Seed dreams and other things…

Forsythia
Forsythia

I am dreaming of spring…no, lusting for spring and the food magic of gardening.

It may seem a bit early to be doing so since I live in well-wintered Chicago but I am a child of more southernly climes and my seasonal rhythms are forever set by Tennessee.  There, where the rolling hills dance with the Cumberland River, March brings green kisses and buttercups amidst the heavy winds and rain.  April (a favorite for me as it is my birthday month) would be mild, sweet-scented and full of the ephemeral pastels that only spring can yield.

Though warmer temps won’t be in ChiTown for a long while (and in fact it is snowing here as I type) I am jazzed about spring and visions of this year’s food garden.  I live in a “green building” (which strives to be as sustainable as possible) and together we have worked to create an edible landscape in our yard.  Last year marked our first attempt which was not wholly successful.  While we got some perennials established (including some raspberries that I liberated from my former garden under a midnight moon) we lost much of our harvest to the critters.  Yup, we became a catering service for the birds, squirrels, raccoons, bunnies, possum, skunks and rats of the neighborhood (and you thought Chicago didn’t have wildlife).

Having learned that lesson a bit sadly, we are making plans for this year that will still allow us to practice permaculture (which won’t harm the animals) but will allow us to bring healthy, fresh, local produce from our yard to our tables.  In addition to gardening, we are also planning on raising chickens (which is very exciting to me).  We will build a coop in early spring and hope to have four chickens who will bless our lives with laughter, our garden with bug-eating (and poop!) and our kitchens with fresh eggs.  At that point I feel sure that I’ll give up the veganism (but that, I fear, is another post all-together).

So in garden planning we are considering what we like to eat, what the land seems to desire, what is expensive to buy at the store and what will fit given our resources.  I am also thinking about ways to continue to weave magic into the food garden and my daily life. 

Last year we charged the seeds and plants as they were planted and transplanted.  I also did a lot with water, charging it from the rain barrels before pouring it on the plants.  I’d like to continue that work and feel inspired by rune magic and the work of  Masaru Emoto  (I’m seeing a well decorated and intentioned watering can in my future!).  My roommate and I also believe that singing is a powerful magical act so we try to spin a lot of tunes in the backyard (despite sometimes getting protests from the neighbors and/or being set upon by swarms of biting bugs).  I am working to put much more energy into my relationship with Fae and the Spirits of the Land there.  I have built an altar in the yard (from stones from my ancestral home in TN) but feel as though I am only beginning to have a relationship with the beloved denizens of that place.  I am partially challenged in this by our housemates who are not pagan and who whisk away any offerings I leave out.  However, I am hoping that in time the beings who dwell there will come to know me, welcome me and will want our little ecosystem to thrive.

I would love to hear from those of you that grow your own edibles and hope that we can share and learn together as the season progresses.  Perhaps by weaving plans and dreams of spring we can pass these last, glittering winter months with cozy ease as we prepare for next year’s bounty. 

I leave you with a bit of music to feed your seed dreams…enjoy!:  \”Suvetar, Goddess of Spring\” by Gjallarhorn

What's in my orange juice?

The more I read about the everyday foods I find in the grocery store, the more I’m surprised. Boston.com interviews Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed, and it turns out even simple “not from concentrate” orange juice is anything but:

In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time.