[-empyre-] Three Sisters

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Tue Nov 20 12:46:51 AEDT 2018

Dear Tim and all, 
Earlier I wrote: 
“Amidst the acreage surrounding us I realize how important our role of caretaker is. I am grateful for the rich fertile land and clear water that surround us and there are many days I feel the aura of those who planted the land before me.” 

Last night I finished the last pages of Barbara Kingsolver’s non-fiction gem, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  The book plots one year of Kingsolver’s family experiment of family farming.  The goal was to lower the carbon footprint of their existence by farming their land, raising the animals they needed for nourishment, and buying everything else locally from their farmer’s market or other local vendors. 

Though we have a one foot blanket of snow here in upstate New York, just last Monday afternoon in forty-five degree weather I planted garlic bulbs in my garden.  As I was on my hands and knees digging the compost in the rows for planting, I recalled my grandfather advising me that you are supposed to plant garlic in October.  The aura I spoke of earlier chimes through often when I am in my garden--- That my corn should be knee high by the fourth of July; that slugs can be attracted off from tomato leaves by leaving small lids of beer near plants.  It is as if that advice is imprinted on me.  I recall him spending time plowing, weeding, cultivating, grafting fruit trees, shucking corn and so much more as if it were just yesterday. Kingsolver’s captivating writing reminded me of the importance of the rituals of family planting. 

Two springs ago Jolene and her husband Tim generously gave me a stash of corn kernel seed from their reservation that I planted in my own garden.    Often called the three sisters, corn is traditionally planted with beans and squash together in a formation where support and nutrients sustain each other.  The growing season demands patience and slowness. The traditions of planting join intuition and common sense in the cyclical rituals of the year. How ironic it is that exactly one year ago in November of 2017 I hosted the discussion topic, On Contamination, for –empyre-soft-skinned space. 
During that month we considered the slow seepage of contamination.  

Thanks Tim, Kate, Simon, Elizabeth, Stirling, Murat, Jolene, Hans for sharing your perspectives. Looking forward to more this week. 
Best. Renate 

Renate Ferro
Visiting Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Art
Tjaden Hall 306
rferro at cornell.edu

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