Rites of A Winemaker

My son Noe at Rasa Winery in Walla Walla

This, he said, was an example of the rite this wine demanded, but it was only part of it. The rites of the wine include everything from how the vines are trained and trimmed to what happens in the cellar. And then the wine is passed on to the purchaser, and the responsibility to continue the rites goes to them: to keep the wine cool for storage, to let the wine breathe when first opened, to serve it appropriately. All of these things are part of the relationship between the grapes, the yeasts, and humans. [Read more...]

Can a human being be the spirit of a place?

My Marie Laveau altar for St. John's Eve

I started out thinking of Marie Laveau as a kind of local spirit of New Orleans, and wound up learning a lot about Conyers. [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.

The Jug of Punch, the song thrush, the summer solstice, the feast of St. John, life, sex, death and singing. What does it all mean?! [Read more...]

The Queen of Fair Elfland

American Elder

Now, I think I could make a good case that New Orleans and Faerie are not that different in some respects. They are both beautiful and a bit, well, sketchy; full of glamorie, charming and occasionally unseelie inhabitants, and very good musicians. They both exist on their own terms, with an independent sense of the passage of time and a peculiar etiquette. Really the biggest difference is that if you go to New Orleans, you definitely want to eat the food. [Read more...]

That Place We Keep Meeting

The Network isn’t like a Natural Spirit! It’s not like Nature. It’s not like the birds or the trees or the dirt under my feet. It’s prickly and tingly and full of electric charges. I don’t want to talk to it like that! (I squirm in my seat, adjust my sweater around me as if that will make me feel more comfortable. It doesn’t.)

“What’s unnatural about the Network?” my mentor asks.
[Read more...]

Perspective in Place

Train cars and wildflowers along the Southern Crescent line

On the way I could see elder bushes, water hyacinths, and a million wildflowers in bloom, known and unknown. I could even, at times, see the tracks of critters in the muddy ditches beside the tracks: deer, rabbits, and raccoons. I could see small towns, too: sun-bleached shotgun houses, comfortable old down-towns with brick courthouses, the utilitarian and the whimsical and the abandoned. As a friend said, it was like a tour of America’s back yard. [Read more...]

From Here to There

On the train!

Today I am going to New Orleans, on the train. I’m conscious of the irony of talking about place while traveling, deliberately displacing myself. But the flora and landscape I can see out of my window are deeply familiar, and will remain so for hundreds of miles; ecologies are large. Human places are more constrained but are created by confluences of forces including human needs, the natural setting, and human technology as an expression of a particular location and time. [Read more...]


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