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!

 

That other night in Las Vegas

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When they started playing ‘Thank god I’m American where at least I know I’m free,’ I knew then that we were in a mind-control zone. Las Vegas is a place of entrancement and of illusion. My third eye glowed and pressed the entire time- I wasn’t going to be fooled or sucked in.

All this year my lips have refrained from alcohol- a message I received while with ayahuasca bid me to abstain for the year. It’s the first year since my early 20s I’ve not had anything to drink. On Bourbon St in New Orleans, the closest thing I’ve witnessed to Las Vegas, I tried all of the ‘drinks to have’ and, of course, wound up incredibly drunk in a near-stranger’s bed.

Being very sensitive, alcohol, paradoxically, was my way of coping with strong & base energies, cigarette smoke and ‘heavy’ environments. It gave me a kick of unconsciousness that I would’ve otherwise not had, and probably wouldn’t’ve been able to endure nor had the desire to engage in many of the social climes I’ve dipped in.

Yet tonight, and all this year, I’ve been thankful for this sobriety. My warrior self needs it as I connect dots and see all that I can see. We didn’t spend any money on the strip, save $2 for parking. We were driving through the area on our way to California from Arizona and thought, Hey, let’s check it out (in a “keep your enemies closer” line of thinking– and from curiosity). We tried the free slots on Freemont St. Ini got 2/3 on all three we tried. A man tried to rope us into some promo deal. We walked on.

Quickly I started to feel sick in the unnatural lighting, smoke and glaring emptiness. In an earlier moment I might’ve grabbed some booze to acclimate, so that I could actually be there/ stand the environment. Yet we walked on, observing all of the displays.

Only two people, out of hundreds, were dancing and singing as if they had won something significant. They were two older republican-looking men wearing near-matching Polos, skipping, arms around each other. Everyone else was wrapped up zombie-like staring at some half-naked dancing person, street display, or glued into the machines.

I knew we were in a mind-control area when that song started playing. Everyone stopped moving and many took their phones/cameras out and started videotaping the ceiling which became a uniform image of an American flag with scrolling military faces and fighter jets. Then that song came on. All noises collaborated with this one song. Every disparate energy became united beneath the American Flag. Drunk people started singing and tearing up. We were surrounded by patriots and, though previously they were like hotels flashing vacancy signs, they all suddenly woke up and started marching like wind-up toy soldiers. It felt like a moment at church when the people are moved by something that strikes you as preposterous. Yet everyone was playing along, entranced. That’s when I saw the thread connecting this reptilian lineage. Money, War, Oil, bright flashings lights (media) and the songs and symbols (flag) that tie it all together.

I learned that song in 5th grade. We sang it, all of the grades in unison, at our end of the year performance at Amy Beverland in middle-Indiana. It probably felt so good at the time, as we basically unconsciously learned this song, to all sing together, ages 6-10. The attempt at programming, you see, has passed by all of our gazes. It’s especially strong with the bright lights, naked dancers, cheap booze and possibility of winning thousands of dollars, but it’s as subtle as a McDonalds on every corner and the media craze of the ‘War on Terrorism.’ The Patriarchs from our country are terrorists enough; they ought to call war with themselves and leave our land and people alone.

As we drive away from the bright lights into the solitude and darkness of death valley, the moon rests in front of us. Yellow timeless crescent, she will far outlast these bright shining lights. Our culture is like a pigmy elephant riding the back of a large whale in the middle of the ocean the size of three worlds. It doesn’t make any sense and it is so very small in comparison… With time & galaxies firing and off setting.

Ayahuasca gave me this message, too, as we laughed into the night. We all are so small! Generations! Ha! It’s like the skin off of that Great Serpents back. Shed and shed and shed. We are like a flicker in comparison of the passing sands of time.

It’s good for me to remember this, to reflect with the moon as she sits there cradled in the sky and I feel the dark close in around me, the pressing dark of the cold desert night. In the reptilian game of bright flashing lights, the built up system of money, all of that illusion of external gain, it is good to feel the cold, powerful desert press close, womblike, as we ride into the night and I remember what endures as the stars shine overhead. Perhaps tomorrow we will be mesmerized and directed by our solar system’s brightest flashing light, our sun and further humbled by the heat. We are out of Las Vegas into Death Valley, after all, and that precludes a whole different game of survival.

This Year’s Travels Across the US: History, Herstory, the Land’s Story

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rainbow above the grand canyon

As we make our way throughout the United States of America, I am reflective on the use and ownership of land- of the rigorous, insane (literally etymologically, unhealthy, unwhole) and whole sale theft and disrespect (can’t really find a fitting word strong enough for what actually took place) on the part of the pioneering and enterprising Europeans to the native groups of this land. Nearly everywhere we go there is the sorry story of some native group pillaged and removed from their homeland.

I feel a sense of loss for their vibrant and wise indigenous (of the land, of a place) cultures. Poignantly do I feel the absence of my own generational land-based heritage. Instead of being something intimately known and loved, land is a commodity, something to own.

There are two songs here that reflect well some thoughts/feelings I have journeying through this land, reflective on history. I want to share them here:

The Nightwatchman – Take Away My Name
and
Diane Cluck – Sylvania

Medicine for the People – My Country

2014, for us, started in Peru, in South America, which is, indigenously speaking, very related and in kinship with ancient native trade routes, customs and beliefs stretching all the way up to what is today North America. I cried many times then feeling the connection the people have with the land, with pachamama. In March, Ini and I went out to Massachusetts to pick up this veggie oil car we love and use so well. I distinctly recall sitting on the Boston Commons watching a squirrel scramble up trees, Unafraid of people or heights. The commemorative placeholders and memorials in that region are largely Patriarchal in heritage and remembrance. A very clearly delineated His-tory.

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Then, an image of homesteading on an Appalachian mountainside. Fresh, cool mountain stream. Generations of people “eeking out a living” in this fertile land. At the local library, I read accounts from ancestors of people who neighbor the land we’re on who say, “Wake up, it’s time to hoe. After lunch, more hoeing. When I close my eyes I see corn and beans.” Their descendants now have a garden, yes with corn and beans, yet also with a motion-controlled radio to scare away deer. Living on the land is tough, they all seem to say. After a few months of dipping my hand in these waters, though refreshed by the mountain spring water, I realize I’m not quite ready to go “back to the land” in such a vigorous -or isolated- way quite yet.

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So back to Indiana, my place of birth and raising. Will I follow the footsteps of my forebearers? Start a business, get a 9-5 working for the Man? I am not quite ready to start a large-scale alternative project to What Is. But we gotta eat, after all. Can’t live on idealism. Yet, the inner drive wants nothing to do with the machinations of my father. We do not see eye to eye; we hardly see the same world at all. Again, jumping the nest after touching base with the karma of birth, we are freebirds once again, taken by the travel.

Boulder, Colorado it is. Yet when we get there to meet some teachers who drew our attention, we find the land far commercialized from the initial hippy hay-day we heard it once was. No fodder for us, we continue on the travel. Well out of vegetable oil fuel for the car, we are now running mostly on the dinosaur bone and ancient fern slop that dictates the actions of so much of our warring and exploitive governmental system. It’s against our internal compass, but it’s “the way things are now.” We continue along on the highways, occasionally off-roading it, like so many others channeled and funneled along the main stream.

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Yet we are not mainstream. For the first time in my life, I catch people stopping to stare at me, whispering about our rig (the car is full!) or possibly about me. I’m not really sure, but I feel the difference. And I continue to feel how far I’ve strayed from being a good daughter of the Patriarchy.

I am not loyal to my government or the mores of the cultures of this land. So much of it ain’t sitting pretty with me.

We continue on through the ancient dwellings of the Southwest, reaping inspiration each step of the way. Pueblos stretching across miles of desert aligned to star and moon, equinox and solstice. These people were in rhythm with the earth. Give me some of that old time living! And the living ancestors of the people of Canyon de Chelly, still farming and shepherding amid the deep canyon walls near the ancient petroglyphs of old. (And even these Navajos were originally removed from the canyon only to be allowed to return a few years later, most of them dead or ill, spirits sick.) So many times I catch wind of what the native peoples did (and at times still do) and I think, “That’s the way I want to live! How to do it this day in age of rentals and bills and impossibly expensive land?”

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As Thoreau once said, perhaps the person who seems out of sync with the dominant culture is just marching to the beat of their own, privately heard drum. In the old days, this internal que could be called someone’s daemon, or creative spirit. Now the church, as in so many cases, has skewed the meanings of old words and daemon is too close to the evil in demon to be commonly employed, Yet it is this creative force which leads me into the future, into the bright realm of possibility, the unforeseen.

Now we are in California and I already, in some ways, feel “at home” again (though Ini and I have established a pretty good home on the road). The freedoms in the air of this most western point on the map are historical as well as current. Diversity is rich, as are alternative lifestyles and natural beauty.

I still don’t know where we’ll land for now; I remain curious about that. Until then, we continue following the trans-migrational rhythms of cyclical nomadics or seasonal workers from coast to coast.

So much of this country is in dire need of soul. And chances are it’s not going to be found on the TV. It’s so important that we can still see our night sky. It connects us Ineffably and magically with so much of what it means to be human. Spend more time outside. Breathe in the winds. Go hug a tree, really. Give thanks for water. Cities and waters are too often polluted. We need to start caring about the places we live, it’s our only way forward if we will pass on any beauty to our future generations. This is a message we so desperately need to hear, and the indigenous cultures, among other uprisings, have it.

space of mystery

No one knows why the humming birds
Fly straight up and pause in front of me
As if in recognition and then move on

Or why the coyote and I crossed paths at exactly that time

Why the people moved away from Chaco canyon or these cliffs here too
At bandelier or why the people at the gila cliffs maybe only stayed there for 50 years

People move on, drought, words of the gods, we may say, ever the beings desirous for meaning

But what of the nazca lines- how did they do that? Or the incans moving all that stone? Some mysteries we are forced to live with, their immensity stunning our minds

And as for the hummingbird
It’s a wonder
And wonder can be a final destination

It’s a gift to the mind actually
To leave the space for certain things,
The mysteries, To simply let them be

journeying through the heat of kansas with the filling moon

I am journeying through Kansas now. Everyone seems to hate Kansas, but I am finding it beautiful. It is hot, but some nice shade will dampen that beaming sun. I could get lost in the gaze of the rolling hills. It is a place my soul can dash and romp. Everyone seems to hate Kansas, even the people who live here, but I am finding it quite fine  — so spread out. There’s room for everyone!

Last night we arrived at our campsite around 1 AM. We’d driven all the second half of the day after playing at the City Museum in St Louis earlier that morning, after a really successful couchsurf the night before. We were going to stop earlier, but our campsite spot was no longer accessible. So we rode on through Kansas City and Topeka. I had thoughts of my grandmother, Rosemary, who was born in Kansas, though I’m not sure where.

The moon was brilliantly wholing in the sky. Lovely to watch as we careened along I-70. She followed us along the highway, as she’s apt to do anywhere in the world – always peeking in like a good friend. I feel at home when I see the moon- seeing her as I do everywhere I go. She and the herbs I carry along for morning and evening tea are signposts of the home I carry with me.

I am full of thoughts of the What and Why of my life and the Where, but practicing 1..2…3… I can only take 1 step at a time and this is my spiritual nourishment here. Stretching in a rest stop off the side of the high way, dancing beneath the mesquite and scrub oaks, breathing in the hot traveling air. These are the moments of my so-far day. The music I know and tunes I don’t — belting em out as I learn em… this is the step 1 of my time. Which is the only step I can ever know… the step of Now… and this is the golden mean of life… What is present now… beyond the thoughts of the past or the hopes and fears of the future.. There is the present moment now to breathe into and know that this is all that I ever have… this moment.

And amid the fears and the joys filled with the cascading emotions in between, I am rapt in the attention that Now… Now… Now filling and leaking and draining and saturated with pain and pleasure is all I ever have. So it becomes less about Getting Somewhere… Leaving There… and Arriving Here… but about the moments in between… Here… Now… Here… Again.. here.