Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Herbal wisdom

Yesterday morning, I sat on the porch with coffee, soaking in the good energy and blessing-vibes bestowed upon us by friends and family at the house warming this weekend.  The air was clear and crisp, and the sun shone through the rain of golden leaves falling off the birch in the forest.

As I sat I harvested chammomile and calendula blooms off the plants in pots on my front steps.  I felt so at peace, and in love with my little spot of land and life.  I sat there for long time in the morning sun, holding the blossoms in my hands.

Today I ran across these descriptions of the energetics of those two flowers: "Calendula's primary perspective is of peace between inner and outer worlds" while Chamomile has "clear focus on life's blessings." 

(Qtd from Loren Cruden's "Medicine Grove: A shamanic herbal")

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The air smelled of snow

Summit lake, in the middle of the alaska range, in early september:

We drove out to the cabin at Summit lake this past weekend, the drive was gorgeous.  I remembered to take a few pictures, though the overcast sky on the way out did not make for the best photo-light.  On the way back, the light was perfect, but I was too mesmerized by the patchwork colors of bracken and moss and lichen and muskeg and cranberries and blueberries and spruce and willow that covered the mountainsides like a quilt, to actually get out the camera.

off of the back porch

out the window

the glacier

the lake.

I was a little hesitant about going, it was a kinda last minute plan, and I cancelled plans for indulgent ladies nights and yoga classes in order to go.  But every time I get out to Summit, in the heart of the mountains, I know that the drive, and the time, is so well worth it.

This time we went out to help my in-laws with their winter woodstacking.  My father-in-law suffered a pretty serious spinal injury last year, and while he's doing well, it does limit his mobility.  The constant bending and twisting that is necessary to stack 8 cords of wood would do him far more harm than good.  So the darlin' man and I went out and stacked it for them.  They helped, with a supply chain from pile to porch, but we did the hard work.  It felt nice, being out in the air, with a light wind and the smell of coming snow (it didn't), working up an honest sweat.  Darlin' man was impressed with my woodstacking - I was busy with indoor chores while he split and stacked the entirety of our 8 cords :-)
And then we ate amazing food.

But the thing that really made me grateful, upon reflection driving home, for both the opportunity, the choice I made, and my ability to do the work with a heart containing love and seva; was that I got to walk my talk.  I think about, and believe in, and talk about in-the-abstract-with-intentions-for-the-future the concept of family as a community - the generational interdependence that is increasing lost to our society.  Young ones and old ones sharing joy and widsom, watching eachother, and contributing as they can, while the adults in the middle, both parents and children, are the bread winners and bread bakers, the caretakers who allow them all to thrive.  This vision recognizes the debt (though I wouldn't use that word for it) of adult children to care for their parents as their parents birthed and cared for them.  It is a vision of our society without very many nursing homes.  Where the wisdom and accumulated knowledge and more sedentary crafts of our elders are as valued as the fleeting exuberance of playing children; where both are as valued as the hard work that sustains life in our bodies.  
I believe in this vision, and I have always intended to live it; but it has always been in the future for me.  I'm learning to recognize that when the future becomes the present, it is time to live it.  And if that means stacking the firewood at Summit as well as our own, then that's the walk I get to walk.  (My sister stacked my mother's wood this year :-) 

Monday, September 12, 2011

September full moon brings the first frost...

Yesterday morning, leaving the house, the grass was all kissed with silver, and the air was crisp.
Driving through the flats, the mist hung lower and heavier than usual, and
the birch trees were shot through with limbs of gold dripping like gold.



Darlin' man has secured our home with warmth against the coming winter's cold.

Late summer is early fall

(these photos were all taken a couple of weeks ago though).

Out the front window

Calendula on the porch

Fireweed is silking... winter is coming...
one year, I'll spin this silk and weave it into fancy high priced spiderlace scarves to sell to tourists from the big city... :-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

a walk in the woods

I came home with about two quarts of lingonberries, a bunch of yarrow, and a decent amount of coltsfoot.

Labor day, I took the day off.  I decided to not expect anything of myself.  So instead of unpacking or cleaning or helping darling man stack the cords of wood he was splitting, I slept in, drank coffee and read a yoga magazine, then drank more coffee and made a big ol' pot of borscht (beets and carrots and potatoes and turnips and cabbage and dill and parsley in chicken stock - all but the potatoes were local!).  Then I left the soup to simmer while I wandered in the woods.  I took Misha, my camera, and my big gathering basket.  When I got back, 3 hours later, I ate late raspberries off the brambles in the yard and made biscuits to have with said -amazing- soup.


Its amazing, once a husky pup realizes that we're going on a walk, or a hike, or some variant thereof where her person accompanies her on foot in a direction; she becomes this amazingly warm and responsive companion as opposed to the crazed, run off at the drop of a hat, won't come back to calls for hours husky that she frequently is. 
Guess we need more time in the woods :-)

We set off along the overgrown 4 wheeler trail, but then headed off across a rise in the birch forest that surrounds us.  We discovered 5 neighbors I didn't know we had, one of whom had scary handpainted "no tresspassing without a warrant, all violators assume responsibility for injury and death.  Bad dog on premisis" signs on the path and what looked like a thousand gallon propane tank.  I guess all kinds get called to the woods 30 miles outside of town :-)
The other neighbors looked much nicer, but were not at home.

This is crampbark.  Also known as high bush cranberry.  Turns this lovely crimson in the fall and lights up the under-canopy of the forest.  I didn't see much in the areas I was hiking around in, maybe higher up the hill :-)
Good mixed with willow bark for cramps (the bark), and the berries are good eating, and for jellies, and sauces.

husky puppy in the woodlands

-high in pectin, fruit of the dogwood -


I walked on paths and off of them, waded through neck high dried grass, and sunk my feet into deep soft muskeg.  I discovered that on our hill, coltsfoot grows not in the deep soft muskeg like it did at the cabin, but in the crunchy lichen-full muskeg.  I think I saw bear skat. I saw patches of tufty cottongrass that mirrored the sky. I saw two moose cross the road, and the cars stop for them.  We came towards home along the road picking the yarrow growing on the sunny well drained shoulders, and then cut back through the woods to home, where a man had finished splitting and stacking all of the birch and welcomed us with open arms.  Misha saw him as we came into our clearing and wriggle bounded up to him with joyful greetings.

home again, home again!