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    Seventeen Syllable Medicine Paid Member

    Waking up in the long indigo shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, my heart is granite. A beloved dharma sister and deep writing friend of 30 years has been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and has just entered an intensive treatment program at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center of Northern New Mexico. I have come to keep her company for a week. Outside her home, the first honey blonde columbine of summer push into bloom, a glory I am too numb to celebrate. More »
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    New Saplings, Old Ground Paid Member

    In early winter of this year, shortly after the Buddha’s parinirvana ceremony, a special memorial service was convened in the Green Gulch garden to honor a few venerable fruit trees entering their early dotage. Covered with leathery lichen and scaly tufts of moss, these noble trees had ceased to bear fruit and were soon to be replaced. I imagined the warm purr of a chainsaw in their immediate future. Since I had planted most of these elders more than 30 years ago, I was now invited to celebrate their demise. More »
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    The Three Friends of Winter Paid Member

    Before daybreak the threshold gate leading into our coastal garden is etched with hoarfrost. The vast star river of the December Milky Way flows in solemn grandeur across the sky. In the garden, the Three Friends of Winter—pine for strength, bamboo for flexibility, and plum for the flowering and fading of beauty—are lit by pale tides of starlight. More »
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    Old Man's Beard Paid Member

    November wind sweeps the dregs of autumn over the rim of the world. The last hag apples of the season hang on naked branches above the reek of fermented fruit. Low on the haunches of the year, rotting cabbage is dug back into bittersweet dirt. The harvest is gathered in a shady cellar. Burgundy braids of soft-necked garlic, baskets of Iroquois white corn, and blind-eyed seed potatoes dream in the dark. More »
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    Food with the Farmer's Face Paid Member

    Over the last 5 years or so my formal Zen practice has begun to dematerialize, dropping down below the horizon where blue earthworms mix raw manure with the guts of the ground. For original teaching I summon the first Zen pilgrims who came to North America in the early 20th century. Nyogen Senzaki spent 20 years working as a farmhand, a waiter, a houseboy, and a translator before establishing practice places in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Zen is not a puzzle,” he insisted. “It cannot be solved by wit. It is spiritual food for those who want to learn what life is . . .”  More »
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    Window Guest Paid Member

    This fall a large orb weaver spider of bulbous abdomen took up residence in the southeastern window of our living room. A summer refugee from the garden, it clearly did not belong there, and yet it settled in as if it would be staying awhile. She built an exquisite web, anchored by three mainstay threads to the windowsill. The concentric circles of gossamer silk were stitched together at regular intervals, forming a flat food net. Every night the spider would come to the middle of the web and hang in place, waiting for prey. When day came, she would climb up to the edge of the frame and tuck in for the day, legs outstretched on the web to receive vibrations from visitors. One early morning before dawn I found the spider carefully repairing the net, one small stitch at a time. More »