MARCH 2015
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Green Blessings ...
with Susun Weed

Familiar Green Allies in Costa Rica

Green greetings!

Instead of a picture of the fresh snow outside my window, here's a picture of the most beautiful flower I saw on my most recent trip to Costa Rica: Aechmea mariae-reginae, Queen aechma. I found it beside a river I was drawn to explore. And Justine took this superb photo so you could look at it too. Enjoy.

I met a lot of old friends in Costa Rica: both people and plants. Here are some familiar green allies I found on my rambles along Costa Rican roadsides and in Geislane's gardens. 

We have been talking about blue zones, the places where longevity, joy, and health are the norm. Since the blue zones are in very different places, it is interesting to tease out the similarities of blue zone folk. We looked at their first priority: family and friends. And we looked at one component of their diets: beans. (Have you eaten your beans today?)

What else do they have in common? Each of these five cultures has a high regard for opportunities to slow down, rest, relax, and recuperate. Serenity Medicine is key to a long, healthy life. Not just a meditation practice (that's good!). Not just sleeping more (that's good, too). But an attitude of relaxed engagement in every aspect of life.

Pura vida is the byword in Costa Rica. It literally means "pure life" but it is often used as an excuse for being just a little bit late. How can you get more pura vida attitude in your life?
You can join me in the blue zone next January, for our annual Wellness Adventure.

And you can pick one new way to relax every week for the next month (at least).

Here are some starters:       

Do you drive? Use every red light as a reminder to stop completely. No thoughts, no worries, no plans. Let your mind blank entirely. Let your hands and arms become limp and loose. Close your eyes even. (If you relax into the green light, someone will honk.)                               

Do you use a computer? Every download and every unwanted ad is a chance to relax. How many seconds will it take? (It usually tells you at the bottom of the screen.) Close your eyes and count backwards to zero, letting go of all concerns.                                   

Do you watch television? Each ad is an opportunity to mute the sound and sing your favorite song to yourself. (It doesn't have to be out loud.) Music imprints us deeply and can rapidly change our mood for the better. Choose a happy song, like Zippedy-do-dah or Oh What a Beautiful Morning.           

Do you take care of children? Institute nap time – for you, if not for them. Choose an hour and claim it as quite time, silent time even. If you must, sit the children down to a video, then go in your room and close the door. No matter what urgent tasks await you, take time out. Get horizontal. Put in your ear buds and listen to music all alone. Eat a piece of chocolate and savor it.    

Take a nap!

Living the blue zone life is fun. And actually very easy, once you get the hang of letting go and smiling.

Green blessings are everywhere.

ps. Care to join me as a live-out apprentice this year? There is still room.

Green blessings are everywhere if you love the weeds. I was thrilled to see these old friends during my recent visit to the mountains of central Costa Rica.

Many thanks to my daughter Justine Smythe for her keen and artful eye and her skilled camera work. (The blurry shots are mine.)

Plantain (Plantago major)    
Photographed in Geislane's garden, but seen in several roadside environments, my dear friend, plain plantain.

Yellow dock (Rumex obtusifolia
Growing by the edge of a cliff, in fact, the cliff, the cliff over which the local populance throws their trash, is strong-willed, deep-rooted dock. I saw others in similar "waste" places.

Knotweed (Polygonum species)
The polygonaceae family includes both the yellow docks and the knot weeds, which are easily distinguished by the knotty flowers and knotty stalks. All are edible, in a pinch, but some, like rhubarb, are problematic at the table.

Oxalis; not clover although it has a pink flower!!
Never straying far from the sight of human disturbance, tangy/sour oxalis offer flowers and leaves that make a great addition to green salads.

A photo gallery for you of some of the "Damn Yellow Compositae" flowers I found in Costa Rica. Of course, the family name has been changed to Asteraceae, and some of them are colors other than yellow, but until one knows the genus and species, they are all DYCs.

Of course the bean family is well represented in Costa Rica, especially around farmlands. And the mallow family too, with wild, yellow "strongback" on roadsides and cultivated hibiscus everywhere. But I found only one example of the rose family, a patch of blackberries just ripening. Blackberry is an "earth-healing plant" and I was glad to see it, and glad to have its refreshing berries to enjoy.

Bean family (Fabaceae, formerly Leguminosae

Mallow family (Malvaceae

Blackberries (Roseaceae)

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