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Today I gathered the three of you around

to apologize

Not a new path, but a re-commitment

To your youth

the path we now walk together

until your womanhood

forging your own

A re-commitment to your soft skin

your innocence

the sweet knowing that peers out from behind your eyes

An acknowledgment of the importance of

now

that Spirit entrusted me with your well-being

The original intent

going back to the ground from which I was formed

you were formed

To learn there

in the warmth of a sun cut by the limbs of trees

A re-commitment to out foremothers

their well trodden path

not a new path

 

Today, Confluence Herbals and Spiritual Coaching is born, and I feel the relief and exhaustion that comes after the labor that is listening to Spirit.

Trail to Bad Branch Falls

Trail to Bad Branch Falls

I finally got hold of the camera, took some pictures, and then let Deladis take some on her own.  I’m going to share our last few weeks with you mostly in pictures.

Easter, Redbuds, and Dogwoods – The Tale not Found in the Bible

Today is Good Friday for Christian believers and others who are inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ.

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said.  “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:10-11

Jesus accepted what was for what it was.  He lived the Now and He realized the essence of His being protected by Father God.  My maternal grandmother taught me that the redbud and dogwood trees represent some significant things in this story.  They grow wild in these hills.  Many plant them in their yard.

The redbud was once a large tree with large white blossoms.  Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hung himself on one of these large trees.  It shriveled up and the blossoms turned pink with their shame.

The dogwood represents the events of The Holy Week.  You can read more about how by clicking these statements.Spring has gotten into my being more this year than ever in my life.  I have never been fond of rainy up and down weather, but this year the beauty of creation has been recognized as a gift in the core of who I am.  The most beautiful part of the redbud and dogwood story is that they bloom around the same time, the redbud a bit ahead of the dogwood.

Deladis Won a Blue Ribbon at the Homeschool Science Fair for her Tree Project!

She worked so so hard!  I can’t believe this is a kindergartener’s work!

It’s Electric – Boogie-Woogie-Woogie

The Chickens – Photos by Deladis Rose – Titles by Mommy

Where's the Beef

The Peach

The Ladies

Cockfight

Family Man

We're Havin' a Party

I'd Eat One if I Could Fit it in My Mouth

And Finally – The Mole Killer – Not for the Squeamish – Photo by Deladis Rose



The weather has given us a break, and the girls and I took a hike this past Saturday.  It was lovely.  We got home and both the girls fell asleep by 6:30 and didn’t wake up again until the next morning!

Start with a nice blue sky.

Add a warm hilltop breeze

Two lovely little girls

 

A release of penned up energy waiting all winter long

And a few soft smiles

One portly little cat who follows along behind like a dog

Neglected hunting cabin

 

That had to have once been loved

A few open old deep mines

 

An old logging road

Big old maple leaves

A couple of rolled over rocks

Blow one last kiss to the sun

Dots of color through greener grass…

Fairy houses turn glorious with decoration…

The individual asks to be heard amongst all the bloom…

The redbud tree dots pink and purple…

The legend as told by my grandmother (Barbara (Johnson) Mullins Fletcher) is that Judas Iscariot hung himself on a redbud.  Redbuds used to be a large tree with bountiful white blossoms.  Judas chose this tree to take his life after betraying Jesus.  When he did so, the tree withered down and turned pink with embarrassment and thus we have the redbud.

Everyone is curious…

The trees aren’t the only thing budding.  Deladis spends her days creating.  An artist she might make…

God bless her. 😉

I probably won’t be posting or be able to answer comments for the next week or so.  The Haywoods have some work to do.  Hope to see some old friends as well. 🙂  I’ll be back soon.

A gal has her first moon time and is initiated either gently or suddenly into womanhood.  A woman experiences pregnancy and birth or feeling love for someone more than any love she has ever felt for herself or another – a different love – and she is initiated into motherhood.  Today, I was initiated.  I took another step out of the speeding rat race of the world back into the days when woman, wife, and mother were words for many other jobs as well.

Yesterday was a blessed and sunny day.  We spent the day outside, enjoying our chickens who have finally started laying and setting.  The house chickens have found a safe nest – their third try.  The barn hens began using the nest boxes and sticking close to the barn.

House chickens - Roy and Little Girlfriend - on the bird table

The other day we found six of Little Girlfriend’s eggs in Lars’s doghouse.  She wasn’t setting, so we ate them.  She moved the nest under the old coop.

The girls played in the sandbox.  I planned for a breastfeeding workshop I am giving soon, sitting next to them in a straight backed chair with my lap desk and the sun giving the perfect light.

This morning it was gloomy.  The rain clouds came overnight.  John was preparing to leave for the weekend, and we had just finished our pancake breakfast.  Our neighbor, Brett, walked up on the porch in time to finish the last of the pancakes.  He wasn’t coming to eat though.  He was coming with photos of a hawk, down in the barn, killing our setting hen.  Brett wasn’t able to stop it.

We work really hard at getting things just so.  It seems to go better, then the natural world reminds us where we are in the scheme of things.  It didn’t take me long before I had a plastic grocery bag in hand and shoes on my feet to walk down to the barn.  I got there and realized the hawk hadn’t broken her skin, only her neck.  I picked her up by the feet, put her in the bag, and brought her up to the cabin to be prepared for eating.

I used a Buck knife my daddy gave me to remove her head.  She was our sweetest and prettiest hen.  The knife wasn’t the type I needed, but the best I have.  I tossed her bitty head, with cute tufts of beige feathers that stuck out from her cheeks, into the trees.  I made a quick phone call to my dad for some reminders and instructions, and John and I took her to the creek to gut and pluck her.

I remembered my great grandmother, Golda Johnson, and her deep fear of chicken feathers.  I remembered the story of my Uncle Vince ringing a chicken’s neck, and its body flying off and into my great great grandmother’s well, ruining the water.  I remembered my grandmother’s (Ida Hansel) disgust at a chicken and her druthers of not fixing it to eat.

John stood by to observe, and I stuck the Buck knife into her soft belly slicing downward.  The knife hit a shell.  When I opened her, I pulled out a perfectly formed egg.  The one she’d lay today.  I set it to the side.  With two fingers I began to remove her innards from the cavity of her still warm body.  I understood for the first time how much of her little body was devoted to making eggs.  To being a provider of life and food.  I held her tiny, healthy heart in my hands a moment to look at its perfection.

Plucking was harder.  It took me a minute to get the hang of it.  I finished her in the house, after a scald in the pot.  Plucked, drained, gutted, and washed, I placed her in a freezer bag to be fixed when John comes home.

I knew at some point we’d eat some of the animals we raise.  Deladis took it well.  She knows where her food comes from, and she likes meat.  Ivy cried a little, but I think she sensed my downtrodden mood.  I wasn’t ready to do it today.  Not without numerous diddles running across the field following their mama.  Not without a fridge full of eggs.  I couldn’t let her go to waste.  She wouldn’t leave her nest.  She couldn’t run.  In her death, she’s giving us a most healthy meal, and a perfect egg.  Both will be prepared with love.  We will consume her and know her.  We will know personally our food.

I think of the Appalachian women whose job it was to kill and prepare chickens.  Appalachians mostly ate hogs, but on a Sunday, fried chicken was a nice dinner, especially if you were expecting company.  I wondered at their chore of feeding the chickens, holding them under their arms, gathering their eggs, wringing their necks, plucking feathers, and preparing them into a special dinner with all the love they had to give.  It was the least I could do for our hen.

Later on, we stopped at McDonald’s after a prolonged doctor’s visit.  From the drive-thru I saw a mama dog with heavy teats wagging her tail at every stranger that passed by, hoping for a bite.  She hadn’t gotten anything, and she was begging so politely.  Hungry to the core as only you can be when nursing a baby, and yet she begged with more humanity than some people I’ve encountered on the city streets. We got our food, eased the truck next to her, called her over, and the three of us females donated half of our meat portions to her and her pups, wherever she had them waiting.  She ate without chewing, her front paws on my seat.

I’ve been initiated.  It’s hard to wash the smell of blood from your hands.

The contrast of snow and sky begs us outside.  Shelter ourselves no more and enjoy the Creator’s warmth in a world chilly with Winter’s finality and promise of renewal.

The Lynn Tree and Rock

We suit up.  How many more Winters will be spent in the midst of such glorious cuteness?

Icicle swords and dusts of snow.

It is impossible to reconcile the sky and earth.  Let them exist one for the other

The Confluence

Snow angels play for snow angels to create.

A groundhog sees its shadow.

Happy Groundhog Day / Candlemas

And mother always waits too long to start the walk home.

But a treat can be made that only Winter allows.

Come by tomorrow for the recipe for a favorite Winter mountain treat!

We were blessed with a sunny day and warm enough weather to get outside and enjoy it.  Enjoy it we did!

We walked down to the barn, fed the chickens, and walked back to home.  As soon as we made it to the yard, Deladis said, “We can swing!”

Then, we walked on up the holler passed our house to my favorite spot in the little valley.

After seeing the emptiness of this valley thanks to Google Earth, I plan to thoroughly explore it with the girls.

Deladis is learning about the root and seed children that spend their time sleeping snug inside Mother Earth through the Winter.  We couldn’t help but notice many of the mosses and lichens have awesome blooms of red and yellow, or simply the brightest green.

Even our animal friends got in on the warmth.

Our dog, Lars, is a bird whisperer.  Have I mentioned they will lie next to him?

Lately, Deladis has been really in to AbbeyRoad by The Beatles.  John has our CDs with him most of the time, so we listen to the record collection.  John’s dad gave us his records and Abbey Road was one of them.  Deladis has Brer Rabbit, Fat Albert, and Chipmunk Punk, but Abbey Road trumps those every time.  Deladis’ favorites are “Come Together,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “Her Majesty”(the one about Madge being a really fine girl – I think that is the title).  I won’t forget the day she told me she liked “Something”.  She asked me what kind of song that was and what was it about.  George Harrison moved my four year old.  She’s a thinking girl.

We sang sunshine songs as we walked.  “Here Comes the Sun” was included of course as it is on most days of  our singing.  As well as “The Sun Shines on Everyone” by Snatam Kaur, and “You Are My Sunshine”, which Ivy has learned to sing really well thanks to her new auntie.  🙂

It was a fine and refreshing time.

I’m wonderfully optimistic about the year to come.  I think I’m finally coming to an understanding of what it means to let go and let God.  To kick off the new year, I have decided to start a series of posts on things we have a right to know about (in fact in many situations our life depends on it), but for whatever reason they are kept “secret” whether through planned secrecy or by tactful exclusion of information.

John and I spent the evening on the couch last night watching our new Netflix arrival – Food, Inc. .  I’ve been waiting on this movie since it came out a while back.  This film demystifies our current system of industrialized food and the problems that arise from our expectation of fast and cheap food.

It was a little over a year ago now when a prolonged illness of mine prompted me to switch our diet to a traditional foods diet as proposed by The Weston A. Price Foundation and authors like Sally Fallon and Nina Planck.  Since then, I have noticed a tremendous change in my health and well being along with that of my husband and children.  I have lost and maintained a 100 pound weight loss (though I was already losing weight before changing my eating, I contribute most of it to traditional foods).  I have more energy.  My gums no longer bleed when I brush or floss my teeth.  But, the most noticeable for me is my relationship to food.  I no longer fear food making me fat, because I know that what I am choosing to eat is real food and not something fabricated in a factory.  I enjoy my food and I eat plenty of it.  I’m eating things the diet industry tells us will make us obese and sick – butter, bacon, red meat, and whole fat dairy.

This approach to eating (I don’t call it a “diet” in the terms of how most of us view the word) has changed my life so completely that I can’t help but get excited about sharing it with others.  However, all to often I have noticed people don’t want to hear the truth about where their food comes from, and I tend to get tuned out.  Instead of accepting that there is a problem here and we are in need of huge change as a society, they continue to eat from the conventional store shelves food that more often than not is some kind of factory made variation of corn or soy bean products and they wonder why they are sick with things like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, or obesity.  Why is that?

The fact of the matter is that we have a right to know where our food comes from and under what conditions it is being processed for our consumption.  Our food is life.  What we put into our body directly affects how we are able to live our life.  However, now that our food supply is being controlled by just a few multi- million (billion) dollar corporations that treat their farmers and factory workers like second class human beings, who don’t care at all about the health of the animals they process for meat, and treat our meat, produce, and dry goods with a variety of chemicals to give them unnatural shelf lives, we are being kept in the dark of food practices that if they were public knowledge would incite the citizens of this country to demand a change.

The truth is that 1 in 3 children in this country born after 2000 will develop diabetes1 in 3 children in this country are either considered overweight or obeseLow-income Americans (under $30,000) a year find it hard to afford a healthy diet.  This comes along with the idea of fast food being cheap.  You now can buy chips for a lesser price than a head of broccoli, and then there are dollar menus at fast food restaurants.  The question of food availability also arises.  Living in rural Appalachia, I find it extremely difficult to find food I feel is appropriate for my family, and I have to make too many compromises.

Our country is facing an epidemic that is inexcusable.  We owe our children a better chance at a healthy life than this.  We owe it to ourselves as well.  While industrialization has brought about many good changes in our way of life, when its principles are applied to certain more personal areas of our lives, we find we are detrimentally affected by its lack of concern for the greater human good as opposed to the low cost production industry holds so dear.  A few profit from the loss of many.

After viewing this film and others like it, I can’t help but encourage others to become informed as well.  Know where your food comes from.  Know that in one pack of ground beef there is meat from 50-100 cattle.  Know that most chickens raised for commercial slaughter for companies like Tyson never see the light of day or feel grass under their feet.  In fact, they are lucky to be able to bear their own body weight on their brittle legs.  Know that the tomato you are buying that is so pretty and red was shipped to your location in many cases over thousands of miles, and picked while still green.  It was ripened chemically.  Know this, and decide to change it.  There are farmers out there with answers to this problem.  We can have normal, affordable, healthy food.  We can live without the fear of food related disease.  Arm yourself with knowledge.  Then, cast your vote for the foods you want every time you choose your purchases at the grocery.

I still have to wait to tell my exciting news until the right time.  I can promise you however, (as someone has asked) that I am not pregnant.  Though that would be very exciting news indeed, it would send both mine and John’s parents into coronaries.  🙂  So, I shouldn’t be announcing that.  However, I don’t think we would mind all that much. 😉

Instead, I want to share with you some of our Christmas activities that we’ve been doing as part of our homeschooling.  I want this holiday to be a special one for my girls.  I have to be honest and say that coming from a family that experienced divorce, it was a difficult time for me as a child.  I wanted to be two places at once, and it was too much for a kid to feel.  As I mentioned before, John and I both still have a hard time being everywhere and doing everything we would like to be and do this season.  So, I want our own little family tradition to be sweet and simple.  Close knit.  Real.  Acknowledging all aspects of the season.

This year we are observing Advent for the very first time.  It is not commonly celebrated here, so I didn’t know all that much about how to do it up right.  When I went looking for books about Advent, I was asked if it was a foreign holiday.  I have managed to find enough information to adapt the holiday to our family and what we have on hand with the help of Festivals, Family, and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large, and a great blog I am finding more and more helpful each time I visit it – The Parenting Passageway.

I made an Advent wreath from our grapevine wreath that we decorate seasonally, and some things we had around indoors and out.  It sits on our kitchen table.  The candles are lit at mealtimes.

Each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas we add more decoration to the wreath as we announce another part of the earth that is awaiting the birth of the Christ.

The first light of Advent is the light of stone-

Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants-

Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breeze dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts-

All await the birth, from the greatest to the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind-

The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.

-I’ve seen this verse posted several places online without a source given.

I wanted to make an Advent calender, but I haven’t found the time.  Instead, we are using Christmas stickers on our everyday calender to mark off the days until the holiday, which we’ve marked with a manger scene.

I’m really enjoying this focus on the birth of Jesus that Advent brings.  So many times, we can get lost in the buying of gifts and attending parties that we can lose the sense of introspection that this season allows no matter our religious beliefs.  It is a time where we seek the warmth of what is inside of us, and I fear in so many ways we as an American people are having a trying time finding enough warmth to sustain ourselves – not because it isn’t there, but because we lose ourselves in what we think things should be like, rather than what they are.  I’m guilty of this myself, so maybe I am just projecting here.  I want my girls to have traditions they can remember fondly no matter the economic climate or what is going on in pop culture.  To add to the spirit of Advent, our Circle Time story has been the birth of Jesus.

We’ve also made ornaments and snowflakes from the Festivals, Family, and Food book.  The big tissue ball in the picture of the calender is one.

This is the smaller version for the tree.

Deladis loved making the snowflakes this week.  She was giddy.  Our theme for the last two weeks has been snow.  I love the focus on nature in Waldorf and acknowledging the important roles the seasons play in our lives – the role that Mother Earth plays.  Both of the girls have loved it, and I have watched them grow so much.  Ivy is now even trying to recite the poems and sing the songs in words.  Deladis told me for the first time she had a favorite part to the poem “Velvet Shoes” by Elinor Wylie – “We shall walk through the still town”.  They have especially enjoyed “Winter Morning” by Ogden Nash, but I can tell that Deladis’ favorite of all is

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

– Robert Frost

It is Mommy’s favorite too. 🙂

Christmas outfits from Mamaw Haywood

Ivy has been sick since Thursday night.  Fever and coughing.  I’m reluctant to call it the flu as no one else in our house has had those symptoms, but Ivy has been real poorly.  After sleepless nights keeping a check on the fever, it was amazing to wake up Saturday morning to see the ground covered in snow and huge chunky flakes falling from  the sky.  Both of the girls stood at our picture window mesmerized for the longest time.

Because Ivy is so sick, and we didn’t receive the best gravel job on the new road from the gas company, we decided it would be best to stay at my mother’s in case we needed to take Ivy to the ER.

The willow in Mom's yard and Lydia's (my step-dad's dog) doghouse. She's in there full of pups. Due Christmas Eve.

The wettness left from the rain we’ve had this last week caused the snow to lay in blankets over everything.  It was so beautiful.  I haven’t been able to shake my melancholy since my last post, and just seeing it filled me with a white peace for awhile.  There isn’t anything much more gorgeous than seeing a crown swooping from a white branch onto a ground covered in snow.

Maple in Mom's yard, planted when I was 12 or 13.  Just a stick then.

These hills are home in every season.  Home because they are real.  Life here is real.  It is these solitary moments – the in breath – that takes me through my days lately.

I want to thank all of you who left a comment of well wishes on my last post.  I appreciate it.  If you don’t mind, please pray for or send healing thoughts to my Ivy.  She’s so puny.  I will rise up… one day, I will.

Such is the way of the world

You can never know

Just where to put all your faith

And how will it grow?

Gonna rise up

Burning black holes in dark memories

Gonna rise up

Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time

Too fast to fold

Suddenly swallowed by signs

Lo and behold

Gonna rise up

Find my direction magnetically

Gonna rise up

Throw down my ace in the hole

-Eddie Veddar, “Rise” music from the motion picture Into the Wild

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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