generously produced wild fruits: blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, and more. Our breakfasts included eggs lain that morning by happy hens who spend time outside. Nothing can compare with the taste and nutritional value of truly fresh food.

Seasons were no longer marked by pages turned on a calendar. We lived them, experienced them in every cell of our bodies. We ate asparagus in the spring along with the power-filled herb, nettles. During winter we reaped the benefits of our labor in the gardens, eating stored food from our huge freezer and cold storage room.

trail-022No matter what the season, we spent time each day outside. Nature surrounded us during strolls down the winding driveway to pick up the mail, invigorating walks through vibrant woods, and meditative moments sitting by the pond. During spring, summer, and fall we often ate outside, listening to birdsong, inhaling the sights around us. We also swam in the pond – a delightful sensory experience.

Something important happened during the years that we’ve lived on this sacred land. It happened gradually, almost imperceptibly. We began feeling whole, more complete, more peaceful and serene. Harmony Farm had slowly, but surely, changed us. We attributed these changes to the healing benefits of our connection with the natural world.

Sharing the Dream

Full of gratitude for the abundance of our holistic haven, we expanded our hearts to further grow our dream. We decided to share our good fortune with others, give them the opportunity to experience Harmony Farm’s healing properties. We founded Harmony Center, a non-profit corporation, and built a separate building.

The new building provides the ideal setting for experiential workshops and classes. People gather inside an octagonal room with views of nature visible through large expanses of glass. Two bathrooms and another multipurpose room add to its versatility. Harmony Center offers programs that facilitate physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in this remarkable setting.

Whether someone comes for two hours or the day, it feels like a mini retreat. Upon turning into our driveway, people leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. Worry and stress release as people open to the tranquility of this place. They leave feeling refreshed and renewed – at peace with themselves, at one with the world.

Dreaming Anew

As we moved into our elder years, we recognized that it was time for us to move on, to release old dreams and make room for the new. While this was happening, Harmony Farm began dreaming of new owner(s) / caretaker(s).

A lovely young couple heard Harmony Farm’s call.  These like minded souls will now care for it, love it, help it to thrive.

They dare to dream!



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We humans alter the Earth to suit our needs.  We impact our environment, often with little thought to long term consequences.

I’ve been blessed to live on 23 beautiful acres.  Harmony Farm’s pond, stream, woods, and fields have impacted every aspect of my being.  Admittedly, we changed the land by building a house, a barn and a studio, but we tried to do so in an earth-friendly manner.  When planting and tending gardens, we did so organically.

While living on this small slice of nature, I spent time each day outside.  My activity depended on the season.  I walked trails through the woods almost every day and when snow covered the ground I did so with snowshoes.  During spring summer and fall, I ate breakfast by the  pond listening to birdsong, inhaling the sights around me.  I also frequently swam in the pond – a delightful sensory experience.


Something important happened during the 36 years that I’ve lived on this land.  I changed.  It happened gradually, almost imperceptibly.  By spending time outside each day, I began feeling whole, more complete.  More peaceful and serene.

The land changed me.

Giving Thanks


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Thanksgiving Day invites us to focus on gratitude and to give thanks for all that we have in our lives.  It reminds us to practice gratitude, not merely this one day of the year, but each and every day of our lives.

Opening to gratitude shifts our perspective and brings joy into our hears.  Spiritual traditions teach us to practice gratitude by devoting time each day to give thanks for the blessings in our lives.  It’s useful to do this after waking each morning and also later in the evening before going to sleep.  Practicing gratitude not only changes our individual lives, this attitude radiates to others, shifts their experience, and continues reverberating outward.

And so I invite you to cultivate the habit of gratitude.  Start on Thanksgiving day, then bring this practice into your daily life.  We’ll be practicing together.


Changing Seasons


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This summer I turned 70 and the occasion brought with it many reflections.  I found myself wanting to take life easier and decided not to push myself so hard to do the things I “should” do.

As I focused on what I wanted to do, I ended up spending more time outdoors and less at the computer.  Days moved into weeks, and weeks into months.  In the process, I neglected this blog.

Summer has moved into fall.  I’m beginning to spend more time inside.  As I enjoy the process of putting thoughts into words and sharing them with others, I plan to resume writing this blog.  Recognizing, though, that my posts will be less frequent, I decided not to renew the website.  This means that this blog will soon revert to:

I hope you will continue following this blog and responding to my posts.  I look forward to sharing the changes ahead as I move through this season of life. 



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Spring bursts forth with gay abandon.  Birds sing, leaves expand, flowers open and chickens lay eggs.  Palpable energy fills the air.

Each day brings new surprises.  The land grows greener by leaps and bounds.

Green Energy

With sun shining brightly, I’m pulled outdoors.  While my eyes inhale vibrant color, my feet dance in rhythm with spring-time energy.  Sensing the energy that surrounds me, I delight in this time of the year.

Upon returning inside, I sit at the computer and find myself reflecting on Harmony Center’s spring workshops.  With no intent on my part, they each ended up focusing on energy.  Though different in focus, their main themes revolve around energy.

So what, actually, is energy?

Great minds have pondered this question for ages.  It addresses the Great Mystery of Life, with both science and religion seeking to answer the question.  In some ways it is the arena where science and religion intersect.

Energy involves the activity of the electromagnetic field around and within all living beings.  This energy connects all of creation, forming the inter-relatedness of all beings.   It can be measured, physically sensed and some people even see this energy.

While most people have times when we pick up energy vibrations, for we talk about experiencing “good vibes” when in the presence of certain people or places, we often don’t trust this information or know how to tune into it on a consistent basis.  For most of us, tuning into energy is an undeveloped skill.

So I’m looking forward to Harmony Center’s next workshop, “Opening to the Energy Field” on June 8th from 1pm to 5pm.  I expect to learn more about energy and further develop my ability to sense it.  Maybe I’ll even get to see it.

Sap Rising


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I sit in my kitchen sipping maple sap, staring at the landscape constantly transforming before my eyes while contemplating the spring equinox.  During the past few weeks, I’ve experienced warm weather melting the blizzard’s huge snowfall, followed by a snowy weekend surprise totaling around 17”.  Again the snow melted, bare ground appeared, only to disappear yet again under another white blanket.

Winter never moves directly into spring.  Seasons spiral in and out as we gradually cycle from one to the next.  Longer days and shorter nights herald the coming of spring. 

Day and night are of equal length at the spring equinox, which marks the official start of spring.  As I do each year before the spring equinox, I cut some forsythia branches last week, brought them into the house and placed them in a vase with water.  Their forced yellow blooms now sit atop a counter in my kitchen – a tribute to spring.    

Prior to the spring equinox, we also gather maple sap from trees on our property.  The sap can be boiled down to create maple syrup.  Many years ago we once took on this project, only to realize its huge labor intensive and sap consuming nature.  Many, many gallons of sap reduced to one tiny container of syrup.

Maple Tap

Our sap gathering equipment gathered dust in the barn until I learned about a traditional practice of drinking the sap without boiling it down.  Consumed in this manner, maple sap is considered a spring tonic.  Full of minerals, and other healing properties, tree sap helps us move out of the winter doldrums and experience the energy of sap rising within.

Although Earth’s energy re-awakens with spring, winter’s lethargy still pervades my body, weighing me down and refusing to release her grip.  As I sip on hot maple sap, I invite the energy of spring to enter my body.  May I feel sap rise within me. 



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On the day of the impending blizzard, I took my usual walk in the woods.  Snow drifted down lazily around me as I put one foot in front of the other and connected with the land around me. 

Arriving in my sacred prayer area, I stood for a while surveying the scenery.  My heart expanded to include each tree, each rock, and each place my eyes touched.   I felt filled with love.

I began speaking out loud.  “Dear Spirit, please protect all of us during the coming blizzard.  Protect the birds, including Blue Jay who sat on the branch outside my bathroom window this morning, from the danger coming our way.  Protect all the wild beings, including gentle Doe who recently visited this area.  Help all who are in the path of the storm find shelter and stay safe.”

I continued praying, “Please guide each snowflake to pass between the tree branches and pine needles.  Help the trees sway and bend with the wind.”  

My prayers became more specific as I asked for protection for my family and friends, for our chickens and sheep, for Star our donkey, for Kali our dog, for Pizzaz our cat, for our home, for Harmony Center, and for all of Harmony Farm.

I prayed, and prayed some more.  Then stood in silence, listening, sensing, feeling.

Deep inside I felt reassured.  I couldn’t say how I knew, but I felt everything would be all right.

As the day progressed, I watched snow pile up and heard wind blow.  When I went over to Harmony Center during the evening, I noticed that our driveway had already been plowed.  I said a mental “thank you” to John for being out in the storm, for taking good care of people like ourselves.

Snowy Scene

Later at night I lay in bed, listening to wind howling around our house.  Snuggled cozily inside my bed, I felt safe and warm.  As I drifted into sleep, I felt deep gratitude for the unsung heroes out braving the storm keeping us safe, plowing, repairing electric lines, answering emergency calls, clearing railroad tracks, etc. etc. 

I prayed for their protection and sent them love. 



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The other day I received an e-mail from a friend.  After informing me that her husband had been hospitalized with pneumonia shortly after contracting the flu, she asked that I hold him in my thoughts and pray for his recovery.  

Later that morning I took my usual walk in the woods, which includes visiting a special area on a small hill where I say daily prayers.  I stood for a while in this sacred area, holding Paul in my heart and sending him love and healing energy.  I then vocalized a prayer out loud, asking Spirit to help my both friend and her husband.

Upon finishing my prayers, I immediately sensed a presence on my left.  Looking over, I spotted a beautiful doe looking at me intently.  Again I spoke aloud, though this time I spoke with her and asked her not to be afraid. 

Usually deer run the minute they hear my voice or the sound of my footsteps.  Instead, she remained standing while I moved slowly to another rocky area nearby where I usually say a few more prayers.

Doe on Hill

Looking at Doe, I thanked her for her gentle energy and asked her to send love and healing to my friend and her husband.

Doe and I continued to commune with one another.  I felt her radiating kindhearted gentleness.  She even appeared to pose while I took her photograph. 

When our time together was up, we slowly moved in different directions.  I felt Doe’s gentle energy reverberating inside me throughout the remainder of my walk.

Paul returned home from the hospital and continues to recover.  While allopathic antibiotics helped kill the bugs., Doe’s gentle, loving energy assisted his healing process. 

Thank you dear Doe!  



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I sit in my kitchen looking out at the wintry landscape.   A blanket of snow covers the earth, protecting it from blustery cold air.  Barren trees shift gently in the wind.  The sun hangs low in the sky; its rays readily pass through the glass to brighten the room. 

Winter Scene

Nestled inside my home, protected from winter’s elements, I feel cozy and safe.  Even though I still take my daily walk in the woods, I hunker down during this time of the year. 

Like bears who hibernate during winter months, our rhythms similarly slow during this season.  We feel inclined to curl up by the fire and read a book or simply day-dream. 

Winter prods us to take time for reflection, for inner composting and rejuvenation.  If we nourish our deeper selves during winter’s cold months, we emerge in spring feeling rested and renewed, with energy for manifestation. 

Despite these natural inclinations, we often expect ourselves to continue rushing around – doing, doing, doing.  I believe that we pay a price for this behavior.  We deplete our inner energy reserves. 

This winter I intend to align with the energy of winter.  I plan to slow down and retreat inside – inside my home as well as inside myself.  I aim to embrace each moment and be.  



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At this year’s Winter Solstice, our sun will align with the middle of the galactic birth canal, the dark rift very close to the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.  Much has been written about this galactic event, and its initiation of a new era.

The Mayans predicted that this year’s Winter Solstice would end a 26,000 year planetary cycle.  A decaying, corrupted cycle of human activity would end.  Some understand that this ending could initiate a world where people live in harmony with each other and all of Earth.

Galactic AlignmentAccording to some teachings, the Galactic Alignment will open the door to a higher vibrational energy, enabling a shift of consciousness into a heart-centered way of being.  But there are no guarantees of what will happen.  The time is now, and it is up to us.

I believe that we incarnated at this important time because we each have a mission, a soul’s purpose for being here.  We are here to help birth this time of wholeness and living in harmony.  Each of us brings talents and gifts that will contribute to this process in some way.

On December 21st, at 6:12am, E.S.T. – the exact time of the Winter Solstice – our sun will align with the center of our galaxy.  Let us align with this energy by opening our hearts and setting our communal intention to help birth the time of wholeness and harmony for all beings.

The time is now.  It depends on us.

Making Stone Soup


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One of my favorite spiritual practices involves participating in ceremonies that honor the wheel of the year, the seasonal cycle from winter through spring, to summer then fall.  By aligning with the energy of each season, these ceremonies help me stay in balance.  They also support my spiritual growth.

The ceremonies take place at important junctions in our seasonal cycle, the beginning of each season, which is determined by the length of night and day.  Winter Solstice, the beginning of winter, takes place on the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Winter Solstice ceremonies welcome this darker time of the year, the time when we retreat inside to hibernate.   Winter is our time for reflection, for inner composting and rejuvenation.  Like bears who hibernate, our rhythms similarly slow.  If we rest and nourish ourselves during winter, we emerge in spring feling renewed, with energy for manifestation.

A few friends joined me recently to plan our group’s Winter Solstice ceremony.  One woman had just returned from a trip visiting Peru’s sacred sites.  As she shared some of her experiences, her words sparked a vague memory of a book I once read. 

I wandered to the nearby book shelf, surveyed titles, and my eyes fixated on “Masters of the Living Energy: The Mystical World of the Q’ero of Peru” by Joan Wilcox.  Grabbing hold of the book, I handed it to my friend who located a photograph of the ceremony she had been describing.

We then explored the coming Galactic Alignment anticipated by the Mayans and other indigenous peoples.  Ancient prophesies foretold that this Winter Solstice’s Galactic Alignment would herald an era of spiritual development, with consciousness potentially evolving to enable peaceful, harmonious co-existence with each other and all of nature.

Focusing on the ceremony, we brainstormed in many directions, from Peru to Mexico, from earth to sky and from intent to gratitude.  Our spiraling journey eventually gravitated toward a ritual involving stones.  One of our activities would include narrating the Stone Soup Story and then making Stone Soup.

While many versions of the Stone Soup Story exist, the central theme remains the same.  In a nutshell, here’s the story:

A stranger arrives in a town where the people are hoarding food because of a famine in the area.  When they let him know they have no food to share, the stranger pulls out a pot, fills it with water, builds a fire under the pot, adds a “magical stone” to the water, and declares he will share his delicious stone soup with everyone.  Then the stranger begs for just a little vegetable to add to the pot, to make it truly tasty.  One by one the villagers respond to his pleas and contribute to the pot, until a truly nourishing meal gets created – which they all share.

This story describes how our ceremony came together.  We each contributed ideas to the pot.  It cooked and a nourishing ritual emerged.

Making Stone Soup

After my friends departed, I left Joan Wilcox’s book on the kitchen table.  A few days later, I sat at the computer trying to put the ritual on paper.  Stumbling to find words that would adequately describe the Galactic Alignment, I searched the web to learn more about this anticipated event.

A few hours later, though bleary eyed and hungry, I finally had a sense of the astronomy involved.  Deciding to give myself a break, I went downstairs for a snack.  Sitting at the kitchen table with my bowl of muesli, I idly picked up Joan Wilcox’s book and leafed through it.

My fingers stopped at a page with the caption subtitle, “Andean Prophesy of Spiritual Evolution.”  Reading what lay below, I was amazed to discover information relevant to our ceremony.  This information asserted that we humans will need to work together, in a collective manner, to facilitate the shift in consciousness.

“Aha” I thought, “the prophesied shift in consciousness will require us to make Stone Soup.  Our talents may be different, our interests diverse, but if we pool our resources we can help create a better world.”

Yes!  We’ll prepare Stone Soup.


The Great Turning


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People prefer not to think about the fact that we’re destroying our life support system.  Feeling helpless and scared, we protect ourselves from the awareness that we’re nearing a planetary tipping point, a point of no return for human life as we know it on Earth.  This deadening of awareness prevents us from acting in ways that could create a better world, a world where people live in harmony with each other and all of Earth.

Joanna Macy, an Earth activist and Buddhist scholar, proposes that active hope might enable the shift she refers to as “The Great Turning.”  While she recognizes that our industrial growth society depends on the ever-increasing consumption of Earth’s resources, with corresponding ever-increasing waste products which get dumped into, around, and on our Earth, she considers this to be an extraordinary time in human history – with the potential to move from an industrial growth society to a life sustaining one.

In her “work that reconnects”, Joanna guides people to acknowledge their pain for Earth and to open awareness.  She invites us to release the false sense of separateness and to experience ourselves as interconnected, part of the web of life, members of Earth’s community.

The Great Turning requires that we take responsibility for what is happening on Earth.  This entails releasing old structures and enabling life sustaining ways of being to emerge.  It involves creating a new world.

In this new world, partnership and cooperation will replace competition and strife, empathy and compassion will replace hostility and aggression, generosity and sharing will replace selfishness and greed, and the power of love will replace the power of force.  We will move away from striving toward perfection and aim to grow into wholeness.   Rather than disconnection and separateness, we will experience ourselves as integral members of the web of life.

Holding hope for the future, let us join together and help create this better world.  

Learning from Sandy


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Heeding warnings of Hurricane Sandy’s impending arrival in Massachusetts, we battened down the hatches as much as possible.  I carried outdoor chairs into the basement, watering cans into the garage, and cushions into the attic.  Bill dealt with heavier items, turning over the picnic table and benches.

We waited anxiously, aware of the wind picking up steam, watching leaves swirling on the ground and trees swaying to and fro.  Standing inside Harmony Center, I gazed through glass windows at the rock cairns outside.  They looked like sentinels standing guard around the building.  I felt them offering strength and protection, along with an ability to ground swirling energy.  I found their demeanor reassuring.

I sent prayers to the trees, asking them to hold on tight with their roots, release their leaves and allow the wind to flow freely through their branches.

Focusing on Sandy, I sent peaceful loving energy her way.  I asked her to be gentle, to let go of anger, and to be kind to all the innocent beings in her path.

I apologized to Gaia, our planet Earth, for all the abuse we humans have wrought – for the ways we’ve taken her for granted while polluting her sacred waters, air and earth.  I begged for her forgiveness.

As Sandy neared the east coast, I went for a walk in the woods.  Watching the trees bend and sway, I asked them to hang in there, to go with the flowing wind, not fight it.  Arriving in an area I consider sacred, I sent more prayers to Sandy, to trees, to all of Earth’s elements.  I fervently hoped that life would be spared.

Wind howled, rain fell, and so did some trees.  We were fortunate, for the trees along our driveway and around the buildings withstood the storm quite well.  They released some branches and leaves, but avoided hitting the power line and buildings.

Yes, we lost power for a while, but not for too long.  Others were not as fortunate.  Ocean water rose up, flooding areas of New Jersey and New York.  Raging wind fueled fires and devastated communities.

After the wind calmed and rain abated, I prayed for healing.

On subsequent walks in the woods, I observed Sandy’s damage and wondered about the message.  What can we learn?

I notice that oak trees sustained the most damage, especially those with leaves still attached.  Their roots held firm, but their trunk snapped.  Mulling this over, I infer that these trees were too rigid.  Rather than bend in the breeze, they stood straight and tall.   I take this as a lesson – there is strength in flexibility.

Looking at fallen boughs resplendent with brown leaves, I wonder why these particular oaks held on so tightly to their leaves.   They wouldn’t let go.  If they had, perhaps the wind would have flowed through their branches more easily.

Knowing the difficulty I have parting with clothes I rarely wear, I recognize another lesson.  I must learn to let go, to release what no longer serves me.  Taking this insight further, I recognize the freedom that comes with paring down one’s life.  If I let go of irrelevant stuff – whether material possessions, compulsive behaviors or distracting thoughts – I can then focus more fully on what is truly important, more relevant to life.

Most importantly, Sandy sent a message from our planet.

We humans need to shift our relationship with Earth.   We need to recognize that we depend on her for every aspect of our lives: for the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe.  Instead of abusing her, we need to value her, protect her, care for her.   We must end global warming.

Let us heed Sandy’s warnings and learn her lessons.  The time is now.  It is up to us!

Circle of Stones


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Many years ago I read “A Circle of Stones” by Judith Duerk.  The repetitive “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you, a place for you to go to be with…” evoked a sense of longing in me.  It spoke to the need for women to gather in community, to share their stories with each other, and to support each other’s journey to wholeness. 

“What if there was a place…”  “What if there was a place…”  This phrase rooted itself in my heart, silently waiting for the right time to echo forth.  On walks in the woods, I felt the land offering to be that place … a place where people could commune with nature, connect with each other, and help each other to grow.  “How might that happen?” I wondered to myself, as well as the land. 

Year after year, “How might that happen?” continued surfacing in my mind.  Then my parents died.  After my sadness abated, which took a couple of years, I realized that the money they left might just cover the expenses of erecting a building.  But in order for it to be built, a large and stately pine tree would need to be chopped down. 

My husband and I debated about Grandmother Pine.  She felt sacred.  We wanted her to stay.  Yet forced to choose between the building and the pine tree, we ultimately opted for the building – with one condition.  Grandmother Pine’s stump would need to stay.  I wanted Grandmother Pine to be remembered. 

While the building was under construction, a fluorescent yellow ribbon with the word “CAUTION” circled the stump, alerting all contractors to exercise care when navigating machinery in the area.  I removed the ribbon once Harmony Center came into being.  

I thought of the stump as an altar, and sometimes placed ceremonial objects either on her or around her.  For the most part, however, Grandmother Pine’s memorial remained undecorated.  This summer, when Foxglove surrounded her with loving energy, it felt as if they were honoring Grandmother Pine.

At this year’s Fall Equinox, I placed a sunflower at her base.  Then recently, I stood contemplating her flat top, asking how she might like to be honored, and suddenly thought, “A Circle of Stones!  Grandmother Pine gave her life so we could have that place, a place to gather in community.  A circle of stones would honor the sacrifice she made.”  And with this thought an image came to mind – a circle of stones around a rock cairn on top of the stump.   

I walked around, gathering stones from various places on the land.  As always, I checked in with each stone, making sure it wanted to be part of this altar.  Then I placed larger ones in the middle creating the cairn, and around the cairn a circle of stones. 

Completing my mission, I stood back to take a look.  I saw the cairn as a new being growing up from the center of the stump.  And around this being, a stone circle creating sacred space within which this being can grow. 

“What if there was a place…”  “What if there was a place….”

Thanks to Grandmother Pine, we now have that place, a place where people gather in community–Harmony Center. 

Mixed Blessing


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In my previous blog, I wrote about the joy of discovering our guinea hen with her newly hatched brood of keets and my excitment about how all the adults were caretaking the babies (see Cooperative Edge?).  I hoped to watch the tiny, adorable little beings develop into full-grown birds. 

When I first noticed Mother Hen with her babies, I spotted at least 15 keets.  I had difficulty counting as sometimes they were underneath one guinea fowl, then moved to another.  And when they were out-from-under, they ran around so rapidly, peeping and chirping as they went, that I had difficulty counting. 

The adult guinea fowl initially hovered over their babies, protecting them from the cold, and moved around very little.  But as day one moved into days two and three, their attentiveness to the baby keets appeared to wane.  While they continued protecting and teaching the keets, their focus turned to foraging for food.  They moved at a faster pace and travelled further before stopping to eat or rest.

I watched tiny little bodies scurrying, trying to keep up with the adults.  They encountered many obstacles that the adults readily walked over.  A small stone became an insurmountable mountain and a twig a hazardous zone that their tiny legs had difficulty negotiating.  But try they did.  The feisty little souls scrambled up and down, running as fast as they could after the adults.  A noisy little bunch, for they peeped, and peeped and peeped.

While the adults still tended their baby keets, they appeared oblivious to the keets’ inability to rapidly negotiate terrain with tiny bodies and fragile state.  I watched in despair as the parents ran ahead, seemingly unconcerned about what was happening behind them and despite a keet’s loud frantic peeps.

At the end of each day, Mother Hen  found what she considered to be a safe place to spend the night and gathered her keets under her there.  Once I located her under a saw horse next to Harmony Center. Other nights I didn’t know where she slept, but she and her brood re-appeared in the morning, sitting outside the guinea house, waiting for her “husband” and other pals to join her.

I thought, “if only Mama would take them into the coop. Then I could lock them all up for a while – keep them safe, give the keets a chance to grow stronger.”  Hoping that she might, praying that she would, I readjusted the ramp into the coop to ensure that the keets could readily walk inside.  Doing everything I could think of to entice Mama inside, I sprinkled food on the ramp and turned on the light.

As one day led into the next, my baby keet count went from 15 to 10, then down to 8.  I found two small bodies sprawled, lifeless on the ground.  Gathering these remnants of once spirited beings, I said a few prayers and buried one white and one speckled inert form.

Day four dawned, and as the day developed, one after another baby keet succumbed.  Finding two little souls struggling after the pack, I picked each one up separately and held him, or her, for a while, thinking that I might warm the probably cold body.  But when I put him / her down, I watched each little body struggle to run, only to fall over, struggle again, and fall yet again.  I realized that they’d each broken a leg, probably caught on a twig, or a rock, or who knows what.

During the afternoon, I buried 2 more bodies, and watched two spirited little beings running through the brush, still managing to keep up with the pack.  At the end of the day, when I went to lock the guinea house, all five adults were there.  But none of their babies.

After all the joy and excitement, I feel deep sorrow, broken hearted.  Such feisty little souls, so full of energy and happy peeps – broken legs, exhaustion, cold – I have no idea how each one perished.  They struggled and suffered.  I hope not too much.

Walking around outside, I miss seeing tiny exuberant bodies scurrying around.  I miss hearing boisterous, happy peeps.  Yet those feisty little keets live on – inside me.

Living on Harmony Farm, experiencing nature’s cycles, carries mixed blessings.  Despite my sorrow, I feel very blessed. 

Cooperative Edge?


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After yet another Lyme disease infection, my husband and I decided to bring guinea fowl onto Harmony Farm.  These attractive birds supposedly eat ticks and we hoped that their presence would reduce our exposure to Lyme.  While we’ll never know what impact they’ve had on the tick population, for we continue to pull the little buggers off our bodies, we enjoy watching guinea fowl run around the land. 

When male cocks compete for a female, the two birds chase each other around a large area, running rapidly with their heads tilted forward, their bodies seemly still, and their feet moving at an amazingly rapid pace.  Round and around they go.  Sometimes they take flight for a while, then resume their on-ground race.  When one catches up with the other, he grabs onto the other one’s feathers, they scuffle a bit, then resume their race until one finally gives up the chase.

The victor wins the coveted hen, which is quite a prize for guinea hens are monogamous.  During mating season, the loyal pair roam around foraging together.  I dubbed one particular couple “Romeo and Juliet.” 

Living where we do, with predators all around, our once-large guinea flock dwindled down to five – one female and four males.  Then one evening, only four males were roosting in their coop when I locked them up for the night.  I worried that the female might have met her demise, but held onto the hope that she might be sitting on eggs somewhere.

Unlike birds who nest in trees, guinea hens lay eggs on the ground.  During summer months, guinea hens will often make a nest, lay an egg in it day after day, and when a suitable number of eggs are there (usually over 30), they “go broody” – which involves sitting on the eggs both day and night with a short break now and then to eat and drink. 

As a broody hen is like a “sitting duck,” she often falls prey to animals and hawks searching for a tasty meal.  And if she hatches her brood, they readily succumb to a variety of fates.  We’ve never had a flock born in the wild survive more than a day or two. 

A couple of weeks ago I saw the guinea hen, and heard her distinctive sound.  “Yea, she’s alive” I thought, “I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”  And when the males dashed out the minute I opened the door to their coop, I assumed they were off to visit the mother-to-be.

Then yesterday, mother hen appeared with her brood.  She was sitting outside the locked-up coop, waiting.  And many tiny little bodies – white ones, speckled ones, various shades of black and white ones – poked out from underneath her body, came out for a minute, then popped back under.  Quite a sight to behold!!

I let the males out of the coop, and something amazing happened.  They gathered around mother hen and sat.  When I returned a little while later, I saw the baby keets moving from under one bird to another, to another.  The males were caretaking the keets, keeping them warm.  And not just papa.  All the males.

In all my years on the farm, I’ve never seen such a cooperative caretaking effort.  The baby keets trusted the males, seemed to already know them.  And the males adjusted their bodies to accommodate the little keets moving around beneath them.  They also pushed them under their bodies, just like a female hen behaves.   

As the day progressed, I watched the whole flock move around just a bit.  Like mother hens, the males called the keets over when a morsel of food was found.   The keets ran back and forth between all the adults, under them, and between them.  Often the mother hen was up and about, preening and eating, while the males were caretaking the babies, giving her a break.

Reflecting on this unusual behavior, I think about the Great Turning, where partnership and cooperation will hopefully replace competition and strife.  I wonder, could these guinea fowl be figuring this out?   Could they be demonstrating that the path to survival lies not along the road of individual separateness, but on the path of harmony, of cooperation, and of sharing?  

Whatever its reason, I hope that this cooperative approach might bode well for the adorable little newborn keets.  Dare I hope that these babies will survive?

Stone Woman


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Melinda Coppola, a local poet and yoga teacher, arrived at a Harmony Center event bearing a gift.  As she handed me a beautiful assemblage of stones, my heart immediately responded.  The minute my fingers wrapped around the cairn, my entire chest expanded and the phrase “Stone Woman” popped into my mind.  “Hello Stone Woman,” I thought, “I’m delighted to meet you.”

Feeling an instant connection with Stone Woman, I wondered where she might like to sit.  Cradling her in my hands, I wandered toward a large expanse of glass facing the woods and placed her in a corner of the windowsill.  My body said, “Yes, that feels right.  She can face our sacred space while also feeling connected to her relatives outside.” 

As I joined the circle of people, I remained acutely aware of Stone Woman sitting nearby.  Holding her in my hands had awakened something inside me.  It had kindled a spark of desire. 

The next morning that spark burst into flame.  I dashed over to Harmony Center intent on communing with rocks resting here and there behind the building.  My body wanted to hold them and see whether or not they would like being placed one on top of the other. 

Standing next to a large rock, I recalled what I’d learned from Loralee Dubeau* when we prepared for her Medicine Wheel class.  She and I walked around the land selecting rocks to be used in the ritual.  Reminding me that rocks are sentient beings, Loralee instructed me to check in with each rock before lifting it up.  If the rock resisted being lifted, we left it where it was. 

I looked at the bluish rock, and asked if it would like to have some relatives placed on top.  Perceiving what I took to be “yes,” I looked around.  My eyes scanned nearby rocks, seeking to discern which one would offer itself, and stopped at a dark, oblong, granite-colored stone.  Feeling as though the dark stone had called, I walked over, picked it up, and carried it toward the blush one. 

My hands and eyes processed messages from the rocks.  Somehow I “knew” that these two were O.K. with being placed together.  I balanced the dark stone atop the bluish one, then looked around until a mottled rock grabbed my attention. 

Totally focused on listening to rocks, and following their wishes, I lost myself in the process.  I feverishly created one cairn after another, and another, and another.   Soon there were cairns gathered here and there behind Harmony Center. 

Eventually my inner flame dimmed, my energy slowed.  I stood back, breathed in the scent of rock and earth, and sensed it was time to stop. 

Today as I sit near the pond, I spot some stones nearby and sense myself responding in a new way.  I notice that my relationship with stones has shifted.  I’ve begun to experience them as sentient beings.  Although I used to believe in this notion, I realize that creating the cairns awakened a new knowing inside me.

Dormant senses came alive.  As my hands and eyes deeply connected with various rocks, inner sensory “organs” opened.  Messages travelled back and forth as hands and eyes found ways of communicating with rocks.

When I now connect with a rock, I sense its being-ness.  I see its uniqueness, and can almost hear it speaking to me. 

Recognizing this new sensitivity, I send a mental “thank you” to the cairns.  They expanded my awareness and helped me to grow.  Cairn’s calm strength, inner depth, and sense of balance live inside me.



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Herbalists read the land.  Traditional herbalists teach that the herbs we need volunteer in our back yards.  In general, herbs growing closest to our homes are for more daily use, while those growing in more distant places are to be used less frequently. 

Phyllis Light grew up in the folk herbalism tradition.  She taught me to pay attention when a given plant suddenly appears more plentiful, for that plant’s healing remedies will probably be needed during the coming season.  Such abundance is a signal to harvest that herb in preparation for future use. 

After moving to Harmony Farm over 30 years ago, I delighted in identifying the plants growing on our property and learning about their uses.  I found a few Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia) plants growing at some distance from my house, at an edge of the stream and in a few spots around the pond.  I tincture some from time to time and use the tincture when I need a nervine that will be calming while also relaxing muscles.  When I travel, I usually take a little with me in case I experience difficulty sleeping. 

I think of Skullcap as being slightly shy.  Her small blue flowers don’t grab one’s attention, and it’s easy to walk by without noticing her. 

Skullcap recently surprised me.  I suddenly spotted a big patch in the middle of a trail where I take my daily walk – an unusual spot for Skullcap to grow. 

Once she had my attention, Skullcap kept me focused on her.  I began noticing plants growing in quite a few places along my daily walking route.  Each day I discovered more.  As I also stopped finding Skullcap in her usual spots, I realized that she was behaving in an unusual manner. 

On a recent walk in the woods, I stared at yet another Skullcap growing smack in the middle of my trail and suddenly remembered Phyllis’s teaching.  “Aha” I exclaimed while bowing my head, “I get it!  Thank you for being persistent.” 

Suspecting that we will need Skullcap during the months ahead, I returned later with a basket in one hand and scissors in the other.  After snipping sprigs from quite a few plants, I hung some to dry in the attic and made tincture form the rest. 

Reflecting on this experience, I wonder, “Could Earth be sending messages about stressful times to come … about the Great Turning?  Could Earth be offering Skullcap as a way to stay centered and calm during this time of change?” 

I have no idea whether I, or we, will need Skullcap in the season ahead.  Yet with bottles of her sitting on my shelf, I feel better prepared for whatever the future may bring.