We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The local

Beltane                                                                            Sumi-e Moon

breathe thich-nhat-hanh-calligraphy

breathe thich-nhat-hanh-calligraphy

Forgot how exhausting real studying can be. My goal was to finish Rovell’s book, The Order of Time, before qabbalah last night. I did it. But I had to read and ponder for several hours over the last two days. Much of the work is clear, even if challenging to understand. Some of it, especially about the quantum world, was  damned difficult. Some of it I didn’t get. That’s o.k. Confusion is the sweat of the intellect. A lot of sweat in that small text.

My reward? At kabbalah last night I found the discussion needed the insights Rovelli offers. But I didn’t understand them well enough to add them to the discussion. Result? Cognitive dissonance. The question last night was, does the future exist? Rovelli answer: at the quantum level, no. No past, no present, no future. No time. Just events occurring in no particular order. Kabbalists answer, no. The past and the future only exist in the present. Sounds similar, but it’s not. No time is no time.

And, Rovelli established to my satisfaction that there is no present, even at the Newtonian level. The easiest example is a moment, A, happening on earth. Is it in the same present, a universal present we assume exists for the whole universe, as an event on Proxima, three light years away? No. It is in the same moment as an action on Proxima three years from now. In this example, thanks to distance we can see that our present does not match up to Proxima’s.

present_moment_wonderful_moment-300x224Here’s the real trick in Rovelli’s book though. The present is highly local. The present is a construct meaningful only within the part of the universe with which we are in direct relation. So my present here on Shadow Mountain is different than the one down the hill in Aspen Park or down the hill even further in Denver.

We can only know the present through direct relationship. Why? Well, consider this. Let’s say I want to know what’s happening right now in Aspen Park. How can I do that? I’m not there. I could call, but dialing takes time, so by the time I’ve connected with Aspen Park, the moment I’m reaching is no longer the present about which I wondered a moment ago. Even a reply takes time to reach me from Aspen Park over the phone. It’s the same problem as Proxima, just on a different scale.

localPicky? I don’t think so. The present is just that. Now. But I can discover no other present without encountering it after mine has already disappeared.  This highly local nature of the present unhinges our assumption of time as a constant, the same everywhere. No, in fact it’s exactly not the same everywhere. You have to let that trickle in, at least I did.

And, there’s more! But I need to re-read the book to get it. Not right now. Not enough energy.

Polyagnostic

Beltane                                                                                    Mountain Moon

Rabbi Rami Shapiro spoke to Beth Evergreen parents on how to talk about god to their kids. 20180512_112730You can see on the board four terms and a fifth, panentheism, finishes it. (That’s Rami to the left standing and Rabbi Jamie to his right.) I think the first four are well known, panentheism perhaps not so much so. While pantheism says god is everything and everything is god, (all-god), panentheism says nature is part of god but god is more than that, too, perhaps even beyond time and space. The most well known panentheist, at least when I was in sem, admittedly 45 years or so ago, was Alfred North Whitehead, proponent of process theology.

My brother Mark asked me recently whether I was a theist or a deist. I wrote back, sort of tongue in cheek, polytheist atheist. This morning I thought, polyatheist. I like the contradiction, the tension between these two words. All the words on Rami’s sheet  assume a monotheistic stance in which one believes, does not believe, doubts, makes coincident with nature or inclusive of nature but not limited by it. None of them describe my location in the world of god thought.

BelievePerhaps better, polytheist agnostic. Even that doesn’t carry quite the right emphasis. What was it they said on the x-files? I want to believe? When I graduated from college, yes, it was 1969, 49 years ago, I decided to revisit Christianity. I chose to use Soren Kierkegaard’s leap of faith as a model. After reading his Fear and Trembling, I decided I would live as if the Christian god were real and that the gospel stories were true. That’s how I ended up in seminary in 1971.

It was not a perfect reenchantment of my world. A lot of Christianity, even then, I just ignored. Nothing would have made me predeterminist or even one interested in salvation beyond this life. The God and the Jesus I believed in were guarantors of a just world, a world where evil could be fought successfully and where evil denied our essential oneness as a species, allowing certain people to feel privileged due to race, gender, wealth, nationality, sexual preference. “Let justice roll down waters, righteousness like an everflowing stream.” Micah 5:24 Or, Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

che-liberationMartin Luther King, liberation theology, Jesus as a revolutionary those were my touchstones. Yes, I meditated, prayed, interpreted scripture, very occasionally served the sacraments, but the core of my shift from college non-belief to Christian clergy lay in the political implications of Christianity. This was a thin rationale for a metaphysical commitment. And, it broke apart. By the time I left the Presbyterian ministry in 1991, the scaffolding of bible, god, jesus, prayer had long ago collapsed.

When my then spiritual director, John Ackerman, said, “Charlie, you might be a druid,” I laughed. Then, I thought, hmmm. No, not a druid, but yes one whose religious instincts lead him to the garden, not for a last prayer before crucifixion, but as a participant in the web of life, hands in the soil. This was reinforced when Kate suggested I look for a particular focus for my writing. Since part of leaving the ministry meant novels, I took her suggestion seriously.

Duncan, John; The Riders of the Sidhe; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council); http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-riders-of-the-sidhe-92342

Duncan, John; The Riders of the Sidhe; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection

I have two broad genealogic streams in my dna, Irish and Welsh, and German. Ellis and Correll for the Celtic side, Spitler and Zike for the Germanic. I chose the Celtic side first, exploring the realm of Celtic religion. The Celtic Faery Faith, a book by W.Y. Evans Wentz, who went on to translate and make popular, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, was an early influence. As I got deeper and deeper into crafting novels, always fantasy, always with an ancient religion at their heart, I began to entertain strange thoughts.

pregnantgoddessWhat if Cernunnos, the horned god of nature in Celtic myth, was real? Tailte, a Celtic goddess of the earth, came from a euhemerized Welsh woman. Euhemerus, a Greek mythologist, lived in the late 4th century B.C.E., and proposed that myth was an exaggerated account of the lives and deeds of real people. Thus, euhemerization might suppose that behind Zeus there was a strong, dominant man who ruled imperiously over his people. Or, that a certain Welsh woman, a gardener and farmer, one with a remarkable ability to make things grow and to find useful plants and animals in the wild, might become an Earth goddess. So euhemerization blurs the line between the real and the mythical. Had Cernunnos been a hunter so in touch with his prey that his success seemed super-human?

A more recent and accessible example of another myth-making process is Pele on the Big Island. Perhaps Pele was a strong, fiery Hawai’ian woman of long ago, one drawn to the vulcanism of her homeland. Perhaps she danced with the lava, foretold eruptions, protected people from the ravages of sulphuric gases. She may have come to hold the role of goddess of fire, goddess of the vital forces beneath the Hawai’ian archipelago, through repeated tales of her amazing feats. Or, it might be that ancient Hawai’ians personified the enigmatic and brutal forces of Mauna Kea, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa just as the residents of Leilani Estates have done since the eruptions began last week.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Youth of Bacchus (1884)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – The Youth of Bacchus (1884)

In my own post-Christian world these sorts of gods and goddesses resonate. The notion of one deity behind it all, a wizard or sorceress of creation, seems silly. That certain groups might confuse the god they hold closest with a monotheistic deity makes sense to me; that others might actually agree with them makes no sense to me. There cannot be more than one, one god. Simple logic.

When two groups assert that their god is The One, one of them has to be wrong and in my opinion, both are. Which leaves us where? Well, the assertion of two all-powerful deities makes sense to anyone with a polytheistic bent. Why is Allah any more sensible than Athena? Why is Yahweh any more divine than the triple-goddess Brigit? Why is Brahma more explanatory of cosmic matters than Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu?

polytheismSo, I have become a polyagnostic. I doubt the existence of all the gods and goddesses ever imagined. I do not chose Yahweh to doubt anymore than I choose faeries and Odin to doubt. Yet. I want to believe. I want to see Pele at work in the now 18 fissures breaking through the human hubris of Leilani Estates. I want to find the god and the goddess, Cernunnos and the Maid, frolicking naked in the fields of Beltane. I want to see the Wild Hunt cross the sky. And, yes, I’d like to see Yahweh deliver the tablets or speak from the bush. Hell, I’d even like to watch Allah send Mohammad by horse to the temple mount, through the sky. I could stand in the Mithraeum and be doused by blood or water. It’s not hard to imagine, for me, diving into a holy well and ending up in the Otherworld.

What I’m trying to say here is that my doubt is not tied to the monotheistic faiths, rather it is tied to the polytheistic nature of global religious thought. Polyagnostic. I doubt and embrace all gods and goddesses, all nymphs, daiads, faeries, banshees, rashis, and chupacabras.

odinIf we were to divide polyagnosticism into two camps, one leaning toward belief and one leaning toward polyatheism, I would be in the leaning toward belief group. I suppose that’s what keeps me a friend of all sorts of religious belief systems, all sorts though not all. I believe in the numinous, in the unseen mystery, in the still small voice that comes from the rock, the mountain top, the flowing river, the growing grass, the blooming flower. I believe it’s no accident that these forces have been named sacred, called divine. I think it’s appropriate to anthropomorphize them, to find in the wind Boreas, to find in the magma chamber, Pele, to find on Mt. Sinai, Yahweh. These are sources of wonder for me and ones I cherish.

I just don’t know which ones are more real than the others, or, if they’re all real in some way. I’m not even sure I know what real means or could mean here.

Reenchanted

Beltane                                                                                  Mountain Moon

kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Still fascinated by the eruption of Kilauea. The Leilani Estates, houses bursting into flame, residents standing dazed by their vehicles after evacuating, monster movie scenes like the one below, show humans as do many Song dynasty paintings, small and insignificant next to mountains and rivers.

Listening to residents of the Leilani estates describe the shock is a lesson in reenchantment of the world. There were expressions of grief, of course, and bewilderment. All knew this possibility existed, but, like residents of flood plains and the wildlife-urban interface (us here on Shadow Mountain), hoped they would be spared. The lure is beauty. Always beauty. We take risks to live in beautiful places.

At the Columbian Exposition

At the Columbian Exposition

Some said things like, “Well, if madame Pele wants the land…” “Pele goes where she wants.” There was, in these remarks, no irony that I could detect. No wink, wink, you know what I really mean. The native Hawai’ian’s faith in Pele, given witness by the offerings at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and numerous legends and dances, has, at least partially, reenchanted the Big Island for haoles (non natives). Whether they believe in a real, physical goddess or not, probably not, I sense the feelings of awe and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans that Rudolf Otto associates with the numinous, the essential components of the holy.

What’s happening at Leilani Estates is similar, perhaps the same, as my experience here on Shadow Mountain when I came for the closing on our home. The three mule deer bucks in our backyard, curious and welcoming, were mountain spirits blessing our move. I knew it while standing there with them, present with them in this new, strange place. It is not, in other words, that the numinous has disappeared from our encounters, only that we have unlearned how to know it. The reductive nature of scientism, that attempt to totalize our understanding with numbers and equations and laws, and the restrictive arrogant nature of religions certain that they know truth, has blinded us to the numinous.

numinousReenchantment has a precursor experience, a moment when we embrace the awe and the mystery, a feeling that we each experience, perhaps even experience often (childbirth, death, sunrise, the greening and flowering of spring, a snowstorm, bitter cold, blazing heat, the vastness of the ocean, love), but a feeling we have allowed others to reframe for us. The laws and beauty of scientific understanding do not explain away, as many assume. They are descriptive, a language of their own about the world in which we live. But they have not stripped out awe and mystery though men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens insist on it. Empiricists, fed by scientism, want to suggest only through data and analysis can we know the truth.

numinous universe-2Or, the experience of the Celts and the Roman Catholic church is instructive here, one faith’s certainty can leave no room for the numinous anywhere but in their dogma, their rituals. Catholics built churches over Celtic holy wells. They deployed words like heretics and blasphemers and pagans to undercut the authority of the old faith. They appropriated Celtic holidays by turning Lugnasa into Lammas, Samain into All Saints. Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism says it well, “It is not the seeking of God that is the problem, it is the certainty of those who believe they have found God that is the problem.”

We can learn from the residents of Leilani Estates. We live in a wild universe, one well beyond our capacity to either control or understand. When we can set aside the certainty of others, the narrow thinking, and open ourselves to awefull and wonder of wilderness home, then we can know the ordinary holy, the secular sacred, the profane faith of those whose revelations no longer come from books or laboratories, but from that wilderness itself. That is reenchantment, that is reconstruction, that is a reimagined faith.

Beltane Pardon

Beltane                                                                        Mountain Moon

Beltane 2018

Beltane                                                                                         Mountain Moon

cernunnosEarth has come round the sun again to the second half of the Celtic year, marked by Beltane or Mayday, the start of the growing season. I’m going to try something new this Beltane and introduce at least a half year’s emphasis, a theme of sorts. Mountains. Yes, I’m working on Jennie’s Dead and the sumi-e and qabbalah, but I want to extend the mountain moon’s influence to Samain, to Summer’s End, six months away. On that day, the Celtic New Year, I’ll reassess.

Beltane is the day when the horned god, Cernunnos, and the Maiden aspect of the triple goddess consummate their sacred marriage which fertilizes mother earth and gives energy to plant and animal life for the season of sun and warmth. The spring ephemerals lance their way toward the sun daffodils, grape hyacinths, bitter-root, crocus among others. The color palette shifts from grays and whites and browns to wild purples, vibrant yellows, subtle whites, deep blues. Buds come on the trees. Animal babies begin their perilous lives here in the mountains. This is the true easter, the moment of resurrection. Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.

beltane_2017On this day a market week would commence among the ancient Celts, one where handfast marriages could be performed, women would leap over fires to enhance fertility, cattle would be driven between bonfires to ward off disease and young couples would go into the fields and imitate the marriage of Cernunnos and the Maid, adding their magic to that of the god and the goddess.

I want to take into myself that energy, the fecund moment that Beltane offers us, and use it to enhance my appreciation of our mountain home as the earth blossoms forth with food and flowers, new life of all kinds.

Homey

Spring                                                                        Mountain Moon

the political side

the political side

Played domestic goddess yesterday. Wash dishes. Make taco meat. Three loads of laundry. Feed dogs twice. Make supper. Pick up. Take out the trash this morning. The duties of an ordinary housewife of the 1950’s, coupled with raising the kids, would have been physically and mentally exhausting. No wonder they wanted to go to work. It’s easier.

Whole process getting simpler, better understood, flowing with the tao of the moment which is nurture and be nurtured.

We went to see Jackie yesterday at Aspen Roots. Better coiffed now. I’m enjoying the well groomed look. It’s all persona. Cut the hair. Let it grow. Trim the beard. Let it flow. Just different. Since this look is less counter cultural, I feel it less. It’s a way of hiding in plain sight.

Cleaned up

Cleaned up

Decided a few days ago that I’d stick, for now, to my resistance workouts and some modest cardio before and after them. That’s three days a week, leaving me four days to do house work or take care of other matters. It’s better because I’m not feeling short changed on those days I usually do my longer and high intensity cardio. I’m good at getting back to the routine after I’ve changed it, so it’s only a matter of time.

Today is a workout day but before that I’m going to fold laundry and wash my bee suit. Hiving some bees on Saturday morning for Beth Evergreen and I want to look spiffy. Part of the well-coiffed thing, I guess. Can’t find my hive tool or my full body bee suit. Gotta be here somewhere, but I can’t find them.

Kabbalah tonight. More on time.

housework_thumbWhich brings me back to housework. Housework, in its earthy, basic realm, is a microcosm of the Great Wheel. It’s a cycle that never finishes, food must be bought and cooked, trash discarded, dishes cleaned. Then again and again and again. Likewise clothing gets soiled and must be washed, folded, put away. Toilets and counters and floors and windows get dirty, then cleaned, then dirty, then cleaned. It’s a great wheel because it relates to the true life needs of us all and is, as a result, repetitive, but powerful.

 

Liberated and Vital

Spring                                                                        New Shoulder Moon

Tteokguk

Tteokguk

The full new shoulder moon hangs over Black Mountain right now. It’s the middle of Nisan in the Jewish lunar calendar, the first month of the year. Passover is a spring festival, not unlike the ones in Asia that we tend to call Chinese and Korean New Year. It’s especially similar to the Korean Spring Festival. At that festival the whole nation eats tteokguk, rice cake soup. When they finish the soup, they are all one year older. Passover reinforces a sense of tribal (national) identity for Jews all around the world through eating the Seder meal.

Matthias Grunewald

Matthias Grunewald

It was also Easter yesterday. Easter marks out Christianity’s most unusual and defining theological belief, that Jesus died on the cross and rose three days later, defeating death. Strip away all the institutional hoo-hah accreted over the last two thousand plus years, all the dogma spun out of the dross of fevered thought, and this is what Christianity means: death is either an illusion or temporary. Without the resurrection Christianity is a watered down Judaism, a Middle Eastern faith borne of a particular moment in time in a particular ethnic space. Resurrection is its bid for universality and a good one.

It was a big weekend for Middle Eastern religion, two of the three distinctive monotheisms, the Abrahamic faiths, celebrated key events in their sacred years. I feel both part of these events and to the side of them. I have incorporated the secular understanding of liberation and Jewish identity underscored by pesach and the pagan meaning of resurrection found in the rites of spring. They are part of me now.

Happy holidays.

 

Ancient Holidays

Spring                                                                       New Shoulder Moon

Chagall, Pesach

Chagall, Pesach

It’s the second night of pesach tonight and tomorrow morning is easter. Liberation and resurrection, or liberation and death’s final bow. Resurrection is hard to integrate since its hard proof lies beyond the veil of this world. Liberation, on the other hand, is much easier to integrate because it applies to so many this worldly situations: slavery, imprisonment, forced poverty, mental illness, racial and gender and sexual preference discrimination, being in Trump’s America.

Both are important to me. I long ago left behind the death is no more school of theology. It seems cruel to me, an assertion confounded at every death bed, every school shooting, every war. Death still rides her pale horse, galloping through the living world and pruning, pruning, pruning.

I do, however, retain my confidence in resurrection; that is, the power of the changing world to incorporate death and decay as precursors for life. Each spring, as our temperate latitude winter fades away, bright green shoots spear their way through the soil’s surface. Flowers bloom. Vegetables grow. Trees leaf out. Lambs and kids and calves and piglets are born. All these are evidence of transubstantiation, the literal changing of grapes and bread into our bodies. This transformation happens regularly and green burial will help us remember that we humans do participate in it, that concrete, water-tight “vaults” and expensive coffins do not shield us from our part in the web of life.

El Greco

El Greco

This weekend presents to us two powerful stories, stories that have changed the world: the exodus from Egypt of Hebrew slaves and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, known by many as the Christ. Narratives have real potency, the ability to change lives, turn the pages of history, answer our deepest questions, quiet our deepest fears. Oddly, you can see this power even more clearly if you take a stance just outside the metaphysical claims, but not in the camp of folks like the new atheists, who are simply boring.

I’m neither Christian nor Jew, my metaphysics is bound up in the ongoing evolution of the universe and literally rooted in the soil of the midwest and the hard rock of these mountains where I now live. Even so, liberation and resurrection, through the stories of the passover and easter, are important to me, tell me about human possibility, about the human capacity to face enslavement and grief with hope, with the chance to turn both into moments of human triumph.

Though it has taken me a while to learn the rudimentary geology of our immediate neighborhood, I now know that we live among three mountains. We live on Shadow Mountain, up a valley that runs from its base to our home. On the opposite side, the west side of this valley, is Conifer Mountain and then, the mountain most visible from our house, Black Mountain.

Black Mountain

Black Mountain

Think of the changes evidenced by these huge landforms. This is rock that was once, millions of years ago, imprisoned far below the earth’s surface, held there by weight and history, perhaps even put there by accretion when another planet slammed into the still forming earth. Yet now I live on it, can see it clearly, far above the surface, pushed out and up by forces wielding power unimaginable, unavailable to us humans.

Is this liberation and resurrection? Not from a human perspective, but from the perspective of our planet, very much so. And yet it does not end there. Once liberated from their stony dungeons wind and water act upon them taking these high mountains gradually down to sea level, then into the ocean itself. In the soil formed in this way plants will grow, animals will feed off the plants. Liberation and resurrection are everywhere, if only we see what we’re looking at.

 

The Tao of Springtime

Spring                                                                            New Shoulder Moon

sagegoddess.com

Kate has the power of a resurgent earth, ready to fluoresce, and the power of a waxing moon, growing stronger every night, to boost her this week. She’ll need them plus a good surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses. Without her pain meds, which she’s had to eliminate prior to surgery to prevent bleeding, her shoulder has become debilitating, or, I should say, more debilitating.

Kep’s digestive tract remains upset. He threw up more overnight. Yesterday, after our physicals, we went to the Wash House Laundromat in Littleton, put the comforters and quilts in two giant washers and waited in the car while they went through the 28 minute cycle. A bit of sticker shock for me since each washer, we used two, was seven dollars and twenty-five cents. Worth it though.

wash houseIn a bit of nostalgia for me all the seats in the place were taken up by residents from a group home for the developmentally disabled. A young man with a plastic helmet to protect against seizures, another autistic young man davening and crying out, and four Down’s Syndrome young women. When I worked with the developmentally disabled, which I did from 1974 to 1980, taking clients out to places like the laundromat was a pleasant diversion, teaching independent living skills and being away from the residence.

Kate’s preop physical yesterday cleared the way for the procedure on Thursday. It will not come soon enough. Today we go to see her rheumatologist.

ekgMy physical was, at least so far (before lab results), unremarkable. Dull is my favorite medical term. Boring. Nothing happening here. My ekg was like last years. My blood pressure is low enough that Dr. Gidday wondered if I was over medicated. No, I said, I want to keep it low. All those strokes in the family of origin. O2 saturation fine, as it always is when I descend 3,600 feet to her office. Knee? Fine. Other knee? Surprisingly fine. Prostate? Still gone. PSA’s good. No hernia. Lungs and heart sound good. Still upright and moving.

I’m doing well, able to help Kate, care for the dogs, feeling centered and calm. I understand my limits and know that staying present, not fretting about tomorrow or holding onto yesterday, keeps me sane. The tao of this time flows through us all and I’m following its course, traveling with the fluctuations. The tao right now is my nurse, my comforter, my energy.

Tao4It is the tao of springtime reminding us that winter passes, too, as will all the difficulties; and, that even in the midst of a tough season, underneath is the movement of life itself, struggling to emerge, to take back the moment. All we need to do is follow its cues.

 

The Future of Food

Imbolc                                                                           New Shoulder Moon

third plate Mentioned The Third Plate a few posts ago. A book by chef Dan Barber, owner of the Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan and a principle in the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County.

SELECT TASTING OR DAILY MENU
Rotation Grains
smoked farmer’s cheese and broccoli pistou
~
Maine Diver Scallop
bacon, winter squash and kohlrabi
~
Stone Barns Pig
tsai tsai, horseradish and pickled grapes
~
11 day dry-aged bolero carrot steak
mushroom, kale and onion rings
~
blue hill farm milk
yogurt, turmeric and ginger
~
Malted Triticale porridge
White Chocolate, quince and Beer Ice Cream
Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

He uses four big concept areas, pictured at the top: Soil, Land, Sea, Seed to tell a story about what he sees as the future of food. He’s trying to take the conversation about food beyond the now well known critiques of books like Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Aldo Leopold’s The Sand County Almanac, and any number of books published in the late sixties like Eull Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher. Throw in Wes Jackson’s Becoming Native to This Place, almost anything by Wendell Berry and the thought world championed by John Muir and Edward Abbey and you can see the big conceptual field Barber has tried to plow.

He seems on to something. Using examples like the dehesa in Spain that produces jambon iberico, The Bread Lab run by Washington State plant geneticist Stephen Jones, the farm of Klaas Martens who teaches him about reading the language of the soil, Veta La Palma, a Spanish aquaculture corporation set up in an estuary of the Gulf of Cadiz, and Anson Mills, a fascinating concept by Glenn Roberts who uses landrace farming to resurrect old grain crops and nurture new ones, he seems to propose a recursion to localized crops, that is, wheat, for example, that grows best in upstate New York.  This recursion includes animals, too, where their rearing takes on the characteristics that oenologists call terroir in wines.

nutrition

This recursion would have chefs take their cues, their menus, from what farmers can grow in their immediate area and from those sites with a focus on sustainability and ecosystem regeneration. The fascinating aquaculture experiment that is Veta La Palma  uses the Guadalquivir River and the salt water of the Gulf of Cadiz to farm high quality sea bass. The focus does not have to be only local or regional but can include instances of food production with ecosystem supportive techniques.

This seems similar to the disaggregation idea in power production, local solar and wind and geothermal and hydro.  Anything that deemphasizes the industrial and the corporate in favor of the local and ecological.

EatLocal

He talks about his idea in agriculture as middle agriculture, that is agriculture smaller than corporate, but larger than the small family farm or the boutique garden. He’s trying to get to scale sufficient that it could actually feed large numbers of people.

It makes me want to cook in the way he suggests. That is, find food grown here in the Rockies, use it along with food sourced from the Veta La Palmas, the dehesas or the Bread Labs, and build our menus at home around it, changing with the seasons. Right now that would take a good bit of work, but it might be possible and it would certainly be worth it.

A continuing theme.

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