People often stop by Heartwood to see the beautiful grounds. They marvel at the brick walkways and the beautiful trellises filled with flowering vines. But inevitably, their eyes shift to these weird hanging bottles stuck in the oddest of places. They never comment, but I can feel the question they don’t feel comfortable giving voice to.
I always smile to myself and offer, “those are organic mosquito traps. My husband puts them all over.”
“Ah… I was wondering…..” they remark, too polite to ask why trash seems to be dangling from limbs in the midst of our well-orchestrated beauty.
When I met David, I found it remarkable that, even though he had never been exposed to yoga, he was so yogic…. He naturally lived by principals and ideals that I personally had to work hard to embrace. He is and always has been, at heart, a happy hippie. And yet, he is functional, responsible, and I never feel threatened by his non-conservative approach to life. I love the complex combination that makes him such a “controlled free spirit” because our life is enhanced by his commitment to living naturally, rather than stagnating or being encumbered by his desire to live outside of rat race norms.
Our property includes a rushing stream that lies a 30 foot drop down on one side of our property, and we have two forested acres across the stream that serves as a buffer from homes – a bit of wild growing thicket that protects the sense of privacy and quiet. Heartwood is loaded with ferns and lush oaks and garden spots. So, like it or not, we have mosquitos and other annoying Florida bugs that tend to drive our nature loving yoga students indoors during certain seasons. We can always spray the grounds, and sprinkle dust or grains of bug killer to keep the problem at bay, but when you want to garden organically and you are committed to avoiding chemicals that will seep into the ground water supply, or might harm bees, etc… you can get rather frustrated with the challenge of pest maintenance.
David is often online reading about natural remedies and tricks to make gardens comfortable without being toxic to people or the natural world. And every so often, he slaps on his inventor hat and tries different things. This year, he hung all these plastic bottles filled with rotting Georgia peaches from a batch I brought home after visiting my daughter. We didn’t finish the peaches off in time and they turned brown and David couldn’t hide the fact that he was thrilled. He couldn’t bring himself to spend good money on fresh fruit for a rot project, but now he had guilt free peaches! He combined the fruit with boric acid and other things that I’m afraid to ask about, punched little holes in the bottle and hung them in inconspicuous places. Apparently, the mosquitos crawl in but can’t get out, and the bottles are filling up with nary a whiff of DT or toxic fumes to offend the organic senses. Just today, David came into the yoga training and put two big bottles of lemonade on the counter and said, “Please drink these.” I must have looked at him funny, because he then added, “I want to make an organic wasp trap and it didn’t work when I tried the apple juice container. I think these will be perfect. Ha! Yogis, ever accommodating, drank lemonade with lunch for a cause.
The other day the kitchen counter was filled with all manner of items that certainly didn’t look like something we were going to eat. Later I came home to find the counter covered in jars filled with beige cream. David explained that he had been making organic bug repellent. He’d read about it online, and the key ingredient was beauty berry, which we have growing on the property, so he took a hike to forge the leaves, then cooked them with beeswax, essential oils and a few other things to make this lovely body cream that actually repels bugs (while making the skin feel great.) Pots of this stuff now rest in our bug repellent basket for our guests, next to the deep woods off (a product that does work but is filled with all kinds of scary chemicals). I’m always interested to see who goes for the homemade stuff and who is more comfortable with a familiar spray that they “trust” will work. Embracing a natural lifestyle takes time for many of us, and I’m not judging anyone’s selection, but I’m pleased to see David’s supply diminishing quicker than the store bought stuff.
The other day I told David that our Hibiscus is growing out of control. This plant is 20 feet high and the branches grow haywire in every direction. The bush is situated on a corner of the house that blocks a walkway during growth seasons. I trim the bush drastically a few times a year, but I just haven’t gotten around to cutting the plant back lately. I asked David to chop it down, but the bush is in bloom and looks great. David can’t bare hacking away at a plant when it looks pretty (whereas I am ruthless when it comes to pruning because I’ve faced the issue of plants out of control that I’ve waited to handle because they look lovely, and the next thing you know, I have to replace them entirely. Trial and error has assured I’m no softy when it comes to gardening.) Anyway . . .
“You can eat hibiscus flowers, ya know.” David said. “Red zinger tea is made of hibiscus flowers”.
I was like, “Whatever. The plant is out of control and attacks me every time I walk through that section of the yard. It’s gotta go. Besides which, these flowers are not red. My red Hybiscus are not in bloom, and this flowering monster is blush colored.”
That night after I was done teaching yoga, David said, “You look thirsty. Here, try this.” He handed me a refreshing glass of homemade tea. When I remarked that the drink was wonderful, he pointed out that I was drinking our Hibiscus flowers simmered with some brown sugar and spices. This tea may have been made from a simple peach hibiscus, but the fresh, light and deeply satisfying flavor proved I shouldn’t judge a plant by its blooms.
Another case of David’s patience and gentle approach to life proving valuable.
Lately he’s been talking about the fact that Water hyacinths are eatable. We have multitudes growing in our pond, all from one little plant we brought home from a lazy canoe outing last spring. The plants double every month, and they bloom beautifully, but we have to wade into the pond to collect and toss a few dozen every couple of months or they would take over the little koi pond. I’ve listened to David share information about the plant’s nutrition value and how the hanging roots cleanse the water for the fish etc….. I know it is only a matter of time until one of these babies end up on my dinner plate as a “David experiment”.
At least I know if we ever have to survive a total societal crash, David will be a partner that can figure out how to feed us – and keep us from betting bug bites in our little corner of the world. In the meantime, I stand amused by the funny way people’s eyes shift to our hanging bottles with that unspoken look of “What the heck is that?”
That, my friend, is proof a happy hippie husband lives at Heartwood.