Everything I Do Kills the Planet

mother-earth-wallpapers-for-android-For-Free-WallpaperI still get those dreams.  The “if-we-don’t-change-things-now” dreams, then glimpses of what will be.  They frighten me and I become extremely aware.  I look at my fake nails (I have no idea what came over me to go get nails last week) and can see all of the plastic nails in all of the salons and the chemicals that pervade the colors and liquids and fumes.  I sigh and look at my fingers…ooh sparkly!

Mother Nature can and will, of course, change as she sees fit.  Fires, floods, and I well know that her own temperature has raised and lowered over many more eons than I have been here having dreams.  I know that the polar bear on the internet could have died from illness.  Yet my heart breaks all the same.  My ancestors would have never seen that.  They would only know what they could do to heal the waters or the air in their own neck of the woods.

People spark outcry for the drilling on our beautiful lands then fill their cars with the very same fuel that they protested at some point and drive…everywhere.

I would love to live in a little off grid sanctuary- full knowing the work involved- and heal a small area of space in time.  That is not my husband’s dream though.  What can I do, then, in this space of the planet to be mindful?  The bouncing Christmas lights color my home with joy (and electricity) and my coffee is hot and welcoming to the day (and comes from who knows where) and my car doesn’t drive on air and the gifts I am buying may end up in landfills and I sigh and know that we really have gotten ourselves way over our heads.  We know that we are doing great harm and that we need to change as a society but we have no idea where to start because by the time we get done looking at starving polar bear pictures and put away our protest signs we have lost sight in despair followed by complacency.

What can we meditate on this Yule season to spread healing to the waters and air and lands of this earth?

Perhaps I will get a bicycle.  Stop coloring my hair and nails for godsake.  I could start making my own cleaning products again.  Unhook the pipes and let the water run into 5 gallon buckets that I could then water the trees with.  Sneak a composting toilet in this place.  Or I could stop using paper cups while getting coffee.  I could stop buying packaging.  I could stop buying junk.

If I were to feel more gratitude and wonder here in this place in time that I breathe, I would naturally remember what is good for me and the earth and be more mindful in the coming year.

That could be my new dream.  I can’t save the world, but I can start here…

What will you do?

Mad Mother

The day was quiet and calm.  Our first farmer’s market was going really, really well.  Lots of new faces, lots of folks to help, and it was nice being around our old farmers market vendor family.  Then towards the end it happened.  Usually microbursts come later in the season so this one certainly took us all by surprise.  The familiar yelling and the words, “Hold on!” and “It’s coming!” at the market is the equivalent to “All Hands on Deck!”

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If you are new to microbursts, they are invisible, highly volatile, mini tornados on the ground.  They wind up, sometimes with dust and debris, but often without a sign until you see the first tent fly up in the air, weights or no.  You can often hear it, it sounds like a train, but this one was quieter and more stealth than most.  It picked up more tents slightly as folks held them down, vendors jumping to help others with theirs, and then it picked up speed and turned.  Right towards us.  We had two tents.  Doug was on one side and I on the other.  I had one hand on the tent and one on our shelves of medicines.  A customer held onto the shelves as well.  Our buckets were filled with large rocks and securely fastened to the tents.  The back of the tents were attached to our van.  I held on with all of my might but the microburst picked up our tent, and me.  It carried me in the air until I hit the van, the leg of the tent caught under my skirt and cut and bruised my thigh, then released my hem and flew up and over the van, both tents and buckets, and rocks and debris flying away, crashing down into the street, narrowly missing two cars.  The customer that held the shelves with me was shocked and scared as Doug came running over to help her with the large shelf.  The smaller had flown off.  Sample jars, cards, bags, product just gone.  Broken, missing, blown away in parts of the city we may never know.  The power of Mother Earth is astounding.  If the van hadn’t stopped me I would have kept on flying with it.  A ragdoll on this planet.

A few weeks ago I had another dream about her.  The soil was loose and unassuming as it opened and sucked down entire towering trees.  It is not improbable that that could happen.

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We were walking through Castlewood Canyon on a trail that just opened for the season.  As we turned a bend I heard something, saw something, so fast I could not comprehend but I suddenly felt like prey.  My stomach went in knots, nerves, I held my breath.  My eyes grew large, I tried to listen, I froze in place.  But it was gone, or seemingly so, watching us as we finally passed by.  We are not the top of any food chain.

Her name in Cherokee is Etsia Eloheno.   She is known in other cultures as Gaia, Terra Mater, Maka Ina.  I believe, from experience, that she is not viewed as a living being.  In many major religions we are to not have any other “gods” and for some reason the earth gets viewed as such and we forget that she is a real, living being with destructive and life giving power and only focus on the Creator and forget about our mother.  Every single thing on this planet has a spirit.  Each rock, each tree, each animal, each of us.  We are no greater than a rock on the path, than a dog on the street, than a tree growing tall.  We are children lacking respect.

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I have returned to the city and watch bags and bags…and bags of trash being thrown out in my apartment complex alone.  Electricity, oil use, driving two blocks, modern conveniences, privilege, waste.  More and more counties aren’t accepting recycling anymore because there is no money in it.  We expose animals in factory farms, bastardize our crops to make genetically modified organisms, we pretend we are on the top of the food chain, that we are the rulers of the world.  No religion or belief system will save us from the consequences of how we treat the Earth.

Let us walk quieter.  Let us leave less foot print.  Let’s take less.  Let’s talk to trees and plants.  Let’s acknowledge that we are but visitors and children.  Let’s love her.  She gives us medicine and food and places to play and everything we need to survive.

I highly recommend the book “Radical Simplicity” by Jim Merkel and to take more walks.

Found Vegetables (dreams, hidden gardens)

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I dreamt it was there.  I dreamt that there were vegetables growing at our old house in Kiowa.  I woke up thinking that was preposterous because our weather hasn’t allowed anyone to have vegetables yet!  We decided to go have a look anyway yesterday while driving though.  The house wears a large foreclosure notice on it.  The landlords wanted us to buy the place or move so they could but that must not have worked out and so the old farm in town on two-thirds of an acre sits with three foot high grass and hidden treasures.  I figured the bank wouldn’t mind.  Being raised by a dad who was captain of the sheriff’s department makes one slightly paranoid about breaking the law.  But I planted this stuff, for crying out loud!

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At the end we left with four huge buckets of onions, beets, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs.  There were potatoes and many more things growing should someone move in before fall.  What a bounty and a surprise!

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I should listen to my dreams more often!

A Letter to Mother Nature

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Dear Mother Nature,

I am a farmer.  There’s not a whole lot of us left, you know, especially women farmers.  This is why I am writing you.

For god’s sake, Woman, can you help a farm girl out?!

It feels like April here, so wet and cold.  As soon as I transplanted the cold crops you laughed and sent a pile of hail.  Seriously, Ma, farmers have to grow produce and homesteaders have to grow food to eat!

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I am a great admirer of your work though.

Love,

Katie

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Apparently ducks love hail.  Gives new meaning to "Happy as a Duck on Water!"

Apparently ducks love hail. Gives new meaning to “Happy as a Duck on Water!”

Snow Storms and Fruit Blossoms

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A winter storm watch has been issued.  I do not recall ever experiencing substantial snowfall in May, when the lilacs have bloomed, at Mother’s Day.  Doug vaguely recalls one time when we were children, frozen trees cracking in mass.  Temperatures in the twenties, hovering in the thirties, blizzard conditions; all rather surreal.  Yet, this Mother’s Day, on what was to be our first market of the season, a winter storm is coming.

Friends on social media rejoice.  “How fun!” they exclaim.  One more day of snowmen and hot chocolate.  Perhaps a bus ride in slushy snow or a day by the fire.  To farmers and avid gardeners, it is a day of probable detriment.  Things folks that purchase food from the grocery store are not even aware of.

At Sandy’s house, my friend who graciously allows me to harvest herbs and fruits from her large plot, the trees hold handfuls of dainty flowers.  Full dresses of fruit-to-be.  The sour cherries that I made cherry cordial from last year, the Asian pears that I canned pear sauce from, the crisp apples, the gooseberries that became jam.  A substantial storm could simply take the flowers down.  Fruit may not grow this year.

Indeed the potatoes beneath their earthen blanket shall thrive, the tiny bok choy and radish seedlings, the onions, the perennials shall drink in the rich water and thrive come the first sunny day.

The fruit trees we will watch and pray.  A farmer’s competition and adversary…and friend and companion….is Mother Nature.  May she be kind this Mother’s Day.

Icy Breath and Dreams of Spring

The sun rose strong this morning, filling the room with soft, life giving light.  Deceiving, however, as it hovers around -26 degrees as I write this.

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Hell is not hot, folks, I am convinced that Hell is -26 degrees.  When I went out to feed the animals last night, the water in my eyes froze, my nose froze, my glove stuck to the chicken coop door.  And then to the chicken feed scoop.  The cat litter in the boxes froze in the back room, along with organic soda pop, and the cats’ water.

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Outdoors along its frigid edge an intense beauty and peace appears.  It is crisp, clear, clean.  The sun rays dance its pink fingers across the expanse of snow, and I am mesmerized by the beauty of winter.  A winter that is so much colder than I have ever experienced in my life.  And one I hope will not repeat itself.  I find myself praying fervently to protect my animals.  Their breath caught in icy waves, I wish them warmth and a cozy living room.  I pray that this cold snap ceases.  I promise not to curse the heat this summer.  I will wear the sweat and heat with comfortable grins.  And know we are past this wretched cold.  Please help my animals make it.

All reminders that we are not in fact in charge or powerful enough to control anything here.  Mother Nature has final say.  We respect her.  We understand that negative temperatures could take the lives of our animals.  That a tornado could take our home away.  That a flood or hail storm could wipe out our plants.  But also that a sunny day can feel like renewal.  That light rain and mist can feel magical.  We live in awe of the seasons and do not despair, for in it all we grow stronger, we grow more humble, we grow more thankful.  We know that Spring will come.

To Become a Farmer

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To become a farmer you must have an overwhelming desire to feed yourself, your family, and part of the city.  You must have an intense desire to teach young people where their food comes from (and adults…a woman came up to my friend’s farm booth at the market and asked why the carrots had dirt on them seeings how they grow on trees….my friend just walked away speechless.) because there are an astounding number of people that do not know where their food comes from!

A lady had an argument with me at the wine bar one time because she knew that cows always have milk to give their whole lives and do not have a need to give birth.

My hair stylist did not know that pepperoni was meat.

If the grocery stores closed in an emergency (like the one we are experiencing now in my state of Colorado), folks are going to starve!  Children worry they will starve to death as they trample wild foods (weeds), and do not know what to do with seeds.  We must teach and grow food!  I rather fear I have that inextinguishable desire to be a farmer.

To become a farmer, one must be quite clever on space or inherit a large amount of land.  I was feeling pretty smug about my quarter acre of garden this year.  Everything looks wonderful and the food tastes wholesome and delicious.  I envisioned a bit of California in our small town of Kiowa, where one could leave work and come by to pick up a few things as inspiration for a fresh, flavorful dinner.  Pop by my house and pick up a big handful of tomatoes, some crisp heirloom lettuce, a pumpkin to roast, some corn to butter.  I have one person that was coming to the farm.

“Do you have a bushel of green beans?”

“No, I just have enough today for a really great side dish.”

“Oh.”

The next week, “Do you have a bushel of tomatoes?”

“Um, no, I have enough for you to make some really great pasta sauce tonight.”

“Oh.”

Most of the food is going to us, which is what I intended primarily anyway!

To become a farmer, you must not want to sleep.  You must be perfectly in tune with every sound on the farm and be able to hear those little deer rascals eating the green beans, or the raccoons partying in the corn, or the squirrels making away with the sunflower heads!  (Okay, the latter is really cute and alright with me.)  My friends who have large farms are up late picking and harvesting, up early loading trucks, and on the road across the state by dawn.  They sleep in January.  We, too, with all the farmer’s markets, farming, and classes are just now catching up on some shut eye.  But, as the old adage goes, You can sleep when you’re dead!

To become a farmer, you must not want to quit.  You must be a stubborn, determined, half sane from lack of sleep, passionate person.  My friend has had a farm for nearly 100 years in his family.  He is tired, but he is a work horse.  Someone offered him two million dollars for his land last week.  They did not want to farm it, just hold it for investment.  Joe thought of the possibility for a second or two, but then he turned it down.  Two days later, he awoke in the middle of the night suddenly (because he is a farmer and one must not sleep if one is a farmer) and went outside.  The rain was coming down in incredible sheets and he could not see his truck.  It was underwater.  He quickly waded through and turned on the pumps in the fields and because of that they are muddy, but the crops are still alive.  His farm is literally underwater (as is most of our state) and they have not found two of their trucks yet!

A farmer must be very forgetful.  Forget about the fires.  The drought.  The hail.  The scorching sun.  The 100 year flood.  The seed loss.  The debt.  If one stops to think of it, two million will sound quite nice.  No, a farmer must forget about varmints, and floods that wash away semi-trucks.  Next year, Joe will be out there planting again because it is in his blood, full knowing that something will try to destroy his farming season.

Writing all this, I see that I should become a secretary or a truck driver.  But, I am just watching for the rain to let up so I can go harvest my crops!  I will be planting next year as well.  And I will have a larger farm one day.  And I will be sleep deprived, stubborn, forgetful….what was I saying?  Oh, I am already there.  This makes me a perfect candidate to be a farmer.  There is no other place on earth for me.  Break in the rain, I have to get outside!!..