Today, on the second anniversary of Gingermouse Take Two- give or take a couple of days- let us reflect on the few days leading up to Thanksgiving. Our hot water heater broke, I developed a terrifically itchy rash after peeling butternut squash, and when we talked about gratitude at the dinner table the night before the holiday the first statement was “I’m thankful that the dog is going to daycare for Thanksgiving so she doesn’t step on my head in the car!” The second was similar but it involved… dog poop.
Right. But a nice man came to repair the water heater on his way to Virginia for his family gathering, the rash went away in a few days, and the children… well, they are still eight and I love their silly jokes.
This afternoon Andy noted that we never got to what I’m grateful for. So, here it is.
I’m reading a book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Kimmerer. In it, Kimmerer, an indigenous woman trained as an ecologist weaves the western scientific method with the narrative of traditional ecological knowledge. It’s an appealing paradigm for me, reminiscent of my own practice of intertwining two types of facts, patient stories and biomedical science, to heal.
The author notes that indigenous people have a deep respect for the earth and that thanks for the earth’s gifts is a part of even everyday rituals. It’s a novel thought for me. I’m thankful to live in a place where we can eat vegetables pulled from the ground in our neighborhood- even if eating locally would mean a long winter of nothing but root veggies- but it has never occurred to me to thank the earth itself, or as Kimmerer might say Earth Herself, for its/her gifts. Kimmerer’s premise is that if we adopted traditional ecological knowledge- and the respect for the natural world that comes with it- in this age of dire climate change perhaps we could change the course of our planet’s spiraling trajectory.
This morning, before our hundred mile drive in my solar-powered EV packed full of vegetarian food through the wilds of Eastern Massachusetts highways packed with self-proclaimed Massholes*, I went running on the small farm down the street from us. Against the backdrop of the mountains, surrounded by brown grasses and dried out but still strong plants were, improbably, green carrot tops, fluted kale leaves and other vegetables that I couldn’t identify.
I experimented with thanking Earth for her gifts. I matched my breath to my steps on the uneven ground, feeling the dirt and all of its life through the soles of my shoes. I let that life fuel me forward, faster until my gratitude for it became a part of me.
*the seventy-something year old woman toodling along below the speed limit in the spirit of her license plate that read “CALM” excepted.