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"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them."  ~A. A. Milne

Photo by Jenna Filipkowski


Turkey Day

Or Should It Be "Corn Day"?

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "I admit, I am very pro-Thanksgiving.  What's not to like?  On what other holiday can we get together with family, spare a turkey life, eat til we scream, and avoid pesky rituals like annoyingly themed canned music at the mall?  You don't have to buy presents, sing special songs, or endure (quite as much) media blitz—mainly because Thanksgiving has been pretty much lost in the shuffle towards Christmas, in fact, nearly trampled underfoot by Santa and Rudolph as merchants zealously push to get you prepared for December 25th, starting around November 15th.  So Thanksgiving is blessedly quiet, a time reserved for the religious to be as religious as they like, and others to enjoy without hoopla.

     Thanksgiving for most Americans equals two days off work, some once-a-year great chow, maybe a football game steaming on the screen of your choice, and a good sound snooze.  Now that's tradition.

     For these reasons, Thanksgiving could be considered the best American holiday.  And it could be thought of as our first international day of reconciliation and multi-cultural interaction.

     Most of us know, or think we do, the origins of the day.  But the facts are murkier than They would have us to believe.  What you were taught in third grade, when you dressed up in that brown paper hat or that paper feather headdress, may be, well, slightly fictionalized." 



Woodland Traces

By Mary C. Trejo


     "I am driving eastward through the American heartland, happy with anticipation of the trip home, happy with the journey itself.  Of course, I love to travel, have always loved it since early childhood, when for months at a time travel inevitably meant the Saturday trip to town, a custom my family shared with all the other farm families in the Ozark mountains.  For me, the simple act of going somewhere was a powerful treat, to be enjoyed in its moment and replayed as long as the fixative of memory held, for I was a contemplative child, nurtured by rural silences as well as by the richness of rural life.

     To be the only child for ten or so miles in any direction meant long, slow stretches of time that were entirely my own, time to know—with all five senses—the white wooden house, the yard with its peony beds and tall oaks, the redolent barn lot, then the scented open fields, and always, the woods; the old mountains.  I knew all these places and their vivid sensory signatures with the secure and permanent intimacy of a native, one who belongs.  After all, generations of my kin had lived in the same house, had worked the same farmland, had traveled through the same worn mountains, tracing their way along the rocky backs of the ridges." 



I’m From the Universe, and I’m Here to Help

Regretting Rethinking Everything

By Sheri Dixon


     "In Nature, animals TEACH their young how to eat, how to act, how to care for their physical selves, how to be a part of the family group. Children need to LEARN how to act, eat, bathe, play together—they DON'T automatically know that stuff.  Children need to know that they're not the center of the universe—that while yes, they are each as special as Christmas and unique as snowflakes, so is every other child and that needs to be respected.  They need to understand that their bodies need certain foods to stay healthy and a certain amount of sleep to be well and they need to know you love them enough to MAKE them take the steps to be good citizens, healthy people, and good friends.

     In Nature, animals know where their young are at all times because the world is a dangerous place if you're small, and helpless, and don't understand that THERE'S A FREAKIN' INTERSTATE HIGHWAY RIGHT NEXT TO THE RESORT.  Children aren't stupid.  They are fully aware that they are smaller than adults; they don't have car keys, checkbooks or other things to facilitate being Fully in Control of their destiny.  They need to know—NEED TO KNOW—that the adults closest to them ARE there and they know where they are and are available to help them and keep them safe from the world, from each other, from themselves.

     There were children as young as three wandering around untended—up and down the hallways and flights of stairs, outside (did I mention the INTERSTATE HIGHWAY?), even running around the pool.  The pool with no lifeguard on duty.  This may have been freeing for the children and their parents, but it gave this ol’ momma heart palpitations and I’m not kidding."



Honey Health

Using Honey in Home Remedies, Baking, and Skin Care

By Karyn Sweet


     "Dogs may have a challenger when it comes to the 'Man's Best Friend' Award.  Honeybees pollinate eighty percent of the fruit, vegetable, and seed crops in the United States.  In addition, they are the only insects that produce a food that humans eat.  Honey, which the bees have been producing for 150 million years, contains all of the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.  And if that (in addition to its delicious taste) wasn't enough, honey provides us with a myriad of health benefits and can be used in home remedies, baking, and beauty recipes. ...

     Honey truly is a gift from Nature.  It helps to ease our physical sufferings and  brings nourishment and beauty to our bodies.  But keep in mind that it takes 556 worker bees and 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey.  In fact, the average bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.  And this is on a good day when the hive isn't dealing with pesticides, Colony Collapse Disorder, and lack of forage.  So when you enjoy that sweet taste on your tongue, please remember to send out a thank you to the honeybees."



Rescuing Rural Churches

By Magdalena Perks


     "Most church-goers would agree that the small church has to be more than a place to sit for an hour on Sunday.  It is meant to be more than building or a meeting place, or even a gathering of like-minded people; the church has a mission to the world, no matter how small the local gathering may be.

     But small churches do need to close, more often than desired.  No minister can be found, or the local population cannot afford to maintain the building.  Isolated buildings may be sold for less than market value; some may be transferred to new ownership for almost nothing.

     Churches are interesting structures in themselves, especially the older ones of a century or more.  They are usually timber frame, open to the roof, big spaces for the overall dimensions of the building.  Steeples provide a panoramic view of the countryside, if access is still possible.  Anyone who has spent much time in a country church has daydreamed of the possibilities of using such a space."



Born to be Wild

North American Wild Turkeys

By Victoria Varga


     "Although these wild birds were prolific and abundant in the early pioneer days of North America, the intensive clearing and settling of woodlands during the 1800’s resulted in a decline and eradication of these beautiful birds in the United States altogether, and the last sighting of a Wild Turkey in that century, was in 1844 in the southwestern portion of New York State.  And for over one hundred years after that time, these birds were elusive and their numbers considered to be very low in all of the Eastern seaboard states where they had once been in such abundance.

     By 1957, US conservationists began relocating breeding stock of Wild Turkeys into most states capable of sustaining and proliferating a Wild Turkey populous.  The result of this program was an extremely successful story in the field of wildlife conservation.  Wild turkey populations increased dramatically, and in the state of New York alone, turkey populations have arisen from only a mere 2000 in 1959, to over 65,000 in 1990.  There were an estimated 5 million Wild Turkeys in the whole of North America at that time as well.

     Although these interesting fowl are smaller than our commercially raised Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys in North America, their meat is similar, and those raised in a domestic environment and eat the same food as a commercially raised bird, will undoubtedly taste identical."




The most famous person you never heard of.

By Neil Shelton


     "I'd like to introduce you to an extraordinary life, that of the pleasant- looking young woman in the portrait above.

     On the one hand, I could tell you that much of her life was quite commonplace, at least for someone born in 1800 as she was, but in other respects, her time on earth was so unusual that one would be hard-pressed to name an equal.

     But first, in order to tell you who she is, it is of necessity that I tell you about her family.

     Her father, John Johnston, was born into a rather well-to-do Scotch-Irish family in the north of Ireland in 1762.  One of his cousins was a Catholic bishop, another a member of Parliament who eventually became Attorney General of Ireland.

     John sought his fortune by other means.  Clearly robust and independent, he  traveled in 1790 to Canada and the United States then, by canoe to Mackinac Island in what is now Michigan to become a fur trader.

     There he met her mother, a young woman of the Ojibwa tribe whose name was Ozhaguscodaywayquay, which means 'woman of the green prairie' and whose father, Waubojeeg, was an extremely notable chieftain of the Ojibwa in the area to the north of, and including what we now call the Great Lakes.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that she was an Indian princess."



Prospering Together

Cooperation, Not Competition

By Jenny Flores


     "Economic success does not need to be at odds with physical, mental, and spiritual principles of prosperity.  If I am successful at my job at the expense of my loved ones, I don't consider that a success.  If I make a lot of money at a job I find meaningless, I am not living the good life.  If I have everything I need and want but am oblivious to, or worse, contributing to, the suffering of my neighbors, I am not prosperous.  Four things are required to be successful and prosperous.  First, personal relationships must take priority over possessions.  Second, you must have meaningful work that you feel passionate about.  Third, you must have access to opportunities.  And fourth, you must participate in a vibrant, thriving community.

     As homesteaders we have created a life that is personally satisfying.  Unfortunately, many in our communities feel trapped in a life that is difficult and unsatisfying.  We model an alternative simply by living our life on our terms, according to our values.  But there are other, more tangible, things we can do to help those in our communities create and live out their own definition of success.

     You can call it the creative, the sharing, or the solidarity economy.  Whatever you call it, it accomplishes all four of the requirements for success.  It focuses on developing personal relationships over accumulating possessions.  It values work, both yours and the work of others.  It allows for limitless opportunities, and the means to act on them.  And a vibrant, thriving community is the natural result."




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