On the full moon in June the all-black-man-crew of Earth-Bound Building arrived at Earthseed Land Collective. With them they brought a trailer full of timber framing, equipment and supplies. Enough to create a solid foundation for a 16×32 outdoor learning center just below the fire circle that has held so much for us in the last 4 years of being on this land.
After 3 long days of work, they assembled a solid wood structure, an edifice of courage one could say—for what they have endured as black men in a society that has not necessarily invested in their thriving. Together they defied the forces that have threatened to disconnect them from their inherent divinity. Reconnecting them with their ability to create and to see the beauty of potential to its natural end point.
Not that it was easy, and no one ever said it would be. The amount of physical labor invested was not for the faint of heart. The equations and precision required would leave those preferring simple calculations by the wayside. These men understood viscerally that what they were doing had implications far beyond them, and they brought the rigor to match.
Equally important was that amidst all of the hard work there was laughter, appreciation and celebration. We know that this too is how we honor the legacy of our ancestors. That we come to this work by our own choosing, under our own terms, and with a lightness of heart that would make them proud. Yes, we are the realization of so many compounded dreams.
It is essential to capture this moment. It is imperative to tell our own stories. As we effort to decolonize our spirits and our imaginations. In attempts to remember how very powerful and capable we are. May all our children grow up in a world where they are surrounded by enduring examples of the magnificence of black and brown people.
As I walked my daily path in the woods yesterday and came upon my favorite bend in the creek, I was stopped in my tracks by your presence.
You see, I’ve been a great admirer of yours for many years. Your exquisite grace, the slow beats of your very broad wings, your long purposeful beak and winding neck. It seems the whole world pauses to marvel at your beauty when you depart from the earth into the sky.
The day we encountered each other, we were both taken by surprise. But you noticed me before I noticed you. In that moment you took flight, emerging from the shallow creek into the nearby treetop, just far enough to listen in as I shared some words of awe and admiration:
Great Blue Heron, you have been an essential connector for me and the more than human world. When I moved back to North Carolina in 2004 after having spent 15 glorious months in the wide open spaces of Sedona, AZ I felt claustrophobic with all of the tall greenness of this state. I didn’t know if I would find the divine as easily as I had in the high desert, with its dramatic red rocks and bright blue sky.
And then I found you.
Your beauty emboldened me to spend more time near the river, in the woods, learning to be quiet and observant so as to receive the many gifts the natural world has to offer.
For this I will always be grateful.
Thank you for choosing Earthseed as a resting place along your path. Thank you for allowing me a moment in time to share all of this with you. Thank you for continuing to inspire and bless my existence with your marvelous ways.
May we all learn to glide, swoop and soar through life as gracefully as you. With gratitude and respect, ~Zulayka
Ardea Herodias: Our most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in numbers across the state since about 1980. In fact, it was very poorly known as a breeding species as late as the 1970’s, with nesting colonies few and far between, mainly in remote swamps. However, with the great increase in beaver ponds, and a smaller increase in reservoirs and other man-made lakes and ponds, Great Blues have taken advantage of these new freshwater wetlands. Birds now nest in most of our counties away from the mountains, and nesting colonies are often easily visible around the upper ends of reservoirs and at beaver ponds. The species forages mainly at freshwater ponds, lakes, and streams; however, they also feed in brackish waters, especially at coastal impoundments, and rarely in salt water. Unlike most other waders, the Great Blue shuns nesting on coastal islands with other herons, egrets, and ibises. Instead, birds nest mostly by themselves, or with Great Egrets and/or Anhingas, with nests placed mainly in living trees — almost always in standing water — to deter predators.
Reconnecting with Ourselves, Each Other, and This Land
I come here to listen, to nestle in the curve of the roots in a soft hollow of pine needles, to lean my bones against the column of white pine, to turn off the voice in my head until I can hear the voices outside it: the shhhh of wind in needles, water trickling over rock, nuthatch tapping, chipmunks digging, beechnut falling, mosquito in my ear and something more—something that is not me, for which we have no language, the wordless being of others in which we are never alone. After the drumbeat of my mother’s heart, this was my first language. —–Robin Wall Kimmerer, from Learning the Grammar of Animacy
Today we honored the Winter Solstice at Earthseed by spending some intentional time listening: to ourselves, each other and this land. In a society that is so chock-full of noise, where we spend so much time in front of THIS screen, taking moments of pause, where we can actually listen carefully, become precious gifts,
We walked intentionally. We sat quietly on the forest floor. We listened. We reconnected with our breath. We heard each other clearer.
We remembered that when we cut through all of the clutter and chatter what is REALLY most important, is our ability to love ourselves and love each other. If we don’t get that right, then all the rest seems meaningless and empty. As we mark the end of another exhilaratingly beautiful and excruciatingly heartbreaking year, may we continue to grow our relationships stronger, rooted evermore deeply in the practice of love.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for the support, encouragement and inspiration you’ve offered along the way.
Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.
We are thankful to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she will continue to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. Now our minds are one.
—The opening paragraphs of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else. The actual wording of the Thanksgiving Address varies with the speaker. This text is the widely publicized version of John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993.
Today, many people across the United States of America gather with their loved ones to offer collective gratitude. This holiday has some heartbreaking history attached to it (to say the least) and we are currently living through some heartbreaking moments. Yet somehow, today we can choose to focus on the many gifts this life offers. In particular, the MANY gifts that we have received, and continue to receive the people who were indigenous to this land long before its European ‘discovery’. We are so thankful. (more…)
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.