So Many Apples

It has begun, friends–the harvest season begins with radishes and onions, continues with peas, spinach and kale and when you get to this point in the season, it’s all about green beans and apples.

Soon, soon there will be full-sized tomatoes, warmed by the sun.

Our McIntosh apple tree always begins to drop fruit at this time of year and will continue through July.  We are cider-makers in this house, so the apples get cleaned and chopped up and frozen until it’s juice-making time. I put the first gallon bag into the freezer tonight.

It is a relentless process.  Every day there are more.  Wipe clean, cut out the bruises and worms, core them (because of worms and bugs) and throw them in a ziplock bag.  Last year’s cider is very dry–no doubt because so many of the apples were not precisely ripe. If we need to, we’ll either buy a half bushel of sweeter apples or we’ll get a gallon of juice to add in.

The old Cortland continues to produce a decent crop each year.  She was old when we bought this property in the early 1980s and her limbs are bent and broken.  Each year, she’s a little the worse for wear and we fear she won’t survive another mountain winter.  So far, so good, though.  Her apples will start ripening as the McIntosh finishes her run.  And I will keep a sharp eye out for apples trees that stand alone, untended, unpicked.

If you have apples in your yard that you aren’t going to use and you’re in the AVL area, leave me a message.  Perhaps I could trade you some cider, when all is said and done.

New Writing Gig

A wee announcement.

One of my ongoing challenges is to make a quilt from the patchwork of activities and passions that comprise my blessed life. I’m proud and honored to say that I’ve agreed to write a regular column for Witches and Pagans magazine. I’ll be exploring aspects of living Pagan in the South in “Buckling Up in the Southland,” covering matters political, cultural and spiritual from the Buckle of the Biblebelt. From Appalachian folk magic practices and First Amendment issues to organic gardening and impromptu ritual, it’ll be a tour of the inscrutable, irascible and terribly magical South. 

I’m grateful to expand my work to a wider audience.  I blog for the W & P website now. You can go here for my latest entry–




Diningroom Table is Stacked Full (again)

I’m leaving town at the end of the week to go to one of the oldest and biggest Pagan festivals in the country–the Pagan Spirit Gathering. I’ve known the founder/coordinator, Selena Fox, for many years–I am proud to say I spoke in Lafayette Park in DC to promote the inclusion of the pentacle as a religious emblem for the gravestones of American armed forces members who are Pagan (and, of course, deceased).

t\Through Lady Liberty League, she has supported our local community in its fight to have spiritual diversity respected and acknowledged in the public schools of Buncombe county.  When she asked me to come and teach some workshops at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I was happy to be invited and happy to accept–a woman I met at the hoodoo fest last year is driving up there from near here and offered me a ride.

So…another trip, this time to Illinois–a place I’ve never been. I’m doing a beginning Appalachian folk magic workshop–my beloved Hillfolks Hoodoo for Outlanders and Others. Another workshop called The Spirit-Haunted Landscape pf the South.  And a talk at the Pagan Leadership Institute on Pagans doing interfaith work.

I haven’t seriously begun packing but I’ve gathered most everything and piled it up on the table.  After a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll organize it, find bags and suitcases and boxes for it…and get the Hillfolks Hoodoo Express ready to roll again.

I’ll try to report from the site and the road.



The Days Are Long

Makes sense really because we’re only a few weeks away from the Green Solstice. My personal days are long because I am playing catch up and get-ahead before I leave for Pagan Spirit Gathering in about a week.  I am mostly ready to go–only a few outlines to type up and print out and then the joy of packing.

The Women’s Garden at Herland got renamed in honor of the poet and is now the Maya Angelou Peace Garden. The upstairs garden is called the Rachel Carson Roof Garden.  We weeded the one and planted another bed of the other on Wednesday night and we have a work morning tomorrow.  Weeding, watering, maybe more bed prep.  My sights are set on clearing out the Gathering area so we can start our classes and workshops there.  And the planned water catchment is funded now and the work should begin soon.

But here in NC, we are facing a governor and general assembly who are set on fracking in the state. As a person who cares about and for and in fact has a spiritual connection to the natural world, this whole idea fills me with dread. I was stricken by the Elk River disaster in West Virginia earlier this year and similarly stricken by the coal ash disaster into the Dan River and our own close encounter out at Hominy Creek.  And now fracking–water contamination and waste as well as potential earthquakes, poor people robbed of their mineral rights, rich outlanders profiting from Appalachian destruction–is here. My friend Sheila Kay Adams says the fracking companies are already sniffing around her native county (Madison).

I feel gutted by the relentless speed of this and the feeling that I am powerless to stop it.  And tonight the local tv news reported that families have been evacuated from the area around the Superfund CTS site because the air itself is toxic–vapours rising from the site that no one is responsible for fixing.  All too slow, too little–in spite of all that those families have done to achieve some measure of justice. Too many people dodging responsibility for these environmental horrors–no one to blame, no one to sue, no one to put in jail for criminal negligence.

So I’m focusing on my garden and the other gardens I tend.  I am grounding myself deeply in the Earth I love, knowing that I have no trust (or faith, if you will) that any elected officials have the guts to do a damned thing about any of it.

Gormless. Concerned only with the next time they can be elected, as powerless as I but with more resources to escape. To sell out, in so many ways.  What can we do but write letters and make phone calls and protest and “hope” for the best? Which is actually too late because the worst is on its way and–for the families around the CTS site–the worst has been here for a long, long time.


our new water barrels for the new catchment system


And you know what Derrick Jensen has to say about “hope,” don’t you?  It’s here–

I concur.