We are deeply breathing in all the simple gifts that surround us on this piece of land. Our gratitude practice begins each day with yoga, breath, and prayer. Gratitude is with us as we end each day with a simple bedtime ritual. The family acknowledges 3 ( or sometimes more) things that we are particularly grateful for that evening. Our son Moss usually counts off a dozen things, always ending that he is grateful for “everything in the world that is good.” Maizie often talks about gratitude for good communication, friends and good health. Sometimes we acknowledge the simple gifts of good hard work, our loving family, good friends, seeds, music, or even blackberries. It’s a lovely way to ground our energy at the end of the day, and send the kids off to sleep with good thoughts.
After a long bout of uncertain weather and late rains, we have finally moved into our outside summer bed. What a treat it is to breathe fresh mountain air all evening, and bathe in the moonlight as the moon waxes, or delight in the twinkling stars as the moon grows dark. I treasure this time, and it gives me a reason to love the dry season more deeply. Sometimes we are treated to an owlsong, or even the gutteral call of a mountain lion off in the distance. We are surrounded by hundreds of acres of wild land, and the land is a corridor for many animals, both furry and winged.
Harvest is now upon us, as we bring in wheelbarrow loads of produce of all colors. Tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, carrots, beets grace our table daily. I have been making simple refrigerator pickles, using cukes, dill, spices and salt brine. The lacto-fermentation brings a healthy dose of homegrown probiotics to our table, making our bellies happy. These are a Marketmore 80 cucumber that we will offer for seed through Sierra Seeds.
Another gift we are seeing develop is the “Gete Okosomin” squash. This past winter I had the pleasure of visiting Winona Laduke and her friends up at the White Earth community in Minnesota. ( for those of you who are not aware of what an incredible teacher and activist Winona is, check out this video!!) White Earth Land Recovery Project hosts an annual Indigenous Farming Conference, and many of us braved the Great Lakes blizzards to convene to talk about food and seed sovereignty within First Nations communities.
I was invited to talk about seed stewardship and crop improvement. I was gifted a handful of seeds from the “Gete Okosomin,” which has an incredible story. It is an 800 year-old squash which originated in an Anishanaabe archeological dig. The squash seeds survived for 800 years in a clay pot. White Earth Land Recovery Project grew fifty of them, and now have seeds to share with Native communities across the North Country. Now the squash is served to elders, children, and used for ceremonies at White Earth. Stories such as these remind us of the resilient nature of seeds and life. We are now proud to steward these seeds, and are now growing them on our farm. We laugh at the thought that this particular handful of “Gete Okosomin” seeds have made the trek to California, and they are thriving in the warm California sunshine. Here are the fruits that have set already, the plants are loaded! This is a Curcubita maxima, which have delightfully large leaves and flowers.
Seed stories make me one happy seed farmer. This is what sits at the heart of what we do here. Depth and devotion infuse our daily work, which make our seed songs that much more meaningful. It is to this lineage of seed keepers and seed ancestors that we are in service to. Loving service from the heart with every seed planted, every weed tended, every drop of water that soaks into the soil.
Sometimes the simple gifts are in the laughter and play on the farm. Our children are wonderful reminders of this vital part of life. Here are a few shots of playful joy that we have captured these past weeks:
We are stewarding some new plants on the farm this year. My husband Gordon has been enjoying the health benefits of the ayurvedic herb, Ashwaghanda ( Withania somnifera), so we decided to try our hand at growing it. It is in the Solanaceae family, so it is a relative to tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers. It is a nutrative tonic and adaptogen, and it has amazing rejuvenating qualities. The roots of the plant are used to make teas and tinctures, but as seed stewards, we are also interested in the seeds. Fortunately for us, we will be able to reap both from these plants, as the seeds come in the form of little tomatillo-like husked fruits. We will be able to harvest both the medicinal roots and the seeds, satisfying both our needs. We are excited to find that ashwaghanda grows with great ease here in our bioregion, and are looking forward to cultivation of this herb for many years to come. It is homegrown healthcare. Here are some pictures of the plants in flower and the new fruits developing.
Growing next to the ashwaghanda is our sweet Tulsi, the sacred basil. We are finished harvesting the leaves, and have allowed it to go to flower to make seeds. If you could only catch the fragrance and the vibration of the pollinators who are enjoying the sweet nectar. The amazing sight that I haven’t been able to capture in photo is the fact that the pollen grains that the honeybees gather from the Tulsi flowers are bright red! I never knew the tulsi pollen was red. Life’s sweet gifts. This is our bed of Tulsi for seed, about 60 row feet.
The leek seed is just about to dry down into seeds.
And the nectarine has more fruit than we have seen yet. Just a few more weeks and they will be ready to eat!
And our chicks are now growing up! They are fully feathered, and are fitting in nicely with the whole flock. We still haven’t sorted out who is a rooster of the brood, but I have a hunch that there is at least two of them that will develop into roosters. The mama hens continue to give us eggs.
I leave you this week with an affirmation that I have been partial to this week, as we see the simple gifts in our surroundings. Our neighbors at the Ananda community have a beautiful pond full of lotus flowers, that remind me of the Divine love that infuses everything around us. The affirmation is: “My heart is a fountain a peace. I bathe myself in Divine Love.” May this bring you peace and a mindfulness of the simple gifts in your life.
Have a glorious week!!