My Favorite Astronomer and Her Amazing (Earthbound) Idea

Is there no end to the glorious depth of Los Angeles? Apparently not, since last week I met face-to-face with the amazing Shelley Bonus.

Writer, teacher, novelist, performer, lover of gardens and landscape, and . . . astronomer! We met for lunch in Santa Monica and I left two hours later a changed woman. Imagine lunching with a brilliant person who speaks like a poet and pulls out a photograph of Jupiter! With a shadow of Ganymede, one of its moons! And evidence of its amazing Southern Equatorial Cloud Belt.

She teaches a course called “Landscape and the Imagination” in the UCLA Extension Landscape Architecture Program. (And she has been assigning my book — Cultivating Words: The Guide to Writing about the Plants and Gardens You Love — for three years now. I had no idea.)

So here is Shelley Bonus and the 60-inch telescope at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where she works as a session director (

But she wants to start an earthbound movement:

Feed the Soul, Feed the Body

The idea: Every place of a spiritual nature should have an edible garden.

Churches, synagogues, meditation halls, yoga studios, you name it.

Shelley Bonus asks: In the commitment to nurture the soul, why not nurture the population?

Such an amazing, open-hearted, big idea, but I have a feeling she traffics in very big ideas.

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