Monthly Archives: October 2013

speak to me

Day 39

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I cannot find the right words to describe to you,

how I feel about this beautiful world.

How it makes me feel,

to hear a snake’s dry slither in the grass.

 

The only way I can think to show you,

is to lead you to the place in the river where the spotted fawn drinks with his mother.

Next to the tiny, five fingered tracks of the Raccoon written in mud.

 

I cannot think of a way to tell you ,

how it feels to be in love with this planet.

My tongue is far too clumsy, the words far to dull.

The only way I can think to help you know my heart

is to lead you by the hand with eyes closed,

and guide your gentle touch to the rough bark of the Black Walnut tree, and the smooth bark of the beech.

 

I cannot tell you for sure if God exists.

But I can show you the finest down of pine needles and milkweed fluff

at the center of the squirrel’s nest, warm and safe.

 

I cannot make you love what I love.

All I can do is speak of my own experience,

of floating on the gentle creek current, blue sky above.

 

All we can hope to do in our short time here,

is let ourselves be led,

by the things that call to us most loudly.

To listen for the messages,

that help us know which way to go.

 

Because we defend what we love,

our children, our families, the land beneath our feet.

 

Open your eyes, see the destruction, the pain, the suffering of those you hold most dear.

Do not turn away.

Feel the hot anger, the adrenaline shot to the veins, the quickened breath, the heightened senses.

Let it be the fuel that drives you to act.

Take care of yourself, keep your body strong, your mind clear. Eat as cleanly as possible. If you drink, drink sparingly, if you smoke, smoke little.

Love hard, laugh a lot.

Because they want us to be dumb, and sad, and slow, and sick, so we’re easy to control.

But we’re building a new kind of army, armed with pens, and paper, and skills, and community, and awareness, and connection, and resourcefulness, and peace, and things we will only discuss behind closed doors with trusted friends.

We are biding our time, gaining strength, growing in numbers, learning, and sharing.

We are finding the things that light us on fire, awaken our cells, and call up ancient stirrings.

Speak to me of the things you love.

And I will speak of mine.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

 

photo by wil

photo by wil

Voluntary simplicity and our teeny, tiny house

Day 38

We live in a tiny house.

Like, teeny-tiny,

as in, somewhere around 230 square feet.

Yes, 230 square feet, that is not a typo.

It’s a 1 car garage converted into a 1 room cabin.

And yes, that means our garden is much larger than our house.

photo by Wil

photo by Wil

When my parents bought this property 5 years ago, Wil and I, longtime lovers of the little house movement, drooled over the 1 car detached garage behind the main house. We marveled at what a perfect little home it would make.

And then we moved away, and moved back, and started a business, and ended a business, and almost moved away again.

And in the shuffle, somewhere along the way, we started to eyeball the little garage.

So, eventually, in between apartments, and wanting something more harmonious with our ideals, we drew up some plans and pitched the idea to my parents. And they said yes.

 

So now they live in the big house and we live in the little house and we share the property. And it is hectic, and peaceful, and annoying, and fun, all at once.

And yes, I will discuss extended-family living at some point in the near future. It is a subject close to my heart.

But back to the little house.

It is up to building code, and lovely inside, and our baby son was born here, right at the foot of the bed.

So what is it like living in a tiny house?

1. It makes you go outside.

No matter how cozy it is, no matter how nice, there’s just not much space. And so outside becomes an extension of your home.

“Outside” becomes the living room, project room, dining room, any kind of room.

Having visitors? Go outside. Kid is bored? Go outside.  Baby fussing? Go outside.

And remarkably, and magically, outside starts to feel just as comfy as inside. And that makes you feel like you live in a mansion, with ceilings of blue sky, and pink sunsets, and carpets of green grass and yellow wildflowers.

2. It makes you deal with your stuff.

(And by “stuff” I mean interpersonal relationships, and the actual things that we own)

Living in a tiny house forces you to resolve any relationship issues quickly. When you share a tiny space with someone, there just isn’t any room for unresolved issues, personal hang-ups, or lingering arguments. You learn to get over, and work through, disagreements quickly. You choose your battles carefully, and learn to let things roll off your back. You quickly realize that an evening of tense silence feels like an eternity and makes the walls close in, and you learn to avoid that at all costs.

(Although, if you’re mad enough, there’s always the option of stomping out the front door and closing it behind you with a satisfying slam. In which case, refer to the “it makes you go outside” category.)

When you live in a tiny house you must constantly, exhaustingly, and endlessly, sift through the parade of stuff that flows through your life. Clothing? Keep the bare minimum. Books? Narrow them down to the ones you absolutely cannot live without ( it may still be hundreds). Paperwork, mail, documents? You toss as soon as you can. Baby toys? Well, here you can be a little indulgent, because he’s just so cute you know?

But it is alarming, in both amount and speed, how odds-and-ends and random junk accumulate. You quickly realize that we are, quite literally, drowning in stuff.

3. It challenges you to be better.

There is no such thing as real personal space in a tiny house, so you learn to live without it. A corner of a bookshelf, or an empty drawer can serve very nicely as a spot to store treasures and keepsakes. Notebooks, easy to stash when not in use, small, and portable, offer endless pages for exploring innermost thoughts.

You must clean up a million times each day, put away everything as soon as you’re finished with it, and keep the bed made. Otherwise, just folding laundry can make it look, and feel, like a bomb exploded.

Living in a tiny house with someone else forces you to cooperate, to deal with each other’s and your own shortcomings, teaches you to share.

It makes you be a better you.

photo by Wil

photo by Wil

4. It makes you thankful.

You often realize, with startling clarity, that most of the people in the world live in spaces much tinier than yours, and much less nice, without running water, or heat, or electricity, and with far larger families.

You begin to understand that “home” is actually made up of the people who live within the walls, not the structure itself.

And you love your little house, especially at night, with the heater humming, and your sleeping family all around,

And it makes you feel so thankful. That your belly is full, that your baby is safe, that you have a roof over your head.

That you get to live on this great, big, beautiful planet.

Voluntary simplicity is a revolution in itself. We do not have to participate in this insane consumer culture. We have a choice. We are more than just our “stuff”. Examine your life, figure out what you NEED vs. what you want, and challenge yourself to do without. I promise you, riches await.

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photo by wil

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

Beth W.K., your words sing with the clearest voice. You are amazing. Thank you for this guest piece, and your work in the world. I love you.

 Holding the Bowl

I have written this poem before.  The one about the Open Bowl.  How I will hold the circle of my heart to encompass it all.

Not just the little birds singing the dawn into being or the silent toad under her litter of leaves, not just the achingly beautiful green of the fields in spring or the blue eye of the speedwell, not just the snugglesome child or the soft feathers of a hen.

Not just that.  Not only that.

But also the brooding ache of estrangement, and the dull thud of the impossible choice, the anxiety over an ill child, the grieving of a friend.  Also the deaths of the bees, the scarcity of monarchs, the oil-covered ducks.  The deep sadness of all that we are losing so wantonly.  The rage, the helpless and blinding white fury at the destroyers, the greed-mongers, the war-profiteers, the glibly malicious purveyors of illness and oppression.

This is why I write poems and gratitude lists.  I will hold all of these stones in the Open Bowl of my heart.  Some moments, the bowl is so brimming with the rages and the despairs that I don’t know if I can bear it.  And then comes a moment of pure numinous wonder and delight, not to erase the other things, but to ease them.  To make the bearing of them bearable.

These difficult ones, they are there for a reason.  I hold them, too, because they demand my soul’s attention.  They call me to my work here in the world.  I refuse to walk the world with blinders on.   But there is also so much joy to be found in the midst of it all.

So much joy.  So much love.

I have written this poem before, and I will write it again.  Perhaps every day I will write it, until I understand what I am writing.

Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider

April 8, 2013

Goldfinch Farm, Wrightsville, PA

I’m a poet, farmer, mother.  I am working on my second book of poems, Holding the Bowl of the Heart.  This piece will be the Preface.

The end of fertility

Day 37

Wil and I were extremely lucky. We were together for 10 years before we finally decided to have a baby, and once we did it was a quick 4 months before I woke up one morning with what I thought was the flu.

But many of the families we know with children around Revel’s age didn’t have it so easy. In our playgroups there are many mamas and papas with strange and beautiful stories of doctor’s offices, injections, frozen embryos, and miracles.

When I sit with a woman who longs for a child and can’t have one, a woman with a womb aching to hold new life,

Or read about new desert where there used to be trees,

Or hear about endless drought where there used to be rain,

it is all too clear to me what we are in the midst of,

That we are witnessing the end of fertility.

But there was a time, in the long- long- ago, and in the not-so-long-ago, that our ancestors understood, and loved, and worshipped, the endless creation power of the earth and all her creatures.

The ancient understanding that fertility is tenuous and that in order to support life, the planet, and our bodies must be cared for in the most careful and specific ways.

And that even the tiniest soil microbes must be fed, and tended, and watered, and sheltered, and respected, because they are alive, and are the very building blocks upon which life is built.

But we pour poisons upon the ground, and fill our oceans with chemicals. Our water is not safe to drink, and the air blackens the very lungs it feeds.

When I teach women and couples how to take care of themselves naturally, how to promote fertility,

I always tell them that the reproductive system is the first to go,

Meaning, that if the human body is under stress, it will “shut down” the reproductive system first in order to conserve energy, and calories, and nutrients that our other body systems need more. Our big brains must run at all costs, and our hearts, and our lungs, in order of importance,  so on down the line.

So in times of famine, or great stress or illness,

or complete environmental collapse

it becomes very difficult, or impossible, to get pregnant,

And reproductive systems get all out of whack,

and lose their proper rhythm.

Scientists estimate that human fertility levels have dropped by at least one third in the last decade.

And I suspect it’s much higher than that.

Because we’ve forgotten that the balance here is delicate,

That the ingredients needed to create new life require constant tending,

And I just want to tell these beautiful  women with empty wombs that,

it’s not their fault that the pregnancy doesn’t come easily.

That their sorrow is shared by all of us,

who are being forced to watch Greed and Progress slowly strip

the earth of her seductive beauty.

And I want to tell my sisters,

That there are babies wanting to come here,

but that they’re waiting in the spirit world,

watching to see,

if conditions here  improve.

Watching to see if we remember,

the right way to live here.

And I just want you to know, from my heart to yours, that this is a grief we all carry, an endless mourning,

for the end of fertility.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

Michelle, thank you greatly for this amazing guest piece tonight. Your words and your photos strike a chord. I love you.

We Are Not the Radicals

Wil told this story a long time ago when I first began learning from him. It stuck with me from that moment- and sparked something that led to many more discussions and learning opportunities. Are we planning for the future that is beyond our lifetime?

—————-

Founded in 1379, New College, Oxford is one of the oldest Oxford colleges. It has a great dining hall with huge oak beams across the top, as large as two feet square, and forty-five feet long each.

A century ago, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, which met the news with some dismay. Beams this large were now very hard, if not impossible to come by. “Where will we get beams of that caliber?” they worried.

One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some worthy oaks on the College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country which are run by a college Forester. They called in the College Forester and asked him if there were any oaks for possible use.

It was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for over five hundred years saying “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

—————-

The Foresters thought 500 years into the future. Five hundred years!!! When is the last time people of today planned for something that wouldn’t even happen in their lifetime or their childrens’ lifetimes? We make plans a day in advance for lunch. A month to grow seedlings. Maybe a year in advance for vacation. We think about the education of our children in 18 years. But we are not planning for the earth’s future.

What will it take?

What do we have to lose before people start paying attention? Does it have to be all at once? Maybe it would make an impact if headlines read, “Today every last tiger has died.” Instead of this, beautiful things slip away slowly until we forget they were ever there.

So what will it take? It seemed to garner little reaction when the articles screamed “COLONY COLLAPSE- 3 MILLION BEES DEAD”, when bee populations dwindled drastically in size, or, “Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops”. These are the crucial pollinators who help our food grow! Killing weeds now means killing bees. Still we do nothing except engage in collective, deliberate amnesia. In 1984 they called it “doublethink”.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

What if you woke up and read “The last fertile woman has died”? Studies are showing a fertility decline in every single ethnicity in the US, every year, for years. It is partly because we REFUSE to stop poisoning the planet with pesticides, which interfere with the natural hormonal balance in the human body, and insecticides, and even fungicides. Use of these certainly explains the tremendous loss of bee life and explains many of the adverse health effects felt by humans. These chemicals are strong enough to affect your metabolism, behavior and mood, reproductive organs, and even provoke cancer. And certainly fossil fuel extraction industries are adding their own toxins that have already radically altered the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere!

And so our mindset must be: I am repairing my planet now because it will need to outlast humanity’s fixation on progress and destruction.

That fixation will outlast my lifetime. So must our work here outlast our lifetimes.

Therefore we must also pass the importance of this on to as many people as can possibly listen, stop what they are doing and LISTEN, and actually HEAR, that we are causing the death of our beautiful home. . We who want to save the planet are not the radicals– it is those intent on destroying it that are engaging in truly radical acts. As Tasha said in another post, we can no longer claim innocence or ignorance, and it’s time, it’s time, IT’S TIME to stop ignoring that.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

The first Blackout

Day 36

The three of us smell like woodsmoke tonight.

The squash soup tasted like sun warmed afternoons, mosquitoes buzzing.

We spoke of grief, and sadness, and hope, and revolution.

We sang songs with soft voices.

The babies played in the darkness like it was light, peek-a-boo, open the door, shut the door, and offered us their small hands to kiss.

it was a small thing. really, just an evening around the fire,

But it made me feel immensely better,

laughing with others like myself.

Thank you for listening,

I love you,

Thank you,

I’m sorry,

Please forgive me.

Natasha

The language of the land

Day 35

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photo by Michelle J.

I dreamed of Oatstraw the other night.

Milky Oats, Avena Sativa, a delicate grass, palish tan, shivers it’s shoots in even the slightest wind,

Soothes all systems of the body, in the gentlest way,

particularly soothing and nourishing to the the human nervous system.

Wil suffers from hemiplegic migraines, difficult to treat, they present as partial paralysis, pins and needles, anxiety, and vertigo. Nasty stuff.

In the dream, it was suddenly clear to me that the Milky Oats could help him. That he must drink copious amounts of tea, sweetened with the finest honey. That the Oatstraw would help support his system and work synergistically with his other medicines.

And I’ve studied herbs, and I’ve been blessed to learn from one of the best community herbalists, my friend and mentor Sarah P., and I’ve grown Avena Sativa, and have used it in tea many times.

So I know the dream was right, that this beautiful and gentle herb CAN probably help Wil.

And I know that dreams are one of the Old Ways of listening, of finding out, of learning.

That dreams are a language of our land, the alphabet of the water, trees, and sky.

And that once dreams told our ancestors where to find the deer, and what plants were safe to eat, and where the sweet water was, and how to plant the corn, and how to make a bow for hunting.

And I know that I was born into a culture that, for the most part, doesn’t respect dreams, doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t cultivate a relationship with the dreaming.

And that dreams are a part of my rewilding process that I haven’t paid much attention to.

And yes, sometimes I receive helpful information while sleeping,

but I don’t think about it much,

And yes, I try to pay attention to the messages and apply them to my life,

But I don’t take them seriously enough.

And so, I just think it would be helpful if we shared our dreams with one another, and took them seriously, and looked for the meaning in them, and cultivated our dreaming experience.

And I really want to know,

What do you dream about? What messages are you receiving? What worlds lie behind your closed eyes when the lights go out?

And what if we’re missing all the answers, all the messages, and all the meaning,

because we’ve forgotten the language of the land?

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

Our guest post tonight is from my wild-hearted, and land loving friend Daisy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Daisy, for your beautiful and  painfully true words. We must look at what is wrong first, if we ever hope to fix it.

“We pretend that everyone is equal, so we don’t acknowledge the serious problems all around us.”

Re-humanize: To make humane, kind or gentle. To make human.

I thought you might find some of these ideas kindred to the spirit of loss and mourning.

I think it is important to speak of the degradation of the value
of being human and recognizing the humanity of others.
Its easiest to note our internal separation from our spiritual
base in the example of our interactions with homeless people,
drug addicts, or people we perceive as poor or invaluable to
our capitalist, itemized and luxury driven culture.
We are so separated from the natural state of our species
that we are conditioned to be afraid of each other and group
each other in neat boxes of poor, rich, valuable, invaluable, attractive, unattractive. This problem overlaps many
current social issues and is hard to pinpoint to one specific
instigator. (Advertising, Organized Religion, Capitalism, Patriarchal Institutionalism) I could list a thousand possible sources and
never feel I was adequately covering all bases.
But as it is the easiest to relay, and perhaps the easiest to take action as a community, and as an individual.

A “homeless” person is barely recognized as a person on
an emotional level in almost all aspects of their social interactions.
The degrees of emotion and concern expressed by individuals outside of that social classification are almost purely pity, avoidance, annoyance or disgust. Members of our dominate class view them as a blight or unfortunate consequence of others prosperity.
That truth is evident in this horrible situation-

http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/860183_Lancaster-police-identify-homeless-man-shot-dead-by-officer-as-Gregory-Stephen-Bayne.html

The need to itemize homeless persons and ignore their importance and humanity is further present in a statement from our mayor:
http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/867871_Mayor-Gray-reports-city-police-shooting-of-homeless-man-justified.html

Gregory “G” Bayne refused to drop his “knife”.
He was urinating late night in the square of Lancaster city
because he needed to relieve himself, I know personally if you lack the ability to patronize establishments and posses, in duality, the
social dress qualifiers that define you as poor you will not be permitted in a private restroom.
Imagine you are homeless, you are caught urinating in public by a police officer. You know your dehumanized in this officers eyes,

just the same as everyone else except this person can take
away the small amount of freedom you have, humiliate and
imprison you. So you run. And your shot in the back three times.

To bring this to a tee, Human beings deserve equal treatment.
It sounds like a trivial statement, and a sentiment were all familiar
with, “Treat others as you……..”
But were not doing it!
I challenge you and your humanity, sit down with a homeless man/woman. Speak to them with out patronizing pity or empathy.
Speak to them from a place of respect, because they’re lives are a hell of a lot more authentic and difficult then ours.

You might make a wonderful new friend.
You might learn something about yourself.

If we can start to build the ties of our community from the figurative “bottom” and realize the “success” scale might be entirely skewed,
we might be able to start working up the mountain of social issues that were constantly sweeping under the rug.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f–dDx0q6so#t=847
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/10/compassion.aspx
http://www.globalpossibilities.org/do-you-ignore-homeless-people/

we are wildly disillusioned

Day 34

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I’ve been thinking about lies.

They lied to us. And it pisses me off.

They lied to us when they told us college would make us happy.

Because all it did was saddle our freshly graduated, rosy cheeked, promising young lives with massive debt.

Debt that would force us to keep working, working, working.

They lied to us when they told us finding a good job would make us happy.

Because there aren’t many jobs to go around. Because there are roughly 160 applicants for every opening. Because it turns out being chained to a cubicle for 8 hours a day in order to stuff someone else’s pockets isn’t all that fulfilling.

They lied when they told us a new car, and a new house, a new phone, and a new computer would make us happy.

Because every plastic, shiny new thing steals your hard earned cash, and you become a kind of exhausted slave to all your stuff.

They lied to us when they told us a new marriage, and a new house, and a new baby would make us happy.

Because paying for the new house means working around the clock, which means your new marriage drifts slowly apart, and your new baby is raised by paid strangers.

They said, “don’t worry, keep working!” because when you retire, you’ll get social security, and your hard-earned pension. THEN you can relax, THEN you can really live, travel maybe, climb that mountain you’ve always wanted to climb, swim in the sea.

But many people aren’t getting their pensions, because the companies went out of business, because CEO’s and heads’ of corporations were too busy stuffing their fat wallets, and those were empty promises anyways. And social security is on the ropes, days numbered. “There won’t be anything left by the time you’re my age!” the elders tell us.

And the air is so polluted, and the soil is so contaminated, and the water is so dirty and we’re so sick from eating food that isn’t really food that by the time we’re retired, and ready to start living, we’re lucky if our bones aren’t all chewed up, and our breasts removed, and our lungs all blackened from cancer.

And I’m just sitting here asking, “What would you do if you could do anything? What if, come morning, you didn’t go to that mind numbing job you hate?”

What if you let the new car get repossessed, the new house get foreclosed?

What if you bought land with a small house on it, or traveled from coast to coast, or flew to spain, or bought a new guitar, or bought a library of books,

with the last of your credit cards,

knowing you’d never pay it off? Never even intending to pay a cent.

What if you ruined your credit on purpose,

Just so they could stop holding it over your head?

And when your back’s against the wall, and your new house, and your new car, and all the shiny things are gone, and your credit is gone,

and you must survive by wits alone,

what if it turns out you are incredibly resourceful?

and you start a small business from scratch, or make a small market garden on land you work with others,

and you live with friends, and family,

and you share food, and you have time to enjoy that new marriage, and your beautiful new baby.

And you are finally FREE.

We are wildly disillusioned. But that is our greatest strength.

See through the illusion.

Don’t listen to their lies.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

yes, it’s a huge commitment

Day 33

Revel is restless tonight, running a low fever. Nothing serious, teething maybe, but he wants to be held by his mama even while he sleeps.

It makes writing this challenging, and frustrating.

“That’s the problem.” Wil said, “with writing everyday. It’s a huge commitment.”

And then we looked at each other like, duh, and said “but that’s the point isn’t it?”

Yes it is a huge commitment writing everyday. Yes it is hard to find the time. Yes it means that I’m usually up until 1 or 2 in the morning after a long day of mothering, and taking care, and loving, and living.

Yes it is a huge commitment living in mourning everyday, thinking about what we’re losing, letting myself finally be heartbroken over all of it. My temper is short at times, and sometimes I’m insanely sad.

Yes it is a huge commitment standing in solidarity with the others who are fighting. Finding who and what I stand with, writing to them, spending time with them, learning about them, fighting with them.

And yes, it is a huge commitment finding ways to rebel each day, living in a tiny house, growing food in our garden, learning the Old Ways skills, finding ways to rage against and tear down the culture of destruction we’re locked in.

Yes, it is difficult, and unprecedented, to need to find a way to separate from the culture we were born into.

Yes all of this is a huge commitment. But that’s the point.

That no matter how tough, and uncomfortable, and frustrating, and unfamiliar this all might be,

And maybe BECAUSE this is tough, and uncomfortable, and frustrating, and unfamiliar,

my resolve grows stronger each day.

I am finding my voice, finding my legs, finding my courage.

I will do whatever it takes.

And that, oh  that, makes my heart incredibly happy.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

Our guest post tonight is from Wilson, my amazing husband you hear so much about, fellow activist, and teacher. He designed a  patch for “The Year of Black Clothing: in mourning, in solidarity, in rebellion” movement.

Like the cut on the back of a motorcycle jacket, or the flag of a nation,

a clear and recognizable logo can help to identify and unify a group of people.

If this project resonates with you, and you want to show your support,

or you’re participating in the movement yourself, by wearing black, by mourning, by standing in solidarity, and by rebelling,

We invite you to print out this design, iron it onto an old shirt, and make your own patch out of it.

Pin it to your sleeve, over your heart, on your jeans, or to the front of your bag.

Mourn, stand, rebel.

“Ancient legends say that mourning doves are prophets bringing messages of wisdom to humankind: Mourn what has passed but awaken to the promise of the future.”       

-Julia Hughes Jones

rebel logo

The mourning dove is a close relative of the late Passenger Pigeon.