Here Comes the Sun

I started this collage before the solar eclipse in August, and just finished it during a wet spell.  Cool days, chilly damp nights, and water spilling out from above in downpours and drizzles . . . while it feels like ‘so much’ rain, really it’s not.  We listen to stories about flooding in Texas and Louisiana, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, moving to Pakistan, and the versatility of water, from nourishing to devastating, it’s numerous qualities does more than amaze.

There’s a great scene in an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender that illustrates the power of water swell.  In it, the Waterbender stronghold is under attack from Firebenders and Ang, the last Airbender, is standing on the ramparts facing the ocean where the fire nations’ ships are congregated in mass numbers.  He begins waterbending, slowly lifting and raising every last drop out of the ocean into a gargantuan water wall . . . and there’s a small wave where he realizes he can drop it and destroy all the fire nations fleets with their troops on board, but  . . .  he doesn’t have to: he can waterbend and show the power water has without letting it fall instead, mercy moves fluidly like water  . . .  from within the bender in question, for the elements themselves are without partiality, joviality, preference . . . (or are they?)

Water.  Moves boats full of gratitude to shore.

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Gardens Delight

A garden is such a bountiful space, I’m in awe of it, marvel often at all that it has to offer! The year before Jasper’s birth we planted the garden but didn’t tend it at all.  That was the year I learned that you don’t have to.  That a garden is beyond a place to plant vegetables and fruit.  It doesn’t need a gardener to enliven it, rather it will enliven the ‘gardener’.  That year our plantings limped along and the entire space sprung up with red clover, milkweed, chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, evening primrose, goldenrod; and oh it was intoxicating.  We gave up going to hunt for what we’d planted and simply moved through the labyrinth of eight foot tall chicories and towering evening primroses to the center, where we eventually had a bed to sit and be with the garden that had grown itself, to be with all the beings that came fluttering, crawling, buzzing, humming from flower to flower.  We harvested next to no ‘food’ but we were well fed all the same, and when asked, “So how’s the garden doing?”, I’d reply, “Abundantly.”  We had friends visit and they’d look at the jumbo ‘weeds’ and shake their heads, “You have food growing in there?”  We’d walk inside, sit for a spell, and they’d experience what the garden was doing.  It was amazing.  One of our friends drove  up a few times that summer . . . she spent most of her visits just being in the garden.

Since then we’ve shifted how we garden, and sometimes it is we who are gardened.  The asparagus goes to fern and a thicket of milkweed, goldenrod, Quenn Anne’s Lace, pokeberry, and chicory fills the beds; each year in different measure.  Last year goldenrod was predominant, this year it’s milkweed.  We laid out straw pathways so we could get to where we’re planting and aside from a few vagrant docks and dandelions, the wildflowers are keeping their growth either at the edges or in the beds . . . we pull some and leave some.  It feels as though when we read the living language round us, we begin to communicate differently, in ways that every ‘body’ understands and when we’re speaking the same language, it’s not that the world suddenly starts to hum and vibrate, it always is, it’s just that we begin to listen and understand it more or less, joining in participation.

I’m made aware of this when a car comes up the driveway, the folks driving are lost, gps told them to go this way and they have no idea where they are, why don’t their cell phones work, how do they get to where they want to go, are they even in Rockbridge County anymore, where are they??  Often they’re edgy and nervous, some of them leave in a hurry, some of them stay a while.  All of them reflect back a common thread:when they enter places off the gps, it feels like they’ve dropped out of the known world into unknown territory, yet we are here on this planet simultaneously the whole while long, as has the universe been humming whether we listen it or not.

Yesterday I went to pick zucchini and beans, and the sounds coming from honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hornets, and three hummingbirds moving about was melodious. They each have their own particular noise, some buzzing some thrumming a bit of whirring mixed up with hovering, and together they make music in motion. Plump black and rust ants march from goldenrod to Queen Anne’s Lace, caterpillars munch on milkweed leaves and dill, butterflies dance about the flowers landing to drink, and there’s food for everyone all in a small little colorful place with eloquence written on the rustling pages of maple leaves flecked in orange.

After picking I stayed in the garden for a while, enjoying musing on literacy with the lively muses. Wondered if the emphasis on literacy for everybody may take away rather than be of service to at an individual level.  What expressions that a child wants to utilize energy on get suffocated when they’re not yet interested in becoming literate, on a schedule determined for them from without?  While they are developing something else from inside themselves at the time . . . .but are forced to give their energy and attention to decoding alphabetic symbols regardless, before they’re willing to or have generated interest from within.  Does something of value get squashed this way?  What would happen if not everybody in the nation was literate?  Would we see something new and unanticipated rise out instead?  Literacy is a tool, it serves those of us who need such a tool.  Not everybody may have a need for such a tool, just as not everybody has need of nor knowledge of the use of a potter’s wheel or a tractor.  What would happen were we to give children the gift of applying themselves to what they’re drawn to, even when it ‘seems’ to be nothing at all, rather than the ‘gift’ of enforced literacy?  Might they be setting themselves up for an unknown forward in their formative time and space?

I mused for a spell, easy to do as though the sun was out it wasn’t swelteringly hot; there’s a slight coolness and clarity to the air now. Crisp as a fresh apple, it has a slight bite that tingles. An awareness flickered: summer’s winding toward something else, so I soaked up the sights and sounds and smells and motivated: to create art with what’s growing now.  Got up and walked about, nibbling on a mixture of mint, anise hyssop, and tulsi, chewing and macerating them into tea.  The zucchini and beans were joined by a few zinnias added to the basket, some goldenrod stems, a bunch of unripe pokeberry, a sprig of phlox, fragrant nectary Queen Anne’s Lace, a milkweed leaf, two cleome petals with their oddly skunky smell, a bit of tansy, a smartweed plume, red clover leaves, and on the way out orange jewelweed; hummingbirds love dipping their long beaks into these, flying quickly from one dangling gem to the next.  Then back inside shaping little scenes of wee folk, expressing gratitude with flowers; though small in number and size, very big food for the heart.

Turning Over

Turning over to a new year as orbits intersect and give us vernal equinox, springing crocuses, daffodils, rainbows, and warm wormy soil to dig around in.

Winter was mild this year, dry, low on rain and snow although we received a driveway frozen at the last minute, winter winds blew in to say, We’re going to play one last time before leaving, leave you with a bit of ice, nice?  It came and it went,  both equally quickly, feels like winter is spent and here we are at the beginning, gathered around our Haft Seen Sofreh, ringing in Nowrooz with blessings for one another, blessings for all . . .

May we dream deeply, clearly, and well.  May we have each others backs.  May we accept one another as we are.  May we love and be loved, love lighting up our lives and shining from our eyes.

May we walk in light, with light.  May we attract and magnetize what is of benefit to us, walking steadily and firmly yet gently upon this beautiful planet, spreading seeds for what is forward to grow it abundant, rejuvenated, and fertile.

May we be focused and with purpose, giving our energy generously to what is attractive, blessed, and purpose full.  May we remember to rest and restore, give ourselves moments in between to digest and reflect.

May our endeavors in play and work thrive, flourish, and prosper.  May we learn from the lessons that come our way and deepen our study of what interests us, engaged and enabled to share with our fellows; learning how to learn where we are short.

May we be with intuition.  May we have allies and guides along the way, may the teachers we need come when we are ready, and may we go to where we are called when our teachings are needed.

May we be clear and illuminated, reflective, adjusted, enabled to live in harmony with one another and all our relations.

May we be free from bonds that are unhealthy and restrictive, empowered to cut away what we release constructively and compassionately.

May it be fun year with adventure and opportunities open for us to engage and be engaged with.  May we be provided for in all our needs, and may we be grateful for providence.

May we be with courage, encouraged.  May we be grounded and centered in our choices.  May we give voice to what must bespoken, stand up for ourselves, show up as we are when called, trusting that we are as Spirit created us, enough, and yet ever reaching when Spirit nudges us to become more.

May we have stamina, fortitude, and vigor for our workabouts.  May we come together to play, share stories, cook and enjoy nourishing meals, give thanks, celebrate.

Blessed Be this Nowrooz and the year ahead.

A Mushroomy Day

Today was a golden day.  The spend all day outside walking about golden honey warm sort of day where everything glows.  The sit by the creek and play with leaves, make fairy homes with twigs, hickory shells, acorns and moss kind of day that comes out of the blue sky as surprising as the unexpected chirrrr of Kingfisher flying over the pond in search of fish.  The kind of day that mushrooms and the next thing you know there’s mushrooms popping out everywhere, some edible, some really pretty in an intoxicating way best left to brownies and gnomes who know best what to do with them during their festivities gathered around in rings.  Today was a day where the trees didn’t speak much nor did the wind sing, but the earth was wreathed with smiles and cushiony places to sit and share in her graces.  Today was a golden day evoking wonder and gratitude.

 

afterbirth::panjeeree

long before audumla licked the salt that shaped buri, before vasilisa walked the path to and from baba yaga’s hut, before sita burned herself on a blazing pyre, before isis went in search of osiris’s chopped up body, there was mummy jaan:: the good mother of my heart:: my mother’s mother who combed my hair with gentle yet firm hands, making loose braids of my curly locks while telling me stories that all began with “yekee bood, yekee na bood” and often made no sense:: farsi tales about opening doors and the breeze blowing in and solomon and elephants coming to play that would break their tusks in the arena along with mullah’s riding donkeys backwards through the bazaars:: i loved listening to her telling them before she’d tie off the end of my braid and pat my shoulder to indicate she was done. then i’d get to comb her hair and braid it.

she was a petite woman with bird like bones, yet her jaw was set and her hands were strong::rippled with knotty veins, big knuckles and a pebble for a wrist bone, where her bangles would jangle in sixes. her feet were the same in short heeled pointy open toed slippers that click clacked on the cement floors; toes bent toward each other and an enormous bone pushing her big toe at an odd 45 degree angle inward. all day she’d be in darted floral kameezes, shalwars to match with a solid chiffon dupatta, draped in a U on her slight chest, going over her shoulders where the ends would dangle down her back. we loved playing in her closet, my sister and i, where she had a rainbow of these dupattas in so many shades and tones of fuchsia, magenta, cerulean, cobalt, ultramarine, indigo, pthalo blue::blue, to fall awake into. she was generous with her clothes, giving us saris to dress up in while we’d watch as she’d put on her blouse and petticoat, do her hair up in a bun with U shaped pins and motias to sweeten the air, line her eyes with surmaa, freshen up her mouth, then tie her sari on in the evenings; ready for tea time in the garden where my grandfather waited for her, all ways his bride.

she was generous in the kitchen too, where she’d give us coconut water fresh from coconuts off the trees out back and the best part::: soft fleshy pulp from the empty nut, mmmm!! if you’ve found your way here, what i have for you is a recipe for simply put::making good milk to feed your baby. of course this assumes you breastfeed and if you don’t, there’s excellent writing woven into the web to convince you of its benefits, and if you aren’t looking to be convinced or aren’t a woman::: well it’s really tasty regardless and will warm you up in the winter as it’s a heaty treat! it’s what my mother and aunts ate, and my grandmother and great grandmother, and other mothers, aunts, and grandmothers and great grandmothers in a spiral of women long before i can remember the smells of coconut shreds toasting golden, pistachios roasting purplish green alongside creamy sesame seeds crackling and popping during those long afternoons that mummy jaan would be moving stuff in and out and around the stovetop on her black tavvaa, stirring and shaking, and she’d give me some of the nuts to eat while she did her work:::she was such a busy lady in that oh so big seeming kitchen, where you’d need to be with a big pan and wooden spoon in hand to make this postpartum breastmilk manna, that is at once nutritious, nourishing, and delicious!

it’s a nut and seed mixture that promotes lactation and healing for mothers postpartum, while being warming in more ways than one. there are variations on the ingredients that go into making it, along with exact recipes and specific proportions. the way i came to it was through childbirth and experimentation::this rendering being the one i like best and made most recently for my sister to enjoy after she had her baby boy. it is my summer soulstice sharing, which is when my beloved Grand Mother passed on a dozen years ago to be united with her groom. give it a try, play with it, the proportions can be adjusted to suit your taste buds; above all enjoy the making! it’s name is panjeeree, panj meaning five, it’s a stellar food for eating . . . .

For approximately 1 gallon, enough to eat for 6 weeks postpartum plus extra to share, you’ll need:

a large mortar and pestle or a grinder, like you use to grind coffee beans (but not the one you’ve ground coffee beans in)

a really wide large frying pan or wok

a small frying pan

a big mixing bowl

a cookie sheet or two

a wooden spoon

1 lb. cream of wheat (a.k.a sooji at indian groceries, i use bob’s red mill cream of wheat)

1 stick or 4 oz. butter (or ghee)

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup pumpkin seeds (or chaar maghaz if you go to an indian grocer for supplies)

1 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut

1/4 cup white sesame seeds

1/8 cup white poppy seed (khus khus at indian groceries, it has to be white poppy seed and is optional)

1/8 cup gum arabic (optional, it’s available as gondh at indian grocery stores)

2 tsp. – 1 tbsp. green cardamom seeds crushed/powdered

1 – 2 cups sugar

Warm the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and roast them until they’re fragrant, stirring and shaking to prevent scorching. Remove and cool. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and the pumpkin seeds on another (these take less time) and roast them until slightly toasty, golden, and aromatic . . .. remember to shake and stir. Once they’re all cool, grind them up and keep aside.

Heat the small frying pan on medium-low heat till nice and Hot, then add the sesame seeds and stir. They’ll crackle and quickly turn to a golden color, remove and cool. If using the poppy seeds add them to the same pan and repeat the process, then add the gum arabic (if using) and shake or stir it around . . . it should pop and change from amber/gem like to popcornish and white, which is when it’s done. Remove and cool this too. Once cool, grind all these up by hand if that’s what you fancy or in the grinder. Set aside.

Now warm the large pan/wok on the stovetop, melt the butter/ghee in it till they’re hot and pour in the cream of wheat and stir stir stir fry it till golden brown and aromatic . . . . you might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. Pay attention and stir, as it can scorch quicker than a blink! I like to add the sugar and cardamom to it just as it turns golden, stirring it all together then pouring into a very big mixing bowl where batches can be married if needed. Taste it so it’s sweet enough to your liking (it’s going to get less sweet when all the other ingredients get added, so it usually starts out seemingly too sweet . . . . same with the cardamom, I like mine strongly spiced, but you can use less for a milder hint or more if that’s how you like it). Once you’ve got this in a mixing bowl add all the other ingredients and mix them up real good.

Bottle or store in glass containers, making sure it’s cool, and keep in the fridge or a cool, dry place.

Now for the yummy part:: pour a mug of at least 8 oz. milk (or almond milk, soymilk, rice milk , etc.) into a small pot and add between 1 – 2 tbsp. of this mixture to the liquid. stir till warm, pour back into the mug, and enjoy . . . keep a spoon handy to stir and eat the bottom bits with!! i drank this once (ok sometimes twice) a day for 6 weeks after birth and then till it was gone; my kids have dranken it too and eaten a spoon here and there . . . . my sister says she sprinkles it on cooked couscous, drizzles on maple syrup and then pours milk over it when she doesn’t want it warm; sounds good indeed 🙂

bon appetit and a good solstice to you wherever you be.

eveningprim

amuse bouche

it’s nice to have a muse,or five or six or seven! it’s nice to be amused, to sometimes even be a muse; mine lift my spirits up when i’m ranty and bogged down, they tweak me so i tune back in, turn on, and flow again into haikus . . .this one was inspirated by a bird called rivera sun . . .

run the risk called trust
it’ll ignite the soul fire
the haystack rises

. . .