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Grassroots Graton - November 2014


Grassroots Graton - November 2014

by Heather Granahan

Welcome to Fall! I knew it was truly a season change in West County when we had our first power outage. Familiar, and this time, thankfully brief. Also thankfully, we had a bit of rain and there is actually a touch of greening in the meadows around our busy hive of a village. The multitudes of various bird clans overnight began their noisy nightly roosting in our large bamboo stand again. Don’t let the light rain fool you - our county is still achingly dry under the skin. We can tell by the strong iron smell in our well water that usually grows at the end of the dry season.

Unthanksgiving Rocks

Speaking of thankful, this is a traditional North American season of gratitude and harvest feasts. Years ago I regularly started the traditional Rolling of The Eyes by haranguing the family at our annual feast about Columbus’s greed and violations against native peoples on this continent. 

“How can you celebrate that, especially with native blood in your own veins?” I’d growl, dramatically invoking my Muscogee Creek great grandparents. I’d feel torn between helping mom with the salad or being out on the San Francisco Bay for the annual Unthanksgiving Day ceremony on Alcatraz (also now known The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony). 

Over the years I mellowed a weensy bit and felt more of the spirit of traditional fall feasts of our own and local native clans. We learned more about our own clan’s November Harvest Busk ceremony and some of us travel to the South and join them when we can. Around here, the many tribal families celebrated the first falling of acorns with a feast in thanks, just as in spring the first salmon runs were marked with a festival. 

Acorns, with their rich protein and good fats, were a huge staple of the local nations, and imbedded in the culture. There are still large rocks in prime places throughout the county that are pitted with ancient acorn grinding holes. There’s nothing like perching on one of these for a while to send one’s imagination back to a group of women working there to collect, grind and leach the nuts. My favorite one at the foot of the Camp Meeker hill requires some delicate maneuvering around poison oak but is worth the peril to sit and commune for a bit. 

Embracing cultures is wonderful. Not so much is the reality of continued salt in the ongoing wounds of crushed native nations; can you imagine a football team called the Whiteskins, Blackskins or Yellowskins, I have often asked? I have some gratitude that the attitude towards the Redskins name is finally changing, albeit too slowly. I will toast that trend with some local cider and join y’all in some roasted fall treats from our local farmers.

Chop-chop, time to shop

Before All Hallow’s Eve was even under our belts and feast plans still being made, I already spotted X-Mess aisles being stocked in local stores. Allow me to beat just for a second on a familiar drum and urge us all to shop locally if we take part in the gifting season. 

For every dollar spent at a locally owned business, 45 cents is reinvested locally in wages and other expenditures. For every dollar spent at a corporate chain store, only 15 cents is reinvested locally. That extra 30 cents is quickly vacuumed out of the county never to be seen here again. 

Without leaving our tiny burg, you can gift someone with a meal, a massage, a yoga class, an antique vessel filled with goodies, gardening supplies, or a locally created world-class artwork. You can even mail them at our own post office that thankfully has resisted the tide of rural post office closings. And you can do all that without even getting in a vehicle!


Soon the roads of West County will bristle with greenery-backed cars as visitors throng here to buy holiday trees. If a tree is part of your winter celebrations, consider getting one from our local fire department who by default became tree farmers when they built their new firehouse in the middle of a local tree farms. 

Here’s a secret: go to their website and print this page for a 10% discount on a tree: Also, if you’ve had a picture snapped while tree-hunting at their farm, you can see it here: Your tree dollars will help support our busy VFD, who are here for us as the roads get slicker and fires get lit.