Life on our planet is hastily evolving as we know it, life’s culture and the way we live it alive…
Monsooned inside my cabin hall, I count the drops of water gushing from my roof while the Maritimes ge plundered with 130 millimeters of rain, akin to the great deluges of summertime in India and the Asian subcontinent. Caverns underneath my floor dug by prickly porcupines swell and flood with water, and the Edison bulbs that illumine the interior of my domain can not compensate with the myrkiness of gray weather that shades me from outside. My Mongolian ger is standing in the round proudly enduring its fair share of trials, looking handsome with its new chimney hat and fireplace though still a ways from finishing. The sobering realization that I will not be making the yurt home base for the winter is satisfactory, as my cabin home has become far more hygge as cold season fortification has abetted. My neighbors Spirit & Seven offered up some plastic wrapping to cover the windows, and my north door has been cloaked over with wool to buffet any drafts entering from the north. Clever humans use the hair of these ruminants to defend themselves against the polar conditions. I also installed a damper on the chimney pipe to withhold the precious btu’s from being starkly wafted up and outside, heating the sky rather than my body and my dinner. Now that the nights are colder, my coolers function shift to being passive freezers, dropping below subzero in the night and staying in the double negatives to preserve frozen berries, fruit, fish and meat. I’ve procured a more fortified pantry with a new delivery of Grammy B’s canned preserves, moose meat, and jams, bulked up with a stocking mission in Flow-ville for coffee, alliums, strong spirits and haskap juice concentrate. Spaces in my floor where the hall staves let in a draft from beneath are stuffed with torn wool socks that traveled with me some small Himalayan village of northern India, and I have been able to rope in at least two neighbors willing to stoke my fyre when I am absent .Homesteading is about finding the low-tech systems that work for you and enhance the richness of the living experience.
Forays into the Fray
A spontaneous trip to Ontario, and two rounds of Fredericton proffered me good enough reasons to stay closer to my kinfolk in the village and invest more nesting energy into home-base. The cities have always felt too fast for my pace of life, and while my visits with kindred were enriching and satisfying to my senses, the side effects of these forays into modern territories have their gauging effect on the soul. A kindling of spirits with my Viking Brother in the Laurentian mountains and a rendezvous with my Ma in Ontario claimed all my attention for the initiation of November. We held a moot and work gathering to clear a giant tree that had fallen on an outdoor ritual space, and I enjoyed the exorbitant luxuries of a modern suburbia for a short stint, while the presidential elections showed on the tv in the background, and garnered absolutely zero of my intrigue, it’s always the same movie playing. Re-connections with were made with two sisters in Steel City, as we retreated from the mask wearing zones of downtown, to private quarters and escarpment forests to drink artisanal coffee, and read divinatory cards about plants and trees. The cruiser suffered greatly during the trip from the long stretches of high speed commute on the trans-Canada, 401 and QEW highway and will need a new flex pipe. Upon returning to New Brunswick, the manifold started to pick up a rattle that sounded like the guttural defense bellows of a prairie buffalo. Affectionately, my ride was renamed the P.T. Buffalo by a dear neighbor. My adventures away from home felt as intentionally rooting to place as they did a craving for novelty and spaciousness. Pulling onto the dirt road leading home in the dark, after 20 hours of driving was a cathartic experience of grounding and place-holding where I truly belong. I still retain a credit with the Air Canada company from the cancellation of flights during the early spring lock-down, perhaps a midwinter trip up north to the territories would be warranted when the pining for flight again rumbles within me. I have always wanted to take a working holiday and join a dog mushing team under arctic skies.
Mr. Groovy Yurts himself, Yves showed up in Florenceville one wintry morning and Kaia and I caught up with him for a Tim’s brew while we sat inside by their fake fire, and generally talked louder than the six old men combined who were huddled around four other tables. We must have seemed the odd crew. Yves is a giant of a man from Switzerland, Kaia being once an exotic dancer with the physique of a young woman and gypsy wool clothing, I in Norseman garb and a beaver trimmed hat. Caffeine was slowly introduced to the blood stream one sip at a time while we bartered stories about Mongolia, communal living, and the trucker’s life that Yves built his legacy on. We exchanged knowledge like currencies, on rocket stoves, earthbag building, and the obscure economics of a nomadic horseman on the other side of the globe. I truly believed that day that Yves was driving the fanciest truck in the entire maritime provinces. On his way to PEI to build two yurts, and hopefully not get held up on the red sand shores by the new frontier.
Beyond my humble acre and its goings on, parts of the New Brunswick are ramping up control measures for enslaving the people inside their homes, forcing indecent public protocols indiscriminately on healthy people and surveiling the private lives of well meaning communities and individuals straining to live with a semblance of normality. Other provinces are going into total lockdown for the second time, due to covid, and here in Knowlesville, the penetration of the worlds paranoia has reared its ugly head into the confines of our own village. These are words and sentiments I never though would be uttered, but it feels that everyday normalcy is more and more like a scenario from Orwell’s 1984 or the Black Mirror. When my own sisters and brothers personal lives are being invaded and vigilante civilians, forcibly telling us how to pursue our day to day existence in a fashion completely unreasonable to honor.
Luckily, I’ve saddle up with a winter hustle that will bolster me with meaningful work and a cash stream through the crossover of the year and well into the spring of the next. From my patch of the woods, commuting 500m north on Knowlesville road, I leave my p.t. Cruiser at the confluence of three roads; one leading to a hunting lodge, another culminating in a beaver dam, the third forging N. on a mud road to Skedaddle Maple, the way is made into the heart of Golden Ridge where I spend my days leveling pipes and tapping maple spouts, that will carry the sweet sap through the woods to the boiler rooms of a 200 acre sugar bush. A Bear den was found on one of the maple lines, where the papa bear had dragged a blue hose containing some of the frozen sap from last years flow into its cove. Amusing images of a suckling male Bear in hibernation emerged into my mind, and I made mental affirmations that my work matched my joy. Another afternoon brought the music of a cardinal and the presence of a downy woodpecker, while a morass of coyote, moose, deer and fox tracks pepper the woods with sloughen paw prints. The bitterness of subzero temperatures works its way into bones, but my hearth is always waiting for me at home to blaze.
It’s a Pagan Tradition
Enough time has elapsed now that the ambience at Othala has warranted a yule tree to stand erect in the cabin hall. Of course there are those who are keen to stand the timber right after Hallow’s eve, and even those country folk that keep their lights on their front forch all year long, as the lyrics of a country tune once went. For me personally, traditions are more intentional, and occupy a space beyond profane time and the everyday experience. A set and setting in which they exist in a liminality all of their own, totally in the here and now. They are not meant to be chores, or consumer fetish niceties put on for the display of the public. In my heart, they carry great symbolism, myth and a connection to something deeper in our well waters of wyrd. The yule is one of these tradition perhaps closest to my pagan heart.
Along with raising the evergreen in the hall as a symbol of the Axis Mundi, a dear neighbor of mine and I have been lighting the Sunwait candles every Thorsday, for Thorshelg. The day of the week when the craft of Dwarves, and the magical intentions of elves can make themselves felt through the people of middle earth. This involves the carving of beeswax candles, which were made by our hands using the dip method. Each stick of solidified sunshine is carved with a rune, starting with Fehu, of the elder :FUTHARK: and following with the the next five runes, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, and Kenaz, with the final flame being lit on solstice evening, and the brands of six runes flaming brightly. Each flame is initiated with a poem, for which I am using a book of Skaldcraft by my very good ally Eirik “the Eagle” Westcoat. Potent sips of the poet’s mead are drunk with wode, and we meditate on the mystery of the Runes while the candle hood softens our gaze, and brings us to an altered state.
‘Neath the Yule tree are crafted gifts for young and elder, neighbors and allies, even the domestic wolves have a share. Some new, others vintage, things you can eat and precious objects exchanged for our local currency, and all suited for each gift taker. There are medicines, baskets, books, potent brews, and calming lights, things that smell good to the senses, and sound well to the ears. On the boughs are runic talismans, salt dough ornaments, a giant egg, and fishing lures, hung with strings of rowan berries studded with dried orange rings and heirloom treasures. A small fawn skull takes the center of the trunk and a large moose up at the base. The roots are submerged in water in a bucket and wrapped with burlap and covered in wool, looking very much snow laden and thulean. I keep a torch burning when neighbors visit, or at least a candle on the altar to hold the space, and the fire stokes its eternal nature, being quickend the morning after its growling slow burn, not going out.
This winter, I intend to carve a runestone on a slab of slate, of my settlement here in Vinland to honor the lineage that came before me, over a millennia ago. It feels fitting that after a long seven year voyage overseas, mingling in exotic markets of foreign lands and obscure tongues, and following roughly the same course of Viking farers in bygone times across the Nordic hemisphere that I would finally make it back home to east coast Atlantia. Where Leif Eriksson and Gudrid the Far Traveler stepped off their ships in the new world, a long saga ago.
A wall of dripping icicles hangs perilously over the edge of my roof, as village children come by to pilfer them for sword fights, and chew sticks. Fauna leave their tracks strewn about the forest floor, while some continue to encamp beneath my own. Power dwindles in the sun, but I make up for it with personal power, and fully charged batteries. I’m drinking dark brews of herbal liquer, root powders, tropical charred beans, and fungal concoctions, while I take time off to write longhand letters for loved ones, and go to sleep early. My bed is my favorite place to be right now, under pelts of Black Bear, Coyote, and Arctic Fox. My heart is full here in the Appalachian foothills, and as I reflect on years of travel, their nourishment, and guidance to my spirit, there is a need to preserve these memories into a photographic collection, and to share thee stories of oulde with my kindred into the present and future. Perhaps by the next installment of the homestead journal this will become actualized.
Until then, we all go Wassailing, as Baldr is reborn in the light of Midgard!