Wobbly Spring!

This year has been the year of imbalance in the garden. Nothing is coming up when it should and then everything is coming up at once! It is the earliest I have ever seen some of these plants up and blooming. It feels like May, but it is April, and some things should not even be up and going until almost June! But here we go! Another year full of unknowns in the plant and weather world.

As an avid bee keeper and an advocate for pollinator habitat, this would seem good—early forage for the bees who so need it! Yeah, sure—but what about later in the summer when things should be blooming but are done and long gone. Something as simple as when a flower blooms can effect all the wildlife around it! Nothing is that simple. We live in a very complicated, intensely woven together world, and when one strand miss steps or breaks, the whole web of life is compromised.  So many people do not notice, do not care and will not care. But those of us who listen, watch and care, see things happening that shouldn’t be. We see our world out of control, wobbly and crazy and wonder why no one notices. If our seasons change much more you will see whole sets of plants and trees decide this is not what they like—and die. The stress of trying to figure out what season it is and what should be done now will get to be too much. Look at our food—the wheat around us just headed up over night with a good rain, but the plants are almost not there! I wonder if the crop will be worth anything this year.

I sit and I listen, I watch and I pray, that something will help to bring us back into balance. In more ways than one.  Pay  attention—see what is happening—don’t become one of the ‘head in the sand’ people who ignore the world around them!

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It is the time of year when we burn here in Kansas. I hear that the smoke travels all the way up to Chicago, causing more smog for them. For the months of March and April the air is almost always smoke filled around here. It burns your throat and wrecks havoc with your sinuses, but it is what they do here. Nothing will probably change it. As I coughed and felt ucky with the smoke so thick in the air I thought of people in other parts of the world that breath air worse than that almost every day. City people with millions of people sharing the same dirty air. When I think of that I am thankful that I only have to endure it for two months of the year. How blessed we are to usually have good clean air.

This year has been challenging with the burn patterns. The wind has been fierce—way stronger than normal and changing directions often. We had at least one fire in Southern Kansas that was the largest on record in the state—over 500,000 acres and the fire started in Oklahoma. I’m not even sure that fire is out yet and it has been going since before Easter. A huge mess for the ranchers down there, but in true Kansas fashion semis of round hay bales from an extra good hay year last year were donated to the ranchers. Bags of Milk replacer for calves as udders on mammas were burned and the babies were unable to nurse. That is if they could even find their herds as fences burned and cattle ran. We have had several fires around us that were started by unknown origins. The wind racing them across pastures faster than the fireman can drive to get ahead of them. We use volunteer firefighters in this part of the country. What wonderful men and women! So today the fire was set intentionally across from my farm to burn a prairie conservation area. They do it every 3 or 4 years. They had the field prepped more than a month ago—waiting for the winds to stop enough to light it. Fourteen miles an hour is a good burn wind, anything above that is a disaster waiting to happen. They were very good and burned on a still morning, but it would not burn fast. By 12 noon it was still crawling along. Finally it took and the whole field—at least 160 acres, burned in minutes. But by then the wind had picked up and soon by 1:30pm a fire had broken out in the east hedge row. They fought it with water tanks and tractors, moving debris so that it could not burn. It is now 7:30pm and the wind is even stronger and they are still there fighting the fringe fires with chain saws and water. There is a field to the east that is dry grass and it would go fast and far if it got lit. At 8:30pm the sun is almost down and they are still working! They had to cut down a dozen or so trees that are over 50 years old to stop the burning. How sad to see them go.

Fire is not something to joke about or laugh at, even on the prairie. Just grass does not mean it is easier to control than a forest fire. It can move fast and today the flames were well over house high in seconds. And with gusts in the 30-50 mile an hour range, like they had in the last month, it is almost impossible to get ahead of. So thankful for all those volunteers who have worked so hard this past two months. They are surely exhausted! But for me my fears are over as the fire across the street is over. No more worrying that they might not be so good at their job and the fire would take my property. When you have 26 goats in the barn and most of them babies, they are not easy to move in a hurry. A sigh of relief for us at least, and prayers still going out to those who are still in danger or lost everything this Spring in the fires that rage on the Prairie.

Spiraling Corn

When  my husband came home the other day, he met me in the garden and looked at what I was doing. “You always have to be different don’t you?” was his comment made with a grin. Yes, I always have to be different. I went to plant corn, the earliest I have ever put it in the ground, a whole month earlier in fact. But as I prepped the garden and thought of where I would grow this corn, my idea of square blocks went out the window as a voice said to plant it in a spiral, a mound in the center for the squash. The three sisters was the plan from the beginning.

I have three kinds of corn to grow this year and I can feel the excitement that there is  no corn planted on the acreage around me. This is my corn year. The seeds were given to me at our corn gathering and honestly I had no idea how many seeds I had received of each variety. So here I was being told to plant in spirals. So I made a huge circle. No measuring, no calculating how much of a spiral I would need or if I would have enough seed. Just going with the flow here. So I made my circle, found the middle and made a good sized mound for some pumpkins to grow out from and started my spiral. The circle was roughly 13 feet across—good number I thought. As I started the spiral it just felt right, and easy. I liked it. Much better than a square or straight rows! Nothing in nature is really square you know, and nothing grows in rows unless we plant it that way. So it felt good as I added some soil concoction that adds all the good bacterium and fungi for growing in. It felt really good. The spiral started in the south and just happened to end in the North. No plans, just the way it happened. So starting in the middle I laid the seeds in the small trench, one by one, prayed over and thanked. Grateful for such a beautiful corn. The colors splashing out on the dark soil, reds, orange, white, yellow, blue. Beautiful. The variety is called Painted Mountain and is not really rare. You can get it in seed catalogs. Short season—70-90 days to dry corn. I want to grind it into flour. I can almost taste it as I lay the seeds in the ground with prayer.  In the end I had the exact amount of seeds for the spiral I had made. Two left over that I tucked into the bigger spaces. I smiled to myself. When you listen to what the corn wants, it all works out. Just right. And so starting on the outside and working in reverse, I put the corn to bed, Thanking the Mother for sheltering this seed. It felt so good. Some water sprinkled above and the hopes of corn to grind into flour come fall.

Before I had gone to the garden, I had been asked to do Ceremony, which is a common enough thing in my Native belief system. In the middle of my medicine garden there are some crystals that are very special to me. They sit on a stump. But at the corn gathering, six special rocks had come to me from my friend Greg. Three were from my Great Grandfather’s old ranch, which this friend now lives on, actually in the very house my Great grandpa built—long crazy story that I’ll save for another time. These three rocks are so special to me. It is from a place that two different sides of the family had a connection to. They are big too, about the size of a cantaloupe. The other three are also special to me because they come from a place where one of my beloved Grandmothers has her seed Temple, where old varieties of seeds are being saved, cherished and kept going. All from the west in the sight of Mountains. The places that stir my heart. But also at this corn gathering some very sacred corn came into my hands. It had been kept by a tribe that did not want it shared with anyone outside of their tribe. Common enough these days. It was theirs and no one else could have it. But when it came into my hands I immediately felt that it had wanted to be free, because no man owns corn. Corn is a gift of our Mother and it belongs to her. I believe she set it free.

So here are six rocks which I had yet to decide where to place and a beautiful corn and they told me to make a ring with the rocks around my stump with the crystals, fill in some dirt and good stuff and plant the corn in ceremony inside the ring of stones. Everything fell into place months after the rocks and corn had come to me. The flow of Creator. But here I must tell you a story that was given to me in a vision long ago, before I can tell you what the ceremony was.

This vision is about the first corn coming to the people, and like all visions it can be argued if it is accurate. All I can say is it was very vivid and to this day I see it in my mind, played over and over again with the same clarity.

The people of Earth were starving. There was great hunger above ground and Mother was concerned that they would all die. So she sent from deep in the Earth a little person, a female, with a bowl of corn to feed them. From deep in the Earth, the little person made her way up to the surface, stepping out of a cave into the sunlight for the first time. She was, even in this very important mission, stunned by the beauty of the Above Ground. She went to the people and fed them the corn, the bowl in her small hands never emptying. Always more. When the people were full and rejuvenated to health, she taught them what they must do for Mother. They were to take all of the corn left in the bowl, and in ceremony,  place it in the Mother’s breast, under the soil, in gratitude and love. Just as you would feed a friend or a relative food from your house. So now they were feeding the Mother who had fed them. Gratitude. The Little person did not feel like leaving yet, so she stayed with those who lived Above Ground. The seasons passed and then in Spring, someone noticed that where the ceremony had taken place, something was coming up out of the ground. Corn. It grew tall and produced more food to feed the people. Mother had gifted them again and fed them. So the ceremony was repeated, a giving back of all the corn they did not eat to the Mother out of love and gratitude. Feeding her.

Soon the little person grew blind, for she was not used to the sun, but still she stayed with them for the rest of her life until one day she died. Some time after that, the people grew scared. Every year the corn would grow from the place that the ceremony had occurred, and every year they would eat and then the rest would go to the Mother. But fear is powerful. What if Mother grew angry with them? What if she decided not to feed them anymore? They would starve. So they decided to save some corn back in case. They still did the ceremony, but instead of giving all that was left to Mother, they hid some and planted it in the ground themselves. The corn did not grow back the next year in the Ceremony place. But they had saved some and planted it. It grew, but yet it did not fill their bellies as well, and things sometimes went wrong like no rain or bugs that came to eat the plants. So they grew more scared and tried to make a better corn that would feed them in a better way, out living  the droughts and bugs. They did this all out of fear. The Ceremony was eventually stopped as no one could remember why it was done in the first place. They were in control of their corn now, and they had forgotten that it was a gift from the Mother. The Sacred Hoop of life was broken.

So with this vision in mind, I was told to give this corn back to the Mother. The tribe who refused to share it was in fear. It was theirs and no one else would have it but them. Fear. Control. So as I was guided, the corn was placed in the Mother’s breast again—7 seeds. They were given to her in gratitude for the corn that she originally gave us, with no expectations of if it would grow. It was a gift to her and gifts should never hold expectations for something in return.  The corn is Hers. It was never ours in the first place. That is just our Ego/Mind fooling us.

So think as you plant your garden—could you put the seeds in the ground with no expectations of growth or food?  Could you gift them to Her and walk away ? The fear of lack is so ingrained in our minds. Feel what it would be like to live in total faith that you were taken care of, that nothing had to be controlled or manipulated. That something would always be there for you to eat. Be mindful when you plant this year. Try to let go of the fear that has controlled us for thousands of years and remember, no one owns the corn. It belongs to Mother and she will decide where it ends up.

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