Exploring by Karie Luidens

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One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

Edward Abbey

Hibernating by Karie Luidens

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With temperatures in the teens these last few nights, it’s official: the garden is done for the year. Thank you for thriving along with us all summer, dear plants! Sleep well.

Restoring by Karie Luidens

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Indigenous languages, lifeways, and relations with the land have all been subject to the violence of colonialism. Maize herself has been a victim, and so have you, when a worldview which cultivated honorable relations with the living earth has been overwritten with an ethic of exploitation, when our plant and animal relatives no longer look at us with honor, but turn their faces away. But there is a kernel of resurgence, if we are willing to learn.

The invitation to decolonize, rematriate, and renew the honorable harvest extends beyond indigenous nations to everyone who eats. Mother Corn claims us all as corn-children under the husk; her teachings of reciprocity are for all.

I’m not saying that everyone should go back to Three Sisters agriculture or sing to their seeds; although I admit that is a world I want to live in. But we do need to restore honor to the way that food is grown. Agribusiness is quick to point out that we cannot feed a world of nearly eight billion people with gardens alone. This is true but omits the reality that most of the corn we grow is not going to hungry people: it is feeding cars. There is another kind of hunger in our affluent society, a hunger for justice and meaning and community, a hunger to remember what industrial agriculture has asked us to forget, but the seed remembers. Good farming should feed that hunger, too.

Robin Wall Kimmerer,
“Corn Tastes Better on the Honor System”

Cooking by Karie Luidens

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What better way to cook up my corn kernels than with the other two sisters, beans and squash, especially now that it’s so cold out and we’re craving soup. No recipe here, just some instincts and a little creativity…

Kernels by Karie Luidens

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Six-foot-tall corn stalks, a great pile of green husks, fistfuls of soft silk, all for this: the tiny, sweet kernels that will nourish us.

Silk by Karie Luidens

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I confess, I’m a little sad to see how underdeveloped my corn is within its husks. The cobs are slightly flaccid; the kernels are tiny and pale.

Corn is a notoriously hungry crop that sucks an abundance of nitrogen and minerals from the soil. I think the previously neglected dirt out back didn’t have enough organic matter to support a full, healthy corn harvest this year. Now that the ground is tilled, a year’s worth of plants have put down roots, the surface is mulched over with vines and stems and leaves—now that I’ve got a compost pile and worm bin breaking down the yard’s fallen leaves and kitchen scraps into rich humus to spread in the garden come spring—we’re well on our way to amending that dirt into a richer, healthier soil for next season.

Still, just look at that shiny silk. The corn plants grew beautifully with what they had and followed their natural pattern to produce seeds. Each tiny kernel put out a soft, slender fiber; together, those fibers slid up and out into the world as the ear’s tassel, dangling and reaching over the weeks for whatever pollen its neighbors released. Well done, little corn.

Lasts by Karie Luidens

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The political landscape is looking fresh for a change. What a relief.

Meanwhile, back in the backyard garden, we’ve got our last harvest of the year coming in…

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Finally by Karie Luidens

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Finally, finally, finally, Election Day is here. These midterms matter, people. For the love of all that is good—and I mean that sincerely—if you didn’t vote early, vote today!

Freezing by Karie Luidens

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The squash vines have seen better days. It’s no surprise; freezing temperatures are upon us these last few nights. Either way, we knew they’d finished producing fruits for harvest and were starting to fold back toward the earth. In the months ahead, the green of their skeleton will gradually reabsorb into the soil and replenish it for the seeds to be planted come spring.

Forgetting by Karie Luidens

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As my country grinds its way through the last few days of the the midterm election’s political campaigns, I find myself more exhausted than ever by the president’s lies in tweets and speeches, the general fear-mongering of his supporters, the demonizing of immigrants and refugees, the accusation that hardworking journalists are sowing discord as opposed to the leaders who actually call for violence in their overblown rhetoric. Enough. Have we forgotten who we are as Americans? What happened to the idea that we are a nation built not on ethnic identity or religious zealotry, but on an enlightened philosophy that all humans are created equal? Can we once again strive to be a shining city on a hill, a people who open our arms to the world’s huddled masses? If not, what are we? Why are we here?

Remembrance by Karie Luidens

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I am not overly familiar with the Mexican holiday that is the Day of the Dead. Like most Americans, I think, I’ve long recognized the colorful painted skulls and paper banners that are associated with the holiday, but I didn’t learn much about their significance until Pixar released the movie Coco.

Now I know this much at least: it’s a day for remembering those who have died, with the conviction that remembrance itself keeps our loved ones alive in the world that much longer.

So here’s a day for remembering some of the lives that were suddenly, brutally snuffed out in the last few weeks. There are many more who have been victims of shootings here in America, or violence and poverty in Central America, or starvation halfway across the world in Yemen, or regime brutality in Saudi Arabia or North Korea. These are just a few of the names I know.

Jamal Khashoggi

Maurice E. Stallard

Vickie Lee Jones

Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Rose Mallinger

Jerry Rabinowitz

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Daniel Stein

Melvin Wax

Irving Younger