So my spirituality is odd, and a lot of it focuses on the mystical experiences I have whenever I see sunlight on leaves and slip deep into the magical moments of photosynthesis.
And although I live on land without any American Chestnuts, those trees keep calling to me. There are still chestnut roots, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them that keep coming up in our forests. But the blight attacks the shoots and kills them back to the ground. Over and over and over again, every year, the Giants of the Forest are dying back to their roots and coming back up again. They love us and they love this land base so much that they keep coming up.
They come almost every night into my dreams, they show up in my morning meditations, they protrude into my waking hours, and they especially talk to me when I am, as I was today, out gardening on my tiny Bit of Earth, my plot of red Virginia clay. Railroad cars full of them were sold from Appalachia to the north. They were traded for shoes, or sugar, or salt, or coffee, or the other things that people from Appalachia had to get from off the mountains. Going to gather them was a rite of passage into adulthood: to go into the Black Mountains in the Fall of the year to gather chestnuts. You turned right towards the Virginia line and made camp, gathered the chestnuts, and then went back, up towards the Cumberland, and then on home. The chestnut blight struck just as the banksters stuck America via the Depression. No more cash crop, no more feed for your cash crops, no more chestnuts to feed your family.
Something in the soil protected the roots. You can believe in fairies or mycelia. I’m nor sure I know the difference, but that’s just me and I’m a foolish old woman.
I know a special American chestnut tree, growing low on the slopes of the Appalachians. I’ve been doing magic there with a Druid for a few years and I’m going back there, soon, this weekend or next.
Those trees made enough wood to build your cradle, your home, and your coffin. They grew so fast that they would feed pigs, cattle, people, and squirrels within a few years. They populated Appalachia’s forests. They made the most amazing honey. None of us have ever tasted that honey, chestnut honey, and few of us ever will. But I have hopes for my great, great, great, great, great granddaughters.