Surrealism in Gardening

For some reason I had been talking about flying orchids lately (boring a spouse is in my catalog of sins.) I have always admired surrealism, beginning back when my brain was at its peak, when I was 17 or 18. (  I get Brain News and so the science goes.) My favorite painting was always Sleeping Gypsy probably because it showed an animal in such an ascendant position over the sleeping woman. LINK  This lion obviously could have killed her and yet the feeling is of such care and delicacy. It brings to mind the ideal law – a law that would elevate and protect animals and plants as well as people. Suprisingly, such a heavenly law called The Law of Mother Earth is close to becoming law in Bolivia.

Rousseau would have loved this law since nature came rushing forward with such great speed from the surface of his canvasses. Just as the Church of old disliked humans being painted in small stature compared to towering trees and other elements of nature, since it seemed to contradict their dominion over nature idea, our present corporations, carrying on the war against nature, would surely dislike Rousseau’s naïve surrealism making nature larger than life. But to a gardener, nature is always larger than life. We are always in some prone position relative to the universe of the nature we encounter day to day.

The flying orchids I was thinking about were misplaced, coming out of nowhere, surely surreal – and this is what landed on my husband’s photoshop enabled computer. Attending the Orchid Show at Michigan State University last month, my eyes had to suddenly adjust from barren snow to a bevy of orchids. The shock value was intense, even a little overwhelming. If there were sound as well, there would have been bells and bagpipes. In fact, to my jaded eyes, there seemed to be millions and millions of them. They swept over me like a heavenly invasion, and when that subsided, a series of tapestries. Here is my husband’s version of the heavenly invasion of orchids, with the tapestries to come soon……..

Waiting for an Idea

Frozen Lake Michigan - Early Sprint 2011


I’m an idea person, and when I don’t have lots of light bulbs going off I seem to stop in my tracks. That’s the only Mushrooms cascading down a stumpexplanation I can come up with for why this blog has been blank for much of the past year. I can’t say that I’ve had a feast of ideas lately, but the one idea I’ve had is that I would like to continue this blog even without an idea that walks up and sits down on my lap. I think it is called persistence and it’s a grand idea in and of itself. I recently watched a Tom Petty documentary DVD titled, Tom Petty:  Runnin’ Down A Dream……… and in it he described how he started to write a song and got stuck after the first few chords and lines. So in every spare moment, after supper when others left to relax, he went back to his guitar and strummed those same chords over and over and over trying to get an idea for the rest of the song. People in the next room would yell at him to stop playing that thing! But after what seemed to most people a crazily long time, he finished the song:  Waiting Is the Hardest Thing. Hearing him and Eddie Vedder sing it together in a concert with such musical passion was mesmerizing. The song seemed effortless as it was performed. But we audience knew its inner journey and that fact amazed and inspired me.

So this blog will start with a few notes: There isn’t too much growing right now in Michigan, hence the ice photo I was “forced” to take. But it does symbolize the state of water in the winter, water only waiting and just maybe even absorbing some love from the vast ocean of blue sky.

One more note:  After watching a web video of Daniel Vitalis on the health benefits of Chaga mushroomsClose up picture of Chaga and feeling compelled to actually find such a medicinal mushroom if it was within my power, we ventured forth to a seemingly likely spot in Northern Michigan where the birch trees grow. To my utter shock, I spotted one high up on a tree within a few minutes of reaching our “target” area. As my husband started researching tree climbing boots and equipment on his phone, Chaga way up a treeI found another one closer to the ground not too far away. However, it was a little too high and we came without a ladder or tree saw. How was I to know we would actually find Chaga? So we had to come back the next week with our arsenal of tools – everything but a chain saw which would have been really nice. Anyway, with some cheerleading on my part, my loyal husband sawed hard with a pruning saw for about ten minutes to get the Chaga off the tree. These Chagas seemed harder to me than it appeared watching Daniel hack his off with his machete or David Wolfe with his bare foot (?????). I wondered if we actually had the real thing, but when I simmered it a couple of hours for a decoction tea, it had a most exotic taste that was genuinely transporting, with the overtones of maple and vanilla which Daniel described. I don’t know if it’s the Chaga, but here I am writing a blog. I seem to have more energy and wake up earlier so I can do more during the day.

A third note:  On our Chaga trips, other things caught my eye. Mushrooms growing on tree stumps and mosses were all hanging around, happy with the bracing temperatures. One old stump was decked out in mushrooms top to bottom and seemed like a strange Alice in Wonderland table set before us with mushrooms in various hues and configurations like textured pottery.  So here are a couple of photos of this presentation by nature.

Thanks for waiting – and with or without an obvious idea, the blog will go on.Mushroom adorning the top of a stump in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan