Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mid-year review

Brew of the Day: Well, I’ve been on a juice fast this week so it is only appropriate that I offer you a freshly made apple juice with mint (straight from my herb garden). Divine!

Summer Solstice

There always seems something rather magical about a solstice or equinox, don’t you think? I’d planned to go for a picnic with the girls at our local druid’s stone circle, Long Meg, but Britain turned on the gales and rain (for the summer solstice??? ~ YES) so I opted to pack up the latest issue of The Mother magazine instead! (hopefully through your door by now ~ the UK ones anyway). Phoned my mum in Tasmania who was lazing in bed on the morning of their winter solstice. Another friend in Tassie wrote to say she’d been on a magical lantern walk and how beautiful the faces of the little children were. They walked through a forest and finished off the evening with soup. The one thing I really do miss about Australia is the scent of eucalyptus after it has rained. It’s intoxicating. I often try and relive it by sniffing on my little bottle of Essential Oil of Eucalyptus! The perfect car deodoriser, should you need one.

I used the solstice for a mid-year review which seemed somewhat strange as it doesn’t feel like the year has truly ‘begun’ yet. My overriding feeling is that of peace and how vastly different the energy of this year is to 2005 ~ a year I’d rather like to wipe from my memory banks! My current gratitude journal reflects this too ~ joys from simple things.

In 1998 we left New Zealand and lived in Australia for six months before coming to the UK. We’d had bad immigration advice and ended up in Australia with Paul not being allowed to work…with me breastfeeding a two year old and a 6 month old there was NO way I was going out to work so we ‘existed’ on a payment from the government which was abysmal and didn’t help us to meet our daily expenses. It truly was horrendous and we relied on food coupons to feed ourselves. They didn’t provide things like fruit and vegetables but white bread. EUK. Yet, when I look back at my gratitude journal of those months you’d think they were the best times of my life. Each day my job was to find three things I was truly grateful for. Despite the flies, relentless humidity, no transport so walking EVERYWHERE, doing shopping with two kids, and white bread etc, my journal reflects a life of ‘plenty’.

The abundance particularly came through a woman who lived in a flat in the same complex. She (and her family) became the light of our lives. They would bring us boxes of fruit!!!!!!!!!!!! She had a tiny baby when we met and asked me if I could make fresh juices for her and in return she’d bring me boxes of mouth watering tropical fruit. BRILLIANT BARGAIN TO ME. She’d take us all to the beach. She’d welcome us into her air-conditioned flat.

This lady, who still is like gold in my heart, is one of the many ‘angels’ who’ve passed through my life. It’s interesting though, isn’t it, that we often associate our guides, teachers and helpers with those who we enjoy, and put those who piss us off into some other category. And yet it is the latter who often bring us just as many gifts even if it takes us a lifetime or longer to recognise it! I don’t always find it easy to ask ‘what gift has s/he brought me?’ when every button has been pressed.

Juice Fast

Decided to amp up my weight loss regime and have been thoroughly enjoying a juice fast this week. The girls (voluntarily) joined me just for the first day and have asked when they can do it again. We might make it a weekly ‘treat’ to juice fast together on a Sunday. My girls are brill at eating their fruit and veg by the bucket load anyway ( I never fear that they’re not getting their five a day!), but juicing is a terrific way to really get the cells of the body jumping with vitality. It is the most efficient way to clean the organs while bringing live enzymes and nutrients into the body. Most people have never had ‘fresh’ juice but rather the pasteurised (heat-treated) and/or concentrated stuff found in cartons in a supermarket. There is NO comparison.

I’m pleased to say that, combined with eating all raw for a few weeks, I’ve now lost 13lb ~ such a relief after months of the scales not budging at all. Feeling right pleased with myself!

My mint plant doesn’t know what’s hit it as I collect her leaves several times a day and my herb garden which has gone into jungle mode these past few weeks is now being ‘tamed’ through parsley, fennel, sage and thyme being added to my carrot and home-grown spinach juices.

I’ve not felt any sense of hunger and have even coped with making the family’s meals, no sweat. There was one moment when I would quite have liked to taste the vibrantly red, local tomatoes and fresh basil I was chopping into the family’s salad…but I knew I could get more at next week’s organic farmers’ market!

It has made me realise how much I ‘pick’ at foods while I’m preparing a meal. The number of times I’ve gone to put something in my mouth and then realised I wasn’t ‘eating’ but drinking. Just yesterday I excitedly found our first two peas in the garden and picked them to share with the girls. I broke one in half to share with Bethany and as soon as the gorgeous juice of it touched my tongue I ‘remembered’ and had to yank it out before I started chewing!

Most people experience detox symptoms (such as headaches or dizziness) by day 3 or 4 of their juice fast as the body uses the opportunity to get rid of years of toxins. My only ‘symptom’ was a lonely pimple on my chin. I can live with that!

It’s felt like an important rite of passage to let go of ‘food’ as such for a bit. I love eating and even when I have what some might call a ‘restricted’ food lifestyle, I truly enjoy every mouthful! I guess the next thing for me to do is to not talk for a week! Might have to wait till the girls leave home before I do that one.

The only thing about being on a juice fast is that my whole body is in another zone (it’s SINGING!!) and it would be quite nice to be on a secluded island on my own and not ‘disturbed’ by incessant chatter, ringing phones and loads of emails…Last night my neighbour had ‘family’ around for a birthday party…they’re not the quietest bunch when they get together…bbq smells, visiting dog in non-stop barking mode, drunken yells…. “I’m on a juice fast, get me out of here!!”

Vocal about local

The little village we live in, Glassonby, is home to about 100 people. Years ago it had a post office, school, butcher, pub and the village hall held dances on a Saturday night. The village hall is now condemned and the only businesses here are home-based ones like The Mother magazine; Jacquie’s Bridal Designs across the road and a couple of holiday cottages which don’t exactly serve the immediate local community! Oh, and there is a grass field aerodrome for microlights owned by wealthy people from further afield! The owner also has a raspberry farm and sells pine trees for Christmas. People travel from far and wide to buy these. A mile out of the village is Pine Trees Nursery where I pick up flowers and bits and pieces for the garden. They sell their plants at local markets during the week. Other than that everyone else drives elsewhere for work. There are still a few farmers around but things changed dramatically with foot and mouth disease about five years ago.

Last year a committee was formed with the idea of rebuilding a vibrant space constructed of strawbales ~ an eco-village hall. A friend on the committee was even going to make stained glass windows to put into it… but alas, there wasn’t enough energy or enthusiasm by the locals. Too much hard work to apply for grants/funding. Rather symptomatic of the attitude many people have towards resurrecting local living.

One farmer tells me that when he was a lad this whole valley was organic and that all the crops were tilled by hand to get rid of the weeds. No one was unemployed! No such sight these days. Tractors dominate the roads and the weeds are knocked off with toxic chemicals. Monocultures exist. Fertilisers of dubious extraction (poultry from a local place where they use all parts of the bird to make fertiliser, which is nauseating [vomit inducing] to say the least). That’s the price of cheap food! I often hear people mutter about the cost of organic produce and yet these same people appear to have NO IDEA why other food is so cheap. Only we know it isn’t, is it? It’s costing us big time ~ both in terms of human health and environmental health. We are PAYING FOR IT.

What has happened to this village isn’t unusual. Our society’s reliance on supermarkets has turned many a place into a ghost town. In the UK more than 7000 independent shops closed down in the past five years due to the take over of supermarkets.

We all need to learn to spend our money locally, which doesn’t mean spending it in a supermarket! It’s a rare place which doesn’t have a weekly farmers’ market now. All other household goods can be purchased at wholesale rates (30 – 35% less than you pay in a supermarket) through co-operatives like Suma or Infinity Wholefoods. Anything you really need from overseas can be bought as fairly traded/organic.

When the oil wells run dry we won’t be able to pop out to the supermarket! The trucks won’t be rolling in there with our every whim being catered for. It is NOW, not in five or ten years, that we have to make changes. We need to recreate community ~ socially and professionally. And as for local food, there really is no better, fresher and nutritious local food than that which you can grow yourself.

Despite living in the far north of England and being a bit slow to get my garden going this year, our vege garden has peas, beans, pumpkins, spinach, rocket, courgettes, lettuces, celery, Florence fennel, potatoes, radish, sweetcorn, carrots, rhubarb and beetroot. The herb garden contains catnip, fennel, lavender, thyme, lemon thyme, flat leaf parsley, rosemary, chamomile, tarragon, borage, bay leaf, garlic and sage. We have a cherry tree, peaches, pears, plums and apple. Also a couple of gooseberry bushes, blackcurrant bushes, elderflower, strawberries and blueberries add to our fruit supply. Our garden isn’t huge but it is capable of becoming a biodynamic, permacultural paradise ~ if I’m around long enough to give it plenty of TLC. If I can do it here, then most people with a garden can provide their family with great local food. Go on then, get off the computer and get growing! Feed your family vibrant, alive and lovingly grown food. Have a fabulous week!
~ Veronika ~

1 comment:

Harmonious Living said...

Celebrating your juice fast syster! and your abundant garden and oozing thanks for the latest mother mag, bless you as ever, can you put me six more copies in post - will stick some dosh in the post.. much love to you all. ruth.