It's odd, though, because I didn't grow up as a headache sufferer. I only started getting them regularly this past summer, before we knew Zoe was sick. When I took her to two vets to find out why she was limping, and they both said she was fine, but maybe had a touch of arthritis, the headaches got worse. I got two whopping migraines--my first ever--the week before that Saturday when, on an impulse, I took her to the Canton Animal Hospital, where she wasn't a patient, and asked them to x-ray Zoe's leg before I knew what I was going to say. Ever since we got the diagnosis, the migraines haven't come back. Just the milder malaise headaches on chemo days.
If you've been following the posts in this corner, you might have sensed that this week for me was kind of intense. I wanted to have a relaxing Saturday, but I also wanted to see if I could cure the headache without taking anything. It was a challenge because I carry around Ibuprofen in my purse so it's always there when I need it. I'm not a purist about these things, but I was attending a workshop on balancing one's energy, taught by two lovely sisters, Jan and Julie, and I thought that maybe I could put the workshop to the test and get to the root of the imbalance without just treating the symptoms. And then after the workshop, I was going to take two students I have deep roots with, Lettie and Scott, to a party at Deep Root Farm. It seemed like a good convergence of forces for experimenting with natural remedies.
A year ago December, my students and I ate a chicken at my house that Lettie and Scott had helped raise and slaughter at Deep Root Farm.
At the energy workshop, we started with a meditation I have done for years. You picture deep roots growing down from your spine into the earth. That always takes away my excess nervous energy. Then you picture branches growing up through your body, out your head, that reach to the stars.
|Jan and Julie|
Halfway through the workshop, my headache began to lift. The delicious, earthy red lentil soup and homemade bread that Ann made us for lunch helped too. And I drank a lot of tea and water.
Then it was time to meet Scott and Lettie. They were waiting for me in the parking lot of the bookstore at St. Lawrence University. I love these students, and seeing them also reminds me of places I have been with them--excursions deep into the country up here with Lettie and her classmates from a first-year-seminar I taught called Widely Traveled in the North Country--and adventures in Quebec City and Rouen and Paris and Dakar with Scott and the students who traveled with me on the France program. (To read Lettie's lovely prose, See Day 8: Lettie Discovers the Zen of Orange- Eating. See Day 45: An American Dog in the City of Light, Part I, where Scott has a walk-on part.)
|Lettie and Scott|
The cure crept up on me before I knew it. I loved talking to Mike and Maria Corse, who own Deep Root Farm, and their son, Ian, who, at age 17, has already written a novel, which he was happy to turn into a 750-word story, because he gets that you have to cut/cut/cut and let go to be a good writer. Val, my massage therapist was there. And it was great to catch up with Lettie and Scott and other former students like Maddie and Mike and Claire. Mia, who went to to France in the group Scott was in, came in from sledding and we were happy and surprised to see each other. She volunteers for Campus Kitchens, which serves free suppers to hungry people in our community on Monday nights. They get some of their food from Deep Root Farm, and Maria helps them.
Claire wants to be a farmer, as do a lot of this group's friends. I spoke to an English major I'd never met before about the meditation class I'm taking, which she is going to take next month. Some of us went outside and watched children skating on a pond, and watched the last of a bonfire become coal, and we checked out all the greenhouses where seedlings will get started soon. And naturally we had a good talk with the chickens.
|Scott, Lettie, Maddie, Ian|
|Deep Root Farm chickens|
|a new greenhouse at Deep Root Farm|
|We saw a lovely bird with blue markings and a white breast, and we all tried to guess what kind it was, but didn't know|
Then, homeward bound, and a gentle walk with Zoe across the river and back. We looked at each other often on that walk. She is always a bit subdued after chemo days, a little tired, and I am too. I asked her when we should stop and she told me with just a slight nod of the head. When interspecies communication works, it always seems like it's the simplest thing in the world.
Sometimes what we need is very simple, so elemental. To feel rooted to this earth. Warm soup with legumes and vegetables that grew near the place where you are eating it. The company of people who are kind and who are trying to plant themselves in a community where they can grow and be part of other people's growth.
Sometimes we don't have to travel very far or do very much to get what we need to cure what ails us.