Oh, to Wake Up
Trees! Were you arrows,
fallen from the blue?
What terrible warriors hurled you down?
Was it in the stars?
Souls of birds
thrive in your singing,
erupt in the eyes of God.
The realm of perfect ecstasy.
Trees! Will my heart of earth
ever rest by your
rough and curly roots?
-Federico Garcia Lorca
(Translated by Stephen Harding & Martin Shaw)
It snowed this morning. The fat flakes fell fast, doomed for a rapid melt, their individual beauties lost into one another like lovers who couldn’t wait another second.
Today we butchered some of the chickens. Well, my parents butchered and I mostly watched, plucked what the plucker machine hadn’t, cut feet and heads, and hauled the cleaned carcasses. Oscar was excited to the point of delirium and had to be tied up. He sat in the sleet, straining his nose into all that was going on.
We modern humans have forgotten how blunt Death can be. We’ve forgotten how rare it is to Wake Up in the morning. How many other living creatures have already come and gone on this Earth, their molecules recycled back into the great mulch of Creation? How many humans have lived and died on this planet? How many died feeling they had served their purpose during their Life? How many died not believing they had a purpose? How many never realized they were here for a reason, but were swept along into the whirlpool of Death without ever beholding their own Beauty?
And what of the chicken? Would we be better to buy from the supermarket, the meat shipped in from an industrial plant, where the humans have no chance to make a gratitude connection with the beings whose Lives they’re taking? The killing floor is not the kind of place that enhances the human soul.
Is the answer to become vegan? To demand avocados flown hours by plane so we can make guacamole in February? With a side of rice from India and curry made with coconut milk from Thailand? Which we eat while clad in our bargain t-shirts made with cotton that was picked by Uighur slaves?
Should I just start grinding dried dandelion root to replace my coffee? I’m starting to think that Yes, I probably should. And maybe I should stop buying tea and instead just pour boiling water over clover and pine needles. Maybe I should buy a bolt of Canadian hemp and make a sack dress to wear. Maybe I should create an old-time apothecary store, filled with dried plants and Wild elixirs. With wooden walls adorned with garlic braids and a basket full of envelopes containing Poetry surprises.
What would it mean to Live with the Land? As fully as possible, giving back all that you could in order to save the goodness of Life for those who came next, after you had gone the way of so many others before you?
The world is so big and full of things. Life and Death are happening all the time, everywhere at once. A continual rhythm. Our Stories are happening now. They’re part of it all. Stories that reach back through genetic threads, Life springing from and returning to the Earth over and over. We’re sewn into this rhythm; there’s no existing outside it.
Oh, to be able to Wake Up tomorrow and see if it’s snowing. To go outside right now and hear the wind in the trees. To know that if it does snow...and snow...and snow, that there’s chicken in the freezer, and wood enough for a Fire. A Magic Life can be built from such Small Miracles.