Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rodale, My Father, and Me

I was blessed to grow up in Small Town America. We lived on almost an acre of land, smack dab in the middle of town. Rumblimg trains passed by, day and night, only two houses away.

The hardware store/lumber yard was right across the street (One of the employees had a contagious, super-loud laugh that would make us pause in our tracks and snicker), and the little grocery, department, and drug store were across the railroad tracks and Main St., and little children felt secure in patronizing them unaccompanied by an adult.

My grandparents lived right next door to us. Grandpa always had a bounteous vegetable garden and beautiful sweet peas, thanks in part to the two inches of cow manure that he tilled under each spring. A garden was absolutely essential while raising their children during the Great Depression, and was a always a source of pride in later years.

When fate brought my family to settle next to my grandparents, Daddy took up fruit-tree planting to rival that of Johnny Appleseed. There were two apricots, two plums (one green gage and one Italian prune), eight apple tree, one gooseberry bush, one pie cherry tree, one peach tree, and several Nanking cherry and raspberry bushes. Concord grapes grew next to the front porch, and were wonderful made into tangy juice and jelly.

My mother was appreciate of Daddy's efforts in fruit production, but when it came to vegetable gardening, that was quite a different story! Rodale's "Organic Gardening and farming" was a great influence on my father, who took the organic philosophy and methods to heart (Daddy even had a couple of his own articles accepted by Rodale in 1974, which made him a proud man.).

Whereas my grandpa used chemical sprays and had everything in nice, straight rows, Dad's crops were interplanted to make better use of space and to discourage pests. Dad planted strange things like poke and "gobo," and Mom was ever so embarrassed when the newspaper took a picture of the garden with a full-grown burdock in it! Weeds were tolerated, and even eaten, and of course my mother, raised on those perfectly groomed, straight rows of veggies, thought he was nuts. She was NOT a fan of Mr. Rodale and his off-the-wall ideas!

After my parents divorced and Daddy left forever, his interplanted garden became a memory, as Grandpa helped re-establish "normalcy", but the seeds that Rodale planted have grown fertile in me, who loves to garden organically, weeds and all. I even have a collection of vintage "Organic Gardening and Farming" books and magazines, and am still looking for the issues from 1974 that have my father's articles in them.

Although my father's body no longer inhabits this earth, his spirit will never die. As I watch my children exploring the world of growing things, and we forage wild edibles together, I'm sure that Daddy is smiling down on us all.

Thanks J. I. and Robert Rodale, for your legacy of love!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wolverine Canyon

Near to her home were a few wild wooded places, where she loved to take her little family. There she was healed by Mother Earth. One of these places was Wolverine Canyon, whose yawning cliffs seemed another world apart from the flat sagebrush steppes and farmland all around.

Here the pulse of the earth was strong, though it bore the scars of civilization. Willow thickets followed the creek, then chokecherry, red osier dogwood, alders, and elder lined the unpaved road which wound higher and higher through the canyon walls. Douglas fir clung to the mountain sides like the spires of a temple, and bare rock formations witnessed the power of the Creator, who spake and the world was.

Magic and mystery were in watching the sun set early over the rim of the highest peak, and then seeing it ascend along the eastern ridge the next morning, long after sunrise.

Cool canyon breezes mingled with the hot summer air, bringing the very breath of life. Oh, how she longed to climb to the very top and share the vantage point of the birds of prey who soared high above the canyon floor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Treasures of Green"

When she was small, she ate pureed comfrey and apricots as baby food. She rolled up comfrey leaves and ate them as a snack. "Belly Buttons" from mallow tasted like peas, and the scent of tansy reminded her of happy times playing in the chicken yard. And of course, the smell of sagebrush mixed with rain was like Heaven itself.

Little wonder then, that although she left behind her country roots after growing up (except for hiking with the dogs are much as possible), the plants began calling her back. Back to who she was. Back to wholeness.

Little feelings of curiosity and wonder became great passions of joy, as her eyes were opened to not only the power of physical healing the plants possessed, but the powerful spiritual healing created by just being in their  presence.

She felt that she had come home to her own house of belonging, and knew that she must share that passion with others. It was her calling and her destiny. She was created to be a member of the race of healers, who had been since the world's beginning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

~The Call of the Woods~

She could not recall a time when she did not love to be in the  woods: there was always a sense of peace and solace there.

Yet with each passing year, as the moon draws the ocean, the woods beckoned her more strongly to make her home in the sheltering shade.

"Come see," whispered the poplars in the wind. "Hurry, hurry," said the evergreens. Sometimes she felt as though her spirit would leak through her skin, so great was the longing to be where she knew she belonged.

But she would be patient, knowing all that was meant for her would come in it's own due time.

In the meantime, she could go there as often as time and transportation permitted, drinking in the healing peace of the air, fragrant with the scent of living things.