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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Salty's Final Egg


Ol' Salty’s final egg.

Backyard farming has its highs and lows, its ease and challenges, its joys and sorrows.

And I am grateful for all of it.



Thursday, September 3, 2020

Oil Preserved Orange Bananas

It's - for sure - tomato season. Every day there's more to harvest, and I'm so grateful, as I am every year. This year I'm growing four heirloom varieties: Cosmonaut Volkov, Opalka, Romany (known, commercially, by another name), and Orange Banana. And it's Orange Banana that I'm working with today. 
I still have plenty of canned tomato puree from past years, so this year I'm focused on other preserves and preserving methods for my paste tomatoes. One technique I stumbled on that I've never tried before is roasting and packing the tomatoes in olive oil. There's varying information out there, not on the process, but rather how long they keep in cool storage. Some say weeks. Some say months. So I'll be making a few batches to see what my results are, in the frig, and in our basement. 

In any event, the technique is super-simple: Clean, dry, slice the tomatoes (if using a cherry variety I'd poke a hole through them with a skewer, or slice in half). Place the slices on a baking sheet, salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roast in a 420F degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Then pack the tomatoes in a jar, leaving no room for air pockets, and 1.5 inches of headroom... 

Top with at least an inch of extra virgin olive oil, ensuring no plant matter is exposed to the air. Cap and keep in cool storage (IE: refrigerator, or a cool cellar). 

I'm anxious to see how these last. I'm equally anxious to use them in cooking. This first batch I made plain and plan to use it as the last jar in the test. I'll be making two more batches flavored with garlic and herbs.

I have preserved eggplant and peppers in oil with positive results, and am hoping the same holds true with tomatoes. Techniques like this are valuable to me (and to all of us), as they reduce water use, which is vital as clean, potable water continues to be raped 'n' ruined by the captains of greed 'n' profit... the captains of end stage capitalism. But, anyway...

I'll be harvesting more tomatoes to eat, to dry, to can, to ferment, and experiment with. Clearly, tomatoes are a staple in our little hut. ::nods:: 

Peace.  ðŸ•Š

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Welcome to September


And to a rumination of randomness...

As summer wanes this month, the pace of harvest 'n' preservation ratchets up, and when autumn arrives the pace will spring into overdrive. So it is that September dances with pace 'n' quickening.

All things considered, the rhythm of August felt balanced to me, and for that I am so grateful, as it was a month that beat with holistic challenge. For many of us. Now, with September's arrival, I know that cadence is preparing to surge, and I'm - yet again - grateful that I was able to make time 'n' space last month to reflect on July's transitions, transformations and actions, and I hope that I'll be able to manifest similar time 'n' space in the coming days 'n' weeks to reflect on August's integrations.

It's been a strange summer, for so many, if not all of us. I pray that we - collectively - are not waiting around for a return to any semblance of normalcy. As autumn approaches, this is our season to plant the seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, creative dreams of action to make manifest something fresh 'n' fair, good 'n' right, caring 'n' just. In big ways. In wee ways. In any way that fits.

As I move forward into September I will give attention my holistic plantings, as I consider behaviors and actions in the gardens, in my community, and in the greater world. I invite you to do the same.

To learn more about what's coming up this month and the special offerings click here.

Peace.  ðŸ•Š

Saturday, August 1, 2020

August Already

Lammas blessings to one and all.

Harvests happen in every season, yet August is a month that ramps up the pace and urgency that will continue into autumn. After all, it is the final full month of summer.

Given July's focus of emptying the brick 'n' mortar at Whiting Mills, the gardens were a bit neglected, so I'm really looking forward to playing some serious planting, tending, and harvesting catch-up this month. To harvest the early potatoes, the turnips 'n' beets, more beans, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, herbs, and to see a second (and third, and fourth...) tomato ripen are all anticipations that stoke my heartflame.

That said... yeah, the public brick 'n' mortar is no more, and I'm once again working from home. I invite you all to know that I'm still here doing the work I'm called to do, of which supporting you is a seminal part. I will continue online gathers 'n' teaching, and will provide herbs 'n' herbals to those in my community - by any definition. And I'll get back to arting 'n' crafting as well. All in good time. 

For now my heart is facing the August harvests, of harmonizing the ones I missed in July, and composing for those coming up. Holistically... Gently...

Recently these two cards from one of Lori Barker's Spirit Collage decks came to me... "Let go of control" and, "Be willing to slow down." I couldn't have chosen two more fitting messages for me, for August. The usual tea gatherings are in place this month, as is our Herb of the Month, as well as a couple of classes, but other than that, Walk in the Woods will be yielding to revisiting the pace and rewards of (what I call) randomness. I look forward to checking my privilege and experiencing whatever yields from this yielding. It looks like I'll be turning inward a bit, abandoning much of the discipline around the botanical, mystical, expressive, and justice work that I do. Randomness. That's the tug I feel. And I'm ready to welcome it.

Despite my personal pace and yielding this month, remember that as a Medicine Womyn I am here for you - YOU, so reach out to me for any Medicine you may need. ::nods::


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Welcome to July

What goes around, comes around. We are born, we live, we die, to be reborn. Spirals of life and living...

Spirals have been swirling around me in increasing numbers, and at increased velocity. The vibrations ripple over and through my being, my life, my world in ways that can not be ignored or denied. Truths, some long known, yet dismissed or ignored, are winding around me and tripping me up so that I must take notice, and action. 

The tripping truths are holistic, encompassing all parts of my life, distant, close, closer, and up-close 'n' personal. 

That said, it is with a heavy and grieving heart that I share with you that I am closing the brick 'n' mortar at Whiting Mills. I will continue to tend to the needs of my engaged School of Botanical Wellness students, current clients, and dedicated customers, and some online offerings will endure as well. I shall do my best to continue to support you all in the generous spirit in which you've supported me over the years.

Walk in the Woods has transformed many times over the past 26+ years, and it's transforming yet again. I encourage you to let me know what you most wish to learn from my experience, as it is teaching and helping others remember that which keeps fading in the shadow of capitalist greed that most motivates me. Now, more than ever, it is time for us to recall the wisdom of the earth, our grand mother, beloved Nona Gaia, to rally our collective strength to bring about positive change for a change. It is not time to go along as if everything is just fine. It is not time to return to some perceived normalcy. It is not time to hide. It's not been any of these things for a very, very, very long time. If, at all, ever.

Change can be good. Let it be so. May we embrace it. For a change.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Long-ago Graveyard of Privilege

I didn't grow up in Georgia. I grew up in Seaford, Delaware. Recent social intensities resurfaced a memory buried in a long-ago graveyard of privilege. White privilege. This post triggered a need to (start to) express that resurfaced memory. The memory may be flawed, and certainly narrow, but the essence, I'm confident, it not.
I had to dig out my 1973 high school yearbook to find his full name. I had to. I remembered his first name, it was Leslie, and he was a senior when I was a freshman. He was a star academic and athlete headed to college... headed toward a future. Only he wasn't.
The short story goes like this: He went fishing with his to-be father-in-law. There was an accident. He drowned. He was a young black man recently engaged to his white high school sweetheart.
I remember the hushed murmurs of young and old alike that floated on the undercurrents in the underworld social structure of that little town. And that's as much attention as it got. Life, at least the whites lives, went on in usualness.
This teenage memory, buried in that ugly graveyard resurrected over these past few weeks. And with it the shame, the horror, the complicity of that little town. And of mine.
I hear and see a lot of talk about history these days. There should be, as the lies of the so-called victors, with all the shame, horror, complicity and worse are resurrected, and rightfully burned, and torn down to a rubble. A rubble from which, if we choose, we might build something else. Something better. Something just. Something that, when it weeps, it weeps with joy, with love, and not with shame, horror, and complicity.
There's more work for me right here in this memory, and elsewhere. If you're white and you're reading this, I ask you, no - beg you - to do the work as well.
With that, I bid you the capacity to carve out time and space to enJOY the last of the vernal breezes, and to light a blaze to the arrival of the summer sun that burns to ash all that does not nurture and sustain. All.

Sunday, May 31, 2020


I'm reflecting on the gifts of May. The sweet. The bitter.

As June approaches, and with it more planting, harvesting, and the many threads that lace together those allied and antithetical activities - in the ALL of the gardens - I'm giving conscious attention to the most steadfast patterns around me, especially - if not exclusively - to those present in the gardens, in Nature, in the expressions of Nona Gaia. Expressions of evolution and constancy.

And they reflect in every other aspect of life. The sweet. The bitter. 

NoJustice. NoPeace. 🕊

Friday, May 1, 2020

Welcome May, The Lusty Month

While I'll miss gathering around a Beltaine fire with my comrades this year, the tree-huggin', backyard farmer in me still revels in the sexy verve that swells and explodes in this springtime month. So far, the season has been chill and damp, and some buds, like dandelion and violet are just starting their blooming. And I'm grateful. In the garden proper, the garlic is thriving, the onion plants are settling in, the first batch of three varieties of potatoes are in the earth, and six plants each of Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale are planted. Other starts are hardening off, seedlings are being transplanted, and seeds continue to be planted in the greenhouse, and in the earth. Perennials and self seeders are delighting me as well.
That said, for my local friends, I'll have some plants available (free/PWYW) for pick-up at my home. So far there's motherwort, lemon balm, borage, calendula, and nigella potted up, and more in the works. So if you're interested, contact me and I'll be sure to leave some plants for you on the bench in my front yard. ::nods::
As for studio happenings, there are none. Yet I've taken to Zoom, as so many have, with our two regular "Tea 'n'" gathers. Folks have asked about classes, yet most of what I offer doesn't translate well to a Zoom format (what with so much hands-on 'n' all), so I'm conjuring something a bit different...
lettuce patch 'n' first potato patch
Our current situation has really bubbled to the surface the fact that we all have skills. Every damned one of us. Whether we know it or not. Many of you are are playing with new experiences, developing new skills, as well as honing existing abilities. In this reality, we all, every single one of us, have something of value to share, every single one of us has the capacity to be among our Knowing Neighbors.
cabbage babes
That said, join us for our first Knowing Neighbors session this month, featuring two Connecticut fiber artists, Doreen Breen of Soul Threads, and Sarah Castrovinci of A Stitch in Time Designs - two neighbors worth knowing who know a thing or two! 
brassicas ready to plant
Moving forward, we'll feature one to two Knowing Neighbors, every other Thursday evening for the next several weeks into the unforeseeable future. Keep watch for the next one planned for May 28th! And contact me to get on the guest list! I'm truly excited about this, as it is intended to connect us in meaningful ways during this time of disconnect, it is intended to be a way to share our skills and passions, to inspire one another, and nurture forms of mutual aid. Plus, I see other potential in this activity...
second year mullein
perpetual spinach

Saint Joan's wort

Cutting celery, sweet Annie, calendula nigella, borage. 
With that, join us for a Zoom event if you can, and continue practicing social and physical distancing, stay home as much as possible, wear your mask when you venture forth into the shared world, and be well.

Peace. 🕊