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Week of February 2, 2016 - Fifty Years of Justine and Susun ...

Monday, February 01, 2016 7:05 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Fifty Years of Justine and Susun

Aaron van de Bogart’s Quonset hut in Willow folded my soul back into the earth and I was ready to go forward. I was ready to drive my car forward, not just in my dreams, but in my own life.

When we reunited with Justine’s dad, I told him I wanted to live on my own, with or without Justine, for three days each week.

“Who will cook for me? Who will do my laundry?” he exclaimed.

“You will have to do it yourself, I guess,” I replied.

“But that is why I have a wife!” he declared.

“I resign as the wife!” I proclaimed.

“Then I will call the lawyer,” he rejoined.

And so it came to pass that we were divorced. We agreed that I should leave the Quonset hut. The goddess granted me a place to rent just down the road, still in Willow, allowing Justine to stay on the same school bus. The Quonset stable was home to Justine’s horse, gifted to her by her “other mother” Lynn.




1974: The Cottage at Lucy’s in Willow: This sweet little cottage by a gurgling brook was to be my home for the next year. It was here that I first read Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book Common Herbs for Natural Health, which changed my attitude toward herbal medicine. It was here that I came out with my first lesbian lover. It was here that I first kept goats. And it was here that I got fired from my job teaching herbal medicine at a local community college.




1974: Winter at Lucy’s Cottage: This photo is a newspaper clipping telling the story of my unjust firing. Didn’t get me reinstated at the college, but it did get my name on people’s lips: Susun Weed, the herbalist, the wild woman, fired for not having a telephone in her house! Being fired forced me to freelance. And this winter, for the first time, I rented a space to teach herbal medicine classes and publicized them myself, with a $100 loan from my ex. (I repaid him in three months.)




1975: Three Generations at My House in Willow: My mother Monica, Justine, and myself in front of the house I built at Lucy’s. After living at the cottage for a year, working at health food stores in the area setting up herbal departments, and teaching herbal medicine freelance, I got the brilliant idea that I could save a lot of money if I didn’t have to pay rent. I asked Lucy if I could build a house at the edge of her field, and she thought it was a great idea. At this time I was a lesbian separatist.




1975: My Hand-Built House in Willow had only three rules: No men. No power tools. No synthetics. I started excavation for the posts to support my house on summer solstice. My lover and dear friend Robin Fre laid in the grass while I dug and read poetry to me. Lucy brought her chain saw mill and her chain saw and we cut down pine and maple and oak and ash to build my house. I moved in the day of winter solstice. No electricity. No telephone. I was living simply and loving it.




1975: Ladder to the Loft at my house, a gift from Lynn, the horse woman, Justine’s other mother, and a woman I lusted in vain after. Nonetheless, we loved each other, and she created this elegant, lashed together ladder of silver birch and golden birch. When I left Willow, when I left my house, I took the ladder with me.




1975: I’m Sitting on Top of the World, or at least on top of my house. Because I was willing to see the beauty in mismatched parts, I was able to build my house for a few thousand dollars. Here we can see my piebald roof of motley shingles. There’s always a bundle or two of roofing left over from the big roofing job, and I was often allowed to take them or pay nominally. The oak flooring of my current bedroom is made of “not good enough” oak floor boards that I was given at the mill for my Willow house. But they were never installed because Lucy decided she didn’t like me anymore.



~ Fifty Years, contd. ~

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