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Posts Tagged ‘nature walks’

I decided to walk the hedge near my apartment to see what the plants were up to.  I also hoped to find certain specimens for my herbal stash.  Alas, they were not around.  It’s funny and interesting how they’ll be present one year and not the next.  I won’t be here long enough to figure out their rhythm.  Soon I’ll start to establish a relationship with new land – one that will hopefully last much longer.

As I walked the hedge, I reflected on all I’ve learned from doing just that.  I understand the blackberry’s life cycle thanks to a somewhat hidden patch nobody but me seemed to know about. I learned about jewel weed out of an obsession to identify it.  I refined my ability to distinguish between different trees.  That sort of wisdom comes from the marriage of experience and study.  Some days I walk then hit the field guides and herbal books out of curiosity.    “What was that plant?  I didn’t recognize it.”  Other times I like to look through my books.  I’ll have moments of clarity.  “Oh wow!  I saw that flower once!  Where was it again?  Time to find it.”

Learning the land’s rhythm has been essential to my growth as a Druid.  In addition to increasing my understanding and wisdom, I try to pick up trash along the way.  Today I found some discarded plastic toys – a crushed sand castle mold and an empty bubble container.  Kids.  Sheesh.  Cleaning is usually my offering to the land in exchange for the teachings.

I’m excited to really introduce myself to a new yard, new hedge, and new forest.  I’ll take the lessons I learned here and build on them.

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A mandala painted on a stone from Lake Ontario and gifted to my husband. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

For me, the Summer Solstice is a time of endings and beginnings. Vacation begins for me and many others in my field. Students go home. Several of my students moved on and I may never see or hear from them again. That was a hard pill to swallow as I had grown especially fond of some of them. We got to know each other over several years, and they were such good kids. The kind of youth that give me hope for the future. I’m so proud of them, and they taught me just as much as I taught them, I’m sure.  Such is the nature of working with kids in any capacity – they grow up and we must stand back to watch them fly.

“Rent” for Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.


My routine changes over the summer. I suddenly have more time and energy. While teaching is in my blood and very much a part of my Druid identity, a long vacation definitely gives me time for other things that I am equally passionate about. My family feels up to taking more walks, and we have more daylight in which to do so. We spend more time playing outside, working on the garden, and visiting beloved mountains, rivers, and lakes.  I start meditating more – deeper, longer meditations that bleed over into trance states.  Just thinking about it makes my heart beat with anticipation.

Our Summer Solstice bonfire.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

Of course, there was, and will be, plenty of ritual involved. We had a bonfire Summer Solstice evening. It was just very casual, although I did sing as I kindled the flame. Later today, I’ll gather with my grove for a larger, more formal celebration. We’re once more honoring Manannan mac Lir and thanking him for the blessings of water.  The summer brings more opportunities for gathering with like-minded people to laugh, sing, and dance around fires.

Last night marked the New Moon. The omens for the day focused on change and, later, working with my own wildness to make me and my community a better person. I was struggling with some confidence issues earlier in the day. In transitioning from work-me to free-time me, and in the stress of all I had to accomplish to pass that threshold, I got a little goofy acting and put my foot in my mouth. I regretted it later, feeling foolish. I often worry how others see me. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what that means, how I want to be seen, and how to be true to myself. I did some midnight magical work in the garden to help me grow as a person.

I call my blog “The Ditzy Druid” for a reason. I can be a little quirky sometimes. It’s part of who I am. I don’t take myself too seriously.  After seeing “Moana,” I told my husband that I want to grow up to be like her grandmother, the self-professed “village crazy lady.” Despite her eccentricities, she is respected and loved. I think I usually maintain that balance, but we all know that our energies ebb and flow. I was a bit hyped up on all the new beginnings and got a bit silly. That said, I feel much better after my working last night, and sleep, the blessed medicine. The old saying is true: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Be you.  (But I also keep thinking about the words of Aaron Burr from Hamilton, “Talk less, smile more.”)

(For a little more on celebrating you and growing in confidence, I highly suggest you check out my friend Jen Rose’s blog entry on wearing what makes you feel amazing.)

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I was up too late last night. Don’t judge me, but I was reading a really compelling fan fic on my phone. Just like any good story, I couldn’t put it down. On top of that, my daughter is getting over a cold. She coughs a lot which makes me toss and turn. When I finally woke up, my eyes were irritated. For some reason, it impacted my overall mood this morning. I felt a bit grouchy. It’s times like that when the forest’s call grows loud and insistent.

Donning my winter coat, scarf, gloves, crane bag, and walking stick, I got out of the house, away from the screens, the messes waiting to be cleaned, and everything that annoyingly reminds me that I’m renting and not owning right now. The sun is out, but the air is bitter cold.  The neighborhood was quiet since most people don’t want to be out on such a day.  I felt assured of solitude.

The universe said, “nope.”

I crossed the hedge, carefully stepping on exposed logs and rocks to avoid the icy sheen of a frozen puddle.  I always ask permission to enter, and felt the familiar pull.  I was a bit apprehensive to return, honestly.  Last week, my husband and I believe we found bear droppings.  I took an omen before I went out today and was basically told to have courage because I needed this excursion.

The forest near my apartment is accessible to anyone who lives in my neighborhood. I’m grateful for the opportunity to take nature walks whenever I want, but sharing it with other people (people who don’t all respect the woods) is irritating.  There is a never-ending supply of trash to clean.  I take it upon myself to bring a small bag with me when I visit.  I collect what I can as an offering.

After making some other offerings at a large tree, I leaned against its trunk to breathe.  The relaxation was short lived, unfortunately.  Some kids noisily entered the woods and set about smashing things into trees.  Ugh.  I surprised them by stepping out from behind the tree and went deeper into the woods.

Their shock made me grin.  I was grateful they left me to my wandering.

No signs of bear this time.  Noisy kids aside, it was nice to return to the forest.  It’s a bit like a moving meditation.  I definitely don’t sit and meditate here.  You never know who may show up, after all.  I try not to let my guard down, especially when there’s possibly a bear around (not to mention coyotes and coydogs).  A snap of twigs in the distance gets the blood pumping and makes me feel so alive…

Closer to home, I inspected the garden.  Most of the pots are frozen.  The compost bin is unworkable at the moment.  And yet, despite how bitter cold everything is today, the chives are pushing their way towards the sky.  What hardy little plants.  They always  promise me that spring is near.  They appear even before the trout lilies in the woods.  Seeing them made me so happy and reminded me that it’s time to order seeds.

Gods, I can’t wait to garden again…

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

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I traveled to Lake Placid with my husband and daughter this past weekend. On our way, we stopped to climb Mt. Arab near Tupper Lake, NY. It’s a small mountain, but the trail is maintained, it’s very family-friendly, and the view is worth it.  Plus, it’s part of the Tupper Lake Triad!  Completing it will motivate us to hold onto our dream of becoming 46ers (someday)!


We had a picnic lunch near the summit. We were blessed with a beautiful autumn day – it was even a little warm.  Something about sitting on bare mountain makes me feel closet to Mama Earth.

There’s a fire tower at the top, allowing for even more spectacular views of some of the high peaks of the Adirondacks in the distance. The photos doesn’t do it justice, unfortunately!  Bee grew fearful of the wind up in the fire tower, so I didn’t get to gaze out as long as I would have liked. Luckily, there are plenty of rocky areas with views such as the first image I shared. I could have sat there for while; I would have loved to meditate. Unfortunately, due to the agreeable weather on a weekend, it was a busy destination. Between that and Bee’s antsy toddler antics, I didn’t have a lot of time for quiet contemplation.

Still, it was a great opportunity to get outside and commune with nature in one of my favorite places on Earth. Bee did a fantastic job climbing the mountain. My husband carried her for a bit to the summit, but she did most of the mile round-trip hike independently. I’m so proud of her!  There was plenty of nature to inspire all of us – huge boulders, some with interesting patterns, tiny mushrooms, woodpeckers, and, or course, the magnificent autumn foliage!

Even though I didn’t get to treat the hike like a spiritual, stress-free retreat, I realize how lucky I am to take my family on such excursions. We are healthy, we have transportation, and we have weekends off to enjoy the outdoors together.  We live relatively close to the amazing Adirondacks!  This is the foundation, and I hope it helps Bee continue to form a meaningful relationship to the natural world.

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It’s a hot and humid day, but it’s also overcast with a call for rain. Probably not the best time to visit the beach… The extra shade means it’s more comfortable outside than in, though, so it’s a great day to explore outside but stay close to home in case we need shelter. So Bee and I went for a little nature walk to pick flowers for our family altar and Brighid shrine. While we explored, I introduced my daughter to some flowers such as chicory, Queen Aunne’s lace, St. John’s Wort, and red clover. We found some others that I wasn’t sure about, but that’s part of the fun of exploring! We also checked in on the black berries. No flowers or even buds yet.  It was a fun way to spend time with my daughter and the Nature Spirits.  Of course, we gave offerings before picking, and I told Bee how important it is that we don’t pick too much from one area.

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Taller flowers went on our family altar.

Actually walking among Nature, exploring, and learning together, then bringing some back into our home with permission, makes the High Days, and everything in between, come to life.

20160708-145634.jpgSmaller flowers on our Brighid shrine.

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An acorn and pinecone treasure basket I put together for Bee. She enjoys exploring them with her magnifying glass. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

An acorn and pinecone treasure basket I put together for Bee. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

 

I’ve already written a bit about treasure baskets in the past.  Now that Bee is older, they’re becoming even more fun!  Currently, she has a basket of different pinecones and acorns on her “play altar” / “nature table.”  It’s been a great way for her to explore some of Mother Nature’s diversity.  It’s an open-ended way to explore and play.  She sometimes sorts them by type or size.  Once she used them to make imprints in play dough.

One thing that I like about this particular treasure basket is that it’s very seasonal, and Bee has been able to add to it whenever we’re out on our walks.  She gets really excited when she finds new acorns, acorn caps, and cones. I ask her if she’d like to take one to her nature table.  This activity shows her that she has choice and that her opinions matter to me.  We also say “thank you” to the Earth Mother and trees whenever we bring a new friend inside.  Of course, it’s also added to her vocabulary!

Knowing your child is definitely important when it comes to making new treasure baskets.  Bee is past the age of putting random things in her mouth.  We’ve had many discussions about what is and isn’t food.  (We’ll save the fact that many of our ancestors used ground acorns and pine nuts in meals for another day…)  For the last few months, she’s demonstrated an understanding that only food should go in her mouth.  Her last treasure basket was filled with different shells, and we introduced some smaller specimens towards the end.  Last year, I wasn’t able to let her play with anything small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube.  It’s amazing how quickly little ones learn!

I’m planning to retire the pinecone and acorn treasure basket for a bit (I’ll bring them out again in the future), so I’m excitedly thinking about what the next basket will be!

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