Author Archives: Mary McKnight

About Mary McKnight

I am the co-owner of Split Stone Farm LLC, an organic herb farm in Maryland. I am also co-owner of History Hawk Vintage, a vintage store selling mostly mid-20th century items.

An Outcome

A few weeks ago, I dug up the roots of my Comfrey plants in my first attempt at propagating it to grow additional plants.

I have a well honed habit of talking myself out of ventures such as this for fear that I will fail, and destroy the main plant in the process.

Although I was not as successful as I had hoped, I do now have seven additional Comfrey plants to add to my gardens.

What does this teach me? Only, that this time it worked. Next time, it might not. What determines the outcome? I don’t know. I don’t need to know. I want to know, but I am okay that I don’t.

No silver lining, no big life lesson, just an outcome. Let it be so.

You’re A…

 

Why are we labeling parenting styles?   I read an article yesterday about “Snowplow Parents” and when I finished it, I was just mad . I am  so weary of how we belittle people, usually women.  I have read articles about “Helicopter Parents,” “Free Range Parents”  “Bad Parents”  “Distracted Parents” and the list goes on…

When my daughter was in middle school, she had a wonderful chorus teacher who told them one day during class, “When you point your finger at someone else and condemn their actions, there are four fingers pointing back at you”.

Think about it (I can’t stop thinking about it).  Why are we so quick to rush to judgement and condemnation about the way that other women raise their children?  Do we really thrive when under the look- down -your nose attitude of others?  Does that cause us to reflect and then make change, or does it cause us to feel angry and lash out?  

What does this have to do with running an Herb Farm?  My perennials are starting to poke their beautiful heads through the cold March soil.  Many have outgrown the borders of “their spot”.  I don’t condemn them for doing so,  I don’t seek to label them (Oh, you’re a Borderless Bee Balm!)  I just decide as the gardener whether they have enough room to thrive there, or whether I will divide them soon and transplant them where they (and I) will have more room to grow.  

I am sure that there are gardeners out there who would judge me and scream that the “best time to divide and transplant is in the Fall!”  That may be for them, but it wasn’t for me and I’m okay with that.  Unless you want to come into my garden (with my permission) and dig and divide in the fall, stay in your own garden with your advice.

Mom told me long ago, “Mary, no one wants your unsolicited advice.  It comes across as judgement, and not in a good way”.  I suppose some could argue that I am doing that with my Blog, but people have the choice to read it or not.  It is not “required reading” for school.

My hope for today, is that we all work to support one another by being the best version of ourselves.  I am less than perfect.  I am flawed.  I am a mother and I love my child so much, sometimes it hurts.  You have mothered/fathered differently than I do, but you had/have different children.  

So, let’s all be a little more gentle with each other.  If you see someone struggling, see how you can help them with actions, and not with condemnation.  If they don’t want your help , leave with a smile and a wish of “Peaceful Day” to them and I will do the same.  Oh…why the photo of our kitty on the table (where she isn’t supposed to be) in a basket of herbs  (where she REALLY isn’t supposed to be)?  She just looks so peaceful-may it be so for you.

What the Daffodils Know

February in Maryland…what are my daffodils doing showing their tips so early?  Do they know something I don’t know?  Of course they do.  Plants have been here long before people, and they will be here after.

I wondered if I should cover them with leaves?  Should I leave them be?  I decided to let them be and see what happens.  Kind of like parenting a new 18-year-old…which is where I am at now in life.  My inclination is to still ask the zillion questions: Did you bring your coat?  Don’t you think you’ll need a coat?  Do you have your medication?  Did you remember to take your medication? and the list goes on and on in my head.

My life as “Full-Time-Parent” is quickly coming to a close.  I guess it is a Retirement of sorts.  Transition is never easy for me but I do like it.  Maybe it’s all those years I was an Army Brat, where Transition was a way of life.

Perhaps the daffodils  are a reminder that Transition is a process.  Not without pain, not without errors in judgement, and not without joy.  May the daffodils and I continue our journey into Spring.  Each of us observing the other and letting us “be”.

The Past Makes the Present Clear

This was my baby dress from 1961.  Mom would lovingly wash our clothing, hang it all on a  clothesline to dry (she had no dryer), and then iron prior to my wearing.  When she would recount these activities to me, it sounded like pure drudgery .

My daughter and I are in the process of opening an ETSY shop filled with treasured vintage items-my baby clothing among them.  Yesterday, I lovingly washed, hung each piece on the clothesline to dry and then ironed each teeny detail on each minute piece of my past.

As I hung and ironed, it finally came to me so clearly why Mom cherished those tasks.  They are the tasks of Mindfulness and Productivity.  Look at that little dress with its sweet bunnies, little sleeves, teeny weeny everything…I was revisiting 1961, only as an adult, not as the baby who wore the clothing.

What a gift to be transported back to my mom’s life, 57 years ago. When  she was living that life, we lived  in Oklahoma, she was a  mother of two children in diapers, wife of a young Army Captain, living in a trailer in Tornado Alley.  I am not.

Perhaps we have time to cherish tasks when we are not in a time crunch to get to others.  The Past as Teacher in the Present.

 

I Didn’t Notice You

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I almost sat on someone in a waiting room. I walked in the door of my Bowen Therapist’s office, marching forward but stuck in a muck of tangled emotions.

I quickly apologized to the woman I almost flattened and explained that I had been too “in my head”. She smiled and forgave. Note to self: look around.   No matter what is happening in my life, look around. Look up, look down, look all around and then and only then, proceed.

Awareness lessens when we are consumed with anguish or at least mine does. My daughter is in the middle of a life altering health crisis and I am working at navigating our new life.

I took the photo of my blackberry bush and it is only today as I write that I noticed the delicate tips of red on each of the emerging leaves. Why is it red? Does it stay red throughout the growing season?

How many other areas of my life am I almost sitting on someone/something without noticing? If I make an effort to live with increased awareness, will I accomplish anything, complete anything, get anywhere, remember what I was doing in the first place? I don’t know. I’d like to find out.

I consider myself a Realistic Optimist. The Realistic Optimist View of almost sitting on that person: You are not noticing. Start noticing and see what happens. It could be really good. It’s got to be better than the embarrassment at having to apologize aloud to the stranger you almost sat on in a waiting room.

How do you see it?

 

 

 

 

Plants Don’t Lie

 I was at an establishment today buying school supplies and supplies for our business .  The cashier was very friendly and asked if I had a Business Account with them.  (How she knew I owned my own business, I do not know).  When I said that I did not, she invited to me apply for one and if I did, I would save $50 dollars today.  I told her that not all of the purchases I was making today were for my business.  The guy behind me in line said, “Everyone does it”  The cashier said that that did not matter as long as I had spent at least $50 dollars on the business “stuff”.  That did not sound right to me, but admittedly, I am still learning about business expenses.

As she asked me numerous times for  the information for the Business Application, she came to  the part where she needs my “Tax Id” number, but I did not have mine with me.  I apologized and said that I would just have to come back another day and apologized again for taking her time.  She volunteered that I could just put “any number” and then call back to change the number with the correct number.  I did not feel right about this, as the incorrect number would not be telling the truth.  It would be a lie…a lie that would save me $50, but a lie just the same.

I smiled and said that I just couldn’t do that, and again, apologized for wasting her time.  She looked at me and said, “Everyone does it”.  This has never been the reason for me to do things and I was beginning to feel annoyed on the inside.  I said, “Perhaps, but not me.  I’ll just pay full price for everything, and next time I am in, I will come more prepared”.

Does everyone lie?  Have I ever lied…yes. Is it good? No.  The older I get, the more the truth means to me.  My daughter could not understand what the big deal was since the cashier offered the “solution,” but when we got in the car, I explained my discomfort and my unwillingness to be like “Everyone” and lie just to get a slight savings on purchases.  Excellent teaching opportunity.   Which brings me to plants.

They are what they are.  They let you know what they are if you listen…they don’t lie.  If it’s a cactus, the spines are sharp.  They look sharp and they are sharp.  If it’s a flower, and you can smell a sweet fragrance from it, it doesn’t quick stink when you bend down to smell it closer.

I hate that “Everyone does it” is considered justification.  I am feeling sad with humanity at the moment.  Time to go smell my Alligator Juniper Wood essential oil.  It doesn’t lie.

Hoping for Survival

    I planted 60 lavender plants early this past Fall and visited them on January 1st.  Our farm property is forest and field and when I came to the edge of the forest, I could smell the sweet, unmistakable scent of lavender.

Many of the new plants are surviving, some are thriving and some have no detectable above-ground life.  Dog tracks are evident…the neighbor has a dog that she lets roam freely over the land.  I am not pleased.  We will have to chat.  She informed my partner (on a day that I wasn’t at the farm) that her husband likes to “forage” for food on this land.  The dog and husband will have to ramble elsewhere.  Now, how to phrase that in person to her?  I’ll come up with something.

Earlier in the summer, I had gone out to our property with baskets in hand, to collect the wine berries that grow wild on our property.  There was not one berry to be found!!   The bushes had been full of almost ripe berries, a week before. Apparently, the resident “forager” had been there.  I was not pleased.  My partner said, “Maybe it was deer”.  I’m okay with deer-they were on this land long before I was.  But Mr. Forager On Someone Else’s Property, I am not.

I had not considered “neighbors” when becoming an herb farmer.  Promises to be interesting.

I Lived on the Frankfurt Bomb Street

Frankfurt Germany 1954

I lived on Wismarer Strasse in Frankfurt Germany-the location of the WW2 era bomb that is forcing the evacuation of the city of Frankfurt Germany today.  My house was where the red mark is (near the top of the photo) and the green mark is where the bomb is located.

I lived there with my family from 1974-1977.  I played kick the can on that street in the summers.  I waited for the green military school bus right across the street from where that bomb is.  I ate my first meal after landing at the Flughafen over that bomb, in what was The Ambassador Arms Hotel.  My mom used to get her hair done  at the beauty parlor at The Ambassador Arms.

I walked in front of the bomb on my home from high school (see building in front of the track on left in photo).  In short, I was blissfully unaware that in the 1940’s, this bomb had been dropped by the British to stop the Nazis.  I tell you, I never thought about Nazis the whole time we were in Germany.  I was 12 turning 13 when we arrived in Germany, and 15 turning 16 when we left.  I was thinking about myself.  I was thinking about boys.  I was thinking about music.

And now, I am thinking about all the history that took place in that area.   I am thinking about the American occupation, about WW2, and also about the young, American teenage girl who lived, loved, laughed and cried on that street.  May all be well today on Wismarer Strasse.
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Who I Have Always Been

Why do we throw away who we are in quest of someone, something, somewhere to “find ourselves”? I am not a regret-filled person but not having pursued the life of a naturalist has weighed on me at different times in my life.

I read the masterpiece, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, in 1972, the summer I turned 11.

This story of a boy who runs away and lives on his own in the mountains, using what the mountain provided to survive while also befriending a hawk, intrigued me, lived with me and influenced the person I am today at 55. Oh, those acorn pancakes…that is what first caught my fancy in 1972.

My current study of medicinal herbs and also of aromatherapy has transported me back to that summer with my 11-year-old self, sitting on the hill in our backyard in Rockville, MD.  My arms and legs bronzed from the sun, long brown hair hanging about my shoulders, I would spend hours splitting open dandelion stems, feeling the milky liquid on my skin and just know that it was good for something, but didn’t know what.

I didn’t pursue the answers as I did not value my questions. I do now.

Think back, feel back to ideas, the trueness that was you, that has always been you and walk that path. That is home.

May you value your questions and seek your answers.

Off to harvest fresh dandelion leaves, purple dead nettle and violet flowers for our morning salad.