This picture of me was taken this December as I planted the last of the garlic. I planted late because some of the orchard grass grew large, and it was slow digging as the grass roots were entwined with the potatoes. Eventually, Richard came in with his small excavator and loosened the ground so we could finish the weeding. The second hard frost of the season was coming, so I covered the ground with plastic. When the weather warmed up and the bits of snow melted, I got a chance to finish the job!
The plastic kept the soil from freezing hard and magnified the heat of the winter sun. By noon each day, it was warm enough to dig and it was lovely to be out in the sun. Soon however, I realized how cold my knees were, so the second and third day I wore knee pads. I also know that getting any part of the body cold is not good, as my body type is Yin deficient in Chinese medicine, but I wanted to finish the project rather than waiting for spring, so I got to learn a few lessons.
First lesson … Get more cardboard sooner and don’t allow the grass to get a foothold. We had bought 10 tons of hay to use as mulch last year, not realizing that it was not as clean of seeds as it had been the previous year. As you can see in the background, there are layers of cardboard. The grocery store appreciates that they do not have to take it to recycling and I appreciate that cardboard does not have orchard grass seeds and can be used like mulch. I call these flattened boxes my earthworm hotels, as their shelter encourages the worms to lay eggs and the babies will eat the mushy cardboard once they hatch. Lots of worms create lots of castings, which is great for growing healthy plants. If you want to learn more about my effective way of gardening with worms and cardboard, read the ad on page 23 as I will be presenting a pre-workshop demonstration before the Biochar workshop with Gloria Flora, a soul-sister whom I am excited to bring to BC.
Second lesson … that the cold affects me more deeply than I realized. Planting garlic for two and half hours a day, for three days, and not taking the time to get myself deeply warmed afterwards, resulted in the heat that was in my knees moving into my bladder via the kidney meridian. My knees and lower legs stayed cold and would not warm up, while my bladder got over-heated. When the ‘needing to go pee feeling’ got intense I went to the clinic for an urinanalysis, thinking it might be an infection, but it was not. I called my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who reminded me that I am Yin-deficient and gave me several acupuncture sessions and some herbs to move the chi back into its proper channel. I continue to have an oil heater in my office so my knees stay real warm.
Thirty years ago when I first got acupuncture, my doctor said I was working too hard, so I told him I had never worked a day in my life, to which he replied… then you play too hard… and the light bulb went on. For balance, we need equal yin and yang but the meaning changes depending on what they are in relation to, so I find it complex to understand. Since I have the type of personality and an occupation that does not separate work and play and enjoy what I do, even the deadlines, I find it is easy not to always listen to my body.
In case you have not heard of Yin or Yang, Yin is ruled by the kidneys and cools the body so that it maintains a constant temperature. The adrenals feed the kidneys and once they are exhausted many people drink coffee or eat chocolates to keep themselves stimulated, which will eventually drain Kidney Yin if too much is taken. Herbs that boost Yang energy, like Ginseng, will dry out the kidney fluids. I avoid most stimulates including spicy foods so that helps to maintain my energy levels. I am learning to do less, but it is not easy when you have a strong mind that wants to finish a project.
I think I have more energy than most folks my age, generally because I use Traditional Chinese Medicine and take their advice to heart. I drink lots of good quality water, wear a vest to stay warm, eat a moderate diet and go to bed early. Being in nature is nurturing and builds yin energy. Being in the garden keeps me both fit and grounded. Which reminds me, I got talked into buying one of the grounding sheets, see article on page 19. I’m glad I did as it helped me sleep much deeper even with the extra heat in my bladder and it continues to do so.
Chinese medicine has been around for over 5,000 years. It treats syndromes and conditions related to too much yin or yang energy in the body rather than focusing on specific diseases that Western medicine has given names to, like diabetes or acne. Allopathic medicine has its place, but my deepest wish is for Canada to have integrated health facilities like the ones they have in Asia and certain parts of Europe. In such facilities, you find many different kinds of medical practitioners all working under one roof, helping people stay healthy so they can be productive members of society.
And finally, the photo on the cover. Last summer, a class of Waldorf students came to visit the Retreat Center. They enjoyed seeing the bees, chickens, tipis, garden and sweat lodge. They played with our kittens and ran around the lawn. If children have the opportunity to play in nature it brings out their creative spirit and teaches them to be innovative in a way that video screens don’t. Children raised in the country or who attend alternative schools like Waldorf think differently than do kids whose amusement is provided to them ready-made rather than created by their imagination. They learn to think outside the box and to make decisions young in life, which will increase their self-esteem. If we are to evolve out of the crisis we are currently in, we are going to need these qualities in future generations.
Not only nature but the web provides a river of conscious ideas that I find exhilarating to explore. Lots of education is available that one must sort through, but I find the information worth the time. There is lots to know about processed foods, vaccines made with dangerous preservatives and even that despite the convenience cell phones and wifis offer, they could be overwhelming fragile bodies. Many organizations are asking the World Health Organization to classify EMFs as a Group 1 health risk, similar to smoking. And as you know, cigarette companies fought long and hard not to have them labeled as cancer causing, but eventually the truth won out. I am thankful I can go to a restaurant that is not filled with smoke. Since EMF cannot be seen, it will need even more regulations.
If you have time to visit the Kootenays this summer, check out our events listed in the flip section. Stay at our new campground while attending the Spring Festival of Awareness in May. Perhaps you’d like to combine Star Belly Jam with some hiking, healing work or a workshop. Richard’s dream of having the Dances of Universal Peace will become a reality in July. This is an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to join in a meditative dancing practice.