Saga of Othala, ch. XVIII: Story is Everything

The stories we choose to tell, are those that we allow to shape our lives. The beliefs that we invest in, are those which feed that narrative, and inform how we show up with others. The infiltration of story within the being and doing of humanness is the spiritual soup of everything we were, are and can become. Some know themselves to be divine, others embrace their animism, some men and women say they are just “a man”, or “a woman”, and they may seek reasons to self fulfilling theories of mental superiority or perhaps intellectual impoverishment, good luck, bad luck, woken, conscious and aware as having transcended all ethical flaws and shadows. These are all narratives that inform and interweave us in the great web of Wyrd. My strands are my own, and I have spent thirty-two years running them through my fingers, feeling their coarseness, untying knots, mending the fray ends, merging yarns, coloring them, spinning them through the complex thresh of a life lived within the limitations imposed by the great mystery. The warp and woof of my saga story is penetrated by the sword of every new idea, thought and action I have ever had or made. All words forging new words, all deeds forever burgeoning new deeds.

One of the paradigms I operate is about work, and my relationship with labor, how I earn my keep, and how I handle the money that washes in an out like the ebb and flow of a deep tidal fjord. In the greater scheme, I believe work is sacred and that all efforts of the body should be made in a concentrated, efficient, and natural way. I believe that work should be the extension of one man or woman’s energy to create something beautiful, enact positive change in an environment, to provide care for another being, to participate in a natural ecology, to keep the body healthy, and to do what is necessary for a thriving survival. Also I believe work is mundane, and that it sometimes exists within the paradox while still performing its function on a purely mechanical or industrial level. As human beings have trended to becoming specialists vs. generalists, the modern human must do work that is outside of the aforementioned means, and instead to earn symbolic achievements in order to accomplish or acquire certain objects, services, and luxuries from the culture in which they belong.

Optimally, I witness and participate in the ways in which my money will serve me more and be earned with less effort, while maintaining my sovereign integrity and coherence with a healthy wealth paradigm. Not selling out, hustling harder, lowering my standards of living, or slaving away. It’s never “just about the money”. That means participating in money earning schemes that bring bliss and joy, instill substantial meaning, balance the physical, mental and spiritual outputs, outlives the frame of time in which that work was performed, has symbolic or even ritualistic significance, and can fundamentally support other philosophical life choices I have prescribed with, for reasons that cohere to me and give life a guiding mythology.

If I had a crystal ball to look into, that would offer up a vision of a slightly more matured and wizened version of myself, I may see something like this; homesteading on high caliber levels with self sustaining cyclical systems that generate food, income, craft, and trade goods, teaching English in the online and offline worlds, guiding yoga and healing based practices involving plants and the body-mind-soul complex, nature based hospitality, and giving live demos and workshops on traditional skills, with labor services outside the homestead occupying just a small fraction of my energy allotted for others, until I am no longer dependent on working off site from my one acre of terra-firma. Rather than working for others, working with others on a complimentary basis or as favor to those less fortunate, or as good karmic service from a place of pure abundance and desire to give, rather than the narrow need of cash anxiety.

At the nest of Othala, I only expend within my means, so progress is slower than per se if I borrowed loans to start business ventures or bring assets to the homestead, but this keeps me from becoming trapped in the strangle holds of debts, credits, and I owing everyone. I am still yet in the rooting years of homesteading, maybe yet the budding stages, and the trunk of my greater work has barely been started. Next year will be qualitatively different than this one, and the one proceeding from that. I envision setting aside more funds for land improvement, which translates to the accommodations, tree planting, facilities etc. with an upgraded connection to the outside world, meaning having good internet in the forest, and being able to communicate easily with friends and allies I have made across this planet with more ease. Musk, if you read this, please help this bushman stay in contact with the known world, and have your magical silicon elves send one starlink dish to my humble homestead in Appalachia.

Generally I see myself freeing up more money for travel and continued monetary support during that travel (vis-a-vis language teaching prospects), out of country during winter an within the province and country in the warmer months when important gatherings are taking place. These being sourced more lucrative efforts of my own that are in line with a thriving lifestyle to appreciate those same efforts. I think deep down because I have been engaged in manual services for others for so long in a kind of wwoofer fashion, I have become a little jaded to continue this style of work while I now tend my own homestead, fill my pantry, take care of an animal, steward a land, and maintain a vehicle. All of these are tremendous gifts in my life that are not taken for granted. So contrary to the impulse of continuing to hustle and accumulate more, I find there is a richer contentment in sitting with it all on a daily basis and giving thanks, and letting that be my meditation.

I feel like I have made it, that I am successful, and there is really only varying degrees of difference along the spectrum of how that looks in five or ten years, and intuitively it is just more connected. I have grounded this affirmation with the spartan practice of acquiring no new thing. It has been nearly two moons now, of having no new thing introduced into my space. Rather, I have actually felt liberated by giving material things away to minimize further the artifacts of the human will, making more room for presence. Most people tend to appreciate and extend great care for their cars, their pets, their laptops, and their musical instruments, but what about the common things that do not cost much in dollars but make the day much nicer? When the bulk of acquisitions are collected and forgotten, or taken for granted of, it is a curious feeling then to have great appreciation for the most basic of implements, like a pair of working suspenders, or warm woolen long johns without holes in them. This most anti-modern, and ante-consumerist way of being with the world, for instead of acuisition, the maintaining, fixing, generating, creating, and preserving of what one has I find is a more profound practice of living in the material world. It is only once my materials have broken six, seven, eight times, or are otherwise taken by nature, lost, disfunctional, no longer serving the means they were intended to, or otherwise obsolete that I will invest in something ‘new’, though even rarely new, just newly introduced into my stead though adopted from another user of that thing. Sometimes I will trade those things for more useful items, and participate in a gift economy. Almost everything I own has a meaning and I believe that is the way it should be. If everything has a story, then even the innanimate relics of the world can speak.

Recently I am find myself sitting with a more acute relationship and encountering of death. In that, I am noticing it more, bearing witness to it often, and literally holding it in my hands. A sorry pigeon in a daze on the gravel shoulder of a country road, barely able to move her wings or open both her eyes, to flee from the oncoming traffic. One wing crooked from an impact, no doubt, minutes before, she had consigned herself to become beholden to me and my partner, whether by fate or lack of choice I do not know. Swathed in a cleaning shammy and a wool hat, then transported back home to a nest of old torn clothing, she stayed with us for almost twenty-four hours, drinking water only when helped into the bowl, though assuming no posture of thriving life. Recurring efforts to cradle the wing, groom her and provide drink was not enough to hold her on this place. She spasmed as if in an epileptic fit while I held her after sipping water, then nodded off. We gave her a name, known to us alone, and I buried her in a nest of colored fall leaves in the arrangement of a dark rainbow, with a jerusalem artichoke flower bud tucked under one wing. Beauty found in the unpredictable moments of mourning. Another helpless creature, this time a mouse that was pounced upon by my husky during an afternoon nap after work, was wrested from the paws of the dog and walked out to a back ravine. Here I found a tunnel of some small burrowing animal inside a mossy stump, which to a mouse would have been a woodland castle. Several small grayscale feathers hooked by their pedicel into the moss. With the tangled strings of lichen, and the minutest of details in focus, I observed a microcosm of organic existence. As the mouse shuddered and vibrated through a sensory experience completely unknown to me, I relinquished any division of self and other. All definition around the mouse was a blur, and for a moment I lived in his world. He was the only thing that “mattered”, because everything else did not exist in the material or mental concern in that moment. I wanted to know how he felt, even if it was unpleasant. The rains fell on my back and I knelt on the soggy ground, uncomfortable, and not adequately dressed. This was the least I could bare while bearing such a precious moment of meaning, so I stayed in the rain on the wet earth. This animal was my teacher and I was going to show up.

A couple weeks earliest than these occurrences, I denounced the pigeons and the mice, in generic sweeping statements as if their individuality mattered not. I despised them for their lack of cleanliness, their intrusion in my cabin, the bird guano that made me sick after cleaning a barn full of it, the lower appreciation for the nature of these smaller ‘less significant’ beings. But I learned this was not true at all, and perhaps finding and caring for the pigeon and the mouse was karmic. I had shunned them, and blamed them for my health issues, for my obtuse state of mind when I found mice in my pantry, for their noise and disruption. I did not empathize with the truth of their existence. Their own striving to survive, thrive, and engage with the world. Now I held them in my hands, with matted fur, and ruffled wing, one eyed, and trembling, broken and scared. I held their entire life in an extension of mine, cradled in a moment, precious, fragile and ephemeral, like my own. I felt grateful to hold such a life, to be held myself, in attention, in care, and in love. They traveled onwards as I said goodbye, and it was like speaking to a friend. There was sadness, grief, a lapse of time and space even, but it was also the most real and un-corrupted thing, it just WAS.

As the permafrost settles in the ground, I am in sympathy with the bears and squirrels. Racing to secure resources, preserve and hide away food, and work to my primal limits before the weather casts an icy rune over all the land. At one point I was balancing seven different hustles related to forestry, gardening, homesteading, bush-craft, and teaching. Like wolves we feast in times of plenty, then retreat in times of scarcity with our bellies full, able to thrive when others are merely surviving. I’ve put half of my root vegetables away in winter storage, and a crate of preserves I wild-crafted and processed over the autumn; apple mash, wild forest mushroom tomato sauces, salt-brined chanterelles and the two year aged pickles from last year. These are the sacred works in service of earth, gathering :jera:s harvest when it sprawls out of the dark mounds, and transformed by dwarven craft using metal implements, into long lasting food for the hoard. I was recently cleaning out a basement and came across some 17 year old wine, that was uncorked for village potluck. The grapish nectar was sumptuous like cherry syrup, tropical flowers, and gave good hue to the drinker.

Living in a temperamental homestead with second hand and storied implements means that a good chunk of my time is given over to repairs, maintenance, upkeep and chores. This may sound like drudgery but I will let you in on a potent secret. To live in service to the meaningful engagements of one’s life, and to be free within that life, that is sacred. It is a heaping plate of work, but enabling myself to tend to that work is empowering, embodying, and liberating. From the powers that would rather me place full dependence on their carbon systems, on their pollution plans, on their toxic frequencies and attention hoarding schemes. To be merely a specialist in the heathlands is a doom to man, but to thrive as a generalist is the way of the bushman.

Meanwhile at the school, the kids and I are rehearsing the Song for Odin, making Viking lanterns, baking rye bread in the clay oven, carving horn, and playing games in the cedar forest. I like my kids, they truly are the leaders of the next generation. Tomorrow is Samhain, or the Walpurgisnacht, when the Riders cross the night sky, and one’s mettle is tested for spiritual strength, and potency. When we get to stare in the face of the hidden beings and commune with the ancestors. It’s definitely not about candy, and cheap plastic lawn decorations, but somehow this is what we borrow. I’ll be investing in some Animistic customs and opening the channels to converse with the spirits. See you out there!

The Ebbs, Floes & Tides of Luck on Grand Manan: An Atypical Island Vacation

Strong are the nesting tendencies for home after vacations and migrations abroad, and as such are the feelings after visiting small island territories, even those close to home. For to travel by sea is to leave behind the familiar microcosm of one planetary reality, and exchange it for another. Even, as was proven in my last foray to one of the maritime isles off the Fundy coast called Grand Manan. A foggy, fishy, formidable place of forlorn folk, and fantastic fables… Here’s one to snag your hook that was almost too big to reel in, even for a well salted Viking seafarer as myself.

The plan was to saddle up on a hybrid trail and street bike, bedded down with cargo for two keen riders, enough food and tack for three nights and four days, cooking equipment, camping essentials (hammock included), a jump kit and tool pouch in case of engine problems, two way radios, some good eventide literature, personal hygeine bundle, some woolens, and our cameras for some island touring extraordinaire. This would be the first time Mufassa floated the ocean waves, and while Grand Manan is not as epic in size as some of the Atlantic Scandinavian isles that are close to my heart, I was needless to say erupting with excitation for new lands.

This story is about Luck. Luck is a phenomenon and a concept that I have been musing about for over a decade with intensity. I even nearly changed my name to an old Icelandic word for ‘luck’ once upon a time, in an effort to marry my fate with a more ‘lucky’ life. But what it actually means is not one dimensional or inherently positive as it is proferred to be. In the mind of my Norse-Germanic ancestors Luck was more like a physics, or law of the universe, while it had the power to be linked to a single human life, a clan, tribe or even an entire lineage. Luck was not always personalized but dynamically affected even non animate things, such as tools, stones, places, weather patterns, magic procedures, or romances. Luck was and is one of the least understood forces of nature in our modern world, and while it has been a subject of deep study and conscious intention to live in tune with my own luck for my whole adult life, I am often thrown overboard into the vast chaotic waters in order to truly appreciate the wildness of its ways. All this allegorically riddled by ocean metaphors of course. By swimming in the free and often violent waves, untethered to the constants of a routine existence and losing the oars of my own ship, we are brought to the place where luck really dwells. I am humbled then to climb back onto the boat, return to land and tell this tale.

Roped in with the Caribbean princess for the journey, we launched out of Fredericton in a haze of mist which turned to pelting rain en route to Blacks Harbor. A perspicacious Bear in a corn field uprighted himself to stare down the strange beast breaking his peaceful afternoon. We cut inland towards Oromocto Lake road in an effort to save time, and catch the three-thirty ferry off the mainland. A missed turn in Blissville had us prowling down rabbit roads trying to save grace and retrace our original map, but only funneled us further into the bush, eventually landing us on a slick red clay and gravel trail called Rusty road which even the KLR did not appreciate. The legendary cargo we packed had accentuated the subtle imbalances of driving in second gear, then first, until alas we were crawling along with feet out to catch any sudden slides. We opted to backtrack to the main St. John highway which was at least paved and fast, and dismissed the idea of reaching the mid-day ferry, instead stopping halfway for hot chai and a brief escape from the downpour, with our riding suits soaked and our hands pale and numb.

After regrouping spirits and recalibrating our route, we fired up for the second leg of what was supposed to be a ninety minute one way trip, now into our third hour in the saddle. The sheepy woolens came out of the pack already, and we stayed relatively warm, pressed together on the bike until reaching the port and where we were the last ones to embark the ship. I am flooded with sincere gratitude for my darling riding pillion. As the words empty from my mind and into the narrative of now a mere reflection of what was. Her courage and willingness to engage my desire for these wild trips, to accept the rather unorthodox being that I am, and her patience for unexpected and often uncomfortable circumstances is rarely found in a woman, and could take a man sail from many shores to find one so good.

One of the boatman engaged our fancy for motorcycle travel, showing us pictures on his phone from a recent venture with his wife to the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. He struck a chord of familiar territory, with a fresh dose of nostalgic memories from these Gaelic wonderlands. Yet it somehow felt like an age ago when those memories were laid down, and that brought me a perspective depth of thought in recollecting the saga of our summer. From the bay window of the upper ship we devoured steaming haddock and poutine, while witnessing a pod of porpoises cast their compass northwards in the evening gloom. We massaged each others feet underneath the dinner table and saved hope for being able to hike a few trails this weekend. The cold ride had through the fog and wind had already loaded our joints with stress. At least it did for my cranky bones, and that made me feel like an arthritic old man, but at least I didn’t have a wooden peg leg.

Rumbling off the ferry we cut the island in half on a winding run to Dark Harbor, where Grand Manan’s bulk of Dulse is harvested. We had been informed of a free campsite with views of the wharf, and intended to investigate its verity on two wheels. Anicka commented that the boats along shore reminded her of those from Trinidad and Tobago. Rigged with the same outboard motor and painted in various pastels, salt worn and wave wracked as they were. After a police cruiser left the scene, we coasted along on the sands of low tide around a spit of land to where some herring weirs were set up. Tumbled shacks of grey board spilled back into ocean flotsam, weathered homefronts with their fifth coat of paint added an antiquity to the place, and the corpses of inumerable sea crabs, quahogs, clams and oysters were spilled on the mud flats dropped by fattened gulls. We reached a cabin with its obilgatory buoys on the banisters, paddles on the porch and a plaquard that read Outlaw I, presumably the name of the dwelling. We snooped around for signs of life, thinking maybe we could roost the night in the bunkie, but found not a soul, only the antique faces of so much salt worn wood, and crooning gulls. Opting instead to head back up the hill in the foggy gloom, a half moon sand lot next to dock road offered a carpet of bleach tanned grass for our one man (& one woman) tent. The ground was bumpy, but dry and free of rocks so it was reckoned good enough, but we were without water. After pitching the tent and unpacking the saddlebags, we went on an after hours bumble, backtracking the road to find a stream or small falls that might offer flowing h20 for our parched thirst.

In the dark it was almost impossible to discern what we clean, and what may be tainted from upstream pollution. Some of the water had a film over it, and as we now crested into a new moon phase, no lunar light shon ‘pon the oceans, rivers nor brooks of the land, and we decided not to risk it. So we returned to our nylon seaside shanty and called on the night spirits to grant us good nigh and sweet slumber.

Am arose with cool clouds above preceeding a forecast of balmy island warmth. The prospects were good for a tour of the island, and some foot hopping on the red trail. Mufassa seemed to have had snuffed out its headlamp overnight, but fortunately we did not intend to drive in the nocturnal hours again. Rounding a turn with a fully loaded bike with our coordinates set for Ingall’s head, a massive dumper careened around the corner in our path and only in the last moment swerved out into its own lane. Suddenly I was back in India with giant lorries driving head on towards you, and felt rather anxious of what lay around each ensuing bend in the road. We slithered on at a lower clip and rounded another curve when the bike tire drifted across the center and fishtailed through the turn. It was like in the cartoons when the hapless character hits a pile of banana peels in the road, and swerves out of control. I yanked the bike off into the gravel bar at the side, and we dismounted to check the bike. My heartbeat had revved up, but we were now parked and going nowhere fast. A flat had grounded us under heavy cargo, and we still needed to make up twelve kilometers, and it was Saturday on an island, after tourist season. We would be lucky to find someone to fix the bike, or an open garage for parts. Not off to a grand start on Grand Manan.

We hobbled along like a lame horse, rather than a proud Lion to the oceanside nexus of Ingall’s Head, where we found a grocery store and a petrol station but no signs of where we could pump the tire. We were in fact travelers from away in our own province, and I have found that the surefire method of “asking the locals” what to do is usually a good protocol so we played the tourist card and were indubitably assisted by a gentleman on his way to somewhere who pointed us onwards to the next auto shop. There we found Wayne, and Trey who were just about to load a seacan onto a trailer. He insisted that he “usually does not work Saturdays” but did not want to leave us stranded and agreed to give the bike a once over. They figured it was the stem valve, though the tyre had ‘tubeless’ stamped on the rubber. We supposed it may have been one of those tubed tubeless tyres, eh… He pumped us up to 60psi, and said we would last a few hours until they returned. They were headed to Dark Harbor too, and I thought to warn them of nails, and possibly bananas in the road.

We stopped for tea at a wharf, and when we resumed our ride we were already flat. Yet again we trundled the bike down the eastern coast of the island to Anchorage Bay and it felt as though we were riding over train ties. A happy reprieve from the ride was the tranquilized setting of Anchorage beach, with its two migratory bird ponds that filtered into the great sea through brackish sounds. Rustic campsites with pergolas and raised fire grills betwixt the wetland ponds and ocean bar promised a sanguine and incognito place to pitch a tent and swing a hammock, and we did just that.

Some chubby rabbits hopped around the family picnic park, evidently content with their piece of the good life. They bummed food from the throng of visitors who easily gave up snacks of strawberry and lettuce, and welcomed new arrivals by running to your feet, as if to bow before their Guru. I fed a bearded brown bunny blackberries from my bare hands, and enjoyed the youthful experience that provided.

Rubber tramping back into Ingall’s head town provided something else entirely, a mission with many errs. 20km/h proved to be my max speed on the now completely deflated tube. I reached the brother of the mechanic’s house, a chap named Lawrence, and he attempted to get me back on the road with his compressed air pump, but to no avail. The stem valve had burst right through the wall of the tube, and would not hold a breath of air. Instead he backed up his M.G. Fisheries truck into the ditch to load the bike, but there was still a good foot of clearance to reach the pickup deck. With the help of his son in the back of the truck, we were able to deadlift the 650 pound beast with loaded saddlebags, and full tank of fuel onto the vehicle. I feel confident we each lifted a share of 800 pounds against earth’s gravity, and with that we were off to the garage.

It would be until Monday when the two wheeler could be fixed, and not until the evening ferry off the island, this was beginning to feel like a movie. In the meanwhile we had our nest at Anchorage bay, a fireplace and pergola, and a hammock in the trees for wave watching, shade snoozing, or just generally living the good life, so we decided to stoke up on the sweet stuff of life. By evenfall we had walked a leg of the red trail, sat in a bird hide to watch Kingfishers seduce each other, foraged blackberries, beach combed for seafood morsels, swam naked at low tide on a secluded arm of sand, cooked a curry, and did things that only hippies in love do on summer vacations.

Without our own chariot, we relied on our magical thumbs for transport, and met some lively and interesting folks on our forays to Swallow tail lighthouse. There was Walter who owned the pizzeria and post office, both of them in a heritage brick building near the wharf who tipped us on a trail in North head that lead to an abandoned campsite where one can sleep to the swooning songs of whales in the night. There was an elder of Manan who owned the dollar store, that told us some interesting history of the island, peppered with inspiring stories and the local download, but ultimately iterated with the ‘slow death’ of the township in his eyes. We learned about the bunnies of Anchorage Park, how they got there in the first place and how to best bypass the park authorities when wild camping. Anicka met a Jamaican over the phone when we were looking for places to eat, and casting our net over the eastern shore for anywhere decent that was still open for business.

At the tail of a good trail south of Anchorage we found a boulder beach in a secret cove, and sat within the swaying kelp forest as Mermaid and Merman. Then while foraging for clams, we bumped into a friend who had just collect a basket of wampums and quahogs, and was headed back to catch the ferry, so he offered us his bounty, for which we were indebted and grateful. A legendary chain of Canadian Geese flew in V-pattern above us, spanning out over what seemed like a kilometer of airspace. The land breathed in a peace of its own, as its exhale softened our collective consciousness. The ebbs, flows, currents, winds, and migrations all seemed to show off an exuberant dynamism about them, so alive, so real, such a reminder of presence and place. In those moments of lucidity, we truly lived here, and now.

But the then and later was soon to come, and we would be leaving with our flying Lion one way or another. Forty minutes before the sunset ferry return to Blacks Harbor we received the call that the motorbike was ready. Our location was in North Head, but our gear was hidden in the grass at our Anchorage haven. So another of Lawrence’s sons was summoned to come and find us, and usher us back to our camp to collect our bundle and amscray as fast as possible back to the garage to reload the saddles with the gear. Unfortunately a few major components of the bike refit were left by the waywardside and we were without head light, or back brakes. This harrowing realization came when a routine deceleration for a signaling car turned into a make or break situation. Oncoming traffic in the left hand lane made the one in front of us come to a complete standstill, while the motorbike cruised at 70km/hour with only a front brake to bring us slowly to a halt over 100 meters. I was nearly forced to slither between the oncoming and advancing traffic in a daredevil move as the front brakes alone offered little power to grind slowly and softly to a reasonable distance from the car we followed behind. We did coast to a stop with barely enough room from the car in front of us, and a massive amount of relief for not hitting it. The remaining cruise around the bay went smoothly enough, and as we neutraled the bike down onto the loading ramp of the ferry. as the chains were just being drawn across the hull of the boat, and the motors started to blend the sea around it. We were the last on the ferry, by some feat of miracle. Our flying machine has redeemed itself we thought…

We napped and meditated on the ferry and came out the other side into the gloom of fog and mist. Our pack was becoming loose on the chassis which did not balance well and threatened to fall of the bike, the head light refused to shine, and we lacked stopped power so would have to take the country roads and keep it at sixty to avoid collision with and trundling beast spooked by our roaring chariot. Our route went through Utopia, which we did not even notice in the dark of night, only a centennial road of pure blackness, no center line, no hyrdo electic lines, no rails, no reflectors, or even signs, it felt as if driving through a space loop, with almost no feature to the edge of the road except the bristly spruce silhouettes.

After over an hour of driving in the twilight zone, the most piercing, banshee wailing, screaming bird sounds started to sound, and it was coming from beneath my seat. The alarm system was somehow triggered by the balance of the bike. I tried killing the ignition, putting it on the kickstand, restarting it, switching gears, but nothing worked to silence the cacophany, so I threw off my helmet in a rather annoyed response, and at the same moment a large tree crashed in the forest behind us. We went to work unknotting all the straps and buckles of our saddlebags, rolling out the wrench bundle and spotlighting the dusken motorcycle maintenance with the phone light. Then came the side panels and the leather seat to take off, hoping that we would not lose the bolts in the ditch or scattered on the road as we set them down. One car stopped heading in the opposite direction and offered to call someone back to help, but we figured we could fedangle something to work for us, and did not want to attract more attention than we needed to. In the absence of moonlight to shine down, we still managed with the artificial light to find the fusebox, which held a spare 10A light fuse that gave us back our high beam, and I manually disarmed the deafening alarm by pulling and replugging it at the terminal. The alarm going off turned out to actually be a blessing, because we now rode on with illumination, a more balanced saddle kit, more space on the pillion seat, and without the nightmarish alarm siren invading the night.

At Fredericton junction we hit gravel dunes piled in the center of the road and had to crawl at 40km/hr past this stretch of dreaded construction. Rarely was I happier to reach the urban environs on a two wheeler than when we finally reached New Maryland. Before long we at last idled in the driveway where it all started and it felt surreal to be back. Stepping into a house, greeting the cat, cooking some comfort food, taking a hot shower, and sleeping in a large cozy bed, the contrast of realities was stark and very agreeable. We had meditated on Anchorage beach that same morning and had projected of vision of this very thing happened, returning to the nest, after a rather perilous journey of adventure, daring, risk, and reward in the unknown territory far from home, like all good trips abroad.

Saga of Othala, ch. XVI: The Standing Stone, Skin of the Bear, and the Viking Sheep Funeral

Two years in the making, a Viking runestone is carved and raised at the land of Othala, by this fellow of the Rune Gild, under the guide of my great mentor and Scottish storyteller, master P.D. Brown.

In the first winter, the stone was meditated upon, studied for its strong points and for ease of carving with cold forged tools. In the second winter, a draft was made for the runic inscription in a journal and stenciled into the face with a graphite pencil. In the dawn of spring, chisel was hammered on slate over four weekends to rist the runes right. Then ferric iron oxide pigment was brought in from France, and stained over the course of four weekends. The prospective masterwork is the grand culmination nearly a decade of nomadic traveling and the finding of land and estate in the maritime of Vinland. The stone announces my settlement at Othala, seeking a wife and a tribe, after my last foray in Africa and long years gone a’Viking. Here I compose a poem about the rune stone process:

From slab of slate, forgotten in Urð

Wrested out by hands, its Wyrd is Rebirth

Two Winters air, seasoned Meditations

Of Runes to Rist, with intention and patience

Traced and carved, by Iron and Wood

For right Saga be told, destined by Skuld, told as it should

When last Stave was Stained, the Red Runes brought mirth

Raised in the hall of Othala, to hail this Man’s worth

The longhall has received a wayfarer from the southern lands of Kentucky recently. A man of stoic countenance, and sound resolve. After living in an ashram, and a national forest land for two years in the United States, he has flocked north, where he stayed at a farm in Maine, and crossed in Kanada for a visit to Othala. For two days, we stocked up on meaningful experiences, sharing out a workload infused with as much ceremony as labor. In the first day, we fleshed the fat from a male black bear that was gifted to me last autumn before my trip into Tanzania and South Africa. He hibernated in his soul skin inside my freezer for 10 months before finally thawing out. We used an ulu and a hunting knife to slim down the fat of the bear, which after being rendered, yielded nearly a liter of bear grease and a pound or two of black bear crackling for my dog. Tradition did not mind the extra hair and gristle in his primal energy snacks. This was my friends first time working with fresh hides, and the first with Black Bear energy. He expressed later that the experience was on the frontier of his comfort level, just enough to transcend the fear of turning away from the task, but well beyond any mundane task that could be extended from his service. For this reflection I felt extremely grateful, and I consider it important to provide the space and inspiration for those seeking the expansion of their own personal, and spiritual boundaries. To hold the role of the conscious instigator, the bridge builder our the guide through the non-ordinary experience of trying something new. We toiled with the bear, until the combined effects of the flies, the scent of the fat heating up in the scalding sun, and the soreness of the wrists arrested our progress and we could do no more. I had a cold shower on the moss, a nap in the cabin, and we regrouped around the fire for mead and meat. Later I built a frame and tanned White-tail deer in a solo effort, after traveling with the hide to Fredericton where I could access a greenhouse. Here it remains safe and dry away from bugs while it cures.

Day two brought some persistent drizzle, and grim skies so the bear needed be rolled up into a feed sack until the weather turned. Bear was ready for his tan, but the hide could not get wet. Instead we pitched and heaved shovelfuls of gravel into a circular pad for the future base of the Mongol-hut. This went handsomely well between the two of us, the slag of the sky keeping some of the pestiferous insects from our aura. A fellow of mine called up to ask me if I could provide a funeral for one of his sheep that died over the weekend. He was in Newfoundland and unable to do the service for this fallen ram. His specific request was for a Viking cremation ceremony rather than burial, which fell on open ears and a receptive spirit. Luckily my guest was still with me, so I brought him along for the experience. At the site, we brought the horned one out into a clearing where several felled trees waited as pyres for our Ram. I hoisted him onto my shoulders and set him in a tangle of tree roots, and piled straw around him. His body half in rigormortis was set in a stampeding position, as his spirit seemed to quicken from his physical vessel. With five gallons of fuel and three bales we set alight the gargantuan pile of deadwood with the sheep inside as the blaze grew into a raging burning beast. Saved were two blackened horns which were kept as memorandum of the event.

Saga of Othala, ch. XIV: Right Relations

If it were not for the mosquitoes, black flies, no see-ems, and fire ants, I would be gardening naked. Thoughts through my feral mind, as my barefoot met with solar scorched fallow field on a solstitial day of cultivation. True, these micro beasts are just as much a part of the environment as the staghorned Moose, concspicous Whitetails, and foraging mama Bear, but alas I can not admire them, catch photos of them on my camera traps, sup kingly on their meats, or tan pelts from their hides. They feast on my essence, and spoil a perfectly good meditation, or yoga sequence, and are infinitely terrible when they make contact with the genital region. No wonder Adam and Eve had fig leaves, and tribals stitched loin clothes with kudu skins, it wasn’t for shame but for protection of the future race!

Bug season comes with a heaping mound of sweet experiences too, with a thick gravy of special moments so as to make all the heathland discomforts worthwhile. Flowers galore naked in their beauty, flashing their feminine forms to all nectar lovers of the animal paradise, human men of this species included. I love to get up close and personal with the passionate violet, a flirtacious peony, or the sepals and petals of an orchid in bloom, watching their colors shift with dappled sunlight, watching rainwater bead from their soft landing strips, and inhaling their natural cologne, as my own musk is left in their aura by exchange, sometimes consuming the flowers whole and tasting them slowly as they dissolve in my mouth. I wonder if one can be sustained by flowers alone? A Floratarian?

At the cabin, I sold my vintage bike to make room for a new chariot with some more horsepower and “getting around the world” vibe. The KLR 650 is made for those with long seeing gaze, and wild manes, and who don’t mind putting on the miles. It’s full of custom mods that make it sounds like a Lion that swallowed a volcano, and I dig that. It’s black as soot, with some gritty paint job that gives it a rough and beastly look to it. Each bike should be akin to his rider anyways. When I first saw it, I started thinking about how far it would take me, there is something satisfying about saddling an open air vehicle and knowing with confidence it can carry you to the ends of the continent and beyond.

She needed some love however, the tank was rusted, and required some old fashioned chemistry in old school ways. Vinegar and baking soda descaled the rust, cleansed it out of the tank and turned clear acetic acid into a red slurry filled with chips of the fungal rust resembling corn flakes. The vinegar changes the pH of the steel to acidic naturally, while the baking soda etches and neutralizes the tank metal closer to alkaline. A failed Por-15 sealing solution that resembles liquid silver, was a major disturbance to getting the horse out of the stable. I started calling it Poor-15, when this material did not adhere, and come out of the tank in pieces looking like parchment paper, and lava rock and porous rubber. Six days after the first attempt to cure the tank with the solution, I had it all picked out, using a barbeque fork, a birch branch, a crow bar, and a chain. It rained most of the time bringing further moisture into my workshop space, and making the dry priming of the tank even harder. In the end I was able to scrape out all the hardened solution inside with only a few minor dings to the tank and a few chips of paint knicked off the sides. Fortunately I have half a can of rugged black grit paint for touch ups later. The tank did eventually get a light bloom of the rust (a fungus caused by oxygenation of various metals), but apparently the new epoxy resin solution that has come to me will bond even tougher to a surface with some traction so I remain hopeful. In the meantime I tore down the carbeurators, deep cleaned inside and out and replaced all jets, fuel screws, emulsion tubes, pins and gaskets, and rebuilt the carb in an afternoon. Though these processes were carried out by my hands alone, I must give thanks to the fellow Kawasaki owners on youtube with far more mechanical inclination than I for making videos for just about everything I needed to know along with way. I still consider it a small miracle that such information can be liberated and shared, for free. After the rebuilt, a friend of mine linked it to his hybrid engine vehicle and we let it charge for half an hour while we sat around a pit fire. The beast did not turn over first try. I had forgotten to connect the throttle, so I drew on my bicycle experince connecting brake cables, and had them both back on without a challenge. After a charge, and a few good words, it roared to life, the beast liveth! I trotted down south Knowlesville road for a celebratory first run, then returned it to the stable for further tending and tuning.

Under my bare feet, I have felt the ground and the warmth of Pacha Mama. My hands, roughened, dried and calloused by the stacking of wood, the foraging of plants and the sowing of seed are balmed by resinous oils, and natural sebums of youthful age. When not in service to the duties of the land, animal or homestead, they work to turn the pages of saga rich literature, and timeless knowledge. On my bookstack, I currently have The Art of Fermentation, Sacred Plant Initiations, The Rune Poems, and a copy of the Rastafarian king Selassie ver. of the Bible. I’ve started two vinegars, one an infused tropical vinegar with banana peels and burnt orange skins, another with a vinegar grandma and masala chai spices. They sit bubbly on my tea shelf next to some other rose family and medicinal vinegars, as the herb walls becomes filled out with newly foraged and solar dried concoctions. In the meantime I’ve been restoring some old beehives, I need a Queen in more ways than one, and a Queen means workers serving her highness, and that means honey laden hexes, and honey yields Viking mead!

Every year I set intentions to experiment cooking and eating new wild foods, incorporating some into my ever expanding and diversifying diet, while others are munched and eaten in season but ultimately enjoyed ephemerally. Thus far the testament has been verified and I have been lucky enough to be in the right place and time to engage the terroir of some ofthese species little or unknown to me before. Whether enjoying them cooked artisanlly into a solo supper, prepared for a communal potluck, or snacked in situ. Early season brackenferns a.k.a. fiddlenecks, and which I like to think of as Eagle ferns because of their eagle talon like fern heads, were a nice treat side by side with asparagus, which had a muskier earth flavor that intuitively seemed good to pair with seafood. Violet flowers were blended with raw goat’s milk and heavy cream to make an unpasteurized healthy ice cream. I sample a few honeysuckle berries on a friends land, and have been adding Lovage and Valerian florets into egg recipes, stir frys, and potato mashes. I’ve yet to find thistles with enough heft in their stalks to try Thistle celery, of which all species are edible in their stalks when peeled, and their flower buds apparently yield an artichoke like heart before sending out their petals. Nettles have been therapy for some chronic arthritis in my hands which I take more advantage of in their urticating hairs left unpicked from root, with the caveat that their dark foresty green brews, an simmered leaves with miso have nourished me on wet tropical muggy days. A tincture of nettle helped after being stung by a wasp, and biten by a jumping spider, and counters the adrenal drain of coffee. I’ve switched to some decaf Marley roasts half the time. A spicy fish batter went over well with some dry roasted horsetail fronds, and their unique anatomy lent for a special eating experience. I’ve dined on a handful of latexy milkweed greens, and a garnishing of flowers though not so much to trigger any ill-fated butterfly effect. I believe they will still be hatching in profusion here in our no spray south Knowlesville and charting their route to Mexico in no time. Elsewise the wild oreganos, mints, and pineapple chamomile gleaned from weedy human designs made their way to the solar dryer, and stocked some jars for further plant communion through the all holy tisane ceremony.

Spring filtered through with some exciting moments, and some not so irie ones. A friend of mine and permaculture guru launched an orchard planting blitz on the maritime coast in Little Shemogue, where hundredss of fruit trees, berry borne shrubs, perennial flowers, nuts and medicinal herbs were married together in guilds, aligned with the four directions and concentric ring designs. Spawning the beginning of a larger vision for an intergenerational fruit and nut highway in the maritimes. I met some beautiful souls while rooting willow into burms, from which some precious connection have unfurled. From one who chooses consciously not to engage with social media, dating sites, or have an online presence beyond this journal, and lives in a village of 40 people with no car, meeting other high minded beings, with their heart resonating in more pure frequencies, and their actions matching their words is a treasure and a rare occurence. We are becoming an endangered species, and the tribe is scattered like seeds on the wind. I am pleased to have found a few good seeds in the bunch over my years of picking and choosing.

Other bonds met their natural fraying, and not so happy endings, which ultimately made way for deeper self sovereignty, and more pure levels of self-love. The dance does not last forever, and it is important to know when the love language is forced, and when it comes organically. I remain thankful to all those I have learned to love, and those who have co-conspired with me to step together and aportion a piece of this finite lifetime we have for the joys of being. I choose not to hold anything negative in burdensome weights on my soul. Some cooler nights have afforded a reason to sit presently with my woodstove, and “feel the feelings” so they may be absolved, and integrated, released, healed, or celebrated. This is all we can ever do, and there are no wasted hours.

A robust animal presence at Othala is being watched, I have my own nature documentaries here inna de yard. Blue Jays have been courting in strange crooning lyrics, a resident woodpecker chases standing timber for afternoon snacks, and a hummingbird woke me the other day while hovering an exhales distance from my face as I lay in bed on the other side of a bug screen. The moment later, a rather large garter snake slithered across my floor and attracted unruly attention from the Alaskan husky. I transported her outside to the pyramid tent, and she later returned to the cabin door, seeking passage in again. The wolves have also been at my door, of the arachnid kind, some goliaths of a spider hanging from gossamer webs, hiding in the racks of drying herbs, cornered in sills and tucked under boards of moist wood. Another smaller species lives in the glass of a spider plant vase, a fitting home methinks. Their webs have done a good job of catching all matter of flying insects, so I welcome them in this hall.

On the waning of the new moon, I shall be yoking the mechanic steed with a sister for an epic roadtrip to the Cape Breton highlands and a return to the Gaelic countryside for the 2nd Rainbow gathering this side of Oh, Canada. Last years circle was held in Indigenous Wabanaki territory while this year beckons us out to the sea, at the site of an abandoned lighthouse in Cape North. I look forward to taking my shoes off and leaving them off, swimming everyday in the salt, eating porridge when really hungry for it, sleeping when tired, letting the animal body be free of its fibers, and play in the world as if decades younger. These are the perfect places to commit oneself to such enjoyments, and I think it is not a matter of escapism but rather responsibility to allow yourself to be so free, to marvel at simple things in awe and wonder, to tell the weather with your skin, to share meals hand in hand with brother and sister, and sing for your food. We need to remember the sacredness of the fire that does not go out, the melodic forest hymns of songbirds speaking across the species, the absence of time and manmade geometry, to call a tent one’s temple, and drink live wild water from the burbling spring fountain of terra firma. This will be my fifth Rainbow gathering and 2nd in this country. During some nomadic travels, I found my way home to gatherings in Mexico, Wales, and Gotland, always emerging from the cocoon of love and peace a little wiser, more graceful, and with richer hue of spirit.

Saga of Othala, ch. XIII: Hand Built Life

If you listen closely on a golden sundown, you can hear the trembling of polar streams, and the trilling of spring peepers in the fens. You can see the myriad shades of green of our skedaddle forestry, rising out of the muted earth tones of straw yellow and tan browns. Moss keeps the memory of the wet season in soaked barefoot steps, and solar rays now beam strong enough to darken the skin. Fiddleheads are in season. Bloodroot, swamp cabbage, and trout lilies roll out the green carpet for the keen forager. The brooks are rippling with the procession of rainbow trout and silver fish, some of the first oil and protein rich life available to harvest since thaw. In the garden, volunteer chives blaze up a few blades from sweet bulbs alongside planted rhubarb, sage and tarragon. I drink bullet proof coffee on a rustic wooden chair on a pallet and barnboard porch and enjoy the liminal time that exists between the permafrost and the mosquito plagues.

Thee last transmission of mine carried the theme of bearing burdens, and responsibility, little did I know that in the following days of the post I would be laid off from my occupation in the sugary. Four men had been hired from Guatemala, and unfortunately this meant the burden of being jobless, at least for a spell. Survival instincts run deep in me, whether out on the land gathering wild flora for the cooking pan, with a bow and poison arrow in the Savannah of Afrika, or prospecting in the stone’s throw for meaningful local work. By the next morning I was chisel deep in the woodshop, carving out mortises to be jointed with their tennons. Maybe nowhere else in New Brunswick was such craft still seeing a tradition. This little parlor behind our village shoppe felt akin to the Nordic workspaces of those industrious and clever dwarves, turning out odd wooden furnitures and creations with nae’ more than peculiar hand tools and building songs.

This was purely a labor of love, done by hand, with patience as the timekeeper. Rough cut 1×6’s, and 2×4’s would transform into beautifully wrought doors, and slotted window frames, puzzled together with tongues, grooves, and handmade dowels. How many people can say they know how to use a biscuit cutter, a flush saw, a whetstone mill, or a bit and brace? What about getting a square peg to travel through a round hole? Or using kindling scraps for useful bracing to hold a window square? I for one could not until now, and if a field of cotton plants represented each moment of gratitude I have felt during this learning journey, well.. there would be a lot of cotton.

More the gift it is while tooling, carving and rendering this handbuilt home alongside someone so special and significant in my life, whom will habitate the dwelling after it is raised this summer. The woman of my heart glazes an eye over her creation, and builds it a thousand times in her imagination before any timber is actually set. The structure is actually the prototype garden cabin in the Appleseed Homes line of affordable tiny houses. Launched by a mentor and and elder of the Knowlesville community. The first of its kind and almost entirely hand tool centric, with heritage elements of the build revived from a bygone age when everyone built their own homes with their family. Framed, planed, slotted and carved with great care for design, and longevity. This house was the furthest from the run of the mill, instead like beavers in a swamp, we chucked, chiseled, bored and braced the pieces one by one, each bearing the uniqueness of a piece destined to represent itself. Honoring the fact that these woods were species and lives, not measurable resources and products.

Anyone worth their salt also knows that homesteading can sometimes produce epic failures. These are the outcome of trial and error, and inventive troubleshooting that arise through the endless project to do list and the need to get things done, allow me to introduce you to one of mine. When I raised my Mongolian ger in the chilly days of October in New Brunswick’s mini monsoon season, I forgot one essential step and dismissed another equally consequential one, ultimately leading to disaster.

For starters, the platform was constructed by a brother and I without any major earthworks. No burgeoning dump trucks hauled crushed gravel from a pit to make a base. Instead I used the bedrock chips that emerged from my well drilling operation to rake into a circular pad that justified the free resource as being purposeful for a yurt foundation. On top of this lay cinder blocks around the edge of the ring with 8×8 tamarack beams bridging the diameter of the circle to support a plywood platform for a five lattice wall yurt. In between the spans of lateral tamarack joists were freshly cut straw bales, one bale wide on the sides and two bales wide in the center for underfloor insulation. The birch ply was anchored onto the tamarack joists and arranged into a 400 square foot symmetrical stage. Then trimmed with a sawzall into a circle just a few inches greater than the circumference of the yurt. I ripped a meranti board into strips to make a belt that would ring the platform and contain the footings of the yurt lattice walls from bellowing out and shield against water coming in. The downfall was that the platform did not sit entirely level, nor was there any vapor barrier between the ground, the strawbales, and the bottom of the plywood. During the heavy wet weather, rain that would condensate on the canvas on the yurt on the west side would percolate inwards with gravity towards the slightly lower east side of the yurt, instead of dripping off the sides of the canvas evenly above the skirt of the ring. Kind of like when your pants hang over the top of your boots, nothing can get inside.

Over the course of many rains, and out of sight to my observations the rain was soaking the underlayers of the birch from leaking rain, and rising moisture from the earth conducted via the strawbales which absorbed huge volumes of water. During the first winter I did not live in the yurt, there was no furniture, flooring or signs of comfort. Only a solitude Vermont casting woodstove, a couple of hearth stones, and a single bed. The urgh skylight was covered, and no bay window was yet inserted. In my lack of adequate care, the yurt suffered the tumult of ice, snow and rain which eventually melted and started to rot the birch subfloor and some laminate boards which I won at auction that had covered only half the platform.

The signs did not show until the next fall when white fungus had bloomed on the surface of the birch. By this time several friends had come to stay in the ger and yet another had resolved to shelter the winter while I was away in Africa. The birchwood was still hard, and I thought so long as an apple cider vinegar wash was applied regularly and it was kept adequately dry with the woodstove burning, there would be no lasting damage. The mushrooms had already penetrated the fibers of the wood, and the fruiting bodies of course were the evidence of a mycelial takeover in between the layers of the ply. Nourished by the fungal loving conditions of heated air in the yurt meeting the moist cool floor, not unlike the topsoil of the earth. The platform began to sink like on quicksand as the frost heave accentuated the dearth of the level. Where there was too great a span between the tamarack joists, the bowing and caving in of the floor was noticeable and resembled an undulating wave. In the deep freeze, the problem seemed to inert itself long enough and habitation resumed rather cozily, as the insides were always warm, dry, and tended to. It even sheltered a silver fox rabbit, along with his owner, a scruffy bushman who ran survival camps for the children of the village and an all around friend who worked with me in the sugar woods.

By easter, the thaw of days softened the grip on the ger, and resumed the cycle of destruction incured by the grim weather. By this time, my friend was in transition of moving out so I could remodel the platform, and the damage was far worse than I had grown to expect. The beautiful white birch had blackened, the bottom of the laminate boards had been soaked and were caught in a rain after the yurt was taken down. The strawbales were soaked into the consistency of oat porridge with a bit of chaff, and the meranti board skirt was frayed and withered. I spent the better of four days prying up the boards I could save, recycling screws for other projects, and stacking the poor plywood into a heap, destined to burn. The wet straw does serve as a good resource for my new and improved garden. But it’s the most expensive straw I have ever paid for, as the damages to the yurt stage cost over a $1000 in materials alone, offsetting the resource to be merely a token blessing of such epic setback. My morale was fairly bleak for a few days, but I am already dreaming up the next platform design, and hustling to make up for the deficit. Lessons come harshly when you live out on the frontier.

From where I stand, I am of the mind that homesteading has a great deal to do with the labor of the hands. In polarity to the hyper domesticated, ultra fragile lifestyles lived by the prevailing majority, where machines are tasked for completing every chore from grinding coffee beans, to tilling a field. I believe most of the urbanized and developed world, and the humans that choose to live there, have lost the capacity to feel deeply the levels of trust one can glean from doing things with their connection to source, by hand and heart. I often look at my own hands and marvel at what they have done; like planting a quarter million trees, or massaging a lover to relieve her stress, cooking for a house of people, or writing this post. They perform miracles everyday and they do not receive enough credit, but they are humble hands. They are calloused, scratched, bitten, tattooed, dirty, inflamed, and sore hands, by the things they do. Their lines hold on to the past and yet they are still so eager for the future. Like peasants, we bear burdens, and do things by hand, steading our homes like tough mares to tame.

As a homesteader I consider it a great responsibility to un:learn much of the redundant urban information downloads like transport schedules, public mandates, social trends, and google map routes to new restaurants, and the outsourcing of useful potential skill bases to appliances, computers, machines and robots. Rather to re:learn what it feels like to be exhausted after a full day working outside in a garden with hand tools, knowing how to fix what you own before buying new, understanding the dynamics of a properly seasoned cord wood stack, and getting a grasp on as many real world country skills as humanly possible. A few in my own firing range that have come into the fray as of late are tanning and curing pelts, mortise and tennon construction, seed sprouting, cook stove installation and operation, dreadlocking, rustic furniture making, shelf building, or stone carving. I’ve also been learning a thing or two about solar power optimization and turf roof design. Though I aim to place stress on the hand made, hand built, hand worked kind of lifestyle that I actively try to uphold because it makes sense to me, and carries within it the secret of simplicity.

As housing systems grow more complex, mechanized, and automatic, one’s level of engagement with the stuff of your life is decreased. Either one’s work is outsourced to experts, who slave away for their clients doing one thing really well, in order to ‘make a living’. Or one is tempted by every tool and gadget that proffers to make life easier (read: convenient, mindless, less involved), which is then installed in place of the hands to perform some particular and exclusive function and grows incumbent upon constant maintenance, electricity, parts, servicing, and the ever present feeling that this thing does not actually make you happy. Living off grid with hi-speed wifi, a bread-maker, and a generator will have you listlessly harvesting more screen time instead of outdoor time, buying overpriced gasoline from foreign nations, to power more loud toxic machines, and never experiencing the miracle of bread rising in the yeast of our cosmos a hot summer afternoon, of which I promise you it will taste superior to the automatically produced loaf. When systems stay simple, one can be away with expensive investments and debts and find contentment in evening candlelight during a blackout when the power wanes. To find satisfaction in repairing and fixing things with your own cleverness and resourcefulness, everything from broken cups, and ripped clothes to water filters and wood stoves. There is a pleasure in saving and reviving the life of things, tangible items like tools and gear, and thus your money and time to acquire new ones. And also your dignity, for something is lost when giving over so easily to consuming with such an insatiable appetite for the new. Sometimes I think, what would Henry David Thoreau do? He would probably re:handle and self sharpen his hand forged felling axe a hundred times with genuine hickory before going to the hardware store to buy a new one, let alone a chainsaw and scare all the animals away from Walden pond.

If machines did not exist, what would your life look like? How would it be different and what would remain the same? Are you aware that all of the tools, appliances, and mechanical implements you use have an analog component to them, and that the function they perform can be accomplished almost entirely manually. You need nothing more than good hands, ingenuity, perspicacity. When the will is woven with the working, you can build a house with shaped iron and carved wood. You can cook a meal over smouldering logs. You can birth a baby, off the grid without computers or monitors. You can even travel long distances, by pedal power, or in creative vehicles that use no fossil fuels or run on veggie oil.

The analog lifestyle, marries well into the off grid lifestyle, which coiincidentally pairs handsomely with the d.i.y. lifestyle, and most real bush and country folk I know align with these paradigms naturally. I am seeing more men with unblemished hands, but less are those who are handymen. I shall not claim to hold any specific mastery over the handicrafts of any one genre, but the Gods know I can wield a hammer and chisel in Thor’s name to carve a stone, or rip a board with a vintage saw and build a live edge shelf, a porch, or a doorframe. I need no chainsaw to fell a tree, a right handed hewing hatchet is good enough, and strips the bark thereafter for an evening snack of spruce cambium. My arrows pierce the forest silently, with no recoil or deafening boom to disturb the perfect frequency of forest wilderness. And the hearth of my home draws no electricty from the steel giants and buzzing drones of hydro-electric generators, just the crackle of popple, and sussuring of maple on a cool hibernal night. Call me a Luddite, but I can boast for a sound nights sleep without the added magnetical frequencies invading my temple, no wi-fi within these longhall walls, and the only link to the stars are my eyes.

My homestead is embellished with the signs of the the human hand. The torch burnt posts upholding my ceiling, the cedar bark logs and stumps that raise the tables aloft, woven alder and dogwood seats for the village guest and the master host. Nothing is quite level, the doors don’t quite close aright, the teeth scrapings of small animals on the wood where they have denned, fixed cracks in the coffee mugs, and dents in the old kettle. Anything new is a luxury and a rare acquisition, instead a vintage hand me down will do just fine. Technological greatness is a perspective of a conditioned mind from a contrivial era. I’ll forever trust in the bicycle before the car, and walk to an outhouse in the snow in the middle of the night before installing a modern toilet. A small library lines my walls, and the pages do not hurt my eyes when I read them the way screens tend to, and there is something sublime in hand pumping your water up from the earth and heating it over fire to wash oneself, clean the dinner’s dishes, or brew a fine cup of herbal tea. We can all manage ourselves with a greater hand and eye coordination for what I believe is the essence of work. The work known thoroughly through experience because the work is lived, not just performed. Then and only then can one’s leisure be reaped like so much grain, imbuing a remarkable satisfaction of the hand built life.

Saga of Othala ch, XII: Bear it

A wise man once said “The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear, and bearing it”. I eat meat. The largest burden for a meat eater is to hunt and kill an animal. I shoulder that responsibility, which is among the most recent meaningful commitments of my life. This integration of the predator archetype and participation in a natural human ecology of life feeding on other life has been uncomfortable, challenging, and time consuming. In truth, the transition into an onset hunter-gatherer-forager is still in the realm of virgin experiences. I recently dispatched four small game creatures and processed a rabbit for meat. Doing so invited some of the hardest emotional downloads that I have had to saddle up to, and as the above writer hinted at, come to bear…

Being a journal on homesteading, I am fully aware and wish to make evidence for my readers that admitting these stories to my community and the wider world is not easy. I can not compose these sagas on my lunch break at a cafe on the natch, nor in the tired venues of public libraries. These stories happen at home, and stay at home, and sometimes they are uncomfortable. Sometimes even, they are inconvenient, triggering, and taboo, but if they are one thing, they are raw, real, and a direct distillation of my present experience of living as a homo-sapien in a very weird world, trying to make sense of it the best way I know how.

To me this has meant shoring up in a hand-built tree house, for my home is of the Tamarack variety, and living as far out of the modern world as I dare, holding off Ragnarok just a little longer. This kingdom is solar powered and watered by a mineral well, not a corporation with wolverine greed. I sleep on straw, wool and pelts, burn wood, re:cycle my own humanure, and practice doing without. If it means I must cleanse my body with incensed oils and ashes instead of hot running water for six months of the year and bathe in rivers and streams the other six, then that is something I have accepted and adapted to. When I carry water, I feel it’s weight and the strain in my biceps that come from pumping it up from deep below the subsoil. Less is wasted in my kitchen, as my water usage consciousness is more acute. Homestead repairs are slow, often unorthodox, and economical but most of all practical. I can live with a few mosquitoes getting through a ripped mesh screen, but a disintegrating wood-stove is more of a safety concern. Whether to rebuild the threshold of my cabin door first, or replace a broken glass in my workshop window from a rogue pheasant collision is a fairly easy choice. And when winter comes, and it always does, I feel success with a room full of preserves, flour and dried goods with five cords of wood stacked a few paces from my mantle. There is not much need for anything else, as company occupies the land that loneliness may try to raid, study and contemplation of the arts render a renewed mythology of being in the world, and a deep semblance of being can be attained from doing nothing, sitting still, and observing the breath. It’s harder than you think!

Looping back to the killing complex, it loomed upon me in this transitional season that the acquisition of meat was becoming important for a more integral diet. While my hidden trail camera revealed photos of a few nuisance rodents actively chewing the wooden doors of my hall while I was away in the sugarbush. So it would play out that these creatures, long in tooth and claw were aware of my working hours, and decided to pillage my abode in my absence on repeated occasions. On returning home I would find a fresh pile of wood shavings neath the base of my door, while inside all my spice jars and masons of delectable nut butter would be scattered across the floor, fortunately none broken but often with lids ajar and their contents spilled out like entrails on a highway. I tried hiding the proteinate treasure troves inside baskets, and confining the apothecary of spices to new locations to no avail. The red furred beasties had found ways to ransack the larder through brute force or careful contortion, fitting through the smallest of niches to access their addictions. They evaded my attentions but not that of the camouflaged lens of the camera, carefully disguised against the bark of a poplar trunk. One night before potluck I caught the thief in full color. Cycling through the pictures taken over just a week, I came to be aware that he was not the sole visitor to my hall. A band of bearded turkeys, a few wandering grouse, a woodcock in launching flight, a sleuthing red fox, and a black cat always retreating. Red squirrel showed up in almost every second frame, leading to and fro on methodical trails between the cabin and his nest. I had found his tracks and set a trap therein, and would let peanut ally with steel for an ingenious ploy of my own…

In the first twenty four hours I had caught the homewrecker, he was rattling around the cage when I came down from syrup mountain, and I knew I had a responsibility. I brought him into the workshop and tipped the cage on it’s end and tried to calm him down, while a friend loaned me his pellet gun to snuff him out swiftly. I am adverse to guns generally, though at the time a blunt arrow felt like an unsuited tool for culling this creature in such a setting, so I lodged one copper ball behind the shoulder of the squirrel and prayed that he would not suffer long. He writhed and jostled and did not seem to take his death throes easily so I reached in with a welding glove and grabbed him by the tail. He arched around and bit the thumb of the glove but it was too thick for penetration, while I pinched his scruff and resorted instead to the more intimate way I had learned of dispatching an animal from the Hadzabe tribe. A small crunch on the upper vertebrae in the neck region, and his furry body un-tensed in my hand, eyes closing on the world, the spirit evaporated, and I thanked him for his pelt and his meat. He was fat from gorging on white oak acorns in a pack basket that hunt from a nail in my hall, and several hundred grams of almond butter. Keeping the local terroir of wild flavors and culinary inventiveness, I opted to collect the half bitten peanuts that were pilfered in my pantry for shelling and grinding into a dry nut flour for breading the squirrel. Steaks and thighs were braised rare and tossed with the powdered peanuts, then caramelized in butter and maple syrup. Served up with a slow cooked ham that a sister rescued from a supermarket bin, and a savory pot of green pea soup. We ate a wholesome feast, where farm meets wild, and all for the grand sum of… free.

Turning a problem animal into a sustaining wild meal shared amongst kin, and a beautiful pelt for craft use felt intimately right and natural. Unluckily, a house cat then stole the pelt from the woodpile where I had processed the meat and buried it in the snow out of reach, leaving only the tail as evidence of his scavenging. I had acquired the taste for squirrel in Tanzania, which was the main small game animal we hunted in Hadzalands. Little did I know there was more than one avenger to the former’s death, who may also have been a co-conspirator to the evisceration of my wooden doors. In another two days, I trapped two more fuzzy destroyers and bit the neck in the same as before, these times with more grace in the sacrifice than before. While engaged in the act, my mind entered a different consciousness, a sacred necessity even. Taking the life of a squirrel was not easy because it was small, the gravity of a life lost was still felt in full. When I noticed a patch of fur missing on the nose of the third squirrel from rumbling violently in the cage, and he caught my gaze eye to eye, a deep sadness prevailed, and I almost set him free. I was caught in the grip of this unique creature who came to teach me to be more careful in protecting my house. I remember thinking, “I wish I could trap or hunt something larger than a squirrel and make several meals from them, instead of all these small portions”, as if to safeguard the feelings of necessary grief that comes from being present with an animal in the last moment of its life. But the thought was irrelevant, the giver gave what was fit for the moment, could I really process a giant moose right now? Maybe, but somehow I doubted it without help.

So two more squirrels made their way into the freezer, and by some strange happenstance, a ruffed grouse, after returning home from Skedaddle ridge one afternoon to find him sitting on the cutting board in my outdoor kitchen space, very much alive. I received this to be a sign from nature that he had come to offer his life, though not without the short lived lion-like predation I used to catch him. I proceeded with caution and lunged forward to grab the bird, but he exploded out of arms reach and hit the window, then shot to the opposite side of the shack in a ruffle of feathers, back and forth a couple of times. I let him tired himself out while guarding the open doorway until he lurched underneath my motorcycle and tried evasion techniques instead. We engaged in this hide and seek for a couple of minutes as he followed a passage behind the freezer. Rocketing skywards from there and impacting the wall, I had a chance to wrap my paws around him and hold this fine feathered friend with a firm grip. He seemed a little lean, and instinctively I felt called to let him free, yet upon tossing him back to the trees, he gave no flight of wing and landed back down on my woodpile. Well then, I was not about to be made a fool and so lunged at him a second time catching the talons, swiftly breaking the neck with a turn of the wrist. Stepping on the bony edge of the wings while pulling up on the feet to undress the animal. The grouse are one of the easiest birds to field dress, their feathered hides come off the carcass like a sweater, and there is little blood. The strings of sun yellow fat that lay between the breast meat and the ribs demarcate the choice edible portions, though with a bird hunting husky for a companion, nothing went to waste. The neck, feet, entrails, skull and every keratin rich feather were fed to the dog for lunch while I boiled maple syrup the next afternoon. With the dark organ meat and breasts I made a wild game version of Indian butter chicken, paired with wild lake rice and a Ukrainian borscht recipe for one of the finest meals shared under this roof.

Coyote came to me, both in song and in skin. They have been howling outside my cabin for weeks, and one day after making syrup on Maple hill I was offered a pelt of a handsome ‘yote for spring tanning. One silver fox rabbit was also gifted to me, but unfortunately had died of Pasturella disease in the lungs. At least this was the conclusion after consulting a sister who bred rabbits for years. He did not alas, make it into the Hassenpfeffer, but was offered back to the earth scavengers in the deep woods. The luscious pelt was preserved and stored frozen with Coyote and Bear for brain tanning after the frost. Another more aromatic animal was brought back to the land from the side of the road, when a drive in the country with a friend yielded us in contact with a recently deceased skunk. My logic at the time was that I already had three other pelts to work with, what’s a fourth? Besides I could learn something new from this one, and had not worked with a skunk since I nearly poisoned myself with contaminated meat from one when I was a lad of twenty-seven years old. It left a bad taste in my mouth, literally, and I felt like giving it another try.

The direct contact with the deaths of these seven animals, and their subsequent shapeshifting into food for the table, fur bearing skins for craft, and canine protein walked me through some new emotional sets that I was not used to. Exposing the insides of a rabbit that I had intended to cook the community and coming to the realization that the meat was unfit for eating grieved me. Though even more so it brought home the stark reality that life sometimes includes and is not indifferent to suffering. The poor creature would have endured intense misery in the time before its demise as the disease prevented the normal functioning of its lungs and would asphyxiate it unto its last breath. One less heartbeat in our greater community, meant a loss to our collective resilience, and the night took on a shade of gray and tinge of loneliness.

Though these ruminations must not all be about loss and death, and the sun still shines on everyone now longer each day and with great thawing power on the frozen flesh of earth. Green herbs, and ephemerals will forever return for spring gorging and foraging, and I have my eyes on for the first shoots. Spring beauties, fiddleheads, trout lily, wild ginger, and watercress, but even before this are the balsam poplar buds, birch sap and colstfoot. I’m harvesting knowledge from two wild food cookbooks by Pascal Baudar, and Alan Bergo, with a main course from the anthology of foraging literature from Samuel Thayer and Euell Gibbons, peppered in with some psychodynamic floral lore from Stephen Harrod Buhner and I have more on my plate than I can possibly eat. Relationship forming with plants and their associates; fungi, lichen, and moss is a lifetime marriage, and one that I am fully committed to. All of the major homestead improvements on my blackboard this year relate to plants either directly or indirectly. A south facing hothouse for season extension, a grass roof for growing herbs and mushrooms, planting a heritage garden and native trees, and utilizing the forest in a sustainable way.

On a frosty march morning, my mug fills with hot maple syrup from the evaporator pan and my blood sugar spikes from a massive dose of boiled tree blood, probably too much, but I love the way I feel after 6oz. of the freshest syrup, delivered straight from a forest of rock maple, and transmuted into its signature complex sweetness in under an hour. We are joined by four men from Guatemala who have never been to Canada, tasted maple syrup on their pancakes, or seen snow before. They are intrigued with the giant stainless steel tank that is pouring out the dark amber liquid, and ask many questions using a translator on their phone.

An early season cold snap and freezing temperatures in the daytime has halted the flow temporarily and reserved my outputs to more local venues, as I help a sister build Larsen trusses for her garden cabin. The construction methodology is simple and consistent, and reciprocates in equal levels of satisfaction returned for each truss finished. The collaborative efforts of the labors of love enhance the work time with frith, joy and satisfaction as we tack and turn out boards by the woodstove, in what feels more like play than employment.

At the end of my own hands, I hold a cold chisel and a hickory hammer and chip away flakes of slate on a standing stone that has been erect in my hall since the week I moved in. Over the winter I made the final draft of the old Norse translation for a runestone inscription, which was then translated into the Elder :Futhark:, and at long last is being carved into the gray slab. Stave by stave, recited over with poetry, and hallowed by Thor. It is a process and a praxis, as the means serve an even greater means without end. One word leading to another word, a deed for yet another deed, and a serpent that bites its own tail and begins again. Every man must have a legend, a myth, and his saga may be preserved in runes or on the tongues of others long after he enters the mound. I intend for both.

We are living through a new medieval age, one that no human knows the fate of. I think it is only reasonable to put some faith in the old time weavers, the ur-Gods, the mystic seers and holy prophets, and the forces of life that animate us as carnal beings, we must be ready for anything. In my worldview, I envision another golden age on earth, of right relation to nature, diversity, abundance, simple survival and love as the prime motivator for action. Though I don’t believe this is possible before a period of darker times runs it gamut, a spell of disintegration, destruction, and reckoning, the “ashes” of civilization which we are bearing now.

Saga of Othala, ch XI: Out of Africa

There has been a season and a half since this bushman made his last homestead transmission, and uttered a story from this Tamarack and Spruce wooded cabin. Not because there has been nothing to tell, but because as some of you know, I have not been home. For the last four months my soul has been steeping in a biologically rich African culture, and my spirit has been simmering with Swahili folklore and exposure to the motherland. Life in Tanzania was random in the best of times, and defeating in the lowest. From suffering malaria, and a crazy infection from bed bugs that lasted nearly a month, to chasing after Giraffes, Zebras and Elephants in a three wheeler, to hunting bushmeat with a primitive tribe on the shores of a salt lake. Love life’s were kindled and burned out, danger and risk was a built in feature to every adventure, the mind expanded, broke, and spread its contents all over from the great plains, to the tropical mountains and blue blue ocean deeps. There were many sagas written about mama Africa and shared with the intrepid public who dared to live vicariously through the stories at fromthemotherlandwithlove.wordpress.com Now I have come back to my frostbitten homestead in the bushland of New Brunswick with a renewed sense of patience and gratitude for how far I have come through the passage of this incarnation, and I am finding it all very poignant and peculiar.

I went to Africa to try to become more human, to throw overboard any extra cargo my ego was carrying aboard, and settle into a greater depth of understanding the self in connection to what really mattered. The overarching sentiment of relationships and their functionality in guiding our moral and ethical compass was really the biggest take home from this trip, liked checked luggage stowed under the plane from Tanzania to Doha. These thoughts were tucked away and out of sight for awhile, then picked up again from a carousel of other anonymous baggages and unpacked. I identified them as my own, and knew this would be what I would carry home with me as I answered the beck and call of my former lifestyle, literally and figuratively. As I reflect on the gamut of experiences in Africa, my response to those experiences ranging from embodied engagement, to denial, or neutrality and openness, and try to flesh out the motivating force behind those experiences, it would boil down to relationships. The intimacy or aloofness with any one person that I would meet set the coordinates for how that relationship would foster favor, reciprocity, or anonymity. The felt presence of the immediate moments of existence meant I could choose to fully occupy an experience, or cast out and negate one, determining my circumstances from thence. I understand that my desire to go out on safari was to connect in a meaningful way with other non-human species in what I would not mind calling a relationship, albeit ephemeral and non-intimate. I know too that my bonds with my fellow man, and women on another continent were made in order to breach some kind of spiritual contract that agreed upon the mutuality of our existence, that nothing was done alone and even distant souls could connect. It was in order to stare in the iris of another eye, and say “You are in there, and I am in here” and together he we are. Tupo Pamoja as the phrase goes in Swahili. My overwhelming urge to hunt in ethical and masterful ways by staying five nights and days with a primitive tribe was nothing less than the need to foster a more integral relationship to the meat I eat, and the embodiment of a sacred practice and how that looks like in the real world. Acknowledging that death is an aspect of all food that is no longer living, including plants but especially animals. That it was becoming for me more important to be conscious and aware of the life I eat, and to practice killing in an ethical way the meat that I choose to consume, and being responsible for that death, to have a closer relationship with death, the great Taboo.

It comes as a great relief to have unearthed those parts of my soul complex. I did not know I would need it would take living in Afrika and putting myself in strange, dangerous and uncomfortable situations to awaken it, but that is in my opinion a beautiful feature of taking the human curriculum. Life as a homo sapien in the 21st century is at once worlds apart from the lives our ancestors lived, while in others it is almost impossible to define any real differences, only through our personal composition of what this world is, and how we relate to her do we find out with more perspicacity and definition what we are really up against. Do you depend on luxury amenities to survive, or could you live in a mud hut for the rest of your life with no electricity or running water? What about your children and their children? Are restaurants and supermarkets really an essential service, or do our supposed entitlements highlight where we rely far too heavily on the industrial complexes and consumerist models of the world while shedding light on our divorced relationship with the source of our food in general? How many soul mates could you have had if you just changed your mind? Some Gods teach us that we are the most important species to the expense and destruction of other fauna and flora, but what about the Gods that teach that plants and animals are our equals and worthy of respect, protection and even worship? And what about the people that believe in these Gods or spirits or entities? A barefoot cattle tribe in eastern Africa has very different views on the world than I do, as does a dreadlocked Rastafarian living on a tropical island. Should I discount their opinions and ontologies because they are unlike my own subjective conditioning? I would rather expand what it means of my own sense of being in the world, by becoming en-cultured with the tribal, the Rasta and the foreigner. For in their very essence, they are my teachers of humanity, unlike and yet so alike my own.

Life feels different here, besides the obvious climatic changes and cultural dynamics, there is just something subtly different about the energy and presence of being in this cabin again. Like I am here to stay, and that it may be a very long time in gestation as I confide and abide by myself in this wooden hall with what I have garnered from the world after so many years. There is still a quest ongoing, but that quest is never ending and will be made through different essentially different territory. It will be the walk into and embodiment of new archetypes that I have been carefully preparing my life to receive, built in with the sacred masculine initiations and roles that have been impressed and informed with me. As my homestead improves and the energy systems become more efficient at conducting the life force that in return fuels my growth, I feel rich with self-trust in my ability to live according to a means. One that elevates the narrative of my life to levels of personal sovereignty, responsibility, and skillful adaption. While I fine tune my moral compass and seek the balance between the ever present fullness of voices, ideas and dreams that flood my awareness. I drop into a more lucid state of being that allows for the pranic current to flow within and without me and gently dictate how to move, more organically and harmoniously around the banks of my own natural limitations. I feel proud and at ease amidst these walls and long-hall timbers raised two years ago in a symbolic mark of finding land and settling therein.

Meanwhile some great fun has been had after an initial spell of sacred solitude and silence after the long trip. Together with a kindred brother Jeremy at Birch Bark Adventures and his twenty-four huskies, we laid claim to four of the most epic days this winter has seen. Ice fishing with home-made rods on Chaleur Bay, as once Leif Eriksson and his seamen might have done a millennia ago. This time we were fishing for smelts. Snowshoeing in the forest fringing on the Tetagouche river, and harnessing the Alaskan dogs to a wooden sled for some glorious sled mushing on fast trails. Once even roped to my own Agouti Husky for a snow pull with a Siberian purebred named Kimmick and four other top dogs. We were joined by his woman in the cabin for flame cooked suppers, and cold winter night slumbers. For the first time since living in the Maritimes, I can now say I have traveled all five scenic routes of New Brunswick. The former being the River Valley route and Fundy coast, and after this foray in the north, the Miramichi route, Acadian highway, and the Appalachians. We were not far from the Gaspesie, and it is somewhere I would be greatly interested in returning to.

Now I don a pair a snowshoes and hike the ridges of Skedaddles backbone to finish the last of the maple tapping for the season before the imminent sap flow and sweet syrup boil marks the beginning of spring. Joined by a brother for the meaningful work at hand, I come full circle from the underbelly and deep culture of the motherland to the oldest traditions of our Canadiana countryside. My blue eyed K-9 follows the path of the snowshoe, and the trail of the bobcat through deep snow. I drill a hole into the nearest Acer saccharum and hammer in a new tap, then pan my eyes over Garvie mountain to the west, and feel the cold wind bite into my hands. Riding polaris sleds through the Appalachian ridges the other day with an ally, I watched the landscape change before my eyes in a way I have never experienced. We crossed one of the province’s heritage wooden covered bridges and stopped at a warming hut after cruising the sleds from Knowlesville to Howard Brook, stoked the fire and ate some deer jerky. My eyes looked over the still frozen stream, the snowy boughs of fir on Skedaddle ridge, and the forested trail from which we came, I sighed in contentment, and felt home and alive.

Saga of Othala, ch. X: Resting on Arms Reversed

At the end of my day, when all side hustles are reined in, all projects cleaned up, and communal karmas are fed, eye can truly sigh a breath of contentment and rest with crossed arms behind my head in the space of knowing eye did what eye did with integrity and passion, and infused the living moment with an affect of intimacy into the satisfaction of doing those things. Then, when there was nothing left to do, eye be. Eye think about the return of the seeds eye have sown, and the nexus of interpersonal relationships that have played out during the course of a wane and wax of a day and night. My mind is allowed to steep and brew a stronger dose of the philosophic spirit that is then distilled into the rich memories extracted from my lot. If there were things to complain about, they simply get filtered out through the purification process that comes in the gloaming hours before sleep. Eye am still here in my own bed, have worked in right ways, appropriate with the Dao of my own energy, and shared inspiring words with those who are other than me. Eye am rich in the private abundance of my soul, to be here, and be with here.

Doing without:

One common denominator of living the homesteader’s bushman existence, the country life, and that of nomadic global travel is the ability to do without. Going without the luxuries of what is considered “human rights” in modern first world countries is to me the root of what supports a personal gain in one’s self-accountability, bravery, resilience, and inner strength. It is also a lowering of one’s threshold for what one requires to be completely fulfilled and content. From my view through the trees, eye can say a life lived this way, and un:learning what it means to be a civil being in the twenty-first century, actually amplifies what it means to me to be more fully human, capable, and aware. Taking stock of what you choose to live without is a liberating routine to rigorously examine your creature comforts and in raw fashion to attempt happiness with a minimal set of those itemaries. This may seem archaic, eclectic, or a willfully desperate struggle to those with an outsiders view, but eye concur that the room inside such a life is filled with a buoyant sense of ease, graceful domestic rituals, leisure, craft, beauty and a sense of humility. A minimal inventory of the things eye have adapted to or choose to live without are;

:plumbing/running water, on-demand hot showers, flush toilet, electric heaters, fridge, on-grid electricity, television, radio, a college education, modern shoes, guns, power tools, public transportation, an insured vehicle, plastic, internet/wifi, tablet, netflix, credit cards, loans and debt, phone plan, gyms, bars, restaurants, social media, mortgage, bills, mainstream jobs, social media and service subscriptions etc.

The horned and dreaded meet in the feral meadow

If eye were to mine a little deeper, it would be easy enough to find several more, but the landscape looks the same. There are still elements of my life where eye feel they could be simplified, refined and worked on, and that is as good a personal testimony to my existence as any. The truth is, eye have no desire for these things, in three months of the year, eye often go places without shoes, bathe in wild waters of nature, find entertainment in watching the bonfire with my kindred, and foraging forest food to cut the fat of expenses. In winter, the fire is moved inside, eye write more in my leather journal, and my imagination is vivid, so there is no need for movies, series, and newsfeeds on social media with a world of distractions. Eye settle into the monochromatic existence of cold white snow, the deep green woods, and the warm amber light of the hearth, finding contentment in books, silence, solitude, and a slow cooked supper. In life, eye yearn to be happier with less, while not depriving myself of the utmost needs. If one were to read the list above and guess which country eye belonged to, perhaps Namibia, Guatemala or New Guinea may be a likely answer, but the truth is eye live surrounded by the palace of the new world all around me, dominated by big corporations like Irving, McCains and Crabbe, and eye have access to all the pleasure pursuits, trappings, and social media webs of the metropolis, only in my eyes it is more of a necropolis. A mundane and flattened way of experiencing the gifts and loaded opportunities this world has to offer. Eye am seeking the raw food and fresh fruit of the world, the heart of real living, where my days are spent worshiping the dirt with foot to earth, bathing in wild waters, mingling with a network of souls in the flesh, tasting the land, listening to no music except that of the soundtrack of my labors and environment, where life comes for free, unpackaged, and unbridled.

Preserving a Season

One of the most integral ways to thrive in a homestead is to preserve food for the hyperborean nights of winter, when nothing grows except your beard, and besides reindeer moss under the snow, and tree bark or chaga, there is not much to harvest from the landscape, unless you are lucky with the beasties. As the sower saves the seed to grow his fond fruit again, the homesteader saves the taste of the land, the colors of the summer, and the calories of a season. Eye have been able to ‘put in my time’ this year carefully balanced around other fixer projects, yurt upgrades, cabin renovations, and peasant chores to preserve some food for all those that will eat in my hall with me. Mushrooms made an early gleaning in July, and several species have made their way through dehydrators, solar or otherwise and into jars like looking glass windows displaying their ornate and extra terrestrial shriveled forms. Horse mushrooms, Morels, half a dozen varieties of Bolete, Giant Puffball, Sidewalk mushrooms, and Turkey Tail. Others went straight into the pan; Lactarius, Lobters, Porcini, Hedgehogs, and Shaggy mane’s. Sedative herbs like bog myrtle and Labrador tea were pinched on hot and hazy afternoons in the Quebec nordiques, and an eclectric array of Rose family members were consumed along the way or saved for later; Rosehips, Hawthorn haws, Apples for rings, sauce and cider, and those that fall on my head when eye scrump a tree. Two bottles of choke cherry cordial, some Halloween green masala beans (basically snap beans in curry spices), jalapenos dried on the bush hung next to my hearth, and a whole day spent pickling beets at the school. Eye also tried a small batch of special jam using blackberries, baobab fruit powder and maple sugar, the result was seedy but satiable. A potato barrel sits in my pantry holding the pride of Ireland, none other than some white lumpers, and some fancy purple spuds, red fingerlings layered with some handsome carrots in between layers of sawdust. In barrel number two, filled similar fashion with some zucchini that bred with some indigenous squash from my garden, the odd pumpkin and others of the squash family. A pail of apples remains unprocessed, as eye bring home yet another container of free fruit from a local riverbank, the highbush cranberry, boiled down into a sour sauce, which eye looked forward to pouring over dark meat or a mound of mashed potatoes. A mushroom flour was even made by my sister by drying the giant puffballs in small pieces, then grinding them in a ninja blender. Eye can not say eye have experienced eating pancakes or bread made from mushroom flour but the world of food is weirder than we can suppose. A humble forage of unmolested acorns in my packbasket still need pounding, leaching, drying and grinding before being turned into nutritive flour, gravy and coffee alternative. Fresh herbs of thyme, rosemary and other culinaries dry in a refurbished solar dehydrator in a warm spell of these early autumn days.

What eye could not make by myself was easy enough to obtain from the Annabaptist community, and allowed me to fill the shelves with cottage pickles, sweets and hots, jellies, jams, and raw honey. A few ruffed grouse have been revealing their presence and offering around the homestead woodlands, as my arrow nearly made dinner of this wild chicken like avian. A few cuts of bear fat gleaned from a neglected hide were scavenged to make cracklings, and half a liter of rendered bear grease. Some for the husky, and some for me. My fishing rod has been on the other end of dinner, where eye caught three bass in an afternoon on the meduxnekeag river. Eye feel a deep ancestral call to make my first hunt, to learn the savage beauty of the essential kill. The ancient archetypal provider bore protein rich meat, not only vegetables and nuts. Tonight we dined around long tables in the forest of the years abundance larder; seafood and meat from land, a diversity of apple based deserts, lentil dahls and naan bread, vegetable gravies and autumn salads. It was truly a blessing to come to the table with my community and feed each other, give gratitude, share space and a speak a modified version of the Thanksgiving address.

Wolf Age: Axe Age

To turn a third eye on the ways of the world right now could be seen quite grim and overwhelming, for a Canadian. All manner of cosmic f**kery is in the pipeline, remodeled civilization systems being manufactured without consent of their denizens, qr codes of human-techno i.d.’s, beauracratic spiderwebs being spun over constitutions, rights and codes of freedoms, drafts of new laws as frequent as the moon’s swollen tides, social media breakdowns, and the division of humanity into classes based on medical status, instead of medicine for the people. Eye have been making a maneuver on a foray out from this country for a minute to Mother Africa, back to the source. Eye feel that it may the last time to visit a country freely with this current passbook of mine, and feel some unfulfilled karma in Africa to live with the original peoples of earth, to know something of what they know; bow hunting and construction from raw natural materials, prey tracking, foraging medicinal and edible plants, making primitive footwear to walk for days in the desert, processing and animal in the bush, natural pigment use, earth home building, and on and on. Their knowledge is vast, they are all our family, and eye need to see my original homeland before the world is closed to travelers, partitioned and off limits. As of this writing, eye fly in under a fortnight, and it is all terribly exciting, dreadfully awesome, bittersweet and about time! My homestead is stocked to the tits, and a chum of mine will look after the place, living in the yurt while my husky hero will head north for the winter into early spring to run with the pack and follow the sled!

Companionship

The Mongolian ger has attracted a few souls to its hearth and inside its yak felted walls. Two friends from the Rainbow gathering traveled from Quebec side to visit, and together we surrendered into the flow of the days without a care or touch of stress. Hurtling our naked bodies into the cold rushing waters on more than one occasion of the maritime flood of rain that swelled the banks of all the watersheds here in the St. John valley. We gathered elderberries, blackberries and apples from the richly endowed trees of the countryside, picked bullrush grasses to weave mats, nipped some culinary herbs from an abandoned castle garden, bumbled around the backroads listening to roots reggae, shared stories, a load of laughs and cooked up a storm. Xavier stayed a week longer and we began ritual baths in the Fallsbrook waterfall, running barefoot over root and rock to reach the pools, and once encountering a Mother Bear and her two cubs which Tradition chased off. Sometime after my company eye was offered a moose hide, and then a bear hide. The Moose was unfortunately left out in the rain in my absence and the hair sloughed away and was destroyed, but eye was able to render the last of the fat, and make cracklings as treats for my husky while eye sampled one or two myself.

Xavier and Joanie also agree to dread my hair, and eye am liking the change, it feels natural and comfortable. A crafted antler bead with the rune of Man burned into its creamy keratin surface is carefully holding one of the dreads now nested on my crown. Eye have turned an ear to some of the uplifting vibes of Jamaican reggae music, especially that of Jah9, who among other talents also leads yoga and makes dub remixes of her music to flow with the sequences. This is a nice change from the Ashtanga sequences for now. Another friend Stu from Shediac led some acro yoga in my longhall, so thence we flew into the afternoon in all manner of aerial maneuvers like our birdy cousins. My psychedelic brother Jeremie also made a placeholding with me and was the first in the yurt since its puzzling assemblage. We held medicine ceremony, danced in the Pilick first nations pow wow ring, and lingered many an evening around the stereo, the world music connoisseurs that we are, trading tunes into the twilight.

Some say about these times that it is the apocalypse, but eye am a solution minded man and see a lot of the positive unfurling through the world. Eye keep a positive attitude, and balanced mood even in the worst of time, so eye am pretty much at least 80% even when the world is more like %20. My bonds with this commune are stronger through knowing who my tribe is, there is less consumerism rampart in the urban centers, and folks are tuning into what is actually important in this life, putting down what they have been carrying for so long. Of course others still choose to follow the herd (but is it not the herding behavior which creates disease in the first place). In the meantime, a whole gamut of triggers are awakening people to their subjective truths, and eye think only when we can be right with ourselves, can we be right with our relationship this world and all the inhabitants.

Saga of Othala ch. IX: Next Level Life

Everyday eye wake up from my straw bale bed with a most profound love in my heart, look out the rustic spiderwebbed cabin window onto a feral garden of herbs, wildflowers and grasses, watch the black Alaskan husky dreaming, and breathe in the morning dewy air from opened windows, and recollect how this all came to be and what the Norns had saved for me when they wove my wyrd with woof and warp through the weave of middle earth. It is like just a moment ago, eye was a caterpillar, contemplating pupaceae, and now eye am a butterfly, just flying around in another dimension. A liminal space between the here and now and the transcendental moments at the core and end of time. The next level of life is unraveling in and through my body, sourced from the skull of soul, and spiralling sunwards in the sacred spirit directions, guiding me onwards and upwards into my day, out into the primordial nature that surrounds and is made up of me, and eye her.

Eye have moved into a space of sublime comfort within my hall and the habitat eye occupy, one that is imbued with myth and meaning, divinely feminine, and made of place. It is a comfort that is steeped in spirit and rich with details, too many to mock or attempt to convey without diluting the sacral. My home has indeed become my temple, the base of operations, the magic place of secrets, and a setting for getting the good work done. It is a space where eye can move freely to and from its protective boundaries, to steward and enact new projects on the one acre land that eye am happy to call my minor kingdom. At Othala, eye am free to be who and what eye am, to host the traveler and the artist where they can also explore their own sovereign being, and this is exactly what has been happening down on the land. When eye returned to my plot, the plants were much taller, the ground a little softer to walk barefoot, the winds gentler, and the greens more vibrant. The terrain outside was a perfect material landscape of my inner grounds that are tended with utmost love and awareness. Not only eye have become more attuned to this patch of earth, but the man’s best friend that is my sole homestead ally and only other heartbeat living under this one roof with me. The dog has been finding his piece in the rustic cabin lifestyle. Though separated from his siblings up north, he is never wanton for company with regular tours of the village, and prospects for chasing waterfalls, and the next trail with me.

Still high on the rainbow energies from the last gathering on Cree land, eye backed it up with a camping trip to the Tobique first Nations reserve for last weekends pow-wow with a sister from the village. Our foray out from town was not without a few stopovers, since the backcountry of new brunswick is just so damned interesting! We stopped at a garage sale, and bumped into an elder friend who was manning the tables for his daughter, so we hustled a couple deals and talked about fuelwood, his gravel pit operation, and made obligatory comments about the the heat of the day. On yet on the snakey dirt roads into said sisters young tramping grounds, and we came upon a few special landmarks of hers. Moose mountain with its distinct two humped back, (maybe a special type of prehistoric Canadian moose had these anatomical features, but I am lost on the connection), then on past a hops farm, and old heritage homesteads and hobby farms, her childhood house, and those of some relations. Our tour into the next county unfurled further with a stopover at the Tobique River Trading co., a castle overlooking the Wolastoq river, and a generational general store called Nissins with a good bulk supply of organic provisions, and some funky antiques. We both shared some libations at the trading post, and chatted about coffee culture in Chiapas over some deep dark espressos.

Right, but the itinerary was set for the pow-wow so we kept the wheels moving on for Mudwass park in the Tobique rez, ironically right behind the shell gas station. The tipi gave it all away, and we pulled in to a quiet grounds the day before the grand opening. Idling around we found Leonard, a.k.a. Lenny, the Tribal security of the Neqotkuk reserve, one of six Wolastoqiyik/Maliseet Nation reserves in New Brunswick. We asked where we could pitch our tent, with an inclination to the river, and he brought us to his favorite childhood spot, inside a bay of the Tobique about seven minutes walk down a forest road. We hitched the car up nearby to a mossy trail, and hoofed it in the last 400 meters. It seemed like we now had settled onto the most beautiful camping real estate in the rez, and eye was instantly gratified, and would come to be long fed from this place.

My solar return re:birthday just re:volved, and it was one for the books. What are the implications of 31 years on earth? If anything, life is becoming more finely tuned and richer in luck. A wild natured sister accompanied me for two days of fishing, foraging, wild swimming, with forays into Perth Andover for some excellent coffee, and a return to the Tobique rez where we found our friend of tribal security. In the first day, we gathered wild chokecherries from a lakeside, then continued our picking near Coldstream, where I found dark blue-black berries that may have been a viburnum species which yielded an a beautiful purple warpaint and a terrible bitter taste. I did not eat one but inadvertently got some smudged juice in my mouth from stroking my beard and moustache after smashing the berries in my hand to make the paint. We found dense stands of staghorn sumac, which the first nations use to make sun tea, steeping the delicious berries in a jar in the solar light and heat passively to yield a vitamic c booster that tastes something like rhubarb, cranberry lemon-aid. Unfortunately with all the muggy temperatures, the berry clusters were all infested with bugs, and after checking at least 20 of them on several trees in many places kilometers apart, and finding the same crawling worms and insect waste inside, I forgave the opportunity to make a good harvest, sigh… perhaps I was too late for the just ripened fruits. We visited three swimming sources, one on the Becaguimec river, called Hells Eddy, though how it was coined with such an uncouth name, I am perplexed. The second at Mainstream further up the same river, the water was actually too warm and infested with leeches, but the strap rope hanging from a cedar tree over the deep end still remained an allure for the primate in me that wants to swing and bracheate through dense jungle canopies, above the forest floor and occasionally jump into deep pools of water. The third was perhaps my watershed of choice, on the Shiktehawk river, behind the Crabbe mill, where a manmade stone dam and some lucid waterholes made for good trout habitat, fishing ops, lotus snatching and cold bathing The prospects were set out to hike Moose Mountain, though upon our approach the torrential rains poured in, leaving us flaring the windshield wipers full tilt and seeking an altered adventure. This turned into a rendezvous with one of the brewers at the Trading co. coffeehouse, and leaving well caffeinated with a blue sky clearing, which lit up our chances again of a potential hike. We continued up the Wolastoq river, back to the pow wow grounds and ended up spinning a long yarn with our friend, waxing about bug out bags, bear hunting, indigenous traditions, and survivalism.

Well eye suppose eye should keep talking about my homestead again, that is why you are here eye think. The yurt has a new floor and eye finally used the maple tongue and groove boards that were never put into my father’s planned man cave, a.k.a. his garage with a woodstove. They certainly did not cover as much floorplan as eye thought, but the differing tones of wood offer some diversity of texture and tone to the eye, there is still some more to go, but far advanced from last summers meagre efforts. And eye have been fully reaping the enjoyments and comforts in the use of my Zodi portable shower. Which is something that resembles a stainless steel milk can with a shower nozzle attached to it. With two and a half gallons capacity, eye can have three or four short showers of a couple minutes each, with brief pumping action between each burst to pressurize the tank. It needs no batteries, only enough muscle as one would pump a bicycle tire, and a small propane canisters, like those used for coleman stoves. One cylinder has laster me about half a dozen showers so far and is still going. With the Zodi, eye can shower anywhere on my land, on top of a mountain, on a beachside, in a tub in the winter, or naked in the garden beside my woodpile. It brings a sense of rustic comfort to the homesteading way, and eye am firmly proud of the acquisition of it.

By the way, eye have been using the anatomical eye or spiritual third eye identification instead of the egoic and capital I in my common parlance because it currently resonates with how eye feel to identify with the world and my subjective experiences. Eye noticed being caught in the ‘I’ was perpetuating a kind of self importance that was not as easily balanced with humility, and grace, and when storytelling one magical nuance the teller has in his tool box is the ability to bring the listener or reader into the imaginal world for awhile. By self identifying so much, it does not leave as much space for others to relate to the words, and experiences, and eye was starting to feel that my boastings were a bit heavy dosed when one has to write about their life in a personal way.

The longhall at Othala finally has its new protective shell on the roof, coming in the form of some roll-out grip tape that is supposedly waterproof and will keep the rain where it belongs, in my garden and out of my homestead. Eye feel content in the work done on a muggy afternoon as eye baked myself over a hot steel roof with sticky hands, laying half a dozen rolls of this shingle like membrane over the ridges and rides of my low sloping parapet. The top is covered in gritty sand, and is permeated with a kind of tarry substance. Though it did become pierces in some places by the lag screws, eye hope it will not affect the functional integrity of the product. The red elderberries in my garden have become monstrous in the space of a year and shroud the inner temple with dappled shade, adding privacy in tow to the goings on inside the hall. What happens at the cabin, stays at the cabin. A few more exotic house plants have taken up residence in woody sills of windows, a branching bonzai like succulent, and one blooming lotus gather grace next to a salt crystal with a low amber burn. The bryophyte air plants mingle company with mini spined cacti, while the money trees generates all my hidden cashflow. A bromeliad feels out of place next to an arctic fox fur, and a five stemmed bamboo sends off shoots on a ledge where eye keep my herbal spices, salts, and sugars. The weekly vegetable share eye recieve from a local organic farm has been quite abundant, and eye do not know if my diet is just not strong on vegetables or if eye can’t eat through them fast enough, so methinks eye will start juicing and freezing them for the times when they are no longer freshly pulled from their dark humus.

A respectable wild harvest of herbs and mushrooms have taken shelf in the workshop to dry under the passive dehydrator in the sky. Chanterelles growing on the acre in abundance, a couple species of boletes, lactarius, lobster and coral fungi were processed this week, and the one before last was a session with bog myrtle leaf and spice, labrador tea, and creeping snowberry herb. These have found clean mason jars and are assuming their position on my tea hutch for various self medicating and sleep inducing purposes. Meanwhile the rowan berries are ripening in their clusters, and eye em graced by their presence in my life this year, most of the rose family actually has been a mainstay in my foraging escapades and plant based relationships this year. A sister and eye processed yellow transparent apples to make sauce, and eye still have my spots for feral pippin apples on the St. John river for making dried apple rings. Eye have also put up some pesto this year, two cans of choke cherry cordial, and some pickled ferns, soon will come fruit juicing, barelling root veg, pressing late flowers, and saving heirloom seeds.

On a spur of the moment, eye attended an artist’s storytelling presentation held at the nature school from the Beehive collective. Two of the creators and artists displayed a massive cloth drawing of a piece entitled ‘The True Cost of Coal’, which by itself is museum worthy, and should be a learning piece in all of Turtle Island. They told the story of its creation over three years by a dozen or more artists, researchers, native bands, illustrators and botanists, who designed and contributed or provided knowledge and history for the panoramic landscape that broadcasts the cultural history of coal in the new world. From one side of the drawing to the other, the depiction of healthy ecosystems without decay for millions of years, into a period of colonization, and enslavement, and finishing in the revolution of the indigenous population and workers to rebuild for a new future. All characters in the landscape are drawn as animals, and represent highly symbolic elements of one event, part of history, person, or energy. The piece in its fullness has an accompanying rhyme, and storybook, and must be taken in with several viewings and their narrative. It was pleasant to mingle with the artists again after meeting them at the tea-house of the permaculture garden where eye work, and eye brought home a mesoamerican art poster for displaying on the ceiling of one of my cabin rooms.

The days to come eye will be antiquing forest feasting tables for the Praxis festival, processing Indian ghost pipe for tincture, carrots for juice, blueberries for jam, and haying potatoes for one last growth spurt. as well as trying some new herbal concoctions gifted me from Munna the witch, and rallying for the Miramich Lake protest, where the environmental authorities plan to pour rotenone into the waterbody to kill off small-mouthed bass, in an effort to save salmon, the kicker is that rotenone also kills all gilled invertebrates and fish. If it was my decision eye would open full season fishing of bass without limit, but the mishandled logic of some environmental agencies is beyond me. Meanwhile there are some big fish hooked on the line for a winter adventure, though eye am not going to say where yet.

Saga of Othala ch. VII: Flora and Foray

The Husky is sleeping on my mother Bear pelt, atop the strawbale bed, I am listening to a man from Senegal play the kora, an African harp with a floating melody that emanates from the strings lofting my consciousness above the sinking dirty snow and into springs solar swoon. A slant of eventide light graciously dapples the interior of my cabin from its west facing glass eyes, now removed of their translucent wrappings to bar the winter drafts, while nights stay above zero, as the breezes lose their harshest tongue. The pussy willows have all budded, and the coltsfoot follows in bloom on the south facing slopes. Maples show no holds in dispelling their sap, with Birch in the kicker, one could almost smell the sugar steam, streaming through the grey clouds of an idle afternoon, mingling with rain, and coming down with a sense of sweetness. Life is brighter now, until roughly eight in the eve to be fair, and with each breathe I sense the aromas of spruce, moss and dank soil effevescing volatile therapeutic incense into the air. My hands get sticky with balsam poplar, With the extra hours of light, I engage in post-sugarbush freedom rides, long dog walks with the Alaskan, garden planning, and mid day lion naps followed up with evening coffees, knowing the day is not lost to the myrk too soon. The newest member of our village, Ziggy Love was born, to mother Spirit and Papa Seven. This couple joined our tribe last summer after a happenstance meeting of synchronicity, after I saw Seven on kijiji looking for musicians. Their new home in Howard Brook is the oldest log cabin in the area, and perfectly fit for three.

I’ve eaten up all the meat, now that my passive outdoor ambient freezer is not working. Well, I don’t fully own that, the porcupine family living under my floor found my package of ground bear meat and eviscerated the entire pound, along with two pounds of perogies, they stopped short at the blueberries. Munna and I have eaten like kings and queens meanwhile when our savorings are not gleaned by some beast, I’ve sat down to great six course meals of moose roast, savory rice and spicy veg, sausages cooked in mint and maple, barley soup, salad and frozen fruit. On ‘board meeting’ nights, we collectively cook a themed meal which is eaten from a cutting board with our hands, or else sharp implements like skewers; the cheese fondue, charcuterie, shiska-bobs, falafel, raw fish sushi, and wood fired pizza have all been a great success. While equally creative and impressive country feasting is holding it’s own at the potlucks of thursday. A neighbor in the next field over from Simms Rd. made a cake, entirely out of mashed potatoes and meat, using purple carrots to make a colored ‘frosting’ which died the mashed taters an attractive shade. Too many deserts to name, melomels and maple beers, herbal gins, and spiced rums, and the spectrum of cultural foods one would have to travel for a couple days to obtain in their native terroir. We are doing well in the heathlands.

Tradition, the name bore bear the newest addition to my heim, an Agouti Alaskan husky from racing lineage, was born in northern New Brunswick near the Miramichi, Chaleur Bay region. He has spurned me on to adventure further afield, where we run paw to foot down logging roads, Appalachian trails, and glacial ravines. My food pantry now fills up with Inuk’shuk dog food, braided chew ropes, fish biscuits, and cartilagionous bones. I am proud to finally see this day, and seeing this young wolf hound grow up in my wooden abode. He is already a runner, and is doing his father ‘Coyote’ proud. Eventually he will be larger and heavier than me, and I won’t be able to keep up unless with skis underneath me and the beast pulling in front. An outing into the hemlock woods lead to patches of evergreen and snow-berry, reindeer and sphagnum moss, carpeting the cliff of Gibson falls. Churning out a gorge of epic volume, the cascade falls twice, and peters out into a lethargic babbling brooks where the hardwoods transition to fen. I filled a motorcycle satchel bag with wintergreen herb, and tramped along the edge of the tumulting water, with husky in tow. The tip off came from a neighbor with her shepherding dog who also accompanied. I would be hesitant to drive down what was deemed a ‘road’, though maybe my perspicacity for difficult auto terrain is a little more privileged here after enduring the state of roadway on the Indian subcontinent. Booking it back out of Kilmarnock and near the old railway trail south of Hartland, my lady friend showed off another hidden waterfall that is a powerhouse of raw energy which crashes down into a grotto, throwing up a mist and bathing the rock walls in perpetual moistened life. After a few turns in the cove, it piles through a culvert and into the the St. John/Woolastook, depeneding on who you talk to. Another foray to Chimney Rock, and it’s glacial remains profered an impressive sight, where the knuckles of the earth separate from a cedar tangle and meandering wet trails, to open a crack in the earth, cool, lichen covered, and deep. Inside this earth yoni is a phallic shaped tower of stone, it is a ‘chimney’ of sorts, if people still made these rising smokestacks out of the bones of mother nature.

Off the trail, I have been reaping my extra leisure time with a new course, offered gratis, by the University of Stanford. A deep dive into the concept of ‘Love’ as a force for Social Justice, from which I have gleaned some potent insights, and contemplative workpieces. While cancel culture forbids much of the free interaction of analog teaching in the hard and fast material world, I do enjoy not having to show up to an institution, and piece mealing off some satisfying study hours during a weekend for myself. It gives me something to chew on, and offers an alternative to intellectual banter amongst peers, here is something I can focus on entirely in the way that will leave lasting knowledge. Having never actually been inside the walls of a University, and only ever in College for one week of my life, I am copasetic with this style of academia.

The Yurt remains a barrenland inside, and hungers for someone to live in it, once it is finished being floored with maple, and furnished with some hygge accoutrements. It would be great for a traveler to come and stay there this summer, and if the borders open again, perhaps it could act as a magnet for those coming from away. I foresee it as a perfect wwoofer home, and potluck venue, or for holding workshops. The falls brook behind my land now gushes for the first time since I have migrated here, dividing itself once at whale rock, and then bifurcating several times more as it moves through wetland. The like named waterfall no longer trundles gently over a rock face but pours with a great roar, through the southern flanks of Skedaddle ridge range.

Eostre came with a few happy visits, painted rune eggs found their way on my altar by the village witch, I also happen to love gifts that I can eat. This spring and summer will be full of wildcrafting, apothecary production, permaculture projects, and motorcycle expeditions around the Maritimes. I want to cruise to Saguenay, and hit the Runestone in Nova Scotia, take the pass in the Cape Breton Highlands, and motor over to Newfound with a brother in the club, and finally see Gros Morne and Lanse Aux Meadows. Covid won’t be holding me back from any of this, where there are two wheels there is a way, though the black horse will need some work, and a masters hand before it is ready for the long hauls. With the right ingenuity, and some modifications to the saddle bags, I may be able to bring along the Alaskan dog for some of these trips, in the meantime I wait for the ground to dry for some five toe shoe running, and country backroaders with the Nighthawk, with 450cc of twin engine power, and the freedom found in a full tank…

With a full tank, comes the unspoken duty of riding it to empty, and seeking out all possible routes from the homestead to explore the territory. The same way a lion or a wolf will venture out from their cave or den, and voyage across the land, picking over its terrain and mapping the topography of his kingdom. With the saddlebags I gleaned from India, carefully stitched with the flag patches of far away sojourns, I buckled in my Alaskan husky Tradition into the right pouch and he had his first two wheeler experience. Now we had a biped, and a quadruped, coasting along New Brunswicks upper Acadian territory on an iron and steel animal more powerful than both of us together. The feeling is unmistakably novel and rich. The Icelanders say a horse can make a man King for a day, I would add to that a rumbling motorbike with the throttle down.

With the sapflow staunching at the spile, and the trees budding out, a transition of work comes afore me, the taps will soon be taken out, and the manipulation of my hands will turn their work to the apothecary garden, the wildwoods, and the traditional buildings on my land. I have set up a workaway profile to draw in potential prospects for a homestay at Othala. I could always rely on guesting through the workaway platform during 7 years of travel and found it enriching on many substantial levels to cohabit with people around this earth. For my readers, let it be known that the longhall is welcoming the traveler; be ye a farmer, writer, musician, yogi, healer, artist, teacher, ad infinitum, I look forward to seeing you out here.