The more things change, the more they stay the same...
I grew up in Little Italy, or that was the name it was dubbed for the immigrants living there. My Grandparents were of adventurous spirit and ventured to a new land, bringing their hope, a few siblings, and the knowledge of the land of their birth.
The rich, rolling hills of western Pennsylvania must have been beautiful, and the harvests abundant, as they created their new garden home.
Some of my fondest memories are eating cherries and pears from the trees, cucumbers from the garden, watching the chickens, and eating fresh baked bread. I remember a sweet lullaby, in a language I was not encouraged to learn, and the arms that held me as I slept.
I remember the Old Ones and the ways they smelled. Garlic, earth and sweat. I can remember how comforted I felt in their company.
I do not remember forgetting. I suppose when my Grandmother passed, I seldom heard the sweet sounds of her language, and buying bread was so much easier. Television took the place of Old Ones sitting together laughing and crying, as memories of younger years were woven together. Eventually forgetfulness became denial, and the race to succeed in a culture empty of these simple pleasures became the norm. Then we decided to farm.
My Mother came to Echo Valley, still puzzled over a daughter with strange ideas. "You always wanted a farm." She said with a bit of despair, "You should be living a modern life - These things left with your Grandmother."
Obviously, they have not. As my Grandmother before me, I struck out for a new land. The garden this year was bigger than the last, and we hope to be organically certified and feed lots of people next year. We are researching the planting of fruit trees; and I have decided this winter I will learn to bake bread. There are plans for an outdoor clay/brick oven in the remains of the old round barn -- to honor the creators of the barn and the wonderful traditions of outdoor cooking. There is much laughter and tears as people come and weave their stories into this land and with one another.
In this time of confusion and rootlessness, I am grateful to this bowl shaped land for containing so many dreams and hopes...and seeds of becoming.
My Navajo mentor once told me, "Your people forgot a long time ago." I knew it was true; and now I know more. Those forgotten treasures, when remembered, erase time.
Echo Valley will kick off a new series of classes called Celebrating the Human Spirit. Each weekend (with this title) we will celebrate the cultures, foods, music and healing of people from different places on earth. Your stories, recipes, music, memories and more are welcome. On Feb 10, 11, 12, we will celebrate Old Europe.
You are welcome.