Snow! Snow! Snow! I love snow! I spent two hours shoveling snow last Tuesday. A nice Winter workout. I grew up in Queens and we had snow back then, so I was so excited when we moved upstate, and we had snow again. Last Winter was unseasonably warm with no snow so this polar vortex is sooo welcome this year.
Good-bye Donald Trump! Hopefully, he will be impeached and the New York District Attorney General carts him off to jail. Georgia flips blue in my lifetime – twice!? I’ll take it. Martin, Coretta, Pete and Toshi are dancing out in the cosmos these days. 232 people have been arrested from the insurrection January 6 vs 14,000 during the Summer protests. And where was the National Guard forces that we deployed to protect the capital over the Summer? We black folks partied right through the inauguration, but we knew the next day, it was time to get back to work educating ignorant white folks about who we are. At least we have momentum. Every aspect of our lives is in conversation and we talk about unity every day now. Perhaps we will learn how to unify. We don’t trust ourselves unfortunately. We’ve been through too much, suffered too much, been divided too much. Young, old, dark skin, light skin, African American, Caribbean American, European American, Black, Negro, immigrant, native, American born, we have learned to be suspicious of one another and our motives. My family are the opportunistic “coconuts” (Caribbeans) who arrived here in the 1970s. The Caribbean diaspora traveled through Europe – England and France. I wonder how many Latin Americans traveled through Spain. My parents didn’t engage with African Americans or white European Americans, looking down on the former and just not liking the latter. We forge our own path. Some of my best friends are white and I am generally misunderstood by the African American (considering me “bougie”), so I stick with my Caribbean community as well. Class is also a challenge. Having grown up in the suburbs, I was shielded (overprotected) from the harsher realities facing other communities. I have only started to listen to Hip Hop here at the fortieth anniversary because of its aggressive tone. I understand the voice now, especially because of the protests last Summer. We use the tools available to us. Music programs were systematically cut out of these red-lined neighborhoods so Hip Hop geniuses turned to the turntable to express themselves. After ten years in the field, I have to narrow my focus to what has worked for me the last decade. I did participate in the protests last Summer, but I am still shielded from the harsher realities of life living in Beacon and working in my gardens. A step away. I live in a humble abode, but it is sunny and warm. I am an anomaly upstate (female, black, grower, childfree, herbalist), but I have forged my path – community servant. I love my community and my work, so here’s to the next decade!
I have accepted a position as Administrator for Esopus Agricultural Center (EAC), the investment group that purchased the land on which is Seed Song Farm. Philanthropy meets farming! Who knew? It is giving me the next level of money I wanted in 2021. I was in the process of looking for copy writing work when I was offered the position. Multiple streams of income. I am open to the universe – abundant life, alignment with source, all the blessings life has to offer. I have evolved to here. I embrace autonomy. I have been supported by my husband Marc (angel) the last ten years, but now it is time for me to earn a living. Marc is ready for retirement. I will have to supplement his pension. I have essentially, been a housewife. My herbal business has provided for my garden self (tools, seeds, etc.), but now I have to consider (gasp!) old age! Susun, my teacher, says I should plan to do this work until I’m eighty-five, so I look forward to thirty more years in the field, where my heart lives. My schedule is full for the year (usually by February 1) so let’s go!
With funding secured (finance my life outside) my schedule shifted. January began and I wrote a Winter Solstice blog, but then I realized I had to file last season in the gardens. So, I pulled back and decided that January would be filing. I also have three file boxes to get rid of in the basement. I have Excel files for every year except 2011, my first year as a grower and I have purchased a disc reader to see if I can find them. Lo and behold, emptying the first file box, I found the paper files I created for 2011! Tooo exciting! I am obsessive compulsive for sure, so one knows I am over the Moon about this new development. As one may or may not know, getting rid of the old is an energy release – a fresh start, fresh energy. Having no children, I believe I have to get rid of my possessions for the rest of my life so when I pass on, I have nothing. It’s a lot of work, but I’m dedicated to it. I’ll never forget when I went down to our transfer station and found what seemed to be someone’s whole life in the dumpster! I rescued a sewing kit. Stunning! We are taught to accumulate material things more than likely from birth so that when we reach middle age (at least for me) our “stuff” is overwhelming.
When we moved upstate I decided to get rid of all the plastic in our lives. We had accumulated two giant bags of plastic grocery bags! I have always used them for the garbage can in the bathroom. I ended up throwing one of the giant bags away and I still have one in my pantry. I don’t get the bag into the garbage can as much as I would like, but intention counts. I can recall when I started making compost that my actual garbage was cut in half. A stunning revelation about our consumption. Compost is my companion now! I got rid of as much plastic as I could that year. Shocking that storage means plastic. The Establishment has just slipped these things into our lives and we’ve just gobbled them up. Convenience. My Pyrex food storage are glass but have plastic tops. Of course, water comes in plastic bottles, but Adams, our local farm based grocery store has their own brand of spring water and we can return the bottles. I have stored my clothes in soft plastic bags for some twenty years now. My herbal wares and class supplies travel in plastic. Plastic has become a companion.
Once the season is filed, the next step is to prepare the seed order for the new season. Of course, I have a crop list, but I always add new herbs every season. This season will be Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum, Asteraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, Caprifoliaceae, Tree, Turtle Island). Boneset is treatment for Covid. Elderberry is preventative. Marc and I have been taking Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Asteraceae, Perannial, Turtle Island) and Elderberry tincture as prevention against Covid.
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum, Asteraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island), sister to Boneset was tough to cultivate from seed, but I also have a source for Boneset plants. Last Autumn I got Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa, Asclepiadaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and Red Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Asclepiadaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) in the ground, so we have those to work with as well. And the ever-elusive Echinacea. I have E. angustifolia seed from last season that I forgot to cultivate (narrow petals as opposed to wide petals on E. purpurea). I planted E. purpurea bed last Autumn at Hiddenbrooke. Someone is eating Echinacea at Hiddenbrooke. I will be growing some of my Plant Family for a new Ramapough native garden:
Borage, Borago officinalis, Boraginaceae, Annual, Europe
Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea, Asteraceae, Perennial, Europe
Sage, Salvia officinalis, Labiatae, Shrub, North Africa, Mediterranean
Lavender, Lavandula sp., Labiatae, Shrub, Mediterranean
St. Johnswort, Hypericum perforatum, Guttiferae, Perennial, Turtle Island
Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora, Labiatae, Perennial, Turtle Island
Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, Asteraceae, North Africa, Eurasia
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) seeds were unavailable last season so we’ll look for seeds again come Autumn. Excitement mounts for the new season. The snow is welcome, hydrating and preparing Earth and we have more light every day here after Winter Solstice.
Martin Luther King Day was heartwarming on Zoom. We usually have a full day event at Springfield Baptist Church here in Beacon including a march through town. When Trump was elected, I searched for black news and found Roland Martin and I also watch Democracy Now! regularly now. I was afraid and wanted solace and connection to action. I understood what our ancestors fought for and it was time for me to engage in the national fight. Roland Martin went form TV One to creating his own movement now found on YouTube and other streaming services (Periscope, Facebook) – Roland Martin Unfiltered. He is supported by his viewers. 2020 has, for me, changed the view of European-Americans. I no longer have to accept the shows written by and about European-Americans. I can tune in to African-Americans and our allies and take my cues from them. Black folks perspective is front and center – a liberation of sorts. Whew! We exhale. We are not “crazy,” we do face systemic discrimination in the Establishment. Our next state of self-determination is upon us. We’ve got this. Once again, our skill, intelligence, energy and resources will move us through here. Roland Martin can make the world pause and we can celebrate folks like Chadwick Bozeman, Hank Aaron and Cicely Tyson as they become our ancestors. Roland Martin will broadcast hours of celebration so poignant now especially because homegoing services are limited. I had always wanted the world to pause through my loss of a cousin to gun violence at twenty-two, my mother’s illness and passing. Here with Roland, we can pause for our national heroes! When we get the opportunity to celebrate ourselves, we realize the richness of our culture. We are world culture, Africa, the cradle of civilization.
Covid daily deaths in the US jumped from 3500 deaths to 5900 deaths in one day last week. We are at 475,000 deaths. If the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 is any indication, we could lose two million people in the United States alone. The Influenza Pandemic lasted twenty-six months. We have just passed one year in November. Buckle up kids.
Here’s to 2021. May it be rich and fruitful, despite the tragic circumstances. We soldier on.