The mighty oak and other tales

Today I ventured a little farther down the road that goes by my sister’s old farmstead. It is a steep hill; each day I venture a little more down the road. This way I am able to test my breathing and build endurance in hill climbing to return home. The forest was loudly making her presence known today. Acorns were dropping on the forest floor. How mighty the old oak trees are with maple tree companions.

I am always amazed to observe plants along the way. There is lots of poison ivy growing in the ditch area and I saw darling jewel weed growing near the ivy. The sweet flower is the antidote to poison ivy. You rub it on infected areas and it clears up itchy skin patches. How do remedy plants know where to grow where poisonous plants exist? Do plants communicate? I believe they do. Plants release chemicals and essential oils. Trees are known to communicate when they are about to be attacked by predator bugs. They release chemicals that warn a companion tree colony that danger is headed their way. I suspect that all plant colonies have this chemical defense mechanism. How good of the jewel weed to come and grow near the poison ivy.

A few days ago I received a call from Mike Carpenter, caretaker, Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI. We had planted a three sisters garden at the habitat. It was growing profusely when I left WI on July 11. Well, it was growing so well that deer thought we had planted it just for them. Mike mentioned that the deer were coming in a night, making beds and sleeping at the habitat. They didn’t have to go far to forage. Deer have helped themselves to all the squash and baby pumpkins. Hungry critters have also eaten all the beans except a handful.

I think Mike made the gardens extra inviting by feeding the plants with fish juice all summer. He’s a fisherman and doesn’t throw anything out. I never saw our vegetable garden looking so good. Mike said he wants to put up a night hunter’s motion camera so we can see who lives in the habitat at night.

Long view of secret gardens
Aldo Leopold bench
Aldo Leopold bench

Yesterday afternoon I took the mail out to the Aldo Leopold bench which is under a maple tree and near a trail in the woods. This is my own secret garden now. I was content to sit there and read the mail.

Joe Pye Weed

Looking up I could see Joe Pye weed, one of my favorites. I love the story that goes something like this. Long ago a group of people who came over the big water from Europe became ill. A Native American came to their rescue and gave them a tea to drink. The pilgrims got better. One of the sick asked him, what is the name of that plant? The Native American said, “Joe Pye Weed.” You see that was his name. I can just imagine Joe Pye walking away after saying this.

Notes from a Plant Discoverer

I know it sounds a little silly but I absolutely get intensely focused when I see new plant species living on the property that were not there before. I may have wished for a certain plant or tree such as an oak tree or solomon’s seal to suddenly surprise me in my own little woods. What a thrill it is to discover they found their way to my heart’s sanctuary.

Rainbow over Minong
Rainbow over Minong

Today I was doing morning ceremony to honor the Four Directions and entities I speak to in remembrance. While I was facing west and finished remembering my family including my deceased husband, my precious dog Tia and cats Dulce, Sombra and Baby; suddenly I saw Black Cohosh and wild Leeks in the forest patch behind their memory garden. Do the plants enjoy seeing my heart spill over in joy? I can’t help by think they do and I believe they love me too. All of creation loves us and wants us to remember that we are all related and connected to each other.

We have fast lost the ability to understand the language of the wind and winged friends. I listen to the robins when they bid goodnight to the day and wish I understood their language. I hear mankind once did understand their brothers and sisters who live in the animal kingdom. How did we become so disconnected? Even though I can’t understand the chirps I at least can say I feel an understanding that they are saying goodnight and giving their thanksgiving for a beautiful day and sunset.

Nighty night Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – 21 March 2010

Well Insectamonarca friends,

Sadie
Sadie listening to robins sing.

  I am out here in the forest again.  Pat and Sandy flew out to San Francisco on Friday and I am staying with Sadie again at the cabin in the woods.  If I wasn’t so busy with writing a DNR Grant Proposal for Citizen-Based Monitoring Project for monarch butterflies, pollinators, insects and native plants and uses for the two Monarch Butterfly Habitats, I would have perhaps had time for a few other projects re: listen to the wind and write more.

Well the woods I love look completely different in March.  Snow is off the ground.  I was so hoping to find a water source but didn’t when I walked the property yesterday and today.  But there is magic here.  Yesterday I discovered a path on the back of the property that would accommodate cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ATVs and snowmobiles.  It isn’t that big, of  trail distance wise, but perfect for quiet sports re: wild plant gathering, animal and bird watching, snowshoeing, walking and cross-country skiing.

Some of you may know from the February posting Eco Adventure in Wisconsin, that I was anxious to find wild plants and herbs.  Boy oh boy! 

clubmoss
Clubmoss growing in woods.

   Today I found several colonies of Club Moss, a medicinal plant used for muscle pain and it is a diuretic.  Of course I had to bring some back to the cabin to place in an alter setting and I made a very tasty tea using the herb.  I love natural medicines.  If I can prove a plant is of value because of use, I can then recommend it.  This is my own trial.  I was so happy to find it that I put down tobacco and thanked the plant for letting me take its life so that I might try it as a medicinal remedy.

The forest also showed me some pussy willows, mushrooms, Indian pipe and a few other spring flowers (not yet blooming).  I can’t locate an herbal book with photos at the cabin till I get back to Shell Lake sometime next week and look at my herb books.

The songs of the old oak leaves and the wind blowing through the oak forest yesterday brought me back to memories of long ago at my father’s farm in Rock City Falls, New York.  I haven’t had this beloved memory for so many years.  How I missed it.  Nothing has filled the void until I found these special woods that I love.  I feel a familiar sense of healing here.  I don’t want to be separated from these glacial moraines that have found me once again.  Can you imagine being separated from your special earth memories for 25 years?

The sun was warm today and I found perfect place on a hill facing south and just lay down and sun bathed in the 50 degree weather. First I put on sunscreen from the white powder of the birch tree.  I heard a calling going on but I don’t know what species it was.  I did scare up a wild turkey yesterday from far in the bramble and small quaking aspen trees.  Could it have been a male and female turkey calling to each other?

I did find last year’s bracken fern so I am hoping we can gather fiddlehead ferns here this year.  What other treasures lay beneath the oak leafed carpeted forest floor?

It was a glorious day.

Be happy insectamonara friends where ever you are.