Sweet Bounty

No need to work on being scared this Halloween. There’s no need to watch movies that will make your skin crawl. Just listen to the news. Doesn’t matter which “side” you’re on. There is hatred and violence brewing everywhere. Fear is in the air and it is more present than the elusive corona virus.

There is a belief that this time of year holds the thinning of the veil between life and death. When you live on the land that makes total sense. The emerald green of summer has long faded and the glorious leaves have gone brown. Soon the decomposition will begin and if you are lucky enough to live where the snow flies, a blanket of white will cover the earth. And as if by magic, when the brilliant white disappears, the early risers of spring will once again breath life into being.

This is what we know. We know this time of death is preparation for what is yet to be. We know there is always waxing and waning and this is the time to shelter and gather strength. Now is the moment to take stock of all that is good, all that has held us and all that will continue to throughout the months ahead.

This is not a time for fear and wasted energy. This is not a time to create havoc and spin tails of woe. This moment is for celebration and for effort, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to preserve all that we will need to make it through.

This is a time of sharing; to gift one another the sweet bounty of our harvest and to offer good tidings and hope. 

This Hallows Eve we don’t need to be frightened. We need to be grateful and ready. 

Photo: sheep having the final gleaning of the garden.

Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate,

You are alive. You live in a most exciting time. You live at a crossroads in humanity and choices are very clear. You can continue to plug away at the dying systems you see floundering around you or you can reimagine and recreate something new and better for yourself and those who come after you.

To do this you must take stock of your strengths and your passions. You are alive. You hold within you great seeds of possibility that are yours and yours alone. There has never been another you. Cherish that. Honor the seed of your becoming and let it grow. Nourish it with kindness and respect. Allow wonder and remain a student of Life, regardless of what comes.

Give of yourself. Volunteer. Plant a tree. Tend a garden.  There is so much awaiting your loving touch.

And allow your cup to be filled. Accept kindness. It comes from strength not weakness.  Hone your gifts of humility, hope and courage. They will remain your steadfast friends throughout your life.

Do not curse your time, nor accept curses of others. You have potentials that have yet to be tapped waiting for you. Carry on.

And to those who fear for them: your fears are your own to unwind and discard. Do not pass the baton of fear. Systems crumble but from their ashes the phoenix rise. Do not doubt that something better can emerge from this unsettling time. It is never too late to reconcile errors of the past and make way for a better tomorrow. Forgive yourself for doing what you were told instead of discovering what was meant for you. In the time that remains you, find peace.

Care for the Living

A benevolent spring is upon us. Time has come to plant gardens or to connect with those who do. Food pantries, farmers markets and Facebook pages are gearing up to share life-supporting food and information. Videos and live-streamed classes teach us how to cook and process food. There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry.

Rain seems to be ignoring us this year. It’s making it possible to repair damages from previous floods and ready our homes for any rough days ahead. There are lots of good, local hardware stores and handy people to help get jobs done.  And while we are readying our homes let us think of our neighbors. There are unused houses and cabins, which could provide shelter for individuals and families who are and will be facing eviction.

Many may be facing hard times. Yet while this virus has wounded our ability to carry on as we have, it cannot keep us from cutting a path forward that may be better for all.

With the argument to reopen businesses now, we are weighing financial concerns over the value of life. There will be plenty of time to regroup our finances. Now is the time to care for the living – and that includes our health care workers. Now is the time to ensure that each of us has basic needs met. There are many fine organizations working against great odds to help those in need.  Find one to support.

This is not a time to cower. It is not a time to be confused or angry. Everyone’s efforts are needed. Too many are living on the edge. We have allowed this for too long. Time to snap out of it.

Throw out the old playbook. There is a new game afoot. Help one another and enjoy all the good we have been given.

Window of Opportunity

The sweetest birdsongs greeted my morning walk and the sky was the blue that I remembered from my childhood. There is less traffic on the road and fewer animals killed. The nettles are coming up enough to garnish our lunchtime quiche. For all the concern of the virus that is plaguing us, which is real, there is gentleness in this moment that is worthy of our attention.

Each day on the farm, we try to tackle a project that had previously escaped us. Today we began to fill a wound in the earth. It is erosion caused by our mules that we had too long ignored. But now we have the time and nature has supplied the means so we grabbed the window of opportunity to do a little mending.

Tasks often loom large and formidable until you actually begin them. Downed branches and dried grasses are abundant and create the perfect fill. We could also see another breach where the mules tend to walk and so we were able to mitigate that problem before it began.

And I cannot help but compare these everyday experiences to the predicament before us.

If we only listen to the pundits and the debates surrounding this crisis we may miss a very real opportunity. This is our chance to learn. It is our time to build our strengths. Our time to review what we have allowed and what could have been done differently. This may be the window of opportunity that we have long awaited.

Taking stock of our lives and everything our lives touch, making amends and mitigating mistakes before we fall prey to them again; this is the possibility before us.

We are being asked to be conscious, for ourselves and for each other.

What an amazing gift! Let us open it.

Right on Time

 

Here come the first hints of spring right on time. I heard a robin sing yesterday and today the call of the sand hill crane caught my attention. The snow is melting and the mud and the ice are treacherous if you take a wrong step, but the brilliant sun makes the cold wind cower and you know it is only a matter of time before you will walk barefoot again.

And there is hope, right on time.

The news in any given day is bleak and I am inclined to believe it is intentionally so. It is easier to control a population when it is kept on edge. It is easier to drive an agenda if you do not give people a chance to find their own way. But at the end of the day, it will always be our choice to fall for fear mongering and hate baiting or to strive to create sustainable peace.

Winter in the Driftless is not for those afraid of a good challenge. But it is the beauty of the season and the brilliance of the night skies that soothes the soul and holds the promise of spring.

I couldn’t live in a hopeless world. And the return of the sand hill crane reminds me of that. I muse over the latest news on the coronavirus, or the hatred that has reared its head against Muslims in Delhi. Yet I rejoice to hear the Korean woman tell how she survived the disease and how the Hindu man saved many Muslim neighbors making trips by motorcycle.

You see, spring returns. And with it hope. Not blind hope, but hope born of reason, conviction and action laced with integrity.  We are born for this. We are born to be victors over fear, hatred and ignorance, because we are born for love.

 

sandhill crane in flight courtesy of wikipedia commons

Hone Love

As winter solstice draws near, the shadows grow longer, the light burns brighter, and the air is crisp. It’s a contemplative time, a time to reflect on the past and to gather strength to prepare for the spring. If we have done our work through the seasons, we’re able to enjoy this time and celebrate with deep appreciation.

If this season catches us unprepared, we run the risk of missing its quiet beauty. Winter for all its harshness is a time to go within. It is also a time to share.

Everyday is worthy of celebration and giving thanks. Yet living close to the land awakens an appreciation of the return of light. It is something we share with our predecessors and with people throughout the world. We receive the longer days with this recognition: That even though the harshest times may still be before us, we will have the increased vision and strength to see it through.

There are many who will not be able to feel the subtle changes of the season. There are some who do not care. For whatever reason, we have handed the reigns of power to people who have forgotten they are of the earth. They cannot feel the magic or the majesty of living. They are content to destroy it all for material gain.

Yet the lovers of the earth will continue to love.

I am learning to not curse the cold, nor surrender to the darkness. There is something that softens my heart and feeds my soul. It’s simple and it’s absolute.

I am alive. In these complex and challenging times we are alive.

And there is so very much hope in that. Celebrate the light and hone the gift of love.

It is the only thing ignorance cannot destroy. Hone love and fight like hell.

Prayers That Never Falter

I recently learned of the passing of a great man.

In mid-2016, I was drawn to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. I visited to see if I could help keep the oil pipeline from crossing the headwaters and the tribal lands.

When I returned in September, it was with the conviction to remain. I had no tribe and no affiliation and looked for an opportunity to make a formal request to stay.

Each day began with prayers around the fire.  From my bed in the car, I could hear his voice over the loud speaker as the light barely cracked the darkness. “Kiktapo! Get up. We have work to do. We must stop the black snake.” And there he would be welcoming all to the fire. People came from all corners of the world and all faiths and he welcomed them to offer their prayers.

And when I would attend the day’s orientation, he would be there again leading with prayer, holding the vision, teaching us about courage and strength through example.

He was the one I asked to stay in the camp. I made my offer to help and he welcomed me. And when I asked where to place my tent, he told me, “Here, next to my family.”

The next several weeks were life changing as weather, rubber bullets, water cannons and infiltrators cut into us.  But the prayers never faltered.

Guy Dullknife   was a cherished father, husband, artist, veteran and member of the American Indian Movement, but those are not my stories to tell.

For me, he was a link to my deepest wishes for humankind. That one-day we will rise, all people, with acceptance and respect, and take back the earth, which is our right. As the living, it is our right and our duty.

Thank you Guy, for prayers that never falter. We carry on.

Guy and Angie

Grateful to Love

A friend came by to help us ready for winter. He’s a young Amish gentleman and we have shared laughter and good wishes for a few years now. He mentioned he would be traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving and I asked, “What foods do you have for your meal?” “Turkey most often”, he replied. And I thought about it a bit and asked, “Do you tell stories of Pilgrims and Indians?” “No”, he said. “Me either”, I said, and then added, “I must be a bit Amish”…and we laughed.

We had many sweet conversations that day as we puttered about moving wood and fencing, and getting the barn ready for the sheep to winter. He was brave enough to have his first taste of curry as we sat to eat our lunch, and liked it enough for seconds. He spoke about his new bride and how happy he is in his new life. I could feel his joy. It was infectious. I read to him a note of thanks that I had received and he smiled.

We talked about how good it would be if all people could respect each other in their differences and delight in their similarities. And once again I marveled at the ease of speaking to another human being who cherishes life first and foremost.

As the day wore on I felt our kinship grow and was grateful for the brief times we share. While driving home he made note of, and thanked me for, slowing down as I came upon a horse and buggy. “Too many people don’t take the time to slow down”, he said. “I know”, I said. “We too often forget there is precious life there.”

The silences in our conversations are laden with communication.

And he is one of the many people I am very grateful to love.

 

Best wishes in this season of wonder and gratitude.

Lovers of the Earth Know

In between the downpours that have become autumn’s new norm, I heard a faint cry from the potato patch. The potatoes were calling me to come and get them. I know that is ridiculous and perhaps it was my stomach saying it was time for lunch, but regardless, I took the time to unearth those precious gems. Heavy spring rains made their planting late and now they seemed pushed to the surface by the swell of water that continues to fall from the sky.

In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the times they are a changin’. The name we have given it is climate change. And while politicians debate the causes and pundits advance notions of population control and promote the need to industrialize our food systems even more, the gardener and the harvester observe and respond to the roller coaster ride that we are now engaged in.

To say we are in challenging times is an understatement.

As if uncertainty is not enough, the media spin attempts to guide us with fear. The already prevalent notion of scarcity is driving our pocket books and our vision.  When all the while, the earth remains quite capable of feeding us.

This is what the lover of the earth knows.

The lover of the earth knows that there is still time to learn from the seasons, to enrich the soil, to re-discover old wisdoms and re-plant old seeds. The lover of the earth knows that food of the earth is the best medicine, unadulterated and pure. And the lovers of the earth will go right on loving regardless of the climate upheaval, because we can.

The earth has many more secrets to reveal and we are capable of learning.

As for me, I’ll meet this new day with trust in my heart and hoe in hand.

IMG_4000

Love of Place

Every apple seed can produce an entirely unique tree. Every tree has a story to tell and there is so much to learn. I have the pleasure of living in an heirloom apple orchard. It delights the senses throughout the seasons, it informs and it nourishes; its beauty has captured my heart…All of this has caused me to ponder the significance of love of place.

We cannot all stay in the place of our birth. My maternal grandmother left a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Italy to come to the United States. And while I am sure she missed the sea, the foods and flora of her home, she taught me through her actions the importance of love of place. Well into her 70’s she tirelessly cared for her garden, her chickens and her bread with a gratitude to the land that allowed it all to be.

The people of the Bahamas are now beginning the struggle to rebuild after the destruction of Dorian. The people of the Amazon who have been displaced by intentionally set fires are forced to uproot. Throughout the world migrants traveling by sea and by foot are being forced to leave their homes. It is through my own love of place that I can possibly understand their grief and their uncertainty.

Love of place. For those of us who live by the fruit of the earth we are inexplicably bound to her. Love of place is essential to our well being and it is hard to comprehend living without it.

Many of us have lost this relationship to land and I suggest to you that it may well be the cause of much of the disharmony and disrespect that we witness today.

Science now tells us that we need more time in Nature. This is something that our hearts have always known.