More Textural pictures this Tuesday are visible if you follow the link . . . elsewhere in the world there are pom poms blooming.
There once was a boy named Yeod. He had a blanket and it looked like a one dollar bill. Every night he slept with it on his bed because it was very large. Every day he wore it like a cloak or spread it out in the sun to lie in. The reason he did this was because he never could get rid of that blanket. He tried, he really did, and every time it would always return to him like a magnet.
Yeod decided one day that he wanted a new blanket. So he set out along the dusty road to find someone who could take his blanket away so that it would never return to him. Then he would return home and get a new blanket. But first he had to find someone who had that power . . . . .
By a field of black and white cows, he met an old man.
“Grandfather,” Said he, “Can you help me get rid of this blanket?”
“No, my son,” Replied the old man, “I have not the power but if you go just a little ways down this road, you will meet my brother sitting besides a silver stream. Perhaps he can help you.”
And so Yeod thanked the old man and set off again.
It was not long before he met another old man sitting besides a silver stream. He was older and more stooped over then the first.
“Grandfather,” Said Yeod, “Can you help me get rid of this blanket?”
No, my son,” Replied the old man, “But if you go just a little ways down this road, you will meet my brother sitting by a forest. Perhaps he can help you.”
Yeod thanked the old man and set off again.
It was not long before he met an old man sitting on a broad rock under the shade of a giant oak tree.
“Grandfather,” Yeod said, “Can you help me get rid of this blanket?”
“Yes, my son!” Replied the old man with glittering eyes, “Give me the blanket and take this one. It is a very pretty one, my son.”
Yeod was very happy and gave the old man his blanket and ran away down the road, his new blanket clutched in his hand.
It was not until he reached the silver stream that something struck him as odd: The old man had not been sitting in a forest. He had been sitting under an oak.
Quickly he ran back and found the old man gone. In his place was another old man, lying on the ground, rubbing his head and groaning.
Yeod knelt at his side and asked him what had happened.
The old man said, “my son, a curly haired man came and hit me over the head as i was going to see my brother. He disguised himself as me and took my place. When i came to, i was lying here.”
Yeod told him what he had done and the old man looked at him with a grave face.
“My son,” He said, “You must get that blanket back. It is a very special blanket and it is filled with terrible weapons of war. That man was a wizard from our enemy. He took the special key from me that opens the blanket. If he gets that blanket to his land, we will be hopeless. You must go and stop him before he gets there!”
Yeod stared at him in horror. What had he JUST done? This was horrible!
“Which direction did the wizard go, Grandfather?” He asked, “I will set off after him and right what i have done.”
“He will have gone towards the desert, my son,” Replied the old man, “You have courage, my son, so take this bag of dirt with you. Farewell!”
Yeod bid the old man farewell and set off for the desert.
Soon he meet an old camel sunning itself and grumbling to itself.
“Why do you grumble, Camel?” Asked Yeod.
“It is the rude wizard with a blanket that looks like dollar bill,” The Camel replied and Yeod’s heart leaped, “He said that i was to slow and he left me hear. Mean thing!!!”
“I will ride you even if you are slow,” Yeod said, “Can you take me to the wizard?”
“Indeed i can. Climb up onto my back!”
Yeod obeyed and the Camel set off.
Soon they saw a camp in the distance.
Yeod got off the camel and crept up to the camp. It was brimming with soldiers and in the very center of the camp, hanging on a silver stand, was his blanket. The curly haired wizard stood by it, a rod with a three leafed clover at its end in his hand.
Yeod was very glad. The wizard had not opened the blanket yet.
He went back to the Camel.
“Listen, Camel,” he said, “I want you to go running into the camp and cause a panic. Then i will go and get the blanket while you are doing this. Then we will make off together.”
The Camel nodded to show he agreed and then he went and got his friends, the Red Scorpions. Then they all charged the camp.
Yeod crept back and watched. Every soldier started to run away from the poisonous Red Scorpions. Yeod saw that the wizard had touched the blanket with the key and riffles, helmets, and swords were tumbling out.
he rand down to the blanket and flung the bag of dirt into the wizard’s eyes. Then he grabbed the blanket and all the weapons and fled into the desert.
The Camel and his friends soon joined him.
Yeod bid them farewell and set off home.
He found the three old men sitting under a big oak, waiting for him.
Yeod told them what had happened to him.
“Together we must burn the blanket,” The first old man said.
And so they did and no sooner was it in ashes then a new blanket that looked like the Camel with the Red scorpions gathered around it’s feet came floating down through the branches and into Yeod’s open arms.
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“To the Anglo-Saxons of the days of yore, the wise women and the wizards who knew the virtues of plants were known as wortcunners. Wort means “root,” “herb,” or “spice,” and cunning (from the Middle English cunnen) means “to know.” A wortcunner is not just a botanist or a knower of herbs, but one who has the occult, hidden, or secret power to see into the origin of things, to see beyond the surface. He or she has a relation of kinship and kindness to the worts, knows their names, and knows the words, chants, and mantras with which to call upon the spirits that inhabit the plant world. A root-knower is a seer. He or she knows the root of the illness that strikes a human being down and knows the root of the cure: the wort, which unfolds as secretly in the dark as the very malaise it will heal.”
–from Storl, Wolf D, The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners: The Healing Power of Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books.
I came to the plant world with a hand trowel, a packet of seeds, and a fierce desire to play in the Earth back in 1998; though you could play with that sentence and change the date and it would inform you in a slightly less literal way . … perhaps. Anyhow, I started a tiny garden: it was a sandy gravelly patch about 3 x 3 that I had pulled the grass off and poked some cucumber seeds into. The grass grew back, the cucumber seeds did not. I set out to the library and returned with a mountain of gardening books that I poured over. I tried again the next year, peeled off the sod, dug up the earth and turned it over, sprinkled cucumber seeds into a trench, watered, and waited: the cucumber seeds sprouted and grew everywhere, I was thrilled! I watered them, they sprawled and got tangled and flowered, even bearing a little fruit. These grew fat and yellow where they lay on the soil, some tasted good some did not, but I was overjoyed having now grown cucumbers!
Thus began what turned into a journey with plants leading from domesticated plants and scouring books and questions for all my gardening friends eventually to herbs, container gardening, forays into community gardening, weed walking, compost talking, raised beds rich with worms and hummus to the heart of the wild, to lymes, to microbes and microorganisms and fungus on forest floors, where eventually the plants got a hold of me and led me a merry dance, shaking me up and rattling my bones, they taught me how to listen to the wilderways of the wilderun: this is my story of how I came to wortcunnery before I knew such a word existed. I’m still on the path . .. though sometimes it takes movement to be still ;) . . . . learning as the plants whisper or sing their songs in chorus or solo from within a whole ecosystem that changes from year to year, in the meantime I’ve slipped over the hedge where you might find me or you might not, it all depends on how you look and where . . . ..
Tickle me silly with some Neddy Buttercup walking backward right side up . . .. about 6 years ago on a fall day my Michael pointed to a cluster of stark red berries upon a tall stalk and said Go, find those, they’re ginseng, Sam Cash told me so. He took the kids to town and I took myself off for a hike, hot on the trail of the magical ginseng root. Once I got moving and my eyes tuned in to the golden understory there were red berries on stalks ‘everywhere’, I couldn’t believe it!! These woods were covered in ginseng! Plastered in ginseng!! Singing gin-sssaaaaaanggg!! We were rolling deep in ‘sang! I followed the plants for hours back into the forest until eventually I took a break by where the creek was gurgling and just sat there for a while before finding a digging stick to harvest a few roots with.
Well, the ‘roots’ turned out to be oddly garlicy/daffodil bulbish looking, not carrot-rooty at all. But :: Sam Cash had told Michael these were ginseng and I had found what I’d been shown above ground, so I shrugged off the little voice that was saying, “something’s not quite right here sister”, and dug out a few of these roots from densely populated patches. Again alarm bells were going off as somewhere I was feeling like this wasn’t right, not at all, but what did I know, after all Sam Cash had said that these plants were ginseng, and Sam Cash was an expert on such matters. Why Sam Cash was born and raised here and his whole family had settled the mountain top, giving it the name Painter Mountain (Irish/Scots for ‘panther’ in dialect) dating back to the 1700’s, they’d given the road and creek its name: “Irish Creek Road”, they knew these woods inside and out and what did little ol’ me know?! . . . how happily I handed over my knowing to the knowing of some other more authoritarian voice! It happens . . . .
Suffice it to say when I got back home I was marvelously energized and couldn’t wait to tell about the copious prolific abundance of ginseng I had found! Michael and the kids came home and were like, well? And I was beaming and bursting with the fullness of my find, with some bulbousy rooty’s to show too. Now from what Sam Cash had said, the roots were going to taste earthy, so together the two of us took a nibble off a ‘root’ and we were instantly horridly BITTEN by the oxalic acid sharpness slivering on our tongues leaving it numb for a few hours afterward. It was then that I decided to put the books in our bookroom to use (after all they’re good for something right?):: took out some pictorial reference guides and Maude Grieves Modern Herbal and was positively certain that this was NOT ginseng no matter what Sam Cash had said!! It didn’t take me long to find that it was bethroot, birthroot, or trillium and it had gotten a hold of me and given me a good run around and a lesson to boot: ) Technically the roots are rhizomes though the imprint on my muscular memory from that day likes to perceive them more bulbishly than rhizomatic, the semantics of words don’t change my *knowing* of the plant only the communication of this knowing to another person . . . . but that would be a different post eh, or not.
To this day when I need a good dose of lightening up or contrary sideways talking tricksterishness or even a reminder that I Know, I only have to think of my teacher, Beth, and I get a good chuckle at myself amongst other things. In the painting that you see, which is a longer work in progress, I planted seeds symbolicked as garlicy bulbs for Bethroot as she’s how I came at long last to the cauldron of wortcunnery where bark, seeds, leaf, and root get crushed under the pestle into essence; and Sam Cash, well Sam Cash got a mighty good laugh when he heard about my mighty long ginseng hunt and if you’re in need of some ticklish times, I hope you get a chuckle too . . . . laughter is good medicine :)
Looking for a whole life? Want to start out doing something new? Need a job and also want to live in a community that supports local agriculture, nourishes the earth, is rich in rivers and meadows filled with mustard, golden hay bales dotting fields where cows graze in the open? Where there are two farmers markets . . . local beekeepers bring in honey to sell amidst vendors with biodynamically grown vegetables, peaches fresh picked from one of many orchards, pastured eggs and meat, amongst flowers and fibers? Well, there’s a lot more I could tell you about this area! But I’ll keep it short::::
our foods cooperative is looking for a new manager and if working and living in the earth in community is up your alley then take a look at the above link and see if it might be for you . . . or pass it along until eventually it’ll find its way to where it needs to be ;)
There was a tree. A mulberry tree. It was old and wrinkled. It stood in a field by the lane. Cows grazed in the field. There were apple trees and peach trees and younger mulberry trees. Around the edges of the orchard were cherry trees.
The old mulberry tree would watch the younger trees swing and dance in the wind.
He asked them, “How do you stay so young and fragrant?”
And they would laugh at him and say, “Oh, you shall never know the secret to our youth!”
Every night the fairies came and danced in the peach, apple mulberry and cherry trees but the old mulberry did not know it because the Tree Snake that lived in his roots slipped a sleeping drought into him and he was always asleep when the fairies came and they never danced in him because he was asleep and they did not want to wake him.
Once, long ago, the Mulberry had been young and beautiful. The fairies had danced only in his branches because he was so beautiful and sang and danced with them the best and made them laugh and the other trees had become jealous. So they had cast a spell of forgetfulness over the Mulberry and he had forgotten how to sing and dance and so the fairies had left him. Then the other trees made the Mulberry’s tree snake put a sleeping drought in his roots so he could never remember.
One day the Mulberry saw a group of fairy musicians coming down the lane. They carried trumpets and fiddles and violins. They skipped past him laughing and playing music on their instruments, hardly looking at him with their cat’s eyes.
The old Mulberry watched their white wings disappear around the bend and slowly memories started to come back to him.
That spring, he flowered beautifully and gave off the best, juiciest fruit in the orchard and the farmers were very pleased. The other trees were very angry for the farmers shook their heads and looked at their lightly laden branches and said, “There must be something wrong with those trees! Look at the little fruit on them! We must do something.”
And they patted the old Mulberry on the trunk and one said, “I always knew this old tree would come around and see how right i was. Twas a good thing we did not cut him down!”
And the old Mulberry smiled to himself and wished that he could thank the musicians for helping his memory come back.
That summer the deer came and ate the grass under him and the birds made their nests in his branches.
The breeze rustled his branches and his leaves grew a wonderful green color.
When Autumn came, his leaves turned gold and brown and yellow and red and orange. The cardinals came and sang in his branches. Sometimes the wild cats would come sharpen their claws on him and rub against him lovingly.
The snake in his roots still slipped him sleeping droughts but he hardly seemed to notice them any more.
The fairies still did not dance in his branches and Mulberry wondered why.
He did not know it, but the other trees had combined their power and cast a spell of ugliness on it that only the eyes of a cat could pierce.
Mulberry wept and lamented when nobody danced with him and the other trees laughed and jeered.
That Autumn the group of fairy musicians came down the lane. They bore trumpets and fiddles and violins. They were looking for a tree to dance in.
They saw the orchard and stopped. None of the trees seemed just right. And then their eyes, their cat’s eyes, pierced the awful spell of ugliness surrounding Mulberry.
That tree seemed to glow and gleam and invite them to his branches. This was the tree for them!
With joyful yells they leaped over the wooden fence and ran across the orchard.
The other trees watched them in shock.
These musicians were every tree’s favorite. They were perfect dancers and they made such lovely music. And here they were running towards old Mulberry! Astonishing!!!
The Fairy musicians swung themselves up into old Mulberry’s branches and climbed up high into the swaying, moving branches bending in the wind.
They blew on their trumpets and fiddled their fiddles and violins.
The music streamed down out of the tree and ruined the spell of ugliness. The music drove the tree snake and his sleeping drought from the roots of old Mulberry’s branches.
Old Mulberry woke up and the music brought back his memory of dance. How he danced! he danced all night. He danced wonderfully. He swayed and bent and swirled his branches.
The musicians laughed and played all night.
Mulberry thanked them for bringing back his memory.
After that, the musicians came and played and danced in his branches every night.
But Mulberry was not mean and nasty and he asked the musicians to dance with the other trees to.
And then all the other trees felt ashamed and said they were sorry for all they had done.
And so that night the orchard was a place of great excitement. All the fairies came and danced through all the trees and the trees danced with the other trees and all the fairies.
Lights decorated the whole orchard and the Queen came and sat on her throne in the middle of the orchard to watch.
And when all the singing and dancing and feasting was over, the Queen bestowed the gift of Forever Flowering Fruit upon the entire orchard.
And after that, no orchard gave more delicious fruit then that orchard blessed by the Queen.
And the farmers were happy and the trees were happy and the fairies were happy and, best of all, old Mulberry was happy.
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