Tag Archives: Nature

Connecting with Mama Gaia in January

That’s right, I’m promoting a little connection with Mama Gaia this month!  I decided to pull a card to see how we might do just that.  It was truly funny because I saw this card in my mind and the ideas and words were already flowing for it before I had even ended the shuffling process.

Who showed up?  The Explorer of Air!  Such a daring and curious fella, he is, and nothing would stop him from doing what he loves best – exploring!  (That’s right, not the snow, the darker days, the extreme heat, not anything.  He’s good at finding a moment to slip into explorer mode and then milk it for all it’s worth!  He’s quite the inspiration!)

Post image for Explorer of Air

The Explorer of Air wants us to get out there and explore a little more!  You don’t need to go climbing trees, like he is, though he says it’s really fun (and I agree), if you are up to it, you should definitley try it!  Even if it is just the very first limb!  But for those who want to stay nicely connected to Terra Firma, I and the Explorer of air perfectly understand!  The explorer of air suggests just getting outside for even a few minutes and looking for something you might not have noticed before in the natural world around you and appreciating it for a bit. That’s it, it’s that simple!

So, let’s get out there and explore, connect with Mama Gaia (also known as Terra Mater by the ancient Romans) and appreciate the moments of connection that come!

Once you’ve done a bit of exploring, (and warmed up or cooled down depending on what half of the Earth you are currently residing on) maybe stop by and share what your discovered!  Sharing is half the fun, and that way even more people get the opportunity to appreciate it too!

Happy exploring!

The card above is from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.  You can learn more about the Gaian Tarot here and check out more of Joanna’s wonderful work here.

The Signs

A misty morning ride, ferries swallowed by low banks of clouds hovering over the water.  The bay filled with fishing boats, the docks lined up with hopeful crowds holding heavy rods.  A large splash just off shore, a flash of silver.  The first of the salmon have returned.  Horned grebes dot the silver grey waters, the first of the winter birds to return from summer breeding grounds to the north.  Blackberries dripping from soaking wet vines, blushes of red on sweetgums.  Summertide is turning and the waning of the year slowly takes hold.

It is only the beginning of the changes I have witnessed each year I have lived here in the Puget Sound.  The signs are familiar, like a close friend, I know these cycles of the season.  Not long from now more water birds will begin to arrive – grebes, harlequin ducks, surf scoters.  The rocks and sandy places along the shore will host foraging shorebirds – sanderlings, black turnstones, surfbirds.

The osprey and caspian terns will begin to gather and circle in the sky, calling and chattering, planning their travels south.  Long trips towards the warmer climes of Mexico, Central and South America.  This time I’ll already be gone when they start their journeys.  I’ll have to say my goodbyes earlier this year.

I have my own southward journey ahead of me.  A journey that will lead me to a new set of seasonal cycles and signs.  A high desert and mountain climate dotted with lakes and sagebrush, juniper and pines.  I’ll have to learn new signals of the turning of the year, make new friends with the land and the creatures with in it.  Perhaps, though, a few of my familiar friends here in the Puget Sound Basin will pass over my new home on their way to theirs.  I will watch the sky and wonder as I see swallows and osprey and geese moving south – are these ones I know?  Either way I’ll wish them well and then I’ll say farewell to summer in a new place and welcome autumn in new ways.

The wheel turns, the journey continues.

Preserving the Most Beautiful and Sacred Places

America’s National Parks would not be what they are today without the work of people who saw the value and importance in preserving these places.  Not just preserving them, but making sure that they were managed in the best possible way.

In our culture we often take for granted the incredible gift we have available to us in our park systems and designated wild places.  We don’t often think of what it took to make sure they were preserved or what it takes today to make sure they continue into the future.  State Parks are closing at alarming rates, wildlife refuges are in threat of being sold off to oil companies and our parks on all levels suffer from budget cuts more and more every year.  I firmly believe in the sentiment that we save what we love.  I also feel that it is up to those of us who love this earth and her wild places to share that love as much as we can, hopefully spreading it as we go.

This film captures a story of our National Parks from the angle of the diverse people that helped make them what they are today.  These people are my heroes.

Enjoy… and spread the love.

http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/watch-video/#914

It’s Amazing What You Can Learn From Observing Nature or The Wisdom of Orb Weavers

Do you remember Charlotte’s Web?  It’s a great book by E.B. White and then a wonderful film full of talking barn yard animals and one very special pig.  My favorite character in that story is Charlotte.  The beautiful Orb Weaver Spider who weaves those amazing webs that tell people how special that pig is.  When she goes the way all female orb weavers go in late autumn, I cried and cried.  I still get teary when I reread the story or watch the movie as and adult.  I just love that spider!  See, Charlotte dies.  But that’s not the end of the film.  Charlotte has laid her eggs and made a special silk cocoon for them and come spring they hatch.  Hundreds and hundreds of little baby orb weavers.

I’ve been enjoying my own special live version of this story every year for years. Well not the words written in the webs part, none of the orb weavers around here have had any special pigs to inspire such things I guess.  Though one year I discovered that a strand of my hair had been incorporated into the intricate weave of a web just outside my dining room window.  That was pretty special.  So each year I watch as the female orb weavers set up home around my house and grow bigger and fatter and weave bigger and bigger webs.  I can stand for long stretches of time just watching them weave those webs.  It’s fascinating intricate work, that web weaving.

Autumn sets in and they begin to get a little more sluggish with each passing day.  Till one day they are no longer there.  Overnight the spider disappears.  And I begin to wonder where she has tucked her egg case away.  I rarely discover it till the following spring when all of a sudden I stumble upon a hatch of hundreds of baby spiders on the edge of one of my planters, or on a fence post or any number of other places.  Then I settle into watch them, checking on them over the next several days.  They won’t be around for long and if I’m lucky I’ll get to see the miracle of hundreds of little baby spiders taking to the skies on little silk balloons.

Well, this year I had four different hatches show up all in a small space!  Those mama spiders were busy last season!  One hatch must have started out in the crevice of the boards on my porch. I could see where they had made a pathway of silk up to the edge of a nearby planter and that’s where thy were clustered together for the next couple days.  Until last night.  Last night I came back from my walk, the last of the light from the setting sun turning every thing rosy.  I paused to sit on my steps for a moment and that is when I noticed the long strands of silk going from the planter on up into the sky to where the wires come into the house.  It was a silk road of climbing baby spiders.  They were on a mission.  I wondered out loud to my husband if that meant that the wind was going to pick up soon.  After watching for a while I went back inside and we made our way to bed.

It had been really warm that day so we had both upstairs windows open to allow any breeze that might bless us with it’s presence to be able to move through.  I woke up in the early early morning to the sound of the chimes in the the other upstairs room sending their tinkling music into the air.  I remember thinking for just a moment that, yes, those baby spiders had known.  The wind would pick up and they were prepared for it!  From this bit of observation I learned that I can predict an increase in wind based on the activity of baby orb weavers!  Nature shares her secrets in such amazingly beautiful ways.

When I went out on the front porch this morning they were all gone.  They must have sailed off to there new homes sometime in the night.  Though I’m sure one or two didn’t get far and those one or two will end up being the ones I sit and watch weave webs and start the whole cycle over again.

Eating – On the Wild Side

I’m sitting here enjoying a nice big salad.  My salad is packed with lots of delicious organic veggies and one special something that takes it to a whole other level.

That special something is Claytonia perfoliata or Miner’s Lettuce.  A native wild plant that makes a delicious addition to any salad or can be enjoyed all on its own.  I admit I helped this particular wild plant invade the yard where I live by planting just one start.  It’s done the rest of the work and I now have quite the supply of delicious greens to chomp on!

Claytonia perfoliata or Miner's Lettuce Photo by Maurie Kirschner

Claytonia perfoliata or Miner’s Lettuce
Photo by Maurie Kirschner

Eating wild foods is a fun past time of mine.  It combines my love of being out in nature and my love of eating tasty nutritious things.  Just yesterday I picked and munched a bit of another kind of Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia sibirica, also known as Candy Flower or Siberian Miner’s Lettuce or Spring Beauty. It’s a close cousin of the one I’ve helped take over my yard.  C. sibirica  tends to be a bit more common in my nearby woods.  It has a very similar taste and is always a nice refreshing snack.

The day before that I nibbled another favorite wild food, Oxalis oregana or Oregon Oxalis or Wood Sorrel.  It has a tangy lemony taste that I’ve been enjoying since I was a little girl out on fishing trips with my mom.  She’d been eating it since she was a little girl on fishing trips with her dad.  It’s a family thing!  I don’t eat this in large quantity but it makes for a nice tangy snack!  I also love photographing it!

Oxalis oregana or Oregon Oxalis Photo by Maurie Kirschner

There are so many tasty wild plants out there.  Spring is a great time of year to start learning about what is edible near you.  Perhaps the nettles are just coming up near where you live and are still small enough to enjoy.  Do the lady ferns still have some small fiddleheads to be harvested.   Or you can try some flowers – I just love the bright pink Salmonberry blossoms.  Only I make sure not to take too many because I also love the berries they turn into too!

This is just a small sampling of possibilities here in the northwest.  There  is a whole wonderful wild world of delicious treasures to discover out there.   And I didn’t even touch on all those delicious “weeds” outside your door.  Nature is full of nourishment!

But how do you know what you can eat?  You should have a good plant identification book (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast is my own favorite for my area) and know how to use it.  You can connect with someone you know and trust that knows what’s edible and ask them to show you.  You can check out the local native plant society to see if they have any walks coming up that might highlight edible plants.  Maybe there is a Wilderness Education School near you that has workshops and classes on foraging.  The main thing is to make sure you know what you are eating and if in doubt wait till you can know for sure.  Just don’t be afraid to learn.  Eating wild foods is another great way to connect with nature, and a tasty adventurous one at that!

I’d be super curious if you have eaten wild foods and what you’ve tried?  How did you learn what to eat?  Do you have any favorites?  If you don’t eat wild foods, what holds you back?

At Her Feet

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Exhausted from uphill mud slick explorations
I drop down at her feet
Curling up on a bed of moss
Her roots my pillow
I close my eyes
And listen

Birds sing and wind stirs the uppermost branches
Leaf bud sheaths drop on the forest floor
And on me

My breath softens
I am half way between sleep and awake
As these healing moments pass

Opening my eyes I turn my gaze up
They sway over me
A soothing lullaby of movement
And there
Mother maple
Smiling down upon me

Upheaval

When things get messy I go within.  I don’t share much.  I don’t blog much.  Things have gotten messy.  I write in my journal.  I read.  I spend mass amounts of time in Nature, allowing her strength and healing and peace to infuse into me.  That’s where I’ve been, mostly, these past couple weeks.

Just before the Spring Equinox we noticed one of our kitties was having trouble eating.  Tigger is all about food.  Food and sunshine.  We took him to the vet and they arranged to do general anesthesia thinking he may need some teeth extractions.  But his teeth were fine.  Instead they discovered a mass under his tongue.  A few days later we got the results.  Cancer.  An aggressive form that quickly can grow and spread to the lymphs and lungs.  He’s going on 13, but up until recently had been nearly as energetic as he was as a kitten.   It was so sudden.  We knew that we would have to face letting him go, it was looking like sooner rather than later with how quickly things were progressing.

In the mean time on Spring Equinox my husband went into a meeting about a reorg at his work only to find out that what had been being said was untrue and many jobs were being cut.  His position was ending effective June 1st.  This will be the fourth time for us facing him losing a job in under ten years.

We had only recently figured out the direction we had been wanting to go.  I wrote about that in the post on The Tiny Idea parts one and two.  We had started working on the downsizing project, going through things steadily.  We had been looking at what steps we may need to take next.  We were counting on being able to pay off debt so we could make the big lifestyle changes we were wanting.

The thing is that we have wanted to switch directions nearly every time this has happened, but one thing or another, often inside of us was just not able to do it.  We continued on with the same old stuff, the same old lifestyle, the same old issues with finances.  So much has shifted in us now that we simply don’t want to continue on that same path yet again.  We know how strongly we feel about it and how we are trying to be very open to other possibilities and not give in to old thinking patterns, our own fears or those others may project on us.  We’re working on it.

In the mean time I spend a lot of time on the front porch, letting Tigger lounge in the sunshine and cuddle.  I take long walks in the woods and sit with the trees and plant allies that are so dear to me.  I walk barefoot on the earth in my front yard and soak in the Earth’s energy.  I dream.  I think.  I write.  I freak out.  I find peace again.  It’s part of the way things are when faced with uncertainty, and upheaval.  There is excitement and anxiety.  There is hope and there is fear.  Through it all I breath.  I give love to my kitties and receive it.  I connect deeply with the Earth and all the beauty of Nature that is unfolding around me as I wait to see how my own life will unfold as we go forward.

Cherries in bloom.  Just some of the beauty of Spring.

Cherries in bloom. Just some of the beauty of Spring.

Tigger enjoying the sun.  He is a sun worshiper extraordinaire.

Tigger enjoying the sun. He is a sun worshiper extraordinaire.