Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's coming... I think the winter's coming!

I see a toe, I see a curl... I listen to Wicked a lot. ;)

It's true though, when you think about it. You see the limbs of winter before you see the body of it - you see the fingers in the frost on your car in the morning and the toes in the light snow that seems to stick around longer than it seems it should be able to. These are the small thing that herald the full body of winter, and they're beautiful to me.

You need to remember - I chose to move to New England. I chose to move to a climate that a scant year after I arrived saw record snows, that give me snow falls that covered my New Beetle whole. (not drifts, falls. yes. think about that.) I chose to move to a place where summer can be so sweltering that you escape to the beaches (of which we have many) or to ponds made famous by voracious writers.  (that'd be Walden)

Of course, I say I moved here but honestly, sometimes I wonder if I was called here and if I actually had any say whatsoever in the matter.

You've heard me talk a lot about landbase, and what it means to connect. I hadn't heard that word before, but I knew the feeling, and it took reading the brilliant mind of hectatedemeter for me to know what I was longing for. She's wonderful, and insightful, and you ought to be reading her if you're not already.

Lately, since the world has gone sideways in the worst sort of way, I've been connecting more and more with my landbase. I do what most kitchenwitches do - I wake up, I make coffee, I stare out the window at the slowly freezing landscape of my backyard and I meditate with the rustle of leaves and spread of the frost. I watch the ivy, now frozen still like the stone wall it climbed. I watch the Rose of Sharon as it turns to the stick bush it will remain till the snows of winter are done and it can leaf and bloom once more. I collect seeds from that bush and give them to my nieces and nephew, as my grandmother did for me.

As I leave for work in the morning I run my fingers across the evergreen, looking up into the branches to see the bird nests there and am thankful they feel safe nesting near my home. The blue jays are so fat now, and the cardinals are plump little red balls and I love them all. I think of the cooking grease I'll need to put on the bird feeders again soon to keep the squirrels at bay. I've whispered things to the dirt that I have never told a soul, and the earth has kept my secrets and let me be free of their burden.

As we head deeper into the winter, look around and smile at the little death that comes to the world. Remember the blooms and leaves on the other side of the dark months and look to the holy days to help bring your spirits light. Our next one is Yule - Burn the candles, light the night and keep them lit into the dawn, celebrate with drink and rich meals. Be near your family, blood or otherwise, and relish the feeling of them around you. Know that your light burns brighter as the days lengthen and the night recedes.

But as the days grow longer and we move into the coldest and most confining time of year, also look at this time as a rest. The earth rests, and rejuvenates, and comes forth in the spring with renewed vigor.

May it be for us all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Simple Spells

I'd say I don't know what it is about this time of year that gets my magic up, but I totally know. It's the season!

Pumpkins line my kitchen counter, apples are stacked high in a brown glazed bowl, squashes of all forms rest among the bowls and pie plates and knives. There are sides of pork and beef in my freezer waiting for the cast iron pot they'll cook slowly in, soaking in cider and spice and yams or mixed with cardamom and dried cranberries and pecans. I have very medieval views on how to prepare a piece of meat.  Skewing is high on that list, as is pie crust.

The glory of this season is that unlike the summer months where the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, the winter months bring the revel of the warmth that comes from running the oven all day and the scents that imparts on the whole house. Where in the spring it's all we can do to serve bright and sweet dishes full of soft colors, in the fall we serve rich, deep dishes full of savory flavors and strong contrasting color.

So here's a few tips to bring your magic into the kitchen this fall and winter....
*Keep squashes on your counter. They're a quick, savory side dish when topped with butter and garlic, or a warm, sweet side when topped with maple syrup and thyme. Additionally, squash represent the resilience of the harvest so use these when you need to up your stamina to deal with the weather. Savory for calming, sweet for happiness.

*Garlic is your friend. Whole cloves are the best way to go, and they store very, very well. Raw and straight off the ground keeps the longest but if you use it as much as I do then you'll go through it faster than it can go bad so it's not a worry. Roasted garlic is a scent we all adore - don't be scared about making this at home. Take one head of garlic and DO NOT PEEL it, cut off the top so you can clearly see a good bit of the actual clove and set it in a piece of tin foil. Be super generous with the olive oil. (hint - if you have a small brie baker that has a lid, use this instead and do two heads of garlic. The oil will collect easily and you can then jar it and store it in the fridge to have roasted garlic olive oil for ANYTHING.) Close the foil up around the clove loosely. Put it in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes at 350deg. You'll smell it when it's done - and the garlic will have started to pop out of the head. Wait for it to cool and then either spoon out or squeeze out the garlic cloves into your recipe, or a jar to store in the fridge. This really has to be refrigerated if you're not using it immediately.  (I suggest adding it to mashed potatoes)

*Look up winter vegetables and use them. Carrots glazed with brown sugar, honey, butter, and ginger are excellent, easy, and a wonderful use of spices that help bring clarity of Sight. Cloudy visions? Not anymore.

*Take the down time you find on those snow days to really clean all your kitchen implements. Use salt and sage to clear out the energies built up around your kitchen and dining room, and then do the whole house. This is the time where we can use the quiet of the dark to really clear out the old of last year to make room for the new of next year.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What you wanted it to be, and what it actually is

It should be no surprise to my readers how tired I feel this morning. It's not just my poor sleep last night - it's the weight of this morning on my shoulders.

It's difficult to be among my coworkers who don't understand. It's difficult to keep saying "I'd rather not discuss this" over and over but I cannot discuss it, so those words now live on my lips.

I looked at my skin this morning. I looked at the life I live and saw the safety in my position. I saw the protection my outward appearance affords me in the aftermath of a decision so many of us saw going differently. I'm horrified that these factors will keep me safe while so many others are in danger. I fear for my friends and their spouses and children. I fear for my loved ones. I will not be silent - I will use the privilege afforded me to fight for those who cannot. We all have to, or we are lost.

We were all going to be so happy this morning.

I cannot let myself wallow in the emotions that flood me. I'm not ignoring them, but there is too much to do to stop for any length of time. We thought we'd have an easier path ahead of us this morning and instead we have boulders pushing us backward down a path that is crumbling under our feet. We're seeing the foundations we worked so hard for rattling like Lincoln Logs as someone walks across the floor.

The more emboldened of my coworkers have started talking more openly - as the day wears on they feel more sure, more able to speak. I know this is only the beginning but I know this too - they won't be the only ones talking.

We have work to do. We have elections other than the Presidency to vote in, to get our voices heard in, to make our influence known. AND WE MUST.

One battle is lost. So many more remain to be fought. We cannot stop now.