Winter Wandering…in my Mind

This post is going to be several short bits to bring you up to date and hopefully get me back on track with blogging.

Life Gets in the Way of Living…No More

Sometimes life gets in the way of living….like the job I love becoming so stressful that I was going to work, coming home, just making it through dinner and then going to bed feeling exhausted night after night.

Or it might be that the weekend’s chores…you know running errands, running kids here or there; planning, shopping and prepping for the week’s meals; laundry, cleaning, etc…can seriously get in the way of gardening, working on my online Herbal Immersion Course, playing the piano, knitting, walking in the woods, making soaps-lotions-and potions. Or just cozying up with a good book or a jigsaw puzzle.

Some one may have become so obsessed with the election, post-election trauma and news that sheforgot to take time to read the good news sites, to write a note to a friend, to take a walk with her husband and/or the dog.

Trying so hard to ensure everyone else is happy, healthy and having a good time can sometimes just make it impossible to have a good time oneself.

But NO MORE!

I’ve begun the process of making some changes so that Living takes precedence. Future posts will surely include possible career changes, my 2017 motto of Simplify, my progress in the Herbal Immersion Course, etc. Photos of accomplished projects and beautiful things seen on my walks and of having fun living will be heavily featured.

Holiday’s are Holy Days

As my favorite season, which runs from Thanksgiving Break-AKA Deer  Season through Jan 6th Epiphany/Twelfth Night, is drawing to a close, I can say that it has been a Holly Jolly, Holy and Blessed Time for me and I believe for those I love.

As always it’s my family that make these days so wonder-full!

The Hunter was home for the entire Thanksgiving week and the Dancer and the Weaver were also off from school as was I. All were here for much of the Christmas Holiday with a short 4 days in CT to spend time with their Dad and his family.

When they are here an added bonus is that other really delightful young folks including our grandson come to hang out. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I had 8 additional young adults for dinner. All the leaves were in the table and it was loaded with good food and we laughed until our sides hurt at their stories and wisecracks.

Highlights included Hunting with the Hunter on a couple different occasions during Deer Season. Emphasis was on hunting not finding on the days we went out, yet it was so beautiful to be in the woods…remembering that just a year ago I was only a few days post mastectomy and didn’t get out at all. He had some much better days with his younger, more agile buddies and now our freezer is well stocked with heart healthy and delicious vennison.

Having a few days with just my husband and I here while kids were away was a real chance for us to reconnect and talk about the section above and how we can keep Life from getting in the way of Living. We also got to decorate our tree with just dried apples, dried oranges, cranberry & popcorn wreathes and some pretty red ribbon. Of course we put our traditional Santa on top for the finishing touch. (That’s a story for another post as well.)

We enjoyed lots of relaxed time with our immediate and extended family and friends. Using all the leaves in the table again on New Year’s Eve. It was a blast ringing in 2017 –literally ringing as we have this huge bell that is mounted on our house roof…it came with the house so we must ring it on special occiaions.

A New Year with New Priorities

I spent a good bit of time over the holidays reviewing my values, goals, hopes, dreams, fears and decided my 2017 motto is “Simplify.” Already, I have cleaned and purged several areas around the house to make life easier. We have established some new rituals and routines to ensure that every person living at Green Grove gets some “me time” -time alone for hobbies, passions and rest and rejuvination, some “we time”-1 to 1 with others as needed to keep relationships strong, and some “us time” -all of us together for most suppers, weekly strategy sessions to figure out how to continue simplifying and working together to see that no one is overwhelmed with the Life that can interfere with Living issues. We are working to help each other think twice before turning to TV as an escape. So far, it’s been a very peaceful week and everyone seems much more relaxed and the sky hasn’t fallen because I asked for help at times.

Another priority is to savor the rituals and routines of daily life and the ever-turning wheel of the seasons. One evening with the Dancer literally dancing around the table as she set it, the Hunter carrying things from kitchen to table as they were ready, the Weaver making sure the animals had their supper, and Warren and I Finishing up the cooking, I realized that we do this nearly every evening. It’s our ritual and it is special and so now as I light the candles on the table just before we sit down I take a breath, say a silent prayer of gratitude for this time together, for the food, the light, the love of those gathering, whatever is in my mind and heart. I’ve begun finding these sacred moments, appreciating them, and looking for ways to create them in our days.

The many traditions or rituals of Yuletide from advent wreath and calendars, through putting out milk and cookies for Santa, through taking our natural tree decorations out for the birds and other wildlife after epiphany made me think about celebrating seasons rather than days. Be watching this blogfor how this will be carried out here at Green Grove as Imboc/Candlemas approaches.

Enough of my wandering thoughts, as I look out on the new fallen snow I wish you each well this winter and may your 2017 be Simply Wonder-full!

Feeling the Forest

I have been really enjoying being well again. One benefit is my connection to nature has been fully restored, and I feel the trees, animals, rocks, birds and …everything. When I am connected to the spirits of all of nature, I feel all that life around me, constantly. Sometimes I feel so much life under my feet that they tingle. Sometimes I feel the forest spirits welcome me as I step out to greet the new day…like a hug from a loved one. Sometimes I hear whispers or feel gentle touches on my skin as I brush against a leaf. I breathe it in, deep, centered, life and spirit filled breaths.

Usually this is a great thing. There are places along the way where great damage has and is occurring. These places are like scars. It’s like an old vinyl record skipping and because they were mostly there before us there’s no pain, just these blank spots or dead zones.

Since there is so much damage happening in the world outside our little cove, I have learned to shield myself as I drive our road to and from work each day-moving out of my most Magickal place- through the woods to the main road. I gradually separate so I can focus on my work and function in a world full of pain and dis-ease. Then, when I return it’s like all that life energy is wriggling back into the core of my being, so that I arrive home fully connected and ready to enter fully into living and growing at Green Grove. After a long exhale, letting go of the stress of the work day, I again drop my guard and breathe deeply.

A few years ago someone decided to cut some roads to make two potential building sites more sellable. They didn’t do a very good job and to this day the properties haven’t sold and the roads are muddy, rocky eroded messes. The leftover brush was never cleared, so at least some animals have made new homes in it. I certainly wouldn’t be attracted to these properties the way they look now, even though I’d considered buying them if I could scrape together the needed money, before the damage was done.

I knew before I drove by and saw the where and what,  that somewhere something was wrong. The forest around our home was sad, no,  it was grieving and angry. I felt this building over a day or two, so I was not totally surprised to see the devastation when I went out. I stopped, and with tears streaming, I sent out apologies on behalf of the human species, healing energy for the wounded parts and love for what was not damaged or destroyed. As it has been left to heal, it is like a scar….another blank unconnected area when I go by.

Now a neighbor down the way is doing some timbering and making a playground for city folk -who can’t seem to come to our valley and just love it as it is. They feel the need to change it to suit them. I felt it before I knew where or what was happening, and now I have another painful place on my daily commute. I feel it as clearly as I felt the trauma of my mastectomy. I am beginning to have to shield myself before heading out or back on our road. Not as pleasant as that gradual loosening then reestablishing of the connections I had enjoyed. And, when I drop my guard back home, I still have to feel the pain, panic, anger and frustration of the rest of the forest. Again I find myself apologizing to the land on behalf of my species. Sadly it is a step back to the life we hoped to leave behind.

I know over time this place too will just go numb and be another blank spot, a scar in the Earths dermis. But, as it is happening, each time I forget to shield up,  I feel the pain and the panic; I hear the cries and moans as the damage is done. I sense the panic of the mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, insects, as their homes are destroyed. The mycorrhizal network is breaking up and it will take decades for new communication networks to be established. Like when cell towers go down and we can’t check on loved ones during or after a disaster. The forest spirits are now in a state of dis-ease and dis-trust.

Now I know to “do no harm” is not a real or possible thing. Even as one takes a walk  insects and plants can be destroyed, ground mammals tunnel homes can be collapsed. The car I drive emits toxins from the fossil fuel it burns. We use electricity that is still largely dependent on coal. I just find it hard when it’s a big, new, fresh assault. We drove past a logging site not far from a good friend’s farm last weekend, and it hurt. We drove past a strip mine on the way to our Hunter’s college, and it hurt. Friends opted for till, rather than no till, for their market garden and it hurt. (More sighs and moans) Is there a better way?

Perhaps there is.  I know that when we had to take some trees down, we sat with them and explained that we needed the sunlight for a garden to feed our family or that their branches were a danger to our home. They seemed to understand. Just as I came to understand and accept the need for my surgery. We asked any birds, mammals or insects living there to seek new homes and assured them the rest of the trees on our property would welcome them. We sat with each one until we felt a sense of acceptance and then we said goodbye. Afterwards, we sat and sent healing energy to the area. We cried and grieved and moved on. We will do this every time we have to take a tree or dig up a large area. When we’ve had large, mature trees come down in storms, we’ve gone and sat and mourned with its neighbors, and again waited until it felt right to cut it up for firewood. Thanking it for warming our home and planting new trees to replace those lost. We use no til methods for our gardens as much as we can, and when we do till we again sit with the space and work out an understanding. This feels more right to me.

I will be glad when the destruction phase of our neighbors’ project is complete and instead of cries and moans and pain, I can begin sharing healing energy until it becomes merely another numb, blank spot. Then perhaps my commute will again become a time of gradual separation and of joyfull return.

Yet , sometime, somewhere  there will likely be another natural area nearby destroyed for fun and/or profit because everyone has the right to do what they wish with their land.  Feeling the forest is both a blessing and a curse.

Spring has Arrived

imageSpring has finally come to us here at Green Grove! Since my frustrated post during spring break a couple weeks ago we have finally gotten going with the spring work. We have laid out 2 vegetable garden raised beds, a much larger herb garden, the terraced “kitchen garden” beds and the stone stairway from driveway to back yard.

My wonderful husband and the weaver got the 2 cherry trees, 2 peach trees, and 3 elderberry bushes out of the garage and planted in their new homes. I have a couple flats growing one pretty well and one not so well. The garlic, lettuce and radishes are up and growing in the new terraced beds that I put in. We’ve planted some day lilies,iris, bleeding heart, and lily of the valley, as well as 1o containers of cheerful pansies to create some color near the entrances to the cabin. We also put in wisteria to one day climb around the decks.

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The hunter has turned to designer and is clearing an area of brush that had been piled along with a lot of rocks and leaves for a nice patio area near the stream. The dancer has turned out to be a really good painter and is helping get all the deck railings stained.

This morning my husband and I walked the property and found a number of Spice Bushes ready to burst into bloom any day, several more Witch Hazel trees and lots of Black Birch. I have a pot of sap from the two birch trees in the back yard simmering away on the stove…where Sugar Maple is about 30-1 parts water to sugar the Black Birch is over 100-1 parts water to sugar so it takes a lot to get a little, but worth it for flavoring. We hope to eventually get enough to make some birch beer too.

imageThe dandelion greens are starting to come  up, so is the plantain, both such useful and healthy spring greens! Hoping to find some ramps somewhere on the property too this spring, and maybe some morel mushrooms. We saw lots of buds swelling on trees and shrubs, tons of ferns poking up through the leaves, and the bright green mosses and more muted lichens were so energizing. Bloodroot, violets and spring beauties as well as service berry are blooming now too.

The 4 David Austin rose bushes we ordered will soon arrive, we have spots selected for the runner beans, hollyhocks, sweet peas, lilacs, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus….some of which are in the garage and others which will arrive in the next few weeks. Oh yes and we have many packets of bean, beet, squash, lettuce, carrot, and radish seeds as well as seed potatoes and onion sets to plant as soon as raised vegetable beds are installed.

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I woke up a little, ok a lot, stiff and sore this morning, but the good kind, from hauling rocks, hauling water, bending, kneeling, digging, stretching and sleeping like a log. It went away as soon as I got moving, so it must not have been anything serious.

I am loving every second of being outside these days and the daylight hours are so nice. We are getting about 14 hours of daylight to work with. So why is it never enough? Spring is definitely here!

Longing for Spring

I am frustrated. It is our spring break week. Sunday and Monday we got a foot of snow, Tuesday was warm and some of it melted. It’s early Wednesday morning and freezing rain is falling. My calendar says that Thursday is the first day of spring. I have a garage full of plants, bulbs, seeds, and sets that I had planned in getting in the ground this week. But I can’t see the ground, let alone dig into it.

I’m trying to make the best if it. We’ve done some indoor work, scrubbing and sealing the log walls if the bathroom, scrubbing woodwork and walls and staining some unfinished trim in our bedroom, hanging a rug to protect the logs at the top of the stairs from the cats who have decided that literally climbing the wall is a good pastime.  We’ve cooked yummy meals, baked decadent desserts, read some good magazines and finished  “Drums of Autumn”, Diane Gabaldon’s fourth book of the Outlander series.  I am through with trying.

I am tired of winter. I long for spring. Not a date on the calendar, but a vibrant, green, soft aired, warm  sunlit, spring. I need to get out and dig, and plant, and wrestle rocks, and listen to the robins. I need to pick tender dandelion greens and the new leaves of plantain. I am crying with the frustration of what seems like an endless winter and with the deep longing for all that is spring. I want to eat on the deck again, and see does with fawns drinking from the run, and gripe about the bunnies eating my tender green garden plants.  I want, no I NEED it to be spring.

 

Weathering Winter With Dreams of Spring

As we continue to have days with no school, I am finding myself more and more anxious to get outside and do some serious work. The Valentine’s Day snow last week was about 2 feet of powdery fluff….since then we’ve had a couple more inches of wet snow and this morning(Feb 19) some sleety rain.

There was some nifty stuff with the last snow, for the first day it was light and fluffy and the kids and I enjoyed shoveling and tossing the powdery stuff onto each other. It was a blast watching our dog Brandy romp!October 2013 12October 2013 13October 2013 17

Though the sheer depth made hard going… for dogs and people.

The Dancer and I spent almost 2 hours snowshoeing to the neighbor’s house (normally about a 10 -15 minute walk) to care for her cats while she was away. Exhausting going on the way there…up hill and breaking the trail. The trip home, a mere 40 minutes downhill with our trail to follow.

14 feb 13 5We saw amazing Pileated Woodpecker and lots of deer trails and it was really beautiful. Then, day two was nearly 50 degrees and we found it hard going just shoveling what the plow had piled up. We also made two short lived but entertaining snow folk who seemed to briefly enjoy sitting in the green chairs where my husband and I often sit and talk, and dream, on warmer days.

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Another highlight was when I counted over 30 birds at the feeder. What fun!

After a great professional development day on Monday with my colleagues, we had a short day with students Tuesday(2 hr delay) and then today the sleety rain led to schools being closed again. It came at just the wrong time as by 11 it was over 50 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. Now it’s cloudy with some gusty wind….I won’t even try to guess what tomorrow will bring.

One of the things we have enjoyed on these days at home is dreaming of all we will do when the snow melts and the ground is workable. We have ordered lots of seeds, plants, trees, roses, berries, and shrubs to plant. Some of the seeds have come already. Like presents under the Christmas Tree, the temptation to open them is great, yet I know the anticipation is also part of the fun.

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i planted some narcissus bulbs and there are buds about to burst. Valentines day is always a great time to get in some flowers and take out the last of the evergreen arrangements from the winter holidays too.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking out the windows dreaming of the vibrant spring & summer greens that led  us to name this place Green Grove. After a muddy walk down the drive to get the mail and a slushy snow slog to fill the bird feeders with seed and suet, I make a cup of Mountain Rose Herb’s organic herbal Peace Tea, and get my bin…

photo-1…which holds my seed and nursery catalogs, garden planning and permaculture type books, garden journal and some graph paper and work on mapping out where everything will go. Roses and elderberries along the rail fence by the road, fruit trees on the western part of the front of the property, pomegranates near the stonework on the south facing back part of the house, almond trees between the walnut and the virginia pine that are anchors to the front yard, herb and vegetable beds meandering in the sunny spots with paths connecting it all and a few spots to sit and enjoy….

I’d say all in all we are weathering winter pretty well and with dreams of spring to inspire and sustain us, we will be digging in the dirt before we know it.

Winter at Green Grove

Jan 29, 2014

Hi Everyone….no good excuse for such a long lapse between posts, other than that it’s winter and everything is moving much more slowly here.  It is extremely quiet as even the creek has frozen over and is not constantly singing to us. The birds are even very subdued…busy eating and eating and eating.

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One of the reasons we made this move was to be more in tune with nature and have a chance to live in the natural rhythm of the cycle of the seasons. We have had so many school closings due to either snow or extremely cold temperatures that I’ve lost count. I can tell you that since Jan 17 we have been in school for a total of 5 hours instructional time. NOT Enough in this high stakes testing, data driven world, but it is what it is. Somehow this unexpected break has been good  for our family.

What do you do with so much time? Well, we cook and clean, and do craft and home improvement projects.  We also talk with each other, and play cards and board games, and go for walks. I’ve worked ahead on projects for the two graduate level classes I’m enrolled in.  We have ordered plants and seeds for the garden. Kids have at home assignments to work on over the past few days. We’ve done a killer jigsaw puzzle. We’ve gone to the bookstore and refreshed our reading material and we’ve watched a few good movies and documentaries.photo-1

Are we at each other’s throats, NO! Are we bored? NO! Do we long for spring…YES! But only because that’s what it’s time to do. And that’s what ordering plants and seeds makes us do. In July will we long for cooler nights? YES! In October will be begin looking forward to the first snow flurries? YES! Oh my goodness, it seems that living here has gotten us pretty well in tune with the seasonal cycle and YES! That is a good thing!

I hope your winter, spring, summer, and fall are as magickal as they can be and that you treasure the slowness of winter knowing that the frantic business of spring will soon be here.

How is life in Rural WV Different?

There is almost a foot of new snow and it’s still coming down. The perfect time to write a bit about life here at Green Grove. As promised I’ve been working on describing how life is different now that we live in  rural WV as opposed to urban MA.

One big difference is that since it’s a good 30 min to an hour to get to a supermarket, we shop ahead. We try to do a big trip to Costco about once a month and then no more than one trip a week out for fill ins like milk, produce, etc. That means we are more conscious of planning meals ahead. It also means that when a snow comes we don’t rush to get bread, milk and toilet paper….because there’s plenty in our garage/pantry. We never buy one gallon of milk or one loaf of bread….in fact my husband frequently bakes bread for us, but we keep some store bought in the freezer for when he’s busy with other things.

Another difference is that people function differently, a perfect example is some plumbing work we’ve had done. Our downstairs bathroom has been sluggish, slow to drain and not always guaranteed to flush off and on since we moved in…we have had a variety of folks through but finally found a local plumber who actually did some work here before. He came with a helper and they called in another guy who knew somethings about our system, they spent 3-4 hours and did a number of things. Some that hadn’t been done and some they just did more thoroughly and when they were finished for the day he said, “Now I’m not going to give you a bill until we’re sure it’s really fixed. Give it a few weeks and if it slows down again call me and if it’s ok and you’re satisfied let me know and we’ll settle up then”. Wow…when’s the last time a plumber left your house without payment? ”

Then there’s how neighbors help each other out….like when our lawn mower broke and a friend/neighbor came and looked at it, knew how to fix it and since his wife was going to town the next day had her get the part. Then he came out after work and put it on for us. Only let us pay for the part, nothing for his time, her gas, her time….just being neighborly.

Or our friend and outdoor maintainence man was cutting wood up above us and came in just to get a drink and warm up for a bit. While he was here figured out a plan to better insulate the outdoor room where our water filtration system is housed, so we wouldn’t have to worry about pipes freezing if it gets really cold for really long. Then later on he called to say he knew where to get a good deal on the supplies so don’t get them somewhere else for more.

And when he was heading to a town with a Cabela’s my husband picked up several things from there for a several different folks.

Now sometime’s it’s a little hard to adjust to the laid back attitude, like if there’s something you want done but you don’t say it’s urgent or an emergency and the worker says he’ll stop by….that could mean tomorrow or it could mean next week, or next month. And when folks do stop by they may visit for several hours before getting to the work they came to do. Then there’s those first uneasy feelings when you “contract” for big  jobs but there’s no contract just a handshake over the agreed on terms. Though it’s always worked out and no one seems to take advantage of anyone. I think because we all rely on one another everyone is careful to keep their reputation good….otherwise news would travel fast and they’d loose business.

Even when folks do something someone doesn’t like, or they just don’t see eye to eye on something, politics, religion, whatever—they still have a level of respect and responsibility toward the common good that you just don’t find often.

Then there’s that grapevine I mentioned—where news travels fast. I can run into someone in town, and by the time I get to work the next day everyone knows I went to town and why and whether my trip was successful…and if it wasn’t they offer lots of suggestions for where to find whatever I couldn’t get or what to use instead.

And today, well it’s snowing, schools are closed so I went out for a test drive of my Christmas Snow Shoes….they work great! My husband baked bread, the hunter split wood, the weaver wove, and the dancer read and now she and I are going to watch a DVD together….and I made homemade chicken noodle soup and peach crisp for dinner. No stress, no worries about shoveling…a neighbor will come on his tractor and plow us out when it stops. Just a nice day here at Green Grove….where Magick happens in all seasons.

Is life different here, you bet….and I’m so glad it is.