Tunes for a Monday Morning

Dartmoor sheep

Above: "A Touring Tale of Ireland," featuring the words and music of Scottish singer/songwriter James Yorkston. His latest album, The Wide Wide River, with The Second Orchestra from Sweden, comes out in February. 

Below: "A Day Well Spent," featuring Bernie Pháid and Jefferson Hamer in concert on the Dingle peninsula in western Ireland. Pháid, from Dingle, plays a blend of Irish, Scottish, and American folk music. Her most recent album is Síol (2014). Hamer, from Brooklyn, New York, is also drawn to music with transAtlantic roots, ranging from American country and bluegrass to an album of Child Ballads (2013) sung with Anais Mitchell.

Both films are by Myles O'Reilly, who does wonderful work documenting Ireland's folk music scene. You can see more of his work, and support further films, by joining his Patreon page here.

Above: "Lamentations of Round-Oak Waters" by English singer/songwriter Jim Ghedi, inspired by the poem of that title by John Clare (1793-1864). "The poem and his life were centred around the time of the land enclosure act in England," Ghedi explains, "where common land was enclosed and lower class farmworkers and labourers and their families were forced into poverty." (For more on the devastating history of the enclosures, see this previous post.) The song will appear on Ghedi's new album, In The Furrows Of Common Place, due out in January. The video was filmed in on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Below: "Goose and Common," a 17th century protest song performed by the English folk duo The Askew Sisters. It's from their fine album Enclosure (2019), full of songs examining many forms of enclosure, and our relationship with the land we live on.

Above: "She Took a Gamble" by Scottish singer/songwriter Hannah Read, who grew up in Edinburgh and the Isle of Eigg and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. The song appeared on her album Way Out I'll Wander (2018), featuring Jefferson Hamer and Sarah Jarosz on guitar and backing vocals. The video was shot on Eigg, in the Inner Hebrides.

Below: "Kicks In" by Scottish singer/songwriter (and sheep farmer) Colin Macleod, from the Isle of Lewis. The song appeared on his first album, Bloodlines (2018). His latest, Hold Fast, will be out in January.

Sheep by the sea - Getty Images

And one more to end with, below:  "Wild Mountain Time," a Scottish/Irish folk song popularized by Joan Baez, The Corries, and others -- sung by Colin Macleod in a spare and lovely performance recorded in 2018.

Dartmoor sheep


Happy Thanksgiving from Myth & Moor

In the shadow of Old Oak

Wind and water, feather and stone, green grass, white cloud, black fur, red tongue, the panting of the the breath and the pounding of the heart and the winding of the path we’re traveling on, these are the things I’m grateful for, this hill, these prints of hoof and paw, of fairy footsteps in mud and moss, for the hard climb up and the bounding back down, for labor, for ease, for persistence, for joy, for all these things and more besides:

On the hill

for birds and bees and beetles and brambles and the last blackberries in bracken and thorn, for the scent of time and the taste of age, and the brittle brown leaves snapping underfoot, for the spirits that dance in mist and smoke and the ancestors in our blood and bones, for the mystery that some call God but that I call rain and thistle and fossil and crow, and love, of course, I am thankful for love, and light, laughter, delight, desire, but also for loss and grief (those patient teachers), dark nights, new moons, bright stars,

Chagford nestled in the hills

for sleep, for dreams, for waking at the witching hour in a bed that’s safe and warm, for the ticking of the clock, and the creaking of the walls, and the hush that comes just before the dawn, and my dear one’s breath rising and falling and a little dog snoring by the kitchen hearth, and the house that holds us, the life that molds us, the children, the friends, the neighbors, the village, the hill that shelters us in its palm and the land that roots us in place and time, for all this and more I am awestruck, I am dumbstruck, I am grateful, and I am giving thanks.

Hill and hound


Veriditas and the vegetable soul

Bean Longpod by Charles Jones

For those of you making Thanksgiving feasts today, here's a post rooted in garden soil....

"The word vegetable comes from the root that means the very opposite of immobile, passive, dull, or uneventful. Vegere means to animate, enliven, invigorate, arouse. Vegete means to grow, to be refreshing, to vivify, animate. From these roots come words such as vigil, vigilant, and vigor, with all their connotations of being wide-awake, alert, of keeping watch. 'The understanding...was vagete, quick, and lively," observed one critic in 1662. Ben Jonson described what he saw as desirable characteristics in woman, 'faire, young, and vegetous.' Such respect for the vegetable soul was not confined merely to a robust sensual life, but extended into the religious dimension. 'Man is righteous in his Vegetated Spectre,' proclaimed Blake when commenting about the beliefs of the ancient Druids. Elsewhere it was insisted that 'A vegetous faith is able to say unto a mountain, Be moved into the sea.'

"The downward pull of vegetables, of the vegetable soul, has also provided exemplary images of being placed, of being grounded, of having roots. For example, Jung said, 'I am fully committed to the idea that human existence should be rooted in the earth.' He bemoaned modern culture's lack of earth-based ancestral connections. As Henry Corbin put it, the past is not behind us, but beneath our feet. What better way to touch the ground than through cabbages, which the poet Robert Bly says 'love the earth.' The word root comes from the Indo-European root ra, meaning to derive, to grow out of. To be 'radical' is get back to the roots. Radish stems from the same etymological roots."

- Peter Bishop (The Greening of Psychology: The Vegetable World in Myth, Dream, and Healing)

Cabbages (Larry's Perfection) by Charles Jones

Good People, most royal greening verdancy,
rooted in the sun, you shine with radiant light.

Hildegard of Bingen (''Original Blessing'')

Potatoes by Charles Jones

"A cornerstone of Hildegard of Bingen's spirituality was Viriditas, or greening power, her revelation of the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality. To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Just as a ray of sunlight is the sun, Hildegard believed that a flower or a stone was God, though not the whole of God. Creation revealed the face of the invisible creator. Hildegard celebrated the sacred in nature, something highly relevant for us in this age of climate change and the destruction of natural habitats.''

- Mary Sharratt ("Eight Reasons Why Hildegard Matters Now")

Peas by Charles Jones

"I'm a champion of subtley. The subtler something is, the more you have to pay attention, and that's a good thing. Remember, it's not always the big, loud species that are the best teachers. Sometimes it's the little, quiet, humble ones.

"Plants have the ability to transmit energy. Plants draw in and transform earth and water and nutrients and light and make their bodies out of them. Plants are a manifestation of these forces being woven together, and we humans have relied on them to sustain us since the beginning of our evolution. In cultures that are close to the earth I see a recognition of the power of plants to hold and draw energy and to move it along, thereby changing in a healing way. The plant world is constantly whispering to us, if we can hear it."

- Kathleen Harrison ("Women, Plants, and Culture," Moonwise)

Turnips by Charles Jones

Onions by Charles Jones

" 'Eating is an agricultural act,' as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world -- and what is to become of it."

- Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)

Plums by Charles Jones

The photographs in this post are by Charles Jones, a Victorian gardener and photographer born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire in 1866. His work was largely unknown (even to his family) until hundreds of his images were discovered in a suitcase at an antiques market in south London in 1982; since then his beautiful images of vegetables and flowers have appeared in major museum exhibitions and been published in a book, The Plant Kingdoms Of Charles Jones (1998).

More information on the artist can be found here, and additional photographs can be seen here.

McGreedy's Scarlet by Charles Jones