Finding Identity In The Directions

Orca Scultpture in New Westminster, BC, Canada

I stood outside on the balcony at my friend's apartment, facing North. I began to sing a wordless tune, a devekut niggun. I pulled all the contents out of a little red bag that had once held a bottle of wine, probably as a gift from one person to another, but that now holds my pipe. A roll of green cloth. A bag of tobacco. A book of matches. I put each of these things on a chair, the only flat surface available to serve as an altar of sorts in this spot. I unrolled the green cloth carefully on … [Read more...]

Sitting On This Speck Of Dust In The Cosmos

Starry night sky with two astronomical observatories in the foreground.

I didn't post on A Sense of Place yesterday. I wanted to, I really did, but there was nothing at all I could say that wasn't just a rehash of my personal struggle with belonging. This isn't the blogging that I used to do. I used to write about connection and learning from the voices in a place. Before Patheos I wrote about the seasons and the plants in Israel. Now, I fight my personal demon of loneliness and disconnection and I find my writing tiresome.Not that writing is tiresome. The idea … [Read more...]

When water is cut off: from Cochabamba to Detroit, by way of my bathroom

Spring water catch box

In the mid-1990s, the water services of Cochabamba, a town in Bolivia, were taken over by the subsidiary of a trans-national corporation, Bechdel. Water bills rose at an astounding rate, and people were charged even for collecting rainwater from their own roofs.The people revolted.Despite pressure from both private and public security services, the people of Cochabamba won through in 1995, and made a declaration -- reiterating, in more earth-centred language, the UN's declaration of … [Read more...]

The Common Riding: Langholm’s Great Day

_44028024_langholmone

This Friday just gone was Langholm's Common Riding. Since I've lived in Eskdale, I've been both fascinated by Langholm Common Riding, and mainly stayed as far away from it as possible -- although I have been, once.It's an odd local custom, involving thousands of people, a couple of hundred horses, and an awful lot of alcohol. And for some Langholmites, it's a bigger day than Christmas.What happens on 'Langholm's Great Day'The Langholm Common Riding is held on the last Friday in July, … [Read more...]

Rites of A Winemaker

My son Noe at Rasa Winery in Walla Walla

Last week I took a driving trip to eastern Washington and northern Idaho. I spent the Sunday after Independence Day with my son down in Walla Walla and visited the winery where he works. Noé is an amazing young man, and not just because I am his mother and therefore biased. I wish that I had record everything he had shared with me as we drove through the fertile Walla Walla valley, walked through the vineyard at Rasa winery, and tasted the wines. He has been working in vineyards and cellars in … [Read more...]

Can a human being be the spirit of a place?

My Marie Laveau altar for St. John's Eve

 Marie Laveau has been on my mind of late.  Ever since I went to Mardi Gras, actually, and visited her (reputed) tomb and left a token there among the offerings left by tourists and other pilgrims. I do that sort of thing fairly often, actually, usually at the grave sites of writers I admire. (William Faulkner and Eudora Welty both like bourbon). When I went back to New Orleans recently, I stayed in a hotel, the Inn on St. Ann, that according to legend was once run by Marie Laveau as a … [Read more...]

The power of the song thrush: life, death and the feast of St. John

Image by Jose Sousa, used under Creative Commons license.

"'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, 'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, I heard a thrush, singing on yon bush, And the song she sang was the jug of punch."These words are the first verse of a traditional Irish drinking song, The Jug of Punch, in its simplest form. I'm thinking of it today, St. John's Eve. The feast of St. John, celebrated on the 23rd and 24th June, is a Christian gloss over the celebration of the … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X