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Archive for November, 2012

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lightning flashes
brief – bold – beautiful
like all your promises

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Before us hangs, ‘Still Life with Golden Goblet,’ by Pieter de Ring. At Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, we are enjoying a selection of its finest seventeenth century Dutch paintings. I observe the lavishly rendered bread, sea food, a peeled lemon and those grapes—so luscious I long to eat them. We’re amazed by the contrast between the vivid red lobster and the rich table covering.

‘This is one of the artist’s finest works yet he never signed the canvas,’ I remark.

‘Oh, but he has,’ my partner replies. ‘De Ring loved a puzzle so look again more carefully.’ As I study the picture, I see it—a painted silver ring, resting under the lobster’s claw.

lapis lazuli
mined in Afghanistan
crushed into pigment –
ultramarine cloth
and decorative bowl

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blistering wind
and blazing sunlight
burns the dry grass
into burnished gold

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Food is such an important part of our lives. It provides the fuel to drive our energy systems and its preparation and enjoyment, particularly in the presence of family and friends, can be elevated to an art form. The dishes we recall from our childhood provide warm and comforting memories. And when we choose to eat ‘close to the earth,’ we actually acknowledge the true impact food can have on our lives.

Freshly prepared food purchased directly from a farmer’s market or obtained from roadside stalls at the farm gate, will offer a taste that is very different from foods that have been marketed and stacked on most supermarket shelves. Recently picked fresh, raw food contains more life force energy (chi) and holds a greater amount of nutrients.

 The effect of globalization is readily available when we buy our own food. Now that the sources of food are often identified with some compulsory signage, during my weekly shopping I was surprised to notice the following: pears from China, oranges and grapes from the USA, rice and cashews from India, fish fillets from Vietnam and smoked cod from South Africa. Nearly all of this food is grown or can be processed right here. And one must also question whether the food production standards in some of these countries are well maintained?

How much precious fossil fuel is being wasted by carting food back and forth across our oceans? How long has this food remained in storage before shipping or air freighting actually began?  Is there a solution to this dilemma?

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Grow and harvest a small backyard vegetable garden. Begin to eat ‘close to the earth,’ by shopping at a local farmer’s market. As this form of shopping offers lower prices for fresh food, we might even be tempted to bypass tinned or frozen foods altogether. We would spend less money by buying in season and then cooking these foods in interesting new ways. We would be supporting our farmers in the local region and we would also connect to our immediate eco-system. We may even get to know the individuals who grow our food as we help to preserve the healthy culinary traditions that have existed for centuries.

 All food labels should be checked to insure the product is grown locally and is GM free. All fresh food should be washed before any use as even the cleanest and greenest of our local growers and producers must use some chemicals in the food production. This said, any eating close to the earth will contribute to a healthier diet for ourselves and for our families. 

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this morning
my bedroom glows
with golden light –
tonight the moon
will paint it silver

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An Eye Opener

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I wash my hands, struggle into a shapeless gown opened at the back, then cover my hair with a floppy cloth shower cap. So many drops have left my left eye blurred and burning slightly. A needle in my arm follows and a deep sense of relaxation engulfs me.

     ‘You’ll be fine now,’ a nurse speaks comfortingly. I barely remember two young men guiding me onto a bed and wheeling me away through double doors into the glare of a large room, where I drift into dreamless sleep.

cataract operation
all the pale roses
now bright yellow

 

 

 

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new lattice screen –
now squares of sunlight
decorate my plants

 

 

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Spring has returned to the Southern Hemisphere and from mid-October into early November, Australian streets are awash with the magnificent mauve-purple blooms of jacarandas. Not only do these stately trees (Jacaranda mimosifolia) create superb street displays through their mass plantings, but jacarandas look stunning on their own. Used as an ornamental tree in an open lawn, their fallen flowers—growing in bunches of bell shaped blooms—litter the ground to form a colourful carpet of deep purple.

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Many people mistakenly think that jacarandas are natives, as they grow profusely in all tropical and warm temperate zones. These trees, originally found only in Brazil, are deciduous—not because of cold winters—but because of the monsoonal wet to dry seasons. They briefly drop their leaves at the end of the dry winter season, then bloom and leaf up again when the warm spring rains return.

There is a saying among Australian students that when jacaranda blossoms first appear, if you aren’t prepared for your final exams, time has run out and you won’t pass them.  In the same vein Pretoria, known as The Jacaranda City of South Africa, enjoys its enormous number of trees in street displays, parks and private gardens. The legend here is that if a falling flower from a jacaranda drops on your head, you will pass all your final exams.

Drink in their beauty and savour them to the full as each season of flowering is very brief. Jacarandas are marvellously photogenic and once their blossom time is over, it’s a long wait for the next breathtaking display.

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