New Moon Prayer Week peaceful and quiet. Email, social media, etc. are a job in and of themselves. During Prayer Week, communication is a breeze. Marc was home two months due to Covid-19. Now we have a glimpse of what life should be. How many of us don’t wan to go back to the way it was? I am thankful for this weeklong respite. I rise at dawn these days. I have been menopausal for about three years now and here has been a stretch of no flow for a few months. So much change. Marc and I rose at dawn while he was home, drifting off to sleep around 10 or 11pm. I don’t have to take him to the train these days, it’s simpler for him to carpool with Metro-North on holiday schedule. He renovates an office in the midst of a city with boarded up windows. So I go back to sleep and rise at dawn. I used to drive him to the train and then return home to write or communicate, 4:35am. It seems then I was younger, I wanted to be in line with life as it occurred, but now I want to rest when I need it. My schedule shifted this season without Flora Jones Garden. Instead of three gardens in Beacon, I have two and I’m now scheduling garden work at White Pine. I’m also working longer in the gardens.
This New Moon feeling sick from drinking alcohol for the umpteenth time, I’m finding the vision and the strength to perhaps, maybe, someday stop drinking all together. Wonder of wonders. It’s a Caribbean cultural heritage thing just like the Irish so it won’t be easy. My colon feels like cardboard, dry and irritated. I can’t lie my last round was two Cosmos and four shots of Tequila, not to mention chocolate ice cream and white Wine. After two weekends if imbibing, my colon said ENOUGH! and has given me hell for a week. As if she has a memory and lies in wait for the opportune moment to remind me she’s in there and processing my indulgences. I’m coming out of it now feeling better, but my highest self is asking me to let go. I look up at my Post-It note for New Moon Prayer Week - “no judgment, news, social media.” Guilt over abusing myself over a lifetime slips away. I’m only human after all. This game ain’t for the faint of heart. We cope. I did head up Mount Beacon to the first switchback lookout to pray. I hadn’t been up there in a few years. I’m always amazed at the anxiety that accompanies the raise in heart rate. I could have sat up there all day. Again the stillness, the quiet, the peace. It is good this life, what we’ve made of it.
We’re developing education programming at A Farm for All! so I taught two resident community members, Tamara and Devon how to grow this season. Now it is marvelous to have one’s own journey as a grower, but nothing can prepare one for the joyful wonder and delight of passing the knowledge on and to see that same wonder and delight in others. Tamara was over the Moon when I arrived at A Farm for All! Tuesday. She had begun to harvest! Ben had thrown his finished micro greens trays into the beds so Tamara and Devon were now getting the leaves from those micro greens. She made codfish for us with a tasty green from the garden. The two of them have herbs, Tomato, Cabbage, Peppers, Curry, Peas, Beets. I’m proud and happy for them. We growers cannot live without gardening. I will incorporate White Pine as one of my spaces next season and have a full schedule outside. The goal now is to learn what the Core (Ben, Phil, Tamara and I) are capable of and scale up from there.
The membership at SDG were away this week so I got a chance to spend the day alone in the garden. What a sweet remembrance of years past just futzing around in the garden. I still had Lavender and White Sage that could go in. Corn is sporadic this season so I transplant from mounds to have at least two corn plants per mound. I weeded Sage bed, mowed and watered so full of love for this wonderful garden of ten years. My old friend Goldee Greene has included us in a story on Beacon Gardeners in the Beacon Free Press this week. We are fundraising for the next ten years (Paypal, Venmo - Sargent-Downing Gardens). Yarrow is in flower. The flowers can be harvested for tea. Shannon had a full season of tea and Yarrow meals on a retreat last season. Yarrow is wild at Hiddenbrooke and SDG, but we planted a section in the Spiral at SDG.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, Asteraceae, Perennial, West Asia to Europe
Yarrow is one of those herbs that we don’t mind having naturalized on Turtle Island. She quaintly blends in with the landscape. The spicy leaves can be chopped into Wild Salad. The flowers have been used to flavor liqueur. The flowers are a digestive and cleansing tonic. They are also diuretic and can be used to reduce high blood pressure. Fresh leaves can be used as a poultice to stop bleeding, treat wounds and shaving cuts. Flowers can be used for eczema. Our native people have used a root decoction for strengthening muscle.
It’s also time to harvest St. Joanswort (St. Johnswort). I’ve mentioned in the past I’ve found five native varieties in A Gardener’s Guide to Florida Native Plants by Rufino Osorio - St. Andrew’s Cross (H. hypericoides), Weeping St. John’s - Wort (sic), (H. lissophloeus), Myrtleleaf St. John’s - Wort (H. myrtifolium, Aromatic St. John’s-Wort (H. reductum) and Blueleaf St. John’s-Wort (H. tetrapetalum). Won’t it be fun when I find those varieties in Florida and figure out their properties!
St. Joanswort (St. Johnswort), Hypericum perforatum, Guttiferae, Perennial
Renamed for our heroine Joan of Arc. A fitting tribute to one of our bravest. St. Joanswort is one of the allies that are habitually found in the Herbalist’s medicine cabinet. Once you’ve gotten her in the ground and that first season comes when you can harvest the flowers it is beyond delightful. Flowers put up in oil makes for the most soothing muscle ache remedy and put up in alcohol, make for the most soothing anti-depressant. Taken together is ecstasy. When I began farming, the first issue was back pain. I had the two remedies available so on my way out the door to work I took two dropperfuls of St. Joan tincture and rubbed my back down with her oil. By mid-morning a giggle escaped my lips and I knew it was St. Joan. The subtlety of plant medicine can be unnerving. The power of the plants is so profound that one can hardly believe they have worked so effectively.
Alas, I have not gotten Black Krim Tomato or Parsley this season. There is still a chance for Parsley, but Black Krim is hard to find even in a good year without a pandemic. The Tomato I saved the seed from last season, may not have been at its peak. It is the first time I will not have Black Krim. I’m in mourning. Last season I wa able to get Curly Parsley (my favorite) starts at Adams (www.adamsfarms.com), our local farm turned well-stocked grocery store, carrying a lovely array of their own products, cheeses, local farm goods and breads, but many plants were wiped out this season due to Covid-19. I placed a request on Facebook for Black Krim and I’ve started another tray of Parsley fingers crossed. One lone plant is coming up in the tray I started back in April. I did get a few late last year. I’m going to start the Parsley on the deck May 1 next season. It is the second season I did not get them in the greenhouse.
Prayers for all of us. Health and safety through Covid-19. Power and safety through the protests. How do we change hearts and minds? Are these sad, miserable beings the descendants of the Dark Ages, plotting revenge in the cold dank caves Pre-Europe perhaps 500 years? Hate is much more difficult to maintain than love, and yet some of us have evolved to hate. Hate hurts. Have you every tried to hate someone? What a waste of energy. Don’t we have so many better things to do with our energy. Much easier to go with the flow. Yet these haters are locked in this sadistic dance. We lift them up in prayer.