Point of Departure When a Loved One has Passed

Author: Meera, September 24, 2018

After the news of the recent passing of my only sibling and the last member of my nuclear family, I moved an old chair beneath a plum tree on my farmette near the hives to  listen to the hum of bees and read the Georgics of Virgil.


For me, reading verse serves as a point of departure to an inward journey where I can find calm, utter silent prayers, seek forgiveness, spiral forth blessings, and come to terms with what has been left unspoken. In time, I find it is possible to surrender to what is and accept what cannot be changed.



The "Honor" rose...white blooming roses are beautiful under moonlight

Some plant flowers in remembrance of a deceased loved one. Pictured is the “Honor” rose



Beneath the dense canopy of the plum, I lost myself in reading the ancient verses of Virgil. The reclusive Roman scholar wrote his long poem of Georgics in four parts around 70 BCE. Virgil’s verses draw readers into pastoral landscapes where he describes nature, the seasons and their attributes, as well as the fullness and sadness of life.  I believe my brother would appreciate these verses  that show loss as an integral part of the natural world and our human existence. For me, Virgil’s poetry connects the mundane with the lofty.



Virgil’s verses speak to repetitive cycles–nature’s seasonal shifts occurring over the landscape, man’s domesticated animals going about their business, bees gathering pollen and nectar to bring forth honey. Some see these verses as primers on agricultural work and animal husbandry. What I derive from these poems is a loftier meaning: as much as change comes into our lives (whether through sorrow, suffering, loss, or war), the big picture is this–life goes on and there is sweetness for us to find.



A honeybee alights on a fountain for water

Bees need water (as most living creatures do) to sustain life



In Georgics IV about beekeeping, Virgil writes:



“First find your bees a settled, sure abode where neither winds can enter ( winds blow back the foragers with food returning home)


Nor sheep or butting kids tread down the flowers,  Nor heifer wandering wide upon the plain


Dash off the dew, and bruise the springing blades . . . .


The above is from another translation, but A.S. Kline offers a beautiful English translation from the Latin of Georgic IV, see, https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilGeorgicsIV.php


Virgil grew up in the rural Italian countryside where the peasantry lived close to the land. When the civil wars during Virgil’s lifetime caused many farms to go into states of disrepair and farmers to lose their land, Virgil’s family farm became a casualty of the times.


It’s believed that he subsequently regained his farm but the experience of loss had became indelibly imprinted in his consciousness because his writings deeply reflected the sadness of those who’d suffered loss. Perhaps because the reclusive bachelor and scholar did not enjoy robust health himself, Virgil wrote that the greatest wealth is health.



Finished jars reveal clear, light amber honey the bees made from springtime flowers

Honey is known as an ancient elixir for health




I thought about that as I sat listening to my bees and the sounds of nature around me. My brother had enjoyed good health before marching with other Marines through Vietnam’s fields of Agent Orange. In the last year of his life, health issues concerned him. But he didn’t dwell on that–farmers and soldiers seldom do.


I’m sure if he’d had a choice in the matter, he’d have preferred to breathe his last breath while fishing, surveying the expanse of a newly harvested field, or walking in the woods. Instead, he passed away while removing a sapling that a neighbor wanted pulled from her flowerbed. Death found him lying under an expansive sky on side of the road, the sun on his face, his breath gone, his heart still.



This angels in my garden serves as a visual cue to live life with gratitude

Angels cue us to live life with gratitude


Perhaps, he was ready. Fields and woods, rivers and streams, farms and fresh air have always called to me and my brother like some ancient voice in our DNA.


As kids during this time of year in late summer, we would race to the nearest watering hole to wade, throw rocks, or fish. Never uttering a word, we could spend hours sitting on a river bank in dappled shade, poles in hands, eyes on bobbins hoping for a nibble. Or, we would lie in a field of tall grain watching the clouds merge, split, and float across the expansive sky until they’d disappeared completely. It’s how I imagine my brother’s soul departed that fateful day–guided to the Great Beyond by a Spectacular Unseen Hand.



In the days ahead, I will take comfort in reading words written by my favorite observers of life like Virgil and philosophers of the world, both past and present.  I will read favorite passages in sacred texts. And I’ll refer to my own books on meditation and ritual. I hope the process empowers me to come to an untroubled, tranquil acceptance of the culmination of his life. What will be my destiny, too. May you rest in eternal peace my brother.






More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you








Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment






read comments ( 0 )

Transplanting a Decades-Old Crape Myrtle Tree

Author: Meera, May 15, 2018

Friends said it was a bad idea. The tree was too large, too old, and too unwieldy to dig up and transport from my daughter’s property to mine. The crape myrtle  would not survive, they told me, because its large root would need to be severely cut. Also, without a crane or other lifting device, three of us would be struggling to deal with such a heavy tree.




The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter

The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter





I won’t say moving the tree  was easy. It had been standing for 28 years next to my daughter’s house, but she wanted to make way for new landscaping. When the family decided to part with the tree, they called on a family friend who worked as an arborist. He would do the cutting and digging of the tree.


Crape myrtles (of the genus, lagerstoemia) are available as shrubs and trees and are lovely in bloom with showy paniculate flowers in pink, fuchsia, red, or lavender. They are one of the trees that make little-to-no pollen (great for allergy sufferers). Light pruning during the growing season can produce a second bloom. Much beloved in the deep south, these trees remain stately and beautiful for up to fifty years.


My daughter’s tree arrived at the farmette in mid-October strapped onto our friend’s truck. The roots had been cut away. There were no fine root hairs or stems left–just bare wood. Ditto for the tree canopy–just a few hefty branch stubs. I wondered if our efforts would prove futile.


Hubby and I prepared a large planting hole just off from the patio. We added amendments to the clay soil and drove in stakes to keep the tree stable for a year or more until it had sufficiently developed roots. I added root hormone to the soil and watered deeply the first day and several times that week.




A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree

A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree




The winter rains came. I watched, waited, and wondered if there would ever be sprouting of any kind on the woody ends where branches had been amputated. Despite a canopy, the tree’s trunk, a beautiful, gray-green wood, afforded a kind of beauty to the austere winter garden. Before spring, I scraped a fingernail on the back of the trunk and discovered the wood was not dried out but as green and moist as a young sapling.


A spell of warm weather and the buzzing of bees in early spring drew my attention upward. Our tree had sprouted a flurry of bronze-green leaves. Pink blooms will likely appear in June or July.


I’m happy now that we went to all the trouble of bringing that tree onto the farmette for transplanting. We’ll have lovely pink blooms over the remaining summers of my life thanks to the crape myrtle tree being so long-lived.






If you enjoy reading about gardening and farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing).


Each book is chocked full of tips for gardening, keeping bees and chickens, and growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. There are also plenty of delicious recipes to try. Find these books on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Walmart.com and other online retailers or purchase at traditional bookstores everywhere.–Meera Lester




My debut novel, the first in a series of three cozy mysteries set on the Henny Penny Farmette

Novel #1 in the Henny Penny Farmette series




Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available September 27, 2016

Novel #2




This new novel is available Sept. 26, 2017

Novel #3







read comments ( 0 )