reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the people with pompoms. [d.r. thursday]

and, in the miracle of the universe unfolding as it should, there was first fruit. i have to admit to my heart swelling just a bit. i peeked into the leaves of our two tomato plants and was astounded. many tiny fruit – little green orbs – had appeared, seemingly overnight. once again, we were going to experience the thrill of tiny-farming, a container garden on our old barnwood potting stand. just off the deck, tucked up next to the fence, canopied by the climbing ivy and right in the chipmunk trail to the birdfeeder, we were experiencing success. we are proud parents. and last night, as i snipped off fresh basil for our red pesto, i blew kisses, waving virtual pompoms, to these baby cherry tomatoes and encouraged them to keep on keeping on.

sunday morning we awoke to a flurry of activity on our blogs. with our coffee mugs in hand, we could see that hundreds of people were suddenly visiting certain posts and we ascertained that our favorite wander women had shared the cartoon and corresponding blogposts we had written with great pride about them. and – in a fun moment that was even better than hearing your name on the romper-room-mirror-out-there-i-see moment, they mentioned us on their video. we’ve watched every single one of their backpacking youtubes, their triple crown achievement, their biking, their supply lists, their rv-ing, their musings about aging and planning and adventure. nothing short of inspiring, we’ve talked about them a bit…ok, more than a bit. we shared with them the cartoon we drew, wanting them to know we are among the giant fan group they have, cheering them on as they are getting outside in the world. and then they shared our words. mutual pompoms.

there is power in sharing, power in being proud enough of, inspired enough by something to cheer it on. there is power in rooting for that which someone else is going after. it’s a synergistic power…back and forth and back and forth. kind of like how all cheering-on works. we encourage, we nurture, we are encouraged, we are nurtured. i found a note from my sweet momma recently. just a scrap of paper. on it she had written, “i know you can do it.” pompoms.

every new adventure – every fresh start – every launch – every foray – new fruit. vulnerable to the chipmunks – and much bigger monsters – but stalwart anyway. a few coffee grounds around the tomatoes will help deter those crazy chippies. we have plenty of coffee grounds. easy peasy.

i’m guessing the coffee will help with everything else too.

that and the people with pompoms.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

HELPING HANDS
53.5″ x 15.25″


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late season indeterminate. [k.s. friday]

maybe we are all tomatoes-in-waiting.

it’s easy to recognize that we have germinated, that we have early growth with initial leaves. we send down a taproot, stabilizing just a bit. we are nurtured and we learn self-care, both. changes during the vegetative stage are a little easier to see as we grow upward and outward, green and healthy.

flowering and early fruiting…these are easy to discern in the striding of early decades of life. rushing to accomplish, to get up the mountain and down, to run without ceasing, to move without pause.

the presence of ethylene – a gaseous hormone – triggers the fruit to ripen. i suppose i would like to think this is much like the graying of my hair, the wrinkles on my brow, laughlines evident, jowls mysteriously appearing. coming to maturity. ripening.

early season varieties require 50-60 days to mature. mid-season require 60-80. late season varieties require more than 80 days to reach full maturity. and later, senescence, a natural progression.

i wonder how that all translates to human years.

the fruit of determinate tomatoes ripens all at once. indeterminate tomatoes ripen fruit throughout the growing season, extending the crop harvest…longer and longer.

we can all wager our own guess; i’m thinking late season variety. this still-learning thing makes that abundantly clear.

and i’m hoping for indeterminate. never quite done.

*****

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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full of beautiful. [d.r. thursday]

i worry about the ferns. fragile, willowy, tender shoots determinedly growing up from under the pile of leaves waiting, decaying, protecting the garden through fall’s end and winter’s scourge until, finally, spring. and then, there they are. despite it all. back in the northwest corner of the yard, tucked in along the fence line and next to the old garage.

they start slowly, peeking out, and then – voila – they are taller, taller, and unraveling their curly tops, like a modern dancer, curling up one vertebrae at a time, opening and embracing dappled sunlight. without concern for any part of history or future, they just grow. they are perennials, so keeping them healthy – a bit of simple nurture – ensures this fern garden in the back of our yard.

i’ve grown other plants in this yard through the years. ornamental grasses, day lilies, ferns, hosta, a couple peonies, these are the thrivers. purple iris, black-eyed susans, a planted lavender garden all fell to the wayside.

the neighbor’s snow-on-the-mountain, creeping under the fence, devoured the iris. wild mustard gave the black-eyed susans a run. the lavender was taken over by boxwood elder on a rampage.

but the delicate ferns…through dogdog’s puppyhood and now his adulthood…through the drought and maybe too much sun and maybe too much rain…through the late-late springs and the early winters…have survived.

in each of them i see the fortitude of the dancer, practicing unfurling vertebrae by vertebrae, forgetting all else – all negativity, all lack, all the torrential storms – in the tender, rich, vibrant forward-movement of now. full of beautiful.

“there is an entire forest
full of the most incredible flowers,
plants and trees inside you,
and you are ignoring all of it to nurture a single tree
that they planted inside your heart and abandoned.

the people who left you this way
don’t deserve to become your favourite stories to tell.
you are a massive forest full of beautiful and vibrant stories
and every single one of them deserves you more
than those that abandoned you to hell.”

(nakita gill – a forest story)

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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pinch back the suckers. [two artists tuesday]

and so, these two dwarf indeterminate tomato plants make me want more. the every-morning greeting, the dew on their leaves, raindrops on their fruit, the exquisiteness of having tomatoes from our tiny container garden on our table, in our salad, our pasta.

it wasn’t much of an investment. $6.98 times 2. we already had big old clay pots, a couple hand-me-down tomato cages, some potting soil. we just had to pay attention. i read articles about yellowing leaves and how damp the soil should be. i asked 20 questions about snipping off suckers, the shoots that grow where the stem and branch v-intersect. researching, i read, “suckers don’t serve much of a purpose. they can, however, draw energy away from the main stems, decreasing tomato growth.”

our basil story is much the same. basil leaves are delicate, but with gently pinching the plant back, pruning off the buds that appear, the sweet basil has been amazing. many red pesto sauce pastas, bowls of caprese salad, salmon with basil and cherry tomatoes on the grill dinners – a smorgasbord from a few plants on a potting bench.

it just goes to show you what a little bit of nurturing will do. these plants – like people – have responded to the attention, the up-close and personal care, the encouragement and cheering on, the constant delight in their growth. they have risen to gentle handling, careful hydration, a bit of nutrients. they have flourished and, in both cases, removing the suckers has been of great value, has opened a chance for maturation of the plants, has helped.

now that we are the tiniest of farmers, it is hard to evade the tiny-farmer-metaphor in my mind. i think aloud, “this should be a mantra for places of business everywhere: remove the suckers…those who draw energy away, those who decrease growth.”

for what place of business, what organization, what non-profit, what institution wants to decrease growth, to suck the life from its employees and its volunteers, to smother their energy, to manhandle their efforts, to discourage their development, to undermine success?

only one, i guess, that doesn’t want tomatoes and basil.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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boomer farmers. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i cut some valentino basil to toss with tomatoes and olive oil over pasta. in an eat-less-meat effort, d grilled some tilapia. we ate outside at the table under the umbrella where we could catch wafting basil coming from the potting stand and from the little trunk across the deck. we congratulated ourselves on our farming…at least so far, anyway. it remains to be seen how long we might be successful, whether the tomato plants will ever offer actual cherry tomatoes and if the basil will do that leggy thing that basil plants do when you don’t have natural green thumbs.

keith told us to watch the millennial farmer. since we have run out of joey coconato’s youtube backpacking videos and have literally watched each one at least twice, we tried the millennial farmer on for size. keith lives in a farming community and knows about tractors and fields and heavy equipment much much more than we do, but, we have to admit, after having searched for the first of the videos, we have a deeper appreciation for all of that and we know that the millennial farmer might likely tease at our measly stand of hopeful plants. no worries, we boomer farmers are happy and, more importantly, not overwhelmed by our choices. mostly, we love tomato and basil drizzled in olive oil tossed over pasta or in caprese salads. and any planting is still planting.

we had mulled over flowers for the potting stand. it’s in full sun most of the time so that meant we needed to make some careful choices. we are very aware of what we’re spending these days so that factored in as well. when we ultimately decided to just simply plant a few edibles we were excited and went to several nurseries to choose our plants. lowes got our attention for their $6.98 tomato plants – dwarf indeterminates – which we learned means that they will stay smaller and will bear fruit throughout the season instead of just once. milaegers got our vote for their basil. the valentino smelled heavenly and sweet and looked incredibly healthy (to us) at only $3.99. a few big old clay pots out of the garage and sweeping off the barnwood-and-pipe plant stand and we were set. tomatoes and basil – “soulmates on and off the plate.” ready for a summer of lightly tossed pasta and insalata caprese.

now, zach johnson – the millennial farmer in minnesota – might have some advice for us. the diagnostics and computerized tools and mapping and equipment that they use to choose planting distances and tilling and depths and variable rate seed installation and seed choices and seasons are mind-boggling, not to mention the super-sized mechanical equipment like tractors and combines and seeders and cultivators. the science of farming, the art of farming, he makes it all sound both easier and much more complex than we could imagine. his love and nurturing of the land, his life and his fifth-generation farm are obvious.

men’s health magazine calls his youtube channel “peak relaxation” though that is simply because we are armchair-boomer-farmer-watching. zach’s wise intention, according to his channel, is “to build the connection between farmers and consumers.”

we understand. we are now both. ok, ok. light on the farmer, heavy on the consumer. no barn here. just us and our potting stand, two tomato plants and a basil. and an appreciation for real farmers everywhere.

*****

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our echeveria. [two artists tuesday]

on a beautiful summer day, wearing flipflops and with a broken toe, we followed my son, rapidly walking miles through the streets of boston. it was wonderful, in and out of historical places, walking in gardens, taking in the library, strolling in restoration hardware, eating cannolis and people-watching from bistro tables on the sidewalk.

i did not pick up any rocks or sticks that day, now a few years ago, which is rather unusual considering my propensity for them and for saving some thing from perfect (and even imperfect) moments. but we did carry home this sweet and tiny succulent in the smallest of pottery pots, carefully wrapped and boxed by the attentive people at RH in packaging that reminded me deliciously of the packaging-guru-guy on the movie ‘love actually’ (but i digress.) $25 seemed like a lot to pay for this tiny gift we were giving ourselves.

it was 2017 and we devoted our energy to rules about overwatering, underwatering, not-touching-the-petals, enough sunlight, not-too-much sunlight. our little succulent, supposedly low maintenance (what exactly IS low maintenance, anyway?) devoured our plant-attention, but, in the coming years, suffered nevertheless. we transplanted it to a bigger old clay pot, careful to use nutritional potting soil. we read up. water, touch, sun – we experimented with combinations. it seemed to no avail.

the light streams into our sunroom. early in the morning, the sun rays across the room and into the kitchen. later in the day, the room of old windows and new windows invites the outdoors in. there’s an old door that sits on two wrought iron horses on the eastern window. art supplies and nespresso sit nearby. in spring last year, we moved a table into the sunroom, in front of the windows that look out back. we call it our covid table. we hung happy lights and strew them on the table.

we placed this little succulent next to the tiniest pine tree and a ponytail palm that makes me happily think of my beautiful daughter’s ponytails. we decided to forego the instructions we had read and gently watered the little echeveria, letting the water and our hands touch the leaves, talking to it, reaching in and extracting leaves that had dried, rotating the pot to capture light, the tiny rosette in the middle looking healthier by the day. i look at this plant now and think that it needs another transplant, a bit bigger clay pot. and each time i remember the day we got it.

a little attention, a little hydration, a little good soil, a simple old clay home, a little deviance from the plant-rules, a little conversation, a little inclusion in our every day, and this tiny succulent is flourishing.

what better metaphor for nurturing the people around us. give them at least what we give low (read: high) maintenance plants.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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nurture me. carrots, pianos and frogs. [k.s. friday]

nurture me songbox

i miss my piano.  i didn’t realize how much until late last night, in the darkened theatre, my hands touched the keys and i could breathe.  my neck and shoulders, stiff and aching from undue stress, relaxed just a little.  tears fell down my face.  they are still there now, as i write this.

this morning, as d was making breakfast, a tree frog hopped out from between the cabinets and landed on the stove.  fortunately, we were able to coax him from the hot burners and take him safely outside.  it was unclear how he got inside.  but his message was clear, a message we had learned from helen quite some time ago.  f.r.o.g. = fully rely on God.  and so, a giggle and a time of fresh, deep breaths.

when i have performed this piece NURTURE ME (as i mentioned in a previous post) i have loved to tell the story of the carrot seed, the absolute knowing that nurturing can lift anyone, any living thing, from fallow, from despair, from seed into grandness, into thriving, into life.

carrots, pianos, tree frogs.  all are capable of telling the story.  nurture trumps hate.

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NURTURE ME from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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pax. [d.r. thursday]

pax morsel sharpened copy

a morsel of the painting PAX

pax: the kiss of peace (latin); peace (ecclesiastical latin)

“pax,” he wrote to me.  years ago, in a chaotic, somewhat scary time of my life, the word “pax” was an end-goal, security in an insecure world, the warmest blanket on a bitter cold day.  it doesn’t just happen.  there are people around us, some epicentered and some peripherally, who create a place where we can find this peace, even momentarily.  their stalwart stance, their steadiness brings us back off the brink of angst.  the smallest iota of peace, like a mustard seed, grows until we can balance back on our own feet, strong enough to walk on…with leaps or even baby steps.

this painting makes me think of one of those people in my own life.  a dear deeply-valued friend, his help and his accessibility helped me deal with someone else’s craziness unfortunately directed at me.   he was the lighthouse in that storm for me.  he helped me feel safer so that i could find peace in the chaos.

for various reasons, we don’t always realize when we are someone else’s rock.  we don’t feel central, we don’t feel involved, we don’t feel informed.  but there are times we don’t know – times we plant ourselves into someone’s life and nurture them, even in the tiniest of ways – times we may never know how much what we said or what we did counted.  times of giving peace to someone else, one of life’s most essential elements.

“pax,” he wrote to me.  thank you.

PAXunframed copy 2

PAX mixed media  24″ x 24″

to view PAX in david’s gallery, please click here or on the painting above

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birdy feet website box

PAX ©️ 2015 david robinson, kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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nurselog (nurs lawg, log) noun: each of us

photo-4we were silently canoeing in a quiet lake. very few other people were out. it was almost still. the sun was warm on our faces. and there is a certain rustling sound that birch trees make in a gentle breeze.  as we drifted around a bend, there was an old, old tree, its broken, jagged end angled a foot above the water. from a distance, and then closer, we could see what looked like a tiny garden growing in the tree’s jagged end.

“it’s a nurselog,” he said. as the fallen tree disintegrated, the organic matter became the perfect soil for new growth. small plants were stretching out of their new home, this welcoming space they had found.

(later i looked it up.   on asknature.org i read, “tall, wide trees in the forests of the pacific northwest serve as nurse logs to their seedlings after they fall, providing decades of water and nutrients as they slowly decay.”)

nurse log. nurselog. (i like it as one word.) i thought about it as we paddled. my sweet momma was a nurselog. everyone she encountered she gave space to, nurtured, made at home. she was the perfect soil for others’ new growth, whoever they were.

isn’t that our job?

one of my favorite children’s books is called ‘the carrot seed’ by ruth krauss.  the copy i have of it is one of those hard cardboard books that get all goobery on the edges after hundreds of readings. in the book a little boy wants to plant carrots but is cautioned by his mother, his father and his big brother that the carrots won’t grow. regardless, he diligently continues to water and tend the little spot where he planted the carrot seed. and then one day, a carrot came up. my favorite line from the book is “just as the little boy had known it would.” there is an illustration by crockett Johnson that depicts the little boy with a wheelbarrow that has in it the biggest carrot you’ve ever seen.

the power of nurturing.

anne lamott (in ‘grace, eventually’) wrote, “all of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.”

what’s more important?photo-2
what are we REALLY here for?
how can we help each other grow?
what does it all mean?

“…provide decades of water and nutrients…”

we kept canoeing, our paddles gliding in and out of the calm water, the lake answering our unspoken questions.

nurture me
is one of my earliest tracks.

recorded on ‘released from the heart’
THE CARROT SEED inspired this piece.

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