Some days, city life can be completely exhausting. Yes, everything seems to be within reach at all hours of the day, but then again, it feels as if everything is always awake…nothing ever rests. I think I feel this even more when autumn envelops the city around me.
This week, Mabon almost seemed to sneak up on me. Work has been ‘hectic’ to say the least. I feel as though I am constantly chasing my tail or cleaning up the messes that others make. My celebration was a quiet and simple one. I sat in the woods, Friz at my side with my cauldron blazing, a crusty piece of homemade bread, and a small glass of mulled wine. I fed the fire with the leftovers of summer…and for the first time all week, I breathed. I could feel my spirit calming as I lingered in the smoke of leaves and grass and just a small amount of dragon’s blood (I have always used dragon’s blood resin to enhance any magickal working).
I listened, almost mesmerized, to the trees singing as they started the process of releasing their leaves. The songs were a bit melancholy, but also rang with the sound of relief. Those wonderful trees reminded me that there was no reason to hold onto to anything that was no longer of any use. For me, this Mabon was a time for releasing those things that weighed me down…words spat out in hatred, the memories that had left too many scars to count, fears that really never were realized.
This year has been a year of cleaning, clearing, and creating. It all started with my body. I knew that my health had gotten worse. In May, I began cleaning my body up and out. I eliminated those things which were no longer beneficial and began eating healthier and exercising. To date, I am down 62 pounds and my doctor says I am healthier than I have been in a long time. I also started clearing out my spirit. It was time to take those memories and any baggage that I was holding onto and clear it out. I would keep those memories that were dear to me…those which stirred good and wonderful thoughts and emotions. As the year has moved forward, I have also begun to create things. I have been painting and crafting, using my hands to make things that spoke beautiful and magickal things to me. These things may never mean anything to anyone else, but that doesn’t matter. They speak to my spirit.
This time of year is when I dream more. My dreams are vivid, wild, carefree….but they also take me places that are close to my heart. Last week, I had a dream about being back home. I was running through the woods with my grandma. Every animal I had ever had in my life was running alongside us. My partner said that I woke him up laughing so hard that he thought that I had possibly gone off the deep end.
A friend who does a lot of hunting (this is how he gets his meat) gave me some squirrels that he had hunted last week. I could feel my grandma behind me as I wondered what I would do with them. I decided that I would treat the household to a pot of my grandma’s squirrel dumplings. I gave them the warning that ma always gave me before heading to granny’s house…”Whatever you do, don’t look in the pot.”
I know that many don’t care for squirrel, or that some are vegan or vegetarian, but I am including my grandma’s recipe for those who might enjoy a bit of my history.
2 – 3 squirrels
1 1/2 qt. water
1/2 cup. shortening
1 tbsp. salt
2 cups. flour
1 cup. chicken broth, cooled
1 tsp. black pepper
Clean and cut up the squirrels and cook in water, salt and shortening until tender. Remove from broth, cool and remove bones.
To make dumplings:
Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt and cooled broth. Mix well. Roll out on floured surface until thin. Cut in strips about 2 inches long. Return to boiling broth with black pepper. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add squirrel meat and serve hot.
Nobody looked in that pot that night, but they loved the flavor of those dumplings. You would have thought that I had made Prime Rib. My grandma was just a simple country woman. She grew up living off of the land and she taught us that same way of life.
I was talking to our roommate the other night about how technologically advanced society is now. We agreed that sometimes that can be detrimental. How many times have you yourself been buried in a phone or computer, only to ignore those people and animals around you? Friz has become quite insistent in his senior years. If he thinks I have been on my phone or IPad for too long, he climbs on my chest looks me in the eye and starts to paw at that mechanical creature interfering with his time with me…or he goes and lies down on my shoes and breathes (or should I say huffs really loudly). This is his way of telling me that he wants to go to the woods.
This morning, I went to the woods…by myself. It was raining and I didn’t want Friz to have to deal with being cold and wet. Sometimes there is something so freeing about walking in the rain…especially when it feels like it is rinsing away everything that clogs up the spirit. By the time I had gotten to my go-to spot in the woods, the clouds were just barely spitting. I threw my behind onto that wet ground like it was an old comfortable mattress and lifted my eyes to the trees once again. I could hear the familiar, abrasive call of an old friend. I looked into the trees and saw Mama Crow. She was having her own little party in those trees. I started to laugh and I could hear her croaky voice laughing along with me.
It made me realize that sometimes…even in the midst of the city, you can find refuge, comfort, and peace…and if it takes travelling back in time through your dreams…even better.
Next week, I am heading to Tennessee with a group of friends. Squirrel dumplings might just be a good option for one of our meals. We can chase it with a shot of blackberry moonshine and a few stories and laughter.