going natural

One of the sciences involving trees is called dendrochronology. It is the study of the cross section of a tree, where all those rings, or circles, are. Like Rilke's I live my life in widening circles... I had not known of that poem - even though I have read so much of Rilke's poetry, until I'd heard that radio programme the link will take you to. But I had written something that had tree rings in the title, which was my way of closing off a series of rings that constituted my beginning of where I live now.
What one of my work's reviewers failed to understand is that by analysing the rings of a tree, one can understand the climactic conditions of the entire region in which the tree grew. If we honuor the local, sometimes we give ourselves over to it, to be consumed by it, until we have made it our own. At which point, true creativity begins. But never without that nascent period. It must batter you (I quote the radio show), it must make you stretch a little more before the song can be sung through you (ditto), before you are a tree that can be played by the wind. The place I live is at a crossroads of many winds which rattle the windows all day long, as they are today, urging us to strengthen our cores!
But when, and if, we let such storms pass over us, we have a ring to show for it. It isn't easy, but isn't it necessary? It remains to be asked: How much do we let our surroundings into our lives (or do we fear pain, and say things like: I am always at the top of my game)? How much do we notice what's around us as we go about our daily chores (or does our fear blind us, making us the prefect pawn for global politics)? Do we notice the expression in the cashier's eyes, the old woman's Tower of Pisa gait, as she shuffles down the sidewalk?
Those are the qualities of the wood: it is exposed to the elements. It does not hide. And though we are not wood, and have souls, doesn't the soul come out of first accepting our very materiality? That we live somewhere, have certain memories, loved some places, were shaped by certain people?
The organic, the natural comes from first accepting the constellation of who we are, where we are, where we live. It is painful to look all those things in the eye, sometimes. But how else can we find out what we most deeply need? What balsam to use to attend to our surroundings?
Sometimes, the answer is in the simplest things. Like quality nourishment, eating local. I've been inspired by Ashley's recent food posts. Without frying the life out of food, but giving it gentle, warm baths... It is a time of cleaning, anyway, for many Christians. In the Orthodox Church, this is the first week of the Great Fast, which means no oil (except that in bread).
Today, I made a cauliflower soup by first dry cooking onion (in a pot, with no water, until it browns), then adding potato, carrot and later cauliflower - adding bit by bit of water. I used the herbs I had on hand, and two kinds of chillies. I made fresh wheat buns, using my pizza stone (lugged all the way from the US by a friend!). The buns call for 1 kg what flour, a little over half a litre of soda water, a packet of organic dry yeast, 3 tsp salt, 4 tbsp sugar, 9 tbsp oil. The ingredients are mixed, allowed to rise, cut into smaller portions, when a tiny bit more oil is added, allowed to rise shortly, then baked.
There is a special joy to eating simply. And it definitely helps direct the mind to questions like: what is really important? How can I learn to treat my body better? How can I learn to think better?

Elements: needlework: minitoko; starburst: pugly pixel.