Remind me of your face

Morning, here. Filled with the dreams of the past night. I awake feeling refreshed, excited. A deep excitement stirs within, laced with gratitude.

I feel it pulsing, throbbing like an underground heartbeat. Like a river beneath the surface of the earth bursting up through artesian wells, spouting out of limestone springs. It manifests through the work of my hand as dreams taken flight, birthing foundations.

My gratitude is based on knowing the opposite of this and in the sheer pleasure of being here. Like many things one has waited for, there is often a path building up to the attainment that makes that final meeting of what was once only hoped for, dreamed of simply put, Sweet.

It is sweet to be here, like a piece of dark chocolate turned in the mouth, tasted with all sides of the tongue, the thick black complexity met with quiet delight.

I remember nights on the road close to midnight as i or Ini and I searched for a place to rest our heads, away from the road, from traffic, from the noise, urgency and often violence of a culture set apart from the rhythms of nature. Oh so many nights!!!

And as we returned from a somewhat hectic trip to town yesterday, for a meeting and grocery run, I was greeted by the soft, effervescent illumination of MoonLight filling the forest corridors, making this a new territory for me. Revealing further the nurturance of this place. How it is beginning, more and more, to be Home. A place of rest, joy, sustenance. Yes, of work, too, and of struggle. Yet overwhelmingly a nest, a comfort. My type of woodland comfort.

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New Beginnings: Back to the Land

Where do I begin? 

I’ve laid back on writing here for a while. Life has been incredibly full, replete with cross-country travels, moves, work & fun, land purchases, puppy acquisition!, and the overall beginning of New (though longstanding) Dreams.

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How could I be more excited? Probably couldn’t. 

What’s so exciting?

We are now the caretakers, lovers of an 18 acre parcel of land in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri. The land search went alright. Finally, it came down to me forgoing getting realtor help in actually finding the land and just picking through the MLS search religiously… Narrowing it down… Literally visiting dozens of properties. It was a good experience, though of course bearing the expected strains at times. After it was over I even wondered if I would get my realtor license to keep a tab on land for sale in order to help other permie/likeminded people who want to move to the region. Could happen. A lot of the land for sale is done through word of mouth and never even gets listed.

 

The first land we went to purchase actually felt through- due to hyper radical Christian preppers who befuddled the title by putting it in a “pure trust” (which doesn’t work to safeguard -from anyone- the property anyway, be forewarned). We got back to the search and opened it up to an area that for some reason we had deemed not worthy of our search. Early on people had said it was really rednecky. But, it’s not too rednecky for us… Not after living there for a couple of months, meeting the so-called rednecks and learning that most of them are actually really cool, generous, down to earth people with loads of information to learn from. Plus, barter culture is already in the mix around here. In fact, I have reason to believe it never ceased. Carry on wonderful hillbillie nation in your incredible trading culture! I am happy to join you.

 

Back to the land:

The 18 acres is slightly sloped (south facing) with 16 of the acres in mature forest (so gorgeous and peaceful in there! Definitely some good treees for TREE FORTS!!! ((Forever Dream Since Childhood))). Mixed conifers (Pine, cedar, etc); Deciduous (lots of varieties of Oak, maple, hickory, black walnut, persimmons, ironwood, cherry, dogwood, etc). There is incredible diversity. From what we’ve heard about the history of the land, it has changed hands many times over the last 30 years, but no one has done anything on it except grade a 14 ft road and add a bit of gravel here and there & they’ve cleared/bushhogged the same ~2 acre patch at the apex of the property. So this area has a lot of poision ivy, a few incredibly old and gorgeous oaks that were left, and general pioneer species. It was probably last done at least a few years back so it is overgrown a bit, but will for sure be the easiest place to begin putting in gardens, structures, and mobile fencing for animals like sheep, a few goats, etc.

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The western edge of the property is a 1/4 mile of a creek that is spring fed and which has its spring (hundreds of thousands of gallons of water/day– read more here about the other mind boggling springs in the area) origin in the nearby Caney Mountain Conservation Area. This protected place offers thousands of acres of hiking trails, CAVES, gorgeous views of the Ozarks and free camping for anyone coming through. Our entire watershed, in fact, is in an incredibly protected area, much of the Eastern edge being Mark Twain National Forest. And as we learned when we went to the annual Ozark Area Community Congress (incredible -and one of the first- bioregional congresses; created in the 70s I believe) gathering in October, many of the properties which back to the landers started caretaking in the 70s have been recently put into Land Trusts (I will probably write an article on this in the near future). That’s thousands of acres of land trusts, all within our watershed. I feel very good about that. Lots of gratitude!

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This is our watershed region. We are not far from the town of Dawt. A lot of Green Space, eh?! Much of it is conservation land.

We are also a few miles from Bryant Creek, which is a beautiful natural river, more for fishing, bird watching, canoeing, paddling and less mechanical forms of recreation. And less than 10 miles from the North Fork River which boasts incredible trout (rainbow & brown) fishing for flyfisher people (we went there and fished; it is a gorgeous place out of time) as well as (so we’ve heard) a large population of rafting tourists from St. Louis and Kansas City, et al. We already got commissioned by a local fly shop to make flies – on the to do list as we cuddle up for winter.

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Our spring. It comes out at a pretty good speed from beneath some rocks up a ways there, is edged by watercress, and continues to join the Caney Creek.

And just how will we cuddle up, you may be asking? 

Well, last year we paid around $4000 to live in an old two bedroom adobe in Taos, NM for a few months. This winter we’re buying a 5 year old 15 ft yurt (from Laurel Nest Yurts) in WV for that amount (complete with repurposed poplar barn wood floor, base, insulation,  and stove). We are so stoked!  Eventually this place will likely turn into a guest house/library/yoga/meditation space as we build the gazebo, sauna, and eventually the “main house”, which will probably be a straw/cob/local stone and wood combination.

All of this news I’m sharing brings seriously delicious joy to my heart. These desires have been burning for a quite a while inside of Ini and me. So so so thankful it is this stage of their unfolding .. where we can see some tangible results. Goddessa knows there is a lot of intention, visioning, traveling to others’ like-minded/hearted places going into this.

So, so thankful.

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Our western border of the Caney Creek; a clear, spring fed perennial wild water way! And yes, that incredible rock outcropping is present nearly the entire stretch of our western border. A cliff edge!

 

photojourney A~gust twothousandfifteen *Ozarks

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In the Ozarks, there is plenty of water. Springs are especially !Magical! places full of wondrous entities invisible to the eye. And the water is delicious.

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There are a plethora of old buildings ready to come down with readily usable materials. Here is an old barn that Ini is salvaging from. It’s quite possible most of the tin roof for our tiny strawbale home will come from this effort.

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Aerial view of the property we’re most likely going to make a bid on this week. It’s mostly surrounded by forest (which we love), 100s of acres of which are inhabited by an ancient (70s) lesbian commune called DragonWagon. That’s Beaver Creek winding to the West. We have met the neighbors and while they are a slightly different brand of Crazy than we are (let me tell you my salvation story!), they seem to be generous, kind, and down-to-earth people (like most of the Missourians we’ve met!).

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And of course, la araña… weaving her web

everything vibrates out from the center
sacred language prevails

in the midst of our violent economies, going back to the earth, where we take care of ourselves as if we are the earth *which we are

…….

I believe this is the only way.

A call from the earth heart: Let your actions be your song of gratitude ~~

For years I have been dreaming of some-day homesteading & it is a grand possibility that the day is here that this dream can begin in full. In groundedness. In partnership & possibility. I think the day is here that the land-based experimenting begins (for it will always be an experiment). The land beckons. The land needs me (and don’t I know how I need it!). It is continually amazing to me the things which are valued in our present culture. It is true we are divorced from the earth as a culture. Inherent in this problem is not technology (though without boundaries, this development contributes to this divide). It is an orientation toward the earth which does not value the things of the earth which are, which exist and have existed for millions of years. This is clean pure water & air. These are two things which our society treats as throwaway commodities. I remember living in LA and weeping, feeling such pain over the degradation and devaluing of water & air. As if there is anything more important. And land-use is tied up in this, too. For everywhere throughout the United States the government is funding  & subsidizing on a mass scale farm operations which are inherently damaging to the soil and water of the earth, which is our body & blood, too.

And so here, in this Appalachian homestead, to find pure water, clean air, good soil is like an unnamable gift that seemingly should be available to everyone (as it is so natural and inherent), yet is a scarcity. All over people complain of the city water and in many other countries, water is even more devastated. Yet why? How have we let it slip this far?

I am humbled to have the opportunity to caretake this land, to care for and enjoy & relish in this opportunity. Oddly enough the earth & the people groups most closely associated with life of the earth are the most often devastated. Why do you think this is? To me it seems to be because there is this greed-instict for more – an insatiable desire to dominate which has taken over people of the earth. Those that don’t have it or who don’t feed that part of themselves, who are more peaceable, less interested in expanding and taking over and who are more inherently of-the-earth up until now have continually gotten taken-over by this contingent that would seek to exploit & continue conquering & dominating. Up until now this dominating contingent has been able to continually spread out over the earth extracting resources, gaining in material wealth & therefore in control. But now the very resources of our planet, the fabric of the earth is crying out for us to listen, to stand, to call out this dominating streak, to change our ways and return to the earth. It is up to us what we will do and each of our actions makes a difference. All the difference in the world, in fact.

To have found a remaining place undamaged and into perpetuity placed into a land conservation is a dream-come-true. It is an unnamable vestige of the primordial gift humans have a right to on this planet. The gods of petroleum, the dollar, flashy shiny things like cars and new appliances, bigger less efficient spacious homes~ full of comfort and ease – these all attract the people of the earth away from this inherently rewarding life-style of tending the earth, caring for what already is. Let me ask, when will the material things ever be enough? Christmas after Christmas- or whenever!- of getting gifts- when will that one gift ever be enough? Or is there within the modern human an insatiable wanting for the next thing & the next (which is natural enough). But look at what happens if this desire-penchant is never examined or named. Everyone has plenty of things filling their homes, but what has happened to the clean air & water? What has happened to the beauty of the natural world?

Everyone is moving around so fast, maybe they couldn’t see it anyway. But has the speed & commodities of the culture taken us away from something inherent and very important to what it means to be human? I believe it has. And I believe the answer lies in returning to the earth. Returning to her rhythms, to relationship with her. Practicing listening to the land instead of placing our temporary, this-one-lifetime wills and desires into the mix. For if we do not listen, the earth is going to respond to us. She has all the gifts to give us, but if we do not start treating her with respect & loving her, the systems are going to fail. The things which we need to live (clean air, water & good food) are going to become scarce. Then the money, the car, the house will not matter. If we don’t have these very basic things, which now we take for granted, humans will not be able to inhabit this place any longer. It is time to wake up. This is a wake up call. Wake Up! Let these words impress upon you and see for yourself, from within, if they are true to you. If they are, ask yourself from within what the next step is for you. We must all begin seeing our true roots in mother earth. Enough of the divide, the divorce from her seeking only to consume. We must become active participants in the earth story. Planting, harvesting, sharing and tending. Experimenting in relationship with the earth. Then let our actions be our song of thanks for this great gift of being here.

on the beginnings of homesteading

we are driving a boat fast and suddenly the boat comes to a complete stop & all the dreams gathered in the hull slosh around, hitting us in the ankles. it is wet obviously and hot, although parts of the boat are covered in shade and it is there obviously that we rest & look around at the islands surrounding us. where are we? and what made us stop? are we stuck in mud? have we hit some new thing or have we stumbled on something very very old? so old, in fact, that people have forgotten that it exists? so old that there is this old, gnarly possibility before us, mostly forgotten; a way of living, in fact. a way so old & so forgotten & covered up with faucets & sinks & heating registers that people don’t look for it anymore.

but there is the purest water here. and shade & the origins of all things. and we are here. alive.

our visions → new structures: this is all experiment

i realized something this morning about stepping forward. sometimes i lack the confidence. i have strong visions and dreams, but in order for them to be manifested i need total confidence, which is hard to muster because everything is and can only be at this point an experiment. no one knows the way forward. there are infinite ways forward. this is the boon and the bane. we are all like forest pilgrims wandering along trails at twilight. yes, the dawn will come, but first we must each walk through that dark night.

and it’s not like our parent’s parent’s paths where to be x (a firefighter, a nurse, a statistician, a professor, a factory-worker, etc) you took the knowable & set steps of a + b to reach a known end. the past systems are inherently based on that which i do not choose to support. cops & the government are corrupt. being a professor means jumping through so many hoops before i can say what i want to say- and then can i even say it? when i’m a doctor, tell me that i am not subject to all the the bureaucratic bullshit, that i’ll not be subject to the insurance or pharma companies or the time-crunches- that i’ll truly get to sit with my patients. that being a mainstream production farmer doesn’t mean the pillaging and raping of our soils and sullying of our waters. that if i’m going to be a 5th grade teacher, that i’ll actually teach the untruths they teach kids in schools- that i’d ever be willing to stand through that. these are the structures which currently keep society going, but just like our unsustainable economy, they are going to crumble, crumble. the truth rising within us cannot stand the compromise.

and new visions, more earth-centered, people-centered visions of justice & beauty have to take their place. experiments, truly. and because we don’t know the steps from a to b (we haven’t been there before), it takes a leap of faith to get there. and, unlike in the past, the path is not pre-planned steps forward resulting in a known outcome. the path is circuitous, winding, currently unknown- tested and changed as we go- unending. this calls for great levels of flexibility, ingenuity, humor, collaboration, strength and resolve. this calls for stepping into the possibility of failure, which is one of the greatest taboos in our culture.

if a doctor fails, she loses her job. if a so-called expert of our culture fails, what happens to their reputation? it drops accordingly. failure is the biggest no-no in an expert culture because it points to lack of competency, which calls into question this seemingly unshakeable cultural framework from which our confidence in the experts is derived. but as many are finding out, doctors don’t actually know what they’re doing. yes, they are trained and can know & do certain things, but hopefully, as trained as they are, they’ll readily admit the fact that the human organism is still a mystery to human understanding. that interactions happen holistically (if you interact with one part of the human system, other parts will be effected; say the thyroid is not separate from the adrenals is not separate from the heart & nervous system) and therefore are basically uncontrollable in their essence.

 

read the rest at the original posting.

freestyle envisioning, homesteading 1234

i want a place to plant perennials. herbs. i want herbs all over the place- except not where they’re not supposed to be, like growing in the vegetable places. trees, a place to hear the sound of wind in the trees & sit in the shade. a stream, a stream to feel fresh cool clean water flow by me. water i can use on the plants. water we can filter and drink. a straw bale home with curves & nooks, built organically as if out of our palm, the shape of a palm or a kidney. maybe parts underground. a goat. 2 goats. 3 goats & birds. chirping wild. clucking, digging at soil, domestic layers. fresh eggs. maybe a pond. swims & filtering plants to keep it clean & water plants to keep it beautiful & filter the local pond ecosystem. water catchment for rain & greywater for plants. vermiculture for feeding worms our scraps & making compost. compost. mounds and mounds of compost. chickens scratching & sunlight filtering in. hard work. hard hard work that probably makes us question what we’ve gotten into. then elation. then elation & hard work mixed that makes us remember what it is to be alive. to try. to be & possibly to fail, but to get up again.

for the stuff that is in is is the same stuff that is in the stars. and the same force that is in us is the same force which causes the seasons to run. the same force which fuels the sun. the same abundant energy of the cosmos redirected through our hands, fueled from our hearts & wishes & strongest emotions fueled into action. into honed vision, shot like an arrow from the centers of our manifesting minds into the heart of the land. into taking a stand. creating the best version of our selves that we can. hope against hope. fresh breaths keeping us going. we’re stepping into the unknowing. failure was never so possible, neither was completely everything-we-ever-wanted.