Shadow Shit, Turmeric Plants, Papaya Trees, and Spring Smudging

We’ve had zero luck germinating papaya seeds and turmeric rhizomes, so this week, I ordered a young papaya tree and a turmeric seedling.

This is not to say that I’m giving up on growing my own from seeds/rhizomes. They’re still in pots, getting regular waterings and plenty of warm sun. But it’s been months with the turmeric and at least 6 weeks with the papaya. Summer is almost here, and it’s now or never. If our seeds and rhizomes decide to sprout, then we’ll have two pots of turmeric and more than one papaya tree. So, it will be a win either way this goes. It’s all about perspective.

Most of the veggie seedlings (about 95 percent) survived last week’s transplant into the food gardens. This is amazing good luck. Often, tiny veggie seedlings don’t like transplant. But I think the quality of the seed you start with matters (we use Franchi and Baker Creek Heirlooms) as well as the condition of your soil. Some gardeners plant their seedlings and then walk away, believing nature will take care of it all. Seedlings are like newborn infants: they need lots of attention at the beginning. After a while, you can relax your parenting.

We have an exploding patch of lettuces. Tomorrow, for a party, I’m bringing a huge bowl of our garden greens for a fresh salad. To it, I’ll add our garden chives, parsley, basil, and some young arugula. I’m so thrilled that we’re eating lots of our own garden food so early in the season.

Last night, my friend Chloe introduced me to a new expression - ‘shadow shit’. We were having a great discussion about self-work – becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. Good physical health goes a long way toward that goal. But often, the forgotten element is our emotional fitness.

We all have those subtle or not-so-subtle emotional issues that influence every decision we make. Sometimes, those emotions are just too painful in the body. Instead of traveling deep into that darkness to rid ourselves of the old hurts, old disappointments, and old trauma, we just distract ourselves with other, usually self-destructive things, and live lives of mediocrity. Traveling into that darkness is also painful. But it’s only by doing so that we can emerge again, healed and ready to love the world.

Chloe was talking about this ‘shadow work’ when she used the phrase ‘shadow shit’, and I burst out laughing. ‘Shadow shit’ is such a spot-on term. We all have shadow shit. Maybe it was a duplicitous friend, a disloyal lover, an abusive or absent parent, schoolyard teasing, or even a nasty, controlling boss who made our lives hell for a time. Whatever it is, to finally lay it to rest, we must go off alone, and travel to that dark place.

Anyway, ‘shadow shit’ is my new favorite expression. It gets to the core of the matter. I love precise language. Sometimes, white, college-educated liberals like myself get infatuated with pretentious language. Language doesn’t need to be swanky to make the point. Keep it simple and direct. Shadow shit.

This weekend, I’ll be working on our outdoor shrine. There are red flowers to plant all around it, and a large stone that we’re going to place under the Buddha. And yesterday, I had the idea of asking my amazing husband to build a simple shelter for the statue. I’ll have to draw up a blueprint. He’s so patient and loving about my bursts of creativity.

We’re also smudging the gardens this weekend. We burn incense in the gardens all summer long, but spring is the time for smudging. Where our food grows, food that’s going to nourish us and our loved ones, there’s no room for barren energy. A spiritually clean garden produces spiritually clean food, and feeds us all.

Live in peace.

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