Today J's burning what he didn't turn to ash on Sunday. Mama and I went into the field early so we could have a smoke free inspection tour. For me hardly any everyday activity is more inspiring, joy inducing, and grounding than taking a slow and thorough garden tour of what's growing and/or looking ever so slightly different from the day before. One of the few things that's 'better' in my view is doing the same thing with an accompanying cat.
Mama cat is a girl of tree leaves, rocks, and sunlight - an outdoors-loving creature who had never been exposed to the feline delights and mysteries of a cultivated garden space. This is her third growing season here and she's learned the ropes as well as finding her own meanings and purposes within the framework of my cherished routines. Sometimes I feel like my departed darling Celeste is prowling right along with us. And of course she is since she lives on in my heart
While the fire dwindled J started dragging logs to create a dedicated pathway. It curves with the windrow and then snakes through the woods. Saw him dragging the woods log and took great heart in how happy he looked. Of the moment which can be tricky during times of life-transition that wasn't planned or actively sought. For the moment we aren't just okay - we're good.
I mean really. What are the alternatives?
The Speaker tree has expanded a great deal since J eradicated the encroaching Sumacs. Some are remaining at my insistence. For one thing they're really beautiful full grown trees despite my husband's low opinion of them in their Child form. And if we lose any of the hemlocks at the property line* the sumacs can create some measure of privacy.
*The vigorous clan of very healthy hemlocks is on 'our' side of the line, luckily enough. We have new neighbors to the east and long uncomprehending experience has taught me that oftentimes what new people in a place seem to want/need to do first and foremost is exert their authority and control by going on a tree-cutting spree. Long before we moved here the garden ornament above lost his eyes. Have been trying ever since to think of a kicky reinvention of the "even a blind pig..." catch phrase that relates to a blind fox. Nothing's bloomed yet. But I do enjoy the fact that the fox is guarding what used to be a hen house before the outbuilding became rabbit centric and then later on we arrived to turn it into a potting shed.
(if anyone can think of a clever 'even a blind fox' ... re-write of the common blind pig expression by all means share in comments)
This time of year a lot of my inspection touring focus centers on taking note of where indigenous herbs are growing most plentifully. Today I discovered the whiskey barrel above has seeded itself liberally with red clover. This is a favorite healing herb of mine so I decided on the spot to dedicate the space to the clover rather than using it for shallots as planned. There are also a number of self-seeded anise hyssop plants which I intend to move to transplant pots. Once they've filled out nicely in the pots I'll plant them in the garden.
Yesterday afternoon I planted garlic. Although it's a bit late for that I'm not worried. The heads will be a little smaller but they'll still taste great. Especially since they got the lion's share of our home-brewed compost and a generous helping of wood ash.
After planting I sang to the bed since I didn't have my rattle with me. This was my first fully-present and well-grounded act since a deeply disturbing non-Covid death over the weekend. I took my time getting re-calibrated extra gently one step at a time. If you're waiting for an email from me this is why you haven't received it yet. When I'm in certain frames of mind connected to my former Job it always seems wisest and kindest (to myself as well as everybody else I know who is a "civilian" in such matters) if I confine my communications to those who have also had that Job or, for whatever reason, have a special gift for unpacking the particular traumas associated with both suicide and those it leaves behind.
Chickweed has been a favorite plant since I was a little girl and had no language for (or conscious awareness of) why I loved it so much. On the first day J burned I wandered all over the property searching out the places it was growing most abundantly. It's everywhere! Absolutely everywhere - just like gorgeous extra large red clover flowers were everywhere in the months prior to 9-11.
[Red Clover flower essence has a uniquely important function as a shield that protects our souls and psyches from the fears of others. This allows us to disengage from such fears and find the truth of our own feelings as they are, rather than amplified through the feelings of others. When people email or call me these days wanting something that will "fix" the level of fear they feel in themselves I always suggest they begin with Red Clover in order to isolate what points of focus (and level of fear) actually belong to the person who's asking for help. Back in the months just prior to that other time in our collective history when we were allegedly changed forever I sensed the flowers knew something I didn't. I prepared a 'new' essence even though I had a perfectly good mother stock I'd prepared just the year before. Over time I've come to believe the flowers that bloom within challenging time frames are the best of their species to help us with the specific challenges we're facing.
What's interesting (at least to me) is that back then the same personality types who now want to do away with fear 'like it never existed' - at that time were all about disappearing their anger. I had a very strong feeling - and obviously still believe - that a lot of the situation-specific anger was born largely from the flames of other peoples' fears. These days the largest congregations of people and their emotions are coloring the atmosphere here on the internet. Since we're all crammed together entirely by choice it stands to reason there are all sorts of collective roots and tendrils that need to be put on mute in order to deal with the issues and fissures that are authentically personal in nature.]
So. Chickweed was the topic. It's really everywhere this year and i wonder if anyone else is having the same experience? Email if you'd like a more detailed back-and-forth conversation. Sometimes the email button at the top of the blog sticks. But if you hit it a second time you usually get the screen you're looking for. I keep thinking I've fixed it to no avail so am assuming that's an internal bug of some kind.
While I was looking around I started moving the thin strands of chickweed stems on a particular plant that was rooted precariously on the front curve of the fire pit. In the process I managed to dislodge the roots. I stood apologizing quite sincerely to the green strands in my palm. You can make something helpful with me! The plant was vibrant and very much ready to do something useful together but there wasn't really enough of it to make an infusion on my stove's warming burner. So once I was inside I added dried flowers of prunella, calendula, and red clover from my herbal pantry.
Then I learned a new thing due to the previously unopened olive oil being stored on our garage pantry shelf. It wasn't that cold of a winter but apparently it was plenty cold enough for the olive oil to grow thick and in some places solidified into tiny chunks. Knew they'd melt as the brew warmed but I wondered if the oil had spoiled and was inappropriate to use for skin-healing purposes. Am including this link in case anyone else has questions/concerns of a similar nature. Simply bringing the big tin canister into the house has eliminated the oil's thickened quality.
Once the flower buds start to open I will harvest enough chickweed to make a tincture and also a simple one-ingredient itch-away oil. Providence willing I'll also make a flower essence. Have a mother stock prepared from another species of the same plant years ago. Would love to preserve the healing agency of this medicine spirit as it lives in this specific place as well. Fingers crossed.
T had his first IV treatment yesterday after which he felt woozy and 'adrift in false energy'. So he came home rather than proceeding to work. Since he has his mama's tiny child-like veins it was a bit of an ordeal getting him properly stuck. Consequently they sent him home with the iv and tube still attached to his arm. He found it easier to sleep on the couch than in his bed. When I crept downstairs to check on him I discovered Mama was already on the case. She guarded her Special Person throughout the night with great diligence and care.