NHGS and Being One With Everything

If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet,
you’ll come to understand that you’re connected to everything.
–Alan watts

This is true.  However, it need not be a far, far forest.  It can be near.  In fact, it can be your backyard.

It reminds me of the joke where the Dalai Lama goes to a hot dog street vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”

This photo was manipulated to resolve trouble with the output of the old 35mm film camera that shot this about 17 years ago, in not enough light as the sun was slipping away from the woods, but it is still true to the original, with perhaps an artsy touch.

I have always called it, “Reincarnation of a Birch,” but this fungus decoration is only one phase of the new world that will be created from this old gray birch stump.

It was in the campground at Taylor Pond, part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest state land complex, which includes Taylor Pond Wild Forest, Terry Mountain State Forest, Burnt Hill State Forest and the Franklin Falls, Shell Rock and Black Brook Conservation Easement Tracts, a handful of my nearby nature immersion areas within 20 miles of Balsamea.

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Surprise Peace of Life in Morning Light and by Fox

I can contemplate peace endlessly and never know it as much as when it takes me by surprise.

It’s a beech tree in a wild blueberry patch at the east side of the front yard.  The tree and I have a long history, as with everything in the picture.  Everything.  Long.  Deep.  Immersive relationship history.  Yet on this mid-June morning, they all greeted me as if for the first time.  I’ll just share the new part of the history that began at that moment.

I don’t feel that there is anything especially fantastic about what I saw.  It was the peace it wrought in me, and I’ll never be able to share that except as a mention, with this souvenir of it.

It was damned silly of me to rush back into the house for the camera.  When I got back out there, the light had changed, as rising suns do, and kept changing by the second, and none of it was as beautiful as when I first saw it.

This picture can never be more than a souvenir, especially because it is not a picture of the peace that caught me by surprise when that light and its verdant subjects first poured themselves upon me, into me.

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Angel Wing Revisited

Back by popular demand, this is the “fixed” version of Angel Wing in the Stream posted earlier.  The PDF file here is MUCH smaller than before (80% smaller), so it should load much faster.  It is downloadable, so you can read it offline.  If you have a slow connection, it may still take a minute to load.  It is a 13Mb file.
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Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

So, as I was saying about Spring 2013 …

Plants can be psychoactive without ingesting them.  For instance, some have uplifting odors.  Lilac.  Balsam fir.  Tea berry.  Mint.  Freshly mowed lawn.  Sometimes just looking at them can do the trick, especially when they show up in greater quantity than in several earlier years at a given place.  It’s like discovering that you had more money in the bank than you knew.  (I’ll leave it to you to think of depressing plants.)

Among the usual spring blooming things, this year Balsamea first showed us maple tree flowers, pussy willow fuzzies, and violets, in that order.

Next came the yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum), and they came more than ever.  Continue reading

Nibbles of Balsamea

These little Balsameans (and Adirondack natives) have gathered here for no reason but to please The Balsamean.  Maybe you’ll enjoy it, too.  This is one case where clicking a picture will NOT get you a bigger view.  They are just sample 100-pixel views of SOME of the kinds of spring and summer living entertainment here.  (However, you can magnify with your browser or Windows features.)  These pix were clipped out of bigger ones that are even more beautiful, shot over the past several years, mostly within the past few years.  This show must go on, and it will.  These little Balsameans will perform for as long as we let them and protect them.  The display sequence is random, and will change every time you refresh the page or come back for another visit.  There are about 130 of them.  (All photos by yours truly at Balsamea.)

End of show

Spring 2013 – Early April

Sing along: “It’s beginning to look a lot like April!”

If you don’t know the tune, write me and ask for it.  Just kidding.  Here it is, as written and sung by the great Johnny Mathis (biography):

If your brain is racked anything like mine, that song will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.  So, in a sense, we will be singing along together.  Just remember to use the word April.

Anyone living south of our Clinton County, New York (in the far northeast corner of the state, bordering Vermont and Canada) may enjoy seeing the still somewhat wintry nature of early-to-mid April here.  Folks north of here, go ahead and laugh, especially Alaskans, Siberians, Antarcticans (just north of the south pole), etc.

For reference, in case there is someone reading this not acquainted with Clinton County, NY:

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Wildflowers extend lawn mower life and inspire love

It TAKES TIME to smell the roses!

Red clover

I suspect it will be a recurring theme in my scribblements, as it is increasingly recurring in my head: half the joy of a blessing is sharing it.  That leaves me with a puzzlement: I also find joy in quiet privacy and seclusion.  It’s not easy to share things in isolation.

Maybe my self-exile has developed to the point of being ready to capture the other half of the joys of quiet privacy and seclusion: sharing them.

This probably has something to do with the creation of TheBalsamean.com.

I have lots of clover in my yard. Last year there was more red clover than white; this year more white than red.  They, along with many other flower-producing plants, moved into my lawn and life naturally, after the house builder’s “lawn” died (good riddance) in 2010, the year he “planted” it.

My yard is a place for nature to show what she can do with an open space, a chance for her to decorate my home.  I’m grateful to her for showing me lovely things every time I step out the door.

In 2011, I counted at least 20 kinds of wildflowers through spring and summer.  I lost count somewhere over 20.  This included so-called weeds, such as dandelions, which I only wish flowered longer.

White clover

Lately every day I see butterflies and bumblebees browsing the clover flowers. Besides their beauty, these critters are important pollinators.  More pollinators, more fruit.

I grew up conditioned to enjoy a blanket of nice, dense green grass.  A golf course looks nice.  It has its own kind of attractiveness … at a price.  However, the birds I watch from this window near this keyboard like my lawn the way it is.

I could create a monochrome green lawn at considerable expense in lawn products and water to create something that would not naturally grow here, or I can keep what nature provides freely, without running the water pump to sustain them, in a kaleidoscopic range of colors and shapes.  For me, the choice is obvious.


As with Hallmark and card-giving occasions, I suspect that solid green, “weed-free” lawns are an invention of lawn-product makers.  How did the Scottish inventors of golf maintain their greens before Scotts lawn products came along?

In some areas where I have tossed a little grass seed here and there over the years, the grasses have taken over almost completely, without the help of weed-killers, fertilizers, or lime.  They are hardy grasses, the ones that naturally want to grow in this acidic soil and hard winter conditions.  They are the right grasses for my yard, where my yard lives.  For as long as the wildflowers want to grow before grass takes over, I will let them.

This year a new Balsamean moved into the front yard.  Daisies.  Scads of daisies.  Loads of them, spreading rapidly.  Now THESE, we have in such great abundance, and they take to a vase so well, I don’t mind cutting some.  They bloom for a long time, in a succession of new blooms timed over several weeks.

Please don’t mow the daisies

With this natural cornucopia, I don’t have the heart to mow the “lawn” until the wildflowers have matured, so they can reproduce.  But new ones occur each season.  So I’d have to avoid mowing altogether to let them all grow.  Beginning this year, my strategy is to reduce the size of the areas that I mow, to let the wild things flourish at least around the perimeter.  And, throughout the lawn I mow around some patches of wildflowers.  “Lawn mower gardening.”

I have a small clearing out back, a few hundred feet from the house.  It was a logging header about a dozen years ago.  Everything grown on it got completely wiped out during the house construction, because that’s where I let them bury tree leftovers from clearing space to build the house.   We did not replace the topsoil.  I did not seed it.  (Actually, I’ve been tossing pine, spruce and balsam cones into it.)

Blackberry flower

Blackberry flower

Over the period from 2005 to 2010 (the year it was excavated), I kept that area mowed.  Since then, I let three-quarters of it regrow naturally.  The other quarter I mowed.  In the spring of 2011 and 2012, as snow melted in the mowed area, it turned to deep mud.  Being the cover over buried tree stumps, I wondered if it would cave-in under me.  (Among small depressions, there was one serious cave-in back in a corner, big enough for the dog to get in there.  What a job it was to fill that cavern.)

In the un-mowed area, we have FAR MORE beautiful, natural grass per square yard (among a plethora of wildflowers and loads of new berries).  This year (2102) I’m not mowing all of that formerly mowed portion of the back lot.

It is very hard to get a clear shot of a pollinator when it is busy

Instead, I’m mowing only a walking path through it.  Each year I’ll alternate the mowed path from side to side, to let the non-mowed parts go to seed.  That seed will fill the area with grasses.  They are coming along great … tall grasses of four kinds, among other plants.

It’s not just a tactic to avoid mowing.  I enjoy mowing and snow clearing.  They are forms of moving meditation.  But I do like to reduce wear-and-tear on the machines, and reduce consumption of fuel and production of pollution.  Still, these are side-effect benefits.

The objective is to let the yard fill with things that naturally want to be there, and they are all good things.    This year blackberries flourished.  If I don’t do SOME mowing, they will take over, and they are no fun to walk around in, especially barefoot.  Thorny.

Many people would be aghast at what a “terrible” lawn I have.  This is just one of the many reasons it is such a good thing that I’m the only one who has to live here.

I like the yard more every year.  I look forward to what it will produce next year.

Bless all its natural inhabitants for extending the life of my lawnmower!

When I sit and think seriously about such things – the beauty I live in, and the freedom to enjoy it in seclusion – I mean really think about it, contemplate it, meditate upon it, as is what happens while striving for the perfect photo, then studying the thing in the photo as I cannot do with my naked eye in the field, then writing about it and choosing how and where to incorporate the photos into the writing – then go out again and see them, these friends of mine, happy and free, inspiring me to love – well, seriously, when I give it this much attention, it brings me to tears to be so blessed.  Seriously.

“Inspire me to love?”  Yes.  As the love of beauty grows, so grows the beauty of love.

Yeah, so I’m a tree-hugging flower-brained pinko pussy.  So sue me.

What are your thoughts on any of this, large or small?  How does your garden grow?  Use the comment box here or contact me privately.