What June Taught Us

The day this is published is the day that Oaken will be flying back to Belgium after spending 3 weeks with us in Missouri. It will most likely be a somber day for all of us, and a long travel day for Oaken.

I am thankful for June. The solstice month. The month of our first born daughter's birthday.

Its a month where you can really spend as much time as you want outside. Sure, it gets fucking hot, but the we can cool off in the shade or in the sprinkler while enjoying popsicles.

This year, we worked our asses off on getting the bus close to completion. We got word that Oaken might not actually be joining us in October at Dancing Rabbit which makes me really despise the military life even more. That means that I, Raven, will be finishing up everything that we didn't get done together...which is really pushing me outside my comfort zone.

But its good.

Being in my comfort zone means I am not growing. That I am not awakening. If I stay where I am always comfortable, doing things I have always done....nothing will change. Its why Oaken has over 10 years of military service...it was where we were comfortable (but not necessarily happy).

June taught me more about plant identification and botany in one month than I had learned in a long time. 

I got to enjoy walking the land and discovering the bounty that Pachamama has blessed us with. 

I began to FINALLY stock our apothecary with herbs that I grew or wildharvested.

In June, I realize something about myself...that I am actually a pretty awesome person. Of course, I still struggle with accepting that on many days, but a moment happened in June....I realized that the life and dream we had been chasing, was unfolding right before me.

I had gotten so used to chasing and thinking it wasn't "good enough" "green enough" (enter other words such as - hippie, sustainable, free etc) that I didn't realize how enough we actually were.

I am not saying that we are done but we are doing what we had envisioned. We have become "those" people. People know us as the all natural, environmentalist family. 

But it wasn't all sunshine and popsicles.

I was reminded on how much privatization of land has created a hostile environment. We were out looking for a conservation area just North of us and were just winging it with a basic sense of where it was and following signs. We ended up on a back road in a very rural area....we went to turn around and in the drive we used there were almost a dozen signs threatening those who dare even turned around in the driveway. We eventually found a place and asked someone else who was there if the public was welcome. She said yes they come here all the time but I still couldn't shake this fear of the owner of the driveway (or if the creek wasn't public) coming out with their guns to yell at us (because just letting something know its private property and asking them to leave is not enough.....)

On the way home, one side of the road was conservation and had no fences and was beautiful. On the other...yellow "private property" signs were posted every 10 feet with a barbed wire fence to accompany them, just in case you didn't see the signs. I imagine that owner feeling like he has every right to shoot someone immediately if they step onto "their" land. 

Oaken said that road felt like a place straight out of Deliverance. We won't be returning.

As I sit here and type, I am reminded of the beginning chapters of "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer where she talks about gift versus commodity exchange. I underlined this:

"Practices such as posting land against trespass, for example, are expected and accepted in a property economy but are unacceptable in an economy where the land is seen as a gift to all."

Perhaps the reason why we see so many people unhappy today is because they don't receive gifts...and I'm not talking about iPhones, DVDs, or whatever is the hot item of today. They, because we currently have a property economy and no one sees true gifts as valuable (other than what their monetary worth). 

I have been consciously working on changing how I approach the land we live on. In 2011 we purchased a home with 2.33 acres of land. I have always said "our land" or "our property" until I realized that we can't possibly own the land. Everything is connected, we just live on this land. In just this one conscious change, I have noticed a change in how to approach the land.

Its a cooperative agreement between the land and our family. We will live here and take care of the land...and share the bounty of wild blackberries freely with those who want them. We will create areas for pollinators and birds to come and rest, drink, and eat. We will be thankful.

Thank you June.