The season winds down clearing and laying down straw at Sargent-Downing and planting beds at Hiddenbrooke. As exciting a season as any other to look back on the bounty. After two seasons of Goats, I return to my vegetable garden with a full season of crops.
Sauerkraut made, I move on to Parsley Pesto (4 quarts) (Petroselinum crispum, Umbelliferae, Biennial, South Europe). I have already made two Lamb’s Quarter (Chenopodium album, Chenopodiaceae, Perennial, Europe) and one Basil (Ocimum basilicum, Annual, Tropical Asia) for a total of seven quarts. Parsley contains vitamins and minerals. The leaves and stems are used fo bouquet garni and eaten to freshen breath. The leaf infusion is a tonic for hair, skin and eyes,. The root is used in soup and stews. The leaves, root and seeds are diuretic, remove free radicals from skin and can reduce the release of histamine. Also good for rheumatism, aids digestion and tones uterine muscles after birth. The leaf poultice is good for sprains and cuts. We had an abundance of Parsley Stone Barns one season so I decided to make Pesto. I have extra Parsley after I make the Pesto so I make Tabbouleh. The color of the best is a beautiful bright green, so welcome in Winter. Winter greens!
I have spent the week producing product for market. Salve, Tea, Tincture.
I started on a Sunday a couple of hours a day and finished by Thursday. Making product is fun of course and time consuming, it becomes meditative. I could do nothing else, writing, reading, no blog last week, barely any communication. A labor of love. I want to go to market from October - March until I sell out. A small batch operation. Should give me money for seeds, supplies, etc. It is also an opportunity to get out into the community and share herbal information. I’m looking forward to it as much as making money.
I have gone to market at Stone Barns and with Honey Locust in the past, but last summer I had the opportunity to vend and present at Neetopk Keetopk’s Medicine Pauwau (www.neetopkkeetopk.org). It was exciting and fun and the first time I had my own booth.
Each vendor shared their work in forty minute sessions. A Medicine Pauwau is a community gathering to discuss a hypothetical situation we may face in the future. It consists of four councils - children, women, young men and elders (men). Each council discusses the situation separately and when the councils have reached a decision, the four councils come together and share. It is a wonderful community process.
Two weeks have passed since Flora Jones Garden ended. I have to assimilate the extra energy. It’s weird. I am constantly lit. I have moved SDG to Thursdays so now I have Wednesday open. It is welcome right now because Twuck is still in the shop - now a month - and I have been taking public transportation to A Farm for All! on Tuesdays, a three and a half hour trip. The first week the bus had tire trouble! Beacon has a free Loop Bus that I can catch right in front of the house to get to the train. There is an hour and a half wait for the bus when I reach Poughkeepsie, though. I take my IPad and manage my communication, but I think I want to carry something to read as well. I got sooo bored last Tuesday, but upon gazing out of the window of the bus, I was met with Autumn hue and filled with joy! The boredom was sooo discombooberating I had to take Motherwort to straighten me out. (Leonarus cardiaca, Labiatae, Perennial, Europe), Leonarus cardiaca means Lionheart and Motherwort works wonders for anything heart related. A dropperful of Tincture (whole plant in flower) every five minutes for anxiety, two dropperfuls three times a day for high blood pressure (results in about a month) and three dropperfuls for sleep. Mum told me about the three dropperfuls for sleep. I had given it to her because HER INSULIN GAVE HER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE and she called me up to tell me how good Motherwort is for sleep. It was perfect timing because I had insomnia at the time. Puts one right out in about thirty minutes. Motherwort can be habit forming.
I continue to make Zucchini bread and Tomato sauce. This week I have harvested Cabbage and begin to make sauerkraut. I look back fondly on the time I discovered the joy of processing the harvest. I remember how daunting working land seemed to be and then “Oh no, I have to harvest and process this stuff!” Now it is a wonderful meditative sensual experience. Warm tomato squishing between my fingers to remove the seed for Tomato sauce. The scent of drying tomatoes in the oven. Licking the bowl like a child after making Zucchini bread and now squishing the Cabbage with salt to start the fermentation process to make sauerkraut! What a failure the first time I tried to make sauerkraut! Now I realize, there’s no trying at all. I simply have to get the fermentation going and it makes itself. I have some Zucchini left after making eight loaves of bread so I am going to try my hand at Zucchini fritters.
I’ve gotten in Sage bed at Hiddenbrooke. Looking forward to those gorgeous flowers next season. Salvia officinalis, Labiatae, Perennial, Mediterranean, North Africa. Sage is used culinarily as well as in ceremony. I burn Sage at the Winter Solstice to clear the space for the fresh new energy of the new year. I have made Sage Honey and had Sage tea over the last few Winters. I also like to smoke her in a blend with Catnip and Mullein. Many Mint family plants are good for colds mainly the aromatic ones. Sage leaf tea is an antiseptic, nerve and blood tonic. White Sage (Salvia apiana, Labiatae, Perennial, Southwest Turtle Island and North Western Mexico) is the traditional Sage burned in ceremony by the indigenous of our Turtle Island.
Hiddenbrooke takes shape - very exciting. I was wrapped up weeding beds this season, but I’m going to use hay for weed control from now on. I did manage to lay black plastic in Summer to kill the grass so, Sage bed was a piece of cake. I did not have to pull grass, just lay Compost. I finished Valerian bed with plants from Flora Jones Garden. I redid Valerian bed and laid Compost (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae, Perennial, Europe, West Asia). I had forgotten I laid Compost for Valerian at Flora Jones. Some plants do just fine without Compost, but Valerian has struggled. Valerian is a well know sleep aid available in health food stores. Usually the root is used, but if it’s too strong, the flowers can be used. Also good for headache, muscle cramps and irritable bowel syndrome. And can be used topically for wounds, ulcers and eczema.
The adventure continues closing out the gardens. There is a lovely sense of accomplishment at the end of the season. Removing the plants and laying down hay putting beds to sleep. It’s life itself, the great cycle of life dwelling with Earth through the seasons. Harmony.
Art entered my life in 2012 when my dear friend Vickie of miss vickie music asked me to produce a dreamcatcher for an indigenous month in November filled with events in different venues on Main St here in Beacon. The late Rainbow Weaver and I both produced dreamcatchers for the event, hers hung in a gallery and mine on the wall of the Bank Square patio. My dream catcher was given back to Earth hanging on the back catcher fence at University Settlement. Rainbow Weaver’s dreamcatcher still hangs on the wall inside the Education Center at Sargent-Downing.
What does art mean to me? I can recall when Marc and I made our great migration north in 2006, I wanted to give up writing and become a visual artist. I had read Carlos Castaneda and he mentioned thought without words and I still don’t know what it means. Or in this moment, perhaps it means the quiet mind of meditation. I was reacting to the limitation of words and how words have been used to categorize and label people forever locking them into imagery that brings them harm and degradation. I hated words then, although words have been my art since I became self aware at twelve years old.
Living the simple life I have the great pleasure of studying whatever I want. Using the library to find origins that help my empathic self make sense of this challenging world. I borrowed Art Through the Ages by Helen Gardner from another good friend, Betty Harkins. Of course art begins in ancient cultures, then catalogued and categorized by the Europeans who give us the great Renaissance and Elightenment movements. Art having crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa 8000 - 3000 BCE around the same time writing evolves in the Near East (Western Asia) influencing the “comparatively backward region of Western Europe, still Mesolithic and Neolithic.”
Art is a departure from words for me. Perhaps it is the thought without words. In any case, obviously I am back to writing, but I do have visual art to share. I am a writer, I’ve always been a writer and always will be a writer. I have committed myself to writing in 2019. The writing fast proved fruitful, I now have a relationship with visual art. When I have writer’s block I will break out the acrylics or pastels or watercolors and dance across the page.
A Dreamcatcher is traditionally made with Willow branches so I head out into the wilderness to harvest Willow (Salix alba, Salicaceae, Tree, Europe, W. Asia). Our Turtle Island variety is Salix discolor, the true Pussy Willow occurring in wet areas in Eastern Turtle Island. Willow stem bark is a painkiller, a fever reducer and an original source of salicylic acid for aspirin. In 2012, I was wandering the lands of my new home just before sunrise. The dreamcatcher turned out to be 5’ x 7’. I also gathered Walnuts to dye the string. Walnut (Juglans nigra, Juglandaceae, Tree, Turtle Island). There is also an English Walnut, Juglans regia, also known as Persian Walnut. Walnuts reduce cholesterol, and are added to salad and sweets. In China the nuts are used for wheezing, back and leg pain and constipation. I initially made a small dreamcatcher that just broke and I dismantled it recently. The small dreamcatcher gave me the confidence to approach the large one. The work immediately became a meditation. Thought without words as I weave the string across the ring. The Willow branches are fashioned into a ring. The string is then weaved from different points to form a web. Dreamcatchers are hung over one’s bed to catch bad dreams. I recently noticed I have two beautiful dreamcatchers that hang from my bedpost just above my head. I must have gotten them around the same time. Beads and feathers are woven in as well. Art, thought without words is ringing true in this moment. Mediation. Silence. Departing from the limitation of words into the infinite. Art.
I discovered my Arawak-Caribe cultural heritage around 2010. My mother’s sister, Auntie Pat had always said we were Amerindian and when we moved upstate, Spirit told me to find the natives. I had my first indigenous event in 2010. I understand why European Americans want to hold on to that heritage because whenI discovered I had returned to the region of the world of my cultural heritage, I felt immediately at home in my skin. One generation out of our Caribbean Motherland and we have the opportunity to return home. The problem the European American must face is that this is not your home, however deep in denial you are. Your home is Europe and always will be. You are the First Peoples of Europe. And though you don’t mind continuously destroying the lives of the First Peoples here, Turtle Island will never be your home. You are a conquered people oppressed becoming the oppressor, but we, the First Peoples will always rise and RESIST!
It is delusional to believe that you have created civilization. Evolution has created civilization and you have co-opted all you call culture from black and brown people. Numbers, religion, spiritual practice, commerce, machines, all co-opted in the great march of evolution. We are. There is not I, no individual. It is we interconnected and woven together through the Spirit that runs through all things. No superiority, no exceptionalism, WE.
Harmony with All. Tolerance, acceptance, allowance. We are all allowed. One big human family. Our differences make us strong and dynamic. We are bored with black and white, heterosexual, Judeo Christian. Let’s blend everything else to release the magic of being human.