When we moved into our home ten years ago, we ended up with more than a house. The former owner had regularly mowed most of our two acres. Within the next two years, we shrank the lawn by about half. A steep former lawn north of the house is now prairie and a fairly level quarter acre between our house and the road is Marion’s labyrinth that she created within a prairie we planted.
Today, most people call flower-studded prairies “pollinator patches” and interest is strong in transforming lawns into them. Here are just a few of the good reasons:
Why Plant Pollinator Patches?
Color: Lawns are a monoculture of green. Pollinator patches feature three seasons worth of changing vibrant color as many species of wildflowers come into and go out of bloom. They are beautiful.
Water: Closely mowed lawns don’t absorb rain well. Much of a storm’s water runs off, worsening flooding. In contrast, deep-rooted prairies channel most of a storm’s water into the soil, where it eventually recharges the water table and doesn’t worsen downstream flooding.
Labor: We don’t enjoy endless hours walking behind a lawnmower. We will mow our newly planted prairie two or three times this summer and in the following years, we won’t mow it at all. The lawn takes about a dozen mows a year. So, we’re saving time and mower gas that costs money and creates carbon dioxide.
Wildlife: We love watching our wren pairs forage for insects in our pollinator patches. By expanding our prairie we’ll welcome even more beautiful and interesting beneficial wild animals to our yard.
Many people want to create pollinator patches in their yards but don’t know how to do this. We will be blogging through the process to help folks know how this is done. Stay tuned and keep visiting www.windingpathways.com to learn how.
The heavy, up-slope clay soil will absorb water more efficiently and reduce runoff.
The crew from Sustainable Landscape Solutions determine soil type
Winding Pathways, Linn County roadsides, Pheasants Forever, the Monarch Research Project and Pheasant Forever make a strong partnersjhip demonstrating how to improve the quality of the land.
Lights twinkled in the yard and labyrinth. The faint perfume of milkweed wafted up in the still, hot, early summer air. Calling. Calling.
We had arrived home at dusk after a long journey home from the East. Still in “travel mode” we unpacked the car and put away most of our trip supplies. As darkness wrapped around us, we let ourselves release the tension that builds up from high-speed driving through eight states and visiting with numerous family and friends in four different states.
So, in the dark, with stars guiding me, fireflies dancing around me and the soft aroma of milkweed calming me, I walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.
How can I explain the grounding, settling in and the sense of “coming home” that flowed into and through me? I kept saying over and over, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
To the rental car for its comfort. For safe travels by car, on foot, and in buses and subways. For great meals with friends and family. For respites in unexpected places. Fr color. For quiet. For seeing different parts of the land and meeting different people. For perspectives.
While my words are weak in conveying my experience that evening, I trust that some readers have had a similar experience the memory of which lingers in their soul. A memory they can return to time and again to calm, soothe, and refresh them.
The warm summer air brings out the subtle fragrance of the milkweed.
The subtleties of walking a labyrinth in fresh snow or in the dark have not been lost on me. Muscle memory, night vision, and simple observation help navigate the terrain when obvious landmarks are obscure.
Muscle memory helps find the path in the dark.
Before the snow fell, when I walk the labyrinth in the dark, the memory of the path, familiarity with the number of steps to a turn, and the various plant heights help me navigate. The funny little statues and boulders along the way form the boundaries. Lights from passing cars not only illuminate the path briefly and also wreck night vision. So, counting steps and simply being aware of where I am on the labyrinth help keep me on the path.
With snow on the ground, the snowshoes make terrific “pat down” equipment and after a few times walking is easy. So, until a new snow, I can just wear boots. Stay on the beaten path or find myself “post-holing” through deep snow.
The brilliance of a sunny day can be confusing, so after a fresh snowfall, I look for the burned stems of plants and the slight depression of past walks as guides. And, how the drifted snow reveals a different texture is fascinating.
Odd marks in the snow capture my attention. Little holes that appear from nowhere, then tiny tracks of a rodent, then another little hole where it dropped back in the security and relative warmth of the snow tunnels.
The fate of the incautious rodent is evident where tracks suddenly disappear with telltale feather strokes on the snow. Whoooo’s for lunch?
Walking the labyrinth in winter brings its own rewards.
What a tumultuous year!
Politics, weather extremes, human-created disasters, changes in work, working
through elder matters, untimely deaths. Wow. One could be overwhelmed and, using
an old New England phrase, think, “The world is going to H— in a Handbasket.”
Yet, when we shift the lens of our thinking and move into gratitude,
we begin to appreciate small pleasures and successes and help others move into
more positive places, so they contribute to gratitude and the healing of ourselves,
communities and the world.
So, here is a random selection from my 2018 Gratitude Jar.
Many gratitudes came from others helping me the many times Rich was East
helping his folks.
1-1 Walked the labyrinth two times and at the full moon in
1-19 Facebook Live we talked about catalogs and treats for
2-4 Working with Rich on Hoover Hatchery blog on chicken folklore.
3-25 We met a couple on Cedar Lake Train who feed birds and
4-27 Jenn helped me remember how to print PDF of Essential
5-8 Dinner with the Ogden/Muchmore.
5-24 A and D engaged!
6-25 Paige at Verizon helped with a discount.
6-27 Savannah helped again with household chores and sanding
the chairs. A really hot time and we did
7-2 Taught with Mary Pathways at KCC.
8-22 Judy S. talked with students for KPACE.
9-1 Edith and Tami at Illuminations labyrinth walk.
10-4 Ellen’s hospitality for Veriditas Council.
second week October travel to Nebraska and South Dakota and meeting the “real Deal”ranchers.
11-27 DJ at the photo shop made great postcards for Winding
12-7 Norma and I had a wonderful talk after class.
12-13 Helped Rachel at PCI.
12-26 Walked North End labyrinth in Denville.
I enjoyed this walk down memory lane as I browsed the gratitude
notes and remembered the positives of 2018.
What’s the benefit? We infuse ourselves with a large DOSE
of optimism and improve our health and that of those around us.
Dopamine, the “chemical of reward”, flows into us
when we have accomplished a task and been kind to others. For me, completing tasks I especially do not
want to do has always proved to be helpful. Then, I write these on the
gratitude papers and slip them into my jar!
It’s best when I do the task first. Then, it is off my mind and I am
really pleased. Good habit to develop.
Oxytocin, the bonding hormone that parents especially
feel toward children, is released by gentle and caring touch. My work with Reiki,
Healing Touch Spiritual Ministries and facilitating programs creates
connections and stronger bonds among us.
Serotonin the neurotransmitter that counters
depression is often stimulated by sunshine, thinking positively, and eating
foods high in tryptophan. Pineapple, eggs, cheese, Tofu, salmon, nuts and
seeds, and, of course, turkey!
Endorphins produced in the central nervous system
help regulate pain. They can help us push through a difficult physical task. Some
form of daily movement helps us be more cheerful. Walking the labyrinth daily since late 2018
has benefitted me. Grounding. Centering. Naming specific gratitudes as I walk.
Appreciating the changes in the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.
Online University has a great outlook on the neurotransmitters and hormones
that help lift us up. Then, we lift up others.
We create this better world most long for and which is badly needed.