Woodland Wanderings

I try to get out to the forest with Danny at least 5 times a week, for a good 90 minutes offleash for him – and exercise, spirit-time, and foraging/wildcrafting  for me.I try to rotate where we go, so he can have a sense of adventure, and ensure there will be lots of new smells for him to check out. Without a car this past while,we’ve been limited, but fortunately we do  live basically surrounded by forest – it’s still good! Today we went to an area about a 7 minute walk down the road – onto land that’s been part of my family for something like 200 years. We walk past the house my grandmother was born in, and onto a trail she would have taken many times to go from that home to HER grandparent’s farm. Needless to say these woods and fields feel very ancestral and in-spirited to me – and Danny, well, he just loves the whole deal (smells, sounds, excitement, chance to be a dog!) Here are  some images and experiences from this mornings’ wander.

First – the mushrooms.





I am nowhere near as capable with mushroom ID as I am with plants in general – I have some ideas what these are, but without thumbing through the books I’m not going to say for sure. Those more knowledgeable than I, feel free to comment!
These last guys were cradled inside the opening – womblike opening – of a cherished beech I consider a Guardian  tree of the woods she stands in. It’s so lovely to me that the ancient Celts considered her “The Mother of the Woods” – associated Beech with ancient knowledge and tradition..certainly she feeds many wild creatures, including grouse, rabbits, squirrels, deer and porcupines. Impulsively I brought some home – leaf and nut – and then read  that keeping a piece of beech as a talisman brings good fortune to the wearer. I had not known that, but perhaps my instincts were good today; I’ve felt called to this tree over and over, often resting nearby on our walks, and so I’ve taken up the task of learning everything I can about her. The energy I felt while standing beside her in contemplation was certainly maternal. ❤P1310425P1310424

On the tree front, Danny continues to search out and consume young American elm leaves. I am sure this indicates that he has a parasite. Today I photographed him earnestly eating his leaves; they’re pretty dessicated now, but still have the sandpapery feel that is characteristic of this tree. I think I’ll drop off a sample to the vet next week and see if my instincts are correct.P1310417P1310418

I found a lovely patch of Chelidonium majus – Greater Celandine – and couldn’t resist a shot:

Reading a while ago that “fern” is associated with  the Autumn Equinox (Alban Elfed, or Light of the Water) and it gave me pause, as I personally associate the many fern species that grow around here with spring – fiddleheads! and, they are often the first to emerge from under the snow. But looking around today I was struck by how many are still thriving under the forest canopy, still strong and green – perhaps this is why the association? At any rate, they seem to be first to come, last to go – and I find their many varieties both beautiful and fascinating.


My handsome Dan almost camouflaged in the woods – deep in thought, I believe; or perhaps more accurately, in oneness with the wild, and so an absence of thought, but a fullness of being:

and, his Mom – where she is happiest, too…although I don’t think I look it here, I really am!


Leaving the woods and back into the field; this passage is very magical and hard to capture. A large and beautiful Agrimony grows smack in the middle of the entryway – pondering now what that represents.   🙂 You can’t see the Agrimony here, but I’ll be sure to write more on  hr later this year.(A plant I make extensive use of for dogs and people).

Another morning, another song of celebration. Home to hot tea (me) and eggs, chicken and sweet potato (Dan)  – I give thanks for this beautiful world, every rock, leaf, cloud, bird, mammal, reptile and insect – every being – and every day. Sad to see the Light half of the Year depart, but the Dark holds much magic for us all to explore…and much hot chocolate, many warm fires and woolen blankets, and the stars….

Happy Autumn, I hope you get to spend time in your own magical neck of the woods. Don’t forget the cider!

Late Bloomers

Such a strange season it has been –  and the weather right now, just post-Equinox, is unusually warm and mild. All week I’ve been finding many beauties still turning their flower-face to the sky, still filling the fields with colour. From my garden and the surrounding forests – a few blossoms who are not ready to sleep.

Orange hawkweed, Hieracium aurantiacum

Multiple medicinal uses, still underused herbally and regarded widely as a “noxious weed”.


Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis; I grew these beauties from seed and use for a wide variety of actions, notably the vulnerary effect on the whole GI tract, gentle nervine restorative ( used over time)  – for someone like myself, who tends to burnout/adrenal exhaustion and has GI  problems(reflux,  gallbladder) Oenothera is pretty much a specific. An ally! And beautiful in the garden right now, too.


There’s a wee, shy mallow flower hiding in the centre of this darling Malva neglecta I have – well everywhere, but this one is right beside the compost. She’s definitely hanging on until frost.


New England Aster – a glorious batch I found today on our walk (who could miss the bright purple against the fall landscape of rust and orange and brown?) Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a powerful ally for a variety of systems – notably the lungs – and has a broad range of medicinal applications. In working with local asters I have often referred to and been inspired y Michigan herbalist Jim MacDonald’s works, which anyone interested can find here:  http://www.herbcraft.org/aster.html
I have not harvested any this fall – I will, but I hate so much to take them from the bees.


A few cheerful Calendula blossoms beside the Lady’s Mantle, who has the good sense to withdraw into sleep. I always have more Calendula than any other plant, and I always make use of it – tincture, salve, skin washes, more . I love that she stays around to brighten the garden as long as she possibly can.


Constantly frustrated with the lack of Yarrow locally (herbicide free, plentiful and healthy) I grew my own this year! Lesson to me; Alchillea millefolium really does need 18 inches room between babies. I have lots of it now but it’s too close together, so I’ll be thinning it very soon. Here’s a beautiful blossom, and next summer, we’ll get more. 🙂


One beautiful blossoming Catnip plant – I love this herb so much it’s nudged into my Top Ten. Amazingly, this summer(with 7 cats) I grew plenty.


Althea officinalis – my gentle and beautiful ally – offers up a last bloom.

As we welcome the dark half of the year and celebrate with heartier fare, apple cider and the soft, gradual closing down of our urge to be always on the move – it’s a welcome and happy reminder that summer is brief but beautiful, to look into the woods and garden and see these sweet flowers, feeding bees, reaching for the sun – saying goodbye, if only for a while.

Mithrandr watches me photograph the garden. 🙂