Archive for July, 2008

With much joy, we finished our labyrinth yesterday, about lunch time. Labyrinths are a very old human creation, dating back at least 3000 years and probably beyond that. Unlike a spiral or circle, a labyrinth is not a shape from the non-human natural world, but instead something humans have to create, based on some simple rules. They have, however, shown up in different cultures in widely separated times and locations, indicating that we all are sisters and brothers who independently create similar things, or that we wander around a lot sharing ideas. Or both.

At the Center’s garden, we started with the simplest form of a ‘Cretan’ or ‘Troy Town’ labyrinth. We used rocks to mark the courses, as pre-historic Scandinavians did and as First Nations peoples of the American West did to mark medicine wheels. We used the “rocks” at hand, pieces of urban concrete rubble, painted by individual neighbors. On either end of the central labyrinth circles, we added a meander, related to those in the great church labyrinths of the Middle Ages such as Cluny. However, we set the end points by laying a line of rocks to show the cardinal directions, N and W on the “station” side, and E and S on the “tree” side (we incorporated a tree into the design).

Before laying out the stones, we prepared the space with music, playing old Morris tunes on pipe and tabor while walking round the outside of where we’d lay the rocks. Then the fun began. We’ve been painting stone for a month, part of our art program, and now we all joined in to pick rocks and set them in the design. Dozens of different people took park, it was what our garden ought to be, full of life and laughter (and maybe a little “yo momma” conflict, now and then). Ray and Fredrick, Cleo and Frances, our intern Michael, Daniel singing, Sheryl and Diane…more folks, watching, coming and going. And then, there it was.

Like a garden, a labyrinth is both something you make and something you do, and both parts are equally important. We walked it several time already, and it does have a magically calming, healing and centering impact on those who see it, breathe, and take a moment from their life journey to take a brief walk within, whatever their creed, whatever their condition, whatever challenges and blessings are now in their lives.














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Squirrel rant

This weekend, as we worked on beautification for the big event coming up Thursday (you are invited – 6PM Thursday the 10th, to celebrate our new cistern from the Organic Gardening WaterWorks grant), I spotted somebody over by the food garden doing something around the petunias we just planted. A quick way to kill plants is to throw a belongings sack or shirt down on top of seedlings, so I went over to gently ask the neighbor not to do that. As I go closer, I realized it was a well-dressed guy in his 60s, maybe a volunteer and probably not homeless, with a metal box of some sort. At that instant, a big, fat, terrified squirrel took off like a shot, headed right into our tomatoes. The metal box? It is one of those “have a heart” traps. The man, a shortish fellow with somewhat prominent front teeth, turned and gave me a squirrelish look, wide-eyed and nervous. He told me he was just letting the squirrel go free – it had been eating the tomatoes in his garden and making a huge mess. So, he didn’t like killing them, and just wanted to let this one go somewhere.

When I mentioned that we were growing our tomatoes for a big event this week, and that a tomato-eating squirrel was probably the last thing we needed, he got all bushy-tailed and evasive. Do you have squirrels here? He asked. (We do, but they come in second to the rats and rabbits as pests). Then, incongruously, “I was just dropping off a donation from Starbucks…”.

The little man clattered back into his car – some kind of greenmobile of small size and odd shape with environmental bumper stickers – and drove off unapologetically. Meanwhile, we now have an additional threat to our tomatoes. I can’t help wondering, though, since squirrels are very good at finding their way back to their territory using the treetop highway, that Squirrel is back in his home garden in, say, wealthy Myers Park, eating his fill of same-old Early Girls and Beefsteaks. He was running so fast he might have beat the man home. Let’s hope.

I didn’t get the license plate, otherwise I’d be tempted to catch one of our local rats and release it in _his_ garden. That would about balance it, and might really liven things up in his tomato patch.

Obviously, this incident is a metaphor for all kinds of things wealthy Americans do (and we’re such a wealthy nation, these tendencies touch us all). Have a problem? Dump it on your neighbor, especially a poor or homeless one. Tough decision? Let them deal with it. Caught in the act doing something wrong? Under no circumstances take responsibility – instead deny it and say you were really doing something good, so everyone should be grateful and stop being negative. Throw in a few inane non-sequiturs, for good measure.
Meanwhile, if our tomatoes start disappearing, we have a ready person to blame: Mr. Squirrel did it!

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