Archives for category: ritual

today was one of those days where i don’t feel i got much done at all, but apparently i did because i’m exhausted.

to do lists are the bane of my existence.  but this is today’s done list:

1. hike the hill with kenai (the dog)

2. bring in a couple loads of wood for the woodstove

3. drive two hours to take my son to his sixth flight lesson

4. read two books while waiting (yes, i do read this fast)

5. iron out part of a bad banking issue

6. get my weekly liver meal in

7. drive two hours back

8. get cat food

9. go to zumba

10. cook cheesey eggs for a five year old

11. brush my teeth before bed (this one gets skipped more than i want to admit!)

12. have my tea

13. do a blog entry

not the most riveting writing i’ve ever done, but it appeases that little critic inside me that needs proof of accomplishment to be silently smug.


i walk barefoot every day.  since i was a little girl, i’ve had claustrophobic feet.  as a dancer in my teens, i spent hours in toe shoes.  that seems incomprehensible to me now, but that is what passion does for a person.  of course, i still love (LOVE) to dance but i’m so glad that i didn’t go down the classical route and have to wear those things for twenty years.

where was i?

oh, yeah.  claustrophobic feet.  there was a spell when the only closed in shoes i wanted to wear were a lavender pair of kangaroos with velcro enclosure.  now, i wear my uggs because my toes can spread apart in the shearling and get winter boots 1/2 size larger than i safely should.  but, barefoot is my favorite.

there’s been the wave lately that endorses all the health benefits of “barefooting” but more and more, i feel that being natural in one’s skin, being as animal as possible is so common sense that the “health benefit discoveries” will just pile up.  i’m kicking myself because i don’t remember where i read this, but my favorite definition of discovery is a white guy finding something that was already there.

and, yes, even though it is 17 degrees fahrenheit/8 celsius, i get some outdoor barefoot time in.  invigorating?  understatement.

p.s. that's henna, not frostbite.

my cousin and i are a lot alike.  we look alike-well, mostly.  she’s the long, tall, thin version of me and i’m her with curves to spare and 8 inches taken off the top.  personality wise, we are both pretty wild.  each in our own way, but untamed we are.

she’s always fun to hang out with because where i love to talk about all these really cool ideas, she’s the one with the follow through.

i introduced her to this book a few months ago.  i’ve yet to make a recipe from it, but she’s done at least three or four by herself.  this weekend i spent with her, she decided it was time to follow yet another one.  dandelion wine!!!!!

when i was a little girl, i went outside because it was there. (thank yougeorge mallory!)  as i got older and became more of an indoor pet, i needed a siren call.  herbs were it.  they were what got me back outside to forage, play, seek out the green mysteries.  i’ve made plenty of tinctures and oils, but wine?  not yet.

here’s what you’ll need to make five gallons of wine: (five gallons????? what do you take me for wild woman, a lush?  nope.  but this shite is tasty and it takes a year to make and you won’t be drinking alone.  this is for sure a community celebration kind of thing-both in the making and the tasting.)

a SHIT TON of dandelions-2 cups of blossoms per gallon.  (we-and by we i don’t mean me-picked 10 tightly packed cups worth of blossoms to make….FIVE.  GALLONS.)

golden raisins (1 lb per gallon)

oranges/lemons (2 each per gallon)

sugar (2 lbs per gallon)

a packet of wine yeast (we used champagne yeast)

a five gallon crock or clean plastic bucket

car boy and air valve (or go old school, use empty apple cider gallons gleaned from your healthy food store and use either a balloon or one of those condoms that you’ve been meaning to use cuz you bought it in such an optimistic moment…i digress)

a bunch of willing kids (i think this may be the most important ingredient.  my cousin and i did a lot of talking and giggling about who knows what in her kitchen while our collective four kids were off in a field picking dandelions.)

and several liters worth of patience.

you can get the book or do a google search to find instructions for the specific steps or this will be the longest. blog. entry. ever.

i will touch on the highlights.

when both of our families, totaling 8, were sitting out of the porch making up songs and BAD raps while the sun set around us as we freed the yellow blossoms from the green sepals.  her daughter, my comedic soul mate (the one person in this world who may ACTUALLY be funnier than me!) figured out a fantastic twist and pull method that decreased the frustration level of this task by a factor of 15.

discovering that those darn kids had actually picked EXACTLY enough for our recipe.  like to the blossom.  PRECISELY ten cups of bright yellow flowers.

washing the antique five gallon earthen-ware crock that my cousin scored from her mother-in-law.  (all i ever scored from mine was a bad taste in my mouth for mother-in-laws.)

breathing in the aroma of 10 cups of dandelion blossoms, orange juice, lemon juice and raisins.  it’s like nothing else i’d ever smelled but close to so many things.  it is almost like mown grass.  it is almost like a new flower.  it is almost like candy.  yet, it is like none of these things.

adding sugar.  and then more sugar.  and then more sugar.

everyone in the house having to stir the slush mess with the huge wooden paddle, obsessively.  even my cousin-in-law, all 6’2 mountain man of hisself.

two days into the fermentation, i nickname the crock the “pot o’rot”.

watching the past three episodes of glee with my little cousin and turning the sound down during the commercials to gush about puck’s hotness.  in the pauses, we would hear the pot o’rot gurgle as the yeast feed and bubble.

here’s the basic procedure in pictures:

blossoms, peels, and raisins. yep, we ran out of the goldens.

introducing the white death-meant for the consumption of yeast and yeast only, kids.

the yinnish yanginess of it all.

squeals the sugar, "i'm melting, i'm melting." (sorry...too easy.)

first stir of millions.

these little buggers will eat the sugar and we get wine. what a tradeoff, suckers!

full crock

two days later-notice the way that the pot o' rot seems much fuller (it's all the yeast farts!) i had a better pic but couldn't resist the lurking kid.

this project is the best of the wild world.  lots of outside time, using an ingredient that most people pour pesticides onto (suckers!), laughter on top of giggles layered with guffaws, community, and, at the end of it all, shifted consciousness, in this case, wine.

culture, in our day to day usage of the term, rises up from the concept of cultivation.  focused cultivation of the land began about 10,000 years ago (ish).  this time is also known as the rise of civilization.  it is also the rise of chronic “lifetsyle” diseases (things like diabetes, cancer, auto-immune conditions) and the rampant subjugation of women.

every living thing can be said to have a natural culture.  when we think of dogs, their cultural greeting is to sniff each other’s butts.  when we think of elephants, their cultural set up is maternal.  when we think of sharks, they are more of a loner, hunting culture.  gorillas have great table manners and japanese macaques like bathing in hot water.

people also have a “natural” culture: we care for our young, we like to eat together, we communicate.  these things are (sorry for this scientifically inaccurate term) universal.

there is also culture that is born out of place and imagination. there is a difference between the shelters that the massai build and those that the japanese do.  there is a difference between the sounds that we use to communicate in france and in china.  there is a difference between the way that we congregate for a meal in the united states of america and haiti.  our great hubris and downfall is mistaking the local culture for universal human culture.  we get in big trouble because we think that the way we do things with local culture is the way all people should do it.  it makes no sense to dress like an inuit in papua new guinea.  it makes no sense to consume like an midwestern american….well, ever.

however, there are things that make us human and these are the things that we need to indulge in frequently in order to be wild.  these are the things that make us the human animal:

1. we are creative

2. we are happier when we spend time barefoot outside (check out this book and don’t be as put off by the cheese tastic ness of the title as i initially was)

3. we are healthier when we eat the way we evolved to eat

4. we need each other

5. we are meant to move

6. we are wired to experience new things

7. we are problem-solvers

8. we need lots of sleep

9. we will take adaptive responses and become sick if we expose ourselves too long to things that, in nature, are meant to be acute exposure

10. we are emotional

11. we play

12. we like rituals

13. we are curious

if you want a really great list of ways to be wild, check this out.

these are my first thoughts and my first list about what the human animal is like intrinsically.  i’d like to hear your thoughts about what we all have in common that aren’t dictated by our local culture.