Monday, April 22, 2013

In it.

crawfish chimney
 Is it too crazy to pack three hikes into one post? We are diving into it, wanting to be Out and In it, together as much as possible.  The surprises and treasures each venture offers are so abundant and diverse...(Do you feel like you might be reading last year's post? Or the year before that? Or how about 2009? 2008?  I was reading an essay by Oliver Sacks not long ago, about memory, and how we sometimes find ourselves making the same discoveries over and over, and how that maybe is all right, that we are different ourselves each time, and bring new things to the experience...will that work? Think of this as my Easter. My Christmas. Spring is the most outward expression of my spiritual beliefs, that is for sure.)

 This spring I am absorbing all I can because I will be leaving for 2 weeks of it - two weeks of the fireworks season in our neck of the woods? what was I thinking?! - to travel to Palestine/Israel with my mama!  I have written several blog posts about this, and none have managed to get finished enough to share, so there is my news flash - I'm going out of the country.  With my mom.  Without my family.   

I am excited. I am nervous. I am full of anticipation and tired already at the thought of the trip there, which will take me from my Wednesday evening's ride to Columbus, to my flight in Chicago on Friday, to finally arriving in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.  I am so grateful to my husband for being supportive of my going on this adventure.  The timing is nuts: he has finished his rounds of interviews and will be defending his dissertation on Friday!!!! The day I fly out of the country! There is some symbolism there to comment on but I'm congested and cold-bleary and just can't eek it out.

cutleaf toothwort

I will be joining a group of 10 women, most of them from Wisconsin, where my mom lives, and the focus of the trip is educational.  We've all been reading, learning about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different angles, and will be meeting with people there who are actively working on peace and justice for their people.  I am overwhelmed and awed and expect that I have only scratched the surface of all I will learn in the next couple of packed weeks.

I have been missing my husband so much this past year, and while it feels like a huge sigh of relief to be getting a "break" from the routine of the patchwork holding-together of the family that is my daily job, it is a little bittersweet that as he is crossing the finish line I am not here with him.  

The girls have been indulging my need for weekly trips into the forest to see what's new, what has already past, what haven't we seen before.  They love it too, and recognize so much this year.  It is such a pleasure to share that interest with them.

Ani, adjusting her trillium
Eliza's trillium

It was an extra bonus that we got out with Dan each day of the weekend. Really, soaking it in.

what are you?? - do you see the spider, up left?
immature mayapple - only one leaf, no flower this year
 We saw so many ramps - the colder weather this late-winter must have agreed with them.

so many ramps. 
goldenseal, blooming!
sea of mayapples

mayapples and ramps, congregating

Ani is so happy to have her papa with her, she keeps up a constant chatter and commentary about it all.  Dan grins at me over her head - we have to take you to Alaska to hike, Ani. We wouldn't even need a bear bell! True, our own bear-warning system...Heyyyyy, bear!

beautiful, tasty redbuds
Super Mayapple!
 Sunday we joined a local outdoorsing group called the Multigenerational Appalachian Woodlands Explorers (I think?) who had organized a hike at the United Plant Savers Goldenseal Sanctuary.  Going there is balm for me, and it was Dan's first time hiking through the woods there.  It was great to share it with him.

sniffing the goldenseal root - so bitter
I don't know what you are, but I love you.
a lot.

littleleaf buttercup - ranunculus abortivus

Hydrastis - goldenseal aplenty

We were lead by the woman who introduced me to the woods around here, during a hike at our first Pawpaw festival in 2008, Rebecca Wood.   She is so easy-going and dispenses knowledge left and right, encouraging questions, getting the group to think about looking at things differently.  The nice thing about going with a guide is that she could dig up the plants so we could look at their beautiful roots (yes, she planted them back again).

bloodroot root
wild ginseng

digging ramps
wild ginger flower
greek valerian
viola canadensis
toadshade, or sessile, trillium

wild ginger leaves

I feel as though I'm rushing through this, but maybe it's because I am.  I don't want these memories of slow, meandering walks through the woods to get lost in my list of things I need to do before I go.  These are the experiences that sustain me, that hold my anxiety and worry-buzz away.  A dear friend of mine is in the hospital with an infected burn.  My beloved dad had heart valve replacement surgery today.  I am a witness and a hand-holder and it is hard for me to be far away from people I love who could use a little extra right now.  I tried to take some extra deep breaths for you, Dad, and for you, Nancy, as if I could channel some of the smell of the soil or the taste of redbuds to you. Spring is not mine to give, but if it were....hoo boy. Your hospital rooms would be smelling so sweet right now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

wet-felting party in the driveway...

Remember the blessingway, back in January? And that sweet baby's birth in February? Well, there was another party planned for him that didn't come to pass before he was born, so this week we gathered at our house (well, in our driveway), the half-way point between friends to the south and friends to the northeast, to make him and his mama a felted blanket.

Much of the wool came from our friend E's Jacob's sheep, and had been dyed with natural dyes.  The kids sat on blankets (again, in our driveway!), carding the roving and creating their little additions to the whole.

Melanie, the mama, chose a tree for the image...

 We all added our bits and pieces: butterflies, nests, blossoms, leaves...

...mushrooms (Anika's addition!), worms (mine - actually, I was lucky to be holding the baby, so I was happy to throw in a worm for each family member under the tree as my contribution!)...

our perspective on the event...
Once everything was in place, dishsoap was squirted over the whole piece, and hot water was dribbled.  The background piece of wool had been laid on a piece of bubble wrap, which was lying in a kiddie pool.

 Once the piece was all wet, another piece of bubble wrap was laid overtop, and the pressing began.  It was stressed how important it was to press down, not side-to-side, so as to not disturb the individual pieces or pull the wool apart.

I love how everyone could be involved...there were even wee ones who tended to the full water buckets, making sure they had enough leaves and sticks floating in them and that everyone was getting wet enough, you know...

Once it looked as though the wool was sticking to itself well enough, not easily torn apart, the top piece of bubblewrap was removed and the whole thing was rolled up and rubber-banded into a long sausage.

Time for wet-felt dancing! This took a while - maybe 45 minutes total - of squeezing and stomping and massaging, then unrolling and rolling it back up the other direction and doing the same, over and over...

Until it was done! A beautiful hanging or baby mat, made in community for dear friends.