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Last Winter’s brutal cold killed nearly all of my Spring camellia buds, but it looks as if I’m going to have quite a crop of Autumn camellias.
Today was chilly and wet here in the Magical MidAtlantic. The top of my euonymous bush is bright red. There’s no denying it; it’s Autumn. I spent the day getting out the Samhein decorations. It’s the one holiday for which I really, really decorate.
Landscape Guy and I are working at getting the garden put to bed, painting before Winter comes, plotting for next year.
It’s time to slow down, become introspective, give ourselves a chance to compost, think, dream. I think sometimes that everything in our culture works to prevent us from doing these things. If we aren’t being pushed to do, do, do, do, do, do, do, we’re being offered one form of mind-numbing entertainment after another. Isn’t there a reality show on tv or an electronic game on the console? Ivo Dominguez talks about how the overculture encourages us to fall under the enchantment of forgetfulness — how it tries to make us forget that everything is connected. It’s a pervasive spell and one that slips up on us stealthily and steadily.
And, so, it can be radical work, the work of an activist, to refuse to go along, to insist upon allowing our bodies and our spirits to follow the natural cycle of the Wheel of the Year.
Make a cup of tea. Light a candle. Sit with your journal, or your paints, or your knitting needles. Center. Ground. Listen.
Picture found here.
Slipping in between trees.
Naked soles are hurt upon stones, by needles, the cold.
Yet, there is an old dance done between bare feet and exposed roots.
The roots come up for air.
The feet move over bark.
One goes slow and one goes fast.
They both live in the forest.
The twelve dancing princesses were never really here to dance.
Bob, over at Eschaton, alerted me to this amazing video.
One of the facts of life is that some of us — well-educated, familiar with the law, relatively well-to-do, unafraid of the police — have a lot of privilege to throw around. And some of us — old, African American handymen who do odd jobs in upscale neighborhoods — not so much. And in between are the police officers, able to throw their weight around when dealing with old handymen but intimidated by women whose racial, financial, and legal backgrounds equip them to demand what address the police are looking for, to tell them that just because a man is black doesn’t make him a burglar, and to order the police to go find the correct address. (In the end, it seems to be the case that police were called to the neighborhood because a wealthy homeowner punched in the wrong security code. Which probably doesn’t make the handyman feel much better about being accosted. We all know that a white teen carrying a gym bag through the same neighborhood wouldn’t have been stopped.)
This is an inspiring use of privilege to make things better. Those of us who have it must become better at using it. I’d like to think I’d be this brave, this calm, this articulate (esp. in my nightgown and jacket). We can spend all day long regretting how our status privileges us. But that won’t change anything. Storming out in our nightgowns, challenging authority, and defending someone in need seems like a better solution to me.
I love the moment when the white attorney grabs the black man’s hand and says, “Come on, Dennis, you can go. Come on, you’re coming with me.”
I don’t know this woman, but she’s one of my heras.
Picture found here.
Highway 15, Central Virginia
~ Hecate Demetersdatter
And Autumn after Autumn,
Virginia’s seeds keep falling
On this red clay.
On this clay made red by iron,
On this iron that ruddies my blood,
On this clay that pentacles the hematite moving through my veins.
First Peoples track turkeys
and sedum falls on clay.
Englishmen rave in Jamestown,
and jimson weed falls on clay.
Settlers light out for the Blue Ridge,
and ragweed falls on clay.
Slaves follow Miss Harriet through bogswamps,
and toadflax falls on clay.
Vultures eat dead deer.
Chipmunks fill their cheeks with seeds.
Raccoons wash paw paws in sleepy creeks.
Mushrooms decay into duff.
As blue and grey collide, brother spilling brother’s blood,
asters, white and blue, fall on clay.
(Iron red blood drips onto iron red clay. One thing becomes another, in the Mother, in the Mother. Perhaps when a thousand Autumns pass, we’ll know what this became. It’s clear we’re still processing this, still working out the story.)
As sharecroppers trade scrip for flour and coffee,
scarlet magnolia seeds fall on clay.
As cotton is king and ragtime plays,
horsenettle falls on clay.
Women make sausage gravy, die in bloody births, wring chickens’ necks, make quilts, and ostracize each other, as colonized people do.
Children skip stones.
Old people eat grits inside log cabins made close with smoke.
Knights of the KKK burn crosses.
As boys go off to die for Duke Ferdinand,
Autumn camellia seeds fall on clay.
As radios play jazz,
withered poke berries fall on clay.
As we all get rich on stocks,
broomsedge seeds fall on clay.
Miz Holiday’s strange fruit drops to the ground and is buried under clay.
The WPA builds damns, cuts roads, seeds fish.
The black diaspora swells. New York. Baltimore. Chicago. Detroit.
Bottle trees sprout outside respectable homes.
Tobacco money grows colleges and gardens.
Segregated drinking fountains stain the land.
Separate is proposed as a synonym for equal.
No one believes it.
Weeds grow along the liminal space between pavement and pine forest.
Old women gather cool plantain leaves, ripe blackberries, and the birth control of Queen Anne’s seeds.
Chicory flowers escape from Monticello and bloom blue across the state.
Foxtail and goosegrass feed the birds.
And Virginia’s clay absorbs them all.
Each Autumn, there is a new harvest.
We drive past, drunk on dappled sunlight and shadow, in love with every weed we see. We, too, are made of this harvest. We, too, will fall on clay.