Cures are Facts; Healing is Poetic
Myth, Mirth and Meditation: Free;
Medicine for what it’s worth
I spent my Salad Days in Cambridge as radical dandruff in the long hair of Harvard and now I seek with meanders of poetry and prose paths to share with kindred spirits.
I have wanted to share Jack Gilbert’s “A Brief for the Defense,” and I discovered that it had been republished in The Sun and was available on line along with several other poems by him. https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/451/a-brief-for-the-defense
A score or so years back I subscribed to The Sun for about a decade and then gradually stopped reading it, rather like you might lose track of a high school friend so I was glad to have this poem I admire reacquaint me with the mag and its ideals, which, as I remember them, dreamed of a world that was “unrealistic” but possible. The recall prompted by visiting The Sun’s website was so nostalgic and pleasurable that I signed up for a year.
1536, February 02, 2022
The Fedco seed catalog came to my attention by word-of-mouth; it was an introduction from a friend who shares my despairs and hopes, the sort of things you need to keep around to tickle your optimism. If you don't do any gardening and you're not going to order any seeds but want order the catalog you should probably support it with a donation of at least 10 bucks to cover their production costs, tell them to put any surplus into their indigenous royalties fund because one of the attractions of this catalog are the varieties for which they provide indigenous royalties. The variety that caught my attention in this category was the Abenaki Calais flint corn, which, they tell me, was
“Developed by the northern Vermont Abenaki tribe and selected for generations to produce 7-9” ears that are long thin and cylindrical with and even eight rows all the way to the shank. This form is valuable for drying early in the short Northeast season before it can spoil from early freezing, surviving even the legendary summer of 1816 (“Eighteen hundred and froze to death.”) ears are either solidly golden yellow or beautifully dark maroon, with some skewing a bit toward the orange shades. If you grind each other color separately you’ll notice flavor variations – all of its delicious. Reliable and nutritious. Breeder Dave Christiansen holds great appreciation for this eastern ‘brother’ to Painted Mountain, calling it the toughest of all the Eastern corns” Indigenous Royalties. BACK! We are not listing a price for this seed—when you place your order, please fill in the dollar amount you decide to pay.
That should give you some idea of the kind of enjoyable reading you'll get from this catalog. At the suggestion of my anarchist daughters (I'm too conservative to turn my patch of front lawn into vegetables without their goading) I'm going plant some hills of Abenaki in my front yard in Melrose next summer along with the other two sisters, beans and squash, that Robin Wall Kimmerer gives a chapter to in Braiding Sweet Grass. I hope to get seed for next year and enough cornmeal to make cornbread for Passover. Even though I am a goy, Passover is one religious holiday on the calendar that I enjoy observing.
Another example of the fun prose in the catalogue is the entry for the Paul Robeson tomato; they spend most listing with a concise biography of Paul Robeson:
“Paul Robeson Organic (78 days) Ind. This Russian heirloom was named in honor of Paul Robeson (1898-1976) who befriended the Soviet Union. Athletes (15 varsity letters at Rutgers), actor (played Othello in the longest running Shakespearean production in Broadway history), singer (world-famous for his vibrant baritone renditions of Negro spirituals), or rater, cultural scholar and linguist (fluent in at least 15 languages), Robeson was an outspoken crusader for racial equality and justice. Revered by the left, reviled by the right, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era and beyond, harassed by the FBI, his passport revoked for eight years, his career stifled. He died broken and almost forgotten, his life a testament to lost opportunities in 20th-c. American history. His namesake tomato developed almost a cult following among seed savers.
They go onto say, should you still be interested in the tomato as a tomato,
The maroon-brick 6 to 12 ounce oblate often bi-lobed fruits with dark green shoulders come closest in flavor to Black Krim but claim their own distinctive sweet smoky taste. A sandwich tomato with a tang, an extraordinary tomato for an extraordinary man. Some tendency to split. ‘Does great on my farm in MS,’ reports Will Reed of Native Farm in Tupelo.”
While an endorsement from Mississippi might be meaningless for my New England patch, the variety was developed in Russia; so I will check it out this summer and report my results in September.
On which I try to twist brain worms onto a fork of reason. If the sauce seems meager supply some of your own.
I found this skull on a trail in the Fells. Could any of you identify it for me? Or speculate on the cause of the puncture wounds and broken zygomas.
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