Tag Archives: plants

remembering Henny Penny

D2702_135
the lobby of the Agricultural Center for Community Gardening in Jerusalem

As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s tiring listening to the political messages we keep getting from the news media. Thinking about it, and in discussions with friends, I realize that it’s not just politics. Something has changed in the way that news is offered us. Maybe it’s been a long process, starting with the more subjective approach to journalism, called the ‘new journalism’ in the 60s, and reaching the level of an hysterical rant in recent years. The way issues are presented reminds me of ‘re-education’ in China during the cultural revolution there. The news media, having taught us politically correct discussion, are now trying to move us into action. I haven’t joined facebook but every now and then, the various movements or causes that reach prominence on that social platform are reported in the news as well, and it’s not clear whether these reports are meant to point fun at the social media or whether they’re considered important concerns for all of us these days.

D2702_116
the old nature museum

Of course, there are also the real world social movements, like the ‘me too’ revolution, the anti-smoking movement, and the warnings of climate change on the planet. I feel obliged to mention that I oppose the abuse of women, addiction of any sort, and have believed all my life that pollution of the environment is an affront to nature and a terrible abuse of the general public. All the same, I don’t like to be preached to constantly. And I’m disturbed when I see a large portion of the public resorting to extralegal means to influence the processes of government or the courts.

D2702_121

There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding the climate warming issue. The big question seems to be not whether the planet is warming, but whether man is responsible for this change. But it should be pointed out, that even if we human beings are not responsible (and we know there have been ice ages and scorching periods on the planet before man took over), we still have the same interest in trying to prevent a world disaster, whether it be a critical change in climate or an asteroid that comes crashing into our world. DrBob sent me a very interesting article recently which suggests that there may have been some very sudden climate changes in the past as a result of a reversal of the magnetic field of the planet.

D2702_127

Yet what is to be gained by scaring ourselves and our friends with extremely pessimistic forecasts regarding the future? I too have my doubts about the future. I am convinced that we are watching the dawn of a new age that will be different from anything that has come before. We can expect changes just as radical as those that came after the development of sophisticated tools by cave men. I don’t believe that we can stand in the way of such change, even if we disapprove the path that society seems to be taking. Virtual reality might be a preview to an entirely different attitude towards sensual awareness. And we have yet to see what computers can do when they’re designed by computers.

D2702_133
inside of the hot house

So, in an effort to find a balanced perspective regarding our relationship to nature and the environment, I visited the Agricultural Center for Community Gardening of Jerusalem this week. What impressed me the most was the ‘hotel for insects and bugs’. I had some expectations before I visited the place, but this was something I hadn’t even imagined. A home built by humans to offer insects and bugs a little comfort in this world. Usually we are just killing them or banishing them from whatever space we seize. And this was just the sort of thing I had been wondering about… is there a positive way to deal with the phenomena that disturb us, rather than just complaining or crying about it?

D2702_140

Another thing that impressed me profoundly was hearing that there are 70 community gardens in Jerusalem, including allotments and wild flower reserves. I wrote about the allotment in my neighborhood a while back. You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/y9c673o6

D2702_162
the hotel for insects and bugs

The agricultural center is manned by some very talented and schooled volunteers. They are situated right next to the nature museum. They build a lot of their facilities and furniture themselves from recycled wood, sponsor a free library, lend tools to amateurs, hold seminars and cultural get-togethers. There is the Saturday ‘garden meet’ every week featuring lectures and cultural events. A photography exhibit was still on the walls when I was there. They have a very professional looking compost facility, conduct experiments in growing plant life on water without earth, and rely on an exceptionally well designed nursery to provide plants to all the different community gardens in our city. Quite a few of the many plant species native to our region have become extinct, and the botanists and green thumbs of the agricultural center are doing their best to prevent the extinction of such endangered species today. As I wandered around the grounds, there was no end of delightful surprises and a great variety of sights and smells.

D2702_166
a demonstration roof garden

There was a fascinating roof garden, with huge wooden plant pots in which you could grow your own food, even if you lived in an apartment house. I think it would be hard for anyone to visit this center without catching a bit of the excitement about what is going on and the enthusiasm of the volunteers of all ages. The attitude among the workers and visitors is one of encouragement and friendship.

for more pictures from this visit see:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/shimonz/albums/72157668282675148

Advertisements

flowers and fruit

We’re often more attracted to the flowers than to the fruit… since the flowers are glorious advertisements for the plants, often meant to attract attention, attract insects and other living creatures to help in the spreading of the seed, and the procreation of the plants. But where there are flowers, there often are fruit, some of which are also meant to attract living creatures to spread seeds.

D1830_131

Of course, when it comes to fruit, we are most interested in those fruit that we can eat… and having been warned by mother or father or teacher that certain fruits are not to be eaten, we lose interest.

D1830_175

But those who’ve learned to familiarize themselves with the greenery around them, find great pleasure and inspiration in the subtle manifestations of plant life… and a vegetable becomes more than something to chomp on… or a sorry description of a human being who has lost his vitality.

D1830_135

After that overwhelming encounter with the orchids in my mother’s home, I had the desire to look at more flowers and watch them grow… and I told you of my visit to the botanical garden, and the great pleasure I had walking through the lanes, and looking at the plants that had been assembled from so many different places around the globe.

D1830_116

Probably, what most impressed me on that visit, was that though I spent hours getting to know the many plants and trees, and some of the wildlife that found its way to that beautiful garden from the neighboring communities, I was only able to see part of what they offered. We keep thinking, if we go to the right address, we’ll see who lives there… but it’s not like that, really. We see a little bit, a side of the face… the way they feel that morning… and then if we want to know them better, we have to go back again and again to get to know them well.

D1830_117

It is now really summer here in Jerusalem. One hot day is followed by the next. But it is quite pleasant. I live without air conditioning; with my windows opened wide in the summer months. And when there is no breeze, I don’t mind turning on a fan for a little artificial breeze. But I enjoy the weather thoroughly… both the long days, and the cool nights. I saw an owl the other day, and tried to provoke it to share with me some of its wisdom. But it chose to respond in silence.