I write an assessment in September, looking over the season at triumph and failure. Just to have all my crops again is exciting after two years of milking goats. I miss them and always will until my next encounter. It was a welcome experience, but I am a grower, my heart lies with the plants. I get so much joy from sitting in the garden and simply weeding. I feel the loss of bygone days when it was the days work.
Did I know when I entered the internship at Brooklyn Botanic Garden that plants would become my family? An all consuming journey for my life? Susun Weed and the Wise Woman Center gave me the Spirit that Horticulture lacked and I was smitten. I loved being outside as a child, Mum wanting a girl, dressing me up in pretty clothes that I would return home filthy from my adventures. I was raised with boys, how could I turn out dainty?
My husband and I moved upstate to live the Simple Life. Along the way I have had odd jobs to bring in extra money mainly to finance the gardens, but there is no greater indicator of what we've lost than the 9 - 5. My gardens have always suffered in the pursuit of the dollar. We have been ripped from the land and turned over our autonomy to an ungrateful master wishing to suck the life out of us. Instead of reward for our work we are given more work. We are taught to feel unworthy from birth and check one another for our output instead of recognizing our true challenge, the Establishment. I am happy to be back here fully present in the gardens enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
In recent years, I've learned that my great grandfathers were farmers which answers all my question about why I am. Mum's paternal grandfather would take his horse and buggy and be gone for two weeks to harvest and go to market. Dad's maternal grandfather had a garden next to the house. Through colonialism, my maternal grandfather lost his life when my mother was twelve and my paternal grandfather was a bookbinder and caned chairs. My paternal grandmother married a wealthy man and had twelve more children. My maternal grandmother was a seamstress. Clearly the generation that lost the connection to the land. My interest in plants was met with more of the same looks I got all my life "Who is this child?" Dad deigned to pay me a compliment a few years ago after having used Poke (Phytollaca americana, Phytolaccaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) for a lingering cold whenever I was home. "You're a bush doctor." I'll take it. The highest praise I've ever gotten. Poke is an antibiotic. I use it for allergies, colds, ear infections and just recently a dog tick bite. Down south they make Poke Salad with the young leaves and the young stem can also be eaten. The purple berries can be harvested and frozen to be popped like pills two at a time to stave off colds through Winter. Children love to smash the berries on paper producing a beautiful magenta color.
Even the hope of our children has been crushed as the literally poor millennial returns home to their parents' house with crushing debt. Who knew the Establishment which has already dismissed our elders, carting them away to cesspool nursing homes would then turn around and crush the spirits of our young people by placing the yolk of debt and joblessness around their necks in the prime of their lives?
All these woes I hand over to Earth in the gardens. I leave them refreshed and renewed because Earth has the ability to take my burdens and return joy and love Teaching, sharing the plants with loved ones offers no end of peace and fulfillment. Imagine a health care system that teaches mind, body, spirit connection. Teaching us to listen and trust our body's wisdom. Imagine yoga and meditation to begin the day starting in kindergarten. What would that world look like? We humans have an endless ability for hope. We can always dream and imagine and dance in the light of the dawn. Let's go again and dream big. I delight in my plants the same as parents do in their children. Even parenthood has become one of the greatest challenges of the day, but we still do it. Good for us!
Weeding is in a good place and I take a breather in these last couple of weeks. A moment to look over the gardens before the final push to close out the season. I have been delighted with Amaranth, Borage, Lamb's Quarter and Purslane this season, all growing wild alongside my crops. At least fifty percent of herbs are considered weeds to be eradicated by Round Up. Dandelion, Violet, Ground Ivy in our grass. Clever of the Establishment to demonize our wild food and medicine. If you ever want to conquer a people, destroy their resources. Colonialism 101. We fight to the death for our freedom and go down swinging.
I'm harvesting Goldenrod flowers for tea (Solidago gigantea, Asteraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island). Goldenrod has sedative properties, the seeds can be eaten as mush or used as a stew thickener and the young greens can be cooked and eaten. Dried and powdered, the plant was used to stop bleeding during wartimes. Zucchini is ready as well as Tomatoes and the next round of Kale and Mustard Mix. Cabbage Moth has ravaged the Cabbage patch, next year I'll leave the cover on all season. I have 1 1/2 gallons of Red Sauerkraut leftover from last season so I only have to add two more gallons for my Winter store so I'm not too worried. It's a thirty foot bed. Last season I got 2 1/2 gallons even after Cabbage Moth damage.