2019 growing season is a memory. I finish the season without Twuck. Thankful for public transportation and good friends. The work is an extensive restoration.
I love cars so to see Tahoe under restoration is kinda awesome! Love the restoration car shows on television and we love to go to Beacon’s Annual Car Show. I grew up with three older brothers so we used to collect cars on road trips. My oldest brother owns a 1932 Oldsmobile with suicide doors and a 1949 Ford Pickup. He used to own a sea green 1967 Volkswagen Bug, my favorite car. I was born in 1967. I drove it when I stayed with him in California many Moons ago. My first car was a 1978 VW Bug.
I look back fondly on a full crop season and a fridge full of Winter Stores.
What a ride is all I can say. I wanted to be a Park Ranger when I graduated from high school, but I was in Florida, black, female and not bilingual. It wasn’t until I left acting and had no desire to work in an office that I decided to endeavor into what has become my life’s work - plants. The natural world. Where I belong. Perfect for my short attention span. Thirty minutes at best. I hear the latest generation is seconds! Even if I learned every plant in the world, by the time I learned them all, they will have mutated into something else! Forever learning.
I had bricks and bamboo stakes left at Flora Jones. When I get Twuck back, I can pick up the cookout table. I also forgot to transport Hellebore. It is cold and I hope she is hardy enough to survive. I placed her in a pot and the soil had frozen by the next day. I was also gifted Echinacea plants. I decided to pop them all into the ground rather than leave them in pots over Winter. Bricks went up to Hiddenbrooke, plants to Sargent-Downing. It feels good to move on. I can use another day in the office developing my business. Flora Jones was my wild edible garden. Too wild of course for neighbors, family and friends. I look out over Hiddenbrooke where we have let Mugwort dance and I realize I have become a big land gardener and wild is okay out here. We have quite an Animal Family - Deer, Turkey, Groundhog, Fox, Coyote, Bear and now - Bobcat! We have had Guinea Hens starting out with eleven, now down to two! They keep the ticks away. I cleared Tomato Bed at Sargent-Downing and laid down straw. Good night sweet beds. I did not get to haul straw, but - next season. It will be upon us soon enough. Time to rest, rest, rest.
Down to three gardens - Sargent-Downing, Hiddenbrooke in Beacon and Sally Garden of Eden in Rosendale. I will be working with a friend to install her English Cottage Garden next season, thrill of thrills. Age dictates slowing down, presents limits. I have to be thankful for organic growth all these years. Out of pace with the rat race. Human pace. We will never understand the departure from humanity, but we can reach out and touch it when we choose. I study copywriting now. Susun says I can do plant work until I’m eighty-five, but as I slow down I will need something to keep me financially stable as I age. I am a copywriter! I did not think I would have the opportunity in this lifetime to explore my writing self, but here I am. Not to mention Art. They are the other half of me and I look forward to the adventure.
Who knows what this Arctic Blast in November means for our Winter. We batten down the hatches and venture indoors to hibernate emerging with the Winter Solstice. Off to Myami. I will blog down there and then take a break in December. It has been amazing of course. Thank you for reading. Happy Holidays! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Last November got cold quickly and here we are again cold the first week of November. Over the past four years the entire growing season has shifted from March to October to April - November. We are shifting back here in November, but we still are very cold through March. We are losing a month of the growing season. It was a hot Summer, it may be a very cold Winter.
I am on my way to Myami in a week and when I return I will take a break from Blog until Winter Solstice, my New Year. I have been writing since April and I welcome the practice these days. I’m studying copywriting and I enter American Writers and Artists Inc. Barefoot Writing Challenge monthly. I began writing my annual assessment in September and will most likely finish it in Miami.
I went to Junior HIgh and High School in Miami and this trip will be our second Thanksgiving without Mum who passed one year ago July 22. “Memories light the corners of my mind.” It is a gift to hold her in my heart.
I have a sketch pad and being a shy artist, it is the closest I get so far to a canvas. Canvas will be a next level of development for me - a next level of commitment to Art.
I am an Herbalist in the Wise Woman Tradition - Susun Weed and the Wise Woman Center. Our premier herbal wisdom on the East Coast along with Rosemary Gladstar. Susun’s teacher, Juliette de Baraicli Levy returned the Wise Woman Tradition to the world. Susun brought it to North America. The symbol of the Wise Woman Tradition is a Spiral. We are not linear beings, we are every growing, expanding, becoming without end. I have taken the Spiral for my business name, Wise Woman Spiral because I believe as a third generation Wise Woman, we have the privilege of being the Spiral now. Let’s Dance!
I am playing with pastels in my sketch pad here. Maybe these sketches will just be housed under glass in a frame as finished pieces.
I ran out of black pastel. These works are from 2013, the year of the Two Row Wampum. As I have mentioned, I produced a Dreamcatcher in 2012, my first exhibited art piece. It was hung in a tree for Two Row. I must have purchased the sketch pad then fancying myself an artist. Today may be the first time I’ve looked at the sketch pad since.
The sketches are me as a spiral. My journey through understanding this body. We get to change and transform on a spiral, ever growing, never the same. What a release from linear time. What an embracing of the variable. Of course this image is 2013. I wonder what it would look like now?
The Wise Woman Tradition evolved naturally in the human experience. We dwelled in Spirit “In the beginning.” We were one with our Plant, Animal, Insect and Rock families. There was no abandonment and separation, no superiority, no dominance - Oneness. As gatherer/hunters, we engaged in Spirit that runs through all things to guide us to wholeness.
The original woman, the black woman, the aboriginal woman gave us all these gifts. Taught us to heal, to become whole to become holy. We know the teachings instinctively when we engage, we are opened up to intuition and visions of health/wholeness/holiness. The plant medicines are whole. They teach us the dance of ourselves. It is an individual practice, a practice of courage and faith.
The Wise Woman Tradition is the undercurrent that has and always will flow under the Establishment. We always have been and always will be like the ocean tide. Never ending. There may have been efforts to silence us, but here we are still and evolving. We are nourishing, building the system and preventing extreme measures. We spend our lives in nourishment.
I was raised Catholic/Pentecostal/Southern Baptist. Moving through each belief system I realized Spirit was the abiding force. Stepping out on faith and moving 1100 miles away from home, I knew that Spirit would be with me. That there is a higher power who wants what’s best for me., When I engaged the Wise Woman Tradition in 2001, I learned of the Void. When I left my job in 2009 to become an Herbalist, I met the Void. It was a Tuesday and I remember initially being unnerved, frightened, until I recognized the Void and decided to play in it. I had had experience with Kundalini in my twenties, so I understood the faithful place. One is lost for sure, but only to the self that has been created by our human experience. All the labels, categories, biases, etc. fall away and one is free. All I have ever wanted in my life is to be free. So I let go and let the day show me, me. Show me its power and strength, love and compassion. It was a delight.
The season has come to an abrupt end. Just like that. I had two beds left at Sargent-Downing to clear and lay straw, but it looks like I will only have the chance to clear one. Not only was it cold, but it was also raining. I ran up to the garden just to pull out the Tomatoes and stakes. I will finish next week. I wanted to clear Echinacea bed at Hiddenbrooke and lay straw, but all I could do was wrap up the hoses. Good night, my beautiful gardens.
Happy Holidays! May the joy, love and light of the season fill you with peaceful, soulful, peace. Ache!
Twuck is a restoration. We are in the fourth week and the end is getting close but NOT YET! I become anxious. Am I going to have the truck before I go to Miami? Will the season end with no truck?! Apparently, we cannot rush the process because wiring is meticulous and tedious. I have been on public transportation to A Farm for All! Three hours! I was looking forward to it on Tuesday, then I missed the train and had to borrow a car. I wanted to sit back and be driven, but I could not find parking.
We have lost a truck and a car since moving upstate. Suburban was totaled and Subaru died. Right now Caprice sits in the parking lot dead. We await a body guy who welds instead of using Bondo, which is made of talc and plastic, invented by a World War II veteran, Robert Merton Spink. Welding seems to be old fashioned and many young body workers use Bondo. Caprice is from 1988 and the welders are swiftly retiring.
I have opened up Wormwood bed at Hiddenbrooke. The vision for Hiddenbrooke is a Kandinsky painting - curves, straight lines, etc. Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian artist who lived during the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth century. He is considered a pioneer of abstract art. Shannon is an artist. When we discussed design, I talked about curves and medicine wheels, which is my style and she talked about Kandinsky. I immediately went online to see his work. Shannon wanted straight lines as well as curves so when I saw his work, I felt the design open up and the opportunity to explore new territory.
Wormwood bed is a triangle. Shannon walked down the slope the other day and said she loves the shape and exclaimed “Kandinsky!” I told her that I immediately went online when she mentioned him and designed the gardens from there. Phlox, Columbine and Bleeding Heart curve around a bend. The Mints are Peppermint, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint and Peppermint curves to a straight line of Spearmint and Chocolate Mint. Valerian and St. John’s Wort are straight. Echinacea and Wild Bergamot are straight, but curve where they meet. Sage bed is straight along the same line as Spearmint and Chocolate Mint. Google Earth does not have an up to date shot. There is a man made waterfall that empties into a four foot pond in the middle of the garden from which I curve the beds out. I have installed the second of two Comfrey beds which stretch from the middle of Echinacea bed to the middle of Wild Bergamot bed also curve where those two beds meet. The pathways are a labyrinthian journey. I had to rethink Lavender bed which will be straight because I initially was placing her in full sun, but opening a new bed next season on the north side of the house in part shade will probably be a better location.
For me, curves change the energy and flow of the garden. It softens the space of rigid lines for me. Agriculture is male, scientific and linear. I love being a woman, soft, curvy, variable and working with herbs I get to infuse those characteristics into the space. It makes it all right to be a woman. And a black woman at that where we have to define ourselves in the Establishment. My gardens are home, haven, peace, joy and light. Not necessarily found out in the world. Whew!
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Asteraceae, Perennial, Eurasia, North Africa) is an herb in Susun Weed’s Herbal Medicine Chest. I was given her Herbal Medicine Chest upon completion of my Apprenticeship in 2003. The Medicine Chest was my first list of herbs to grow. Herbal Medicine is an individual practice, so the Medicine Chest has been changed somewhat to my allies. The Herbal Medicine Chest is the herbs one carries with them in one’s handbag on a daily basis. An Herbal First Aid Kit. I have never used Wormwood. I was displaced from Groundwork in 2017 and I was just beginning to explore Wormwood’s properties. Wormwood leaves are good for digestive upset and diarrhea. She has been used to flavor vermouth and absinthe. A leaf and flowering top infusion is a tonic for the digestive system, liver, gallbladder and blood, lessening inflammation and removing impurities. Also expels worms and reduces the toxicity of lead poisoning. Can be planted beside other plants to deter insects.
Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum, Boraginaceae, Perennial, Europe) is a deep and abiding ally in my life. I use the Salve (Comfrey & Plantain) for pimples, cold sores, cuts, and insect bites. Also called Knitbone, I use dried leaf infusion to rebuild cells and the infusion is also good for arthritis and rheumatism. Comfrey contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus and allantoin. Leaf poultice for swelling and bruising. The leaves are great for compost. I have always had two thirty foot beds which make for one pound of dried leaf. A gorgeous nodding head flower mid-Spring. Beautiful giant leathery leaves.
It has been three years at Hiddenbrooke, the same length of time at Groundwork. I surely was distracted with two years with Goats. Unbelievable! And I have my immediate Family of Plants in the ground, which are my allies that I use on a regular basis. Next year, I get into the more experiemental plants of which I know little. A new adventure!
The season winds down and it has been good. One hiccup with Twuck we can handle. Time to be in gratitude and revelry as the holidays begin. A full season of crops, now my immediate Plant Family in. We interview new members at A Farm for All! having completed our Handbook and created a formal process. Air Bnb closes and Hipcamp is in full swing. I have new allies with whom to create. Time for celebration and rest, rest, rest.