Monthly Archives: August 2013
I’ve been culturally conditioned to start my year with the beginning of school. I don’t go to school. I no longer have kids in school. I don’t work at school. Still, here at the brink of autumn I feel the pull to begin anew.
Several districts and colleges in the area actually start back to school today. I remember bemoaning the years when school started “early”. Somehow those August days don’t seem to count the same way, at least not until June when school lets out early. School should start the day after Labor Day. Oh my gosh that’s next week!
Since I no longer plan my days around the school calendar I don’t have a “big summer vacation”. I do my wandering in bits and pieces throughout the year. Autumn is actually trying to cram itself full of events on my calendar. Maybe that’s some of the “back to school” feeling I’m having. I’m gearing up to be off and on the go.
Summer is grand, but the older I get the less I enjoy it. The heat and allergies keep me indoors rather than out soaking up the sun. The gardening and yard work puts my back out when I make the effort. Mostly it’s beyond me. I like to putter, I enjoy sitting in the sun reading. All of those things are easier when it’s not unbearably hot.
Of course this year the heat has been restricted to about two weeks. Sadly this is one of them. It’s time to move forward with my business plans. It’s time to get caught back up on my reading (I’m no longer “ahead” on the book review site). It’s time to explore new options and take some chances.
I was told a few weeks ago, “You like change.” Well, I do enjoy new things. I like learning and exploring and variety. Change, that’s a little scarier. Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. Time to get a new one. Time to go back to school, or whatever my life holds that brings new information and opportunity. Time to learn and grow. One more week for planning allowed, then it’s jump in with both feet. School is Starting!
A Pagan festival is a unique thing. Although there is certainly a sense of costume and play, unlike a Renaissance Fair the players are not acting a part. It is an experiment in tribal living, in being in the world the way we would like the world to be. It is a place where there is no need to hide, or explain, or be afraid of beliefs and practices often misunderstood in the working world.
Teo Bishop was one of the National Guests at this year’s Sacred Harvest Festival. His blog about this experience is posted on The Wild Hunt. We also had music and workshops from Kenny Klein whose views on Faerie, quite different from our whitewashed Disney, were well received. His books on the topic will greatly help the Pagans who work with these tricksy creatures. David Salisbury is another Pagan author and activist visiting the festival from the DC area.
I have known Kenny for over 20 years, but it was really nice to meet in person some of the people I’ve only known through their blogs. Does that count as meeting blogging buddies? It seems different somehow, both because of the nature of a festival and also because the Pagan blogging community is so much smaller than the blog-o-sphere in general. I already know I have more in common with these folks than just enjoying their writing. We’ve friends in common, whether or not we can point to them. There are always fewer than 6 degrees of separation among Pagans.
I wish I had a photo of Teo and Orion. Star Foster (developed the Pagan channel on Patheos and who I’ve known personally for a year) organized an early morning sing. Orion is a morning person and he loves to sing. Me, not so much – at least in the morning. So I made an arrangement with Star to get Orion to her workshop. She sent Teo. Apparently Teo and Orion had a grand time together sharing songs. Orion pulled out his German camp repertoire and serenaded the group with Der Vuglbeerbaam, lyrics adjusted for camp.
Orion and I also had the privilege of picking up Szmerelda when she came in from Chicago. Szmerelda is featured in Crystal Blanton’s anthology Shades of Faith. She is a visual artist and ritualist in the Chicago area. She is also delightful. When I found my tent filled with water the first time it was Szmerelda who jumped in and bailed me out. I had met Szmerelda briefly at Pantheacon in February so it was nice to get a chance to actually spend some time getting to know her.
Sacred Harvest Festival is all about the people. It’s sharing time and space under the beautiful oak trees. It’s talking about our beliefs and practices and plans. I presented a few (three) workshops and that was fun. It was the first time for all three and I find Sacred Harvest Festival a nice venue to try out new things. Got some great feedback too!
In spite of the rain in the tent and the back problems I’m glad we went. It’s revitalizing to make heart connections with people who share a love of nature and spirituality. It’s always a joy to see Orion having a grand time. My campmates and I made good food. I got treated like a queen visiting Cara’s camp at happy hour. (Her book is Martinis and Marshmallows: A Guide to Luxury Tent Camping.) And you know from last week I got packed up and sent off without a fuss. Now the back is slowly healing and the memories are only fond.
Given that my posts usually come out on Monday and it’s already Wednesday you may accurately surmise it’s taking me a little bit to get my feet back on the ground after our camping trip. For the most part we had perfect weather, great company, fabulous food and a lot of support.
The Tent: Setting up really was as easy as I hoped. The space was very comfortable and workable. The design, not so resilient. The high point of this tent is unsupported, but rather suspended between two “air poles”. So it’s not really ever as high as it’s supposed to be. I’m 5′ 10″ The tent is supposed to stand at 6′ 2″. There was “room” to stand up, but when I did my head became the support for the center of the tent. I shouldn’t have even touched the ceiling at that point.
Also problematic is that this suspension structure allows for the accumulation of rain. Water is heavy. A bunch of water (either in a sustained rain or a downpour) will make this tent collapse upon itself. Unfortunately the rear window is open at the top and when the tent is collapsed it forms a sluice for the water to pour into the tent. It doesn’t really matter that the tent itself is waterproof if water is being funneled in by the gallon.
The Back: I don’t know that I’ve talked about my own problems with back pain, degenerative discs and over all “less than able-ness”. I may have mentioned a time or two about my own experiences with disability, but generally refer all attention to my wheelchair dependent son.
This time I had the “perfect storm” of low back pain. It was raining – all night. I had little sleep and when the tent did collapse I was trying to get out from under the tent and off of an air mattress at the same time. Do you see quick movement and unsupported back here? Add to that the damp and the small issue of peri-menapausal flood along with a week of camping with Orion and perhaps you can begin to imagine the pain I was in the morning of pack out.
I made a 911 call to my daughter, Karina, who dropped everything and drove out to pack me up and drive me – not back home, but to the ER. They gave me great drugs, decided it was a “soft tissue injury” and sent me on my way. The doctor (who really didn’t listen to a thing I said) suggested that I keep moving rather than taking to bed, I might even “push it” a little. He clearly wasn’t aware that he was sending me off to get Orion on the bus the next morning, unpack two car loads of camping gear, lay out everything to dry (since we packed up in that rain) and do 2 weeks worth of laundry.
Thankfully: Orion’s Dad came down as expected to help load up and take him off. He also brought Orion’s step mother, so there was another driver for Karina’s car. He also came as relieved Karina waiting for me in the ER so she could go on the double date she had scheduled that evening.
My friend Bonita, who’s featured in that link, came by on Tuesday to help me get everything unloaded and dried out. She also hauled basket upon basket of dirty clothes down to the laundry room. Karina swung by later to help roll it all back up and tuck it away for next year. If I can manage to get the washing done Orion’s Dad will be by on Thursday to pick up Orion for dinner and haul clean clothes back up the stairs.
Several of my camping buddies have called to check up on me to see if I’m all right and if I need anything. I’m grateful to be walking again and to be sleeping in my own bed. It’s nice to know so many people care about me enough to step in when I just can’t go on.
More about the actual camping next week. This week I’m trying to keep moving without over-doing. Sorry the blog got put on the back burner, but I’m recovering.
We were talking about Lughnasadh (Lammas) on the Blog Talk Radio “The Priestess Show” last Friday. Of course when asked what the Sabbat means to me personally I talked about Corn, just like I did in my first year’s blog post. But if I had to sum up the point of the Sabbat it is about celebrating abundance.
In a year where the harvest is iffy that may be a little more challenging. The corn is really just starting to come in from the fields fully ripe. There are still raspberries, very late in the season. The apples are barely green and so small I have to wonder if they’ll ripen before the frost.
Financially things are tight, and promising to get tighter. More people may be employed, but if you’re not work is hard to find. Salaries have stayed the same but gas, milk and beef prices continue to climb. If the corn harvest is poor all three commodities will get even more expensive. Honey is harder and harder to come by as the bee populations diminish. Without bees many other crops will also suffer.
This is the climate in which we gather to celebrate abundance. The thing is, abundance is subjective. It is useful to be aware of the problems in the world. But if we become too focused on what’s wrong we quickly get unhappy, losing all track of what is going right. We have a culture that encourages us always to want more. We are bombarded with marketing for the next new thing (to replace the one we just bought because it’s out of date.)
Someone once told me that contentment is being happy with what you actually have. Most of us have more than enough of something. I am reminded that what is one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure. Take a look at the Landfill Orchestra. How about getting help with mobility. Even a small bit of food can be abundance to a hungry child.
Let’s take some time in this early harvest season to be grateful for the bounty in our lives. Let’s see if we can find an abundance that we can share with someone in need. I know I could use more practice at being content. Simple things are often the hardest.