Is it possible to be still going to school at 68 years of age? I decided that living in the digital age requires that I understand my digital camera, beyond point and shoot and macro photography. I don’t like to take photos of people or landscape because they don’t turn out. You might wonder, why don’t they turn out? The simple answer is that I only know how to take fabulous macro photography. I love it.
Even when I visit family I don’t take their photo. Instead, I head to the woods and look for plants I have never seen before so that I have the thrill of the hunt. Nothing makes me as happy as finding a new plant species I don’t know. This is when I concentrate on photography. In this case I had been looking for running cedar. Eventually I found a colony in my sister’s woods. The plant is a clubmoss. Learn more about running cedar at http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/running_cedar.htm
Lots to do out here at Winter Hill Farm, Fitchburg, MA. Today I walked over to the an area that has wild grape vines draping the trees and cascading over prickly forbidding wild rose plants. The roses are invasive and have made it difficult to harvest the grapes.
Today I took pruners and began to cut them out and discard the thorny pests into a pile. Many of the stems wanted to cling to me. They cut through my woolen shirt and tore at my jeans. No they didn’t like being moved to a waste pile and they let me know. I only was able to clear a small area. I will return again and again to cut away the thorny dominant community. The wild grapes will then be accessible hanging like a tarp over the trees. I can envision how lovely it is going to look, as early as next year, if I am persistent in this endeavor.
My sister wanted to take me back to the wetlands and show me a special area that is dear to her heart. It is an enchanted wetlands. I saw where she marked wild azaleas. Ronnie said, “It is so beautiful out here when they are in bloom, just like a fairyland.”
Later I walked back to the house by another route so I could possibly come to know how witch hazel (Hamamelis Virginia, Linn.) smelled. I never did have the privilege of knowing the scent, it eluded me. Recently somewhere I read about how one could sit in the woods in frosty November (we aren’t really there yet) and listen to the witch hazel fling its seeds, just like a sling shot. It is interesting that I found the information in a book, “Trees Worth Knowing,” by Julie E.Rogers, published in 1922. Ed, an elder in Minong, WI, presented the book to me one day. He told me that his mother-in-law had all kinds of plant books. He was happy to pass it on. The book binding is falling apart, but is interesting with its colorful language. “The witch hazel thicket is veiled with these gold-mesh flowers, as ethereal as the haunting perfume which they exhale.”
It is a November flower that has stubborn brown leaves clinging to twigs. How odd it is. I picked a few stems and am drying it. Not sure if it will work or not.
Years ago my husband (d. 2010) would walk across the Mall in Washington, DC, stopping in the herb garden, next to the Smithsonian castle,where I would meet him after work. He told me how much he loved the scent of this elusive plant. This is the reason I am tracking the scent. I wish I could have this experience so I would know what he experienced. Perhaps it was an experience meant just for him.
The plant is a species of elm. There are people who supposedly know how to use the forked twigs to locate water. The twigs have astringent properties and is sold in pharmacies for topical use.
Thanks for joining me today for a Sunday walk in the woods.
Yesterday I hiked out on a trail through a forest near Fitchburg, Massachusetts; last week I was rewarded while on the same path by what I discovered while out in the woods.
Meantime, I have been feeling torn about taking an altar from my home in Minong, Wisconsin. I am moving to Massachusetts from Wisconsin. The beautiful raw wood is a single piece of wood, a former tree limb. Many years ago, a severe storm hit Southern Maryland and the limb fell during the storm. The fallen limb was from a sacred tree hidden in the forest, along a horse trail in Lusby. There were no other footsteps because no one hiked or road horses on the trail any longer. I used to go here with Tia, my dog, when we lived in Southern Maryland. I could unburden my heart at the base of the ancient tree. I loved the tree that survived massive development of Southern Maryland, withstood thunder storms and still strongly stood. I sensed the tree had good medicine. I could feel it. I had many experiences to learn from the ancient tree. I don’t know how to express it any other way.
When we moved to Northwest Wisconsin, I took the limb with me. For many years it stood on the mantle over the fireplace at our home in Minong, Wisconsin. Here is where I lit a candle to set the day’s intentions. Here is where I put sacred objects to honor the Great Spirit and Mystery of the Cosmos and Universe. The altar is still there. I return to Wisconsin on Wednesday. Shortly, I will be moving to Massachusetts into a small alcove penthouse in Fitchburg, MA. There really isn’t room for many of my things, including the sacred wood of the prayer tree. Now you know how I was feeling about moving this sacred object. All my family including my husband, our animals, and most of my elder friends have walked on whom once lived on B Street, Minong. It was here in this little valley where we had our retirement home and I spent many a happy year.
Now, it is time for me to move on too.
It was while hiking within the woods, in Massachusetts, that I was led to another ancient tree. It was then I literally broke down because I had found the tree, or was it that the tree found me? I knew then that I didn’t need to bring the altar to MA. I could now honor the altar by placing it with the sacred place where my animals are buried. It is here also where the bullets from my husband’s Military Honoring Internment Ceremony are also buried. My husband is interned at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Northwest Wisconsin. Someday, I will return to Wisconsin to be interned with my husband. It is a beautiful place. There are native gardens that border the woods and I will someday be in these beloved woodlands forever.
In the meantime, I am getting ready to fly to Wisconsin on Wednesday, pack up the house, and say goodbye to this sweet interlude that embraced me for 12 years. Know that when I return to Massachusetts, I can walk out to my sacred tree as long as I have the strength of my legs to carry me. How sweet this reality is and how honored I am.