Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is the one!

We all agree we love it here! I think this site will work, at least for now. Its a wonderful spot, that took us about an hour and half to hike to, and it was well worth the hike. There are a few fields, a beaver wetland, mountains, evergreen and deciduous tree, ferns, wild flowers, and animal signs. It seems like it was either logged earlier than the other parts of the forest we have visited, or that less people go there because it is farther away from the road , or maybe a mix of both. On our next visit to this spot we will spend most of our time observing the area. Getting a feel for the behaviors of the animals and the folks that do get this far. There were mostly horse and bicycle tracks along the trail so it is frequented by others, however I'm not sure how often people actually get off their horses or bikes to spend time in the woods, so I believe if we can find a safe spot for our shelter and camp we will be just fine. I am excited for the next time I will be able to get out into the woods, I hope we will get some gas soon, this will mess with my "forest time"
Some plants I observed were
Purple Aster
Tons of Goldenrod
Autumn Olive berries were plentiful
Milkweed seed pods had not yet exploded
There were so many mushrooms I could not believe it, unfortunately I know nothing aboud edible mushrooms yet.

What are we searching for?

The three of us ventured out of the city limits in search of a secret place in the woods where we can set up our first camp. I am excited and a bit impatient to find this place. I have always loved being in the woods, and I find it difficult to leave my "to do list" back in civilization on our over night trips. When I have been able to spend many days in the woods, I have found it easier to relax into the slow quite and relaxing way of nature. My dream was to find a place that I can travel to before and after my job, I suppose a home in the woods. I have never truly felt at home,and have always felt a sense of longing for a home. I have since realized that my home is in the woods, but my home also includes a family or community of people who want the same. I believe that is what we are all looking for, we are always searching for that something that will bring us happiness, an end to the searching and the loneliness we often feel, even when we are surrounded by many people. In the woods our awareness shifts, the daily distractions are gone, so we can be present with each other. We move from the lonely world we construct in our head to the world that will provide us what we need from each other. I have experienced this while working and living in the woods for a wilderness therapy program. I have felt and seen how living like this can change our lives. However I am struggling to find that peace and awareness in and out of the woods. While this challenge is difficult, I believe it is what I need and what will help me the most.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Elk Call Moon, Santa and Reindeer Piss

" and shamans drank reindeer piss"

this happened to be said at one of those quiet times, after a pause, that made it oh so much more profound. i laughed, i cried.

sitting around the fire we heard the story of jesus the mushroom and how santa hung mushrooms in stockings with care.

somehow, oddly, it all seemed at least somewhat appropriate since we saw a loincloth load of mushrooms.

we found a great spot to set up camp that had an existing fire ring and a somewhat concealed location for our tarps atop a small ridge. after tara tarpqueen perfected our shelters we began calling out invitations for fire to join us. tara's was answered and we cared for the fire for the rest of the night.

there were little to no expectations or pressures and we found some pleasure and relaxation in each of us doing our own thing as well as coming together and making deeper connections.

i carefully walked over to the area where i had set some snares and checked each one. one had been disturbed, pushed out of the way actually, but all were empty. i searched for more sign and found more middens. i stepped slowly, deliberately and found this place sinking deep into my bones or, perhaps, i sank into it's bones. i was invigorated by the realization that i could spend the rest of my life getting to know this one place.

the setting sun was followed by a spectacular moon. this moon is called the elk call moon.

sunday found frederick and i alone and resting for the remainder of the morning. we did some carving on the black locust crazy bow we are making. then we set out up the ridge to our north and we were greeted by a big, black rat snake. it was at least five feet long and was stiff, out straight. we both mistook it for a stick. by the way, this black rat snake did not like to be petted.

i am toughening up my feet again. it was good to feel the earth directly... unmediated.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wild Spirit

trekked into pisgah again today with lawrence. explored off trail and onto some old logging roads. the magic of ferns and pines filled our being today. traces of deer and fox (perhaps) were seen as well as a copperhead and many ground nests of bees.

we went deeper than before and found the wild spirit of the place to be very strong. i was happy to feel it and know it. tinder mushrooms and big oaks. stands of straight young poplars. the gray of their bark and the gray of the light among them. the brilliance of wingstem flowers. the soft white of mountain mint.

we collected some black locust for a bow stave and some straight poplars for staffs. carved a couple throwing sticks and practiced our aim.

we shared our hearts, our dreams and our wild spirits

Monday, September 1, 2008

Spring Creek near Bluff Mountain

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis

saturday found us meeting a new friend and traveling to visit a friend and her family up by bluff mountain. her property is full of beautiful flowers and trees.
our new friend, lawrence, is an amazing person with a lot to share, including some chicken and avocados.

some plants in the yard we shared time with were:

Elderberry Sambucus canadensis

Horseweed Conyza canadensis.

Mountain Mint Pycnanthemum virginianum

New York Ironweed Vernonia noveboracensis

Evening Primrose Oenothera Biennis

and a very mellow praying mantis.

then we trekked across the road and into the forest itself. there we encountered:

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis

Black Walnut Juglans Nigra

Spice Bush Lindera Benzoin

Hog Peanut Amphicapaea Bracteata

Virginia Dayflower Commelina Virginica

Mockernut Hickory
Carya Tomentosa

Stinging Nettle Urtica Dioica

Jewelweed Impatiens Capensis

all of these were found at about 2600' elevation.

at night we sat around the fire until sleep led us to our bedrolls.

the next day was more exploring and we found:

Wild Stonecrop


a big red shelf mushroom

several deer runs and many burrows.

and along came a spider...

then we had a meal in hot springs and set out to find the wildroots community based on a dilapidated map i keep in my head and heart. we found it! there we experienced beautiful people barktanning and smoking hides and they invited us to share a meal. we gratefully accepted and had a wonderful time sharing our hearts, minds, fears and hopes.

on monday we gathered together with another friend and played a game that deepened our connections and helped us practice communication skills and radical honesty. we hope to make our gatherings around this a weekly thing.

all in all, it was.