Sep 16, 2015

Tools of the Game

The light was slanted and golden yesterday as I made my way along the lake to the next town. The trees, just starting to blush at their topmost places, looked lit from beneath like they were on display at a gallery. The residual smoke drifting up the Valley from the wildfire still burning in the south softened the sky and created an amber haze. These first weeks of September have been stunning.

I'm enjoying the feeling of the heightened summer energy dispersing as if it were the mist in the hills, while the autumnal spirit slips out of the rapidly cooling lake and river waters and blows in on the north wind to fill us with thoughts of comforting meals, a fire in the hearth, and some good ghost stories.

Summer was wild and long and so very warm, and yet...every month now, every season, seems to have floated by on the shoulders of the cottonwood fluff, and then the dandelion, and the milkweed seeds, and on...and on...

I whisper often, "Grandma, you were right, it all moves so fast."

But there have been beautiful armfulls of lovely moments, as there always are when you expect to find them. And as the garden fades, and my favourite months settle in, I continue to eat the last peaches and plums, and play with the outrageous number of apple varieties grown here, and still spend time at dusk in the garden watching the last few blooms of the evening primrose open.

Life is rarely syrup-sweet for long. There is the bitter too. Rebecca speaks of moving forwards, even when you aren't sure you can or want to. She says,

Sometimes I feel like a tiny human facing down the gaping maw of misery and destruction and the only weapons I have in my hands are a little piece of plant matter and a pen. And then I realise that its not the tools in my hands but the fact that I’m willing to turn and face it despite only having those tools in my hands that makes the difference.

I asked once, in despair, "what is this life?" The answer was immediate. "A game," It said. (Whatever the unknowable It might be.) And I was satisfied with this answer - as much as I could be satisfied in my little human mind - because I like to play, and I once spent years in theatre classes which gave me a molecule of an idea of being in a world of my own making.

I am quite happy to believe that the poets, artists, writers, actors, inventors, and all the creators who play with the world (which is to say all the creators) might feel on some level that we are adventuring through this grand game, and they are willing to have a go at it with whatever meagre tools they are carrying.

My tools these last few months have been a pair of cast iron frying pans I rescued from my camping supplies. They were sad-looking and so under-appreciated, barely feeling the fire beneath them more than a few times a year. A good scrub and a proper re-seasoning, and they are now the stars of the kitchen. And they conjure up such wondrous things.

My hands have served me well this summer digging garden beds, creating magic with plants, pushing a lawn mower, office work, holding books, and rubbing the belly of a big black cat. They have some scars and some freckles because I refuse to wear gloves, but they are strong and soft and just as happy to be wrist-deep in dirt as they are wrapped around someone I love. Hands and frying pans don't seem like much, but both can serve you up all kinds of goodness, or knock you into next week.

What tools have been your steadfast companions this year, or this last season? How are you getting along in the game (or the great play, or the divine comedy)?

I've just begun another year on this peculiar gameboard. I'm ready to see what magic and mischief I can make as I head out to meet the arrival of autumn. Come along friend. Grab your favourite tools and let us turn and face what comes this way. Let's walk out to meet it.

This and That:

~ If it matters to you at all, I season my cast iron with avocado oil, but any oil with a high smoke point will do the trick. I still know old-timers who use lard or bacon grease on theirs, but it can leave a smell. Whatever floats your boat and keeps your iron in good shape. I clean the pans while still warm with a paper towel, and if there is any residue after that, I toss some salt in the pan, let it sit, and wipe it out with a towel again. That should take care of it. A drop of oil before putting them away, and I'm done.

~ The grass pictures are part of my summer fun. I cut runes in to my lawn before I mowed it, all season long. On the left is Algiz, and on the right is Fehu. As I cut the lawn, I meditated on the rune, essentially sealing it in to the land. Perhaps give this a try (or a sigil of your own making) for your last cut of the year.

~ Mercury heads into retrograde tomorrow, and it affords us (especially so soon after a Venus retro) a perfect opportunity for a good clean, sort, and organize before the winter arrives. Trust me on this. Recycle, re-gift, donate, and look at all the things you surround yourself with. Do they feel good? Do they move you? Can you breathe in your space? Getting the "big clean" done early in the autumn will put you in the perfect zone to concentrate on the upcoming seasonal celebrations without worrying about the haunted dust bunnies of summer past.


greekwitch said...

Runes on the lawn! What a fantastic idea! If I ever have one, I will do that.
Your words about this time of the year really sink into me. I too love the golden shade the light turns into. A quickening occurs every single time.

mxtodis123 said...

I love this time of the year. Can't wait to get back to my favorite park and watch the leaves change and fall.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

"Life is a cabaret, old chum." I think that says it all.

Unknown said...

You are, in all ways, beautiful and inspiring. I love your pans, and your rune-lawn! And you.


greekwitch said...

Thank you for your comment, wish and blessing. From your mouth to Gods's ears.

Debra Nehring said...

Beautifully written, Jen. And I absolutely LOVE your runes in the lawn idea!
I, too, am enjoying the changing energy of the season. And having such fun while doing it.

Debbie said...

Your post inspired me to take a look around my space..... there is much to do!!

Tammie Lee said...

thank you for sharing about the grass photos
i did not know what the photos meant until you shared that
i might have one more mow before winter.....

thank you also for sharing about how you care for your iron pans
i feel i have not done mine right as the paper i rub the oil on with always comes away black

i think we have similar tools in common

another big clean before winter sounds like a grand idea
thank you

Soli said...

Y'know, I have a cast iron pan I cook with almost daily, and belonged to one of my great-grandmothers (making it well over 100 years old), but I don't know when it was last seasoned. How do you know when it is needed?

Also, thanks for the cleaning reminder. I plan to do a bunch tomorrow anyway but this just reinforces the need.

Rue said...

Your pans are likely plenty seasoned if they have been in use that long! Usually it's not necessary unless you are cleaning them too thoroughly (with soap and scrub pads) or if they have sat for too long like mine and have a spot of rust.

If your pans are looking and cooking well, just a drop of oil spread around before putting them away is fine.

Anonymous said...

Re-reading this again, and loving it just as much this time around. Being a Southern boy, seeing a little love for cast iron does my heart good. The Lodge factory outlet was a short destination drive for me when I lived "down South." I still cherish the small cornbread skillet and the Dutch oven which makes the best stews (and breads sometimes). We seasoned ours with Crisco or cornflower oil for the most part. The bacon grease was for making cracklin' corn bread. Come on by some time, and I'll fix you up a pan. If you're nice I might even flip it for you ;)