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The Importance of Ritual

By erica

Making new traditions, sacred spaces and habits are how we make Grants Pass our own.

Last week was our first celebrated holiday in Grants Pass - Easter. And whether you celebrate Easter or not, I know you have a ritual, tradition or ceremony that ties you to something about you and your culture, whether that is a culture of 2 people, 400 relatives, or a tribe in another country somewhere. What is great about these is the ability to create new customs and habits that are just your own, or for your new family or new place. Customs have this amazing evolutionary process that ties the old with the new. Like the way I make my coffee, these little ceremonies connect me to my home. They give me time to reflect on the fullness of my life. They also give me moments of no tv, cell phone etc. They are like little meditations while making a meal that only comes once a year, watching the same turkeys walk past at sunset, or scooping out coffee beans in the quiet of the morning, or just speaking to the owner of the local garden shop every Sunday when a shipment of plants comes in. Right now, in Grants Pass, every little pilgrimage becomes part of the new custom we are building. It is wonderful to be conscious of these things as they happen.

When I grew up my mother used to make an Easter ham and lamb. And now that tradition has changed just slightly in my home with a Mediterranean twist on the lamb which I made for Mark Alvarez and Arlene del Orbe last year. And I wanted to make it again this year. But how do I find a leg of lamb in a place when everyone has their own sheep? So with great ceremony, on Saturday, Charles and I ventured out to find every source of good food we could find including the best butcher in town.

We started at the farmer's market where the early, early harvest was being sold and the coffee was nice and hot in the rain. We also met the local herbalist and purchased everything we needed to continue some of the holistic rituals we kept in SF. We met a couple who sold us humongous duck eggs. We spent time with the mushroom man and the mustard lady. Finally, we met two farmers  that had collards bigger than my face and a mess of mixed mustard greens and no one would buy them. I might have let out a bit of an eek! when I bought them all. Oh! and there was a woman who sells Vietnamese breakfast there every Saturday! Must go earlier next week.

Pro tip: Baking with duck eggs makes things rise higher because of the high protein count.

After this we went to find the famous butcher, Cartwright's Meats & Deli. We had no idea what we were in for! The butchers are extremely knowledgeable and my leg of lamb was half the cost of last year's and a pound and a half bigger! They had all the pickling salts, Asian food, wine and fish selection I would ever need. (pre-made lumpia wrappers!!!) I think Charles got 5lbs of pork belly for making bacon for $20. It would have been twice that at Olivier's. Anyway, there were two more surprises. Seems they BBQ out front of the store every Saturday unless it is a holiday - EVERY SATURDAY!! RAIN OR SHINE!! And inside there is a list of about 50 local and not so local beers on tap so you can purchase growlers! I know I am yelling. Calming down. They also had organic fruit and veg, so I think Cartwright's is going to be a Saturday pilgrimage for sure!!

Triumphantly we drove home. We decided we were all about making this same trip on the weekends and I thought about Easter. This time of year is supposed to be about new beginnings and for 2 months we have been talking about the vibe in our new house. You see, the more we stay here the more we find out that this was not a happy home for the people or the animals. The animal part is the part that kills me the most, in particular a highly inhumane dog platform and shade tent made out of a fallen satellite dish that sit on the property. So we decided it was time to erase the bad vibes and fill this house with some good vibes. It was time to smudge the house inside and out. The next morning, Charles got up and burned all the old wood from the old deck and those horrible, horrible dog platforms. I mean he burned it all! I walked through the house burning the sage we got from the holistic woman smudging out the negativity in every corner and especially the garage where the dogs were trapped.(Did you forget I went to UC Santa Cruz?) By 11 am we had smudged the entire place and were ready to start anew. To start on a good note, I made duck egg soufflé - as one does in a random burst of positive energy - as the new Easter breakfast ritual.

Finally for dinner we had the lamb again and talked about the pineapple sauce my mom used to put on lamb, the hilarious time we had with Arlene and Mark, and discussed getting more recipes into the recipe box. The house feels cleansed to us. We are ready to fill it with good memories and traditions. I hope you had a great Easter if you celebrate it. I also hope you are all making new traditions and honoring the old ones. I am already excited about next year.

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