Thurs. Sept. 30, 2021: Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins

image courtesy of pexels-pixabay.com

Thursday, September 30, 2021

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins

Rainy and raw

We haven’t had frost yet, but the nights are getting cool enough to bring in some of the plants: the African violet, the Christmas cacti, and some of the others. We are figuring out how to reconfigure things inside when we have to bring in all the plants, and some of the furniture that’s out on the back balcony. The front porch is still warm enough, with its southern exposure, to enjoy during the day, although we keep the door closed now at night.

The red geraniums are still blooming like crazy.

I’ve been putting up one decoration a day in the front windows; tomorrow I put up the rest of the Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead decorations all over the house.

I turned on the thermostat, and it says “heat on” but nothing comes out of the radiators, so I have to ask the maintenance guy what other switch needs to be flicked, and where it is. It’s too cold and raw not to have the heat on. Plus, we’re the ones who pay for it, so it’s not like we’re waiting for the landlord to turn it on.

The Celtic tree month of Ivy begins today, a good time for banishing, and getting rid of negativity in one’s life. I feel as though that’s what the entire move’s been about, but it’s good to spend focused time concentrating on it.

It smells good, even though we are in a city. It smells woodsy and full of the mums and the apples and all those other lovely autumn smells. I hope to bake an apple cake later today, which should scent the house even more (and maybe warm it up a bit).

Everything looks so pretty. I hope the weekend is sunny, so we can get out and enjoy the landscape. I love looking out of the front and back windows to see the mountains every day, and to watch the colors change.

What’s changing in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. Jan. 7, 2021: Wish for a Real Winter

image courtesy of Hans Braxmeier via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Libra

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I wish it looked as it does in the photo I chose for today’s post, but it’s much milder down here on Cape. It worries me; if the plants don’t get the rest from a good cold snap, it will negatively affect growth patterns. Not to mention all the bugs.

It feels frivolous to write a garden post when domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol yesterday. But I’m in touch with my elected officials, and they are representing my views in this. Thank you, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Bill Keating.

Seed catalogs are arriving, which means there will be hours of delightful daydreaming, a nice antidote to what’s going on. However, I’m not sure what seeds to order, or if I should order any, as I’m moving in spring. Since I don’t know where I’ll land, or if I can transport seedlings, I have a feeling most of my catalog reading will remain in daydreams.

We’re still in the process of taking down the holiday decorations. It will take a few days.

The live green wreath has been stripped of its decorations and is now on the hook inside the door. I have an artificial gold-painted bay leaf wreath on the front door for the rest of the month, until I put up the Valentine door décor.

I’m tired and sad and angry. I have a morning group meditation via Zoom. If the weather clears up a bit and it’s mild enough, I’ll do a meditation later in the day under the beautiful maple tree in the back. I will miss the maple and the lilac terribly when I move. They’ve both brought me a lot of joy in the past decade.

Let’s hope there’s better news to report next week. Stay safe, my friends.

Thurs. Dec. 31, 2020: Happy Green New Year!

image courtesy of Dirk Vetter via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Happy New Year, friends! We are all happy to see the back of this one leaving, aren’t we?

It’s rainy here, and the yard looks greener and happier than it has all year. Making up for all the drought. I’m worried, though – if it doesn’t get cold enough, it’s bad for the resting plants, and it also means a very buggy spring and summer. Not necessarily the good kind of bugs.

Finally got in the big bench from the deck. Now, only the large, round table sits there overwinter.

Indoors, we have plenty of artificial, glittery greenery and sparkly artificial fruit. We have a bowl of the fruit on the coffee table. Willa likes to pull out an ornament here and there and play with them. Fortunately, they’re not breakable.

Of course, yesterday, Willa went into the kitchen and pulled a potato out of the open bin in which they live and rolled it up and down the hallway. How many cat toys do we have in this house? And Willa prefers a potato. She’s inventive.

The seed catalogs are arriving, which is one of my favorite parts of the year. I will take some time in the next few weeks, dreaming and planning. Since the move will happen during planting season, I’m not sure how much will actually get planted, but the dreaming will be lovely.

Thank you for being on this journey during this weird year. I wish you peace, joy, health, and a green New Year!

Thurs. Dec. 24, 2020: Birch & Holly

image by dendoktoor via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Waxing Moon 2nd Quarter in Aries

Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch Begins

Christmas Eve

Stormy and mild

What does it mean, when I refer to the “Celtic Tree Months”? They’re related to the ogham, which is a Celtic script used from the 4th to the 10th century C.E. There’s a wonderful article on theories of origin here. It makes more sense for you to read it than for me to paraphrase it.

Each of the months has fixed dates, and is related to a tree, from December 24-December 22. December 23 does NOT have a relationship to any tree – instead, it’s tied to the “day” of “a year and a day.”

Today, December 24, is the first day of the Tree Month of Birch. It lasts until Jan. 20. There is an ogham character connected to it, which I cannot reproduce, but there’s a wonderful article on the tree enchantments that shows the script and talks about medicinal, magical, and physical properties of the tree here. There’s another good article about the various trees and their properties here.

I love birch trees. Before I started working with ogham, I did not know that birch is the first tree to grow back after a fire.  I love to use it for creativity, new beginnings, purification.

However, it’s not usually the birch one associates with Christmas, but Holly.

In the Tree Calendar, the month of Holly is July into August, but here in the Northern Hemisphere, we associate it with Christmas, Solstice, and the Winter Holidays.

I adore holly. My next-door neighbor has an enormous female holly (it has berries), and seeing the tree every day makes me happy. Ashumet, one of the local Mass Audubon Sanctuaries, has over 60 hollies. In pre-COVID times, I would go on the holly walk at the beginning of each December, guided by the director of the Sanctuary, and reacquaint myself with all the hollies. I would go back during the year to the sanctuary and spend time with them. The Holly Walk was one of my favorite things to do since I moved to the Cape. I started it the very first year I moved here.

There’s a good article about the meaning of various Yuletide greens here.

I like holly for protection and luck. When you see a spell call for “bat’s wings” – that is the folkloric name for the holly leaf.

I tried growing small hollies in pots when I first moved here, but they need to be planted in-ground, and they only survived a year or two. When I own my own home and garden, I will try again. The male and female holly need to be planted within 15 feet of each other, and the best time to plant them is in March, according to what I learned on holly walks!

On a personal note, I put up decorations outside last weekend, and on the deck. Some of them will have to come in today, since we are expecting hurricane force winds and a lot of rain. No white Christmas for us this year, but that’s okay. I’m glad to be safe at home.

I wish you peace and joy.

Thurs. Dec. 17, 2020: Snow At Night Makes for a Cozy Day

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Waxing First Quarter Moon in Capricorn

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Snowy and cold

We had our first substantial snowstorm of the season overnight. Although, so far, it’s not as bad as predicted, it’s heavy, wet snow, and I’m not looking forward to going out there and shoveling later.

Since we were warned about the storm, I did not put up the lights and outdoor decorations yet. That is on the agenda for this coming weekend.

Today, we are tucked home, enjoying the tree and the indoor decorations, reading, and writing, and resting. With the bulk of the stress done for the holiday season – I just have to get the annual inspection for the car done next week, and, yes, with an old car, I’m worried – we can sit back and enjoy. There’s been so much stress and pain in this year, that capturing a few hours of enjoyment here and there is high on the agenda.

One of the things we love is to sit by the fire, with one of our favorite blankets, a good book, the cats, the fire going in the fireplace, and a cup of cocoa or a glass of wine. it’s a simple pleasure, and yet so resonant.

Next Monday is the Solstice, my big celebration, and I’m excited and looking forward to it. Much as I love the dark time of the year, I am ready for the return of light and hope.

Peace, friends.

Thurs. Dec. 10, 2020: The Increase In Grime & Pollution

Image courtesy of azyrit via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 10, 2020

4th Quarter Moon in Libra

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Before last weekend’s storm, we cleared most of the remaining post off the deck – the pansies were still blooming, can you believe it? They’ve bloomed since May.  For the moment, we left the hanging pots, but put everything else in the garage. They’re organized into the section nearest the light for the plants overwintering that need to be watered every week or two, and the pots that are just stacked.

The decorations were cleaned and put away; most of the furniture was cleaned and put away. The big bench is still out – it will have to come up in a week or two. And the big, round table stays out all winter.

We got it done before the storm started, and it was a relief. Less to worry about.

What was disturbing was how absolutely filthy all the pieces were. Usually, once we clean off the pine pollan, there’s a little dust over the course of the summer, a smidge of dirt, but we wipe things down and it’s fine.

This year, we had to scrub. There were layers of genuine grime.

All those leaf blowers, running daily for hours and hours. All that tree cutting. All that heavy machinery the new shady neighbors run late at night after deliveries from unmarked trucks – they’re adding to pollution.

The branches used to have a lot of lichen – which indicates good air quality. No more. We even had warnings about poor air quality over the summer.

With all the construction – or, I should say DE-struction, tree cutting, pollution – our wildlife population has seriously declined. We don’t have as many squirrels. The owl hasn’t lived here for years. I don’t see Che Guevara Chipmunk and his family that often. There are no racoons, deer, skunk, coyotes. If you’ve followed my stories here and on Ink in My Coffee since we moved here, my yard was like something out of a Disney cartoon with all the wildlife, because I have the organic yard in the neighborhood.

Gone.

Even with all the pollinators I planted this year, we had very few bees. Plenty of wasps, but few bees.

I’m so disappointed. I mean, I’m disappointed in my fellow humans anyway this year, because too many of them are Covidiots, and too selfish to do something as simple as wear a mask. But the destruction of habitat is appalling.

Earthwhile reports the decline of water quality around Cape Cod. I’m sure. We’ve had numerous alerts of contaminants all year, and have had to boil water. When we moved here, this area was proud of high quality, and we didn’t even put on the Brita filter on the taps.

The Cape and Islands were earning low marks for air quality as far back as 2012, according to this article, but it’s grown exponentially worse in the last three years or so, in my personal experience.

And no one gives a damn. Oh, there are plenty who talk a good game, but when it comes to action, they allow new construction and plenty of destruction of habitat in order to turn a profit.

I have grown disappointed and disillusioned with this area. The people here would rather destroy it to make $5 today than look long term for the good of life for everyone. But then, they demonstrate that character trait daily be refusing to wear masks. It should not be a surprise at all.

It’s been bothering me for years, but this year, seeing the evidence as I put away the furniture for the season, was just crushing.

On a happier note, we’ve had two slight brushings of snow, just enough to look like someone dumped a little powdered sugar on us, not enough to shovel. Since I have surgery tomorrow, I won’t be in any shape to shovel for the next stretch.

The tree is up, and most of the decorations in the living room and the back room. I still have to decorate my office, but that won’t happen until after tomorrow’s surgery.

Solstice is coming up, a week from Monday. I’m ready to increase the light in my life, aren’t you?

Thurs. Dec. 3, 2020: Holiday Decorating

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Not much to report on the garden at all this week. We’ve had a series of storms coming through. My neighbors spend all their time leaf blowing, and then the wind just blows leaves all around because THEY DON’T HAUL THEM AWAY. As usual, doing everything half-assed and spending hours creating noise pollution that does nothing.

I haven’t finished taking in things from the deck, although I will probably do so this weekend. Because of the storms, I’ve delayed putting up the exterior decorations, something else I hope to get done this weekend, although we’re supposed to have more storms.

I suppose I should be grateful it’s all rain and not snow.

The lemon seeds have not sprouted. I’m not sure if it’s because the lemons weren’t actually organic, as marked, and these are sterile seeds, or because it’s off season. They’re in a lovely pot in a warm, sunny window.

I find it alarming that so much seed-saving from grocery-bought food now yields nothing. Too many sterile seeds, and too much corporate control of our food supply.

I’m designing fictional gardens for several stories right now, and thoroughly enjoying it. If there isn’t much to say, plant-wise, over the winter, maybe I’ll share some of that.

The Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti are blossoming, though. They are beautiful, and make us happy every time we walk into a room and see them.

We don’t have real Poinsettias because of the cats. We do have an artificial one, and I have to spray it with Bitter Yuck anyway.

Our neighbor down the street has put lights up on the front of his house, and they are quite lovely. He keeps them on all night.

It seems quite a few people have waited this year to decorate outdoors. There’s a lot of talk about more indoor decorations, since more people who have the option to stay home as much as possible during the holiday season are doing that.

We have the large, artificial tree up – we had to rearrange the furniture in the living room, since the large cat condo lives where the tree usually did. I bought this tree at Pergament in Port Chester for $49.99 in the early 90s. It’s been a lovely workhorse.

We have several artificial trees throughout the house – or rather, we will, when we finish decorating, which will probably take a few more weeks.

We do, however, have a live wreath, pictured at the top of this post. I buy a plain wreath, and then we decorate it however we wish for that year.

We also use a lot of real pinecones in our decorating.

When I take it apart over the winter, I save a handful of the dried greens for the following Solstice – for instance, last year’s wreath will start this year’s Solstice fire on the 21st. The rest of the greens I also keep, and use as kindling throughout the winter for the fireplace.

That’s pretty much it, this week. If the weather lets up a bit, I can put up the outdoor decorations. At the very least, I have to start getting in the furniture and the last big pots in off the deck. It’s been mild, so I haven’t wanted to bring the overwintering plants in yet.

How’s your week in the garden?