Jun 112008
 

The Comfrey is in full bloom, the sand is too hot to walk barefoot on and the birds start serenading at about five in the morning – it must be summer! One benefit of the long days and scathing heat is the ability to cook many of our foods in the solar oven. Ours was a gift, in a model I haven’t seen in forever. It’s all heavy wood and brilliant mirrors. It’s awkward¬† to move in order to properly align it with the sun through the afternoon, but its high quality and energy efficiency is well worth it. This is especially true on days when it’s too windy to have an open fire outside and too hot to have the wood stove going inside. Just this afternoon, Loba was baking delicious rye bread and chicken thighs in it!

Rhiannon’s been busy floating down the shallow river on her belly, and making fairy houses along the banks. This morning she made herself a bow and arrow, and likes to stalk the poor cottontails barefoot, only to roar and chase them at the last minute. She’s also taken a liking to epic tales of all kinds, and evening often finds her happily curled up with the latest 400 page novel in the loft bed above the den. I can hear her sighs and sharp breaths all the way down here, as she’s carried away on the waves of the story.

In rare moments of down time, I’ve been reading too. I’ve been especially enjoying the small, beautifully detailed books written and illustrated by an English nomad named Beshlie Heron. I love her book Traveller’s (yes, spelled with two ll’s) Joy, a little volume made up of common wildflowers and their folklore. It’s clear Beshlie has spent a great deal of time with the plants she writes about, and speaks from experience and great affection. Another delight is the tiny Beshlie’s Countryside: The Book of The Harvesters, Milkmen & Hop-Pickers which illustrates many diminutive and gorgeous little flowers while explaining the tools and process of harvesting and milking with drawings and sweet text. Beshlie spent many years with the Traveling People of the UK, living on the road and learning their ways.

I’ve also been rereading Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s classic book by the same name as Beshlie’s, Traveler’s Joy. This may be my favorite Juliette book of all time, as I so relate to her lifestyle and adamant love of the outdoor life. Juliette also lived among nomadic peoples, though of many lands across the world. Having lived in caves by the sea and small island dwellings, her deep understanding of the vital importance of simplicity, real food and natural beauty is quite outstanding. Her herbal and practical information is certainly useful but it is her spirit and stories that I love most.

The days are hot, but the evenings are cool and breezy.¬† The Daturas and 4 o’clocks open up, and the moon grows brighter in the dimming sky. I wander by the river, petting the Estafiate and stopping to sniff the Grape flowers. Often I carry my wide gathering basket, stopping to harvest greens and medicines on my way. The nights are wonderful for sleeping out of doors, and dawn brings the sounds of elk and deer playing in the river. There’s something indescribably sweet about SW mountain summers — they’re slow and rhythmic, and full of the river’s music winding through the canyon.

  5 Responses to “The Sweetness of Summer”

  1. Oh I’m so excited, I’ve had no time for anything to do with plants this year with pregnancy and childcare and all that kinda stuff taking over my life, but I’ve wondered what this crazy patch of plant was in a corner of my property, and now I see it’s Comfrey. How useful! How wonderful!

  2. Oh, I think Juliette is such a treasure too! I was fortunate to meet her several years ago and sit at her knee and converse…….what an amazing life, so many stories of adventure and travel!
    Can you post a photo of your oven? we are thinking of building one soon and scouting ideas….

  3. wmm, so glad you liked the post and that helped you ID your comfrey!

    shawna, i don’t have a pic of the oven, but i’ll take one today or tomorrow and post it. how neat that you got to meet Juliette in person!

  4. I’m new to your blog, having been unaware that there was a cohesive group of people out there living as I want to live (I should have known there were others!!).

    The life you are living, Kiva, is something I’ve yearned for without fully knowing it until recently…it’s something I’ve always known in my soul and something I’ve strived for (without consiously realizing it) all my life. When I first found your blog yesterday and read your post “The Medicine Woman” (from August 2007), I cried. It feels like I’m home.

    I’m ‘old’, fifty, to be precise, and my life strayed very far from that of a true medicine woman because of cultural and religious forces and expectations. I have lived as others wanted me to live and I always felt I was wearing shoes several sizes too small. At an age when my very psyche is changing because of menopause, I myself am going through a metamorphosis and absolutely (_finally_!) becoming my true self. I feel like I’m literally just being born.

    Anyway, thanks for listening….truly, you have brought me to tears, and I look forward to continued learning at your knee. Teach it all to me…I’m like a very dry sponge :)

    Thank you so much for sharing yourself..jana

    p.s. I searched your site for book suggestions and found a post listing your favorite herb books. Is there, though, a favorite book (or does one even exist?) that discusses all aspects of a ‘medicine woman’ life (one that doesn’t focus primarily on herbs)? I also want to learn all I can about ‘finding and foraging’ in my region…

    Thank you again, for any help you can offer.

  5. Dear Jana,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’m honored and so very happy that my writing and work has inspired and affected you! Please let me know if there’s anything else we can do for you, perhaps you would like to attend our nearly week long Medicine Woman workshop in August?

    As to the book, I am writing a Medicine Woman Core book that focuses on all aspects of the Medicine Woman path, hoping to fill the gap that currently exists.

    Thank you so much for reading!

    Hugs and Blessings,
    Kiva

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