Bee Dumplings

This time of the year is when you might want to make “bee dumplings”. Also known as garden bombs or earth dumplings, this a fun project for young and old.

Thank you to the Yorkshire Post’s Hannah Stephenson for this.

Bees will love you and your garden will blossom into a delightfully wild and colourful habitat.

The Yorkshire recipe can use a mix of 11 wildflowers, including cowslips, musk mallow, cornflowers, poppies, chamomile and cranesbill geraniums, which will help provide a treasure trove of nectar rich sources for pollinating insects. You may wish to use local plant seeds. Last year there was a Dr. Henry Wildflower assortment that worked well in front of our abode on Vancouver Island. Of interest to gardeners in our area is that these are not liked by deer.

Definitely not in the old English Garden style.

The wildflowers featured will all grow at different times, providing a dazzling display of colour throughout the summer.

Get ingredients together

You will need five handfuls of peat-free compost, four handfuls of air-dry red clay, one handful of native wildflower seeds and a splash of water.

Also gather a mixing bowl, a baking tray and greaseproof paper.

Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together

Place the compost, clay and seeds in a large bowl, ready to mix. Use your hands to combine all of the ingredients together, adding a splash of water if needed. You’re aiming for a thick but mouldable consistency. The earth dumplings need to hold their shape, so try to avoid adding too much water at once.

Roll them into balls

“Once you’ve combined all your ingredients, roll the mixture into little balls. The size is up to you – these ones are slightly larger, but you can make them smaller, similar to the size of a golf ball, if you’d prefer to scatter them over a larger area.”

Leave them to dry

Place your earth dumplings on greaseproof paper, ready to dry. Use a baking tray if you plan to move them elsewhere. Leave for four to five days, or until they’ve completely hardened (check for soggy bottoms). Placing them out in the sun, or near a source of warmth, will speed up the drying process.

Sow, sow, sow

Now it’s time to sow your earth dumplings. Wildflowers will bloom well in containers, window boxes and borders – anywhere with a splash of sunshine. Place them just below the surface of the soil for best results. Then let nature do its thing.

Like daffodils, wildflower seeds are best sown in autumn, while the soil is still soft and warm. This gives them time to develop strong roots before the frost kicks in, resulting in bigger, healthier plants. By spring, and throughout the summer, you’ll be treated to a sumptuous display of wildflowers, including cornflowers, chamomile and common poppies to name a few.

:Yorkshire Post, by Hannah Stephenson, Wednesday, 6th October 2021

Balance of Consciousness

About five months ago I had a sinus or inner ear infection that was routinely unpleasant. It was different, however, in that it left me with a minor but specific disruption in my sense of balance. At the onset, when I got up from a prone position it produced a fascinating, almost psychedelic effect that took over my consciousness, flashing colourfully as my mind cruised very near the edge of unconsciousness.

Dr. Google suggested it may be labyrinthitis. Not quite, though. I also looked through Wikipedia for “proprioception”. Interesting, but…

I assumed that the effect and its underlying cause would eventually repair itself. Well, the flashy colours are mostly gone, but my sense of balance is still affected in that specific manner. After I lie back on a pillow, then start to get up, the effect takes over for a few seconds.

It’s like a reverse mercury switch – the regular one consists of a small blob of mercury rolling about inside a glass capsule, and two contacts sticking through the glass wall form a bridge by the mercury only when the capsule is in a particular orientation. Instead, imagine a capsule woven with contacts everywhere – except for a specific location, where contact is on the edge of being lost.

Balance results from the integration by the brain of three inputs. One’s eyes produce, in effect, the cognitive feedback. In seeing one’s bodily orientation with respect to objects and a horizon, the brain gathers that the body is vertical or otherwise.

Somatic feedback comes from the muscles and joints. If seated, receptors will send their signals to indicate that fact. (“Flying by the seat of one’s pants” is famously what a pilot should not do, as those somatic receptors quickly become tired and stop signaling after a few minutes, allowing the pilot to feel that the plane is still level.)

The vestibular system is next to one’s inner ears. It is the “accelerometer” that reports movements of the head in the way that a cellphone’s accelerometer will signal the view on a phone screen to flip as you change its orientation.

I think the bug of five months ago affected either a small part of one of the semicircular canals of my vestibular system, or the route along which signals are sent to that part of the brain that is the accumulator of all the signals that comprise the sense of balance.

So, my question is: why should that small signal disruption have such a critical effect on consciousness?

If your cellphone’s accelerometer is turned off and the screen no longer flips, the rest of the phone’s functions continue happily blinking and beeping at you. If an injury leaves you with no feeling below your chest, your consciousness is not disrupted.

What is this connection between balance and consciousness? The combined wisdom of the internet is not helpful in answering that simple question. This could be important.

What do you think?