Thursday, December 17, 2009

On not always getting everything done

We all know that Martha gets all her cookies in on time and her crafts arranged because other people do it for her. I do not have a bevy of assistants and interns planting my lettuce and making salves. In case you're worrying that I'm super-human and that you can't keep up with all of the little tasks, crafts, homemaking, and what have you that I do, let me allay your fears. I write my plans here, and execute them eventually. I mean to get to it right away, but I rarely do. I have a high need for seeing friends after work, especially when I'm upset, and that never fails to interfere with doing dishes, sweeping, and planting winter lettuce.

Last night, on one of my visits to friends (where I live visiting friends means a ten to twenty minute drive no matter how you cut it), I finally picked up the lettuce seed I was looking for about 2 weeks back. I also picked up kale and chard...just in case. My window box has been set up waiting for the moment when I finally lay my hands on seed. In the move I lost all of my millions of seeds I bought in winter after winter of snow-drunk dreams of the perfect summer garden. Friends who garden always have a surplus of seed from the previous summer - we all succumb to our winter plans of long beds of kale and marigolds - so there's rarely a need to buy seeds for the winter months.

I have also been putting off going to the health food store (with what I will always refer to - thanks to its back corner shelves of jars upon jars of dried herbs, shredded roots, and a plethora of whatever you might want for an herbal preparation if you have not wildcrafted the herbs yourself as an apothecary). The salves i'm planning will be (must be) made by the 23rd. I will get to them this week. The dishes are in a constant state of mocking my apparent laziness. I am running low on shampoo, and need to make myself a batch. I need to ask my landlords if they have dried black walnut hulls from the trees in front of my house for the herbal infusion in the shampoo, yet another recipe from Earthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair - which at this point, if you've been following my online meanderings, you're probably realizing you need to own.

All in all - life takes time. I, and you as well, will not get to everything in the plans. At most, we can hope only to try. There is relief in the daily rhythm of work that I would not give up for the world. I get a much-needed feeling of stability and self-sufficiency from going to work every day. i am grateful, even in the tedium, even in the face of an ever-lengthening list of things left until later for my 40-hour job, even though I don't get benefits, paid vacations, or sick days. Those 40 hours represent a lot of salves, jams, mopping, organizing, and wood chopping that must be left for later or someone else. That is fine. We are not perfect. We consume and judge and live lives that are hypocritical despite our attempts at honesty. That is okay. We must forgive ourselves and each other for the fallibility in our humanity, and for the failure inherent in trying. I am not excusing hypocrisy. I am simply saying that we owe ourselves the peace of balanced forgiveness. In the calm and comfort of accepting that we are only human, we can finally appreciate the greatness of our attempts, the truth in our passion, and the power in our hope.

a note on wildcrafted vs. store bought herbs: I don't typically consider myself a spiritual (whatever that word means these days) person, but I do hold onto a breath of my childhood that carries fairies and dreams in the air. I do not and cannot believe that store-bought herbs, sitting in their glass and plastic casings for months in fluorescent corners can heal in the same way herbs picked in the summer with love and intention and stored and prepared into the winter can heal. At a fairly early point in your herbalism and gardening journeys, if you have not bumped into it already, someone will tell you to watch the moon. They might tell you that the moon pulls on the essence of plants. St. John's Wart, if used for the flower, should be harvested on the full moon when its essence flows upward. When harvesting comfrey root, dig on the new moon, when the plant's energy is low in the roots. Biodynamic farming relies heavily on planting and working with the moon. I do not think that we know how the moon affects the power of plants, but I don't think cold science has it right either. Tides aren't just gravity - they're magic and mystery too. They are a larger manifestation of the way all water yearns for the moon. We do not understand the depth of this world, both in terms of its banality and in terms of its layers of wonder and magic. I cannot help but treat my intentions and my interactions as holding real meaning and consequence - even with plants. Though scientifically questitionable, Masaru Emoto's stunning photos of water are enough to make anyone wonder.

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