We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

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
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Maine Diver Scallop
bacon, winter squash and kohlrabi
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Stone Barns Pig
tsai tsai, horseradish and pickled grapes
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11 day dry-aged bolero carrot steak
mushroom, kale and onion rings
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blue hill farm milk
yogurt, turmeric and ginger
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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.

the tao

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

taoHad a strong sense yesterday of the tao. Often elusive for me, yesterday had a distinct flavor, a wind blowing through the events of the day and I rode with it.

Gabe’s sick, a croupy respiratory bug. Now, Jon has to deal with this as a single parent. A sick kid and two working parents is hard, but a sick kid and two divorced working parents is harder.

Into Aurora yesterday at eight a.m. to pick Gabe up and bring him up here. It was daylight saving time, the next day, and I felt loggy, off, a mild buzzing in my head and stomach not quite settled. There’s only one route to Aurora from here, Hwy 285 which becomes Hampden Road in Denver. Hampden runs through southern Denver, four lane at points, six lanes at others, lots of businesses, especially past Interstate 25 headed east.

I’d waited until eight to leave to avoid rush hour. The tao of the day laughed. At about Swedish hospital traffic seemed to slow, slow, slow, then crawl. And, occasionally, stop. Three lanes of traffic clotted. And, the clot lasted. Usually, from Swedish Hospital to Colorado Avenue is about a three minute drive. Thirty minutes. A lot of it with plenty of time to read the warning label about the semi-fluid lubricant in tire bearings on the semi sitting next to me.

1514204365009It was jaggedy, edgy tao, putting up barriers, then releasing. Gabe had his own struggle with this tao. I was forty minutes late picking him up.

We drove back to the mountains in silence. My hearing aid battery died in Lakewood, about thirty minutes from home. Even with the hearing aid, the noisiness of the Rav4 makes hearing Gabe’s soft voice from the back seat impossible for me.

Once home Kate had to leave for a mani-pedi, so I remained in the house in case Gabe needed anything. He came with a cooler containing ginger ale and cheese.

I felt jangly, stomach still off. Reading the Third Plate kept my mind distracted, a positive barrier to temporary discomfort. This book has a lot to teach. Of the many key learnings so far, one that keeps coming back like a ruminant’s cud was a short encounter between Dan Barber, the author, and Wes Jackson, a hero of mine who runs the Land Institute in Kansas.

Stone Barns and Dan Barber's Blue Hill restaurant

Stone Barns and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant

Dan had visited an organic farmer in upstate New York who “listened to the language of the soil,” reading soil health from the weeds that grew in his fields. This particular formulation, language of the soil, grabbed me because I had come to the same metaphor over my years of gardening in Andover. The soil speaks, tells you what it needs. You just have to see what you’re looking at. This farmer’s attention to that language resulted in an organic farm, growing mostly heirloom varieties of corn, wheat and other grains, intermixed with soil healing crops like spelt and clover.

After Dan told Wes about this farmer, he nodded. “Yes, Dan. He sounds like a great guy, but it won’t last.” Someone else, he went on, will buy the farm and all of the careful reading of the soil’s language will disappear. The chemical/industrial farming ethos will return. When Wes recognized Dan’s disappointment, he said to him, “What can I say? We live in a fallen world.”

tao3This anecdote has stuck with me, I think, because of the sale of our land in Andover. We did so much, worked hard at creating soils that would grow healthy, vibrant plants, but then we moved on.

It was the tao of Monday, a slow pulsing tao that put up obstacles, then took them down. It placed Gabe’s illness alongside a huge accident with ambulances and fire trucks, wreckers, clean up crews and three lanes of traffic forced down to one lane. It put Wes Jackson’s sigh alongside my sensitive stomach, alongside Kate’s beautiful nails, calming her and getting her ready for surgery next week. Rigel once again pushing her nose into us, pacing. An obstacle. Back on the metronidazole.

Riding with this tao I let the obstacles and their resolutions wash over me, not as frustrations (mostly), but as the way of this Monday. When the day was over, I was glad, especially glad to have been sensitive to the tao.

THC, Taxes and Kabbalah

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

green_patriot_poster_v2

Taxes mailed in. Two packages headed back to the land of sky blue waters. One to a soon-to-be 70 year old guy. Got more tramadol for Gertie and Rigel. Both of them are arthritic. We know how that feels.

Spent an hour frustrating myself yesterday trying to use my sumi-e brushes and ink. I wanted to draw a raven. The bill kept coming out like a nutcracker or Angelina Jolie’s lips. Beyond my skill level right now. Back to learning strokes. I have completed 10 Hebrew letters, adding a quote and my chop. I bought the chop in Beijing in 1999. First time I’ve used it. A fun add to this work.

20180308_063942 (2)

Well, I’m no calligrapher for sure, but I still like this. A bit funky. Still working. Not gonna do all the letters, but enough to make my kabbalah presentation interesting.

Odd night at Beth Evergreen. A fellow congregant, Jonathan, who describes himself as a CBD evangelist, gave a presentation on cannabis. He has done some research on both CBD’s and THC, in particular their therapeutic value. “We need,” he said, “to reestablish our relationship with these plants. They’ve been used for healing for thousands of years.” The transition is from getting high to getting well.

medicine cannabis oil and hemp marijuana extract

 cannabis oil and hemp marijuana extract

He made some claims that seemed hyperbolic to me, shrinking brain tumors, for example, but the current state of cannabis research is so abysmal that it could be true and no one can prove it.

His basic message was that THC/CBD mixtures were the most effective due to a synergistic effect between these two molecular structures. CBD’s can be derived from hemp plants, which have essentially no THC, or marijuana plants which do have the psychoactive THC. CBD’s relieve pain and have anti-inflammatory properties while THC alone gets you high. Or, as in my case, to sleep each night. The two together have less psychoactivity, but more therapeutic power.

This was part of our adult education program. I show up before the events and set up chairs, this time in a semi-circle. We were in the sanctuary, the Torah ark behind Jonathan with its eternal light glowing. Not your usual adult ed event.

A Horticulturist

Imbolc                                                                           New Life Moon

As my melancholy continues to lift, new and old values push themselves forward, wanting to be included or excluded. I didn’t, for example, attend the Democratic caucus last night. Though I did want to be home for Kate, who uncharacteristically has anxiety about her upcoming surgery, Sjogren’s adds an unknown, I also didn’t want to go. Kate pushed back on this, saying the activist has been an important part of me, well, almost forever. True. And maybe, probably, I’ll alter course on this one, but right now I want to focus on other things.

third-plate-dan-barberIn addition to cooking, the sumi-e (ink brush painting), and working out, I mentioned the possibility of a greenhouse. Expensive, so we’ll see about that. But. I began reading a book I’ve had for a while, The Third Plate. It puts me back in the mental and very physical world of Andover. In fact, the feeling, while I was reading it, was so comfortable, a sort of ah, here I am at home feeling, that I recognized it as an old value pushing itself forward.

It’s more than just getting my hands in the soil, nurturing seeds. It’s about being part of the farm-to-table movement, about acting on eating better food, about staying connected, directly, with mother earth. While reading this, I realized horticulture was a deep part of me, one Kate and I spent a lot of time, energy and money on, not because we had to, but because it was significant and nourishing.

carey_reamsBuddy Bill Schmidt will recognize the quote that begins the chapter on Soil: “See what you’re looking at.” Carey Reams, an unlikely looking radical, used to say this. He was the founder of the outfit from which I purchase soil additives, the High Brix Gardening folks in Farmington, Minnesota. He contended, as do many now in the farm-to-table world, that agriculture went astray long ago, moving toward products that fit mechanized food production rather than human nutrition.

There are too many examples that prove this, unfortunately. One is that the bulk of corn grown in the U.S. either goes for corn syrup or feeding cattle. Another is the development of tomatoes with skins hard enough to stand a mechanical picker.

wheatThe vast wheat fields of the Great Plains grow an annual wheat, two varieties that work well in steel rolling mills. Not only have these annual crops destroyed the ten feet or more of top soil that buffalo and deeply rooted grasses developed there, but the steel mills which make this crop profitable separate the germ and bran from the kernel, leaving only fluffy white flour. What’s bad about that? Well, turns out the nutrition in wheat lies in the germ and the bran.

IMAG0619I guess this is the native Midwesterner in me. I grew up driving past corn fields, pastures filled with Holsteins and Guernseys, pigs and beef cattle. The Andover gardens, the orchard and the bees, along with our small woods satisfied this part of my soul. I’m going to investigate local CSA’s, see if that’s a route back into this world. We have to buy groceries anyway, so why not from folks who share a philosophical position close to my own.

This is different, you see, than being attentive to the lodgepole pines and the aspen, the mule deer and the elk, the fox and the mountain lion. These are part of wild nature and beautiful, also important to my soul. But the world of horticulture, of growing and consuming food and flowers, fruits and honey is, too. A reemerging part of me. And I’m happy to see it, to feel it come.

 

Imbolc                                                                              New Life Moon

Kate, costumed for Purim

Kate, costumed for Purim

The full new life moon had a cloudy cover as it rose in the east yesterday, a halo. Driving back from the Purim celebration last night it was moving west, though then in a clear sky, Orion visible nearby. This morning as I came up to the loft it sat near the horizon, visible only through under the branches of our lodgepoles. This bout of melancholy began under the waning Imbolc moon, grew stronger under the first days of the new life moon and now seems likely to be gone during its waning. Maybe a month total. As these visits go, not too bad.

Fellow melancholic and friend, Tom, called yesterday and we talked about the gremlin’s energy sink, its dredging up of old emotions, its general sucking out of life’s marrow. We both have long acquaintance with it. And, long experience does yield some perspective, a hint of how it will probably go. For me, the down is matched by an up, a safer version of the bi-polar depression to mania swing. The up has not come yet, but I can feel it on its way.

grandio-elite-greenhouse-featuresA couple of things have come into focus over the last few days. One, I need to work more with my hands, with my body. Now that the turmoil of our first years here has begun to subside I’m missing the garden, the orchard. Not just the growing, the plant care, the flowers and vegetables and fruits fresh out of our soil, but carrying bags of compost or digging or moving bee hives, tending to the raspberry patch. If I don’t do this, I can get stuck in my head. Not the only part of me I want to nurture.

Two, I need to read more, be quiet more. Meditate. I’ve been reading novels, as is my habit, and I read news of all kinds on the web, but I need to shift my reading diet a bit to include more philosophical, theological non-fiction. Example. I began re-reading, as I mentioned, David Miller’s, The New Polytheism. That’s the sort of work I’m talking about. It sends sparks off in so many different directions.

A few possibilities for more tactile activity. Kate and I looked at a greenhouse made by an outfit called Grandio Elite. I’m not interested in the very laborious work it would require to garden in the rocky Shadow Mountain soil. But, in a greenhouse, yes. I miss working with the soil, with plants. And, we could grow plants in the greenhouse and put them outside in containers during our short growing season. Green thumb Kate grew tomatoes here last year. Not easy.

alephs and a mem

alephs and a mem

Finally got to working with my brushes and ink, rice paper. Still a really, really long way to go before I have any true facility with it, and that’s a good thing, lots of practice required. My presentation for the kabbalah class, unveiling the Hebrew letters, will be certain letters drawn with these ancient Chinese tools and a line of poetry congruent with the letters deeper meanings written below it. Here’s a couple of alephs and a mem.

Hiking, of course. And to that end, more new workouts. Though. Got a new workout Tuesday and my left quad and bursa have complained a lot. Gotta figure out what caused that. Still, these workouts give me more strength and balance, continued ability to be in the world with my body.

20180301_064843And the reading. Oddly, the deeper my immersion into Judaism, the more my interest in Taoism increases. So. Diving into those books, some online educational material. Also, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant. Material on emergence. James Hillman. Magic and reenchantment. Reinvention of the sacred. The auld Celtic faith.

These things seem to have traction and will be a significant departure from the immediate past. A balancing, or rebalancing, of time, of attention. An outcome I expect from melancholy. Underway now.

Shoulder, Trees, Writing

Winter                                                                         Imbolc Moon

shoulder-arthroplasty-Mayo-ClinicHippity hop to the ortho shop. Kate’s got an appointment at Panorama Orthopedics today. Her right shoulder. She can no longer hold things up with her right arm and has to use two hands to put dishes away, sometimes to lift a cup. Annoying and painful. Screws up her sleep, too. She needs some kind of solution, more than likely a shoulder replacement. This is the first step, a consult to see what her options are.

A friend of Kate and mine is having surgery for breast cancer today, too. It’s a cancer that has the improbable, but very desirable, cure rate of 100%. In the sort of piling on that getting older can deliver, her husband, only a week later, got a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It’s a killer, but slow, maybe 5-10 years. He’s mid-70’s. Mortality is always stalking us, but seems to knock on the door more often past three score and ten.

Sister Mary tells me she’s been invited as a visiting professor to a university in Kobe, Japan this summer. Very close to Kyoto. And, great beef. Congrats to Mary. Brother Mark is in Bangkok right now, chillin’ in the tropical heat.

Tu B'ShevatAn interesting week ahead. A session on green burial tomorrow night at CBE. It’s part of a conversation about creating a Jewish cemetery up here in the Evergreen/Conifer area. Oddly, I think I’d like to work on that. The next night, Wednesday, is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees. Judaism has a lot of pagan inflections, Tu B’Shevat and Sukkot, a harvest festival at the end of the High Holidays, for example. Looking forward to this one because there’s a seder, too, with seven species of fruit and nuts. I’ll explain more on Wednesday. After the this celebration is another Kabbalah session, more double letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

NovelIdeaRigel has her second appointment at the Vet Referral Clinic with Dr. Bayliss this Friday, too. I’m excited about it because we’ll get a clearer picture of what’s going on with her. And, it’s not the dire prognosis we anticipated when we took her in a week ago last Friday.

Meanwhile, I’ve finally levered myself back into writing, now on both Jennie’s Dead and Rocky Mountain Vampire (only a working title). Not sure exactly how I did it, just did it, I think.

Getting closer to using the sumi-e brushes, maybe today. Yesterday I tied string at the base of each new brush after applying a bit of glue all round, too. That had to set for a day. I gathered some towels, watched a couple more videos. Youtube is a fantastic resource for all kinds of things. Jon watches Japanese woodcrafting videos to calm down, for example.

Next week is Kate’s quilting retreat in Buena Vista.

 

Celebrating the Obverse

Winter                                                              Moon of the Long Nights

sol-invictusThe solstices mark swings to and from extremes, from the longest day to the longest night, there, and as with Bilbo, back again. Darkness and light are never steady in their presence. The earth always shifts in relation to the sun, gradually lengthening the days, then the nights.

Most folks celebrate the Winter Solstice for its moment of change toward increasing light. Sol Invictus, the Roman sun god, added a martial spirit. The ancients feared that the nights would continue to grow in length, and act as a shroud thrown over the earth marking an end to growing seasons, to warmth, to life. It’s no wonder that relief at the return of the sun, revealed by small increases in the length of the day, caused holidays to be born around this subtle astronomical change.

There are also bonfires and songs and drinking and sex on the Summer Solstice. The sun manifests itself as light giver, light bringer, with the longest days. The growing season is well underway then, the miracle of life that the sun’s increasing light creates is the very relief anticipated on the Winter Solstice. Fear and the vanquishing of fear. Sol Invictus, the conquering sun.

Yet even in ancient times there had to be a few outliers like myself. We don’t begrudge the return of the sun, nor deny all the miracles that its return makes possible, that would be silly; but, for some psychic reason, perhaps not clear even to us, we reverse the common sensibility and find succor in the gradual lengthening of the nights that begins at the Summer Solstice and reaches its maximum on the night of the Winter Solstice.

We know that the cold and the darkness, the fallow time whose genesis each year happens on the longest day, is also necessary, also worthy of honor. It is earth’s sabbath, a time for all the generative powers to rest, to regather themselves, to ready themselves for the next florescence. I suspect somehow in our psyches we honor slight dips into depression or melancholy, knowing that in those times we regroup, rest the eager forward creative parts of our souls and the gradual lengthening of the darkness outside mirrors that.

winter solstice4In these long nights the cold often brings clear, cloudless skies. The wonderful Van Gogh quote that I posted a few days ago underscores a virtue of darkness, one we can experience waking or asleep. Dreaming takes us out of the rigors of day to day life and puts us in the realm where ideas and hopes gather. So, the lengthening of the nights increases our opportunity to experience dream time. Whether you believe in Jung’s collective unconscious or not-I do, the rich resources of dreaming are available to us with greater ease when the nights are long and the cold makes sleeping a joy.

It was, too, many years ago when I pushed the notion of transcendence out of my spirituality in favor of immanence, incarnation over a god in the sky. My focus moved to down and in, not up and out. Our inner world is a mystery, a place of fecundity, but also a place often occulted by the demands of the day. When we shift our focus to the night, to the half of the year when darkness grows, we can use that external change as a trigger to lean inside, to find the divine within. If we can make this discovery, the god that we are, we can stiff arm the notion that revelation stopped thousands of years ago.

each birth, always

each birth, always

Every moment of our existence is a revelation, the path of a god, the most fundamental ancientrail of all. No, we are not omnipotent, that’s an illusion created by the idea of transcendence, the need to find validation outside of our own soul. This is the true polytheism, the one that folds its hands, says namaste, bows to that of god in everyone, in every animal, in every plant and stone and star.

When you reach out in love to another person, to a dog, to a crocus blooming in the snow, you bring the finger held out by the white haired floating god in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. That moment of creation is always, ongoing, a joint effort between and among us all, human and inhuman, animate and inanimate, the cosmic dance of Shiva brought into this mundane world. He or She is not out there, waiting to be called by prayer, but in here, waiting to be called by the quiet, by the joy, by the persistence held in the soul container that is you.

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

Winter                                                           Moon of the Long Nights

“Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.”  William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Moon_944x708

astronomy today, formation of the moon

The Winter Solstice. Today and tonight. 23.4 degrees of tilt. Explanation for the tilt is not settled science though at least part of the answer seems to lie in the accretion of matter and the occasional outright collisions that occurred during our planets formation early in the history of the solar system. Another interesting theory, perhaps part of the answer too, is that any large imbalance, say a supervolcano with a huge mass, could have caused the earth to tilt so that mass ended up near the equator.

Whatever the exact reason, the current tilt, which remains constant as the earth revolves around the sun, creates our seasons. As the earth orbits, the tilt causes a reduction and increase of the energy of the sun’s light by either concentrating it during the summer solstice (leaning toward the sun) or by spreading the light over a wider area (leaning away from the sun) during the winter solstice. Today at 9:28 MST the northern hemisphere will be at its maximum tilt away from the sun while, of course, the southern hemisphere is thrust toward the sun and celebrating its summer solstice.

All of this is a continuing evolution caused by forces set in motion by the big bang over 13 billion years ago. The fact that I’m sitting at 8,800 feet on a chunk of rock thrust up by the Laramide orogeny, watching snow drift down as the air up here cools toward below zero temperatures, waiting for the longest night of the year, 14 hours and 39 minutes here in Conifer, showcases the violent origins and their ongoing impacts on earth and her sister planets. When we settle into the chair tonight, or hike outside with a headlamp, or listen to some quiet jazz or Holst’s The Planets, the darkness enveloping us is an in the moment result.

As the earth leans away from the sun, we can lean into the darkness, the long night when the woods are lovely, dark and deep. As we do, we have the opportunity to sink into the fecund darkness within us, a soul link with the darkness all around us and our tiny solar system. In it we can recall sleeping animals in their dens, beneath chilled lake waters, in their lodges made of sticks and branches. In the darkness we can rest a moment beneath the surface of the snow and cold covered soil where roots and microbes work feverishly transmitting nutrients and available water into plants slowed, but not killed by the seasonal temperatures.

anchor deepIn the darkness we can attend to the dark things within us, the places in our souls where our own origins and their ongoing impacts create a climate for our growth, down below the conscious considerations of our day-to-day lives. We can embrace this darkness, not as a thing to fear, but as a part of life, a necessary and fruitful part of life.

I’ll sit in my chair this evening as the night unfolds (I love that imagery.) and consider death, my death, my return to the woods, lovely dark and deep. And, I’ll hug close to my heart the life I’ve been given and this opportunity, granted by the stars, to meditate on it.

 

 

Saws and Paws

Samain                                                                    Bare Aspen Moon

20151013_112839Down the hill to Aurora yesterday afternoon. Newly spruced up (ha) chainsaw, limbing ax, pole saw, loppers, Swede saw, fuel for the chainsaw and bar and chain oil were on a tarp in the Rav4. Cleared out some overgrown shrubbery, cut down three scrubby trees and trimmed up small trees grown into the chain link fence on the south side of Jon’s new place. Also removed some dead wood. Had to leave a couple of dead trees. I didn’t know how to take them down without taking out the neighbor’s wooden fence at the same time.

Rigel went with me, sitting in the backseat, sometimes her head between the front seats, looking, looking, always looking. She spent most of the time I was there with Ruth, who was reading on the bed in her room. Gabe came out and helped me move a dead tree limb. He also offered advice on cutting limbs off a tree in the corner of the property. “Use the chainsaw, grandpa.” “Using a chainsaw overhead is dangerous, Gabe. I might cut my head off.” “Oh.”

Jon had lumber out, building a table in his backyard. He ran boards through a planer, nailed pieces together. Measured twice. Cut once with his power saw. In his kitchen there are no appliances. He and his friend Max deconstructed the kitchen a month or so ago and moved the appliances into the living room. Jon is at the point of installing douglas fir strips from a former museum as a new kitchen floor. In Ruth’s room he’s building a loft bed, in Gabe’s a desk. He loves making things and he’s good at it.

20170928_172531At 5 pm Jen came and picked up Ruth and Gabe for their week with her. “Bet it’s lonely when they leave, Jon.” “Actually it’s sort of a relief.” Single parenting is hard. I remember that feeling of relief when Joseph returned to Raeone’s, though my joy at his return was much greater.

Rigel and I drove back as the clouds turned red, then pinkish-orange, gray, then disappeared in the darkness of night. The lights of the Denver metro twinkled from the vantage point of Highway 285. The large lit cross positioned on the side of a mountain where the foothills begin shone out at us, a familiar landmark now. The humorists at the Colorado D.O.T. are at work again. The led sign just before 285 begins to climb read its usual: Watch for rocks and wildlife. But, it then blinked, changing the wording to: “Be aware. Falling rocks have the right-of-way.” Mountain humor.

 

 

The Spinning of the Wheel

Samain                                                                    Bare Aspen Moon

Tony's

Tony’s

The capon is in the house, 7.8 pounds of frozen, atesticular rooster glory. Kate and I went to Tony’s Market yesterday, Gertie and Rigel in the back. Tony’s is the sort of grocery store where the pounds fly off the shelves and around your waist even before you check out. It’s a gourmet shop, full of Devon custard in a can, various pickled vegetables, cases filled with ahi quality tuna, plump white scallops, seasoning rubbed filet mignon, frozen bearnaise, hollandaise, au poivre sauces made in house, expensive salami, and puff pastries created with only filo dough and powdered sugar. One of those ten minute super market sweeps from the 1960’s would yield a cart full of scrumptious and clock in well north of a thousand dollars. A good place for holiday shopping.

sephirothshiningonesI spent time before the trip to Tony’s working on my kabbalah presentation for December 6th.  This will take some doing since kabbalah is a quintessentially Jewish discipline and I want to focus, somehow, on the Great Wheel. According to the Tree of Life, the sephiroth (spheres) arranged as in this illustration reveal a path by which the sacred becomes actual and the actual becomes sacred. The bottom sephirot malkuth is the world which we experience daily, the place where all the power in this universe (there are many others), funnels out of the spiritual and into the ontological. It is also the realm of the shekinah, the feminine aspect of god. In kabbalistic terms malkuth is the place where the limits of things allow the pulsing, living energy of the other spheres to wink into existence.

great wheel3In one sense then the Great Wheel, focused as it is on this earth, can only be of malkuth, that is, of the sphere of the actual, the bottom circle below the hand of the kabbalist in the illustration. In another sense, since all sephiroth contain all others, what is of malkuth must also be of the others, the spiritual dna of the whole universe. So, if we take the Great Wheel as a metaphor for the creating, harvesting and ending of life, a cycle without end, then the Great Wheel is, too, a Tree of Life. That is, the inanimate becomes animate, the animate lives, then dies, returning its inanimate particulars to the universe which, through the power of ongoing creation, rearranges them in living form so the cycle can go on.

The Great Wheel has a half circle for the growing season and a half circle for the fallow season. It can be seen as half day and half night. It can also be seen as the cycle of the virgin goddess who, impregnated by the god, gives birth to the growing season as the Great Mother and then, during and after the harvest becomes the crone. The life cycle of each of us.

Not sure yet how I’m going to articulate this for the class. Still in the gestation period.

 

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Breadcrumbs

Trails