Mustard Garlic

Wendell Berry has a lot to say about our visions for life. In The Gift of Good Land, he discusses the destruction of prairie and forest, saying this...

"As we felled and burned the forests, so we burned, plowed, and overgrazed the prairies. We came with visions but not with sight. We did not see or understand where we were or what was there, but destroyed what was there for the sake of what we desired. And the desire was always native to the place we left behind." p.82

In saying this, Berry urges me to know my own land, to understand where I am, and what is here. I'm compelled not to simply destroy what exists, for the vision of "perfection" handed down to me. (In my county, that would be the vision of a pristine lawn with narry a "weed" in sight.)

So I am learning, and I am trying to participate in a "re-visioning."

As part of the process, I went on a wild edibles hike this past Saturday, with Steve Brill. And I came home to a weekend of discovery... that on my own property I have garlic mustard (pic above) with a "horseradish" root, and edible violets, and day lilies (don't confuse with inedible Tiger Lilies), dandelions, and wild onions.

I felt a fresh vision of the gift I hold right here, on my own small parcel of land. My ten-year-old daughter expressed it well on Sunday night. She gave this blessing before the meal...

"Thank you, Lord for this day when we could be together. And thank you for all this wonderful food, that we didn't even have to pay for! Amen."

For a related post on my other blog, visit Discerning the Violet

Here's a recipe using dandelion greens. Pick them young, before the flowers come, for milder greens. If you've already got flowers, you could also eat those instead. Just pluck the green part off the bottom.

Caldo Gallego

Caldo Gallego

Saute in a bit of oil 'til brown:

- 1 onion, chopped

Add and saute briefly:

- 1 garlic, minced
- 1 TB "bacuns"
- 1/2 tsp. smoke spice (if using Liquid Smoke, add at next step)
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Add and boil about 15 minutes (til potatoes tender):

- 2 potatoes, large dice
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked red beans or chickpeas
- large tomato, chopped, or small can diced tomatoes
- water, to cover all (put more or less for thicker or thinner soup)


- good pour olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- bunch of dandelion greens, chopped (let wilt in soup before serving); if dandelions are out of season, substitute spinach

Serve with crusty whole wheat bread or rice and a salad.

Caldo Gallego photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Cross with Green

Sometimes when I sit out in my "woods", I see things that surprise me and give me hope. Like the "cross" that's in the picture above. As a person who's into preserving the world, I need such hopeful surprises. For, there are moments when I feel like my greenwork is not making a bit of difference. I feel endlessly sad that perhaps I, and others like me, will fail to keep the world intact.

Indeed, the book of Revelation suggests this is exactly how it will go. The world will be assaulted until it is ruined beyond hope. And those who participate in its destruction will be judged...

...your wrath has come, and the time for judging...both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth. Rev. 11:18

Yet, Revelation also offers hope. Even as its writer, John, weeps, he is told to stop, for there is one who is worthy to open the scroll and herald in a recreated heaven and earth. Indeed, this assurance, found in Revelation 5, ends with a hopeful chorus, sung by "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them."

To whom do they sing? To the one who was "slaughtered" that we might live (Rev. 5:9). And this song, and the one to whom it will be sung, comes to me in the simple visions of my little "woods." And I am renewed in strength to go on with my greenwork, as a prelude to that greater, future song.

Photo by L.L. Barkat

Speaking of approaching our work with hope and strength, this week TheHighCalling.org is going on blog tour to bring you special ideas about living and working— including many aspects of work and family; gifts and leadership; excellence; integrity; attitude; professional relationships; and service.

If you'd like to be encouraged, inspired, or revitalized by some of HC's earth-in-mind resources, consider these tour options...

Membership... become a member of TheHighCalling.org

Awesome Articles... Memento Mori, Skyscrapers and Leaves

Amusing (and Awesome) Article... Packing Faucets

Other tour rest stops...

Seedlings in Stone
Gordon Atkinson
Gina Conroy
Craver VII
Milton Brasher-Cunningham
Mary DeMuth
Karl Edwards
Every Square Inch
Amy Goodyear
Marcus Goodyear
Al Hsu
Chalres Foster Johnson
Mike McLoughlin
Eve Nielsen
Naked Pastor
Ramblin Dan
Charity Singleton
Camy Tang

Have a Great Trip!!

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Wordless Wednesday: First Harvest


First harvest of the year,
fresh from the back lawn...
young dandelion leaves

Photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Thought Spin

Geothermal Project

Thanks to these generous bloggers who think I think (they think, therefore I am?)... Heather, Craver, Irish Church Lady, Katrina, Flourishing Mother. I hope I didn't forget anybody!

In turn, here are some bloggers who think green...

Sara of the dreads, the long walks, the cloth everything, and a free spirit.

Haddock of the green gardens, and small cars, and plants that overwinter in the basement.

No Impact Man of the New York composting with worms, dancing with his daughter, and kneading bread.

The Artist of the Aussie water shortages, and hopeful paintings, and big ideas.

Charity of the new old house, and the low thermostat, and Wendell Berry thinking.

Geothermal project was developed by my own thinking Sara, along with her Dad. What fun they had trying to make it work! When you heat the can on a burner and the water inside boils, steam emits through a hole and spins the "turbine."

Project by Sara, 9. Photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Wordless Wednesday: Lotion

Hand Lotion

I keep my empty olive oil bottles next to the sink. A few little drops of the leftovers makes a wonderful, natural, safe hand lotion. No plastic bottles to feel guilty over when the last bit is really gone.

Photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Sidewalk Trash

After posting this on my Seedlings blog, I got to thinking. Part of why I am nameless in my community is because I don't have a big "presence" here. I give my neighbors Christmas cookies during the holidays, and that's about it.

So when my kids asked to do a trash walk today, I decided it was the community thing to do. We packed some old plastic grocery bags into the knapsack and went to the library. On the way back, we gathered enough trash to fill what you see in the pic above.

It's not like I've done anything big, I know. But I can't help remembering the words of Wendell Berry...

Small destructions add up, and finally they are understood collectively as large destructions.

Conversely, maybe my small reconstructions can add up to something largely positive. Just thinking in this way seems like the beginning of something big.

Sidewalk Trash photo, by L.L. Barkat. Berry quote from essay "Contempt for Small Places," in The Way of Ignorance, p.7.

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Wilderness and Swimming Zeepies

microscopic organisms

microscopic organisms

Christianne's Wilderness thoughts got me musing about the resilience of life.

Take the swimming zeepies, for instance. (That's what my daughter calls microscopic organisms.) Many of these little fellows will not die if their water dries up. They just enter a different mode of existence that can withstand extreme temperatures and total drought, until conditions change again.

In this altered existence, they will sometimes be carried by the wind, to new places, with new climates. Here, they open up, emerge into life again, and go on. Even if it takes a century.

As people, we may not have a century to make it through our wildernesses, but I believe that we too have remarkable resilience when we wait upon God. And He reminds us with tender loving care, "waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool...And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing... sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 35:6, 10)

If you're in a wilderness today, here's some healthy comfort food to take along, while you wait for the wind and for the rain...

Potato and Broccoli Casserole

Potato & Broccoli Casserole

Saute lightly:

- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- salt & pepper

Parboil 8 minutes, or until almost cooked:

- 4 to 5 potatoes, sliced about 1/4" thick

Layer in baking dish:

- pour olive oil
- potatoes, salt & peppered
- broccoli mix
- potatoes, salt & peppered
- pour olive oil

Bake all until tender, about 30 minutes covered. Top with grated cheddar if desired and bake until melted. Serve with Provencal Lentil Salad and crusty whole-grain bread laced with olive oil.

Provencal Lentil Salad

Provencal Lentil Salad

Boil 20-30 minutes, or until tender:

- 1 cup brown (green) lentils

Add & mix:

- carrot, chopped small
- a bit of scallion or onion, chopped fine
- small handful sage or parsley, chopped fine
- a few good pours olive oil
- a few small pours brown rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- salt & pepper to taste

About Lentils and Potatoes.

Photos by L.L. Barkat.

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Wordless Wednesday: Redemption


May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5

On the Way to Secret Spot, photo by L.L. Barkat.

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