Harvester ant and cornmeal at the foot of Tumamoc Hill, Tucson, AZ.
Today there is a simple story to share from my journeys with Corn Mother.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve made a few visits to Tucson’s beloved Tumamoc Hill. When I visit the hill, I almost always take cornmeal for offerings. I come with my trusted supply that I have ground with my great-grandmother’s stones. The meal is made from heirloom corn that has been roasted. The cornmeal smells good enough to eat. Each time I open the bag and reach my hand in for a pinch, the smell makes my mouth water. It is like catching a whiff of a memory too old to live anywhere but the body.
This past Wednesday, I made a hefty offering of cornmeal at a spot at the foot of the hill where someone had very carefully created a heart in the dirt using stones and sand.
As I walked the hill, I found my mind wandering. On so many of my journeys with Corn Mother, I end up standing in places where I am left at a loss for words by the complexity of what has transpired on the land. Oftentimes, I am humbled by the sense that there are no adequate words or prayers to recite at the site of a massacre, former missile sites, or, most recently, at the place where the atom was first split by humans on Turtle Island. I haven’t written about some of these journeys precisely because the words are hard to find.
When I am standing there, at these places that hold memories, the most honest thing I can do is make an offering. Cornmeal that smells good enough to eat. Roses good enough to smell. The gifts of the Earth offered back in return. I defer to the Earth and her myriad intelligences to know what to do with these ingredients for good medicine-making. This is the heart of the gift economy.
So I descend the hill with all these thoughts flowing through my mind. I stop at the bottom of the hill to make another offering of gratitude. Something then catches my eye. It is movement. I stoop down closer to the ground, and I see them. Harvester ants carrying bits of cornmeal on their backs, scurrying to the ant hole.
Tears fill my eyes with delight for the rare glimpse of seeing the offerings received and literally harvested. May the medicine be good.
Witness to the harvest. Recorded at the foot of Tumamoc Hill.