Stone Night

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The essence of Earth is stability and strength. In the deep of winter, frozen soil holds stones and pebbles immovable. Cool and dry, Earth is the densest and most static of the elements.

I used to believe that emotions were the greatest threat to stability, like the pounding of waves on the shore grinding pebbles into sand. But an excess of intellect can also be detrimental, subversive thoughts eating away at an already shaky foundation. Passion can likewise burns away the stoutest of roots, destroying a forest from beneath.

Earth need not stand in opposition to her brothers and sisters. Water, Air, and Fire can shape and hone Earth’s solid foundation, creating circulation and an environment where living things can grow. It is a question of balance, of how each element supports its fellows. Building up is tempered by tearing down. Both processes are necessary in order to achieve a dynamic balance.

Tonight I give thanks for the strength and solidity of Earth, for the firm base it creates for the rest of my work. I give thanks for the fruits that I eat, for the frozen grass beneath my feet. I give thanks for the sensual pleasures available in this life, for the cup of tea after a hike in the cold, for the scent of cinnamon wafting from the kitchen, for my son’s wet puppy kisses while I’m cooking.

Hail Earth, Twilight Stone of Autumn!

Enter the Pac Choi!

The community garden is rumbling along at its own steady pace. The past weekend was a bit frantic, trying to get the field prepped for tilling on Monday, but we squeaked through, pulling out the last of the winter “rock crop” just as Bob C. arrived with his tractor. Our amendments of choice this year were bone meal (phosphorus) and urea (nitrogen), since last year’s crops were disappointing in their hardiness. However, I am *very* happy not to be turning everything by hand this spring, which is what ended up happening last year. Yes, it was a low-carbon footprint/free exercise way of doing things, but it took two weekends and my glutes were scolding me for a month!

Newly amended and cultivated field garden

One advantage of pooling resources is pooling compost. Below is a shot of the mountain collected from various households as well as landscaping debris. We’re aiming for a “turn-less” system (which is what the 4′ pvc pipe is supposed to help with), but we had too much volume for a single vent to handle. The goal this year is to build a couple more boxes, and see if smaller piles won’t keep hotter and ultimately be handled by the pipe method.

Mt. Compost

And, as promised, baby plant pic spam!

Baby kale

Baby lettuce

Baby spinach & pac choi

Lastly, our garden guardian, the Toad Cairn. Last year I found a mummified toad amongst the tomatoes, and I asked if it would like to stay and help keep watch over our crops. I built him a little toad tomb in the northeast corner of the garden, from which he can survey his domain.

Toad cairn

 

Back from Break

…and I’ve got a basket full of tomatoes under my arm. Yellows, reds, blacks, and greens, all just begging to be munched.

This is going to be one of those “natural sciences” posts, so for those of you not in the New England area, you may be bored to tears. (In fact, you may be bored even if you are from New England!)

Anyway, the approach of hurrican Irene has got me thinking about weather and magic. Not weather magic, which can be tricky to say the least, but the relationship between the two, and how being able to read the clouds for approaching rain does indeed seem magical to me, who is largely dependent on Doppler forecasts and the such. I mean, we know a tropical storm is coming because of our technology. How would we have handled it without the weatherman?

The past few months I’ve been trying to learn what the cloud patterns are in our region. We’re fortunate in that there’s a nice clear view of the sky that lets me watch their progress from west to east (if they’re going the other way, it’s usually some pretty bad stuff coming). The only pretty reliable sequence I’ve noticed so far is the clear blue sky followed by cirrus clouds usually means rain 36-48 hours later. Now my goal is to further refine this by watching the speed and timing of the clouds as well as their type.

And, while I’ve had my head in the clouds, I’ve also been paying attention to the ground under my feet—particularly apt since we had a 5.9 earthquake here on the East Coast a few days ago. The US Geological Survey (USGS) has some wonderful resources available online, including geological and topographic maps. Through these, I’ve been able to discover just what type of bedrock I’m living on: part of the Nashoba formation, apparently. Our particular part is composed of sillimanite schist and gneiss, partly sulfidic; amphibolite, biotite gneiss, calc-silicate gneiss, and marble are also present. It’s also bedrock that was formed during the Proterozoic era—before there was life on Earth—so it’s pretty frickin’ old. I’m hoping I can find samples of all these rock types around our community. (Hmmm, actually might make for a pretty cool earth altar in the back yard…)

Anyway, the overarching point of this post is that, to me, part of being a Druid is understanding the natural patterns in the land. The sky, the rocks, the moon and sun, they’re all part of that. The deeper I can delve into their rhythms, the better I’ll be able to synch with the land, for my own good and that of my community. I want to be able to do it myself, to be able to listen, watch, and feel the currents flowing around me. And I’m getting there, slowly.

But for now, the weatherman’s still a pretty good resource.

—A.V.