Shelter in place. Interestingly enough, not much different from my daily routine the last ten years. Main St. does look like a ghost town though. Marc is home, but enjoying a break from grueling construction work. The industry like all industries does work one to death. I am a solitary, I suppose. No children so not participating in the family rituals which brought many folks to Beacon. I am also black and we blaze our own trail in this world if we step outside the box. I am Yoruba, not Christian if I have to claim religion - Earth based. I journey engaged with Spirit in harmony with Earth, my foundation, my support system. My reward, joy and light come from days in the garden.
Opening Day in the garden Spring 2020. My only time spent outside except for errands to the post office, bank and grocery store. My thoughts shifted the other day to what would be the daily routine of thought long term. Managing a quarantine. I have started giving thanks at dawn and when going to bed like I used to. These first couple of months with Covid-19 sent us into a frenzy gathering information assimilating fact from fiction and for me finding Spirit in the midst of this thing. Today, anxiety was lifted and we are settling in for the long haul at least ninety days, eighteen months to a vaccine. I’ve made a list of family and friends to stay in touch with and make sure no one is isolated. During the 1918 influenza outbreak, the world population was 2 billion and we lost 50 million. Covid-19 holds steady at 2 - 5%. Our current world population is just under 8 billion. In Spirit, Earth breathes a sigh of relief with less cars and people. Wildlife ventures out reclaiming the lands. Pollution has no doubt lessened.
Opening Day in the community garden, I have two enthusiastic women this season. Sarah Carlisle in her twenties and Celia Reissig in her fifties. Danielle Levoit has returned to do the bees. I look forward to spending the season with them. We repair fence and close up the garden. The original gate which was always problematic because soil would wash down constantly and make it difficult to open, finally gave up the ghost last season and disintegrated. I have had Cedar posts on standby and an old post snapped off so we used the last Cedar post to replace it. I replaced the old gate with heavy plastic fencing to be used as a gate when we enter to water. I switched out the plastic fencing last year because it was so heavy it would tear under its own weight. I replaced it with Deer netting and it has held up nicely. Sarah planted Carrots and Radish two weeks ago and Celia planted Lettuce, Arugula and Spinach today. My first planting is Kale at the end of the month. Sarah’s only experience is with communal gardening wonder of wonders. Her communal garden was an herb garden in Brooklyn. She will be planting the perimeter with herbs. Celia is a novice. It should be fun. Covid-19 checkin out of the way and we’re off to enjoy the open air. That first heavy breath, that first touch of breeze, break of sweat and we are fulfilled. We are Earth beings intrinsically connected to Earth. A part of the natural world as any being, but what part? We spend our life, if we dare, finding that part - harmony. The sow and reap of the growing season, a dance. “Mother Earth absorbs all we give her and offers support,” I tell Celia who was sitting on bricks weeding a bed. I give her a plastic bag to sit directly on Earth and she is relieved. All our emotions, sorrows, celebrations can be given to Mother and she will cry and party with us. Many a time I have left the garden relieved from whatever ales me. Earth is alive, a living breathing entity, our support system.
We Africans, we Caribbeans (Southern hemisphere folk), know nothing but paradise on Earth. We were not pushed into the cold dankness of the Northern hemisphere until last generation. We were caught by surprise by this fearful being who sought to control the natural world, this man who lacked patience and wanted all to bend to his will to dominate all natural processes. We are born to take it easy and want nothing more than to be here, not wish for somewhere else, heaven is right here.
I cannot go to Sally Garden, because Sally and her husband Paul are elders and high risk. I did not go to Hiddenbrooke because I sent a Covid-19 update, but didn’t here back until the end of the day. Twenty-somethings (Sarah) are apparently asymptomatic and can be carriers. I want everyone to feel safe. I want to be compassionate in the exchanges and allow the responses that are running from open joyous freedom to downright paranoia. We are all allowed. If anything, here we are learning patience and perhaps compassion comes along for the ride. Michelle Cottage Garden will begin in the middle of the month. I am a simpleton, so the Spring bloom is moments of pure joy.
Linden, Tilia americana, Little Leaf Linden, T. cordata, Turtle Island, Europe, respectively, Tiliaceae, Tree
I used to get Linden honey from Integral Yoga on 13th St. in Manhattan. One of the things I really missed when I moved upstate. We toyed with the idea of Marc passing by Integral Yoga when one of his jobs was nearby, but it never materialized. I can still taste it’s sweet bitterness. Dried Linden flowers are heart medicine. I have not had them in quite sometime. Little Leaf Linden is used as a street tree here in Beacon. They are full of flowers in season, but are too tall to harvest. The infusion of flowers has a thick consistency, honeylike. The flowers are also used as a digestive aid, for insomnia, to calm the nerves and for overzealous children.
Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, Asclepiadaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island
Food for Monarch Butterflies, there has been a campaign in parks departments to eradicate Milkweed. Milkweed found in the Northeast has a poisonous milky sap, which can be removed if properly cooked. The trick is to plunge the plant into rapidly boiling water for two minutes and repeat two more times in two changes of water until all bitterness is gone. Milkweeds in the rest of the country are safe to eat. Blossoms contain high sugar content and can be boiled down to make a syrup. I have spent my growing life allowing the wild to dwell. Milkweed has a beautiful fat head of pink flowers.
Motherwort, Leonarus cardiaca, Labiatae, Perennial, Europe
Motherwort puts the Mother in Mother Earth. A gentle, sweet, abiding heart medicine, Motherwort supports us through anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia. What more do we need than a soothed heart to drift off to sleep? Her botanical name means Lionheart. I have found Motherwort in the wild most often. I grew her from seed once at Stone Barns, but never again. She pops up when you least expect her. She started out in the old barn foundation at Hiddenbrooke and has since moved up closer to the house last season. I have enough wild plants at SDG to plant a whole new bed this season. I have made Motherwort tincture and vinegar over the years. One dropperful of tincture when having an anxiety attack, every five minutes as needed, two dropperfuls three times a day for about a month for high blood pressure and three dropperfuls to drift off to sleep in about a half hour. Note the difference between the first year leaf and the more mature leaf. Nature at her best!
As we buckle down for the long haul, I wish you all health, joy and peace in this brave new world. As always, we have community, be with them in love. Ninety days possible, eighteen months to a vaccine. Enjoy the extra views of wildlife, a friend saw a porcupine, a bear and a bobcat in one day.