Where there is a will there is a way

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sun Mother Wakes the World - an Australian Creation story. (Children's picture book.)

ADAPTED BY Diane Wolkstein    PICTURES BY Bronwyn Bancroft


The Sun Mother is awakened and comes down to the Earth.  The earth is still, with no colour, movement, or life.

Everywhere she goes, life flows after her - she goes into caves and wakes up life, which is reluctant to wake up until they see beautiful Sun Mother.  First the insects, then the lizards, frogs, snakes and fish, and in the coldest darkest cave the birds and animals.  (That makes sense to me, as it's a deeper pull from creation...) 

From the story:   

As Sun Mother entered the first dark cave, it was flooded with light. Witchetty grubs, beetles, and caterpillars cried, "Kkkkt! Why do you wake us?:

But when the crawling creatures opened their eyes and saw the beauty of Sun Mother, they followed her out of the cave. Insects of every colour and shape appeared, and the earth became more beautiful.

From the story:   

After resting, Sun Mother said, "My children, I woke you as a seed is woken in the spring.  Now that you are awake, I can return to my home in the sky."

Then, she returns to her place in the sky, and it is completely dark again.  The living creatures are all afraid for awhile - until they see her in the sky.  They soon realize she will come back, again and again in the sky.  But then they start to grumble, they aren't just content with life.  Sun Mother comes back and gives them another chance to change their forms.  They choose claws, or beaks, long legs for running...(platypus can't decide so chooses everything).  

I time Sun Mother gives birth to a daughter, Moon, and a son, Morning Star, to give the creatures light.  They give birth to twins - the first man and woman.

From the story:  

"Welcome, welcome!" Sun Mother said the first woman and the first man. "All around you are you relations - the grass, the hills, the water, the wine, and the animals. This is their place. Now it is yours too. Wherever you go, always return to look after your birthplace.

"Care for the land for the sake of your grandparents as well as for your children and grandchildren.  I travelled every step of the earth and it is now alive.  Just as I will visit the eath each morning, so you too must walk the land to keep it alive.

Then Sun Mother returns to the sky, continuing to keep her promise, bringing light to the Earth.

.... .-. ....

I always want to know how humans originally thought and saw the world, before modernization.  Before we lost our way as a people.

Ever since I heard of  "Dreaming", in Australian aboriginal culture, I've been fascinated and wanted to know what it meant. 

Recently, I got a children's picture book out of the library to read to the kids, Sun Mother Wakes the World.  Before the story, there is a description of Dreaming, and Dreamtime in it!

Diane Wolkstein in Sun Mother Wakes the World:
"The indigenous people of Australia believe that their first ancestors created the world and its laws.  They also believe that the world is still being created, and they call this continual process of creation The Dreamtime.  In order to enter into creation - past, present, and future - the people perform ceremonies during which they describe the Dreamtime in paintings, dances, songs and stories.

"Just as each of their ancestors appeared on earth in a certain place, which is called their Dreaming, so too the place where each person is born is called his or her Dreaming.  The birthplaces of the ancestors and the people living on earth are considered sacred.  Some people go on journeys (walkabouts) to look for their own birthplaces and the birthplaces of their ancestors.  On such occasions, they perform ceremonies to renew themselves and to keep the earth alive."

.... .-. ....

 About the illustrator (from her bio from an online bookstore):

Bronwyn Bancroft, a descendant of the Bundjalung tribe of northern New South Wales, is considered to be an important artistic spokesperson for her people. Her work has been represented in many galleries and collections throughout the world.

 She also illustrated Kun-Man-Gur: the Rainbow Serpent, which I had already discovered, and loved.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My tomato learning this year

 Starting out fresh this year - lots of hay and baby tomato plants of a variety of jam tomatoes.  
The dream is to grow enough to make my own pasta sauce - enough for my family's needs one day.

Hay as mulch
The new shoots of grass that you have to weed out (or turn that hay patch over to kill them) are annoying - but it was cheap (and I could get a bale of hay as opposed to a plastic bag of pea straw - no packaging and cheap).  

Plants growing - didn't have the bamboo poles yet so tying some plants to the fence in the meanwhile.  Even used a forest stick for one stake which worked well (lots of natural notches to find and tie to, unlike slippery bamboo poles).   

A useful notch

Almost too much learning and keeping up with the garden to report.  For the first time I really felt the pull of the land, I got a two month temp job filling in for an absent secretary, and then keeping up with the garden I had planted was a challenge.

This year I was inspired by Jackie French's gardening book,  The Best of Jackie French: A practical Guide to Everything from Aphids to Chocolate Cake, where she says, 'Don't prune your tomatoes or you'll get less fruit'.  She said you can let them ramble up a bank, or stake them.  So I decided to let them grow without much pruning, and let them explore their true vine nature.
I theorized that as long as I gave them nutritional (and enough gravitational) support, each new branch, like another plant, would produce as well as if it were planted separately.



gravitational support

I solved the staking problem by utilizing a pile of very tall bamboo that we had resourced for the Stillwater Raft Race in March.  The tomato plants, as they grew, were staked organically, giving them support as needed - even using somewhat an idea I saw posted by Different Solutions where the bamboo is made into crosses with a cross bar laid across the row of crossed poles.  I used stretchy ties from old t-shirts to tie growing branches to the tent-like framework.

problems with my method

BUT this way of staking suffered from lack of sufficient planning - so while the plants were supported, it was hard to walk across through the crazy framework when it was filled with growing and easy to damage the tomato vine branches, and hard to access the tomato fruit.  And my veggie garden looked like The Blair Witch Project movie.

Also, the "vining off" became exponential - and especially with my decreased amount of time to spare - the vines nearly overcame me.  In the end, I had to go on as lateral shoot seek and destroy mission, which continues to this day.

solutions for next year

Next year, I can really envision this ordered, productive, lovely life - I can picture the fruitful, well managed rows of tomato plants - supporting a fruitful existence.

My husband said he will help me create an ordered structure of bamboo polesI will prune away until the main stalk is established (my friend Deb's idea), letting a maximum of three branches grow off each plant, properly staked to the structure (hanging from structure from stretchy ties - they seem to like that).  And I would rather have more, well-managed individual plants, than more hard-to-control branches.

But I am glad I got to see the tomato plant's true nature, and even that I made a few painful mistakes.  Now I really get it.

Problematic: multiple stalks rather than one main trunk

nutritional support

I kept saying to myself, I really have to fertilize the plants!  Weeks went by.

Finally, I got a few huge sacks of compost, and spread a small bucket load on every plant.

problems with my method

BUT this resulted in a huge infestation of whitefly, as there was too much nutrients at once!  Jackie French said about fertilizing tomatoes in her book, 'A little bit and often is best'.  So I got to see why this was important the hard way!  


I had to fight, fight fight with Neem oil, and Neem granules in the soil, which did hurt the plants a bit the extent that I did it.  And the whiteflies are still there now on half my plants - and little white wiggly wormies still infests much of the soil.  And Neem is stinky.  (I did remove many green tomatoes to get red in my house before spraying.)  I also had a deep moment with a praying mantis who had arrived to bring balance into my garden.  I brought another in that we found in another part of our yard - to help maintain balance in future.

solutions for next year

Definitely going with 'little and often is best' for next year.

     = = = = = = = =

Despite the problems, I still ended up with many healthy tomatoes.  And a great deal of "tomato learning".


For an earlier post on how to prune laterals, go here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Climate Change cartoon by Joel Pett

This Joel Pett cartoon for USA Today appeared just before the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009.  

I first saw it in 2013 passed around on Facebook - and I thought it was brilliant!  It voices a frustration and thoughts that I also share.  Especially when trying to reason with unreasonable people who don't believe in climate change!

Joel Pett was won a Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in 2000.  He is the staff cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader based in Kentucky, USA. 

Go here to read an article by Joel Pett about this cartoon - which has been widely shared around the world.