Vær hilset and greetings again, hygge people of the world!
So much is coming out of the engine these days, that I can hardly keep up, and it has been a challenge in itself to keep the fuel reserves necessary to attend to all that is happening here in the Canadian countryside. To live for hygge-ness, it is important to take down time as well as on-time, so I usually try to multi-task when I am busy, which maximizes the time I can simply sit back and be, to listen to the coyotes and cicadas, to visit the local conservation parks with beautiful broad-leaf forests and mangroves observing the changing colors of autumn, do yoga in my living room, and sitting back with a book that I love, still I’m reading the ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ and ‘Plant Intelligence & the Imaginal Realm’, which I can highly recommend both titles, the former is an integral work in understanding the archetypal primal feminine, and is a great book for wild women with strong natural lifestyle, the latter is a re-thinking of the world of plants, and reconditioning how we think about sentient intelligence in plants, there is so much to digest in there, and the Gaian theory is one of the strongest paradigms I have come to know since reading Darwin as a teenager. I heard of a film called the Swedish Theory of Love, which is also one I want to check out.
Together with my partner, we recently put together plant bundles, and made herbal salves to sell together at a local health and yoga fair at a nearby organic farm. This was a world I have not readily hurled myself into before, making medicines and hygiene products with plants, but something I took deep enjoyment and satisfaction with, and was honored that my loving partner enlisted my help. I also made a run of travel photo prints compiled from my four year long nomadic journey, which will find new homes in other (hopefully hygge) houses.
My attentions have pretty diverse lately, I’ve looking into ramping up my fishing practice and moving outwards from the land to local lakes and conservation areas, studying the fishing zone I live within and the species that dwell here, and am set to taking a hunter education course in January, so I am already excited to move further into that world next year, and become involved with this ancestral practice with focus on conservation, and ritual-like hunting. I made a few rabbit snares for use on the land, but have yet to find any gifts from that. One things I have noticed from living in one place now for two months, or two full moon cycles, is how it becomes far easier to live an organic lifestyle. While traveling, we often eat out a lot and the majority of this food is exotic, or novel to our taste buds, and it is not always healthy for our bodies to change our dietary intake so consistently. I think we all are guilty of settling for non-organic, gmo or store bought food while we travel, because it is simply too much work, and concern, and sometimes we just want a treat. Living at the nest has allowed for a more rooted connection with the food I eat because I know the story of it, and we tend to have six major methods of acquiring our food; foraging, harvesting from our gardens and vineyard, fishing it, alliances with other farms that sell or trade us vegetables and fruit, farmers markets, or liberating it from a local health market dumpster, the last would be buying it, which we usually reserve for specialty items like coconut oil, nut butters, chocolate. Recently we made connections with a local farmer for raw milk, and a family relation for raw butter, so I am happy to have those products in our fridge while our freezer is being stocked with beautiful meat from my partners sister, who owns 27 highland free range cattle, and gave us several cuts of one of her cows and a friends’ fruit and grass fed hogs in exchange for some cleaning work; spare and back ribs, bacon, steak, burgers, brisket, tongue and heart are now in our deep freeze. As a friend of mine said to me, “A man needs to bring meat back to the hall!”
As the autumn starts to wax, this means a few things to me, acorns are dropping, and so are black and white walnuts (a.k.a. butternuts), and I have been on all fours, crawling through the cornfields that skirt the edge of the broad-leaf forest here where several old red oaks (quercus rubrus) stand. My partner has an easy to remember meme to identify the oaks, she says ‘white mans bullet, red mans arrow’, referring to the morphology of the leaf, and the shape at the ends, I have used this trick to easily spot the trees I want to forage from. Picking up all the brown acorns that haven’t been pecked by a bird or chewed through by a squirrel, its a kind of race with our fellow rodentia species to get out and gather these before they are cached and buried underground, and I find great joy in it. I was able to gather a few kilos of nuts in about an hour from just three trees, and the next step is crushing them out and leeching them in the stream to remove the tannins. We also jarred up all our staghorn sumac (rhus typhina) for our tea hutch, and packaged several pounds of nettle seeds for immuno-enhancing tonics, adrenal boosting, and greenish black brews, which are soul warming on a cool day. The black walnuts and butternuts on the other hand are new to me, and I have had minimal experience gathering nuts in the past, some almond foraging in mexico and nut collecting in england and newfoundland aside, this is a food that was used and heavily relied upon by our paleo-lithic ancestors so it is something that can be fit into those following the paleo diet. The butternut (juglans cinerea) tastes like a northern macadamia nut and is going to be great in my winter porridge. I have about ten pounds of nuts solar drying now.
This is the season for pawpaws, so I have been checking out the trees for fruit, and may make a mission soon in the Niagara valley where there are good foraging spots. Our morning glories and hops are also drying on their climbing vines. I would like to use the medicinal compounds of the flowers in the future, by saving the morning glory seeds which contain psychotropic compounds similar to l.s.d. I would make beer but I am more of a mead lover, and our bees are making a lot of honey. By the first frosts we will have a few racks of comb honey ready, and we recently added a ‘honey’ super to our hive, to give another level to the bee stack, so a mead fermentation winter will be in store. I also recently had an interesting nutmeg experience, for those who might know this aromatic plant from the spice islands, used mostly on egg nogs and european coffee. If you take enough of it, it is not unlike a pleasant cannabis high, and last from 1-2 days without any side effects. It is a great plant ally for use in rainbow gatherings, or the Scandinavian Ting, because it allows for a high degree of empathy. It is certainly a lot kinder to our health than most domestic ‘drugs’ like tea, gluten, carbs, and sugar, which most folks don’t ever think about as drugs at all, while nutmeg is completely legal and low risk.
But besides all the food, I have also been experimenting with fasting for the past two months, one day a week, usually mondays, my partner and I eat nothing, just teas and for me, I like to start the morning with bulletproof coffee, that’s coffee blended with butter and coconut oil. During the fast I just do light work, drink tea, read and fill my mind with literature, or read about how to build saunas and cordwood buildings. Our bodies are naturally capable of switching to a different fuel called ketosis, instead of using up all our muscle and protein stores, and this is something ancestrally wired into us, that our bodies have adapted to in times of food shortage, and traditionally done in rites of passage and vision quests. I am learning a lot on this fasting exploration, and although they are only intermittent, and I am not diving too deep yet, it has been a useful practice in the week that further connects me to my sense of self, the sensual sides of my surroundings and the innate animal hunger that we all feel but sometimes take for granted.
I wanted to touch on ancestry as well before I wind down this post. I recently ordered one of the kits from ancestry.ca and this is something I have wanted to do for many years and always put off as somehow not a priority. Well, ‘Halloween’ is in October, which I don’t celebrate, but it is also the ‘Dia de los Muertes’, the day of the dead, or the ancestors. I observed this holiday in Oaxaca, Mexico a couple years ago and it is a time when all the families congregate in the medinas, in most of the towns, cities, and villages throughout the southern states. Flowers are seeded months in advance and a blitz harvest takes place before the day, people honor their ancestors and old family by bringing the floral bouquets, their favorite foods and traditional songs and dance are made in the streets. To our Germanic ancestors, this was also the first day of winter, and they held blot, or sacrifice to the elves, and the mothers or disa. All of these traditions had me thinking about how much we still owe to our ancestors and how vital it is to know where and who we came from. I needed to take this upon my shoulders, and form those lines back in time, and my partner and I built an ancestral altar in our woods to bring this ancestral spirit onto our land.
Sauna season is soon coming, and I have already been in the sauna a few times, sweating it out, and am looking to build a cordwood version next year. There is no hygge without sauna, especially the rustic Scandinavian styles. This is something I am excited about, and shall be cutting the softwood in the proceeding months to get ready for curing for next years use, by this time next year I hope to see one of my own in the backyard and to invite some friends over for traditional sauna sessions. I am thinking about floating again soon, in the isolation tanks but I think I wait when the days are shorter and the work is less, which frees up more time for meditation and restoration. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying these last hot days and chances to launch out into the wild world, and encourage you to come with me, at least in spirit.