Our Living Family Heirloom

 

 

Spring has its delights.

The pussy willows beckon to be petted, fiddleheads curl me batty, spring-peepers drive Julian nuts

and songbirds serenade us all day long.

Spring can seem so incredible that it can be a wonder how we survived the winter.

Spring is also that time of the year for mother’s day, father’s day, reunions, weddings, births, birthdays, graduations and gatherings: an exhilarating season!

Yet, what I love most about spring, is watching my family heirloom start to blossom.

It lives in our bathroom: a warm, moist environment, perfect for her tropical roots. She gets plenty of eastern morning sunlight, and spends all winter tenaciously growing long tentacles, that once having reached the ceiling, then begin crawling across it.

Spring is all about nurturing the next generations and revering the past generations.

I am usually not one to dwell too dearly on things like dresses, blankets, photos, old plates, jewelery, watches and paintings, yet I do absolutely cherish these objects from my family’s past. I love imagining the people who came before me using and living with these objects and then deciding with deep gravity to pass them on to the next generation.

An heirloom, a thing that shackles a family history together, is a chain of love and care.

The most important living family heirloom, which I might cherish even more than this remarkable plant that lives in our bathroom, would be my chain of genetic code.

Your DNA can be a strange concept of an heirloom to grasp, unless you simply hold your own hand.

My family genetic code is full of wonderous and frightening things:

strange abilities in academics, the arts and athletics; perseverance and dedication in almost everything we attempt; outstanding levels of compassion and empathy; yet also with startling amounts of sadness and despair that have terminally gripped too many of us by the throat; and then there are those mysterious, incurable  diseases that have left a few of us with joint, skin, belly and neurological problems…

Our 100 yr-old “night-blooming Cereus” plant is our living family heirloom.

Our night-blooming Cereus has spanned up to 5 generations in our family. My great-great-grandma acquired it on her travels and handed down a cutting of it to her daughter. (Take a single fat, juicy leaf from a Cereus, stick it in some soil and soon you have your clone.) She then passed a cutting from her plant down to my Grandma. Grandma’s grew large and strong, also. She passed down a cutting from hers to my parents.

I received my cutting from my parents’ plant in my early twenties as a celebration of living semi-independently.

Receiving my piece of the family heirloom was a very precious milestone.

I stuck that leaf in the soil, added water, watched and waited. It has grown into the strongest looking Cereus plant I have seen so far: luscious and green, fat and juicy (as compared to my sister’s cutting, my parents’ and my grandma’s). I think it does so well because I have pruned it frequently or more likely, I have just been very, very lucky.

We often get 7-9 blossoms a year, which is quite a privilege when raising this tropical plant (even though it is always indoors) through the bitterly cold winters of Nova Scotia.

Growing up with my parents’ tentacled plant was fascinating. We got to stay up late on the nights it bloomed, celebrating, watching and smelling it unfold. But our old farm-house was chilly and well shaded by giant trees. Their plant only bloomed about 1-3  times a year, if we were lucky. Its leaves have always been a little narrow and pale.

So here it is: a little piece of my ancestry.

This was taken yesterday, the morning before the first blossom of 2014.

Then came another gorgeous, spring sunset, but my attention was elsewhere:

for as night falls, the Cereus opens.

It remains open all night, emitting an intense perfume that fills the house.

For a night-bloomer, it has an unusally pleasant odor: fruity and fresh, flowery and kind.

It creeps open into the early morning, hitting its maximum size just after midnight.

Everyone smiles and seems excited. My step-daughter swoons, the dogs are cheerful and relaxed. Julian then sleeps so deeply and peacefully, it is as if all is simply perfect in our world.

It makes me feel absolutely elated: full of tinglings of love, gratitude, exuberation and generous satisfaction.

The aroma could very easily be mildly intoxicating. Some say extracts from the plant and its fruit can cause mild hallucinations (we have yet to see ours make any fruit), and were once also used to treat heart conditions.

A relative of the dragon fruit, the Cereus, a type of cactus, also known as the “Queen of the Night”, is exotic and full of mystery.


By sunrise, it closes.

It is done, spent, exhausted and limp.

I imagine the whole plant is resting very deeply today, after such an energetic night.

The night the Cereus blossoms is always a monumental event:

it is a night to remember all who came before us and all who may come after us.


May we all leave a legacy of compassion and empathy:

one that smells sweet and clean,

that is beautiful to behold,

and most importantly,

 strong and enduring. 

And there are more to come this year!

Already, another bud is beginning to grow!

 

Making Strides

Here is a post I wrote back in February, 2014.  I had a very ponderous day.

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Salt Springs Provincial Park, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada

If you had the choice between making many, quick, short steps or making few, slow, long steps,

which would you choose?

I have tried both ways.

 

Making many, quick, tiny steps was loud. My feet made sharp scuffing sounds as they hit the ground. My whole body worked hard with each step and my breath was frequent. My snow-panted legs swished against each other piercingly, my arms snapped back and forth vigorously to keep up my momentum. I was expending a lot of energy and felt a strong sense of vitality. It was exhilarating, fun and enlivening. But, I also noticed, with all this noise my crunching feet and swishing clothing made, that I could no longer hear the birds or wind. I was concentrating so hard on moving and moving quickly that I lost track of the trees and hardly noticed the dogs running around me.

 

Making fewer, but longer steps felt smooth and stealthy. My motions were eerily quiet. I could hardly hear my steps. My body was calm and relaxed, my arms barely needed to swing and my breathing was stately. I heard a raven calling across the field, I saw the dogs racing and chasing each other. I felt the wind and I marveled at the trees slowly drifting by.

 

These two ways of progressing are completely different, and both essential to practise at different times while on a walk, in life and while starting a business. The quick, short steps are invigorating: they get the heart racing and the mind focused. The slow, longer steps are restful and allow for observations and creativity to flow.

 

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We successfully completed our Kickstarter Project for “Okapi: the Intelligent Fan Control System for Solar Air Heaters” in November, 2013. It was an exciting experience full of very busy days, a lot of good noise and many short, quick accomplishments.

 

Now, we are taking slower, longer strides with our business. We are thoughtfully meandering the legal territories associated with bringing an electronic product into the market. The previous quick, short steps we used in announcing ourselves and gaining public awareness were exhilarating and awakening to our spirits. Currently we are calmer and quieter, learning, researching and creating so much along the way. Yet, soon, we may quicken our steps, again!

 

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Salt Springs Provincial Park, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada

 

As much as I want everyone to have solar air heaters on their houses NOW, I accept that getting this technology into the minds and hands of the general public will take time. It will take many, quick, loud and small actions, combined with fewer, calm, large actions.

With time, we will reach our goal, our destination: our Greenhill vision.

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Salt Springs Provincial Park, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada

 

This vision is beautiful and kind, sweet and relaxing. It is a place where the air is clean, the land is not disturbed, the hillsides are vibrant with wildlife, yet everyone is still warm and cozy.

And the Geese Return… Happy Spring!

 

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Thank you to everyone: our Kickstarter Project was successful! Thank you to everyone who pledged for prints and paintings: your support was so very helpful. I hope you are enjoying the artwork. And to our adventurous solar air heater builders: your pre-orders were so very important.

 

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Those special DIY backers will be receiving their Okapi Systems very shortly as we finally smooth out the last tiny legal details of our electronic product distribution abilities. We have been so very thankful for the kind patience.

We, ourselves, have been quite frustrated about how long it has taken to figure out all these details, but they make the process a difficult and meandering one for a very good reason: consumer safety! None of us want some dangerous person soldering electronic products in their basement and selling them on the internet without them being checked-over by officials and standards agencies to ensure they are safe for use, meant for their intended use, and comprised of safe and certified components. So the long certifications, standards and guidelines process, though frustrating, is something for which we should all be grateful!

 

At the bottom of our website are links to all our social media sites: Follow us on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube and Like us on Facebook. We invite you to join in on discussions, post questions or comments, share our pictures and posts and become a part of this green movement!

 

The winter was busy and oh so quick: full of shovelling snow, cross-country skiing, working with CSA, learning about the sale of electronics products,  making our company website, writing proposals and applications, some research and development projects and lots of family time…  Check out the new website: www.greenhillenvirotechnologies.com.  The next major addition will be coming soon: our Purchase page: where you can make an order, pay for it and have your Okapi System delivered to you right away! Very exciting times….

 

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Check out our website pages devoted to information and calculations about energy, environmental and financial savings from the use of solar air heaters.

 

We are getting more involved with our community: next week is the local NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) Entrepreneurship Conference. We have been invited to give a short workshop about how to pitch a good idea, and tell our personal tales of becoming entrepreneurs. Visit our social media sites to learn more: the entire day’s events are open and free for the public as well!

NSCC Entrepreneur poster

 

 

 

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You can also “Sign-Up” on our website to get an email-notification of when we will be ready to start receiving and processing orders.

 

Happy Spring, Environmentalists!

 

PS:   “Follow” this blog… I promise it will only get better from here!  😉

 

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“Green Fern”, 2013, oil on watercolor paper, 8″x10″, by Meredith Williams, MDW. A Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc. Kickstarter Reward.