Alpine Lady

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


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A Poetic Offering: Prelude to Summer

A Prelude to Solstice: The Birthing of Summer’s Rhythm

The cold, wet, blustery days of June
soak into my bones and psyche,
perpetuating countless cycles of melancholy.

Its dense, grey clouds blown by a restless, taunting wind
scud across the darkening skies,
obliterating my soul’s source of warmth.

Hidden deep, prickly nuances of feeling
form an edginess of conflicting guise,
surfacing to scatter my emotional tranquility.

The herbs and flowers in the valley meadow
lie doubled over, bereft of grace and beauty,
cringing at the duplicity of false starts and cold rains.

And into that moment seemingly most bleak
delivery of its finest gift
pulsing with new life, wobbly in knee.

Summer’s newborn
joins a landscape adorned with sun rays and rainbows
adding its vigor of life and light to the rhythm of the season.

Elk Calf photo courtesy of Judy Hutchins.

Elk calf photo courtesy of Judy Hutchins, Heron, MT

 

Willow Fluff

My eye catches sight of a spider’s silk
caught on the lip of the watering can
trailing a wispy piece of willow fluff.

The fluff twists and turns,
then settles against the side of the can
before it, again, is caught
by an invisible breeze and rises,
unable to break free of the strong webbing
designed to hold hapless insects.

Another piece of fluff floats by
and I watch it twist, rise upward,
sail across the lawn, and turn,
before disappearing into the greenery
of the windbreak to an unknown fate.

I watch as more fluffy remnants,
each holding clumps of tufted seeds,
float into the bird baths,
onto the pebbles of the rose beds
and lawn grasses.

Lost in the reverie of the moment,
a swallow startles me as it darts closely
in front of my face,
its coloration, shape, and agility
having been honed by centuries
of genetic expression
into an efficient insect hunter
of the skyways.

And as I stand pondering
the evolution of the spider’s webbing,
the swallow’s ability
to catch insects in mid-flight,
and the willow’s seed dispersal,
I marvel at their complexity
wrapped in seeming natural simplicity.

Willow fluff for efficient manner of seed dispersal.

Willow fluff for efficient manner of seed dispersal.

 

 Aerial Acrobats

Thin, wispy strands
of feathery-white cirrus clouds
grace the blue sky,
heralding an approaching weather system.

As the eventual rains threaten,
insect activity picks up
energetically zipping about
providing fodder for the
barn, tree and violet-green swallows.

Iridescent shades of cobalt blue,
orange-tawny, olive, steely blue, purple,
white and greenish-bronze
color these feathered aerial insectivores
as they cruise, scoop, glide, soar,
dart and snatch on the wing.

With insatiable appetites,
they make for good neighbors
eating thousands of bugs per day,
hundreds of thousands during nestling times.

What a simple pleasure it is
as my eyes trace their supple, acrobatic maneuverings
through barnyards, neighborhoods,
o’er rivers and wetlands,
coming to a perching rest on wires and branches
before sailing off once again.

I eagerly await their arrival in the spring
and am sad to see them go come autumn;
one day they’re here, everywhere,
and when they’re gone, they’re gone,
with no advance warning either time
except for a certain innate anticipation on my part.

Barn Swallow above pond.

Vintage print of Barn Swallow.

 

Nettles and the Red Admiral Butterfly

The hedgerow is filled with
sensuous clusters of pea green, immature seeds
hanging thickly from stout nettle stalks
whose leaves bear scars of being eaten
by voracious red admiral caterpillars
immune to the acids within.

Green nettle seed clump.

Green nettle seed clump.

While watching the Red Admirals flutter onward,
I pop a cluster, or two, into my mouth and chew,
releasing the seeds’ mucilaginous properties
which impart a tingling reminder via the tongue
that they are supplying vital, energetic, and
trophorestorative nutrition to fuel my day.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

An Early Morning Visitor to our Backyard

Munching rose petals
and nibbling sowthistle buds,
the yearling departs.

Yearling buck nibbling rose petals.

Yearling buck munching rose petals on rambler.

 

Born to Speak

We are of this earth,
born to speak the language of her waters,
skies and soils, and all who dwell upon and within;
she teaches us on her own terms,
in her own time what the meaning is
of the duck feather floating at the edge of the pond,
the patterns of clouds drifting across the skies,
the changes in bird song before a rain storm,
and why dew collects on the spider’s web at dawn
if we remember first to listen.

Born to Speak

We are born . . .


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Imbolc, Spiraling Along a Path of Peace and Beauty into Spring

 

Celebrating Imbolc on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.

Rain-refreshed lichen covered knothole in old cedar fencepost.

Rain-refreshed lichen-covered knothole in old cedar fencepost in our neighborhood.

“Signs of Imbolc Found in our Neighborhood”

The upwelling tides of Imbolc
wash over the landscape as
black-capped chickadees sing of rain
in blossoming quince shrubs,
daffodils spring open
blaring their golden trumpets,
Lenton roses host sleeping bumblebees
in the warmth of their green blossoms;
calves drop and rise wobbly, instinctively
seeking their mother’s nourishment,
soft and downy blossom clusters shoot up
from stiff and thorny blackberry canes,
profuse flowering masses of pink and white
spring heathers perfume the roadside,
and the great mystery of regeneration
expresses living wonderment to curious eyes.

“Poking Around the Yard for Imbolc Signs”

Out in the yard today poking around for more evidence of Imbolc energy and discovered several varieties of peppermints planted in containers including one from Bob Marley’s compound in Kingston, Jamaica, and another from an old homestead in the Dungeness River Crossing area were poking up into the sunshine. Also Italian flat-leafed parsley, chives, French tarragon, parsley, thyme, purple bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) and raspberry red bee balm (Monarda didyma) were pushing up through the soft ground plus the Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica), chickweed, purple pansies, calendula, and a small red rose growing close to the house foundation were in blossom. The spiky rosemary bushes are flourishing and the lawn is bespeckled with English daisies.

“Imbolc Signs Found within the House”

Even in the house and cool storage areas of the store room, Imbolc energy and its subtle signs are hiding in the darker recesses waiting for the time of change. I notice them first, in of all places, my refrigerator crisper where beets and carrots from the garden’s harvest lie. Pale yellow leaves have sprouted on the veggies stored beside the recently-purchased vegetables and mushrooms destined for hearty soups and stews. The stored carrots and beets are responding, not to an impulse of light, but to the more ancient rhythms, one that can penetrate into a chilled metal box, surrounded by electrical currents.

In the cool spaces of the garage/storage area where I store potatoes, onions, garlic and a variety of winter squashes, I also note changes in form and texture. As I cut and dice, I notice pale green sprouts appearing inside at the base of the garlic and onions. Because we have a healthy harvest of alliums, indeed, many continue this natural sprouting process of the developing flower bud and eventually work their way up through the many leafy, outer layers. These bud sprouts historically find their way into a morning omelet as the first harvest greens of the season. This actually can occur earlier, surprisingly at the Yuletide season, depending on the warmth, and strength of the yearly impulse. Another sign of their growth is a gassing off, which if not noticed, have you looking all around for a source of the sour stink.

I remember one wintery day a number of years ago, I became aware of errant white tendrils of anemic alien creatures having escaped notice and making their way out of a brown paper sack stashed to the back of the storage area. Inside the small bag were untreated organic potatoes, their withered bodies now vestiges of their once plump selves. Fortunately, I tossed them in my worm bin and the activity and warmth kept them viable until such time as I could plant them outdoors. By then they had plumped up and upon planting, produced a healthy crop of spuds.

Even inside store-bought spaghetti squashes and winter squashes, the seeds may begin to sprout, helping to deteriorate the flesh upon which they are feasting. Like a spawning fish, these signs of passing along their body’s nutrients to future generations show up in the change of the outer skin, forming mold and rot which happen quickly if not inspected almost daily.

Clearly, once again, the Imbolic forces that stimulate growth in the northern hemisphere have taken charge.

“Imbolc Energies in the Natural World”

For me, Imbolc is a time of weaving the seasons together, an in-between time, poised to move forward into the warming, light-filled spring season or if necessary, languish in the dormancy of late winter. Our senses are also poised for a renewal of familiar and new smells, tastes, textures, sounds, and sights after the melancholic weariness of winter.

Bodies ready to break out of “cabin fever days” and catch “spring fever” cue on the sound of migratory fowl as perhaps one of the primary clues that a major transition is in the workings. Bird songs, whistles, cackling or the whispering of wings awaken inner prompts. Also the sensual clues of soft, furry pussy willows, of trickling springs and creeks lined with bright green mosses and ferns, warm sunshine break-throughs, fresh green fragrant shoots poking through where snow has melted away, the emergence and early harvesting of foraged plants like nettles and chickweed, these all carry the same potential message that winter is on the wane.

Plants that choose this time for ascendancy usually have adapted forms and coverings or mechanisms to survive frosts, snows, blizzards, ground heaving and yes, even sun. We think usually of tulips, jonquils, and nettles but my favorite plant of the season is a bog plant, with a weird odor. It initiates the season early, often in time for winter solstice. That plant is the skunk cabbage, aka the swamp lantern, swamp candle.

By some chemical wizardry, probably related to the calcium oxalate crystals it contains, the skunk cabbage (Lyschiton americanum) can melt its way through ice to become the earliest of sprouts on which bear and beaver feed. A thick, fleshy flower spike surrounded by a pale yellow spathe rises through last year’s dead growth and pond muck, adding a candle-like spot of brightness to the landscape of gray alders, wispy salmon berry canes, and dark green cedars. Inside this partly rolled flower covering are hundreds of minute flowers. Their exotic, skunky odor draws pollinating flies.

The large leaves (over three  feet long and a foot wide) emerge later and along with ferns, miner’s lettuce, and nettles, will fill a swamp with their lush foliage. Although the smell and name of the plant may strike some as offensive, it describes a truly unique plant of our wet-woods habitat. Its flesh provides food for the hungry, its leaves provide shade and nutrients for the ecosystem, and its exotic nature attracts poets, photographers, and painters.

At some inner level of knowing, I feel our living earth actuates her seasonal dance dressed as the skunk cabbage. Stimulated by the energies of winter solstice or Imbolc, she spirals upward through the snow and ice-covered pond muck to begin her dance of creation and color, setting the scene for spring. As the days lengthen and the temperatures warm, her verdant robes unfurl to shade the bog and keep her root zone moist from the summer’s heat. She’ll dance until the autumn urges rest and the fall rains rot her gown, then; safely asleep in the muck of the pond, the swamp candle will slumber until the renewal energies of late winter stir her once again to awaken and rise, beckoning the Earth Mother to dance once again.

“Imbolc, The Inner Rhythm’s Journey”

The awareness of the seasonal shift into Imbolc represents an awareness of spiraling into the warming season of spring and that winter is on the wane, approximately midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In lands still locked in the slumber of winter, it is a time for farmers to check the number of healthy animals against their stored grains and grasses to see if there is enough to feed them until the animals can freely graze. Below ground animals in hibernation are becoming restless, baby bears are being born while mothers are in a lighter sleep mode. Seeds and bulbs are feeling the impulses to send down shoots, connect to mycelia and begin the feeding processes which will help them to soon shoot upward.

Historically it was and still is a time for householders to check the condition of stored vegetables and other food stuffs and make plans accordingly. It’s a time of cleaning up the clutter and messiness of winter debris.

In lands that have already thawed, it is physically marked by calves and sheep being born because there is apt to be enough fresh green grasses to feed the mothers so they have a plentiful milk supply. Wild foods become available to supplement our daily diets.

Historically Imbolc is represented by Brigid, the Celtic goddess of healing, poetry, mysticism, and smithcraft. Now, however, climate and social changes have made the development of healing and crafting arts very important once again. Developing the skills of carpentry, leather work, gardening, house-holding, energy work, and herbal medicine making are becoming popular as is using nature as a primary teacher for children. Homeschooling is commonplace. Writing, art, and poetry are defining us as populations and souls bound to Gaia from whom all blessings flow.

But even more than that, it’s a time when we can re-acquaint ourselves with inner rhythms and invest in new opportunities to develop them. The universal rhythms will support the change once acknowledged. So clean out the closet both outer and inner, then take inventory and organize what’s left. If dissatisfied with what you find, develop new ways to bring that interest, that passion into your life, even if only in small ways in order to keep the candle spark alive.

There is so much available to us during Imbolc: as above, so below, and dwelling within, all three gestures happening at once and ready for attunement once we take time to acknowledge a desire to develop a path of peace and beauty within our lives co-creatively with Gaia.

Curiosity,
sparks the imagination,
feeds the soul’s journey.

May Imbolc spark your creativity, curiosity and imagination. Blessings to one and all.


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Pleurotus djamor, the Love Mushroom

This summer’s warm and gusty breezes shook loose the detritus languishing in the rose bushes, bordering fields, and hedgerow trees. It lifted the fluffy seeds of oyster plants, Canadian thistles and dandelions, strewing them along with red rose petals, tan-colored twigs, and bits of dried fern fronds onto the dry, brittle grasses of my pathway. The grasses were now worn short by daily foot traffic to and from the ramshackle enclosure currently housing the vermiculture compost, lettuce pots and mushroom bin where I had come to do early afternoon chores. After depositing the kitchen compostables into the worm bin, I turned the mixture of rotting debris and slithering red wiggler worms with the spading fork, being careful to avoid jarring the little Pacific chorus treefrog that lived in one corner of the bin. Then I watered the lettuce pots. The lettuce growing in these pots had been resurrected from summer’s heat by planting in pure worm compost and became sweet and tasty with no hint of bitterness. I picked the largest leaves for a dinner salad before turning my attention to the mushrooms.

The enclosure where the mushrooms, lettuce ad worms live. Also known as my potting are.

The enclosure where the mushrooms, lettuce ad worms live. Also known as my potting area.

This was my second visit of the day to the enclosure. Already I had opened the mushroom bin a crack to allow some fresh air to flow over the spawn-strewn sacks that were beginning to set a second flush of pink oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus djamor. By now the spray bottle of water I’d positioned in the sun had warmed sufficiently to mist the emerging clusters or primordia which were maturing into the fruiting body of the love mushroom. The passionately pink mushrooms grow quickly at this stage and I’ve found paying fairly close attention to their needs as they emerge will mean greater survival rates.

Pleurotus djamor primordia beginning to emerge.

Pleurotus djamor primordia beginning to emerge.

Growing the salmon-colored oyster mushrooms was a new experience for us. We’ve grown the blue and white cap oyster mushrooms before which are classed as chriophilic, preferring cooler growing conditions. Michael and I attended classes in early spring a few years ago with Lowell Dietz, a local grower. He showed us how to seed the spawn, sterilize the straw, and strew the spawn throughout the straw before packing it into large, clear plastic bags and poking holes through the plastic with a sterilized screwdriver. It was through these small holes that the mushrooms would emerge.

Packing blue cap oysters (Pleurotus columbinus) spawn-strewn straw into clear plastic bags.

Packing blue cap oysters (Pleurotus columbinus) spawn-strewn straw into clear plastic bags.

The excitement of daily watching the fine white lines of the blue and white cap hyphae emerging from the mycelium spread out and grow through the golden straw, before finally begin exiting one of the holes and form into an edible-sized fruiting body, was quite the journey of wonder and discovery for us.

Blue cap oysters grown in the spring season.

Blue cap oysters grown in the spring season.

Although meatier and tougher in texture than most mushroom varieties, chriophilic oysters have a pleasant flavor which we enjoyed. Sauteed with garlic and onions in either butter or olive oil to which a dollop of pesto has been added, they gave texture and richness to our morning omelets. They are also awesomely tasty on pizzas. I like to cook them with onions and garlic slices before adding them to the pizza topping.

Gills of blue cap are decurrent. They descend down the stem

Gills of blue cap are decurrent. They descend down the stem

The oysters, diced and tossed into soups and stews, impart their inherent protein, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. One of the substances found in them is germanium which helps enhance the oxygen efficiency of the body. Oyster mushrooms, including the pinks, can aid in the removal of artery plaque, activate the immune system, produce enzymes, can assist in the treatment of cancer, and are considered anti-bacterial. They help combat anemia, high blood pressure, and aid in relieving constipation among other medicinal capabilities.

Blue cap oysters saute in coconut oil.

Blue cap oysters saute in coconut oil and butter.

The stunning pink coloration on the pink oyster mushrooms has captivated mushroom lovers for centuries. Native to the tropics, they are considered thermo-tolerant preferring a warmer climate, and aggressively thrive with minimal care at higher humidities as would be found around the equator. They are a mushroom known for having multiple uses. Besides producing nutrition-packed edible fruiting bodies, and because they are a rapid grower, they have caught the attention of those doing environmental bioremediation work with toxic spills since they contain enzymes that break down hydrocarbons. The expired substrate, in our case the straw, also makes good cattle feed.

Sexy pink oyster mushrooms growing in straw-packed bags.

Immature pink oyster mushrooms growing in straw-packed bags.

It was by happenstance that Michael and I got into growing the pink oysters. After the Sequim Lavender Festival in mid-July, Lowell Dietz had extra spawn-strewn sacks available on special so Michael and I decided to try our hand at growing two sacks of pink oysters. All we had to do was place them in a warm, stable environment, and make sure they didn’t get too hot or dry out.

Lowell Dietz with customer amid the pink oysters in his mushroom-growing room.

Lowell Dietz with customer amid the pink oysters in his mushroom-growing room.

Within a matter of days, we watched the pink primordia form and bulge out the plastic. Pink mushroom ears poked their way out through the holes punched into the bags and within a short time we harvested the first flush. A few days later, they had stopped producing and we set the bags aside to rest. Rather than having them remain indoors taking up space in our workshop, we placed them inside a large gray plastic storage bin in the outside enclosure housing my worms and pots of lettuce. Here they would be safe from marauding raccoons.

Mature pink oyster mushrooms ready to be plucked off the bag.

Mature pink oyster mushrooms ready to be plucked off the bag.

The pinks rested for about a month in the bin and I was careful to give light spritzes of water every few days judging by the water droplets inside the bag if they were too dry or too moist. One morning, I got the distinct impression they didn’t like the cool water I had been using and to let the water warm up first. After all, they were tropical in origin. Another impression I got was that they liked growing in the filtered light and fresh air I was giving them as would be found in the tropics. They didn’t like it too hot nor too bright. This I easily accomplished by adjusting the lid of the bin so there was no direct sunlight or wind affecting their growth.

Within days  after the warm spritzes began, primordia appeared  I adjusted the positions of the bags and bin lid so the primordia got exposed to some fresh air and shade each day.The lid was never closed tightly but kept slightly ajar even at night. They rapidly grew and it wasn’t long before I was picking off light pink to flamingo pink mushroom clusters.

Large storage bin in which the pink oysters were grown in late summer's heat.

Large storage bin in which the pink oysters were grown in the heat of late summer.

I’ve developed a rapport with the vermiculture compost, sensing when to turn the compost to adjust the temperature and to make sure the worms get evenly distributed and exposed to new feeds. I have grown accustomed to adjusting their diet of fats when the weather started to cool or become particularly wet, at times adding sweet foods in the form of fruit skins just before they started into their active reproductive stage, adding extra soil or coconut coir to soak up excess moisture, and shredding greenery, etc. when it seemed appropriate. I’ve been doing this for many years and sometimes, it make rational sense and other times I just go ahead with my  gut instinct. One of the reasons I’m careful, is that if the conditions are not prime, the earthworms will migrate out of the bin especially if the weather is wet and they feel they can slither to richer hunting grounds. You truly want to encourage optimum growing conditions within your container. The pay off has been a rich, composted soil and prolific, well-fed worms, and this summer a happy-to-hang-around Pacific treefrog mascot. Of course, sometimes I misjudge and realize that I have more to learn.

I’m sensing I could develop a similar rapport with my mushroom growing adventure but I’m not sure I want to grow them again in this manner. We have talked, though, about strewing spawn in sawdust and seeing how that venture works.

Gills on the underside of pink oyster mushrooms. Their spore print is a lovely, creamy peach.

Gills on the underside of pink oyster mushrooms. Their spore print is a lovely, creamy peach.

Watching all the mushrooms grow has made me stop and ponder about how regular earthworms tunnel, enhancing the oxygen capacity and aeration of the soils, leaving behind, literally, highly nutritious soil amendments throughout the garden which they’ve extracted from the particles they’ve ingested. Mushroom mycelia and hyphae perform a similar task of ferrying nutrients and water throughout the substrate they live within and besides ferrying the worms’ soil enhancements, some actually utilize the tunneling system established by the earthworms. I find this all fascinating and am eagerly researching any similarity between the moon’s affect on both worm and mushroom activity.

What I find difficult about the Pleurotus djamor is defining its aromatics and flavor. Sometimes the sexy pink mushroom smells like the aroma you’d experience stepping into a seafood market making me wonder if  Pleurotus puta would have been a better nomenclature. At other times, the mushroom smells smoky with hints of bacon. Its flavor is similar, sometimes fishy and other times smoky. Even though it has thin flesh, it is meatier and tougher than you’d expect so cooking time must be allotted to allow for it becoming tender.

Pink oyster with caps rolled out and almost straightened upward, ready to harvest.

Pink oyster with caps rolled out and almost straightened upward, ready to harvest.

In addition to enjoying them with eggs, I also like to make a smoked salmon chowder, capitalizing on the the mushroom’s inherent smoky aroma and seafood flavor. First off, to diced celery, carrots, onions, and yellow summer squash, I add fresh basil, tarragon and thyme, parsley, a couple of freshly expressed garlic cloves, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. This mixture is sauteed briefly in coconut oil in a large iron dutch oven before I use a scissors to finely cut thin slices of mushroom, adding them to absorb the flavorful mixture of veggies and herbs. You might want to cut out the meaty mushroom stipe or attachment bulge first as it is often very tough and chewy.  Add some tomato sauce or salsa, shredded smoked salmon and enough water to cover. Cook until veggies and mushrooms are the consistency you prefer, adding more water or rice milk to your liking. Adjust the seasonings and serve over freshly-steamed rice to which garlic, parsley and butter have been added.

Our favorite way to enjoy the oyster and shiitake mushrooms, finding it particularly tasty with the pink oysters, is to braise them with a pig’s heart in coconut oil. I have a special one quart cast iron pot that is the perfect size for braising small organ meats such as chicken hearts and livers as well as pig hearts. After sauteing together garlic, onions and thinly sliced oyster mushrooms, I remove the veggies and brown the heart.

Garlic, onions, herbs, and finely sliced pink oysters ready to be sauteed in coconut oil.

Garlic, onions, herbs, and finely sliced pink oysters ready to be sauteed in coconut oil.

When it is sufficiently browned on all sides, I return the veggie mixture, add salt and pepper, dried basil, a twig of fresh thyme, tarragon and rosemary. Then I cover and braise until tender. Rarely do I remove it from the braising pan but we enjoy cutting off bits, dipping them into the surrounding warm and thick aujus, and snacking until it’s all eaten. Finger lickin’ good is a description that comes to mind.

Like I’ve already mentioned, whether we’d grow pinks or any mushrooms again is a matter of conjecture. It was by fluke we got into the adventure with the pinks, and truly, we enjoy scouting out wild mushrooms more than growing them. Traipsing along in the outdoors, following feelings of instinctual discovery is more appealing to the both of us. However, I’d certainly recommend for a beginning grower to try your hand at growing the love mushroom and see how your relationship develops with this hot pink beauty.

My offering to the fae for the opportunity to grow Pleurotus djamor.

My offering to the fae for the opportunity to grow Pleurotus djamor.

Until next time and our next journey, take care and safe travels. ~P


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Weaving of the Sacred

The Weaver picked up a thread from her basket of many colors, placing it on a rock next to her simple, upright loom. The thread was turquoise, reminding her of the dawning sky just at that moment when the sun rose above the mesa and pierced through the deep purple, adding light to Earthʼs stage.

The Weaver chose another thread from her basket of many and held it up against the backdrop of tan and red stones. This thread was green; she would string it on the loom where the great river cut through the rock layers and claimed the bottom land. The last she chose was black, the color of charred wood from the cooking fires of the spirit peoples passing through on their way to somewhere.

With her loom threaded, her colors chosen, the Weaver of the Sacred closed her eyes and imagined a scene, deciding on a modest, modern design. Sitting on the ground in the moving shade under her stone shelter, the Weaver placed the batten and heddle sticks; then began the laborious through, over and under strokes of forming pattern on the loom while the day passed into dusk.

Day after day, week after week rarely stopping even to stretch, she wove her songs, her night chants, and morning prayers into the threads until at last the weaving felt done in her bones. Her gnarled fingers aged, knuckles sore and stiff from placing and pulling the heavy threads, her back bent, her voice strained from the dry desert air and dust, the songs and chants.

The Weaverʼs skin dried and cracked for no moisture fell to soften the skin, to harmonize the land. Perhaps she had chosen the wrong pattern…perhaps a traditional one would have brought the rains, though the Weaver felt a new design was needed. She let her hands drop to her lap, still clutching the weaving comb, her turquoise and silver rings in striking contrast to the deeply oil-stained brown comb.

Discouraged, she sighed; a tear formed and fell from the corner of her left eye. The tear slowly made a streak along her wrinkled cheekbone before falling into her hands and splashing onto the sharp point of the weaving comb. She felt her skin sucking the moisture from the drop which left a salty residue of white crystals on her dry skin, on the weaving comb. Her heart knew the rugʼs pattern was right for it contained magic; the Weaverʼs salty tear was a sign to her the rains would soon draw near to ferry the salt into creation.

The still, quiet air grew expectant; a gentle breeze blew a wisp of ancient hair across her face. She smiled, for the breeze also carried the fragrance of rain her way across the soils while slender tendrils of clouds formed in the desert sky.

The rain arrived and splashed onto the sandy ground at her feet, creating a pattern of red and brown splotches. The Weaver held out her hand, the rains sought the crystalline residue from her tear, dissolving it, forming it back into a drop. She cupped her hands receiving more rains until her hands brimming over, became a living chalice.

Zion Canyon sunrise.

Zion Canyon sunrise in late autumn.

The Weaver shook her hands and the waters ran onto the parched soils and made mud. From the mud she molded life, lives to be found on the desert. She picked up the weaving fork, stood and walked the desert floor, poking the sharp end into the rain-refreshed soils.

As she crossed the land, at each hole a plant sprung up until the whole was planted with silvery-skinned herbs, cacti, juniper and leathery-barked mesquite. Next to the river, new life also sprang up replacing the drabness with a verdure of twining plants, tall cottonwood and aspen  trees hanging over the river, keeping it cool.

With a sense of completion and exhaustion she walked away from the desert, returning to the mountains as the pattern emerged from the loom, spreading down and out, interweaving with the land wherever the plants beckoned.

Behind her the wispy smoke of cooking fires, the sight of golden eagles soaring, and the sounds of morning prayers at the moment of sunrise, the laughter of children spilling out of the doorways, and ravens circling the restless corrals of goat and sheep herds filled the warming desert air.

*******

I am of this land; I speak for no one but through me voices speak. This work was inspired by a talk given by Sajah Popham regarding the Doctrine of Signatures & Correspondences in plants and the work of herbalist and plant spirit guide, Pam Montgomery. “The Weaving of the Sacred” is my attempt to explore the salt level, the morphological level of plants. I do hope you have enjoyed it. Thank you and see you on our next journey!

© by Patricia Mayana DeMarco