Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

October 2009 The Nourishment of Three Sisters Stew

October 2009 The Nourishment of Three Sisters Stew
      "In late spring, we plant the corn and beans and squash. They're not just plants--we call them the three sisters. We plant them together, three kinds of seeds in one hole. They want to be together with each other, just as we Indians want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us, we know we will never starve. The Creator sends them to us each year. We celebrate them now. We thank Him for the gift He gives us today and every day."
    ---Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)
      These three plants, when grown together, help each other grow stronger. Corn stalks provide a pole for the beans to grow on. Beans enrich the soil with nitrogen, helping the corn and squash to grow. Squash spreads out low to the ground, preventing weeds and maintaining moisture in the soil.
      Listening to the Land
      For me, the world is full of metaphors that help me make sense of my life. Often in nature (and other places) I'll find an image or idea that becomes the springboard for a song, story or poem.
      When I hear the story of the three sisters and how they work together, I can't help thinking about the places in my life that I feel are working together to nourish me, and the places in my life where I feel depleted and undernourished.
      Sometimes I am overfocused on my work and what needs to get done in the office. I don't take the time to walk or cook or do anything creative. I am like a bulldozer just barreling ahead full force, trying to get tasks done one after the other. Lacking the essential nutrients I need to feel good, I feel like curling up and complaining. It's all too hard and all too much, and I give up. I'm not in balance. How I take care of my body affects my mind. When I take care of my body and my mind is clear, it frees up energy, which affects my spirit. If I go on too long ignoring a part of myself, I begin to feel depleted.  
      Your Story: Think about where in your life you feel fully nourished and where in your life you feel depleted. Can you see how the parts of your life could function like the three sisters, each helping the other?
      Try This: Set a timer for 10 minutes and write about how you are nourishing your mind, body, and spirit in your life right now. List three small actions you could take between now and winter solstice  (December 21) to bring more balance into your life.
      Recipe at

updated: 7 years ago