Friday, 24 April 2015

Spring is Sprung

Spring has come bounding up the hill side raggle taggle and in a hurry.  She still has twigs and dried leaves in her hair from where she's been sleeping under the oaks, but she's here for sure and everything is bursting into bloom, spiralling open, courting, chasing, chirping and generally being all green and blossomy.  The trees have turned from brown to green in barely more than a week and with every varied shade and tone of vibrant, subtle, healthful, heartful green comes another burst of wild song, both in the branches and in every corner of my spring delighting heart.

Some people are still busy building and feathering their nests, while some have chicks already and spend their days tirelessly to-ing and fro-ing in the ever more necessary tag-game of feeding them.

We have found a Wagtail nest near here.  I haven't photographed it because having found it by accident I don't want to disturb it.  There are five beautiful little white eggs in it.  It's hard not to count the Wagtails before they hatch, but my fingers are crossed.  This is her collecting Daisy dog-hair for some last minute additions to her nest.

I've been busy collecting myself - harvesting the huge array of wild yummyness that grows hereabouts into feral feasts and trying not to repeat myself too often.  Nettle and Wild Garlic soup is really incredible the first time you have it and still pretty wonderful the second, but the palates of all those who come to the table need to be taken into consideration and "oh no, not green soup again" isn't most convivial way to start a meal.

Nettles! Urtica dioica.  Delicious and incredibly nutritious.  There are so many good things to say about this wonderful plant that I'm not going to repeat them here, I'll just leave you this link and this one.  

 Oxalis or Wood Sorrel - Delicious in salads, 
Ground Elder - otherwise known as Gout Weed, Bishops Weed, Herb Gerard, English Masterwort, Wild Masterwort or indeed Aegopodium podagraria. Used as a hot wrap for the treatment of gout and as a mild sedative when eaten, it's delicious when the leaves are young both in salads and as a boiled vegetable.

 Galium aparine or Cleavers, Sticky Willy, Goosegrass, Catchweed, Robin-run-the-hedge.  As well as being an excellent tonic and diuretic this useful plant is a handy poultice for wounds and burns. This year I have also discovered that the roots of this plant make a red dye - wildly exciting.  I'll let you know how I get on. 
Pennywort, Navelwort or Kidneywort - guess what that's good for.. and Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, this is another one that there's so much to say about I will simply leave you the link here
So we've been having fish pie with nettles, ground elder and wild garlic woven seemlessly and seeminly invisibly into the sauce.  Likewise they have made an appearance, un-noticed in pasta and noodle dishes and in pot roasts, curries and stews.  Lots of Hedgerow salads with dandelion leaves, primrose flowers, cleavers, jack-by-the-hedge, yarrow, sorrel and pennywort.  Fergus and I are pretty much on our own with these hedgerow salads but I'm sure the taste buds of 'youth' will come round soon enough.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

Such Singing in the Wild Branches
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

-Mary Oliver

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Slightly Belated Giveaway

I first posted on this blog at the end of March 2014.  A whole year has flown by since then; many things have changed, been birthed, grown, died - in the way things do.  This blog, which I was very unsure about at first, has been a joy to me.  I've loved the challenge of writing it and I've learned lots from researching what I'm trying to express to make sure I'm not leading you up the garden path.  I've loved people's happy responses to it; I've found them nourishing and affirming and I hope that in return I've contributed to the gross human happiness quotient and to that of the more-than-human world.  I hope you can feel my reverence for all that is - I hope you can  join me in that reverence.

I have tried to write on behalf of a sentient and heartful Earth whom many of us have forgotten is everything to us.  Our mother, our father, our home,  our life, our breath.  To speak on behalf of all those of us who share "the commonwealth of breath" (another of David Abram's potent expressions), whether we are wild or tame,  furred or feathered,  animate or seemingly inanimate.

I've taken you along some of the paths I know as we have watched the year turn inexorably through her cycles.  It is my dearest wish that you now know, if you did not know already, that everything is connected on the web of life and that if you can re-claim and re-wild your own inner landscape then you can re-claim and re-wild the outer one, and vice versa.  I am undertaking the ever lengthening task of getting to know my landscape, interior and exterior - the one where my feet fall, where my eyes rest on this horizon in this place on this day.  Much as I hope you will read on - really the best thing you could do for yourself is go outside, right now, and learn the songs and stories in the contours of your own land, the names, the spell-ings of the place that is your home and the beings with whom you share it.

I hope I have shown you that there are more denizens in this weird, beautiful, strange and magical world than may first meet the glassy human eye.  Let your eye become the inner eye, they fey eye, the queer eye shared by the three sisters Graeae.  See that there are spirits everywhere, that we live in a whole and complete system within which everything is made up of the same stuff.  I have spirit and am human; so then if the ferral cat or the two kronking ravens are made up of the same stuff, or mushrooms, or a mountain, must they not have spirit too? Clearly they do.

So - a year has come and gone and I thought I'd celebrate with a 'give-away'.

In many Shamanic Cultures that's the way to celebrate anything - by giving away.  The Potlach - a sort of feast and give-away that is common to many of the Native North American, Canadian and Subarctic tribes - was rather unaccountably made illegal in Canada in 1884 and in the United States in the late 19th Century.  It was seen as "a worse than useless custom" by the missionaries and and white settlers as it was contrary to the 'civilised values' of competition and accumulation.  A telling comment was made by William Duncan (a missionary) who wrote in 1885 that the potlatch was "by far the most formidable of all obstacles in the way of Indians becoming Christians, or even civilised"!!

Well, I never wanted to be civilised anyway.

So here it is.  I'm giving away a rattle (perhaps much like this one, or maybe a different one if you would like to chose something else from the pictures on the rattle page of this blog).  If you would like to have it please 'follow' this blog and like and share the post on Facebook.  I'll chose a lucky winner from a hat at the end of April.