The Crone and the Ants

20171103_092307We named her the Crone upon first seeing her, for her lengthy limbs and wide trunk seemed to tell stories of old.  It was obvious she was coming up in years and wouldn’t be around forever.  Sawdust fell at her feet and pieces of her skin fell off in the dust.  Her scant leaves held firm.

The tree men came and took down just the limbs over the electric wires and noted that the Crone was hollow.  “Carpenter ants,” a shrewd one said.  You have to go get ant killer.  Bayer.  It’s at the hardware store.  It’s the only way to save the tree.”

Doug hopped in the car and started for the store.  I had a sudden realization, like a deck of cards filing out quickly in front of me of what we were about to do.  I called him and told him to come back home!  No poisons.  That is not how we have ever done things.

“Then your tree will die,” the tree man shrugged.

I had him put corn meal into the hollowed ends.  I put the wood ash around her base.

The thing to remember here is that the ants are there because the tree is dying, not the other way around.

20171115_101201

I watched the wood pecker the next day with his lacy wings and red head pecking at the tree.  Several friends joined him.  Sparrows and finches burrow into her limbs.  Squirrels play among her arms.  We would have killed them all.

I planted twenty trees in her place.  She will fall when she falls.  Then she will return to my garden and to the wood stove.  All in nature’s time.  No poisons necessary.

The Saving Daily Walk (and Hugo and George at it again)

Two loads of wet laundry hit the winter ground with a thud and instantly were covered in dirt.  The entire clothes line had fallen.  I had asked my husband to tighten it for me months before but the real culprit was probably the innocent looking puppy who had pulled half the clothes off the clothesline the week prior and shredded them.  I looked over and two new articles sat on his bed.  I glared.

20180103_132123

Instead of cleaning up the freshly washed clothes I walked indoors.  It would wait a moment for me to compose myself.  Moments later Gandalf had one of my shirts from an open drawer and was running madly around the house.

Instead of crying, losing it, or pouring a shot of whisky, I grabbed the leash.  We both needed it.  We walked three and a half miles.  We made it home just in time for my appointment with a client.  I have found that there is always time for a walk.

6e5e53dbf8f7690f8eef14b1ef4e7a3c--bugs-bunny-bunny-rabbit

Really, I wish I could get a proper picture of these two blurs, but they are constantly playing and moving.  We missed an opportunity (perhaps it is not too late) to name the four month old, gigantic abominable snow puppy, Hugo and his little black sidekick, the five month old Merlin, should have been George from the Bugs Bunny cartoon (my own little bunny rabbit…”

20180102_073013

The whir was happening right behind me yesterday as I typed but these kids are fast!  The kitten jumped on the chair, the puppy trying to catch him.  The puppy pulled the tablecloth to get to Merlin and down went all of the oil lamps.  Shattered chimneys carpeted the floor.  Gandalf scared himself so much he backed up into the hall.  They upset the big, black, older cat so much that Booboo chased Gandalf in circles until he begged to be let out.

“How’s the zoo?” my husband emailed from work.

“Hugo and George at it again!” I replied.

20180103_131851

The leash came off the wall and we walked.  We passed hundreds of chirping and bleating red winged blackbirds.  They have returned.  The villages of geese congregated for a meeting on the wide expanse of lake as the sea gulls danced above.  The mountains in the distance were a violet hue against great blue sky and the golden fields and reeds stretched out around the glimmering, icy waters in technicolor.  Calming breath entered my lungs as the puppy skated slight on the ice as he licked the frozen water.  We were exhausted and happy as we skipped home.

20180103_130231

A simple walk daily can improve your outlook, bring you back to present, connect you with what’s real, and with the natural world, and will help your heart in more ways than one!  Being a new parent to a puppy and kitten not required.

The Secret Power of Gratitude

20171031_182428This is the time of year that we speak of gratitude.  Gratitude is a secret ingredient to a happy and content life.  Even if it seems like not one more thing could go wrong, simply sitting still with a cup of tea, the sun on one’s face, or even just with eyes closed, thinking of the things we are really grateful for changes the energy around us.  We exhale.  We smile.  We know it’s going to be alright.

20171012_111725Fear is the opposite of gratitude.  Fear is based on losing something.  If we just flip the wheel and see the things we do have, we can change our attitude, therefore our perception, therefore our life, and the feeling is contagious.

20171022_134338Every day for the next three weeks consciously do something to encourage gratitude.  Some ideas might be:

Call a relative you would like to visit with.

Make a huge pot of soup and invite neighbors or friends over.

Drink a green juice to help heal your body.

Write a poem about the sunrise.

Compliment a stranger.

Do something towards a dream or goal you have.

Put some money in a coffee can and start an emergency fund at home, little by little.

Do a twenty minute yoga video.

Meditate quietly on all the things you love about yourself.  About your life.  About your circumstances.  Allow yourself to grieve and then watch the grief fly off on an imaginary butterfly.  Allow peace to come back into your heart.  Smile.

Walk in nature.  Really, this does wonders!  Walk around the block even.  Get out and be near Mother Earth and the great vast sky, and the trees.  Laugh at squirrels.  Listen to your footsteps.

Write a letter, hug your loved ones, eat nourishing food, breathe deeply, watch the sunrise and sunset, turn off the news, stretch, smile, live.  Gratitude for our health, our loved ones, our life, our experiences, our time with those passed, food, shelter, clothing, animals, friends, candlelight, joy….all these things remember.

20171011_124929Whisper “thank you” often.

I am thankful for my readers.

There’s Just Something About the Mountains

 

20171007_180402There’s just something about the lulling embrace of the mountains that cajoles my spirit into quiet.

There is a comfort wrapped in the songs of pines surrounding every side.

20171007_180507

A murder of crows sing raucously of encroachment.  A haunting and thrilling sound.

Two does jump airily by.

20171007_180415

There is just something about the West.  Sweeping desert valleys and climbing vistas of conifers and scrub oak in autumnal color.  The quaking aspen dances in the breeze.  Snow comes this eve.

20171007_180451

Perched on a balcony up high watching magpies caw as the sun crests the Colorado mountain ridge I breathe in the earthy pine air.  Pour another cup of coffee.  Wait for my family to wake up.  An hour from home, our weekend away to the mountains delightful and restorative in the fragrant woods of the West.

A Daily Meditation

 

img_5801A daily meditation is a lovely way to begin or end a day.  A time to reflect, think, dream, pray, be.  An idea floated upon me yesterday.  An idea to listen and record a daily message from nature.  We all know that we go too fast in this society.  We have isolated ourselves from the things that enchant and feed our life force.  We desperately try to connect but get a busy signal.

I am among the most guilty of this.  I despise sitting for a long period of time though I do dream of great books and cups of tea and long walks.  But from sun up to sun down I busy myself to the point of frenzy.  My body yells for rest now.  It used to whisper, now it demands.  Fatigue hits me with a powerful force mid-afternoon.  I get the subtle and not-so-subtle messages my body and weary spirit are telling me.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Listen.  There is much to learn still.

So each day I will be out in nature, even if that means walking along the pavement, and will listen and record what I am being told.  Plenty of photographs and symbolism will intertwine with the daily meditations I write.  These will all be recorded on my other blog, Medicine Wolf.  I will still be writing this blog daily with all of the fun, recipes, homesteading, farming, herbal remedies, and stories you have grown to love.  But, then maybe hop over to Medicine Wolf and sign up for a daily email with insights and wisdom from nature.  Let’s all become students of nature and Spirit.  (Click on the name Medicine Wolf to be taken over to the other page.)

A New Year

Jpeg

I feel the earth beneath my feet

breathing

Breathing through cracks in the pavement

breaking the asphalt like a too tight corset

pulsating life

A breathing mother

I stand upon her breast amongst the prairie grasses

and through her gentle rise and fall

I breathe in a new year full of promise and life.

Blessings to you all for a bright, beautiful 2017. Happy New Year.

 

Mad Mother

The day was quiet and calm.  Our first farmer’s market was going really, really well.  Lots of new faces, lots of folks to help, and it was nice being around our old farmers market vendor family.  Then towards the end it happened.  Usually microbursts come later in the season so this one certainly took us all by surprise.  The familiar yelling and the words, “Hold on!” and “It’s coming!” at the market is the equivalent to “All Hands on Deck!”

market

If you are new to microbursts, they are invisible, highly volatile, mini tornados on the ground.  They wind up, sometimes with dust and debris, but often without a sign until you see the first tent fly up in the air, weights or no.  You can often hear it, it sounds like a train, but this one was quieter and more stealth than most.  It picked up more tents slightly as folks held them down, vendors jumping to help others with theirs, and then it picked up speed and turned.  Right towards us.  We had two tents.  Doug was on one side and I on the other.  I had one hand on the tent and one on our shelves of medicines.  A customer held onto the shelves as well.  Our buckets were filled with large rocks and securely fastened to the tents.  The back of the tents were attached to our van.  I held on with all of my might but the microburst picked up our tent, and me.  It carried me in the air until I hit the van, the leg of the tent caught under my skirt and cut and bruised my thigh, then released my hem and flew up and over the van, both tents and buckets, and rocks and debris flying away, crashing down into the street, narrowly missing two cars.  The customer that held the shelves with me was shocked and scared as Doug came running over to help her with the large shelf.  The smaller had flown off.  Sample jars, cards, bags, product just gone.  Broken, missing, blown away in parts of the city we may never know.  The power of Mother Earth is astounding.  If the van hadn’t stopped me I would have kept on flying with it.  A ragdoll on this planet.

A few weeks ago I had another dream about her.  The soil was loose and unassuming as it opened and sucked down entire towering trees.  It is not improbable that that could happen.

Jpeg

We were walking through Castlewood Canyon on a trail that just opened for the season.  As we turned a bend I heard something, saw something, so fast I could not comprehend but I suddenly felt like prey.  My stomach went in knots, nerves, I held my breath.  My eyes grew large, I tried to listen, I froze in place.  But it was gone, or seemingly so, watching us as we finally passed by.  We are not the top of any food chain.

Her name in Cherokee is Etsia Eloheno.   She is known in other cultures as Gaia, Terra Mater, Maka Ina.  I believe, from experience, that she is not viewed as a living being.  In many major religions we are to not have any other “gods” and for some reason the earth gets viewed as such and we forget that she is a real, living being with destructive and life giving power and only focus on the Creator and forget about our mother.  Every single thing on this planet has a spirit.  Each rock, each tree, each animal, each of us.  We are no greater than a rock on the path, than a dog on the street, than a tree growing tall.  We are children lacking respect.

boat 3

I have returned to the city and watch bags and bags…and bags of trash being thrown out in my apartment complex alone.  Electricity, oil use, driving two blocks, modern conveniences, privilege, waste.  More and more counties aren’t accepting recycling anymore because there is no money in it.  We expose animals in factory farms, bastardize our crops to make genetically modified organisms, we pretend we are on the top of the food chain, that we are the rulers of the world.  No religion or belief system will save us from the consequences of how we treat the Earth.

Let us walk quieter.  Let us leave less foot print.  Let’s take less.  Let’s talk to trees and plants.  Let’s acknowledge that we are but visitors and children.  Let’s love her.  She gives us medicine and food and places to play and everything we need to survive.

I highly recommend the book “Radical Simplicity” by Jim Merkel and to take more walks.

The Light Workers

candle

Perhaps you have never heard of an HSP.  You may know them as other descriptions such as too sensitive,  anxious, depressed, only has a few friends, doesn’t like school, often sensitive to overhead lighting, loud noise, overstimulation, too many people, often the brunt of bullying, cry baby.  Teenaged HSP’s get diagnosed as bi-polar (particularly females), ADD, ADHD, depressed, or anxious.  Big Pharma makes a fair amount of money “fixing” these beautiful people to make them “normal”.  But all they do is shut off their innate abilities.

I held in my hands a women’s magazine and read the small captioned news bit.  HSP, or Highly Sensitive Person, is a person more in tune with their natural surroundings.  Often sensitive to artificial lighting, loud noise, crowds, overstimulation, and….  I think my mouth must have dropped open.  Never in my life had I read such a perfect description of myself.  I was always told I was “too sensitive”.  An HSP certainly sounded nicer.  I have talked with more plants, trees, and animals in my life than people.

Now, here is the thing about HSP’s, they are also often times very intuitive, clairvoyant, whatever your comfort word for it is.  Some can see spirits, some are our medical intuitives, some are the foreseers, and always, always empaths.  The reason we are so dang sensitive is because we literally feel everything that we see or read about.  I cannot read novels of violence or suspense, I will feel the violence.  Same with movies.  Sadness in other people made ten times more amplified.  News…forget about it.  HSP’s must never read the news.  Happiness is felt more intensely as well.

HSP’s are what many call “old souls”.  Many of us remember past lives even.  Many are wise before they ought to be and just seem….odd.  HSP’s are not considered autistic but may border the autism frequencies, highly intelligent, intuitive, aware of everything.  Our healers.  Our lightworkers.  With an intense desire to become a hermit!  But we cannot hide out.  There is much work to do.

As a child I don’t know if I ever met another HSP but as an adult, as the phrase became more known, I have met more.  My mentor, old roommate, Hopi friend is an HSP.  We talk about it quite a lot.  He is a hospice chaplain and brilliant at his work.  He told me once that there are not very many of us and I, at the time, believed him.  Until I opened my shop.  My shop is a magnet for HSP’s.  Parents bringing in “anxious” young people, young adults coming in on their own that have been classified as one thing or another who just need to know that their abilities and gifts are important and are not a malady, older adults that never could put their finger on it.  Our healers.  Our light workers.

Elbert county is an interesting place.  Part rancher, part cowboy, part home on the range, with an inordinate number of energy healers, artists, right brained society and young people, many more than I ever would have guessed, who are intuitive.  My work morphs from simply making plant medicines to teaching these young people how to filter, how to work with their empathy, their “knowing”, their light.  That they are indeed normal.

If you know or meet someone like this, smile at them.  Know that they are the healers of tomorrow, and that there is an entire society of too sensitive folk out there about to make the world a much better place.

Blizzard

It’s warm inside (as opposed to last year in the heatless homestead!) and the smells of coffee welcome the morn.  Last night I ran through the snow and climbed the now completely covered staircase to the driveway to see the light.  The sky was pink with storm and the brightened sky was odd for late at night but the beauty and mystery of it all was exhilarating as sixty mile an hour winds whipped up snow tornados and filled the fresh air with magic.  The blizzard had arrived.

IMG_2142

We woke to high drifts and wind making the snow look as if it were falling upward.  Streams of sideways thick snow continues to fall on our patch of earth.

IMG_2141

I said a blessing over the trees last night.  Told them to spread their roots out and hold on, be strong.  As old as they all are they have seen more storms than I but these storms can be brutal to trees and I wanted a bit of protection over them.  They stand strong this morning facing the winds that are too riotous to tame.  It is a gloriously beautiful morning.

How a Farmgirl Got Her Groove Back

The sun peers over the edge of the horizon shedding light on a new day.  The rose colors dash through the maple tree and dance on the floor of our walkout basement apartment in the country.  It is as if we were eighteen again.  We have a studio apartment with a wood cook stove, microwave, and mini-fridge.  We have use of the shower and kitchen upstairs.  We help out around here in exchange for very low rent.  I cook meals.  I walk the grounds and hear the birds.  I try to figure out if the scat near my favorite trees to sit under is bear or raccoon.  I go to my shop where my granddaughter helps me make medicines.  Doug enjoys his job.  My heart is most recently repaired.

sunflower

Words of loved ones kept echoing in my mind and I knew I had to do something.  “Are you sure you are okay?”  “Are you losing weight?”  “I can’t believe anyone could take your voice.”  “Your heart is so wounded.  You need to repair that before you can move on with what your journey holds.”  “I know,” I whispered.

Time does heal.  A year ago we sat in our homestead on the prairie, tears in my eyes because of the cold.  My animals were freezing as were we.  There is blessed heat here.  Two wood stoves, an electric heater, central heating in the house, and a warm shop.  I heard goats yelling from across the street.  I wandered down the long driveway to catch sight of them.  Screaming, as they do, from an enclosed shed they waited impatiently for their morning meal.  I laughed and found myself happy I didn’t have farm chores to do that very cold morning.  I walked in the house for another cup of coffee.  Doug chops wood for the fire.  I am sure we will have animals in the future.  I transplanted five Jerusalem artichoke roots from Aunt Donna’s house here.  I’ll plant garlic.  We should be here to harvest them but if for some reason unforeseen I cannot, I enjoy planting them all the same.  A buck passes the window.  Big floppy ears.  I wish he allowed hugs.  The frost melts as the sun hits it.  The alpacas next door slowly making their way through the pasture.  It is magical here.

IMG_3971

I went to our favorite hiking place.  I went alone.  I chose rocks.  I put two on the east side of the small circle I was creating.  I put one in the south.  One in the west.  One in the north.  Three in the middle for Father Sky, Mother Earth, and the Ceremonial fire.  I offered tobacco to the Creator.  Sprinkled cedar for the spirits and my ancestors.  I offered sage.  I placed a larger rock symbolizing my heart in the south where childlike wonder and fun reigns.  I released the harsh words told to me that made me quit writing.  I released the loss of our things and our lifestyle and embraced the now and the lesson and journey we are on.  I released my broken heart.  An eagle flew over the valley as I sat there.  I breathed in the fresh air of life and smiled.