Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been having this unusual-for-me dream featuring a raven, a pebble beach, and a moment of complete transformation. I am not sure if this is guiding me to accept that yes (!); it is really time for holiday; or if there are bigger things I should be paying attention to.
Some of the coastal people talk about how Raven used his wisdom and tricks to bring the salmon South. I worked for a couple of years (on-and-off) in land-claims research. In hindsight, it was an amazing job: I got to burrow in archives and historical map rooms, and met sometimes with elders to trace traditional land use.
So, tonight I tracked down notes from a meeting I had with an elderly Salish woman who told me this story about Raven. (It’s commonly found, so I feel o.k. sharing it here).
A long time ago the Beaver people used to keep all the salmon to themselves. The rest of the coast went hungry. So, creative trickster-like, Raven turned himself into the young child of the Beaver chief. He waited until the day he was old enough to be told the secret of where the salmon had been hidden up the river. That night, he transformed back into his raven form and neatly rolled up the secret salmon, river and lake to take back to Haida Gwai. But, the bundled stream and river was so heavy that the salmon splashed out here and there, and when Raven took breaks to rest in trees, hundreds of fish would escape. Horrified by the loss of their hidden salmon the Beaver people transformed themselves back into Beavers. They gnawed down every tree in Raven’s path; hoping to tire him out so much he wouldn’t be able to continue. Meanwhile, the fallen trees formed natural dams creating the rivers, streams, and creeks we know today. Things couldn’t help themselves, they just kept flowing. Yet, the beavers couldn’t stop Raven and he arrived back home with just enough fish for everyone to feast until the end of time. Some for the Haida, some for the people along the coast, some for the Beavers. No longer forced to guard such an immense secret, the Beaver people eventually forgave Raven and began to reach out, marrying and meeting for feasts.
This story makes me think about the cyclical periods of feast and famine in our own life. In a week where some of the harsher elements of human existence are so clearly evident: mass shootings, land-mines killing a dozen schoolgirls in Afghanistan, news of death in a good friend’s family; I wonder how Raven’s patience, impetuous to share, and creative problem solving could also be good metaphors for thinking about better ways to support people with mental illness, encourage gun control, and come together to build genuine communities.
And, that we all need share the load, even though on a personal level I find it so tempting to keep it all to myself. I wonder: if we were all more willing to think collectively, maybe some of these awful things would not occur? Would we notice when people around us are reaching out for help? When people halfway across the world are mis-treated so that we can fill our own consumer needs? When we haven’t called a friend in too long?
I think our culture has a tendency to encourage us to avoid these kinds of thoughts. Capitalism thrives on individual thinking. We are taught to damm all our metaphorical fish up a river: let ourselves and our patterns become nice and stuck. Maybe the message of the dreams I keep having is to be more open. Let things transform.
So, my recipe for today? Openness fueled by a hot lunch that will make you feel cozy inside. Making and eating good food is the best way I know to stay grounded. Just for good measure you could even coerce some friends over and pour yourself a Christmas drink! Enjoy these wee hours of light. Or, contemplate your spirit animal, and think about dark spots. I tried to leave it all behind, and simply enjoyed the sensation of a perfect fresh winter egg over steamy smooth potatoes.
Happy almost solstice!
Potato/Chard/Feta/Egg Lunch Bowl
Butter for the pan
Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Thyme
1-2 Potatoes per person
1 Sweet potato or Yam
Hunk of savoy cabbage
Bunch of fresh as you can find swiss chard
1-2 eggs per person depending on appetite.
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Spoonful of grainy mustard
Sheeps or cow-feta cheese
Green onion or sprinkles of Rosemary for topping if you like.
1. Cut the potato and sweet potato into chunks. Put them into a pot. Cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until just tender. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, chop the garlic. Slice up the cabbage and chard nice and thin.
3. Heat a medium size frying pan. Add the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme. When the garlic smells fragrant but is not yet brown, stir in the pre-cooked potatoes. When they have turned a nice colour, add the cabbage and chard.
4. Splash with some apple cider vinegar to reduce everything together.
5. In another pan, fry up your egg in butter or olive oil the way you like it. People are opinionated about the proper consistency of egg yolks, so don’t let me tell you what to do.
6. Put some cabbage/potato/chard mixture in your bowl. Place the egg on top. Sprinkle with the feta, green onion, and add a dash of grainy mustard on the side.
7. Happy december lunch!