January 2, 2016
These holi-days spanning Solstice and the New Year have been blessed by the touch of ice in the mornings, hoar frost accenting the lines of boughs and leaf, the solstice sun rising to illuminate the promise of our lengthening days. Bird friends ornament boughs with flashes of blue and red, tiny ones flutter near windows and flit along paths, twittering flocks pass overhead in the garden canopy.
A walk along the river trails, pools of water, recently flooding this valley, now held quiet in frozen slabs. The color red is a startling contrast against the icy white, browns and green- translucent ruby-red rose hips, the scarlet stems of red-twig dogwood, red tinged thickets of Nootka rose and vine maple. In the distance hues of orange and yellow stand in company with the suite of reds, sign of willows bare of leaves, buds already filling to burst into catkins announcing spring.
Winter harvests now of these rose hips, willow and dogwood osiers, sticky aromatic cottonwood buds, resinous roots, rhizomes and barks for those with the knowledge to create healing foods and medicines or to weave into fine containers.
New Apprenticeship- Ethnobotany & Traditional Plant Uses
And for those of us who take these deep winter forays the signs of spring are already here, the swelling buds, new shoots from thick bulbs beginning to push through the leaf litter. As the wheel turns to the new year I am excited to unfold a new program starting in late winter, an ‘Ethnobotany-Traditional Plant Uses’ program, running February through September; two learning days per month, along with excursions and impromptu gatherings. See this site for more info, and let me know if you are interested, I am still designing the program and welcome input.
This is the time of the north, and I honor each season- though I love the warmth of summer, I feel a comfort in the starkness of winter mists rolling up the river, bare stems against the early darkening skyline, the stark intensity of a winter full moon and glittering constellations, the returning to homes filled with warmth and light to shake off the cold. I relish the traditions of this time of year, the first footings, all of the symbols of the sun calling back the light, the honoring of celestial events that have taken place unbroken for millennium, the annual death and renewal reminding of us of our own mortality and time to remember those who have passed before us. I light a candle to honor those who have passed and for the hopes of the coming year.
I hope to cross paths with you as the circle turns in 2016.
The Tolt River joins the Snoqualmie River near my home in Carnation, Washington. Its name is a trace of the first people’s name for this river, Toltxʷ representing an important village and fish trap located here for millennium, and it remains a critical habitat for salmon, eagle and others. A 9000 year old trail traveled upriver to another village and to what is now the Tolt Reservoir which provides a good portion of the water for Seattle.