Seedy Saturday

Answering the call to blog and cup of tea in hand (thanks for your comments) I sit here with you after a day at Seedy Saturday, inspired by a new inquiry.  Read down for a new card and question to live and love in the coming days.

When I told my mother in Ontario on the phone last night I was going to “Seedy Saturday” today she inquired “what’s that?” with a strange disdain in her voice.

I realized that only a few years ago, I too, was ignorant of this day, now held by various grass-roots organizations world-wide (watch for one in your area soon!) I first heard of Seedy Saturday when a new friend here on the Sunshine Coast asked if I was going?  My first thought was what “underground, shady experience” is she inviting me to?   After all, she, a young woman in her seventies had only the week before, in response to my “what are you up to today?” answered “I’m in bed reading a dirty book.”           “Oh” I replied.

The book she was referring to was “Dirt, The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth” by William Bryant Logan, which she soon shared with me, and I too found myself under the covers devouring his poetic and prolific inquiry into the “most mysterious place on earth, right beneath our feet” and fingertips.

As my ongoing interest and inquiry in life is how can we deeply land into this precious experience of human life on planet earth for the short time we are here, the book offered food for my hungry mind. However nothing has quite served my embodiment like being earthed here on this acreage, horse shit to shovel and compost daily, wood to chop and carry, garden beds full of dirt to “raise” and recently – two colonies of bees to listen to and tend.

I sometimes say i am “stewarding land” however in truth the land is stewarding me. When we arrived here on this little bit of paradise, and unearthed eight raised garden beds from the grass and weeds that had overtaken them through years of neglect, john and I looked at each other blankly and said “whose going to use these?” Neither of us had a green thumb for food growing and no models in our lineage – at least on my part, to draw from. As we stared into the large waiting containers we had bumped into with the rented industrial weed eater I felt a cry from these beds to “be used.” Grow our own food?  I thought.  Couldn’t I just keep buying it at the farmer’s market or organic food store?

We had always cared about eating organic and live, nourishing food, however growing it was an entirely different animal? On a trip to the health food store I found a book screaming on the counter to be used.  Gardening for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler. On the wave of these cries I picked up a newsletter at the Gumboot Cafe by the One Straw Society. www.onestraw.ca  Then, this invitation to Seedy Saturday.  The earth was speaking loud and clear.

Seedy Saturday is a time when communities come together to share seeds, stories, garden talk and make sure we have all come out from under winter’s dark blanket in tact.  Eyes twinkle with the light of spring’s magic, and talk of the green ones we will plant and eat in the coming year fill the space with a buzz almost stronger than the bees in summer. Even if the sun isn’t shining, vitamin D is in the air.

Today, at the Robert’s Creek Hall, the center space dedicated to the exchange of seeds for folks who have some to share, and those who are looking for additions to their heritage seed collection, was alive with the anticipation of this part of the cycle of the year.  I had a flash of my first experience of Seedy Saturday, now eight years ago, and how alien I felt in the buzz of a foreign language and vibrant exchanges I heard taking place.  I remember standing beside a woman purchasing a huge bag of stinging nettles, ecstatic that they were ripe for the picking.  Stinging nettles?????  Isn’t that a weed, something you want to avoid? stay far away from?

Memories of the Ecuadorian rainforest and a medicine man brushing my entire body with the prickly green leaves sent a cringe through my skin. “Your going to eat them?” I asked her tentatively.  “Yes!” she exclaimed, “the best spring tonic there is.”  “Here is a recipe” the farmer offered me a sheet of paper with “Nettle Spring Tonic” typed on the top.

I was feeling listless, disoriented in my new surround, awkward among these green men and women, and her bright verdant eyes sparkled with some embodied wisdom I did not know.  I purchased a bag and returned home to stir fry them for dinner.  John was not impressed, but after tasting them smothered in garlic and butter and cooked long enough to deter the sting, he managed to agree they were “okay.”

I have been a “spring tonic” (see recipe below) junky for many years now and await the pulsing bright magical leaves of nettles to emerge from the patch I planted here some years ago. As the land stewards me, she calls me to plant more indigenous species, things that she knows in her belly grow easily and naturally here,  food and herbs that are medicines, green ones our bodies recognize and metabolize with ease.

The wild brightness is awakening behind my own eyes these days. I am remembering a poem I wrote after that first year of eating the “wild green shoots of spring” and other wild ones we now fondly call our “yard salads.”

Dare to eat

the wild green

shoots of spring

Nettles, chickweed, dandelions

and other eager volunteers.

Yes,

your hair

will grow long and knotty

every          where.

Yes,

inside you

the green ones

will

re-arrange

the

civil

eyes

and

ations

you have digested.

Yes,

the

wild        her       ness

will return

Well?

Do you dare?

Something wild and untamed continues to return in me as I eat of and  listen to this land. A “faint heart” grows stronger and the voice of the earth sings songs of longing and loss into my listening ears. My “civil eyes” are becoming uncivilized.

Many indigenous cultures believe that not only are we called to specific places by something within us longing for the particular medicine of that part of the earth, but that the land herself calls each of us to her where she wants us to listen and answer her cries, hear her songs and sing them.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s students once asked him “what do we most need to do at this time?”

to which he answered, “Hear within ourself the sound of the earth crying.”

As I continue to be stewarded here by this land answering her cries and singing her songs,  I wonder:

How are you answering the cries of the earth?

How are you answering the cries of the earth?

May this be an inquiry for you in the days to come.  I would love to hear of your own stories of answering her cries.

Spring Tonic Nettle Soup

3 tbsps butter or olive oil

2 leeks, cut into rounds

1/2 pound wild nettle tops

1 quart water

1 bouquet of any or all of bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and sage (all easy to grow – even by me!)

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup cream of half and half (organic of course!)

salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Saute leeks in butter or olive oil. Add water and bring to a boil.  Add the nettles and the herbs and cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until the nettles are very soft. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the cream or half and half.  Remove the herbs from the soup and puree using a food processor, blender or hand blender. Add salt and pepper.  Take a ladleful of soup and stir it into the egg mixture.  Return the egg nettle mixture to the soup and stir gently over very low heat (do not let it boil again). Add nutmeg and more salt till savoury.

May the wild her ness return!

living and loving the questions, penny

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2 Responses to Seedy Saturday

  1. Wow, I love reading your blog, Penny! Love listening to you and your heart speak. Funny, my sister, Jen just brought me a bag of nettles last week to cook in soup 🙂 Lately, I’ve been reading up on medicinal herbs and essential oils, and have been making my own skin care stuff. I am leaving for the Philippines this tuesday. I am so excited! Jen and I have been researching medicinal herbs indigenous to the Philippines. There are hundreds! We plan to experiment and make our own skin care products that do not have any chemicals that harm our bodies or the earth.
    My mom has quite the green thumb. They grow a lot of their foods up in the Sierra Madre (Mother’s Mountain), and both my parents have been studying herbology as well as botany for the last few years. I can’t wait to be with them!
    Thank you again for your wisdom. I am still going to get some of my sisters together to gather at your Paradise found! Big LOVE to you!

  2. Alain Bergeron says:

    Penny ! Ahhhhhhh nettles haha. Yes I remember who was probably buying a pound of nettles from me at the seedy Saturday years back and you standing by… Such good memories of uncovering that knowledge and bringing it to ‘action’ in real life market situation. Now you will find nettles in supermarket in Vancouver this Spring ! And we are all the better for it !
    Through my years of cooperation with Divine Mother Earth as a market gardener, i did not hear her cried once. Only a constant unmistakeable Will and deep desire to co-create with us toppled with a promise of deep satisfaction and being cared for at all levels
    Lets make a garden with the Earth !
    Alain Bergeron (Nam Hari)
    The promised land farm

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