Like most anyone in the northern hemisphere, I suppose, that has a garden year, I begin in January with a short hike to the potting shed to see how much clearing away must be done before entertaining thoughts of flats and seeds. A cursory glance tells me it's not as bad as some years. Nevertheless, I have my excuses -- cloudy, wet and windy out -- old, stiff and cold -- and head back for another stint by the stove to commiserate with a lonely cup of tea.
Beloved has been asked by a Catholic friend about anything I might know about Buddhism's response to suffering.
"She might find your thirteen page reply a bit overwhelming," she informs me.
Over the tea, we determine that the question is on serious illness, and for that I haven't any information that would not occur to any good Catholic.
"I think Buddhism does not expect to get you out of pain, it's just intended to get you out of always starting off on the wrong foot -- adding to the negativity in the world."
"Yes, that's the short answer I was looking for."
Still grey and blustery, so I head down to the cold room to do some inventory.
There's plenty of stored water, canned goods, frozen and dried sundries, and all the seeds we wanted except cucumber (must get); of bulk goods we are high in most things but could probably use more salt, garbanzos and rye flour. Notes made; close up and return to the fire.
It's not as bad out the window as it was, and I'm not as stiff, so I shoe up and take another look at the potting shed. Looks even better in the brighter light; and some sun has gotten in through the south window-wall. If there's anything 18th-century on the classical radio station ...
... and there is. Yes, I can do this.
A little better after half an hour.
Outside, the hens are clamoring for some dietary supplement, as they've been excluded from the garden this week in favor of the ducks. So I go get them a bit of raggedy kale.
There have been few frosts, so the kale has remained unpopular in the kitchen, but the hens have high regard for it.
On the way back to the house I touch the iron-pipe bell to "awaken" it, pull the rebar "bell inviter" from a knothole in the lilac, take one long breath, tap the bell, replace the rebar, and put palms together and bow.
The bell's name is "Wide-Awake." One aspires to be that, you see.