ode boutique

Artist Interview

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy of Sweet Birch Herbals

September 9, 2019



You want to go on a walk through the woods with Hannah Jacobson-Hardy. She'll be able to point out magical moments you might have missed, plants you can eat or use for medicine, and she might even help you find parts of your spirit that could use awakening. Holistic life coach, herbalist, and the best Full Moon Ghee slinger at the Farmers Market, Hannah has her hands in it all, from the root to the bloom. Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 6-8om, for a foray into the world of medicinal herbs and tinctures with Hannah and arrange your own smudge stick bouquet from an array of local herbs and flowers grown by Full Kettle Farm. Cocktails and good company included! 

You are a certified life coach, so an expert in the field of helping people live their best lives. Do you have some advice for us?
I generally don’t give people advice, I mostly listen and ask questions that invite you to find your own inner truth. My favorite questions are: What are absolutely non-negotiable parts of your life that nourish your heart? What things can be let go of that prevent you from living your dreams? How can you make more space and time for those heart-feeding moments so that you feel deeply nourished and alive?

What’s your spirit herb?
Tulsi! I always plant more than I’ll ever use and surround my gardens with her sweet smelling nectar. Tulsi Holy Basil is delicious in all forms: tea, tincture, glycerine, honey, essential oil. I call her the Queen of Herbs. She calls forth abundance, love, and protection. People in India are said to adorn their doorsteps with the plants to attract bountiful harvests and health among their families. It calms the nervous system, aids digestion, is a nourishing adaptogen, strengthens the immune system and grounds frenetic energy. I drink the tea year round and sell it at the farmers markets so we can all share in her beauty.

                  

Is there a story behind the name “Sweet Birch”?
When I was launching the business in 2014, I asked the spirits of the land where I was living at the time to tell me what I ought to call it. I sat on a little hill overlooking the river and closed by eyes for a while. When I opened them I noticed that all the saplings surrounding me were Sweet Birch - Betula lenta. “Sweet Birch!” I said out loud. Then, I heard a rustling in the woods below and watched a black bear walk across the path I had taken. Well, that was plenty of confirmation for me! The business was to be called Sweet Birch Herbals and I would be walking the path of bear medicine, or the healer who uses herbs for her wellness protocols.

Who or what has been your best teacher?
My best teacher has been the plants, of course, and those who pass down their wisdom in verbal / written form such as Chris Marano of Clearpath Herbals, Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs, and Margi Flint of Earthsong Herbals. But, if the books and people don’t carry the information in the moment, I always refer to the plants themselves. We talk daily and they direct me in how to facilitate healing in the highest realm for my clients. They want to help us so much and are always waiting to be called on for healing. Giving back to them by offering tobacco, or a strand of my own hair is how I thank them for showing up.



Talk to us about your goats!
Before my passion for herbs came along, I worked on a small dairy goat farm in the Berkshires. That’s where I fell in love with homesteading, herbalism, making cheese and raising food from the Earth. 10 years after working at the farm, I finally acquired two pregnant goats from the woman who taught me everything I know. They give me over a gallon of milk a day which I turn into fresh chevre, feta, and yogurt. They help keep the weeds down and give fertility back to the soil. Each morning after milking we walk up the hill to pick blackberries. Stella has discovered that the berries are just as yummy as the leaves! And, Carmen likes her head scratched daily by me. They show me what it means to be a tribe, or a herd. When I walk, they follow. When they need more hay or fresh water, they let me know.

Your blog, Farmingforjustice.com, is so inspiring and honest. What are you working on for your next post? Thank you. It’s 10 years in the making, first post was at the goat farm in 2009. The blog keeps me rooted in written word, which grounds me into expressing what matters most when times feels chaotic and unknown. My next post is never know until I get inspired to write, so I’m not sure what will move me next. I feel most inspired right now by the beauty of the harvest! Peaches, berries, herbs, flowers, milk, honey, all the many facets of life that keep on giving to us year after year. I harvested 100 lbs of peaches from one tree yesterday. I almost cried thinking how this one tree had so much energy and sweetness inside its roots to grow that many delicious peaches.



Why does one burn a smudge stick?
Burning smudge stick is a reminder that I am rooted in the Earth and have the capacity to clear away anything that does not serve my highest self in each moment. I try to smudge myself each day and especially after any challenging experiences that stress me out. It’s always a good idea to smudge your home and bedroom when people move in or out because we want to keep our energetic fields clear and open to allow in what serves our hearts. As an empath and healer, gunk gets stuck to me and I have to be careful to keep my energy clear so I can help others and not get stuck in messes that are not mine to clear up.

You seem to notice the world around you sending you signs. What is a recent message from the universe?
In this moment of writing this, the message I hear is TRUST. Trust your inner guidance and the spirits of the plants, animals, ancestors and any other guides. We are all surrounded by allies in the spirit world. These allies want us to call on them, honor them, thank them, and listen to them. Get to know your guides. Plants and animals are powerful allies waiting in the ethers for us to open up to them.



What guides you?
My animal guides are the Owl and Snake. They are a funny pair. Owl carries the snake by its talons to get places via air, and the snake grounds the owl into deeply transformative places on the Earth. They work together and keep me highly entertained. Right now, they are saying, “Come outside and play with us, it’s so beautiful out here!” I am grateful for the opportunity to answer these wonderful questions, and they are right, I have to get off the computer and enjoy the clear sunny day.

My other guide is Grandma Moon. She is wise, stern, and playful. She directs me toward the feminine energies that are being forgotten. Listening to her reminds me of the power of the Divine Feminine inside each of us and how we need it to sustain our communities during the changing times on the planet. We live in a very hyper-masculine culture that encourages excess yang. Grandma Moon calls forth balance between the yin and yang. I thank her for that.

What’s in your tea? 
I just made a cup of Restoration Tea from Full Kettle Farm in Sunderland - nettles, mint, goji berries, milky oats, red clover, raspberry leaf. It’s a nourishing infusion that can be sipped every day to restore the kidneys, build up the nervous system after stress, and replenish after physical or mental exertion.



Cold season is coming up. What should we stock up on?
Immune Boost Tincture with Astragalus, Reishi, Ginger, Echinacea, Turmeric, and Licorice Elderberry Syrup Fighter Cider Murder of Colds Tea from Full Kettle Farm Elderberry Bliss Tincture with Hawthorne, Rose, Cinnamon, Ginger, Tulsi and Honey I have these every week at the Tuesday Market downtown Northampton and online.

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy of Sweet Birch Herbals

September 9, 2019

You are a certified life coach, so an expert in the field of helping people live their best lives. Do you have some advice for us?
I generally don’t give people advice, I mostly listen and ask questions that invite you to find your own inner truth. My favorite questions are: What are absolutely non-negotiable parts of your life that nourish your heart? What things can be let go of that prevent you from living your dreams? How can you make more space and time for those heart-feeding moments so that you feel deeply nourished and alive?

What’s your spirit herb?
Tulsi! I always plant more than I’ll ever use and surround my gardens with her sweet smelling nectar. Tulsi Holy Basil is delicious in all forms: tea, tincture, glycerine, honey, essential oil. I call her the Queen of Herbs. She calls forth abundance, love, and protection. People in India are said to adorn their doorsteps with the plants to attract bountiful harvests and health among their families. It calms the nervous system, aids digestion, is a nourishing adaptogen, strengthens the immune system and grounds frenetic energy. I drink the tea year round and sell it at the farmers markets so we can all share in her beauty.

Is there a story behind the name “Sweet Birch”?
When I was launching the business in 2014, I asked the spirits of the land where I was living at the time to tell me what I ought to call it. I sat on a little hill overlooking the river and closed by eyes for a while. When I opened them I noticed that all the saplings surrounding me were Sweet Birch - Betula lenta. “Sweet Birch!” I said out loud. Then, I heard a rustling in the woods below and watched a black bear walk across the path I had taken. Well, that was plenty of confirmation for me! The business was to be called Sweet Birch Herbals and I would be walking the path of bear medicine, or the healer who uses herbs for her wellness protocols.

Who or what has been your best teacher?
My best teacher has been the plants, of course, and those who pass down their wisdom in verbal / written form such as Chris Marano of Clearpath Herbals, Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs, and Margi Flint of Earthsong Herbals. But, if the books and people don’t carry the information in the moment, I always refer to the plants themselves. We talk daily and they direct me in how to facilitate healing in the highest realm for my clients. They want to help us so much and are always waiting to be called on for healing. Giving back to them by offering tobacco, or a strand of my own hair is how I thank them for showing up.

Talk to us about your goats!
Before my passion for herbs came along, I worked on a small dairy goat farm in the Berkshires. That’s where I fell in love with homesteading, herbalism, making cheese and raising food from the Earth. 10 years after working at the farm, I finally acquired two pregnant goats from the woman who taught me everything I know. They give me over a gallon of milk a day which I turn into fresh chevre, feta, and yogurt. They help keep the weeds down and give fertility back to the soil. Each morning after milking we walk up the hill to pick blackberries. Stella has discovered that the berries are just as yummy as the leaves! And, Carmen likes her head scratched daily by me. They show me what it means to be a tribe, or a herd. When I walk, they follow. When they need more hay or fresh water, they let me know.

Your blog, Farmingforjustice.com, is so inspiring and honest. What are you working on for your next post? Thank you. It’s 10 years in the making, first post was at the goat farm in 2009. The blog keeps me rooted in written word, which grounds me into expressing what matters most when times feels chaotic and unknown. My next post is never know until I get inspired to write, so I’m not sure what will move me next. I feel most inspired right now by the beauty of the harvest! Peaches, berries, herbs, flowers, milk, honey, all the many facets of life that keep on giving to us year after year. I harvested 100 lbs of peaches from one tree yesterday. I almost cried thinking how this one tree had so much energy and sweetness inside its roots to grow that many delicious peaches.

Why does one burn a smudge stick?
Burning smudge stick is a reminder that I am rooted in the Earth and have the capacity to clear away anything that does not serve my highest self in each moment. I try to smudge myself each day and especially after any challenging experiences that stress me out. It’s always a good idea to smudge your home and bedroom when people move in or out because we want to keep our energetic fields clear and open to allow in what serves our hearts. As an empath and healer, gunk gets stuck to me and I have to be careful to keep my energy clear so I can help others and not get stuck in messes that are not mine to clear up.

You seem to notice the world around you sending you signs. What is a recent message from the universe?
In this moment of writing this, the message I hear is TRUST. Trust your inner guidance and the spirits of the plants, animals, ancestors and any other guides. We are all surrounded by allies in the spirit world. These allies want us to call on them, honor them, thank them, and listen to them. Get to know your guides. Plants and animals are powerful allies waiting in the ethers for us to open up to them.

What guides you?
My animal guides are the Owl and Snake. They are a funny pair. Owl carries the snake by its talons to get places via air, and the snake grounds the owl into deeply transformative places on the Earth. They work together and keep me highly entertained. Right now, they are saying, “Come outside and play with us, it’s so beautiful out here!” I am grateful for the opportunity to answer these wonderful questions, and they are right, I have to get off the computer and enjoy the clear sunny day.

My other guide is Grandma Moon. She is wise, stern, and playful. She directs me toward the feminine energies that are being forgotten. Listening to her reminds me of the power of the Divine Feminine inside each of us and how we need it to sustain our communities during the changing times on the planet. We live in a very hyper-masculine culture that encourages excess yang. Grandma Moon calls forth balance between the yin and yang. I thank her for that.

What’s in your tea? 
I just made a cup of Restoration Tea from Full Kettle Farm in Sunderland - nettles, mint, goji berries, milky oats, red clover, raspberry leaf. It’s a nourishing infusion that can be sipped every day to restore the kidneys, build up the nervous system after stress, and replenish after physical or mental exertion.

Cold season is coming up. What should we stock up on?
Immune Boost Tincture with Astragalus, Reishi, Ginger, Echinacea, Turmeric, and Licorice Elderberry Syrup Fighter Cider Murder of Colds Tea from Full Kettle Farm Elderberry Bliss Tincture with Hawthorne, Rose, Cinnamon, Ginger, Tulsi and Honey I have these every week at the Tuesday Market downtown Northampton and online.

Artist Interview

Molly Hatch

May 7, 2019


Molly Hatch is, among a myriad of things, a smile-maker. Everything she creates—from whimsical mugs, to vases with a surprise twist, to books that open into bouquets—is meant to delight and bring joy. Locally situated and nationally acclaimed, Molly Hatch is an artist whose collections of ceramics, books, totes, and gifts playfully mix the traditional and familiar with the modern and new. The result is a breadth of work from which anyone can find a personal treasure or the perfect gift. Molly will be leading a Succulent Painting Ode Workshop this Thursday, where participants will receive her new book and learn to play with plants and watercolor. (Sounds like the makings for a beautiful Mother's Day card!)

Ceramicist, painter, author, teacher: is there anything else you hope to add to that list?
Ha! That is a lot isn’t it? I am pretty happy with the list as it is…

What’s on your playlist when you work?
I often listen to Mozart piano, podcasts (any and all true crime podcasts) and on photo shoot
days we listen to Maggie Rogers Pandora station.

You are the daughter of a painter and an organic farmer. Do you have any particular cherished
memory from watching or helping them work?

I think the biggest take-away from my childhood was my work ethic. My favorite chore growing
up was weeding in the garden—there is always something so satisfying about a freshly weeded
row of plants!


What’s your go-to gift to give?
I love gifting a mug—everyone always can use a new favorite mug!

Best thing about Spring?
My favorite thing about spring is hearing the peepers on evening walks with my dog—you know
the weather is really changing and spring is about to be in full swing when the peepers are
singing at night.

What fills your cup?
Seeing my designs in use is so incredible! I love when people share how they are living with my
products, it’s amazing to get those emails and messages with photos and kind words about how
my work affects those who live with it. Warms my heart!

There’s a children’s book called Beautiful Oops, which celebrates mistakes: a smudge or tear is
transformed into something beautiful. When have you, as an artist, “messed up” and created
something great from that mistake?

All the time! It’s actually one of my favorite parts of being an artist designer. Often “happy
accidents’ lead to some of my best designs.

Current favorite color and/or pattern:
I always love cobalt blue, can’t go wrong! Liberty calicos are my favorite patterns.


What contemporary artists inspire you?
I am a big fan of Beth Lipman, a glass artist from Wisconsin, Melanie Bielenker is a jeweler in PA
whom I also admire.

Is there any place or thing you’ve seen that’s visually stunned you?
Portugal blew me away—all of the tile everywhere! It was a fantastic survey of every possibleway to live with and use tile architecturally both inside and outside.

Featured Look

Poetry Reading at Ode

April 12, 2019

Artist Interview

Nathan McClain

April 12, 2019



In the poem "Casabianca", Elizabeth Bishop writes, "Love's the boy stood on the burning deck/ trying to recite `The boy stood on/  the burning deck.' Love's the son/ stood stammering elocution/ while the poor ship in flames went down." She ends the poem with "And love's the burning boy." Nathan McClain poetry reads as if it written from the vantage of that burning deck, that boy, that love. He writes “the whole mess”—messes made by families, across landscapes, through history. And he doesn’t shy away from any of the details. In this adherence to the particulars of “how reckless we’d been, how much we’d ruined”, he shows us the whole human: what we’ve done, what’s been done to us, and those moments, when the only thing left standing is love. Nathan McClain is the author of Scale (Four Way Books, 2017), and is currently a visiting assistant professor of creative writing and African American literary arts at Hampshire College. He will be reading at Ode on Friday, April 12th, 6-8pm, alongside poets Leslie Marie Aguilar, Arda Collins, and Dora Malech.

An ode and an elegy meet on the sidewalk. How do they greet each other?
You say “meet,” but I feel like they more likely literally run into each other, which, I suppose, is a kind of meeting. The ode is turning a bright green apple in its hands, utterly captured, and the elegy is saying goodbye to everything it passes: the flitting bird, the budding tree, its reflection in the café glass, its cold coffee.

Poem that changed your life or poem you wish you’d written:
I wish I’d written “No Kingdom,” by Carl Phillips. It’s a poem I return to again and again; it’s a poem I teach regularly. I love how simplistic the event and diction are, though the tonal complexity, its modulations, are staggering, how the ordinary is transformed and deepened through image, how the poem shifts to a certain resignation, or ambiguity, how quiet the poem remains.

April has been called “the cruelest month”. What would you call it?
April can be cruel, it’s true, but it’s also a month devoted to writing and sharing and reading poems, too! How could I be mad at that or see that as cruel?! I will say I have never finished a NaPoWriMo, not quite, so maybe April is a kind of disappointment?

Give us a writing prompt:
One of my favorite poems, one I teach constantly, is Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Bight” (if you don’t know it, you should absolutely read it). With that in mind, meticulously describe a landscape or scene, rich with details. There should be an underlying narrative, though that narrative should only be communicated through image, or figurative language. How the writer details and frames the world should define the emotional stakes and narrative cues for a reader.

The question “does poetry matter” can be an annoying one, so we won’t ask you that. BUT, if poetry was actual physical matter, what would it feel/smell/taste like?
Hmmm… actual matter? Poetry would feel, at turns, like wind-blown grass or animal fur, smell like the whole roasted chicken, but in the cartoons, a character floating on the aroma into the kitchen. Poetry would probably taste like the red hot jawbreakers from my childhood.

By what quotes/lines/provocations/inspirations/affirmations do you live (or aspire to)?
When I lived in Brooklyn, I used to walk by an American Apparel on my way to work. I tracked each stage of its closure—the shelves stripped down, becoming barer, the sales becoming more and more desperate. At some point, long after the clothing, the furniture, the employees, were gone, someone taped to the pale brick wall: “please allow me to be tender with you, / please allow yourself to be tender with me.” If there’s a provocation to which I aspire to live, I feel as though it would be that.

What books are on your nightstand or docket?
Well, that’s changed, or at least increased, because of AWP recently. Of the 20 or so books (far too many to lug around) I bought, I’m particularly excited for Jericho Brown’s The Tradition, Keetje Kuipers’ All Its Charms, Geffrey Davis’ Night Angler, Jessica Jacobs’ Take Me With You, Wherever You’re Going, Sam Ross’ Company, and so many others. I had a good haul at AWP.

What does your poetry wear to a party?
Maybe a wool cardigan with leather elbow patches? Skinny jeans? Tennis shoes? Keeping it classy, staying casual.

Go-to morning song:
Hmm. I don’t generally listen to music early on, but I’ll say that I recently rewatched the second volume of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I loved watching baby Groot dance to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. It was adorable.

What’s the most recent line you’ve written:
“I lost my voice,” which I believe will be the title of a new poem. I frequently teach my students that it doesn’t take a great event to begin a poem; I actually did lose my voice recently after having a cold. I’ve lost my voice before. I don’t think I would have thought about writing a poem about it if it wasn’t writing other poems that feel related to the subject matter.