Bit Bit

And just like that, after painting Wood Duck last month, two have returned to the pond to paddle.  Not for long though, as our dog flushes them out and they wing up through cloudy skies, circling round and round to see whether we’re gone.  Every year they come from wherever they’ve been to shape a nest in the woods to lay eggs in; once hatched we’ll see the whole family paddling, ducklings behind mama and papa until dog gives chase and with a flap and a flurry, into the trees they go.

 

Is it winter as yet?  Sure smells, tastes, and feels like spring.  Three days of rain and the creek flows clearly sweet, burbling and gurgling.  The different sounds water makes as it meanders along is lovely; burbling and bouncing down over rocks, a trickle here, a gush there with a plop or two mixed into watersong.  These warm mornings we’ve been outside by the creek just looking at the water and listening, until a cackle of crows flies overhead and we look up to watch them go caaw caaw caawing, counting crows, and then it’s squatting on a rock over watery ripples.

Today, while the moon is still new and moving from the constellation of The Fish into The Ram, we had a second session sowing seeds in flats of soil.  Drew lines in crumbly dark soil with our fingers and pressed tiny rounds that’ll become cabbage, flat white grains holding tomatoes within, and gnarly knotty squarish bits pregnant with chard into the ‘rows’ and covered them up.  They germinate and grow slower than the kales and lettuces, zinnias and napas that’ll be sown later.  Outside, the first skunk cabbages are peeking out from under the leaves, mosses cover damp logs, and there’s blue green usnea on branches knocked down by rain.  Chickadees and juncos seem to like them, reminding us to gather carefully our medicine as it’s more than medicine for feathered folk, a delicate balance.

Watching what squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and rabbit eat, amongst other woodland creatures, teaches a whole lot about the plant world, which while it’s readily available is also daily sustenance for more than us humans.  These mountains were once filled with ginseng, whose roots were part of chipmunks and squirrels diets, but have long since become a rarity from over harvesting . . . as it’s told, each of the ginseng hunters thought they were harvesting a little, but then they also thought they were the only ones to do so in ‘secret’ spots, until there’s now only a few plants remaining; slow growing as they are it’s to be seen whether they’ll ‘comeback’.  Same with mushrooms, often time it’s people from town who come hunting up the mountain where the lushness suggests enormous abundance.  They come and gather sacksfull, which they call a little bit, generously disclosing the locations of these bounty full places to their friends . . . in the ocean of so much, a sackful may be perceived as merely a little . . . open to interpretation, what one man calls ethical foraging may look like reckless hunting to another.

Often the eyes don’t perceive all the creatures that eat these foraged foods, easy to miss when gathering on a visit to spaces that aren’t home, but are home to others out of sight.  It’s kind of like going through a neighbourhood in another town, walking uninvited through someone’s garden who isn’t around, and digging out potato or echinacea, helping oneself to basil, mint, or cucumbers, just because, well they’re abundant and available and fill-in-the-blank as to the all-natural health benefits.  Of course we don’t do that on private property in neighbourhoods, yet in the absence of ownership and possession, we treat the wilderness as though it’s not also a neighbourhood to non-human residents who wander, scamper, and roam; as though it’s here, a free for all, for human pickings above all else.  It’s a funny paradox, the animal loving vegetarian who harvests sacksful of animal food for human consumption and resale without digging deeply into considering what impact this’ll have on the animals loved and the places of inhabitance.

There are the finest of threads in the forest reaching out in all directions, connecting above and below ground, extending and withdrawing, dropping, sticking, releasing, tip to tip, root to root, everything purposed, a symphony conducted by an invisible hand that is inclusive and inviting.  It welcomes and calls, come and be here too, sit, stand, skip, wander, gather, hunt, forage, pick, stay a while, refresh, rejuvenate, restore, sing along, the wilderness neighbourhood is open to all, only:: come with awareness, come with respect, come as a participant, come as a guest, don’t hold back, be free, come as children do, move rocks, branches, leaves, come and play  . . . while conducting in accord and resonance with place, and then, just like that everything falls into place.  Bit by bit.

 

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Sweeping

It’s that time of year.  Time for a new broom to ribbon and anoint before sweeping through our rooms.  Give me a broom over a vacuum any day.  I love brooms with their long wooden handles and bundled grassy heads.  We get ours from the farmers coop, where you’ll see truckbeds filled with broomcorn, really a grass related to sorghum, after harvest in the autumn.  They’re beautiful, long stalked with feathery sprays as tops that range from purplish to maroon to creamy and dusky rose.  The straw like fibers are bundled and made into brooms, the rest gets sold as ornamentation along with corn stalks and pumpkins outside the coop.  We purchase the brooms, four or five a year, and then it’s round and round the house, swish swash sweeping I go . . . well, it used to be ‘I’, now it’s we as Layla and I race or tug of war over who gets it, when it’s me, then round and round up and down I go . . .

imagining fields filled with golden glow, meadows waving in the afternoon sun, running barefoot on trails made by rabbits and deer, until my eye catches sight of a key in the pile, a pen lid, the earring that dropped somewhere days ago, a random sock mixed up with pencil shavings, scraps of paper with interesting little bits written on them around Layla’s desk.  Pause. I sort through and put aside what doesn’t want to be swept away quite yet before the whirl with broom begins again, scritch scratch at carpets, whoof dusty! ashy by the woodstove! floury in the kitchen!  whirl swirl twirl, here come Anousheh and Jasper with shawls and scarves trailing behind them, straight through a pile, wheee, it’s fun to run and scatter to the wind, rewind I sweep it up again, a mad dash for the dustpan before they come through again . . . .

give me a broom over a vacuum any day, along with dirt, and ribbons, lots of ribbons.  Though I love a clean home, it’s not sterile nor does it exist in a vacuum, and the broom, well it makes room for intimacy with the stuff that’s swept up, the cobwebs in the corners above, what’s left and what’s right, two feet hop skip and jump, the broom is a dancing partner sometimes, or a handle to fly off, with a broom I find . . . relationship within the meadows and trails of our abode, sweep in, sweep out, maybe that’s possible with a vacuum cleaner too, I don’t know though everything is possible, so could be; though while I’m waxing poetic about brooms:: old ones make lovely looms . . . Ahmad made one last summer with the eroded ones from in a corner, warped it with yarn, and hung it outside for weaving old clothes, sheets, motherwort stalks, slowly in the shade, memories made, where under the sun they fade . . . old brooms = new loom, can you do that with a vacuum?  Or tug of war with your daughter over who gets it? (it’s meditative, seriously)  . . . I don’t know, but it’s that time of year and Sheila is ready to rest, best bring out the new . . .

Birdhouse

We are a house of birds.  All spring and summer a family of starlings made their home outside a window, up in a hole under the eaves where a soffit fell out.  They’d fly to and fro with worms for their chicks, disappearing and reappearing from in and out the hole.  Later they’d hop out onto the cedar closeby and young starlings would make their first flights, cedar to tulip poplar and back again.  The cedar housed a hornets nest, bald faced, one year; but we are a birdhouse not a hornet house and so they stayed in nest beneath the boughs even when the windows were open.  A few sparrows have visited through those windows, they pecked at the kitchen floor before finding their way back outside, eventually.  Once a bat flew in, giving rise to pandemonium.  Unlike sparrows, who are welcome in our birdhouse, bats are not . . . the thought of a bat flying about at night, landing on my head, or worse, what if they went into my ear while I slept? My great-grandmother told that they folded up real tiny and enjoyed getting into one’s ears, though she also told that they’d get into hair and pull strands around themselves into a coccoon, Eeee!  We got the bat out with the use of sheets, and kept the windows closed at nights after that . . . now the starling abode is home to juncos, they’ve moved in for the winter, starlings long gone.  Winter’s arrived with snow and chickadees with shiny black heads, nuthatches, and cardinals.  They seem to like it here when it’s cold.  Up in the apple trees they peck at fruit, as well as usnea and lichen on the branches.  In the garden, they gather and peck at all the flower stalks we leave till spring comes around, zinnias, dock, marshmallow, goldenrod, echinacea.  We are a house of birds, imbibing as birds. Continue reading

Sketi

The apple tree’s are fruitalicious once more. A welcome delight after last year when they rested with neither flower nor fruit! While gathering apples to cook applesauce and share with friends I remembered this yarn told and shaped with Anousheh from many moon’s ago . . . reposting here from my blog of poems and tales.

Dreamsong: Vision & Wyrd

Deep in the woods lived a herd of deer. One day they heard the apple tree calling to them. They held council about the matter, for out of the woods and under an oak tree lived a ferocious beast. The herd was terrified of this beast who they would certainly have to pass to get to the apple tree. While they were in council the younger does and some fawns were peeking out from between the hickories, pines, and poplars. They were looking at the sleeping beast and longing to go to where the apple tree was calling. Finally, one of them couldn’t stand it anymore!

The littlest doe stepped out of the woods, and walked toward the apple tree through the leaves . . . . crunch crunch crunch crunch.

The beast with fangs as long as skinning knives, ears as big as satellites, claws as long as daggers…

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Here Comes the Sun

I started this collage before the solar eclipse in August, and just finished it during a wet spell.  Cool days, chilly damp nights, and water spilling out from above in downpours and drizzles . . . while it feels like ‘so much’ rain, really it’s not.  We listen to stories about flooding in Texas and Louisiana, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, moving to Pakistan, and the versatility of water, from nourishing to devastating, it’s numerous qualities does more than amaze. Continue reading