Summer So Far

Hi readers! I’ve missed this space so much the past few months and finally told myself enough is enough: no matter how full my schedule, I need to make time in my week for writing. So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see…

In May, we tilled and planted our garden, which is now flourishing with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. It’s mostly been a hot, dry summer here in the Finger Lakes Region of NY, which means that Alan and I have spent many hours watering the garden with a couple of watering cans. Our current hose doesn’t reach that far. At least I’ve logged plenty of steps on my FitBit.

Toward the end of June I signed up for a 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga Farm in Lansing, NY. It’s right across the lake from us, but thankfully, the pandemic has convinced Yoga Alliance to allow online teacher trainings, so I don’t have to leave home to get certified. This program is awesome, but it does require many hours per week to stay on top of it. Since I’m trying to finish up a required Ayurveda course through Yoga Veda Institute before August 31 (part of my Ayurvedic Practitioner training), plus I’m working on Yoga Veda’s 450-hr yoga teacher training, I have had my moments of “What was I thinking?!?”

What I was thinking was how much anxiety many people are facing due to income loss, isolation, so many changes to our everyday lives. I want to be able to offer some free online yoga classes to contribute to personal resilience-building, good self-care and wellness habits, and overall positivity. The sooner I can do that, the better.

As far as summer reading, I’ve slowed down a bit because of all the studying time, but here are a few books I read that I recommend:

For sheer escapism, I’ve read (audiobook) The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix, (audiobook) A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir Jennifer Ryan and I just finished The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. All of these books had likable characters and a cozy feel that I need when I’m feeling stressed. 

Other books I loved or am loving include The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, (which I read with my daughter), An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass is the one I’m still reading and the writing is exquisite and is teaching me much about plants, native American culture, indigenous plant wisdom, and how to think about caring for the planet. (More on this book as I read it.)

I found a few podcasts and other resources I wanted to share here as well on Permaculture/Regenerative Agriculture/Climate Justice:

The Post Carbon Institute is treasure trove full of resources. Earlier this summer, I took their now permanently FREE community resilience course called Think Resilience. If you care about things like food security, local economy, and how to make your home and. community more resilient, I urge you to take this course!

Post Carbon Institute’s What Could Possibly Go Right? Podcast is also worth a listen as Vicki Robin’s interviews many “cultural scouts” in the field. Their recent webinar Decolonizing the Mind with Sherri Mitchell blew me away. I was challenged to think about the way I think, to understand better what it has been like for the indigenous people that were here before the Europeans (the colonizers) came over. I have so much to learn!

The Permaculture Podcast  has a few years’ worth of interviews and the ones I’ve been listening to are fantastic. One of my favorites was with Rob Hopkins (a hero of mine), founder of the Transition movement and author of the recommended read From What Is To What If?.

And if Permaculture interests you, Permaculturewomen.com have a FREE year long permaculture course that I’m currently working through.

When the pandemic arrived, I decided it was past time for me to learn how to become more resilient, how to grow food for myself, and figure out how to develop several different sources of income in order to thrive in this increasingly unstable world. I hope if you don’t already have these skills, that you will look into some of the free resources so you can begin building resilience for yourself, your family, and your community.

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Alright, so now you know a little of what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I forgot to mention my husband and I have performed music several times around the area this summer. That’s been our only forays into public other than necessity food/garden shopping. We feel safe as long as we’re outside and not too close to people. Once the weather gets cold, we’ll be performing, sharing new songs, and behind the scenes content from home via our Patreon page. You can check us out there or on our Facebook page!

I would really love to know what YOU have been reading and learning this summer so far, what your garden looks like, or any other thoughts you want to share in comments. Also feel free to email me: kimcz76@gmail. Have a relaxing Friday evening!

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Planting Native (A Book Review)

Here in the Northeastern part of the United States in April, we haven’t planted our gardens yet. But we are cleaning up our and gardens and preparing them for planting. We are buying shrubs and trees and perennials too. If you are wondering what to plant, PLEASE think about birds before you do. Are you investing in plants that are native to your area? Birds need native plants to thrive and if you already know this, hooray!!! But if not, and you live in the Eastern part of the U.S., this book might be just what you need to help you choose plants for your yard!

The book I’m recommending is called Planting Native to Attract Birds to Your Yard by Sharon Sorenson. What I love about this book are several things: The photos of birds and native plants are gorgeous, the quotes by naturalists sprinkled throughout the text are inspiring, and the facts that are highlighted bring perspective, importance, and responsibility to us as property owners.

Another thing I like about this book is that in chapters 1-3, the author explains EVERYTHING–even down to a definition of what a native plant is (not a weed!) She doesn’t simply say “birds need native plants for shelter, nests, and food”, but explains how birds use the plants for shelter, nests, and food, and why it’s so crucial that we have them in our yards.

Did you know that native plants are actually less work and less expensive to care for than non-native plants? They don’t need fertilizer, and they rarely need watering, pruning, or deadheading either!

In Chapter 4, the author helps us to formulate a plan for our yard and garden spaces, by analyzing what is already in our yard and neighborhood. We make a list of assets and liabilities. She also includes a list of invasive plants named “The Disaster Dozen”. She shares why they are such a problem, how to get rid of them, and what to replace them with.

She goes on to have ample suggestions for what to plant in any size space. Chapter 5 is dedicated to Native Trees with consideration of biodiversity, soil conditions, space, personal preference, and more! Chapter 6 is all about Native Shrubs and Vines and she has you choose one for each season. (I would’ve never thought of this!) Chapter 7 is Native Perennials: Flowers and Grasses, and finally, Chapter 8 discusses Adding Water.

So, if you are a property owner, gardener, landscaper, or bird lover, I highly recommend that you order this book here or from your favorite bookseller!