Travel Blessing

Lady Brigid bless this place,
Bless it with your strength and grace
Bless it now from stem to stern,
Keep it safe till I return.
By this charm cast three times three,
As I will so must it be.

Victory Gardens

Victory gardens first became “a thing” back in World War I and II. The name evoked the struggles occurring “over there,” and what people back home could do to aid in that conflict. One of my earliest memories is of a poster that my uncle, a WWI historian, had hanging in his dining room.  It showed an enormous basket overflowing with produce, boldly stating “Food IS Ammunition.”  Something like 8 millions tons of food was produced by victory gardeners, by some estimates 41% of the vegetables consumed at the time.

Eventually, victory gardens fell out of fashion, and growing your own food was a sign of poverty rather than patriotism. Then in the 1980s, WGBH Boston ran a series called Crockett’s Victory Garden. This along with the Joy of Painting (“happy little trees!”), was a Saturday afternoon staple of my childhood. Mr. Crockett led viewers through the basics of growing all sorts of vegetables and fruit at home. It was a great introduction to gardening, and I still frequently refer to his planting timelines in my very dog-eared copy of his companion book.

Unfortunately, Mr. Crockett’s methods were less than organic. He advocated the use of 5-10-5 fertilizers, as well as excessive soil augmentation with peat moss. Compost was mentioned for sure, but not in the amounts that most organic gardeners today would recommend.  Our understanding of soil biology and species interdependence has increased greatly over the past 30 years, casting a very different light on what used to be time honored practices.

Still, I think Mr. Crockett’s message of growing your own food not only for survival, but for pleasure was an important one.  I know in raising my own son, I very much want him to understand where his food comes from–both animal and vegetable.  To this end, we help raise chickens as well as encourage Hufflespawn to work with me in the community garden. The child who will not eat tomatoes in a restaurant has no problem plucking them off the vine and munching on them while we’re out in the garden.  It’s one more example of how the food that we get from the supermarket is so inferior to what we can grow ourselves.

Now we find ourselves in another era where gardening is becoming not just a hobby, but a necessity. With rising food costs, many people find that being able to provide one’s own vegetables can greatly decrease grocery bills. In addition it reconnects us with the land in a vitally important way. I’m not a big fan of declaring war on anything (look where the wars on drugs and poverty have gotten us), but seeking victory in the realms of nutrition, self-sufficiency, and land-connection is surely a worthy goal for its own sake. And I do think it’s possible to declare a victory without ever declaring a war.

Long live the Victory Garden!

Best News I’ve Had All Week

Brewer Brook conservation area.

Brewer Brook conservation area.

That would be this article in the Worcester Telegram.

As I mentioned back in October of last year, the original plan would have put a 12″ gas pipeline through some of the conservation land in our town.  The gas would not have been available to residents, and there was a significant risk to the land and wildlife (especially considering much of our town conservation land consists of swamps–because it’s always smart to build delicate infrastructure on soggy ground, right?).  My drinking water comes from an artesian aquifer, and it’s something that could potentially be contaminated by undetected leaks in such a pipeline.  And of course there’s the immediate impact of the construction on countless birds, fish, amphibians and mammals.

Thankfully, the local uproar was so big, that it even reached the ears of Massachusetts State Senator Elizabeth Warren (who I desperately wish were running for President, but that’s another post entirely).  Our state representative, Harold Naughton, really put his shoulder to the wheel for his constituents on this one.  It’s been an amazing example of democracy at work, and is an undeniable victory for the communities of Berlin, Boylston, and Bolton.

Unfortunately, the fight isn’t truly over.  Only this one section of the pipeline was scrapped. I’m under no illusion that the larger project will go likely forward, further fueling our insatiable appetites for petrochemicals.  At least my one little corner is safe for now.  I can only hope others in the state are as successful as we have been in their fights to prioritize the environment over more mindless consumption of an ever-dwindling resource.

Sawyer Hill Sauté

Happy Memorial Day! As usual, our cohousing community had a great big potluck in honor of the holiday. I took the opportunity to do some weeding in the community garden and found a whole lot of Lambsquarters, sometimes called goosefoot, which I thought would make a great addition to the potluck. I cooked them in olive oil with some walking onions and lemon verbena, which we grew in the herb garden. In all, it turned out to be quite a tasty dish!

I love being able to introduce my neighbors to the forageables that grow wild on our land. There’s something fitting about the community eating food that comes from where we all live, plants that most people discard, not even knowing that the land supports us in so many different ways. It’s a way for me to share my Druidry beyond a very specific spiritual circle, into my broader community.  


Gifts of Meadow and Mire

Freshly laid frog eggs.

Freshly laid frog eggs.

Fuzzy fiddleheads erupt from the floor of the pine grove.

Fuzzy fiddleheads erupt from the floor of the pine grove.

Dandelions mark the natural date of Beltaine on our land.  It was 5 days later than the calendar date this year.

Dandelions mark the natural date of Beltaine on our land. It was 5 days later than the calendar date this year.

Still working on identifying these lovlies.

Still working on identifying these lovlies.

Garlic mustard is gaining more and more of a foothold, sadly.  I will be making a lot of pest this year.

Garlic mustard is gaining more and more of a foothold, sadly. I will be making a lot of pesto this year.

The swans have returned.  I can't wait to see if we get cygnets again this year!

The swans have returned. I can’t wait to see if we get cygnets again this year!