Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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Changing Moon ~ A Woman’s Journey, Part III: A Menopausal Journey Profile

Labyrinth to the Divine Feminine

Labyrinth into the Divine Feminine

We’ve now come to a moment to discuss the pause…menopause, quite frankly. Time to take that moment and assess our health and how we got here. I’ve included a PDF for you to download and examine. It’s lengthy and certainly will take you longer than a moment to read and digest. May I suggest you set some time for yourself to go through it at a leisurely pace. I know, if you’re already on the menopausal journey, the words leisurely pace may only seem a dream or ludicrous at best, depending where you are in the transition. Above everything else, don’t be discouraged by the questions/symptoms addressed in this profile. They are intended to give you an idea of some of the changes/symptoms you might address. You will not sense all of them as each of us has a unique journey.

This profile is designed to be a point of departure for our furthering journeys into the Divine Feminine and going through the miraculous transformations of aging. We’ll continue our journey deeper  in future posts of Changing Moon and creatively personalize our aging journey.

Click here for PDF:  Your Changing Moon ~ A Menopausal Journey Profile

 

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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter Four: Otter

From an upcoming project ~ Raven’s Journey:

Chapter Four: Otter

The rain fell even harder. Large, pelting drops found their way through the foliage of his shelter and bounced off his body. This made Raven mad. He shook furiously, blowing the water from his nostrils. Snapping his powerful beak together, he began making raucous raven noises. Maybe this, he thought to himself, will wake up the spirits, make them take notice of me and answer my questions!

Suddenly, Otter rose on her hind legs, looked in his direction, and began shrilling whistling, which effectively stopped his tantrum. Otter stopped when he stopped, then chuckled softly. Raven attentively cocked his head listening to the chuckling sound he’d heard otters make when they were with family. Why use it now? he wondered.

Otter turned and took off loping down the beach. At this Raven also took to flight, rising above the beach but keeping her in sight. It appeared she expected him to do so and made no effort to hide her movements. As she bounded along, he noticed the rain had almost stopped. The fog was lifting, making it quite easy to see into the forest ahead.

Otter eating flounder on the tidelands of Salish Sea

Otter eating flounder on the tidelands of Salish Sea

The river otter ran to the braided delta of a small river that plunged down a series of rapids before entering the ocean. He watched Otter navigate nimbly around the tumbled rocks lining the river’s bank, keeping a streamlined form, although nothing in comparison to the way both sea and river otters maneuvered in water. Many sea otters lived in the ocean but they rarely came on land. River otters, however, denned on land, raising their families along the wilder creeks and rivers, agilely sliding, diving and hunting amidst the rapids. They also swam in the ocean and frequented the tidelands gleaning fish, clams and snails.

Raven looked around; something was tugging his awareness, something totally familiar. There was a magical feeling here in this landscape that he couldn’t quite place or shake off.

Although Raven and Otter were animals living within the realms of Earth, in the realm of Spirit, they were the archetypes, the patterns mediating the primal powers for their species. From the Divine Source, their energetic seeds had spawned all of their own kind. Raven looked at Otter and from the point of being still, he now thought and would speak as the archetype known as Raven.

Raven was awed by Otter’s medicine and had, in the past, known her as a strong female ally. The archetype known as Otter encouraged him when he was young to find a teacher who could help him develop his strong, creator medicine spirit. Instead, he ignored her and lived vicariously through the deeds of humans, whose actions eventually brought discord and destruction to much of First Earth. I’m afraid that’s why the spirits haven’t told me anything about this storm, he thought to himself. I’ve not regained their trust, yet! 

Otter, both as archetype and animal, bounded along a narrow game trail running the near side of the river. Raven, forced to not lose sight of her, spun higher to gain altitude, searching for glimpses of her rich brown coat running next to the water’s edge.

He flew across a broad opening in the trees where the river snaked around a bend and peering down, Raven noticed Otter had stopped and was standing on her hind legs looking up at him. He came around and landed effortlessly in a tree at the edge of the opening.

Almost immediately, images of times past cascaded through his mind: lifetimes ago as a fledgling, of meeting Otter, seeking shelter in her home…perhaps a den along this river? He saw himself take on spirit form and follow her through the depths of the river, confronting other lives, other dimensions, eating flesh, becoming flesh, his bones scattered, being absorbed by the flora and fauna of forest and sea. Then he saw glimpses of humans, being fascinated by their physical appearance, of being fascinated with their attention on him but then being slowly seduced by their magic. Raven shuddered and withdrew. Slowly coming into his body, he croaked nervously and could hear Otter chuckling. (to be continued…)


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Multiple Meanings for March and Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

The word “march” brings up a variety of images and feelings depending upon the context of the passage wherein it rests. Since we’re examining rhythms of time and calendar as well as the cycles of the seasons, the reader might logically expect March, the third month of the calendar year named after Mars, the Roman god of War, as an appropriate and timely topic for this post. In Roman times, March signified the official start of the New Year and being a military reign, conflicts began or were renewed in the spring. Choosing March for the beginning of the season seemed auspicious for a society accustomed to oracles, omens, warring and domination.

Of course, there are other meanings for the word march.  Someone hearing the word shouted on the street might expect a military unit to march past, or a fed-up-mom determinedly telling a daughter or son to walk forward quickly as in “March, young lady/man!” or perhaps it means to walk or march in protest of an unhealthy situation. The word also means borderlands.

Gladys M. and William H. Colwell

Gladys M. and William H. Colwell

My mother’s mother was born on a march, the boundary lands between Wales and England. She was born under the sign of Aquarius on the first day of February, St. Brighid’s Day. I can easily trace my wise woman ways to this Welsh grandmother, Gladys May, who helped teach me the practical skills of gardening and keeping a household while sharing with me the deeper secrets of the wild woods above Lake Pend d’ Oreille in northern Idaho.

My mother’s father, William Henry Colwell, was born under the sign of Aries on the Vernal Equinox, March 20, 1885, and we acknowledged his birthday as the beginning of spring. Grandpa was a gold miner, an adventurer always in search of greener pastures and richer veins from what I’ve been told. According to family, he would work long enough to get a grubstake and then move on in that search for striking it rich. He was harsh with his tongue and elegantly tall although I never saw him stand. He had been confined to a wheelchair with arthritis for decades from the harsh demolition work he did and from the dampness in the mines. Even so, in the spring of the year, his restless soul longed to be outdoors. Continue reading


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Poem ~ Upon Meeting Gaia

Oregon Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) Dungeness River, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

A night myst rose from the shallow waters and flowed towards me on a path steered by gentle breezes. My breath shared its pulsing rhythms.

The myst enveloped me with a shimmering vagueness and offered an invitation to journey. We rose above city lights glimmering faintly through the cloud layers below.

Another mystical essence intercepted our path, slowing our movement. I saw crystalline glaciers, flowing rivers; heard singing birds and the showering of raindrops.

She opened eyes revealing gentleness of soul and depth of spirit. Her breath smelled fragrant with dirt, moss and flowers; her heart beat rhythms of peace, forgiveness and joy.

The mysts dispersed, slipping beyond form, function and time. We were left to explore and acknowledge: we are one dream seeking divine union with light.


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The Virtue of Spring Nettles as Food

With the coming of spring, nettles takes its place as our dominant foraging food. Full of vitamins and minerals, it is an excellent revitalizing tonic with many beneficial uses for both men and women: boosting energy levels, replenishing minerals, reducing allergy symptoms, assisting adrenal, kidney and lung function, relieving gouty symptoms, tonifying arteries, nourishing hair and skin plus a host of other actions.

According to herbalist Ryan Drum, “Young nettles are especially rich in proteins, minerals and secondary metabolites, and, ‘free amino acids’. These are uncommitted amino acids in nettle sap, waiting for anticipated rapid growth in response to either temperature or sunshine sudden increases. When we consume fresh live (or barely steamed, 5-7 minutes) nettles we get those amino acids for our own protein repairs and replacement. Eat young nettles to enhance post-traumatic healing from wounds, auto collisions, surgery, and radiation treatments.”

Freshly emerging nettles

Freshly emerging nettles

We’re fortunate to live in an area where they grow profusely and as soon as we’ve noticed their purple-tinged leaves pushing aside the debris, exposing a few inches to the elements, I’m donning long-sleeves and leather gloves to harvest their tender stalks. A quick snap of the wrist usually suffices to break off the stalk in the tender, young plants. Sometimes the rhizome (root) comes up which I usually break off and bury back in the duff unless collecting the roots for medicine. I place the harvested stalks on their sides in a carrying bag; and if I collect into a plastic bag, I can store my bounty in the refrigerator right from the field.

Although a few caterpillars thrive on nettles this early in the spring, it’s an easy plant to clean. Ours usually only require a few shakes to remove a few of last year’s fibers, stray grasses or bits of dust and debris. If I use them right after harvesting, I will wear a pair of kitchen rubber gloves to grasp the stalk while I slice and dice because the stings can still be quite irritating; and if the harvest is left in the refrigerator for a few days, the stinging affect is lessened. With young plants, I use stalk, stem and leaf so there is no waste.

My favorite ways of preparing spring nettles and absorbing their nutrients as food are as an ingredient in frittatas, omelettes, leek & potato soup, nettle lasagna, in quiches, plus young nettles are an excellent green, simply steamed. They’re also easy to freeze and when it’s smoothie time, plopping in a chunk of frozen nettles is a tasty way to incorporate their vibrancy. It’s an ingredient you’ll undoubtedly find additional ways to include in your diet both fresh, frozen or dried. I’ve included a few recipes but since I’m such a recipe tweaker, for some I’ll mainly give you ingredients, you provide your own guidelines for quantity depending on your tastes.

Nettle omelette

Nettle omelette

Nettle Frittata/Omelette: saute red onions, mushrooms in season, grated carrot, finely sliced broccoli spears and minced chickweed together in olive oil until wilted. Add a handful of minced young nettle stalk and leaves on top, cover and let steam until nettles wilt. Meanwhile, prepare a mixture of eggs, minced parsley, dried basil and stir well. For a frittata, pour egg mixture over the steaming veggies, place a cover on the pan and wait until eggs set. You can also flip it over until it’s well done if you wish. For an omelette, saute egg mixture in a separate pan, flip and then when done, fold and fill with your nettle, veggie mixture and serve. Both meals are delicious as is or with salsa or pesto.

Leek and Nettle Soup: saute chopped leeks, celery and crushed garlic cloves in olive oil until soft; add diced potatoes (I use Russets or Yukon Golds). Add minced chickweed, nettles, parsley, dried basil, turmeric, salt and perhaps a bit more oil or butter.  Saute a few minutes longer, mixing all the ingredients well to blend the flavors.  Cover with stock or water and simmer until everything is tender. Other veggies can be added such as tomatoes, grated carrots…perhaps a tin of salmon added at the end for even more variety. Unlike most Leek and Potato Soup recipes, I do not use milk or cream as an ingredient nor do I find a need to puree if the ingredients are diced small enough as everything seems to meld together just fine.

Nettle Lasagna: Any spinach lasagna recipe will do for nettle lasagna with the obvious substitution of sauteed or steamed young nettles. If you make your own noodles, toss a spoonful of dried, nettle powder into your flour mixture for added nutrition or into your homemade tomato sauce.

Nettle Quiche: Again, there are countless recipes for making quiches. My favorite is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. Since I make my own crusts, sometimes I’ll throw in a tablespoon of dried nettle powder with my flours. For the filling, I use a large handful of chopped and steamed nettles, along with sauteed onions, mushrooms in season, chopped broccoli, and an assortment of fresh and dried herbs laid on a bed of feta and shredded raw cheddar cheeses. Over that goes an egg and milk mixture to which I may mix in an additional tablespoon of flour depending on how moist the mix of ingredients. Place dollops of tomato sauce and pesto and a sprinkling of pecorino romano cheese on top if you’d like. Place in a 350-375 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

So I hope I’ve wetted your appetite for the versatile, youthful nettle. Here’s to our good health!


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Spring in Hawaii ~ A Colorful Contrast

After retirement in 2005, we spent the next four years on the Big Island of Hawaii. In contrast to our years in Alaska, Hawaii is quite close to the equator, and daylight increases only by seconds each day as we moved from winter solstice towards spring and summer.

Ohia Lehua Blossoms

Ohia Lehua Blossoms

In Hawaii, after a relatively chilly and damp winter season when there’s a lull in energetics except for the storms and wave action, by March every living thing seemed to awaken and show animated spirit. In the lowlands next of the ocean (makai side),  the lovely red Lehua blossoms adorn the Ohia trees which burst with bees gathering nectar and creating the incredible honey which bears the Lehua name. A full, rich-bodied honey with a buttery texture, it was my favorite to sweeten the morning coffee.

My morning routine was either to take my coffee onto the lanai or down the lane to the ocean or some mornings I enjoyed indulging in both. From a comfortable seat on the lanai I watched the myriad of bird life scramble about the crushed lava seeking out insects and seeds to take to their fledglings. At the ocean’s shore, I’d sit on a lava rock and watch the sun rise above the water. If early enough, I could actually feel the exchange of breath between the mountains and ocean and hear the fronds of the stately coconut palms begin trembling as the breezes flowed down from the mountains and then back towards the land. Depending on the height of the waves, I might even catch a glimpse of  graceful tropical fish swimming through the transparent waves, highlighted by the rising sun. Sometimes I’d even see the bulkier body of a green sea turtle crest and ride on top a wave. And if extra lucky, the breaching or spouting of a humpback whale and calf!

In the Puna region where we lived, the more wet, windward-side of the Big Island, as the sun set on a March night, the night creatures scurried, hopped, snorted and ran about. It was never quiet at night in the jungle. There were no monkeys but the coqui frogs were a real nasty, noisy nuisance eventually drowning out our conversations and making sleep difficult, emotions irritable. Rats scurried about especially after the rainy, cooler months, and the wild pigs paraded in the fruit orchards or along the walls looking for grubs and roots. Inside the house, cockroaches were kings of the night, cleaning up crumbs and stray popcorn and although they were not poisonous nor did they bite or carry a sting, I just was never able to get used to them. I had a rule, stay outside at night or get sprayed with soapy water and die. We kept a spray bottle and whenever a stray roach made itself visible, it usually found itself showered with soapy water that softened up the underbelly and stopped it dead in its tracks. Yes, I am a killer.

Gold Dust Day gecko eating bitter melon

Gold Dust Day gecko eating bitter melon

The night gecko crawled up the walls, across windows and set up in the rafters right outside our windows or porch light eating bugs drawn in by the house lights. They were very communicative and we enjoyed listening to them click and scurry about. Unfortunately they are decreasing in number due to a new, foreign invader: the gold dust day geckos who attacked and ate the night gecko. The gold dust day gecko not only was active during the day but also came out at night  and scurried about the ceilings in the house eating mosquitoes and other flies drawn to the interior lights. That, to me, was its saving grace; however, it could be quite startling to wake up at night when one of them has fallen from the ceiling and onto the bed.

Now, Hawaii is but another source for memories and we are particularly reminiscent in the cold, wet winter months here on the Olympic Peninsula. The cooler, wet winter months on Hawaii sound mighty inviting in retrospect. Fortunately, I still have a stash of Lehua honey which I draw out every once in awhile and sweeten my morning coffee while gazing through the windows at the Olympic Mountain Range and reminding myself of living in the grace of Gaia and her bountiful gifts.