There is something deep about coloring hair with henna. Like farm-to-table cooking, it takes longer to prepare, but the results are so much healthier and nourishing. I love Henna too because it is a plant, comes from the earth, and is really the only true non-toxic way to color your hair. But why is this particular and natural alternative such an inspiration to me? What is it about finding an alternative and something that truly comes from being in integrity with the land?
So I got to wondering one day, where this might come from. When I look back at my "hippy" childhood, I remember that my fondest memories are of doing things in a creative way. We spent a lot of time just with art supplies and the whimsy and magic of imagination. We didn't grow up with much money so my mother would improvise with our clothing, Sack lunches, and anything else we couldn't afford. While it wasn't idyllic (because what kid want a paper sack for lunch instead of proper lunch box!), never the less something earthy and integral seeped into my bones.
I never liked the word "thrift", it always felt like some threadbare holy blanket that had stains all over it. And I never felt exactly impoverished either, because somehow our brand of thrift always had a lot of colors about it. With a slight mystery in the air, we were more focused on the intention of creating what we needed than observing any lack of a simple lifestyle. I think the "can-do" attitude, as my grandmother use to say, set a tone that my mother adopted for us. It was more of a treasure hunt to find a used object and tie-dye it back to life, than it was any sense of poverty. A joy in carving out some beauty with the simplest of things.
My grandmother giggled when I spoke of canning my veggies and baking my bread. While she 'modernized' in the early 1950's with all the conveniences of no-iron clothing and microwaved foods, she fondly reminisced about her own childhood eating her mother's baked bread and canned jam's. We would hear long stories of how it was in those days, when cars were scarce and a family of 6 lived three to a room...even when her father was the Dean of men at Washington University. My grandmother had a sense of pride about her mother and her mother's accomplishments: "she kept the family clothed and fed with a graceful determination that rivaled the best of 'em". You see, my great great grandmother, the one who looks like me, came to the west coast as a child in a covered wagon. She was indeed a pioneer girl and grew up with that "can-do" strength that infused our whole lineage.
So when I see that the strength of the pioneer mother lifting my grandmother through the depression era, and the depression era shaping my own single hippy mom's sense of resourcefulness in the 1970's, I can only feel gratitude for the deep seeded history of the women before me, shaping my own passion to live more simply and harmoniously with this earth. The pioneers were anything but perfect, but they were hardy and they had to live according to the rules of the land. It came from necessity and fierce determination and arrives in me with a fierce love and respect for nature and the earth. Full circle. And so I dance with the rhythm of plant medicine and thank my lineage for finding creativity and pride in carving out a love of "making do" and living gently on this earth.
I am deeply grateful for your inspiration and carry your song forward to those I touch.