In the Sonoran Desert last week we walked carefully through Saguaros to a beloved canyon where water runs through the desert. Do you have places besides your home where a particular landscape and a feeling of absolute belonging are intertwined? It happens to me every time in that hot country my husband hails from, and where we found one another. Relatives, thrift stores, palm trees and fragrant creosote bushes watered by rain also help.
Back home, the cottonwoods are shining bright. At the Leonora Curtin wetlands, named for our favorite old time ethnobotanist, there is a Land Arts installation up until Nov 9th (you should go). Can you see the map of the USA poking up through those reeds? We mapped our own lives on the trails there during our visit, walking in the bright sun, beneath the glowing trees, to the edge of the water. One of the pieces was about pligrimage, what we carry in our bundles, how we bless our children and our days. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
This morning we rose into the still dark day, our home disordered from travel and time in the woods and world, the kids sick, and the to-do list blessedly empty of anything but one formidable task: Restore balance. As my husband readied himself to teach another round of Faust to 12th graders after a late night of grading, I said to him, “Let’s just move as gently as we can through the week, and see if we can catch up with ourselves at some point.”
He laughed (was it wryly?), and said, “Like we always do?”
Well, like we try to anyways. This season our community has had its spattering of births, unexpected deaths, weddings, divorces, reunions and celebrations in the midst of the ordinary unfolding of our lives. How does a pilgrim walk through her days? What gets carried, and where in the world is she going?
Not unrelated but somewhat tangentially, (for one never knows when the blogger will return to her post) the Santa Fe Harvest Swap was yesterday. I brought a big batch of goat milk soap, a handful of face creams, tea blends from my garden and the wild, and half a dozen Elderberry tinctures. Here is what came home:
In the freezer: 1/2 a pastured rooster, a jar of pastured chicken liver mousse (paté right?), pesto, & green chile sauce.
In the fridge: Tortillas, lard, lactofermented apple sauce, pink kraut, & dilly carrots, cultured butter, pickled beets, & fermented cod liver oil fertilizer (hmm, but was that lacto-fermented?).
In the pantry: Zaatar spice blend, beeswax birthday candles, two apple butters, apricot ginger jam, a pint of honey, dried apricots, watermelon lemon grass jelly (!), and my perennial favorite rosehip apple jelly.
In the medicine chest: Calendula salve and oil, herbal chest rub, arnica-St. John’s wort salve, and a jar of coconut deodorant.
In other words, not your average trip to the grocery store. It is really something to behold the collective abundance that these swaps celebrate; this is just a very incomplete sample of all that was there. It is quite an experience to show up with my bit of creativity and gleanings from the garden and land at large and be blessed with so much in exchange.
Is this a metaphor for life, friends? May the days be gentle with you as you walk through them.
ps. of all the thoughtful things being written about autumn right now, this is my current favorite.