Thursday, June 16, 2011

Udan Farm Reborn

I wanted to explain how we came up with a name for our new place, and what the symbolism in the logo is about.

We closed on the new “farm” a week or so ago, and we took the first load of stuff down from OR, spent two nights, cleaning up and basically camping while we unloaded the Uhaul.

A farm, a home, a place, in my opinion NEEDS a name! It makes it more of a living entity.

When Alder and I first started seeing each other-which entailed me coming down to the farm he was on every weekend-one of the things we did was read together. I’ve always loved doing this, and he had a great love of Ursula LeGuin. I wanted to know about the things he was passionate about, so we read quite a lot of her stories.

The one we both like the most (well, one of two) is a short story called “Another Story, OR the Fisherman of the Inland Sea”, which is set on a continuously inhabited (for 3,000 years) family “farmhold” named Udan.

So when we started our own permaculture homestead in GA, that was undoubtedly our choice for it’s name.
It’s been a good name, but now we are in CA, and we have to ponder, was Udan us, or did Udan stay in GA…

When we started talking about the new place we knew we wanted to name it, and our minds immediately went to Ursula LeGuin for our inspiration.

Our other favorite book is “Always Coming Home”, arguably Ursula’s epic novel, of an indigenous people that inhabit CA many years in the future.

I love the cover of this book, because it always looked like “Home” to me-where I came from...those rolling, voluptuous, velvety hills where I grew up-the land that comforted and shaped my soul.

Alder and I started pouring over “Always Coming Home” last week, thinking that the name for our new farm MUST come from this book. But nothing really struck us. “Just give it some time”, he said.

Then a couple of days ago, we had a colorful encounter that inspired us. The dog was barking and I went out to see a peacock in the neighbor’s yard! My mouth dropped open! So pretty! I figured the elderly neighbor lady must have gotten a peacock, but the more I thought about it, I figured that probably wasn’t the case, so I ascertained that it was not hers, and it was most likely wild.

In the meantime, I had been reading about our friend Liam, who died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and his re-drawing of the Seal of Atlanta to include a Sun and fruit tree. Ever the optimist and catalyst for change, he made the grey phoenix into a “green” phoenix.

I have a special place in my heart, because of a vision I had, for phoenixes. I think of the Cherokee (part of my heritage) phoenix as red, my personal bird is turquoise-and came to symbolize the direction my spiritual life would take, so the image of a green phoenix sounded very cool!

Visions of a colorful pet for the farm and a “green phoenix” danced in my head as we spent some time trying to catch the bird. Chasing a bird through dense underbrush (mostly posion oak) is not easy, but when it drew us into the blackberries and then FLEW away, we said goodbye to our dream of a free, LOUD alarm clock!

I came back to the house and looked up “Peacock Medicine” as in the lessons that an animal passing into our lives has to teach us. Peacock is a symbol of watchfulness (his “eyes” on his tail feathers) and in Christianity, a symbol of resurrection. It also teaches us with it’s laugh-like cry to laugh with life! Chasing a peacock unsuccessfully through the brush is certainly a case for laughing at one’s self, and as I made lunch, I thought about peacocks, and Liam and phoenixes and resurrection, and chasing peacocks and laughing. Liam is still not far from my thoughts, and the one thing that I think if immediately when I think of him, is JOY and laughter-yes, I think Liam would have thought Alder chasing a peacock was funny.

As I cooked an idea came to me...Udan farm, our beloved permaculture homestead could BE reborn in California! Why NOT name the new farm the same as the old farm, and continue all the good that we did there-continue the permaculture ethics and community, teaching, etc….it felt very right.

So I passed it by Alder and it felt right to him too. I told him I had been thinking about Liam helping us plant persimmons and figs on Udan, and phoenixes, and being re-born (wondering where Liam is now, and where he’s going) and how it all wove together into the idea that Udan should stay with us.

Being the graphics geek, and having a rare (at the moment) day to goof off, I set about making our new “logo”…. I can see it as a carved and painted wooden sign at the gate of our new farm.

I started with a pecan tree, one that was part of an ad for the first Permaculture Design Course at Koinonia (Alder’s home for 10 years and coincidentally the PDC where Liam was a student). I changed that pecan tree into an olive tree, to symbolize where we are going and what Alder hopes to plant. The two fallen leaves are our permie friends that we have lost in the last 2 years, Liam, and Frank Cook. They symbolize something of the circle, of life and death, that is part of every farm.

The artichoke is also a symbol of our future food. Even before we closed on the house, the previous owner gave us permission to take artichokes that may be growing there, so we had a dinner several weeks back that included food off our new land! How cool that the land is feeding us before we even move onto it! The artichoke in the logo is one of the ones we ate, turned into a graphic. It looks mighty like a lotus, which is also a symbol of rebirth.

The red line at the bottom is symbolic of the land, our grounding foundation, red for both the land that we left, and the land we are going to-which is in the “Red Bank” district-so named because of the color of the soil showing along the banks of the creek. The red also stands for my Cherokee and Alder’s Mauntauk heritage.

The phoenix has so many meaning held within it. My Cherokee heritage, my vision and newfound Spiritual path (hence also the 7 drops of water coming off the bird, as if he were coming up out of water), Udan’s rebirth, Alder’s rebirth, and even Liam and his green phoenix.

And the spiral on the bird is a pattern in Permaculture, was the G in “Georgia Permaculture” and was part of the peach logo for the Altanta PDC that never happened.

As for the word wudeligv, which is Cherokee for West, we didn’t just want to name the place “Udan Farm” again-there needed to be some distinction, and with me ever ready these days to practice my Cherokee language skills it seemed like a nice 2nd part to the name. Udan West.

So that’s the story behind our new “logo”. And the picture behind the blog is the new place we call home.

Home. Owenvsv (oh weh nuh suh) in Cherokee. The place where we will grow food, make friends, sit and watch the grass grow, maybe play with some great-nieces in a few years and laugh. And I hope there’s a LOT of laughter, and joy.



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