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We have not held our traditional weekly Thursday Community Dinners for two weeks now, so we’re actually excited about the next one, tomorrow evening! It does help to take time off, even from what you love. Also, during that time, both Rebecca and Solan were gone, which meant that the CSA had to function pretty much with only Dan and myself (as vegetable washer). Here’s last week’s offering, Dan at the helm on an extremely hot and humid evening. Luckily, we worked in the shade.
Value-added food this time? Lemon balm and spearmint tea, in quart jars. (Last Friday was pesto; Fridays before that, radish kraut, sourdough bread.)
Monday Morning Work Party
Rebecca posted on our private fb group page re: the tasks before us. Notice her language: she seems to have returned from her time away with great appreciation for her podmates!
Early Monday morning she told us she would be out there by 9 am rather than 10 am, to beat the heat. Would we like to join her?
Well, not that early . . . except for one chicken.
An hour later, both Solan and Tim (a periodic visitor from Indy) joined her.
Meanwhile, Dan and I took her up on the idea of pulling trees. I had in mind especially the constantly emerging wild hibiscus on the north side of the Overhill house. On the one hand we appreciate it, since its blooms are pretty, and it camoflages both our windows; on the other hand, it’s just too wild and has gone out of control. Damn! Didn’t take a “before” picture. But here we are, nearly finished, leaving only the original hibiscus to shade the windows, after about 90 minutes.
That’s Dan above, hunched over on the left, sawing down an errant black walnut that we didn’t even know was there until now, so thick was the hibiscus profusion.
Here’s what the little tree looks like fully down. He’s going to make a walking stick out of part of the trunk, so nice and straight! Perfect size for the hand.
In order to accomplish our task of clearing, all of us were using one tool, the shovel. Dan was using our fantastic “Puller Bear” to extract some of the roots.
And to down that pesky black walnut? His special hand saw.
Small, appropriate technology. Where would we be without these tools, so perfectly formed for their function, in concert with human labor? I thought about this again this morning, when a gigantic truck rig pulling a platform with two huge, tractor like mowers on top drove up across the street, proceeded to mow that lawn to the accompaniment of huge roaring, in about ten minutes. We have traded our connection to nature for “efficiency”! How different from our trusty hand mower here, with which I walk what land in grass we do have left, blessing both the mower and the grass with every foot step.
Aha! At about 10:30, Andreas also arrived, and with Tim took over the puller bear for more clearing of tiny trees in the backyard of Overhill. Yes!
But my favorite part of this day was trying to actually catch in a photo the delicate, lacy, complex, subtle colors and layering of the mimosa blooms with their seeds. Who says “God” isn’t Nature?
Summer Solstice. The time of fullness LIGHT; the day when, in this northern hemisphere, the Sun rises farthest north in the eastern sky, climbs up to the zenith, and then sets farthest north in the western sky. Opposite Winter Solstice. The time of emptiness, DARK.
Always, we are working to integrate opposites, contrast — within ourselves, between each other, from humans to earth, earth to sky. This time when culmination is reached DOES feel significant. As creatures who, like flowers, respond to the sun, we cannot help but feel the significance of the moment of solar fullness each year.
And this year was no exception. However, and it’s a big however! What we experienced during and leading up to our Summer Solstice evening event, was change, continuous change and adjustment — especially as regards the ceremony we were going to hold, and the relationship between our ceremony and the sky gods!
It started two weeks earlier, at our regular Thursday evening Community Dinner, when Mariella, Eva, Jackie, and me (Ann) agreed to work together to devise an appropriate Summer Solstice Ceremony for our Green Acres Village podmates, neighbors and friends to be held on the day of the Solstice, which just happened to fall on the 21st, Thursday, our regular dinner night. Okay.
So then about ten days ahead of the event I emailed the other three, and we had a lively email thread as to just what would take place and the prep we would need. Eva suggested that everyone receive their own individual flower. Mariella came up with a ceremony using symbols to honor the four elements: fire, earth, water, and air. I said I’d start it out by talking a bit about the astrology of the occasion, and suggested that shamanic drumming at the end would be good, with a short meditation to invoke group energy for balance. We all agreed that in this way we would be honoring both individual energy, plus our connection to the Earth and each other as a community.
Okay! Sounds good! Eva said she’d bring the flowers. Mariella said she’d come with candles (fire), salt (symbolic of earth) and sage (to purify air). We would each hold an individual candle, and then dip one finger into first, a common bowl of water, and then a common bowl of salt. We would then bless ourselves by touching our senses — eyes, ears, nose — to ask that we see, hear and smell accurately; our mouth, so that we speak truth; our heart so that we open to the world; our gut, so that we feel things correctly; our feet, so that we walk with sacred intent upon the Earth.
After the drumming meditation, we agreed that we would finish up by continuing to sit in a circle, and whoever wanted to say something could then do so.
Sounds good, eh? Maybe a little elaborate, but I was sure we could pull it off in about half an hour, starting after dinner.
Okay, and now the fun begins . . .
The day before, Eva emailed the three of us, saying she couldn’t come, nor could her children. Some kind of family difficulty. Then, a few hours later, Jackie emailed, to say that she was feverish, and sick, and wouldn’t be able to make it.
So . . . we’re down to Mariella and me. Okay. Well, the others had been the ones to give out flowers and arrange the earth, salt, water, etc., with Mariella and I the main officiants. Okay, we can still do this, just have to bring in other people to help. Wing it.
The next day, Solstice itself, the weather looked iffy; periodic thunderstorms the 24 hours before, and more promised. Hmmm. Should we set up on the patio? — or just plan on being inside. Let’s do both. Set up for either one. Make sure this house is clean, just in case.
Okay. All will be well, either way!
The time came. People started showing up, a few, as usual, whom we’ve never met before. In all about 28 or so people were there at least part of the time.
Yay! Here comes Mariella, with all the equipment we need for the ceremony —
— plus! Pisco sours (a Peruvian specialty), for all adults who want them.
And her kids, Juakim and Asiri. Yay! They haven’t been here for months, due to some kind of sports practice.
They can meet Coby, Payton’s sweet young brother, here from South Carolina..
Here we are, after dinner, discussing something. What? Possibly the fact that it is becoming obvious that a thunderstorm is moving in?
Just about then the thunder god spoke. Somebody yelled: “Everybody get inside, and bring something with you!” I.e., don’t leave the dishes, plates, cups, and silverware outside!
Okay. Within minutes, the dishes are all in, and we are milling about in the house, just the sky darkens dramatically and releases torrential rain.
Still time for ice cream! (Four people had brought five types of ice cream.) Here is Erin, a new person and Payton’s neighbor, who will bring her kids next time.
BTW: See the man in the background, above? That’s neighbor Devon, who had told me last week that he has extra sulfur that we could have to help with chiggers when working in the gardens (powdered agricultural sulfur: you load it into a sock, and then tie the sock beat your skin with the sock — that way the sulfur inside lasts a long time). I mentioned it to him again before dinner. He ran right home and got it. YES!
Somewhere in the melee, Kate, our drummer, told me that she wasn’t feeling well, and needed to leave. Oops! Okay, well then who will drum? Rebecca agreed to do it.
Meanwhile, we had already handed out the candles outside, but then I decided no, let’s not have candles inside. Too many of us; too dangerous. So we made another adjustment. One candle, on the table, along with water and salt for the ceremony.
Oops! Yet another change: We would stand rather than sit for the ceremony, since the space inside is so crowded.
Mariella and I were making these adjustments off the cuff, as the thunder gods kept rolling outside. By this time all our “carefully laid plans” had been severely tested — and altered. But the essence of the ceremony remained. And we were showing ourselves that we can bend with sudden unpredictable changes in mood, tone, setting, and protocol while remaining true to our original intent. A good lesson in these times of high uncertainty in all areas of life!
And yes, we carried it off without a hitch.
First, the preliminaries.
In the kitchen, Mariella and Rebecca decided to light the sage and wave it around ahead of time to clear the air.
Then I asked Asiri if she would collect all the candles as she handed people a flower instead. But first, take off the rubber band!
Okay, everybody, let’s circle up with our flowers, standing!
I then talked about the flowers as symbols of fullness, of this day of full bloom, Summer Solstice, which, by the way, I mentioned, has already passed, since the actual moment of Solstice, when the Sun passed into 0°00 Cancer, was at 6:07 AM EDT. From that moment on, darkness will increase little by little until Winter Solstice, December 21.
Right as I began there was another thunder boom. A big one. The sky was talking, and we were aware, laughing and excited to be engaged in the larger drama.
Then, Mariella, who was standing at the opposite end of our circle (our oval) —
— talked about the salt, the water, the sage, and the lit candle on the table, how they represent the elements, and our capacity to sense ourselves, each other, and the Earth under our feet. She asked us to each go to the bowl of water, dip our finger in it, then dip the same finger into the salt, then bless the various parts of our body (as specified above) with that finger, before moving on. So we did that. In a big line, not exactly reverent or quiet however. We were all so stirred up by the thunderstorm and our narrow escape from it.
Dario set the tone . . .
We begin, one by one, the line around the room and into the kitchen.
After we had all paraded through, I introduced the concept of meditating as we listen to the sound of the sacred drum, called “shamanic drumming,” (and quickly instructed Rebecca how to do it, having already asked Kate before she left: Low, and slow). I asked us to close our eyes as we stood there, and invoke visions of community, whatever that means for us. Individuals joining in groups, cooperating. I asked us to remain standing in meditation, eyes closed, silent, for a few minutes.
And we did!
Finally, after about four minutes I asked us to again return to our senses, and open our eyes.
Then Mariella suggested that (instead of the planned discussion, which we had nixed beforehand, due to the fact that we were standing rather than sitting) we link arms for a minute or two, and feel grateful for each other. So we did that. And we meant it.
Just then Mariella counted the room and noticed that there were 21 people participating in the ceremony, on the 21st of June! How’s that for magic!
Afterwards, Mariella came up to me with the water bowl and said, why don’t we put the water in a jar, since it holds all of our energies. Add flower petals to it, and more water, and vodka, so that it will keep. Put it in the refrigerator, so that we can pull it out whenever we want to bless ourselves again. Good idea.
And then, we proceeded to get down to business and wash the dishes.
I’m not sure if the ceremony took even 30 minutes. But it felt good, and effective, and will be treasured forever.
If there’s one thing that can be said about Mother Nature, it is that when she’s ready to bloom, she does, and in so many many ways. We have seen a number of new volunteer plants seed themselves here this year, some of them even welcome! Like hollyhocks, which used to be here, and then went away (more on that later). Also, whereas we thought the frogs had gone, due to lack of enough water, they’re back, due to enough water! And there are at least two of them, judging by the croaks, so we hope they are male and female.
The profusion is so elaborate that our neighbor Devon suggested he come over here with his pruning shears. Great idea! “You know I was trained in that,” he says. GOOD!
Here’s the garden entrance that particularly concerned him, looking from the first DeKist house, through a tunnel made of curly willow . . .
Back up a few feet, and it’s even more formidable. Rebecca that tunnel effect has only been there for a few days . . .
And voila! You’ve gone through the tunnel to the garden, brassicas protected by cover cloth from cabbage moths.
Here’s another entrance, that we managed to cut back a bit of just the other evening, noting that we hope the primrose takes hold. (You can’t see it, but it’s there, on the fence above the day lilies.)
Here’s a view, through the fence, with massive horserdish leaves in left forefront. Me: “I remember when I bought the horseradish from a farmer at the Saturday market maybe five years ago. He smirked as he was selling it to me.” We all laughed. Of course, I had no idea how prolific that single plant would prove.
Four of us happened to be on a walk-about, around the outside of the fence, checking on plants we’d forgotten about, like this little one:
And noticing especially what volunteer plants were appearing. For example, what’s this?
Again, massive leaves, but not horseradish, not comfrey, not dock(?).
Of course the place we stopped the longest was to admire the new poppy plant, flowering now, after Rebecca planted it last year.
Here’s an even cooler picture, contrasted with whatever that spikey starburst-looking thingie is right above it.
The poppies’ pink matched almost exactly the color of another volunteer plant, the pink hollyhock, mentioned above. (There’s also a new white-flowered hollyhock nearby.)
Stories abound. Like this one: Maynard, an old friend of Dan’s, was here for a few days leading up to Mother’s Day, and happened to buy two “Sagittaria Latifolia” plants, one for Rebecca and one for me. He did not realize: we are both Sagittarians! Another name for this plant: broadleaf arrowroot. Here they are, in their watery habitat and flowering.
Then there are the various day lilies, so beautiful that we applaud them when they spread.
Oh and there’s our famous queen elderberry bush, which would take over the entire front yard of the first DeKist house if given its way. We hope to beat the birds to the berries, and will harvest some of the flowers for tea.
And there’s this amazing purple plant, that has come up periodically all along. Some say it’s a Japanese plant that’s good for tea. Others say it’s orach, and can be eaten like sorrel or spinach. Haven’t tried it yet, either way.
Meanwhile, amidst all this profusion, Rebecca keeps designing. Here she is, outside the fence, in the latest bed she is communing with.
While I was out there she told me about a gigantic, glorious rock that she spotted on someone’s curb in Indianapolis. The lady who lived there was happy to get rid of it, and helped Rebecca put it in her car. She and Shy decided right then and there to move it into the new bed right where she wants it.
So yes, amidst all this profusion, we do have some projects going, mostly plant based, like this one, drying herbs on a clothes rack.
Or this, Solan’s new experimental mushroom growing project.
Then there’s the project to build a tiny new pond, this one to replace an extremely gross water catcher from the DeKist 2 house roof:
The hole had been dug. Now the liner. Rebecca: “I sure wish I had attended that pond building workshop last winter . . .” So who knows if this will work, but it’s an old swimming pool liner that Solan’s dad was getting rid of. Here goes:
Not sure what we’re waiting for to finish it, but it’s obviously not done yet.
Meanwhile, you’d never even know the pond is there beyond, by the property line. Here’s the view from the path to the house:And meanwhile, our regularly scheduled activities proceed apace. CSA harvest, every Friday evening:
And Community Dinners every Thursday evening.
Here’s last week.
This week, tomorrow, will happen to fall on Summer Solstice, so we have planned a wonderful ceremony for after dinner. YES!
Life goes on. We just found out this morning that Alex Simack, who has been here for only two weeks, has just landed a job in Indianapolis. Bon Voyage, Alex! Which means that since John has also left, to pursue his dream of being a musician in New York City, we now we have two rooms open, one in each of the DeKist houses. Anyone interested in “growing community from the ground up” and might choose to live here, get ahold of us! At least come to one of our weekly dinners. Get to know us. We can all see if you would feel comfortable in this loosely-organized little village inside a suburban neighborhood that values individual expression, group cooperation and effort, and love of the Earth Mother.
Thursday eve, 7 p.m. Can you tell it was hot outside?
Overview before we begin.
Neighbor Devon brought both his wife and his Mom, both for the first time.
Serious talk in the heat.
Of course, kids on screens . . .
Annie, above, is sponsoring a series of concerts in Bean Blossom, 30 minutes east of town. This sunday evening will feature three locals playing only Dylan songs, with Annie herself, in her first solo role. She will open for the group by singing her own just composed song with guitar. Go Annie! I plan to attend.
Friday evening, 5:30 to 7 p.m. I mostly washed the produce which others gathered. Here’s a few shots from when we were about done. Another hot day.
As a special treat, amidst all the spring greens of various kinds, our CSA members were also treated to half-pints of homemade Green Acres radish sauerkraut, plus a splash of parsley and sage:
Filling the bags:
Meanwhile, in the main garden, we’ve had to cover all the brassicas, because of cabbage moths. Unfortunately, some of the covers are winter weight, so we ordered summer weight to replace them. They should be here by the 15th.
Before and after photos:
And meanwhile, Dan’s grandmother just moved into a care home, so she gave both the old stored woodworking and other tools, plus her precious canning jars to Dan, some of which are antique blue, to die for!