Tag Archives: creativity

Kombucha: taste and perspective

If you asked me, here is what I’d tell you about the tastes of kombucha.

Pomegranate white tea brings out a burst of hope from each pomegranate seed involved. It’s a mix of blissed and blessed; straightforward and non-complex. A great one for the card-carrying kombucha naysayers out there. It is sweet and light and uncomplicated as well as non-threatening. It’s humble and doesn’t need to shout out its worth to you or anyone else. It knows its value and doesn’t beg for approval. This is an honest drink ready to make anyone’s glass half full.

Toss in pomegranate seeds for festive fiber and color

Assam has a great depth, a history to it. It’s the finely earned sweat from the sides of a muscled quarter horse pressed against your clenched legs. It then becomes the steam off that same horse. There is a kiln-dried, slight hickory flavor, as soft and soothing as a vapor from your higher self. The lighter side offers a sweetness- akin to an heirloom apple from 1905 Washington state. Lastly, what follows is a reminder of a root cellar somewhere in the Oregon coastal hills, maybe Chitwood- with a dark and fruity taste that comes from the underground and bugs.

A blend of pomegranate and white peony met, due to low tea supplies in the house. The main body of this drink is mystic over intellectual. It is a meeting of bold cheerfulness and wise sage. Combined, the elements of the liquids blend toward a field trip through honesty and freshness. You miss it once it easily slides down the esophagus. It absorbs into the tongue, triggering a sense of mature vision with a hint of playful mischief. It doesn’t incite trouble, it emboldens creative thinking. You just can’t get enough.

Not bad, but a bit much, Lapsang souchung tastes like smoked stable chips washed down with a coastal slew at low tide. It includes a backsplash of fossilized golden soil with a million ancient comments echoing past centuries. It finishes with horse hoof trimmings brushed with a light glaze of organic sugar.

Bad kombucha tastes like:

  • Bubbly brackish pond water
  • Foul fermented moss mold with a fizz
  • Carbonated sour plums that finish with a dirty thud punch
  • Sparkling swirling dervish sledge
  • Barrels of babbling bellicose berries battling good taste
  • Surly swill of swirly saturated sourness
  • Moist mushroom moonshine musty with regrets of the past burping forth from a murky muddy spring.

Set up your own station and make a brew that tastes like the smell of the tender paws of a spaniel that just ran through an heirloom tea shrub field. Or a swig that reminds you of a hot air balloon ride over a sweet and salty ocean on a planet yet to be discovered.

The possibilities are endless.

 

Flowers wave at the traffic going by

I practiced 20 different introductions as I walked toward the Flower Garden of Mystery. This is a large plot of sunflowers and nasturtiums on the corner of Hilyard and E. 25th.

“Hi, my name is Mary Ann and I love your garden and I wondered if I could interview you for my blog, which has very few readers….”

“Hi, I’m Mary Ann, your neighbor, and I write about stuff, and I like your stuff, wanna chat?”

I walked up to the door and knocked twice to no answer. I felt hopeful as I looked at gnomes, a small plastic draft horse, and other fun odds and ends in the flower bed off the porch. As I walked away on the sidewalk, a woman opened the door and called to me. She said she is often hesitant to answer her door, but she saw me and decided to open it. It wasn’t her garden. She said it was her landlady’s plot. “Bonnie just turned 80. She is sort of a legend around here, I think she’d love to talk to you.” I was directed to walk two houses over, to Bonnie’s house.

Turns out, this booming flower garden is entirely volunteer. Nothing was planted. By now, it blooms by habit. It’s 50 years old. “I love the feel of dirt and the fairly amazing concept that a little piece of nothing turns into something magnificent,” said Bonnie Brunken, the one behind the garden. She moved into the neighborhood in 1949. At that time, the land was swampy and cheap; flooding was a regular thing.

Zinnias are her favorite flower. Next, she likes nasturtiums and sunflowers because “they want to live!” My faves too.
Several years ago, I was inspired to have the audacity to plant a huge zinna patch by yet another 80+ year-old neighbor!

Bonnie said she learned to grow things through mentors. “I was mentored by Wilma Crowe, who is in her 90s now.” Wilma and her mother, Mrs. Zahn, taught her about “moon planting and all kinds of things.”

The big patch of flowers cycles like this: tons of mulched leaves from her  Carolina Poplar trees are piled high on the bed in the winter. They are tilled into the soil in the spring. Next, she adds straw as the top layer. With some warmth and water, the soil pops to hundreds of flowers. After they are done, it all begins again.

What I like the most about the flower patch is its sole purpose is to be enjoyed. The flowers aren’t sold or eaten. They’re just there. The profit is in the eyes of those who notice.

Back to moon planting. Mrs. Zahn came by one day and checked in with Bonnie who had planted carrots about two weeks before. Mrs. Zahn gave her more carrot seeds and said, “plant these about 6″ out from yours, in the next row.” Bonnie said, sure, but why? “Because today is the right moon day to plant carrots.” In no time, the moon planted carrots grew stronger, faster, larger and didn’t have as much problems with bugs. Bonnie said, “I was a convert after that.”

Her mentors were organic farmers. She also read Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson in the early 1960s. Carson stands out as one who brought forth awareness about the harm caused by pesticides. She is credited with starting the environmental movement. At 56 and dying of breast cancer, she testified in front of the senate, “our heedless and destructive acts enter the vast cycles of the earth and in time return to bring hazard to ourselves.”

Upon this read, Bonnie said, “o.k, I’m not going to add to the problem.”

Besides seeing the results of moon planting, she saw a study done about 25 years ago by the University of Iowa. The final analysis ended up being about 500 pages with the conclusion: we understand a little bit about it; we don’t understand most of it; we just know that it works.

Sometime before this study, Pliny, the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist stated that the moon “replenishes the earth when she approaches it, she fills all the bodies; while when she recedes, she empties them.”

Moon planting is also referred to as agricultural astrology as it relates to moon phases and astrological signs.

Bonnie has two great dogs: Dandelion, the Parson Russel terrier, and Sage, the very soft beagle. Before I left, she wanted to show me the third pet, who lives in the back yard.

Perched in a patch of dragon lilies, snap dragons, daises, and other grasses and flowers, was a huge metal dragon! Bonnie named it, “Joyful.”

Joyful

For more about organic and biodynamic farming, check out my article featuring draft horses:
http://ezine.takerootmagazine.com/HTML5/Duhn-Associates-TAKE-ROOT-Magazine-Fall-2016?pageNum=18

From email to poem

This is what happened when I wrote an email to a friend. He turned my words into this poem:
body aches and spirit moaning,
in the name not of love, but of dodge and shame,
held back, or only allowed to burn in the same fields
how can we nurture and flow
transform resentment into liberation?
hungering for intimacy
for those here and those not here
it’s a bit of a sparse playground
what an eye-opening situation!
leave the boat at the bank, after crossing the river
Thanks for the creative collaboration, Corbin Sweeny. I love the poem!

Be slightly ridiculous

Madrone branches from ice storm make great winter potted features.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I pick up sticks. I collect them. I see them everywhere. Usually they are on the ground. I don’t go around poaching live branches off trees. Some of the best places to find them are on the borders and edges of reservoirs. Roots, limbs, branches, and even lumber pile up and roll around on each other from the waves and wind.  They end up soft and smooth and weathered like driftwood. They are no longer alive. At this point, they have become art.

Found in mud after a swim at Lookout Point.

In the beginning, I just placed the sticks around my yard or deck. They enhanced any space. Then I found more purpose, like making trellis for plants to climb. This gave way to more ideas, like making twig sculpture towers. Things really took off when the towers started to host humming bird feeders and suet.

One thing led to another.

I made suet the other day, for the first time. This was in response to a  friend saying to me, well, can’t you make that? I’d never thought of doing such a thing. The Farmer’s Almanac had a recipe that looked simple and honest and wholesome, so I made it. That exciting story might be another blog!

I put the fresh suet on my older wobbly curly willow twig bird and squirrel tower. Birds didn’t seem interested. I joked that at least the raccoons would like it. That night, the raccoons held a rave, and knocked the structure down leaving it badly beaten. Most of the suet was eaten.

I needed to build a new twig structure habitat! All the birds, mainly hummingbirds, counted on this thing. They have their hummer poetry slams here every Saturday at noon!

I looked at my backlog of sticks. Not enough good ones.

We had just had an ice storm that left a lot of tree limb casualties. About a mile away, along a running trail, I spotted a yellowish colored, smooth barked, very long, snapped-off elegant branch hanging by a tiny thread of fiber.

I hopped on my bike with my ratchet loppers in the saddle bags. This branch was destined for purpose. I hoped it was still there and that I could discreetly harvest it. That turned out to be the easy part. Snip, it was down. It was around 11 ft. I couldn’t ride my bike with it and risk impaling a jogger, or skewering a bicyclist.

I had to walk, looking balanced and normal with this very long branch. I only fell over once; managed to just dropped the bike and stick. Most people didn’t seem to notice. I passed a dog park, and there behind the fence staring at my great find was a very excited dog. His face lit up! His eyes said, “I love it!” In those few moments, we connected over this perfect and elegant wild-crafted branch.

The walk toward home was tiring but I didn’t show weakness. About a third of the way there, a man asked, “so, what are you going to do with that stick?” A fair question, and I told him the truth. Just then, another man called out my name and offered to deliver it to my house. It was my neighbor. He had a truck!

I told him that would be really great, and that I was feeling like I was looking weird. He picked up the stick, hoisting it across his shoulders and strode off, exclaiming, “now I look weird!”

The point is, it’s fun to be a little weird or ridiculous toward a creative goal. It makes for a more interesting day for you and others.