The Meditative Power of Gardening

Meditative Rocks

Slow gardening, is a lot about medidative gardening. When you see an old man in the field, doing hard labor.. or an old man in a beautiful garden, doing lots of careful work. Either way.. have you ever though about what goes on in their hands.

I think I got the answer.. nothing!

This I know from experience. Because it’s one of the things I most love about the art.. is that it clears your head and stops your thinking. Makes you relaxed and feel at peace. There is a magical power with plants.. They don’t demand anything from you, they just go on with their lives.. with what they have. To garden is not just to watch that, but to witness that.

You have a distance with the plant.. yet you feel one with it and see it live it’s life. Meditation works in the same way. Because they don’t tell you what to do, it’s so easy to learn from them. And to forget. That’s why it’s important to go slow.. so you start to understand and you don’t forget.

Peace to my brothers in the wide world. It’s time to start planting seeds again!

Best,

Pete Underwood

Peace Through Acrobatics & Law of Nature

Shanghai Contest Show

Just as there is a battle between plants that grow amongst themselves.. at the same time there is harmony. This is one of the mysteries of life. How can people be in peace while they are competing against each other, even trying to destroy each other. But I would like to stress that I don’t think there is any reason to be scared.

Such is the case between China and Japan as well as Korea. All countries are so deeply and historically rooted, just as a tree that has grown for centuries. Yet, they choose to fight. While it’s unfortunate, perhaps the balance is there.. just hidden to those who think negatively.

In shanghai I observed this through the Shanghai acrobatic show scene which I am very fond of. While many have fallen down because of territorial disputes.. some have gotten up and create an even better show of acrobatics! There are about three theaters left, from the total of almost a dozen that use to roam the scene.

It was sad to see some of the older theaters wither away.. because there were no Japanese people coming to these shows anymore. They are scared and trying to find another way to approach China. With peace and balance. But those who survive are better than ever. During my visit there, I enjoyed them extremely much.

And that’s the peace.. how things evolve. There is lot more to evolve and sometimes the world needs such dramatic events to learn. Again, it’s unfortunate but seems to be like a law of the nature. Shanghai is a good example, because while the development there seems totally irrational and even crazy at times. Even from such places, this peaceful harmony can be found. Be it performing arts or the local flower shop.., you just need to look at it the right way!

My peace wishes for two of my favorites countries in this world, Japan and China.

Pete Underwood

Rice Harvest in Japan

Rice Harvest

The harvest season in Japan has been largely successful, dispite the usual typhoons that still continue to sweep the country. The Japanese are busy at home eating their “shin kome”, newly harvested rice which for some reason tastes better than ever.

Just as Christopher columbus put it when he first set foot on the island, the landscape was covered in gold. Wherever you can find errable land, there are fields in use.. even for some of those fields that are not being used at the moment, the government is paying the farmers to plan flowers.. only for display!

One amazing view after another.. but they all seem to have at least three elements that are the same. The fields, the mountains and last but not least the electric cables!

This sight is hightened, when the crops turn to gold.. wind blows through the fields and sprinkles magic golden dust throught Japan.

Then it’s harvest time and machines carefully process all the rice.. until a fine white mountain of grain. Not all of the crop can be processed by machine so the plants on the edge of the field are being collected by hand to save every last bit of rice.

After this is done, the field is burnt to make the soil ready for next years crop. The air is in smoke and the island has lost it’s golden glow.. winter is coming…!

Back in Beijing, Back in Plant and Kung Fu Show Life

Well, I could not hold much longer. When I go to visit places such as Beijing, I become affectionate with them and it’s hard to leave it at just one visit. China is really the country of opportunities, and my life in the states has become increasingly harder to get into grips with, when it comes to managing my life there. Everything seems so easy and flexible in the mainland if you have some knowledge and skills to share with these kind people.

I’ve have been temporarily recruited in garden design and management, which is a great pleasure to be welcomed in a country where gardening already has it’s long roots with many professionals around. My personality is to show sympathy towards local culture as I sincerely do want to learn foreign countries as deeply and profoundly as possible. A mission that even many locals seem to forget nowadays. In this way I have gained much respect amongst these people whom I have received as dear friends and colleagues.

As usual, I caught up on some local expertise, this time the Red Theatre Kung Fu Show was another Beijing production that blew my mind. Tender was not the word that crossed my mind when I went there but incredibly this was one element that was intertwined into the spectacle. As a heterosexual but tender flower loving person, I did appreciate the tenderness that was shown amongst a story full of aggressive moments and action. Such a dance of balancing the two creates a somewhat realistic feature of what is the true story of Kung Fu. I would definitely go and see the show again as the Red Theatre captivated my mind pretty well.

Nature is definitely at close proximity here, the bald skillful men showing their martial art skills, the monk style, takes some guts to perform in such an exquisite manner. One disconnected with nature and plant life would not be able to make such a performance. I’m sure about that!

Home Vegetable Gardens Bring Happiness, Energy, Alimentation and a Pleasant Hobby

Vegetable Garden

At home gardens you can grow vegetables, root vegetables, fruits and berries. It’s advised to take your resources and time available into account when planning the size of your garden. If you are after a good yield, that takes a lot of effort but as we have a tendency to here at slow garden, a small yield will bring you enough to nourish your mind.

Besides nourishment and exercise, the garden will bring food for the eyes for you as well as your neighbors. Let’s say a 10 square root garden could bring plenty of joy to the whole family. The light needed by plants is different, therefore give more room for those that need more light for a successful plantation.

An important division between plants is those that are easy to grow and those that are more challenging. Fruits and different berry bushes are much easier than having a garden plot. Just the trick is that you need to cut the plants in April or before the spring comes.

More time consuming hobby is a garden plot, which you should sow, trim, water and weed. Then in the end you have to collect the harvest. Herbs are a popular “easy grow” that have less watering and trimming needed. Other easy to grow vegetables are radishes, onions, peas, zucchini and lettuce.

Winter Back Home and Memories

Preparing for the winter or wintering as I like to call it is a long and complex event for the plant kingdom as well as the animal one. During the time when the nature is adapting to the winter, only a small portion of the changes that take place can be seen by the eye. What you can see is the falling of leaves and some animals who gather more fat in preparation. However most of the changes are biochemical which increase the durability of cell structure for the cold and dry weather. At the same time it is mandatory to stop extremely important cell processes belonging to the summer season. Like photosynthesis or the activity of animals. The winter destroys a lot of life around us which just means that it’s preparing us for the winter.

Quoted from John Ruskin: Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

Only a small portion of winter is quiet and grey, called the heart of winter. The time when it’s difficult to distinguish where the sky stops and starts. Time seems to have stood still, only snow flakes quietly falling. Perhaps only now and then the wind sighs from its branches or the trees sputter as the freeze gets tougher. The sound is the sign that the cells of the tree are breaking. But nature is far from dead, it simply rests and simultaneously tolerates! Even some members of the animal kingdom are still well active.

Besides tolerating the cold and dryness another part of winter tolerance is how to survive from little snow fall or a lot of snow fall. The effect on animals from the snow blanket depends on the ability to move, hide in the snow, dig edibles from the snow and adapt to the nutrition found on top of the snow layers. As a human I’ve well adapted to many possible conditions thus as being a part of the nature it is my responsibility to help take care of it as far as I can!

These are the thoughts that are taking me back to my habitat after a long and beautiful travel in China. It feels as if I’ve been to distant land that is so different that I’m still not sure if I was dreaming or not. Did the old Beijing Workers’ Club exist with all the old city life or was it a mirage of some kind. Did I meet all those wonderful people or was I just hallucinating.

Oh, it must be the effects of listening to ambient music for so many hours! I’m listening to an album called Ambiant Otaku which is a great favorite of mine by Tetsu Inoue. (recommended) So it did all happen and now is a part of me, forever!

Last But Not Least, Beijing Acrobatics

My trip is soon nearing it’s end and my fascination for travel has increased evermore. Thus I hope to do a lot more travel in the future. What I have learned from this trip is to have less expectations and embrace the world in the form that it comes to you.

China has completely broken my expectations as a polluted, non-ecologic country. These people are getting into grips with life amongst such a huge population. Occasionally the lifestyle is damaging for the nature but people have done a great deal on an individual level. Nothing goes to waste here and nature is precious to them. Perhaps the changes that lack are on a governmental level. One thing I now know is that the Chinese love their plants & nature :)

So last but not least, I am sharing my photos from the Chaoyang Theatre performance. My favorite acrobatics were the wheels of the dead which is really amazing. The men walk along a huge wheel with their eyes blindfolded and play around as if they would fall down. Makes the audience scared silly. And I always love the kongzhu stuff, which is like a Chinese yo-yo.

Enjoy.

Sincrely,
SG.

PS. Feel free to use my pics, just let me know beforehand!

Great Hilariousities in Beijing

I’ve gotten all soft on my travels haven’t I.

Couldn’t help sharing this with you guys, the Peking Opera here is simply hilarious. It’s extremely detailed and beautiful “acting choreography” that’s played out like silly fools! Well, at least that’s my non-professional description of it.

Seriously I had a laugh of a lifetime at the show at Liyuan Theatre which caters tourists but who cares. It’s a genuine performance and they’ve been at it in this particular theatre since oh- ’90! Now that makes it all worth it doesn’t it.

Just have a look at the pictures I took and you will see what I mean. I was sitting right next to the stage on these big wooden tables and drinking delicious tea. Thanks to the *wink* huge discount I got from May Tours.

This is a kind of kungfu style in Peking Opera acting. Great moves.

Is there something I can say. She’s wicked :)

The tough twins, I bet there out to kill someone.

Now this guy looks like there’s growing some psychedelic grass out of his beard.

These guys seem a bit serious don’t they. Well from here it gets pretty comic and pretty soon.

She’s like the most beautiful mom, just the way she moves is so delicate and beautiful.

All that shoving about could be converted into extremely useful workforce at my garden back home.

Greets,
SG.

New Great Logo

Still enjoying here at the capital and I’ve made many friends on my path. One chinese bloke made me this great “Slow Garden” logo! It is a symbol of how you can just sit back and relax while mother earth grows on it’s on accord. Also the initials SG made with a nice font.

 

Slowing down on a beautiful autumn day at Chaoyang Park

Greetings from China!

Did you know that right next to the huge Beijing metropolis lies 300 hectares of magnificent trees, grass and lakes. Surrounded by suburb after suburb the Chaoyang Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Chaoyang_Park) is where all the locals seem to gather to take it slow and get time off from the buzz. Any time of the year!

My trip in China has been a timely one. But what does a green thumb do traveling when the nature is about to go back to sleep?

The simple answer is, this is the time of the year when I have time off from my work in agriculture. But that’s only half of the story. I think that the autumn change in season is one of the grandest displays of nature. For me, nothing could be more relaxing than looking at the leafs falling and feeling the cold breeze brushing my hair.

This garden tip is the laziest of them all as it requires no work from your part:) Go to the park on a very cold autumn day, but preferably sunny day and very windy as well. Take a news paper with you, find a bench to sit down in the park, realize that it’s simply impossible to read the news paper in that wind. Run after the flying newspaper and voila, you are ready to enjoy and relax now.

My personal tour guide was very understanding as I don’t enjoy the normal touristic routes much. There was a woman picking up something from the ground and I asked my guide from May Tours (http://maytoursbeijing.info) to go and ask her what she was doing. Turns out the woman was looking for leaves and sticks to warm her little hutong house nearby. Seems not everyone is fortunate enough to have an opportunity to just enjoy shuffling in the leaves.

Autumn leaves scattered around the lake.

With strong wind the lake stays calm.

High rise buildings in the distance.

People enjoying the view.

Walk down the path or take a bench.

Right next to the park, we went to see the Chaoyang Acrobatic Show (http://maytoursbeijing.info/beijing-acrobatic-show-tickets).

It was magnificent.

Regards. SG