Aho, wild ones! The pregnant luna is bathing us in autumn moonlight, in what is our first of the season here at our nest, and it is actually getting cold during the dark hours, as the nights stark to come sooner and last longer. I have heard the Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) croon and thee black squirrels are rambling for the autumn nut harvest. Since I like to include some of their dietary choices into my food regimen, I also have a small cache of nuts and seeds; black walnut, butternut (or what I call northern macadamia for its similar taste), sunflower seeds, and looking to go out for gingko nuts soon. I did harvest a creole basket full of red oak acorns, but to my dismay, despite their perfect looking condition, almost all of these had weevils. I did some research into this grub, and decided that I will mulch the acorns, and potentially save some for a yule craft. I have found that white oaks re more resistant to disease and acorn weevils, so I am going to get out again before next moon and harvest some more before it is too late. These will be processed to make flour for pancakes, or battering fish and seafood, and roasted for coffee substitutes or bread. Apparently there is an albino squirrel that lives around here, but I have yet to see it.
Besides acorns I have been out on the land harvesting what autumn brings, our ground cherries, popping corn, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and elderberries, which I dried for use in nutritional cereals/porridges. It is a novelty to have our very own popping corn straight from the garden, and I have been enjoying some dried dulse jerky from the shores of New Brunswick. We canned over 30 jars of peaches from the Niagara and made several batches of peach salsa. I tried elk for only the second time in my life this past week, and I have been trying some new recipes with wild game, and highland cattle beef. I bought a few pounds of organic grass-fed jersey butter while the cows are still out in the field eating an appropriate diet and froze it so I would have good butter through the winter. I also went out with my brother to collect tree resin for wood restoration on our homestead, which also doubles as good wax for moustache and beard, and makes great salves. We also collected milkweed fluff, corn kernel roots, and dried grasses for tinder material.There are several gmo corn fields around where we live which carry no nutritive value and are grown primarily for cow feed, but there is one positive in that these are great places to hunt for insects, especially grasshoppers. I caught a small batch with my brother, and freeze dried them, and today I toasted them on an iron skillet with ghee, and smoked paprika, for a quick snack. I am going to be developing my entomophagy practice (that is, eating insects), though I have not had a strong pallete for bugs in the past, a trip to Mexico this past winter really aroused the interest of using exo-skeletal bugs, ants, termites, and bees in culinary recipes, condiments and spice mixes. Around 3 billion people eat insects around the world and it is an ancient practice but of course it is only now starting to catch on in our western culture. Another interesting food I tried recently was a type of fungus called Corn smut (Huitlacoche) which grows on the ears of corn as a kind of parasite. The smut itself is more nutrient rich and protein filled than the corn itself, and though it destroys the cob, is considered more of a delicacy in Mexican culture, and worth more in farmers markets. It has been described as a Mexican truffle, and I would not lie that the comparisons are similar. This food has been eaten for thousands of years, and I made a traditional Mayan quesadilla with this black fungus, which tasted sweet, earthy, and savory.
Recently I built a compost toilet box, and the other day I gave it a true finish after sanding it, using a flame thrower and some rancid olive oil, the effect of the fire and oil (linseed is also good), creates a vintage, antique look. We use a compost toilet here to save water, instead of flushing several liters of fresh potable water down a drain, and into septic systems, the ocean, etc. With the humanure we fill crates made of pallets and age the organic material for 1 full year with two rotations of the decomposing material, after this time, the result is a golden brown and black supersoil that feeds all our gardens, in addition I use weeds for mulch, hay for ground cover, and spent coffee grains for pest control. This is just one of thousands of permaculture principles that I think separates a normal farm task or house chore into the sacred and the profane, which has a lot to do with the essence of hygge. By recycling what most people see as waste, a new paradigm is accepted where the work of the homestead is sacred, and the concept of empty, menial toil is re-worked into something sustainable, beautiful and fun. Our distant ancestors didn’t produce a lot of garbage because they too saw the importance of materials, resources, and things, thus why we don’t find much when we dig in the ground for signs of old cultures. I think it is important to adopt this connection to the functionality and use of resources and work so that it serves as a sustainable and sacred system, rather than one based on supply, demand, and throw away.
As the longer fall days begin to latch onto us, and we soon will turn back our clocks, at least those living in the northern hemisphere we will take a deep dive into the long cold nights, start to where more layers, and come inside more often for the comforts of home. I see two things that are exciting for me when I think about the autumn and winter, is that it’s perfect sauna season and there is hardly anything more relaxing than sweating it out in a sauna on a grim winter day with snow outside, and detoxifying our bodies, when fresh produce and seasonal food is not readily available in our diets and we may eat more refined foods. The other is somewhat ironic, but it is the practice of hormesis, that is intentionally getting out during these times to continue doing what we always would do, and enduring short exposures to discomfort in order to keep our immune system strong, stave off sickness, keep our muscles from atrophying, cold conditioning, etc. Whether its sleeping with the windows cracked open in January, fasting and deep solitude for introspection, walking in the dark without light sources to train our eyes, or other practices that keep our levels of stamina, strength, and thriving nature in tact. Meanwhile it is fun to come inside and sit by warm fires after you have gone through this, and we just did our first ceremonial hearth lighting last week on a particularly chilly day. Using only tinders and ash wood cut from our land, ignited with the sparks from a flint and iron, and given life by our breaths, both adult and youth, then invigorated into the hearth, while we swept out the ashes of the old and infused our homestead with the radiant warmth of stored solar energy, and the flickering amber light on the walls.
Tonight I went floating, (not in a space suit mind you), but in an isolation tank, which I have done a couple times now throughout Canada and really enjoy. It is a type of therapy where our bodies are completely relieved of our own gravity inside a specially built tank filled with epsom salt infused water, where you float for 60-90 minutes, and have the potential to experience deep healing. Not only for the body, the muscles, tendons and nerves, but also the skin, for headaches, inflammation, old mental traumas, spiritual dis-eases, sleep apnea, and a plethora of other benefits. It is a very novel feeling and does look quite futuristic when stepping into one of the samadhi tanks, where you are submerged in a kind of void, with no sound, or sensation of gravity or temperature on your naked body, this releasing of stimulation can be quite psychedelic and for those looking to know more about float isolation, I would suggest reading the works of John C. Lily, who invented the first tank prototypes and the water solution for proper floating. To compliment the floating, I have been getting out to agricultural and wilderness areas for natural yoga, which I do intuitively based on what my body wants and how the mood of the place feels, this has given me the time I need to decompress, heal myself from farm toil, and awaken my senses to this land even deeper.
As I continue this living experiment and gradually encounter new ways to overcome domesticity, the opportunities to thrive become more and more apparent, and I am for the first time in my life, truly starting to feel home in one place. Here, we build our own nordic temples, and where we can live out the hygge concept in every action within our routines. Every new movement of the celestial bodies passing in time with us as witness and participants, is another chance to grow, engage and live out our dreams.