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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Of Pagans and protests: an easy balance

Local protest on Saturday, January 28, supporting the Water Protectors
and against TD Bank, with its ties to the DAPL.

I almost had myself double-booked Saturday. I planned to attend a meeting of a group of local Pagans for our first monthly gathering to discuss what we had learned observing nature from new moon to new moon. We are loosely following The Druid Network's Perennial Course in Living Druidry. The same day, at an overlapping time, local activists planned to gather for a 3 hour protest, as noted in the caption, above. I contacted the organizer of the Pagan event to let him know that I would be coming in an hour late, and would do so with as little interruption as possible. The organizer, a Druid and very earth- and nature-oriented fellow, instead polled the group and in the end, chose to delay start of our discussion so that the others of us who also wanted to attend the protest, could do so.

I spent what was actually a delightful three hours, standing in the cold, holding my "Water IS Life" sign and flexing my knees in rhythm with the drumming being done by the Penobscot tribe, who were instrumental in organizing the event. Lots of exercise for bionic knees and I knew they would tell me about it today. As they have.

The Druidry discussion focused on inspiration, awen in their vernacular, and where and how we found it in nature during this past month of attention. With 11 participants of varying ages, backgrounds and locations, both urban and rural, the discussion ranged far and wide. One participant chose to pay attention to how he spent his time, keeping a log to compare with his impressions of what he did each day, and he was surprised to learn that in a day when, for example, his perception told him that he had spent a good day cleaning house, in actual fact, he was only occupied with that task for an hour! He discovered that he was unaware how much time he "wasted" watching TV, as an example.  Another theme of the month's observations was to have been "soil," but here in Maine there is not much of that to be seen this time of year. I noticed that I could see it in some places most of the month (even the nor'easter did not manage to cover the place where my truck normally parks) and that I had made a deliberate decision to stand on it, as opposed to on snowy or icy places, during the demonstrations that I have been attending. Soil, even frozen, is much warmer than ice! But ice turned up as the theme as well, not surprisingly, as this month's weather has been much more about ice (both falling and as rain, falling and freezing) than it has about snow. Many saw the ice as a protective shield. And ice factored in to most of the names for this moon cycle, another task that we were to focus on.

One participant had a very different take on the idea of "naming the moon" though. She sees the moon as a Goddess, and felt that naming Her appearance each month was not something she wanted to do... so she named the sky! Whether one chooses to say they are "naming the moon" or the moon cycle, or as I sometimes think of them, the "moonth" (differentiating from month) it will be interesting to look back from this time in future years to see how well the naming holds/how it needs modification. My choice for this moonth was Icy Dark Rain Moon.

With the long day off the farm yesterday, and the extra exertion, I was not surprised to find myself a bit "down" today. I declared a "self-care sunday" and have not done much beyond chores and a bit of walking about outside. 

Thankfully my pain pills DID take the edge off, and allow me to do some extra wandering, as I had a full sled of compostables to slide out to the garden. The heavily laden sled took itself over the compacted snow and ice layers, and with my cleats on, I was able to walk easily along on the top of the "snow." Coming back up from the garden, the baby fruit trees got my attention and I parked the sled in a flat location (so it would stay put!) to take a quick walk around them. This is the time of year when one thinks about pruning, so I cast an analytical eye at each one, looking for potential problems. Since they are young and small, pruning is a minimal event, but each tree showed me at least one place where a branch should be removed. I also noted that -- thus far -- our anti-deer fence is working. There was no "wild pruning" to be seen!

After bringing the compost buckets back to the house, I visited the apple trees along the driveway and the cherry tree there, as well, then I picked up the sled again and brought it around back before visiting the butternut and hazelnut trees. I specifically had wanted to visit the hazelnuts because one of the participants at the Druid meeting had mentioned their blooming and it seemed a bit early to me. Well, it is... sort of. Apparently these trees (or bushes, as I know them) have both male and female flowers, bloom in early spring before they leaf out and their male flowers "are visible from fall through winter, hanging stiffly from the hazelnut branches" [The Natural Web - Signs of Spring] and indeed they were! I did not have a camera with me on my walk, but I will take one next time out, when I plan to prune.

Walking out back to the "old apple tree" I did see a couple of places where something had done some "wild pruning," as well as getting a good look at where I need to do more work. There were, surprisingly, no deer tracks around this tree either, though it is well outside the fence. I DID see a couple of deep depressions in the snow (obviously old, made before the freezing/thaw cycle) where it appears something winged made a serious impact, likely attempting to grab some prey. No signs of blood though. 

Other than that, the entire back field was free of tracks of any sort, until right along the back property line, where deer and other tracks were frequent. There were lots more beyond the locust tree row and this side of it, and all were moving mostly in an east-west direction. There were a couple of places where it looked like something had been dragged... the marks were about 4" wide, one about 18" long, the other more like a few feet. I only saw two piles of deer sign and neither looked recent. One was in the "proto-forest" grove, the other alongside. I also got a good look at the crab apple tree we found late last summer and I will have to spent a LOT more time thinking about pruning it!
Abundance, prosperity and smooth
sailing through life sign sailed
off to Texas this week!

A gift to friends in OK
I find that farm stuff and nature stuff is an excellent way to balance out and shake off the frustration that comes from dealing with politics. That, and knitting, and painting, of course. The first "Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch)" hex sign of 2017, is shown at left, in its official portrait.  And the last of 2016, which was actually completed this month, arrived at its new home (right).