Missing Plant Friends + Hike Lust + Books

Everything outside feels dead. I know it isn't.

I reach towards my herb pantry often, just to grab jars of my wild picked plants and smell them. I can smell the sun on the yarrow and the old clear cut I gathered them in, and the hillside and the side of a sun bleached rocky cliff, all stuffed into this glass jar. How do you keep these places, yarrow? I get hopeful and wistful for their return. Little plants of courage and tenacity. I dream of speaking with and touching coastal yarrow, the kind that Ryan Drum speaks of

One particularly fine day whilst harvesting Yarrow on a steep talus slope above the sea, I felt suddenly quite giddy. The feeling resembled benign sunstroke; however, I had been harvesting in complete cliff shade for 3 hours. Involuntarily I sat down and happily laid back into several ancient Yarrow clumps with 3-foot stalks and huge flat umbels 8-10 inches across. Their delicious odors smothered me. As I looked up and all around, all I could see was Yarrow and blue sky. Paradise.
— Ryan Drum, ryandrum.com

The roses smell like a sexy fruit jam, the ecstatic sound of bees rolling in pollen and the thick wet grass I had to walk to to get to them. The minor bloodshed to capture their petals. My still curious thoughts about the smelly resin the leaves leave on my hands – and how I want to make a salve of it. I can't wait to see her in bloom again.

Plants hold memories, my olfactory senses hold memories. Every time I smell something I gathered, folds in my brain open bringing up knowledge, memory, idea. Parts of my brain that go dormant this time of year I feel come back alive. It reminds me that it will be warm again, that the lush green will be back. That I will be able to move about in the world again in shorts and a thin shirt and that my skin will brown and I'll be back in my season. That I will learn more about my plant friends this season. That I will get to see them again.

I have moved my jars from my pantry to my kitchen table now. Until then when spring is back, I will keep huffing my jars.

Winter is just a little rough on me, I'm a solar powered spring kid.

It comes early here though and very soon, maybe in a couple of weeks even – maybe now even! Poplar buds will begin to fall, young nettles shooting up, cleavers doing their cleaving. My brain is sorting and prioritizing my picking places. What I will do with them? What new things I will learn about them this year?

I CAN'T WAIT.

How plans are made. This is not my usual M.O.

How plans are made. This is not my usual M.O.

Right now, I am mapping potential areas to be with plant friends and for hikes... and for backpacking. This being my first full spring/summer season with a car, I am like a horse chomping at the bit. Ready to go! We shall see where, eventually.

For now, this book is great inspiration and updated frequently which is very handy.

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I'm rather keen on getting the Eastern Oregon book too. Right now I am totally mystified by the desert. I eye the maps of the ODT longingly but seeped in intimidation. Looks beautiful, doesn't it?

In this guide you can find the OCT route.

In this guide you can find the OCT route.

I am thinking about a thru-hike of the Oregon Coast Trail over the summer, if I can swing it. 380ish miles. It looks to be a relatively easy and accessible entry point into long distance hiking. While the PCT is just over on Mt. Hood, I do not really want to walk it in large sections. I feel like it would somehow be like a movie spoiler to section hike the PCT with my looming 2017 thruhike.

At any rate, it seems this post is divulging into hike talk. This is what I have been reading as of late. And by reading, I mean that I have a circulating pile of books that sometimes I get around to finishing. These are the few that are frequenting my hands lately. And I just might finish them! I've been a focused and diligent reader lately.

A photo posted by Carrot Quinn (@carrotquinn) on

I'm actually rereading this one right now, before I fall asleep at night. 1. The cover is a play on the Fool Card, which is totally awesome. I am wondering... someone might wanna make a hikers tarot deck. I mean, could be good right? Yes, it would. Tarot all the things. 2. It's just really good. I can feel her feels.

The author, Carrot Quinn has a blog too! She completed the Continental Divide Trail last year and is preparing for the Hayduke, which I can't wait to read about.

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My friend Ashley mentioned his books on IG and I checked them out and bought this one. It's good stuff. I find myself breathing better and smiling at myself randomly. Which, does in fact promote a better mood and brain space. When I smile at myself, while I am driving, walking somewhere, working, washing dishes, cleaning the cat box I suddenly feel like I am standing in a sun beam and in a place I love, like a mountain, yet still present to my place and what I am doing in that moment – and I am happy.

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I feel like this book pairs really well with the writing of Thich Nhat Hanh, I bounce between the two over coffee in the morning as time allows. I recommend it if nature, writing and self-development are things you like. I've really been enjoying it so far.

And if you are reading neat things, do share. I love adding to my increasing book pile ;)

Hello Equinox & Green Things

Spring came so wildly early this year, alarmingly early. Violets in January? Yes! It's kind of crazy. Wild cherry trees have been blooming, filling the streets with white and pink snow. Catkins dangling phallically from trees. The air a mix of tree sex. What has been lacking is the scent of cool petrichor, mingling with blooming things. There have been a handful of predawn mornings, while lying in bed that I can hear and smell the rain coming down. Those are rather precious times to me. The lack of our generally incessant rains this time of year leaves one wondering, curious and slightly wary. That's how I feel anyway, and I wonder to what extent our summer will be dry and hot this year. The thought of wildfire and smoke creep into my brain...

Despite springs early arrival I have been excited about it, naturally. As the sap rises in the plants and trees and the soil moves a little more, so do I and it generates a great joy inside of me. I feel like a bear coming out from its winter den. I've been chomping at the bit to find, gather, process and make things. Poplar buds, nettles and cleavers have been my allies thus far.

Before I moved back into the city proper I had the luxury of living along a paved trail corridor with patches of relatively undisturbed land. Gathering was easy and simple. I knew where the cottonwood stands were, where the creepy ass alder swamp was, wild strawberries, roses, you name it. Now it's whole 'nother game, especially when you lack personal motorized vehicle transportation. Now it is chance, by surprise and hunting when I find what I am looking for. While I miss the ease of access and familiar places and special spots I am finding treasures, medicine and spirit hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city.

I believe that spirit is just as strong and valid in the city, as it is in the most wild and untouched places. I have seen and read a lot of dismissal of the spirit world in the city and I think that it is unwise. They are different, but equally important in my opinion.

So it's a strange and interesting adventure. Acquainting/reacquainting myself with familiar but unfamiliar territory. Making new spirit and plant friends, discovering lonely, overlooked, neglected green patches, appreciating them and befriending them. Every year I feel like I've waited for this moment my whole life, the Spring Equinox. With the sun moving into my sign Aries, my blood quickens and a strange life lust overcomes me and more than ever I feel the desire to do, do, do!

Only warmer and longer days from here on out. Making the most of it.

Fall Foraging & Hungry Kitchen Crow

After work one day, earlier in October, I meandered through a local trail to see what I could forage. It was a blustery day with off and on rain and intermittent clear skies. Whenever the seasons begin to make their shift, there's a sort of battle that goes on in the sky. It's an odd micro climate I live in. The temperature, wind and rain can vary quite dramatically from where I live to where my job is located, a mere 7 miles away. The buttes, small valleys, dense forest patches create pockets of strange isolated weather happenings. One of the many reasons I love it out here...

Plantain.

Rosehips.

Yarrow leaf.

I gathered up what I stumbled upon. Originally I was looking verbascum thapsus, mullein. I've always been oddly drawn to that plant and I was hoping to find some to begin forging a relationship with it. Mullein loves disturbed rocky soils and despite the fact that I was in prime mullein growing territory, I found none!  I did however find a surprising amount of young yarrow leaf shooting up and the always abundant plantain. Rosehips aplenty too.

I plan to make a healing salve with the plantain and yarrow, once dried.

Along this very same trail, I found a sun bleached crow skeleton. After months of seeing him just sit there, I finally took him home. His skull was perfectly intact as well as some wing bones. As an animist, I believe that his spirit still resides in his bones and over time, we have developed an interesting relationship. One day, I walked into the kitchen to find him exactly like this...

Maw! Maw! Feed me!

Maw! Maw! Feed me!

Silenced with chicken skin and fat. He's my kitchen table companion, often watching as I process herbs, pull cards and taking food scraps as offerings. He's always hungry and a little greedy. He is a surprisingly and both unsurprisingly communicative and active spirit to work with. One of his wing bones resides in my bone throwing set and he's always sure to make his opinions known.



Hermes & Violet Thoughts.

My gym time is one of the ways I do devotional activities for Hermes. What's this got to do with violets? I'll get there, don't worry. Hermes holds a very special place in my heart. He's a jovial guy and many of his attributes are things that hold a prominent place in my life. I'm a business owner, a ram, I hit the gym on a regular basis and I aim to improve my writing and communications abilities. I dream very vividly and have a fondness for birds and often look to them for omens. He's also just a bad ass. I love reading about him in myth, he just comes across as the kinda guy you could have a beer and totally chill with. Or you know, get up to some mischief.

So, violets right? I make a point to focus on Hermes during my workouts. I give him my sweat, my pumping heart, my exertion, my focus. I make a point to commune with him. Violets dropped into my brain out of nowhere a few weeks ago. I walked home and the phantom scent of violets hit me over and over again, it's not even violet season mind you! Today, mid oblique crunch, there it is again. Violets. "Alright," I say to myself, "time for some google action." What's the first thing I see, after googling 'Hermes violets'?

photo by,  Married with Dinner .

Oh, snap. Indeed. Hermes very obviously wants his violets. This brand unfortunately is basically impossible to get in the US, unless I'm willing to hop on a plane straight to Japan! While I do hope to someday get my hands on this lovely jewel of a liqueur, I think I will settle for some Tempus Fugit Liqueur De Violettes. Or, make my own, which I have plans for come spring of next year.

I was really surprised by this. Violets aren't exactly mercurial, they're connected to the planet Venus, the element of water and love. Aphrodite was often referred to as violet-crowned. The sweetly scented flowers are calming and gentle and make me think of softening the woes of love, inducing lust, bringing lovers back together after a spat and tranquility. All sorts of ideas began bubbling into my head. Clearly, violets will make a great offering to Hermes in my personal practice, but this experience has brought me closer to a plant I had never really considered working with before. I actually encountered the wild violet this spring, for the first time. I had thought nothing of it, really. Just that they were the harbingers of spring. The first flower to pop up, they herald new beginnings.

Transient

I found this small wild patch at the end of my street last spring. I think I might transplant a few to the yard. And maybe even buy a few plants as they come available on websites this fall. Specifically the sweet violet - viola odorata, as this is the one with the sweet scent and flavor.

All sorts of wild crafty ideas are flying through my head currently. A violet water, similar to a Florida Water recipe. I imagine the color would just be fantastic. Violet liqueur, obviously. Cakes. Preserving the flowers in sugar. Perhaps even scenting the sugar, by placing lots of the fresh blooms in a jar, I wonder how that would work out. I suppose I'll have to find out next spring, these delicate little flowers are only around once a year. I look forward to getting to know this plant a little better come spring.