As this long June day draws to a close, I’m tempted to stop my rushing around and notice the pace of evening here at Three Dog Farm. Both dogs are curled in their beds as the wind whispers her secrets to the oaks and maples. The can smell the old pine floors under my feet and a touch of rain from the drizzle outside. After the cold New England winter my feet are finally bare and I can feel the silty dirt from the backyard between my toes. Outside the window and past the columned porch the spruce tree seems to turn blue in the twilight; a spray of ferns dances at her feet and I wonder if there are fairies playing amongst their leaves. If I was still a child, perhaps I could see them. I may be too old to see the fairies, but I’m not too old to stop for a moment to engage my senses and notice the magic that is twilight at Three Dog Farm.
Tools to nurture your creative spirit.
Another lovely day at Three Dog Farm-looking forward to having three dogs in the picture! Rosie, our newest pack member, will arrive at the end of July…until then it’s Zoë the Half-Pint Dobie and Ranger holding down the farm.
Happy Summer Solstice!
Today had all the feel of a lazy summer day; warm and sunny with those big puffs of clouds that seem to sail the sky without obscuring the sun. Plus, it was my last day teaching clarinet for this semester, so I had a bit of the kid on the last day of school feeling!
Of course, I just had to take a trip to my local nursery. You know, just to walk around, right? I have a bit of a nursery addiction, especially when it comes to locally owned places like Morrison’s in Plymouth. After getting some of the really amazing Coast of Maine Lobster Compost, birdseed, and (another) hummingbird feeder I somehow found myself wandering through the vegetables. Well, surely a few onions to harvest this fall would be nice. When The Man of the Place saw my backseat full of compost and plants he just shook his head and helped me schlep them to the very empty and very sad raised beds. As he dropped a bag of compost and brushed off his t-shirt he said, “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you, Little Miss Gita?”
He’s right, I couldn’t help myself. Can’t wait for the sun to rise tomorrow so I can stick a spade in the dirt and get planting, one onion at a time.
The Man of the Place and I have always been emphatically anti-lawn. We’ve been dyed-in-the-wool members of the Food Not Lawns community for years. I count among my most favorite hours spent in the past eight years in building up my garden to contain a biodiverse group of plants that support our ecosystem and our bellies! When finding out that we were moving to Three Dog Farm, scads of neighbors and friends said, “But what about your garden?!”
So imagine our surprise when, after a year of looking, we found the house with the land, price point, and character we desired but it came with a lot of lawn in the side yard. Then that undesired lawn got ripped up before the closing so a new septic field could be installed and we thought “yes, this is great! We’ll just sow a field of wildflowers like we did at the last house.” But then we got thinking about the two, soon to be three, dogs who will use this area as their exercise and training field. Of the myriad of options to keep their area from being a giant mud pit we begrudgingly acquiesced to the dreaded lawn.
When I came home today The Man of the Place had the sprinkler running on the grass seed, which is beginning to sprout like so many tiny feathers poking out of the ground. Once the seed is well established I pinky-promise we won’t use scads of synthetic chemicals on it, which would end up in our drinking water. And during drought we will conserve water by letting our mini-field go dormant and trust that the fall rains will revive its color. Maybe in time some local weeds will fill in the empty spots where the seed didn’t sprout; heck, as long as its green and the dogs can romp we’ll call it a win.
I do have to admit, on this sultry eve of the Summer Solstice, that the “chk-chk-chk” of the sprinkler reminds me of pleasant summer days back when I was a kid. I grew up in Chicagoland in a subdivision built on the prairie and oak savanna, back then the metronomic whirring of our neighborhood sprinklers signaled lazy hours spent up in my favorite maple tree, lying on my bed reading or setting marshmallows on fire (on purpose!) after a cookout. Time will tell what memories will become embedded next to the sound of our sprinkler here at Three Dog Farm, I’m looking forward to the memory.
It’s been a busy week moving into Three Dog Farm. Zoë, our half-pint Doberman girl, has stationed herself at all entry points to supervise the comings and goings. This mainly involves getting underfoot at all times-with the attendant admonishments, “Zoë, will you please get out of the way!”
The Man of the Place and I agree that it still feels surreal to own our beautiful plot of land and barn. We keep looking at each other and saying, “Do we really live here?!”
In between moving boxes and prepping our former house for sale, I’v been grabbing little bits of time to walk the property and familiarize myself with the trees and gardens. I’ve verbally introduced myself to most of the perennials and a fair bit of the trees on the property. The exchange goes something like this, “Hi butterfly bush, nice to meet ya! Hey maple tree!” Clearly, I have no problem being that “Crazy Gardener Lady” who talks to the plants and trees. I’m all for anything that strengthens my connection to the natural world, and like to choose actions that reinforce my place in the larger Order of Things.
My favorite moment from today’s walk occurred when a grand wind blew through the four-story pines in the woods behind the barn. Unlike deciduous trees that clatter and flap and rattle in the wind, when faced with an ocean wind pine needles produce a glorious whoosh.
What would happen if there were no pine needles for the wind to blow through? Would the wind still make a sound? How do we know there’s wind if it doesn’t have something to blow against? Maybe the wind tells us where we are, and we tell the wind where it is.
Or maybe I’m just the crazy lady at Three Dog Farm who likes to talk to the trees.
At 5:30 this morning The Man of the Place surprised me by bringing me a mug of coffee in bed. I had just woken up and for the first time since we moved to Three Dog Farm a few days ago I felt relaxed and refreshed. Maybe I felt so good because I did yoga before bed, or maybe it’s because we got internet established in the house yesterday (I’ve got a bit of a connectivity addiction). With Zoe the Half-Pint Dobe prancing at his feet he handed me my favorite black and red mug. I brought the steaming cup to my lips and inhaled the scent of roasted chocolate. I take my coffee straight-up black: earthy and bitter.
As I sat on my bed and watched the rising sun begin to warm the leaves and flowers of our dogwood I couldn’t help but notice how my taste in coffee has changed over the last two years. I used to drink lattes but after I realized the milk was making me feel all bubbly-tummy I began to get espresso with a liberal dose of cream. Over a period of months I tapered back the cream until one day I noticed I was craving the bitter sweetness of black coffee.
Drinking black coffee isn’t some great feat, but it helped me notice that making small changes can add up to big changes over time.
Some of the most useful changes occur in our lives when we allow ourselves to take our time.
I’ve found this same principle to be true with my yoga and meditation practice. A regular and continual dedication to spiritual discipline and inquiry helps me be more patient and more kind.
So with changes we want to make it goes like my coffee; small steps and gentle curiosity. By enjoying each moment of the process, we find ourselves exactly where we need to be.
Last week it was 45 degrees and raining and blustery. I wore fleece in layers and Zoë napped in front of her “nanny”, aka the space heater.
This week it is 90 degrees and humid and sun-sun-sunny. Springtime in New England!
Thank goodness 3 Dog Farm has a pool!
It was the last thing I expected to see, but their beauty stopped me in my tracks. A simple vase of pink and white peonies, cut that morning from the garden, sat on the kitchen table in a pool of afternoon sunshine. I had seen their vase several months before, full of flowers that I had brought to this same house. On a cold and damp Sunday, hubby and I had visited the owners to learn about the history of the 1850 Gothic Victorian we were purchasing. I had brought some flowers as a token of gratitude, and joked with the owners that they weren’t obligated to pack the vase and haul it to their next place. We had all chuckled, then settled down into the dining room where we poured over historical maps, photos and learned the detailed renovation story of this gem of a home. Now, several months later I’ve been welcomed into my new home by a beautiful gift of showy peonies on the kitchen table. The business of moving is no easy feat; sorting, packing, finances, logistics. The simple gesture of taking time to fill the vase speaks volumes about the kindness and care of the loving former owners of what we now call Three Dog Farm.
As I write this I can pause to brush my nose into the petals and feel their softness on my cheeks.
Small acts of kindness can surprise someone into gratefulness. This gratefulness can spread to the next person, and on and on in a chain of gratitude. Chains of gratitude do not bind us; they strengthen the energy we need to navigate the difficulties of our world.
This morning I pulled into the cranberry bog to run my dogs. It was a sticky eighty degrees and the air that hung over the pond was heavy and palpable with humidity. As the sun glinted through my windshield I noticed a gaggle of geese and their goslings. For the past month I’ve been watching them every morning. On the first days of spring that begrudgingly emerged from winter I noticed them pairing off, sailing deliberately around the pond in couplets. A few weeks later their goslings appeared as tiny fuzzy spots on the water that paddled between the bulk of their protective parents. I watched over several days as one adult pair had three, then two, then only one baby left and I wondered what had happened to the small babies in the twenty-four hours since my last hike.
A few days ago I noticed how big the goslings had grown, they were still awkward with big round bellies but they were about half the size of their parents. Their puffs of down were replaced with tawny feathers that shone sleek and glossy in the spring sunrise. From their nesting spot in the tall grass they ran in front of my car and towards the safety of the pond. Zoë, my half-pint Dobe, began yipping excitedly in the backseat. The goslings had tiny wings that stick up from their backs when they run, they look like a waddling version of a football with antennae. I burst into laughter at their awkward gate as Zoë kept up her excited yips.
But today was something different. They sat easily near the tall cattails at pond’s edge, and as we pulled in they lazily turned their heads towards the car then went back to grooming and eating. Like most wildlife at the bog, they had grown accustomed to our presence. Plus, they probably figured out that my Dobermans have a propensity to sink rather than swim, so they felt safe at waters edge. I’m grateful and proud that they feel comfy around me and my pack.
I’m hoping that the wildlife at Three Dog Farm will feel the same way. Hubby and I are closing on our new house today-a Victorian home with a barn that is set on eight acres on the South Shore in Massachusetts. When our rowdy pack shows up, I wonder what the deer and squirrels and hummingbirds will think. I hope that over the years as The Man of the Place and I cultivate and nurture our garden and woods that all the wildlife, animal and human, that visit will come to know Three Dog Farm as a place where they can sit at water’s edge and relax, safe and comfortable and loved.
We’ve all got things we want to or need to do that remain undone because it just seems to overwhelming to begin or to continue. My favorite quote by Edwin Land (the inventor of the amazing Polaroid camera and film) sums up the importance of our epic dreams.
“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.”
Whether its a work project, a big cross-country move or starting your own business, sometimes we stop before we start out of fear and overwhelm.
The only way to get enormous projects done is to follow two steps.
Along the way I have to give myself incentive to keep going. Things get easier when they are broken down into small chunks. A ticking clock works wonders; most of us can convince ourselves to do something for a set period of time.
Pick your magic number-the amount of time it takes you to get your butt in the seat. Set a timer. Go
For me the magic number for meditation is five minutes. I set the timer and go. Most days after five minutes I set it for more…some days not. And either way it’s all good.
My magic number for writing is twenty. I can commit to sitting and writing for twenty minutes. That’s how I got the draft of my book finished. Twenty minutes at a time. That-and checking it off in little boxes to keep me motivated!
So. Start. Keep going.
For moments when you need a reminder that stopping doesn't mean stopping your progress...think of your pause as the moment of rest after the archer pulls his arrow back. Just before release, there is a pause where the power of directed energy gathers. It is in these pauses that we can gather ourselves and move forward with directed grace. Onward. xox
When in doubt...share a hug.
Hugs allow us to move beyond fear and anxiety, beyond words to a place of acceptance and presence.
They also give a boost of the neurotransmitter oxytocin-part of the complex chain of our biochemistry that allows us to relax, trust and feel a sense of psychological stability. Lucy the Wonder Dog is a great hugger, I plan on sharing lots of hugs with my yoga students, family and friends today, too. xox