Monday, April 30, 2012

Dandelions, Violets and Wild Strawberries

I sat in the field amongst tiny, wild strawberry blossoms, white and purple violets, and thick, bright dandelions, although some had already wilted with their heads bowed down close to the earth. There was enough of a breeze to keep the black flies away. It wasn’t as cold as it had been for the past week or so; the sun felt good. It was one of those days that I couldn’t decide whether I needed a sweater or not.

It was refreshing to see and hear the bees again. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until they reminded me with their industrious ways, buzzing away passionately on fragrant blooms, especially the forsythia. It was as if they were saying, “Wake up!”

I considered each leaf and blossom harvested; aware of the way the sunlight illuminated particular essential aspects of what I held in my hands. I was sure to make good progress and I comprehend the significance of really doing whatever it is I am doing by being fully present.

Even somewhat dull chores will mean so much more if while actively involved you simply do it, not drift in and out of random thoughts. It doesn’t seem like it would make a difference, but it does. If you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes. If you’re sweeping the floor, sweep the floor. Be engaged in what you are doing. Pay attention to even the little things and new meaning emerges. Oh, and being mindful requires practice for dreamers (like me).

After filling my basket with a good amount of nature’s merries, I went over to the quiet, rust colored pond. Tadpoles darted away in all directions, hiding beneath rocks and underwater foliage. The low water level was startling. It seems more like late August than April. I hope that the expected rain will quench the earth. For some reason, seeing so much of the big rock exposed in the middle of the pond made me feel somewhat gloomy. Nothing was going according to plan. I struggled a bit before embracing the beauty in this and by letting go of fear that wants to be my constant companion.

In response to my concerns, I have discovered that wildcrafting deepens my connection to the earth and brings about a higher purpose in me. I want to share what I know. I want others to comprehend the astounding beauty and benefits of all that grows abundantly around us.

Last week when I was buying a tool for harvesting dandelions, the man at the hardware store told me about how he has such a gorgeous lawn with one annoying dandelion that continues to grow in the same spot over and over again. How unfortunate to be at war with a dandelion. He listed the various poisons that he sprays on it, yet it just won’t go away (a warrior, indeed).

I smiled and told him that I love dandelions and grow them on purpose. He fidgeted while my receipt rattled away on the cash register printer. I blew his mind, but that’s okay. I then listed all of the culinary and health benefits of dandelions and how I savor the roasted roots for both coffee and tea blends. Of course I mentioned that the only way this works is if they are not assaulted with toxins. Then I left with him standing there scratching his head.

I am amazed at the discoveries that I continue to make each day while studying the medicinal, culinary and aromatic properties of plants that grow by my front doorstep, in the fields, in and around the pond, rivers and streams, and from all possible nooks in the woods. The earth is abundant, providing us with everything that we need. It simply isn’t necessary to ingest synthetic chemicals. Of course it is wise to obtain professional and medical guidance, honoring science and taking full advantage of modern technology. What we should remember is that healing, maintenance and wellness is obtainable and effective within the boundaries and possibilities of nature. Instead of bending, harnessing and abusing nature by going against Her ways, it is much more effective to harmonize and reclaim our natural essence.

I sat on the soft grass with my basket filled with various leaves and blossoms, listening to the call of the male chickadees and watching two crows fly back and forth building a nest just out of my sight.

My heart quickened at the sight of the deep red trilliums about to uncurl into magnificence. The paper white and yellow daffodils nodded in the slight breeze while newly emerging blue hyacinths shiver slightly beside them. I noticed the lilacs showing their colors. My heart swells at the thought of their luscious scent and how I long for it. I thought about how many things I needed to get done and how little they really mattered.

I harvested enough for drying on this day and sat admiring the wildness and weeds and thinking about the moon from the night before. It was only a half moon, but as bright as if it were full. In the past, I might have been lonely sitting there missing a partial moon. I have learned a different truth that lies in the basket of blossoms, leaves, fruits and roots. Miracles. I comprehend our oneness and believe it is cause to celebrate. Yes, sometimes it rains within and I am unable to escape the melancholy, grayness and shadows that may follow, but without light there would be none of this.

Journal: Babies Breath

Photo  courtesy of

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Trees' Lament

To some this is a faerie tale, dream or fanciful wish. To me it is what it is. It has been almost a year since the pine grove was cleared. Prior to the clearing, it was a sacred place; a sanctuary I visited daily. When I first came upon it, it was like coming home. No matter the season, day or night, I found myself either in my sanctuary or admiring it from some vantage point. I never simply washed the dishes; I always looked out the kitchen window and wove my thoughts into the magic of the Giant White Pines.

Last year, when the loggers came, I was frantic. This was not my choice, but something that needed to be done in order to build a barn, plant fruit trees and gardens, making changes for building a farm.

The sound of chain saws, skidders and other heavy equipment churned away in the depths of my solar plexus. As I witnessed the process, I became physically ill, which continued for over a week after the last load of trees was hauled away. I cried. I ached. I grieved. I cursed the new light that exploded onto the gentle slope where my sanctuary used to be. It took me over two weeks to be able to even think about walking to the grounds and stand amongst the gnarled ruins. To me it was an abandoned war zone littered with corpses.

I helped somewhat with the clean up. It became almost tolerable as the months passed, and although it has diminished, the ache remains. I have a better view of the night sky when I look out the kitchen window and appreciate things like Venus gracing the crescent moon and the guest appearance of Jupiter. But I prefer trees and being able to stand in the middle of that sacred circle of wisdom and life. I can watch the night sky somewhere else.

I feel a certain allegiance to the trees that border the abandoned pine grove. They witnessed the falling of the others. This is the part where you either understand what I’m talking about or wonder if I have been partaking in certain mind altering mushrooms. It’s your choice. It matters not.

Of course, it is common knowledge that trees creak when they sway and bend in the wind. Anyone who spends time in the woods is aware of this. However, I noticed that since the death of the pine grove, I have been hearing more distinct voices amongst the remaining Giant Pines.

There have been instances when I stop to listen because it sounded like an animal groaning, shrieking or crying. I listen and acknowledge. I have discovered various individual voices as our connection has grown deeper.

It was déjà vu yesterday when I awoke to the drone of heavy equipment. The excavators began the process of stump removal and leveling the land for the new barn, garden and fruit trees. My immediate reaction was panic, but then I emerged from my dream state and remembered that it was part of the plan.

I sipped my coffee and watched out the kitchen window as the excavator dug up massive stumps with complex root systems. My heart was tender at the thought of how long and intricate those systems were as they wove through the earth for well over a hundred years. It was no easy task to yank them out. Even the most skilled excavator operator could see that these old stumps were steadfast. I realize that to some it is merely a job, but to me it is so much more.

The evocative scent of pine permeated the air, bringing me back to the previous year and the initial cutting. When the workers went to lunch, I approached the dump truck, filled with stumps and roots, and inhaled the familiar, sweet aroma. They will be chipped and returned to the earth, taking their collective wisdom and memories with them to a place of renewal.

After the workers left for the day, I went outdoors with David so that he could explain what took place and what would happen next. As soon as I stepped outside, my attention was immediately drawn to the Giant White Pines that stand on the perimeter of the now open space. My heart quickened. David was headed for the landscape project, but I couldn’t disconnect from the trees. A little puzzled, he looked at me. A gust of wind blew high in the boughs of the trees and they created pitches and tones that I had never heard before. There were many voices that actually sounded like whales or dolphins. It was a compelling moment that changed me and for which I am grateful.

David stood still and watched as I walked towards the trees. They lamented, swaying in a moderate wind that seemed to swirl only around them. My voice was firm as I spoke directly towards them. “I know. I remember too. Again your roots shake in the earth, but the men and machines are not here for you. I remember the others and now they have come for their remains. The others will bring life in another place. It is fine. You are not going to be harmed in any way and will remain standing. I honor you.”

My heart pounded. The wind stopped. The trees stood motionless and silent.

I comprehend my profound connection with Our Mother, especially trees and this was exemplified on the highest level. Like I have said before, there are field people and there are woods people. I am a woods person, but I do understand and appreciate the necessity of fields [I am an herb, vegetable and fruit person] and know that when pine groves are removed that hard wood will grow providing life, new habitats and renewed life. I simply prefer to maintain well established forests in their natural state. I find solitude and my connection with the Creator is more direct and clear when I am in places such as this. However, I can make that connection in a parking lot as well. What we create is up to us.

I am not the same now that I have shared communication with trees to a higher degree. I asked David if he had ever heard trees make that sound before. He said that he has heard them creak, but never like that and he is a woodsman. I have heard them before too, and there have been times as I mentioned earlier, that they have sounded their distinct voices [specifically during the past year], but never lamenting as they did yesterday.

Just around sunset, I returned to the trees to sense the general mood and to secretly find out if they [trees] had more to express. Except for a slight breeze passing through, it was profoundly silent and calm.

Journal: Babies Breath

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Earth Day Every Day - Plastic Water Bottles

Today, as I wander along the path through the field and into the edge of the woods, I notice many plants that are in bloom almost a month early. I remember last year it was later in May when I picked violets for syrup and tea. The black flies were swarming enough for me to wear my mesh hat.

This early blossoming should not be a surprise; the maple sugaring was earlier than usual as well. We do whatever is necessary to adapt. Right? Well, I ask and hopefully others ask the same question. Why is this happening?

It is so obvious. Just here in New Hampshire with temperatures reaching the high eighties in mid March and yesterday’s heat wave, we are witnessing climate change. One does not need to be a scientist to see what is happening. It’s clear. It isn’t as if we have not been warned.

Of course there are folks who say that climate change is a hoax. Hmmm. Well, I can understand why some would think so in response to individuals like Al Gore who produced a brilliant documentary – ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ – while living the life of a true energy glutton, raking in the big bucks. Yes. Some are making money off of the concept of climate change, which does not mean that it isn’t happening. Also, the earth does undergo natural changes with or without our help. Our practices are clearly damaging to the environment. There must be accountability.

I was inspired and impressed when I watched his documentary at movie night while in graduate school. I thought that everyone should view it to comprehend the urgency of changing our ways to prevent the planetary emergency that is already underway. Awareness is key.

Then I became aware of Al Gore’s lifestyle. Ugh. It shouldn’t have been a bombshell; after all, he is a politician. Their truth and the genuine truth are often worlds apart, depending upon the money in the background. I mean how can you stand there and wag your finger at the world about global warming while you rack up astronomical electric bills at home and fly around in your private jet promoting a book about reducing your carbon footprint. Does the word hypocrisy fit?

It’s all about corporate greed, recklessness and the refusal of accountability. If individuals amped up their dedication to living a greener way of life, we could begin to make a difference. There are many simple and immediate solutions. For starters, I will mention one simple change:

Say no to plastic.
Eliminate as much plastic from your life as possible ranging from shopping bags (remember to bring your canvas bags into the store) to using glass containers for storage in your kitchen.

Stop buying water in individual plastic bottles. Most of it is just tap water bottled at the source anyways. You are simply lining the pockets of Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle*, which is an entirely different aspect of abuse regarding water, plastics and our basic rights.

Get your hands on a BPA free water bottle and if your water is unsafe, consider buying it in large quantities or treating it. Seriously, stop buying drinking water in individual plastic bottles. It’s an epidemic.

Better yet, perhaps you can get to the root cause of why your water isn’t safe and work together with your community to change that. Don’t accept the devastation of our precious water sources.

No one or corporation should be allowed to contaminate and/or steal your water only to turn around and sell it back to you. We aren’t even addressing the adverse affect that the water bottling process and a multitude of other harmful practices have on plants and animals in their natural habitat.

Plus as far as the addiction of toting around a plastic water bottle at all times; consuming from plastic containers is a health hazard in itself, linked to various cancers and related diseases.

Don’t forget the waste part of this equation. There are literal islands of plastic floating around in our beautiful bodies of water.

Earth Day is April 22nd. Let it be every day.

* This video has been aired on the Documentary Channel and is for sale.

Photo - Beedes Falls, Sandwich NH
Journal: Bittersweet

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Addendum: Sing Again

Response to feedback from my blog – Sing Again

I guess there are always metaphors and reading between the lines...that is quite appropriate for my nature writing...and especially for those of you who know me and my wildness that has been unfolding over the past decade. So yeah...I can see where your interpretation(s) are coming from...[Sing Again – Blog] is a true account, a blend of the weather and a "bigger picture" scenario.

I really longed to be outdoors, but it was very raw and rainy...not a hard rain, a syncopated rain that as far as actual, individual raindrops, I saw (more than felt)...the drops were visible on the plastic greenhouse that covers my herb pots...I wasn't comfortable then, I preferred to sit by the fire with a cup of wild tea and plan the next thing.

As I was heading towards the house (where it was warm)...the wind picked up...and I heard a very loud, deep cry [of anguish] first I thought it was an animal, perhaps a moose. I stopped and listened again and figured out that it was a creaking tree. It was very distinctive. I waited and looked up the hill towards the edge of the grove where the huge white pines were swaying in the higher level of wind. Then I clearly heard many voices of the trees. It was magnificent yet borderline eerie. Once I focused on it, I liked it but  because of the implied urgency, it was somewhat disturbing at the same time.

Their song was a profound expression of their pain and concern...yes they are still healing from the loss of their brothers and sisters, but their concerns are global and pertain to the healing of Mother Earth Herself. With the ongoing disturbances, toxicity and manipulating of nature that have been practiced for decades, we (inhabitants of this great green planet) need to pause, take notice and act responsibly. No more raping the forests, fracking, drilling into the crust, spilling and dumping toxins into the atmosphere and waters and earth, killing habitats and already fragile eco systems.

It was all in that song. I listened closely, inhabiting the beauty, power and melancholy of their message. I appreciate and honor them.

As I listened, I looked over at the crocuses that were moving and unbending in the wind. I do not have an unconscious death wish. I simply admire them for living gloriously and courageously in the moment. They are a symbol of strength. They do not question their existence; they simply are. I liked that in the midst of all else that was happening.

Thank you, Jelly Bean.

Journal: Babies Breath

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sing Again

I walked and I waited beneath gray skies and syncopated rain. I could not find a reason to stay, yet I could not find it in my heart to leave. The birds sang sweetly in the middle of the day.

I envied the courage of the deep purple crocuses when they joined in song, not caring that they might die tomorrow.

The language of the senses spoke, wrapping around me like a tight fitting glove. In order to stir me, the wind blew through the outer edge of the Pine Grove. The giant White Pines called in separate creaking voices to remind me of their presence. I stopped and listened like it was the first time. [It was not, but then again it was].

I heard what they had to say and with the guidance of my inner compass, I was able to follow the conversation. Distinctive pitches swirled gracefully above within the highest green boughs stretched up towards the sky. An urgent cacophony of voices begged to be heard and then subsided, dying down to one deep, ancient voice of the eldest White Pine, commanding peace and order.

When the wind ceased, the silence tormented me. Was it greedy to want more from all possible voices of this green earth? I think not. It is with love, joy and concern that I hear messages woven within an earthly tapestry of sacred harmony.

The weeping clouds passed overhead, pausing long enough to witness the truth, yet not long enough to quench the ground [so ripe within].

I was grateful for the crow that flew fretfully from one woody branch to the next in an effort to stir the wind. Losing patience and yearning to awaken, I climbed onto the Prayer Rock and waited for the mournful choir of the Pine Grove to sing again.

Journal: Babies Breath

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Proverbial Pathway - Another Day

At the break of day when I do not feel fruitful, I go into the woods to sing. I sit on the Prayer Rock to witness the immeasurable canvas sprawled before me, touched by the paintbrush of creation. The sun beckons to all upturned faces, living on the margins of winter, anticipating spring and the promise of re-birth.

I revel in cosmic chaos – the pulsation of sound amplified by miracles orchestrated in wind, bird and brook songs (accompanied by the rattling of last season’s leaves that cling tightly to the branches in the Ash Grove, awaiting new growth). I look to where the anxious mountains melt away the last traces of snow where my friend, the red tail hawk, circles above.

I wander down the proverbial pathway, lingering before the roses, exposed yet rooted in love as they stand naked, desperate for the return of their aromatic blooms to cover their vulnerability. Intoxicated by their scent, reckless in their presence and wildly imperfect, I am willing to bleed.

Further down the pathway, the remnants of milkweeds – the host plant for Monarchs and others – sway tenderly in the wind releasing the last few silky white strands, transporting papery brown seeds. I watch them float indecisively to the opposite slope.

Before it becomes a bit of a marsh, I head towards the spring pond that exists long enough for peepers to come out and sing and lay eggs for future prosperity. Predictably, the chorus halts as I approach. I catch a glimpse of an olive green frog – a possible prince during the essence of my becoming – before he disappears under the shelter of a faded bouquet of oak and maple leaves that float on the surface. A smile emerges from within as I spot at least a thousand eggs in various clumps knowing that soon it will be tadpole bliss.

I then sit on a mossy stump beside the twin trunks of two immense trees which shelter life amongst gnarled, trailing roots. The trees embrace, knowing that a love like this is rare and only threatened by the woodsman’s ax. I think if I were a tree I would want this and if I were a small creature I would live somewhere within.

To bathe in the woods is to draw strength from Nature’s womb. The milk of Our Mother nourishes my creative soul. So another day ends and another moon rises.

Journal: Babies Breath