Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book “Braiding Sweetgrass” (2013 Milkweed Editions, Canada) incorporates indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge to teach us about the world of plants. Her writing is poetic and like a prayer or chant, gently guides the reader through her prophetic thought. In the chapter called ‘Three Sisters’ Robin explains the relationship of beans, corn and squash as they grow together in the garden. When the English came to the New World they were perplexed by the native’s tendency to grow their plants in groupings instead of rows. As it turned out these groupings were based on the native’s experience that together, plants such as beans, corn and squash, flourish in a symbiotic relationship, and engage and share nutrients with their roots in the soil. Their reciprocal communication evolves naturally once their seeds grow to form vertical foliage, and flowers and fruits. They eventually not only give to each other but to the planter who inserted them in the earth to begin with. As an example, plants need nitrogen to grow and the nitrogen provided by the air isn’t enough so beans, characteristic of legumes, reaching into the sky, have the ability to draw nitrogen down into the soil benefitting not only them but the corn and squash that share their space. The beauty of the Three Sisters, represented in color by green for beans, yellow for corn and orange for squash is also founded in a native legend which describes how when the people were dying of hunger three beautiful women came to visit the village in colored garb. Symbolically they represented the three plants that eventually fed the people and saved them from famine. Kimmerer goes on to explain that each of the vegetables alone does not provide the necessary nutrients for a complete meal, but when eaten together, provide the perfect balance of vitamins and nutrients needed for a balanced diet. Kimmerer’s writing exudes positivity and the virtue of Simplicity. In a prior chapter called “Epiphany in the Beans’ she begins with a quote: It came to me while picking beans, the secret of happiness. I realized from this quote that our everyday living entangles us in rushing around and overthinking, when if we would just slow down we can find the joy in the simple things. This may be getting off track a tad but the same idea came to me when I was at the grocery store packing my groceries. Feeling at peace with myself, I looked up at the cashier and said to her: “This is going to sound crazy to you but I really like to pack groceries.” She agreed it was a mindless task. Anyway, back to topic, the next time I go to the store I will be sure to load up on scrumptious greens beans, yellow corn, and orange squash to bring home for my next feast. In the meantime I shall carry on my reading of “Braiding Sweetgrass” as I know it’s bound to be filled with more, and greater wisdom.
As All Hallows’ Eve Draws Near
Halloween icons pop up all over the land – Witches with broomsticks, tales of woe on tombstones, sprinkle the neigborhood yards. Goblins dressed in white, and orange pumpkins delight our senses, as All Hallows’ Eve draws near. Boo!!
Lucinda C died February 8, 1862 at 53 years of age. She was the wife of Sheldon Turner. The name comes from latin and means light. Miguel de Cervantes created a character in Don Quijote, named “Lucinda.”
Lesson in Fishing
When my son was a little boy, I thought I had to teach him how to fish, because every boy needs to know this. I knew nothing about the sport, but I went out anyway, and bought fishing equipment for our next big camping trip. Upon arrival, at dusk, in Maine somewhere, out to the dock we went. With his nifty fishing hat, dungaree vest, and fishing poll in hand, I told him to stand at the end of the dock, and cast the line. The next thing I knew, he had fallen into the lake, not sure how. I hope he learned a lesson, and that this is not the last time, he will ever fish.