ain't nobody's got the shine like you in this world

I watched a nice movie tonight about a woman trying to record southern Appalachian music. Very lovely voices and old folk songs. I want to pretend my mother's mothers came from this place, and I'm just coming home. It's not true, but what is bioregion? What are we if not travelers across the many continents of this earth? I am a nomad by genealogical record and by my amazing human abilities to adapt and co-evolve. So here I am, in my home nestled between the world trees, the white pines, fittingly struggling against their predator beetle. We have baby oaks and birches, trilliums, pink lady slippers, partridgeberry, suffering hemlocks, jack in the pulpits, and so many rhododenrons. I get to pretend up here that I'm as isolated as those mountain folks who've actually been here through the winter. It's pleasant.

Today I made a lot of bread and granola bars, after weeding the raspberries for a bit. It was a lovely day after two late spring/early summer freezes, and tonight I can feel is warmer. The solstice is only one month away! What if we get an early freeze, what if there are only three or four months of non-freezing temps? You gotta pay the price for the extended mountain spring and incredible falling of the leaves a few months later.

I made plantain, comfrey, chickweed, and burdock seed oils yesterday. It was very pleasing, after all that rain, to finally catch these plants on a dry day. I also started some garlic honey, which is fantastic and amazing medicine, as well as some mandarin orange honey from a delicious mandarin's skin. I've read that infusing something into honey captures all the volatile oils and water-soluble nutrients from the thing, so lavender, rosemary, mugwort, all good volatile oil herbs that you can't really capture through tincturing. Honey is also a lot nicer than alcohol, I find. I'm excited to make herbal syrups. I miss medicine making. I really just want to grow a varied and planned vegetable garden and use most of my time growing the plants who like to be grown by me for medicine, particularly the ones who flower. ..A moth just died in my candle.

Been eating ridiculously well lately. Greens every day, nettle infusion every day to hopefully help my body cope with the cup of coffee in the mornings, eggs from the chickens every morning, boiled beets, miso, raw garlic, seaweed, etc. It's fantastic. I made apple cake last night, and it was great! I made corn bread the day before, and I discovered that corn bread is really good with too much butter on the bottom. I also have to say right here that I'm in love with black-eyed peas and corn bread. Addicted, even. I've also been eating these tortilla chips salted with powdered kelp and dulse, and they are the shit. Thank you, Amazing Savings. I actually feel really better, but I think the sun certainly helps.

Well, with love, and hope that our potatoes and beets and collards and brassicas are all doing well and getting their roots down deep at this waning of the moon, sending all that energy into the ground,
abigail, in love with mike :)


mother's day plus 3?

I have found it difficult to focus lately. For whatever reasons, it's been hard to really consolidate my thoughts and desires. I have sort of been floating along this spring which is very shortly summer.

Mike and I are living in our cabin, now, behind our friends', the Berrys', home. It's a beautiful place that Mike built, looks like a bird house with 3 large, double-pained, sliding glass windows framed into the south/front wall and framed screen above that for the seven feet to the peak. I should have some photos soon on the flickr. It's been raining almost every day now for 2 weeks. The 1000 gal rain barrels Jason hooked up a few weeks ago have been filled, and one was emptied and re-filled from just the rain falling down the gutters. It's been interesting trying to fit in garden time between all the rain.

We went to Linville Gorge and Falls yesterday. We climbed out on jutting rocks and took photos of the falls which is so intense! It's a big, powerful waterfall between giant rocky cliffs with rhododendrons and mountain laurel azaleas growing and blooming all up and down them. Also, as it's a difficult place to log down in and around a gorge, there're giant old-growth, virgin hemlocks, with an incredible style and grace among the pines. They are like redwoods, maybe, on a less grand scale, but gave me a similar impression, staring up high with my head thrown all the way back just to see the canopy of these majestic and dying trees. I wonder what it would look like if these hemlocks where not like ghostly skeletons so much as full grown, Christmas-y trees that you could stand under during rain showers and not get wet. In any case, the gorge and falls and hike are all fantastic, so many incredible rocks to see and climb on out in the river. I left feeling fully oxygenated and peaceful. Even the hour long ride was good up and down the Blue Ridge Pkwy with so many blooming wild purple irises and huge pink and red (and even salmon colored) flowers on the trilliums, with white apple-like blooms under all the may-apples and more of those blooming mountain azaleas, with the occasional orange and red azaleas around people's homes.

The Appalachian bounty persists here, where the apples have finished blooming, the peaches are forming little fruits, the cherries are getting pruned, the poplars have to be close to making blooms for all the bees to freak out on, and I am just trying to make brain space for everything that is happening here with people, events, birthdays, different cities, Mike leaving and car going, food stamps and food gathering, co-housing and house responsibilities, moving into the cabin and cooking in the shop, etcetera. I'm trying to just take it all as it comes, but I fear I have certainly been putting things off in an effort to adjust. Fortunately, at least I have continued to water the little baby plants through all this rain and extra tilling, and with Mike finally leaving tomorrow I think I can focus enough to get most of them in the ground during this partly-cloudy week. Hopefully I won't get too drawn into herbal stuff before the plants and planting can get taken care of! We still have lots of organizational issues to sort, too, but I think everything is coming along. I moved 6 blueberry bushes from Steph's garden to a newly tilled berry patch, but the goats eat them while pasturing on the weeds. Gotta figure that out, and I have a bunch of elderberry cuttings I keep putting off putting in the ground.

Katie and I went out the other day and filled the back seat of her car with foraged goods. We harvested pedicularis canadensis, or lousewort or wood betony, over by Mountain Gardens and a bunch of black birch for beverages/tea from a tree that had just fallen at a slightly higher elevation than here, so it was just budding leaves. We de-barked all the birch, and it's about dry by now, and the pedicularis was particularly good yesterday after steeping in a mason jar for 4 hours with boiling water and after our hike- it calmed and soothed tremendously with its nervine sedative actions. We also filled a giant basket with nettle tops from the Celo community garden's giant patches, as well as a bunch of flowering ground ivy, which I've read is good for stagnant chest coughs (much needed by me), as well as some cleavers that Katie put in apple cider vinegar- it's a lymphogogue, and I just love them for unknown reasons, maybe because they grab your hands while you're harvesting. :) We also picked up a ton of violet leaves and mugwort, atemesia vulgaris, the common plant of Artemis, the wild moon goddess. Violet leaves are particularly good for breasts, also, being very demulcent, moist, gooey, and tasty.

Because I'm decidedly incapable at this time of calling or emailing folks and family, I want to say I love you, I most likely think of you often, I love my mom and am so glad she's going to see someone who can help her care for her beautiful and previously so capable body so that her incredible soul can go on getting healthier and happier. !! My niece will be either 13 or 14 this week, on the same day as my friend Stephanie who lives here with me, and I'll be celebrating them both with my heart and good thoughts. It's quite interesting, too, because Stephanie and I are both rats in Chinese astrology, I'm a rat in the next cycle after her, and Karis is a rat in the cycle after me, we are all 12 years apart! It's cool to me, I guess. My sister I hear is moving into a house, which is bad-ass. Please email me about that and the garden. My brothers I think of often, and maybe I'll get to see them this summer if I'm able to go visit my friend, Badger, in Nantucket. Badger! Springfield friends and family, you are certainly in my thoughts, and Mike is coming soon with his part of my heart to be shared, and maybe some birch bark, too! :D

One more think, I'm imagining going to herb school in Asheville next year for full-time work-trade at the all-outdoor, changing teacher, awesome herb school Katie is going to this year. She's thinking about being a full-time paid intern next year in her teacher's herb nursery, and that sounds so great. I'm thinking it. I'm also thinking I'll probably go to the SE Women's Herbal Conference this year, special guest Susun Weed, also work-trading. I went to the conference a year and a half ago to vend for Joe, since it's a women's only weekend, and it was incredible. All these women just being women and learning and being open and compassionate and doing silly things en masse! I want my sister Angie to go with me this year. :)

with l o v e,


mountain update

So, it's getting really damn green around here.

Mike and I went to Penland (the school of crafts, about 40 mins from here), with Zach and Molly last Wednesday to see Bread and Puppet from Vermont perform for free. It's really good to see people playing multiple instruments, making weird noises, and using basic puppetry to make the story-telling more powerful. I really liked it, and afterward there was a cheap art sale, which was mainly prints with words like Resist with a block-print of a carrot, or the word Rise with a print of a stalk of wheat. They served homemade sourdough before and after the show with a really nice garlic sauce and goose wine, making everyone think they were drunk on water. I'm hoping we'll get to the circus on Wednesday in Asheville.

We also got out to the Asheville Herb Festival yesterday on a beautiful mountain spring day with the sun out and shining through all the new vibrant spring green leaves still moist from mornings thunderstorm. I picked up wasabi, dang gui, a slippery elm tree, gotu kola and siberian motherwort from Joe Hollis, and rosa rugosa, archangelica and wormwood from my friend and land-mate, Katie's herb teacher, and a pennyroyal that was screaming to me, as well as a celandine poppy and some wild irises. The slippery elm, dang gui, rosa rugosa, celandine poppies, and wild irises are for around the cabin that Mike built.

O, the cabin! It's so beautiful, there's a loft 7ft from the ground floor, and because the walls slope outward it is ridiculously big for only covering half the ground floor. You can stand up in it, I think the peak is 7ft, and Mike put in a vertical window that's about 10in wide and double insulated in the middle below the peak. The north wall doesn't have windows outside of that window, so it's sort of a compromise window to let in some light. It's really great. Our bed is right in the center of the loft, and we look out the completely uncovered front of the cabin, the side without a wall and there's a white pine that lines up perfectly with the peak. It's a special place, and now we have room to share sleeping space with visitors, like my big sister who came last summer and had nowhere decent to sleep. It's quiet, and you can hear the birds and the rain falling on the tin roof. It makes me very happy to sleep up there, even if the bed is just made of some old foam. Jason essentially bought us a water pump to bring water up from the springbox- he found a guy who's living off the land, farming and selling water pumps out of his garage in the spare time, and this guy needed his generator's circuit board repaired. So Jason fixed a circuit board and we got our pump made from plastic produced down the road from the guy who makes the pump. Hurray! Mike salvaged a deep cast iron and ceramic sink from the abandoned houses by Joe's, so he's planning to hook that up before heading back to the Springfield for his summer break.

The field below the shop house here has been totally tilled and cleared of the sod, and Mike is halfway through putting up the new fences for the goats, chickens, and around the garden. Over a hunderd onions are in the ground, with 2 or 3 hundred more to go, and there's a 50 pound bag of potatoes just cut up and dried off for our planting pleasure. We're going to plant also in the new field corn, squash and beans. I'm excited because I started watermelons and cantaloupes, and they're germinating under the lights- also lots of morning glories for covering up the giant rain barrels Jason hooked up the other day. The corn and melon varieties I've chosen have really short growth periods, and the melons produce lots of small melons, so we should get some good eating this summer. :D

Good night and enjoy,