Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ancestral Migrations

2011-1820: New York, United States
My mother is the last Riddle in our line, according to how the Western world understands genealogy. The truth is that the blood will continue to travel down in the lives of my nieces and nephew, and their children, and their children. Just because the name will fall out of use on our tongues doesn’t erase the blood.

It always comes back to the blood. Over a century, Riddles moved westward from the Massachusetts coast into the unsettled lands of Western New York. They were soldiers and farmers and family men.

1820-1759: Massachusetts, America
In America, we can trace the Riddles back to Thomas Ridel who married Rebekah Moulton in Monson, MA in 1759. He emigrated from Tyrone County, Ireland. Beyond that, there is no documentation as to who his parents were or when he actually came to America (barring a trip to Ireland to hope to root through old documents). I could have assumed this was the end of the trail, which it is, if the names of my ancestors are the only goal I am concerned with.

It’s just as important to me to know where my people came from, where they travelled, what they struggled through. I ran a search for the “history of Riddles in Tyrone County Ireland.” In the 1700s, many Presbyterian Scots were pushed to move out of the country, resulting in five great migrations of Scots-Irish to the New World. I assume one of the first four migrations were when Thomas came over:
  • 1717-1718 (drought)
  • 1725-1729 (poverty)
  • 1740-1741 (famine)
  • 1754-1755 (disastrous drought)
  • 1771-1775 (poverty)

1759-1687: Tyrone Co., Ireland
The Riddles who settled in Tyrone Co. did so during a time in Europe when William and Mary, Protestants, were fighting the Catholic King James to keep England from falling back under Catholic rule after he gave birth to a legitimate Catholic heir. Protestant landowners began seeking out others willing to move to Northern Ireland and push out the Catholics there. The Riddles settled in Ulster and Tyrone Co. and for just over a century, taking on the description of Scots-Irish.

1687-1100: Lothian, Scottish Lowlands
The people of the lowlands were not Scottish, nor were they English. They did not wear kilts, speak Gaelic and they didn’t live in clans. They were descended of Viking blood, the children of Normans who interbred with Scottish families.

They were Northmen who became Lowlanders, existing in between political and geographical countries in lands that were difficult to farm and subjected to multiple cattle raids that eventually left them no option but to attempt the same. The Ridels were among the first Normans to hold estates in Scotland.

In 1125, Walter Ridel received the oldest charter gifted from a King to a layman, in the lands originally called Lilliesleaf. They were called by the name Riddell in the 1400s. Because of this original charter, Riddell became a denotation of lands held by families not of Scottish heritage (i.e. Cranston Riddell and Glen-riddell).

Walter Ridel was thought to be a brother or nephew of Gervasius/Gervase/Geoffrey Ridel, both of whom travelled to Scotland with David I, Prince and Duke of Cumberland. They were both favored friends of the court. Gervase was appointed High Sheriff of Roxburghshire in 1116. The Ridels lived in the lowlands for generations.

1100-1066: England
Where did they come from, if they weren’t Scottish or English? Thanks to historians, I found an answer. The Sieur de Riddel, and his brothers, accompanied William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings and was a man of importance to William, who appointed him Lord-Chief-Justice of England. They were Norman invaders, come to conquer the island. Gervase was granted lands there, perishing at sea in 1120 on return trip to France. His sons stayed on in England.

1066-940: Normandy, France: Land of the Northmen
In 910, the Viking Jarl, Thorfinn Rollo the Ganger, invaded France. Rollo is considered to be the first great Norman invader (and is an unverified paternal ancestor of mine). The Vikings were explorers who began their raids in search of food. When they discovered the fertile lands of France, some of the Scandanavians decided to stay. My ancestors were among these men.

940-unknown: Rugdale or Ryedale, Scandanavia
The Ridels were Scandanavians who are believed to have originated in Rugdal or Ryedale, known as the Valley of Rye. It was thought that the spelling changed in the pronunciation of Rye-dale on the Scottish tongue. Another theory is that the meaning of the name never lost its original meaning.

A riddle was a tool, or instrument, used to clean and winnow rye and other grains. The surname Ridler or Riddler denoted one who winnowed grain.


Ancestral Migrations
How many other families would find themselves traced back to the same Scandanavian people? The lesson in this for me is that we cannot afford to define ourselves by who we are- all those labels and boxes- because we all were the same people at some point in time. Remember that the next time you are walking about your city, and look around at your human kin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strawberry Jam

I remember being little in my mother’s kitchen in the summertime while she made jam. It was hot out and hotter in the small room painted with a 60’s orange and yellow gloss. But the house smelled sweetly of strawberries. The bright red berry is the perfect metaphor for the season. Fruit that takes so sweet and so good and whose time passes too quickly, and then is gone again. It’s fitting that it blooms only for the longest days of the year, and then fades into a memory of what freshly ripened strawberry tastes like.

It’s a blessing that store-bought jelly was new to me (It’s also amusing that in my college days I stood in the grocery store not sure what the difference between “jam” and “jelly” was). I loved the shelves of canned goods gathering dust from where they sat in the basement workshop. Our dirt and gravel basement was a liminal space in my childhood, still part of the house but also part of the earth beneath us. It was the place my father built things and the space that held our pantry, and the way the centipedes and mice got into our home.

As a child, when asked to retrieve tomato sauce, applesauce, or jam from the basement, I was always caught between terror at creeping down where the centipedes lived, where the 10’ to the shelves momentarily became a vast expanse, and the gratitude for the temporary reprieve from the heat. It was always cool down there, where the centipedes lived, in the basement that smelled of gravel dust and wood.

I work at deepening my connection to the natural world with my practice. Every year I make plans for the things I want to do that are not currently part of my normal life- like gardening and canning. While most of my relationship with the natural world has taught me to slow down, when it comes to growing your own food you have to be patient, yes, but you have to be prepared for your own burst of energy and dedication when the crops are ready for harvest,

Summer is a busy time for me and each year, it has long passed before I have realized my window to make fresh jam has also passed. It’s a common excuse I find myself saying when I don’t get around to doing things by hand, that I was too busy and time got away from me. If I were a nomadic caveman and I wanted to eat, finding food would be a priority. The fast pace world we live in is no excuse for not taking care of basic needs.

It might be more convenient to buy jam in the grocery store but that jam would have been picked by my hand, chosen by my hand, cleaned and hulled in my kitchen and then cooked on my stove. I know the ancestry of my jam, from the farmer I met who planted the seeds and nurtured the plants, to my hands, to the bellies of my family and friends. How great a gift is that?

I carved out a two-day window for strawberry picking at a local farm, amused with the thunderstorms that poured down before and after, and the black cloud that sat above us during. Thanks for the shade, Mother Nature. It was overcast and wet, but clear as we drove in.

Crows lifted out of the field in a small cloud of feather and air, dangling plump red strawberries from their beaks as they flew for the tree line and the river just beyond. The rows of berries were brilliant with crimson color as far down the row as you could see. I barely had to move, there were so many, which allowed me to be more selective. Lifting up stalks of fruit, it was easy to pull them off the stem with a gratifying and crisp snap. We made quick work and came home with much more than the 2 quarts I needed for jam.

I hulled and mashed what I needed for the recipe and barely made a dent in the berries I had cleaned. It was easy to take another half-hour and hull a bunch of strawberries to be frozen, so that if the jam came out well, I could make another batch later this summer with our fresh/frozen berries.
I have never made jam before, and it might bear mentioning that I am not the most competent cook, but I am learning. Being in the kitchen is like being in a foreign land where everyone speaks a language I have no translation for: “quart” and “blanche” and “rapid boil,” etc. It seems unnatural that I struggle so hard to learn to provide my body with nourishment, which is why it has become a large part of my ancestor work. I used the recipe on the Pectin box and followed it exactly.

You know what, mom? You were right. Making jam was far easier than I anticipated. Jars and bands were washed and waited in a steam bath in the sink so they would still be hot when I needed them. Actually cooking the jam only took 20 minutes. The aroma wafting through the house was delicious, like the best quality of a hot sticky summer day. I used a water-canner I scored at a thrift store and 10 minutes later, pulled out the jars to hear them sealing with a metallic ping.

After only an hour and a half of cooking, I have enough jam to get my family through six months. Another batch of jam made with the strawberries I froze means we can have enough homemade jam to last us until next summer, when the strawberries will be ripe again. And I will be waiting. Waiting to make jam again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Line of Fathers

Happy Fathers Day!

These are the known men of my Ancestry who have passed on, with their birth names intact. I begin with me and walk back each generation, with my living father, Phil being the First Generation and last of my living fathers. With a breath of gratitude as the world pauses to honor those who live I cross the threshold and whisper to those who stand beneath and behind me.

[If you find that we share a common ancestor, I would love to hear from you.]

Second Generation…
Richard Riddle (1931-2004) at 72, Mark Dutcher Eaton (1915-1982) at 66.

Third Generation…
Robert George Art (1892-1974) at 81, Harold Lafayette Riddle (1903-1975) at 71, Frank William Ruston (1888-1971) at 82, Royal Levant Eaton (1873-1931) at 57.

Fourth Generation…
Frank Burke (b.1863), George Art (1870-1943) at 72, George Durant (b.1871-1934) at 64, Lafayette Riddle (1873-1938) at 64, Hiram King Wicker (1844-1908) at 63, Charles Evan Ruston (1847-1933) at 85, Silas Parker Smith (1851-1896) at 44, Bennett Eaton (1847-1909) at 61.

Fifth Generation…
Thomas Burke (b.1834), David Conners (b.1829), John F. Pils (1827-1911) at 83, Adam Art (1836-1896) at 59, Levi H. Gillette (1845-1911) at 65, Albert Durant (1841-1920) at 78, Marquis DeLafayette Riddle (1825-1896) at 70, Bailey Harrison Whitcher (1799-1865) at 65, Thaddeus Rice Wicker (1810-1885) at 74, William Ireland (b.1827), Richard Ruston (b.1819), Reuben Feagles Dutcher (1831-1908) at 76, Ammi Smith (1824-1918) at 93, Philitus Tenney (b.1827), Solomon Gould Eaton (1800-1870) at 69.

Sixth Generation…
Francois Xavier Lavalle (1818-1889) at 70, Francis Berry (b.1816), Ezra Wheeler Gillette (1819-1849) at 29, Freeborn-Moulton Riddle (1793-1877) at 83, Peter DeLozier (1786-1849) at 62, Simeon Whittier (1765-1817) at 51, Manley Bird (b.1808), Martin Dutcher (1796-1872) at 75, Joshua Eaton (1771-1860) at 88.

Seventh Generation…
Alexis Lavallee (1793-1868) at 74, Thomas Berry (1782-1818) at 35, Joseph Boots, Eliphal Gillett (1771-1843) at 71, Joseph Riddle (1763-1812) at 48, Oliver DeLozier (b.1747), James Kittredge, Abner Whittier, David Dutcher (1741-1818) at 76, Benjamin Eaton (1732-1800) at 67, Edmund Bird (b.1784).

Eighth Generation…
Pierre Pasquier LaVallee (1759-1798) at 38, Walter F. Dixon (1754-1832) at 77, John Berry (1762-1820) at 57, Alexander Hannah (1726-1812) at 85, Wheeler Gillett (1744-1802) at 57, Thomas Ridel (1739-1809) at 69, Peter Lozier (b.1697), Henricus De Duyster (b.1704), Thomas Eaton (1698-1773) at 74, Enoch Bird (1751-1818) at 66.

Ninth Generation…
Jean Francois Paquet dit Lavallee II (1720-1790) at 69, Baltus Goedemoet, David Calhoun (1700-1769) at 68, Hugh Hannah (1687-1761) at 73, Eliphal Gillett II (b.1719), Freeborn Moulton (1717-1792) at 74, Jacob Zabriski (1679-1758) at 78, Nicholas LaSueur Lozier (1668-1761) at 92, Thomas Eaton (1675-1748) at 72, Direck De Duyster (1675-1733) at 57, Lemuel Lyon (1728-1781) at 53, Samuel Bird (1726-1787) at 60.

Tenth Generation…
Jean-Francois Paquet dit Lavallee (b.1689), John Smith III (1674-1751) at 76, Eliphal Gillett I (1673-1747) at 73, Nathaniel Walker (1682-1759) at 76, Robert Moulton (1675-1756) at 80, Albert Albertse Terhune (1651-1709) at 57, Albrecht Zabriski (1637-1711) at 73, Nathaniel Gay (1643-1712) at 68, Abner Perry (1703-1758) at 54, Peter Lyon II (1686-1752) at 65, Humphrey Atherton II (1707-1784) at 76, Samuel Bird (1680-1740) at 59, John Eaton (1640-1715) at 74, Jan Wilhelm De Duitscher (1640-1689) at 48.

Eleventh Generation…
Isaac-Etienne Paquet dit Lavallee (1636-1702) at 65, James Briscoe (1649-1711) at 61, John Smith Jr. (1646-1732) at 85, Ephraim Wheeler (1646-1684) at 37, Sgt. Jeremiah Gillett (1650-1707) at 56, Ens. Israel Walker (1648-1719) at 70, Nicholas La Groves (1645-1701) at 55, Robert Moulton (1644-1731) at 86, Steven Coerts Van Voorhees, Joost HuybertszenVan der Linde (b.1639), John Gay (1615-1688) at 72, Peter Lyon, Robert Field (d.1759), Humphrey Atherton (b.1671), Desire Clapp (1652-1717) at 64, John Bird (1641-1732) at 90, John Eaton (1611-1658) at 46, Willhelm Willemsson Janseen Dutcher (1615-1673) at 57.

Twelfth Generation…
Mathurin Paquet (b.1618), John Wheeler (1640-1704) at 63, Nathaniel Briscoe Jr. (1629-1683) at 53, Thomas Canfield (1623-1689) at 65, John Smith (1600-1684) at 83, Richard Holbrook (1618-1670) at 51, Thomas Wheeler II (1620-1676) at 55, Jeremiah Gillett (b.1608), Deacon Henry Baldwin (d.1697) Capt. Samuel Walker (1615-1684) at 68, Robert Sallows (1626-1663) at 36, Thomas Grove (b.1619), Henry Cooke (1615-1661) at 45, Robert Moulton (1616-1665) at 48, James Foster (b.1670), Robert Field (1653-1710) at 56, Sgt. William Pond (1622-1690) at 67, Capt. Roger Clapp (1609-1691) at 81, Richard Williams (1606-1662) at 55, Thomas Bird (1613-1667) at 53, Nicholas Eaton (1573-1637) at 63.

Thirteenth Generation…
Thomas Wheeler II (1620-1676) at 55, Nathaniel Briscoe (1595-1651) at 55, Thomas Canfield (b.1596), Thomas Wheeler (d.1654), Rev. William Gylette (1574-1641) at 66, Richard Walker (1592-1687) at 94, Peter Wolfe (1606-1675) at 68, Michael Sallows (1596-1646) at 49, Henry Birdsall (1590-1651) at 60, Edward A. Cooke (1568-1619) at 50, John Goode (b.1587), Robert Moulton (1590-1655) at 64, Robert Field (b.1613), George Dyer (1579-1672) at 92, Robert Pond (1597-1637) at 39, Thomas Ford (1589-1676) at 86, William Clapp (1565-1640) at 74, William Williams (1555-1618) at 62, William Bird (b.1577), Minister William Eaton (1543-1602) at 58.

Fourteenth Generation…
Thomas Wheeler (d.1654), Edward Briscoe (d.1653), Thomas Bryan (b.1581), Richard Gylette (b.1551), Richard Walker (1560-1622) at 61, William Kempe (b.1560), Henry Birdsall (1560-1631) at 70, John Nichols (b.1547), Henry Cooke (b.1542), Sir George Downing (1552-1610) at 57, Robert Moulton (1565-1633) at 67, William Pond (1575-1637) at 61, John Ford (b.1567), Robert Channon (1536-1616) at 79, Richard Clapp (b.1528), William Eaton.

Fifteenth Generation…
Jacques De Gylette (b.1520), John Hutchinson Walker (b.1530), Robert Birdsall (1535-1594) at 58, Henry Goodere (b.1520), John Cooke (b.1520), Thomas Moulton (1535-1587) at 51, William Pond (b.1550), William Ford (d.1593), William Clapp (1500-1555) at 54, Sir Henry Eaton (b.1499).

Sixteenth Generation…
John Birdsall (b.1510), Robert Moulton (1510-1535) at 24, Thomas Ford, Louis Eaton (b.1440), Richard Cressett (b.1470).

Seventeenth Generation…
John Moulton (1490-1549) at 58, Richard Fford (d.1508), Sir Nicholas Eaton (b.1410), Thomas Cressett (b.1436), Sir John Savage (1370-1450) at 79, Richard Wrottesley.

Eighteenth Generation…
Robert Moulton (1465-1516) at 50, Hugo de Forde, Georgis Eaton (b.1385), Richard Cressett (1419-1490) at 70.

Nineteenth Generation…
John Moulton (1415-1494) at 78, Humphrey Eaton (b.1360), Sir John de Stapleton (1399-1455) at 55, Hugh Cressett (1400-1445) at 44.

Twentieth Generation… Robert Eaton (b.1330), Sir Richard Norton (1355-1438) at 82, Sir Miles de Stapleton (1369-1400) at 30, Thomas Cressett.

Twenty-first Generation… John de Eaton (b.1300), John Tempest (1360-1389) at 28, Richard Norton (1360-1420) at 59, Gerard de Ufflete (1331-1420) at 88, Brian de Stapleton (1325-1394) at 68, Thomas Cressett (d.1332).

Twenty-second Generation… Peter de Eaton (1273-1320) at 46, Hugh de Clitheroe (b.1346), Roger Manningford (1346-1380) at 33, Adam Norton (b.1334)*, Gerard de Ufflete (b.1319), John St. Philibert (1300-1333) at 32, Sir Gilbert de Stapleton (1297-1321) at 23, John de Upton, William Cressett.

Twenty-third Generation… Peter de Eaton (b.1240), John de Gras, Robert de Clitheroe (b.1300), Thomas Nunwicke (b.1300), Roger Conyers (b.1305), John Botetourt, Sir Hugh St. Philibert IV (1260-1304) at 43, Sir Brian FitzAlan (b.1274), Baron Miles de Stapleton (1263-1313) at 49.

Twenty-fourth Generation… William Eaton (b.1210), Sir Richard de Houghton (1260-1345) at 84, Adam Clitheroe (b.1270), Richard Norton (b.1285), Egbertus Conyers (b.1274), Hugh St. Philibert III (1230-1272) at 41, John de Bella Aqua (b.1237), Sir Nicholas de Stapleton (1236-1290) at 53.

Twenty-fifth Generation… Peter de Eaton (b.1180), William de Lea (1237-1302) at 64, Hugh St. Philibert II (1195-1249) at 53, Roger de Stapleton (1191-1245) at 53.

Twenty-sixth Generation… Peter de Eaton (b.1150), Robert Banastre (1217-1261) at 43, Henry de Lea (1217-1288) at 70, Hugh St. Philibert (1165-1240) at 74, Galfidus de Stapleton (1148-1203) at 54.

Twenty-seventh Generation… Robert de Eaton (b.1120), John de Lea (1197-1265) at 67, Randulf de Stapleton (1110-1148) at 37.

Twenty-eighth Generation… William FitzAlan (b.1090), William de Lancaster (1154-1184) at 29, Henry de Lea (1177-1210) at 32, Nicholas de Stapleton (b.1065).

Twenty-ninth Generation… Alan FitzAlan, William de Lancaster (1154-1184) at 29, Geoffrey de Stapleton.

Thirtieth Generation… Fleance FitzAlan, Robert de Stuteville IV (1112-1183) at 70, William de Lancaster (1100-1170) at 69.

Thirty-first Generation… Fitzalan Banqui, Idwal Iago Ap (974-1039) at 64, William de Valognes, Robert de Stuteville III (b.1075).

Thirty-second Generation… Muerig Idwal Ap (946-996) at 49, Saher de Quincy the 1st Earl of Winchester (1155-1219) at 63, Phillip de Valognes (d.1209), Hugh FitzBaldric (b.1055), Robert “Frontebonef” de Estuteville II (1040-1107) at 66.

Thirty-third Generation… Idwal Muerig Ap (917-986) at 68, Sir Robert de Quincy (1127-1197) at 69, Robert de Valognes, Yves de Beaumont II (b.1005), Robert de Stuteville (1010-1090) at 79.

Thirty-fourth Generation… Anarawd Idwal Foel Ap (883-942) at 58, Saher de Quincy (b.1100), Peter de Valognes.

Thirty-fifth Generation… Simon de Saint Liz aka Senlis (1046-1111) at 64.

And, if history can be trusted…
Thirty-sixth Generation… Ranulph “The Rich” (b.1018), Waltheof II the Earl of Northumbria (1046-1076) at 29.
Thirty-seventh Generation… Lambert of Boulogne, the Count of Lens.
Thirty-eighth Generation… Robert VI “The Magnificent Devil,” Duke of Normandy (1003-1035) at 31.
Thirty-ninth Generation… Richard II “The Good,” Duke of Normandy (958-1027) at 68.
Fortieth Generation… Richard “The Fearless,” Duke of Normandy (933-996) at 62.
Forty-first Generation… William “Longsword,” 2nd Duke of Normandy, aka Guillaume “Longee Epbee” (d.942).
Forty-second Generation… Rollo “The Ganger” of More Ragnvaldsson, 1st Duke of Normandy (846-932) at 85.
Forty-third Generation… Gui of Senlis, Rangvald “The Wise” of More Eysteinsson (830-892) at 61.
Forty-fourth Generation… Quentin of Senlis, aka Pepin II, Count of Vermandois (818-892) at 73.
Forty-fifth Generation… Bernhard Martel, King of Italy (797-818) at 20.
Forty-sixth Generation… Pepin/Carloman, King of Italy (733-810) at 76.
Forty-seventh Generation… Charles Charlemagne, Karl de Grosse (747-814) at 66.

*In an interesting note, Adam Norton was the son of Margaret Norton and Roger Conyers, both of whom were located in Norton Conyers, Yorkshire, England. He took his mother’s name.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Food We Eat, the Food We Grow

Summer is here and the heat is setting in. These hot days keep us present in our bodies and in our lives even as they seem to lengthen time as we walk through our days. In reality they are gone all too quickly.

Outside, our garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, two different beans, as well as herbs and flowers is growing. We do a lot with the little bit of yard that we have and are grateful to the landlord who encourages our use of it. There is something about the action of waking, going out to put my hands in dirt, weed and water that prepares me better to greet the rest of the day. I am caretaking this land and nurturing these plants so they will grow food for my home and my body.

Growing up, we didn’t always have a lot of money, but we ate better and healthier than I did on my own in college. I grew up on fresh farm meat, and my mother grew the same vegetables along the side of our small lot home as I do at my apartment now. We always had real tomato sauce for pasta, homemade applesauce and jam. I was very blessed.

Somewhere, I took it for granted and lost the connection to what I put in my body while I sat in my ignorance of all-things-kitchen and the ever popular "I can't do that."

I couldn’t help but realize, in the midst of my genealogical research, how quickly our lives move now as compared to the centuries of generations before. Just four generations ago, all of my people were farmers or farm laborers, dependent on having a relationship with the earth that many urbanites can’t imagine. But I can. In that realization, I remembered that I could imagine it and that I had known it.

It’s in our blood.

Five years ago I didn’t believe I could cultivate vegetables in our brick-fill apartment lot. My idea of gardening was putting seed in the earth and leaving it alone to see if nature would win out without my interference. I preferred sitting in the ‘me’ that was known for killing cactuses, and using as a shield for why I couldn’t be a gardener.

One day what I heard was me saying I can’t grow things, can’t give life to something else. I was mortified to realize that I what I was manifesting was I am not a nurturer and cannot be one. Gardening became a healing balm for my spirit as well as one for my body.

Fresh food tastes better to my body and makes me feel better in it. When first out on my own, I was used to going to eat something frozen or fast food to ease the hunger that never seemed to be sated or satisfied. My body always felt like it was yelling at me for something it wanted in a language that I couldn’t quite understand.

I get it now. It’s the difference between buying a waxed apple from the grocery store that’s been refrigerated for months until it crossed the country versus picking one fresh off a tree and biting into it. If you’ve never plucked an apple from a tree, you don’t know what an apple really tastes like. If you’ve never fed your body fresh food full of vitamins and nutrients, your body doesn’t know how much it needs and wants it.

I live in a small city were we grow our own vegetables along the front of our house to help sustain us through the summer and early fall and ease our pocketbooks. We are doubly blessed to have two different farmer’s markets near our home, as well as plenty of local farms with u-pick services within a twenty minute drive.

It connects me to my ancestors, those who founded cities and first broke farmland, when I go out into my front yard and pluck ripe vegetables from the stem, pile them in my skirt and bring them inside to wash and prepping them for meals. It helps me understand why the kitchen is the hearth of the home, the heat in the winter months and the spice in the summertime, with all the love that goes into growing, nurturing and preparing sustenance for our families with our hands, our sweat and our energy.

Starting Small
You can start as simply as purchasing a tomato plant from Lowes or Home Depot, or a greenhouse or nursery near you, and put it in a large pot. You’ll need one of those little metal cages as well- when the tomatoes begin to grow the plant gets heavy. What I have learned is that they need water to grow and then, once your plant is full of green tomatoes, they require sunlight to turn yellow, orange or red so find it a sunny spot on your patio or stoop. When the fruit is ripe, it will pull easily from its stem with a gentle, but firm, tug. And, something else I learned, is that green tomatoes left in a windowsill, will ripen in the sunlight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Open (What the Mountain Told Me)

Take a breath and feel me beneath you. Feel the rough and smooth skin of me holding and supporting you as we reach up to the skies, like trees, roots in the earth and arms reaching eternally toward the wonder… reaching up and outward when the heart of you lies within and below. Take a breath and follow me. I will show you how.

Open to the starlight, to the history of our ancestry shining above us. Open to the glittering mirrors reflecting the great unknown mystery we carry within, beneath the surface. We are all children of stardust, descending over eons, travelers through space who fall as light falls against absence into ether, into body. Light falls and life falls into brilliant darkness. A jewel in the sky, the star reminds us that even heavenly beings die, shift and transform.

Open to transformation, to the echoing footfall of the two-legged and four-legged Spirits walking among us. The beings who made way, like river opening to delta, for our bodies to take in breath and be here. We are one, but not without the millions who came before. The stars above us knew our ancestors. The earth beneath us knows our names.

Open to the Ancestral Spirits of the trees that flourished into forest and fell in the woods, whose bodies nourished the ground, built our homes, and feed our fires. Our ancestors lived in the bones of their ancestors. They were and are felled for our survival and the time has come. Return to the trees. Return to their stewardship and honor their dead.

Open to the voices of the living trees around you and remember that they are a-live beings, too. Open to the power within you to wake change beneath your feet.

Awaken yourself to the well of mysteries that lives within you- that glimmer of dust that glows at twilight. Follow the blood to the Source and re-member that the way to the Ancestors lives within you. You are the way-point of all the mothers and fathers who have come before you. You are the doorway. The ancestral fire burns behind the eyes of every person you meet. It fuels your path.

Wake up and remember.
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