When I was on the farm in Indiana, my grandmother had me gather eggs from the hen house, but my favorites were the smaller eggs the "baney" hens would hide under the maple tree, lilac bush, hollyhocks and the four o'clock bush by my grandmother's water pump. I never knew where I'd find them so every day was an Easter egg hunt.
Technically they are Bantams, a smaller version of poultry, The miniatures are usually one fifth to one quarter the size of the larger breeds. Plymouth Rocks, with their black and white stripes, were the other chickens she raised. It wasn't until years later that I expanded my knowledge through some very unusual circumstances, and ended up with a large variety of poultry, including the gorgeous naturally pink, green and blue Araucana eggs. In addition to being beautiful, they are lower in cholesterol.
But we aren't all fortunate to have a place for chickens and to run free. Now that I'm living within the city limits, and I'm fairly certain my neighbors would be unhappy if I began collecting chickens to roam the property, I've turned to nature's next best natural Easter egg dyes - herbs!
Over the next few days, in celebration of Easter, I'll be posting more on the miraculous egg. The symbolism, significance in history, religion and art,
Winter storms remind me of my beloved Beethoven.
It was autumn when we found our 1820s farm house in Hunters Valley in south central Pennsylvania. We had the illusion of owning half a hemisphere. We were surrounded by forests, streams, fields, and state games lands and at the time, couldn't see another house from horizon to horizon. One Christmas, a friend who owned a similar property, convinced me that we needed a little more activity on the vacant acreage.
So on Christmas morning, I prepared two large golden packages. They were wrapped so the lids could be removed immediately for the comfort of the temporary guests inside. The backs of the boxes were completely open to prevent the tails from being crushed, and the girls positioned them so all the feathers were hidden beneath the Christmas tree. Mike’s face lit up when he opened the boxes to discover two peacocks!
It was mid-April when I heard Mike on the phone with Ruth Buck, a reporter for the local newspaper. “Well, we have at least three hundred birds,” Mike stated casually. I stopped and turned. Stunned.
I knew the collection had grown - iridescent white peacocks joined the blues, there were Bourbon Reds, Bronze and Royal Palm turkeys, Golden Pheasants, rheas, Dia Rhea and Gonna Rhea (another story- these two made NPR news!).
When you die to what
You thought was true,
Everything in your life catches fire.
You are the instrument,
Not the music.
If you think you are the music,
You will stop
at the final bar.
If you become an instrument,
not the music,
you will go on playing
no matter where you are
or who's conducting.
The gig is never over.
The heart is always singing
The mind is always shouting
Between the two
we come and go,
safe on the solid shore
~ John Squadra
The Compass of the Rose
A few days ago I traveled to PA to meet with my accountant and have my taxes done. I had several things my list as I don't get to PA very often anymore. As I exited 83, steering my car was very difficult. I stopped at a gas station and checked the power steering fluid, hoping it would be a quick fix. That wasn't the problem.
I decided i should have a mechanic look at it. Lucky, I was very close to the mechanic I used when i lived in that area years ago. He stopped everything, looked at the engine, determined that I had a broken belt that could cause more damage it if wasn't removed, put it on the lift, gave me instructions for what to do next and how to get safely home - and he sent me on my way. No charge.
Years ago I had taken my car into him with a problem. He fixed it for a quarter. "It was a screw. i just replaced it. That'll be a quarter." I had no idea what the problem was and he could have charged me hundreds of dollars, but he didn't. He didn't even charge for the time he took to look at it and determine the problem.
People like Jackson at Jackson's Automotive give me faith in humanity. His knowledge and expertise give him power. He could use it to take advantage of people, but he uses it to help. Over the years, I went to him for everything I needed and recommended him to others. I'm still recommending him, even though I don't live in the area. I have a lot of friends on Facebook who do.
I've seen other less pleasant versions of the use of expertise and knowledge as power recently. There are those who could easily stop for just a minute and answer a question and make someone's day more pleasant, but use their advantage to make others uncomfortable.
It reminds me of the learning curve when computers first came out. Some who were trained held back the information to feel superior, having forgotten that at one time they had to learn something new too. Others enthusiastically shared what they knew, remembering what it was like when they were beginning learners. Teachers, whether through formal education or someone simply giving directions or answer a question, have a wonderful opportunity to give.
One of my most popular training concepts is "Collecting Firsts." It started years ago when I decided, as I approached a signficant birthday, i had already done everything I would ever do. I lived in the same house and town I had for decades, ate the same foods. had the same jobs - paid and volunteer - that I had for years, traveled the same roads to work, read the same books, ate at the same restaurants, ordered the same menu items. Life was dull, all because of my lack of creativity and vision.
Overnight that changed, beginning with a one week grocery shopping trip where I refused to buy anything I had ever purchased before. It had to be a different brand, types, etc. (Guava paste instead of cranberry sauce, papaya instead of mango, a different laundry detergent instead of the Tide I had been getting all my life). You get the idea.
As I collected firsts, I often needed to be a new beginner and found myself asking for help or guidance. I'm so grateful to those who have been patient and shared their knowledge with me over the years. Some were dear friends and relatives, others were strangers who pointed me in the right direction and our paths never crossed again.
Knowledge, skills and expertise shouldn't make us feel superior. They should allow us to share our gifts with non-judgement and a smile. They are our true power - the power of understanding what really matters in this world.
Each exchange we have can be positive, negative or neutral. It's easy to forget when reacting to the day"s events. I'm hoping the lessons over the last few days will remind me to be more aware and thoughtful.
I usually think of pastels when I thing of Easter eggs
but this recipe came up when I was researching holidays and the color red.
The tradition of egg dying has been attributed to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Mary saw the blood dripping from Jesus's wounds and coloring them red at the crucifixion on Good Friday.
Another version tells of Mary weeping and offering the soldiers at the cross to have mercy on Jesus, and offering them eggs. As her tears fell on the eggs, they became decorated with gorgeous colors and became the first Easter eggs.
Easter eggs are dyed red for Greek Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The red of the egg symbolizes the blood of Christ, the hard outer shell represents the the sealed tomb, and the cracking of the shell symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
Recipe for Red Easter Eggs
6 cups water
skins removed from 12 yellow onions
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 dozen large white eggs
! Tablespoon olive oil
Combine water, onion skins, and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower hea, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool completely and remove and discard skins.
Add raw eggs to dye, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Cool and rub eggs with olive oil to make them shiny. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat.
In celebration of my workshop on rainbows and St. Patrick's Day, I'm listing a few things I love that are green. Why don't you create your own before looking at mine so I won't influence your unique style! You can listen to Kermit while you write down your favorite greens and i'll see you at the end of the song! You may need to play it a few times so you'll have time to list them all!
A Few of My Favorite (Green) Things
So, my list.
Well, Kermit! and
Oscar the Grouch!
The field at Camden Yards
The Green Doors at Monet's Giverny
Vineyards, fabrics, insects, herbs and gardens . . .
I've pictured a few of my favorites below . . .
This morning I posted this on my facebook and now sharing it here. Processing. So many lessons, thoughts, insights . . . bittersweet.
Recently I read an exert from a book on values, listing significance as a value we all have. I review my values annually at the very least - they include health, relationships, gratitude, giving, creativity, nature, etc. It hadn't occurred to me to include 'significance'. - what makes us feel important.
Many feel important through love, sharing, humor . . . but unfortunately, violence and destruction are what give others a feeling of significance. Either way, there are always lessons.
Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!