Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Rites of Autumn

I asked a friend what family wisdom he felt he'd inherited from his ancestors.

“Work hard and live frugally,” he said. “And when times are good, set aside a little something for when they're not; for hard times will certainly come.”

Well, it's October in Minnesota, and that means that hard times are certainly on the way.

Even now, in the Supermarket Era, I find myself stocking up before winter gets here. Get it now, while it's plentiful and cheap. Never doubt that you'll need it.

The Rites of Autumn. Last week I returned from a trip to the Driftless Area with a car full of apples and cider, pecans and cheese.

The tomatoes and mushrooms are dried and tucked away in their bags, the back stairs lined with pumpkins and squash. The freezer's packed to capacity with cherries, raspberry jam, and applesauce.

On the back porch, the jars of turnips and peppers, of beets and cauliflower and kraut, bubble away in malolactic frenzy.

Call it a deal with death. Decay, but controlled decay.

Fermentation is all the rage these days. Here in the Center we've never forgotten it.

Set a little something aside. Call it ancestral wisdom.

Hard times coming, sure.

Never doubt that you'll need it.


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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