There's something about certain old trees that only feels like an old friend.
I walk bent over, a slow, shambling pace, that takes me deeper into the forest, deeper into trance. The forest has that effect on me; I'm willing to bet ti would have that effect on you, too. A basket in one hand, my other sweeps the ground, picking a flower here, three more there. At every sound, I stop, look. A patch of just the right blossoms catches my eye and, so, I walk further off the trail.
The stand of young Poplars has just begun to bud. They're the reason I've come out here. For the past month I've been gauging their progress, trekking out here every few days. But it will be another week before I can begin that harvest. I am patient. I can wait.
After the pounding rain and hail we received yesterday morning, the Liverleaf blossoms are reaching the end. A sense of urgency fills me as my hands flit amongst the small clumps, picking white blossoms here, a striped pink one there, and here a few deep purpley blue ones.
I stand checking the saplings in this section. The Basswoods will leaf out soon, but, oh, these Poplars, how they make a girl wait. The larger Poplars at the edge of the forest are already at the catkin stage and dropping them with every breeze. But these saplings will bud eventually. Soon.
I make my way back to the trail. The blossoms growing down the center are fair game; they'd just be stepped on or run over later.
Each step carefully chosen, I tip toe here, stomp there, zig-zagging back and forth across the trail. The walk of the herbalist is a drunken one, full of starts and stops.
Liverleaf. Adder's Tongue. A beautiful path of Bloodroots.
I sing as I walk, talk to the plants, and leave offerings every few yards. At a spot on the trail I could find with my eyes closed, I bend down and run my fingers across the fuzzy leaves of a Mullein plant. It's in its second year and will send up a flowery stalk a good two feet high, if not more, later this Summer. I've learned much from Mullein lately, been shown the existence of Shadow. I am appreciative and show my thanks with song. There is so much to be thankful for.
A pull at my center lets me know it's' time to head back, the baby has obviously woken and will only be patient with her daddy for so long. I make my way back along the trail, my basket noticeably heavier.
Every step brings me closer to the boundary between the wild and the civilized, the human and Other. My mind clears and I step out of the shadows and into the sunlight. My husband stands waiting, baby in his arms. She smiles and waves, and jumps into my arms, assuming her usual position at my hip.
The hike is over, my basket full, and there are so many flowers to lay out to dry now. But at the back of my mind, I still feel the forest, feel it pulsing with life and offering so much to those with eyes to see, with ears to hear, and a heart that is open. I walk into the house, with one foot still on the other side.
Throwing the Bones