Home page and where to get Shonin Risa's books: https://sites.google.com/view/risabear

It may be that lifestyle overshoot will prevent my dream of an egalitarian agrarian society from arising from the empire's ashes. But
I hold that behaving as if a better life could happen is still the right thing to do. Therefore this blog focuses on a decent and humane
way to live. Survival links post here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Picks beans

 Join me for a walk around during a heat wave? Good. We can sit in the shade afterward.

This is the sunflower everyone says is thirteen feet tall. I think it's more like ten feet, which is impressive enough. It was very late forming a head, but it looks like that's going to happen.

Here's the path between the grapes and the compost bins, that goes from the house to the "field garden." It supposedly goes all the way to the apple trees by the street, but has been taken over by extremely aggressive winter squash, most of which have turned out to be spaghetti squash. Duck pools at right stay busy year round, but especially in the heat. I used to carry buckets of the rich brown or green water to all the fruit trees, but I suspect those days are behind me.

A bit of color. We keep a bit of basil growing near the cherry tomatoes and snack as we go by, wrapping a tomato in a basil leaf.

Larger tomatoes have been slow to change color this year, but a few 60F-or-better night lows have awakened them. 

Beloved is sitting in the swing in this image, but you'd never know it looking there from the gate this time of year. Our idea of privacy is to wrap the "courtyard" in useful greenery every year.

Greens are currently being used mostly to support the poultry, who have all run out of grass. I've made about a gallon of powdered solar-dried greens, which is more than we use, and put away the dehydrator for the year. 

I've begun harvesting potatoes; the crop is not so good, about a pail full per row -- but there are sixteen rows, so that's all right. Larger ones sit around for a day or two, then go into storage.

Smaller ones are washed and then go straight to the kitchen.

Green beans were hard to start but eventually we got some growing and they have been very welcome. Behind them, the lettuce and carrots are managing in the heat nicely.


 I trust those who are only here for the garden pictures will know to tiptoe away at this point. 😅 But if you want a glimpse into what's going on with me, have a go at the remainder of this post.

In preparation for my participation in Treeleaf's 2020 Ango (beginning September 4th), I have been re-reading Shohaku Okumura's Realizing Genjokoan, an exegetical exposition of the most crucial chapter of Dogen's Shobogenzo


I often use the example of a hand in speaking about emptiness; we can call it a hand or we can call it a collection of five fingers. As a collection of five fingers, each finger is independent and has a different shape and function. We cannot exchange the little finger with the thumb because each has its own function, shape, and unique way of being. A thumb cannot do precisely what a little finger does and a little finger cannot do what a thumb does. Each finger is truly independent. And yet, from another perspective as one hand, all five fingers function together, and there is no separation between them. When we see the fingers in this united way, there is really just one hand.

That's the task I have set myself for the ninety day retreat: to learn how to ride this bicycle. 

I'm neither fingers nor hand.

I'm both fingers and hand. 

I'm the middle between both and neither. 

"I" am clearly here in the garden as this bald-headed old nun, but am also only here in the sense that the entire garden, planet, solar system, galaxy, universe is present in the present: one being-ness. 

Words cannot convey all this, or even any of it, but as a priest I have the job of opening the treasure box of this being-ness to any who ask, so I try. 

When no one is asking, when I am alone, I train. Get up in the morning, sit zazen, eat, walk out to the garden and see how the potatoes and sunflowers and beans are getting on. Without ideation of any separate (permanent unchanging soul or identity) existence, hand reaches out, grasps basket, picks beans.


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