It's been a while, so this is going to be a long one. Winter hit me for the first time in my life without the cushion of central heat and other modern conveniences. Or money, for that matter. I felt for the first time the sense of urgency to batten down, finish projects, chop enough wood, and gather food before the snows and the crystal cold.
I worked a week of construction to fund propane tanks and flours sacks. I learned how to use an industrial nail gun and began to feel my body change with the new joys of labor to hasten and firm it further.
Also, the last few months have been an intense spirit homecoming as well. It began with a release, allowing myself to grieve. The financial hardships made me consider pawning my piano and Shevy continued to patiently talk me out of it. I finally actually set it up and played. Then I tearfully told him one evening, as the sun set on the mesas through Jo's kitchen window, that I missed playing and that I probably shouldn't sell the piano because music is my primary way of opening my heart. He didn't press the fact that this is what he had been telling me all along. I hadn't played in months, and I hadn't played very much for years. Not since the Armless Children production. He started to do reiki on my left shoulder, which has consistently given me pain since adolescence, and he said there was a black mass there in my chest. More specifically, it dawned on him that it was surrounding my heart. Afterwords, I home drove to my trailer, thinking of the dream I had last winter in which I was speared in the throat by a giant from the depths of a cave. He backed me into the ocean and I turned into a fish. I thought of the black mass as a scar of the wound in my throat, the silence, the silence that had taken me at times through the years into a dark part of myself and I wept behind the wheel watching the crescent moon rise. When I got to my trailer there was a message on the machine. My sister Shannon's cow, Annie, had her calf, a beautiful boy, Gustav.
A few days later I wrote a song and I haven't stopped writing songs since. Music helps me listen, to the birds, the trees. The woods asked me to listen and yet I also knew that I am not meant to walk into the woods to take something, some sort of meaning perhaps, but to give something. I felt strongly that I was meant to sing to the woods, to offer my voice as I had nothing else to give. I found myself terrified, but I sang facing East, greeting the day. I was embarrassed and afraid, even as I knew that I do not have to be afraid of offering and renewal through song. I met my old man in the woods. Not my father, but the adult me I look to as a guide. He said, go ahead and sing, what the hell are you afraid of? Now hardly anyone can get me to shut up. Grandfather Pine, thank you.
Shevy, Max and I finished building their hearth and chimney, the front porch deck, the composting toilet and the stony path to the front door. We moved the pop-up, the Spartan and the chickens to the new acreage on Great White Father Road. Thank you, Jo, for being so infinitely generous. We also have a pregnant pygmy goat, Tina Turner, and two pygmy/la mancha goat crosses, Nelly and Jorge thanks to Jo. She has also let us use her solar panels, so we're pretty well set up now. We have solar power, propane and wood heat, a composting toilet, big water tanks, and if we heat water on the stove, we can even take showers! The day we finished the hearth we went to a bona fide hog roasting up at Tony and Eden's across the valley, which was great fun after all this work setting up the trailer.
Genevieve, Max and I processed apples from one single tree in Ramah in an epic day of making applesauce and apple butter until the wee hours of the morning. Genevieve and I joked that in the city we stayed up past midnight going to shows and in the country we stay up late canning. It was a good laugh and we were quite delirious by the final batch. Afterwords, we still had baskets upon baskets of apples to use. I dried some of them and made apple pie filling to freeze and made up new recipes. So many apples that I wrote a song to honor the tree, called the Apple Tree of Ramah. You Tube posting of the song will come soon! We also made a batch of cherry mead! Yum!
An unexpectedly heavy snowstorm swept through just before Halloween. Our chainsaw wasn't running well to get much wood and I spent a morning sawing juniper by hand with the bow saw. We hadn't gone to the well in time before the blanket of snow trapped us in and so by the second day we were melting snow on the wood stove to drink! I thought it was rather fun and during the snow days I took up drawing again.
Mike and Genevieve left for Thanksgiving and had a few projects to finish before leaving town. I helped them finish the fence for their llama and pygora goats (amazingly cute and I fell in love with them), which we made old-west-style out of juniper limbs and hog wire. It's a good looking fence, if I may say so myself. Also, I helped Genevieve plant their fruit orchard of apples, cherries and apricots and learned a few things about fruit trees from her. I watched their animals and stayed in their vintage bus while they were away. Many things made themselves clear to me while I stayed on their beautiful hill, which lies on the edge of Candy Kitchen near the Zuni Reservation. I heard the elk and slowed down enough finally to feel how the land lived. I learned to cover my spit if I spat on the ground. I learned to walk softly and slowly enough to not need shoes among the rocks and cacti. I learned more about being in the land as much as I would be in myself, in my body, present and grounded. I watched how the red ants worked during the day. I watched how the moon sank like a celestial longboat through black waters, fleeing the wolf Manegarmr, son of Fenrir, as my Norse ancestors would have said. I felt the passage of time as a tree grows to the sky and earth, like Yggdrasil itself, like the corkscrew dance of planets in the cosmos, and how it lives more than it passes.
I drove back to Texas with Jo down to her family near San Antonio and met Ariel later that same day (after driving all night) at a cafe in Wimberly. Wimberly reminded me a little of Oregon, with it's cute little shops and creek-fed forested hills. I had the pleasure of meeting his friends and see the buffalo once more. The next day, the sun and warm breeze on the lake were mesmerizing. It felt like summer. I wrote a song on the shore, watching the water sparkle under the ducks and mating dragonflies. We wandered the grass with our shoes off, singing songs and telling stories. That night we built a fire and stayed out under the skies in our sleeping bags, watching the Geminid Meteors streak across the night.
The next day we drove up to Denton and stayed with Ma and Gramma. The first thing Ariel and I saw was the giant gas rig they erected to drill right behind Gramma's house. The papers have been talking about it and people are making noise, but it infuriates me that it is still legal to drill that close to residential areas. It is not acceptable. More on this later...
Cardo's Farm is always evolving and so much has happened in the last few years. The Denton farmer's market is expanding and more people seem to want to get involved. I got to meet the bull calf, Gustav. And I got to be a part of chicken harvest, which involved 30 or so chickens. We had a plucker, which made it easier. This time, the logistics and flow of cleaning the birds really sunk in and yet it is still difficult spiritually. It felt good to gather and offer thanks and prayer for the birds beforehand. I am still processing this cycle.
It's Christmas day and I'm about to start helping Ma make yummy foods, so I'll wrap this up real quick like. All in all, this winter has transformed me in ways I had not expected and I am finding that every moment is another step towards myself, my calling. That's a damn good feeling. Thank you friends and family, I love you more than words can describe.