In honor of my Celtic/Anglo-Saxon heritage, on August 1, I celebrated Lughnasadh or Lammas, the year’s first (wheat) harvest festival. While I’m not currently harvesting any edibles from our garden, I constantly gather from it inspiration and a greater sense of place.
This is a constant challenge for someone so scatterbrained and easily distracted. But sometimes when weeding in the yard I dig up all manner of old pots, statuary, and brick. These treasures worked their way up out of the decomposed soil that buried them, reminding me of those who made their home here before, and force me to pay closer attention, to slow down and look more deeply at life’s surroundings.
Recently I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by naturalist John Muir Laws. He of the improbable name was younger than expected, filled with boundless energy and passion. He explained at length about bee dances, the amazing way that bees – some of our most important, and endangered, pollinators – triangulate with the sun and their nectar sources. Bees are attracted to the colors purple and yellow, butterflies to orange and red, and hummingbirds to red – all of which serve a purpose. Flowers like lupine and fireweed grow newer blossoms up the stalk, the older blooms pushed farther down as they age. Their pH balance changes, they become more acidic and turn blue, signaling to the pollinator which blossoms are new and full of nectar, as yet untapped. Laws recommends that when you’re outdoors, don’t just identify flowers and plants you know, take notice of the surrounding plants and animals, the condition of the foliage and flowers, and other details, to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna within their ecosystems.