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Rhubarb can help you discover a whole new world…

2019, Apr 22 | A Practice For Spring

STORYTELLING: If you dug the Unicorn Store (“This isn´t a costume. These are my clothes.”) then you will dig this perspective shifting nature relatedness practice.

Let rhubarb show you the joy of seeing things from a “new fantastic point of view.” 

Nature relatedness makes you feel good by igniting your curiosity as you challenge your brain to see the world not just from a human perspective, but from that of other forms of life.  As you get all tangled up in web thinking, you discover value that has always been there, but you never considered.  And many times, this value doesn´t DIRECTLY impact your life. In facts, sometimes, I find the greatest joy in seeing how the quality of my life is connected to wolves or insects or winds that I may NEVER see. Who can say unicorns don´t exist if no one has ever seen one? What we do know is the idea of unicorns brings a lot of joy to many people´s lives. You can practice the joy of magical thinking in an evidence based way with food, like rhubarb.  Here´s how.

Flipping the script on rhubarb

It is often written in rhubarb recipes to mind the leaves because they are poisonous to humans. But trash to a human is another form of life´s treasure. The leaves feed pollinating and soil ecosystem supporting insects. The leaves are the photovoltaic receptors (solar energy panels) for the rhubarb plant itself! Beyond feeding people, what else does the rhubarb do for us directly? The ancient Chinese used rhubarb as a laxative and in contemporary times, researchers are exploring evidence that rhubarb roots might help in the fight against leukemia.

From storytelling to question time

Considering this makes me pause and consider how I can exercise my brain to see the world not only from the perspective of what immediately pleases me. There are lots of parts of foods that we don´t like to eat (stems, roots, leaves).  There is a heightened awareness not to waste these plant parts to limit the greenhouse gas and climate impact of food waste. That is GREAT. But, let´s go a step further. There is also an opportunity to build your ability to practice nature relatedness to uncover eco-friendly habits you never knew existed. Check out our beginner´s mind questions with rhubarb that follow!


BEGINNER´S MIND: How do rhubarb leaves add value to your environment? How does that add value to your life?

BEGINNER´S MIND! Our minds get lazy. Some of this is by design. We need shortcuts to process all the stimulus thrown at us on a daily basis. As time goes by, we can become close minded if we don´t shake things up.  Asking  beginner´s mind questions helps to exercise our neuro-plasticity.  Think of it as yoga to make your brain more flexible. Asking new questions, creates new synapses and helps your brain make connections it otherwise would not be flexible enough to find.  That leads you to AH HA moments that trigger all manner of feel good chemicals…and thoughts that can inspire you to act in creative new ways. 

As you embark upon your nature relatedness practice, your knowledge will grow…but try to focus more on the questions than the answers at the start.  Framing a question in a new way sets you on a path to find information that you may never have thought to find (or have found interesting) until you adopted a new perspective. Practice with rhubarb and reframe it with other foods that you encounter this week. What do you discover that you never would have otherwise?

RITUAL: Homemade Rhubarb Soda and Time to reCreate

Ancient Greeks drank in moderation as a recreation activity to achieve a state of leisure, what they believed to be the highest state of being human. Recreation isn´t work one embarks upon for survival, but THRIVAL. (Shouldn´t that be a word?!) Recreation is about thriving, not merely surviving. Recreation is not escapism. Feeling relaxed is important when one recreates to achieve a leisure state, but relaxation unto itself isn´t the goal. When you are in a state of leisure, you are primarily reflecting by putting yourself in a place where you can see the world around you from a different perspective and find new insight. That´s why the activities that get us there are called recreation. The intent of the activity is in the word itself: reCREATION.  In this week in which we celebrated Earth Day, I cannot think of a more appropriate nature related activity.  Here´s a quick recipe for a homemade rhubarb soda (feel free to add a splash of gin or vodka for a long drink) designed to be supped slowly and thoughtfully as you breath in the world around you.  #fromheadtohandstohabit⁣

Ingredients to make Rhubarb Syrup, about 250 millilitres

  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • ½ pint water
  • ½ pint chopped rhubarb, about 1 stalk

Instructions to make syrup

Simmer water and sugar, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.  Add the rhubarb and steep for 20 minutes.  Strain the rhubarb and put the syrup in the fridge for a week. There is no need for the strained rhubarb to go to waste.  Add some cinnamon and munch on it as is or over ice cream, skyr, porridge or any other incantation you can dream up.

Instructions to make a Rhubarb and Mint soda

Rub a mint leaf in your fingers to release the oil and then around the rim of a glass. Pour a 50 millilitre jig of your rhubarb syrup into an glass of ice, top with sparkling water and add the mint leaf. Spike with a jig of vodka or gin for a cocktail to go for proper Artistotelean leisure. Okay, to be proper, don a toga at the same time.  Then head outside, or plunk yourself down by a window and as you sip, let you mind take in the sounds and the smells and the sights of the non human life around you and give a bit of gratitude for how whatever it is doing today is designed to make you thrive a bit more in ways you cannot possibly imagine.