When we walk along the river, when we climb Mt Beacon, when we drive across the bridges over the Hudson, heck, when we drive up the Taconic Parkway or along the state roads, we exclaim “Look where we live!” My brother Nigel lives in San Bernardino, CA (seven miles from the shooting – he didn’t live there then – my whole family lives within an hour of a shooting, how about yours?). The San Bernardino Mountains reach 11,000 feet so imagine it! Hopefully, I get to visit!
Fresh clean, cold air, getting my heart rate going this morning walking along the river. Our indigenous people named her Muhheakantuck “the river that flows both ways” as one half of the river can be flowing north while the other half flows south. The river is now named for Henry Hudson who’s fate was a mutiny that led to his disappearance in what is now known as Hudson Bay, known to the Inuit as Kangiqsualuk ilua. I usually take walks during the Winter, but February’s snow kept me in the house. I once hiked up Mt Beacon (1000 ft) too late into November and spent a treacherous hike down, often on my butt, encountering ice patches, so I keep myself out of harm’s way these days. Zeal has lessened in the past few years, finally giving way to maturity hee heeeee.
I return home chilled to the bone. It is 16º this morning, but the high is 40º. I usually dress for the high, thermals and thick socks beginning at 42º, but no coat or Winter boots this morning. I walked the Franny Reese Trail in Summer to pray outdoors during Prayer Week, finding a lovely nook in a tree to sit in on the river. I haven’t walked the trail in Winter for awhile. I usually choose one trail to walk all Winter. Last Winter was Madame Brett Park. I walked Riverfront Park during my staycation to simulate my usual walk on Miami Beach. Next Winter, I think I will finally make it to Carnwath Farms.
When we moved upstate, it was all about engaging Earth, Spirit. I have walked these lands in every season through ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, so getting outside today, engaging Earth is slipping back into what has become routine over these fourteen soon to be fifteen years. Beacon is just the right amount of city and country, perhaps because so many of us moved up from New York City in the past thirty years. Unfortunately, gentrification has pushed out many folks who were born and raised here. We moved out of Brooklyn when it was gentrifying, so this is the first time we’ve experienced gentrification. At the very least, gentrification improves neighborhoods as I’ve noticed so many houses have been renovated. If only our governments and fellow citizens could see fit to invest in our neighborhoods without pushing people out.
Beacon is home. I dropped off compost at Sargent-Downing Garden. The North side of the fence has come down so we’ll have to do some repair work come April 1. The memberships will be down to two of us so far this season, but I have managed the place on my own, so the repair won’t be difficult. The garden is still covered in snow as are Hiddenbrooke and Sally Garden. I have to clean my drying space at Hiddenbrooke. Sally is having her raised boxes and fencing redone on her vegetable gardens. Hard to believe snow will be gone in a few weeks. The temperatures are warming to 67º this week. We have to repair our water tank and replace plastic on the greenhouses at White Pine. We will have Spring Equinox ceremony at Seed Song March 20.
I created a tool inventory last March. I can get to tool maintenance this March. Create the habit. I did get replacement blades for my Felco pruners last Autumn, so I’ll replace those. Tool maintenance consists of cleaning, sanding, sharpening and oiling. I have had my tools for twenty years and I’ve probably done maintenance once or twice. I gave half my tools to a young woman in the welfare to work program when I worked at Riverside Park many Moons ago. I am now in the process of building my second set of tools back up again. Last season, I got another hand cultivator and a lopper. I’ll have to get a new toolbag for the hand tools.
Bright beautiful days and the blue sky already starts to deepen from pale blue. Muhheakantuck has ice patches, Sparrow’s flit from tree to tree and Eagle passes carrying grass t0 build a nest. It is quiet, just a few of us on the trails.
Let's get back to our Herbal ABC's here with the lands still frozen and life just waking up.
Holly, Inkberry (Ilex glabra), American Holly (I. opaca), Yuapon (I. vomitoria), Guayusa (I. guayusa), Yerba (I. paraguariensis), English Holly (I. aquifolium), Shrub, Tree, Turtle Island, Mexico, South America, Europe
So vast this genus stretching across the world. Species found also in Asia. Of course we speak of our Turtle Island and points south natives because of their fascinating uses. Inkberry is a shrub found here in the Northeast, not much about herbal use. American Holly is distinctly different from the English Holly, the former having matte green leaves and the latter have shiny dark green leaves. Yuapon leaves are narcotic and have been used in a beverage called Black Drink to purify warriors heading off to war. Guayusa is a drink made from I. guayusa used as a stimulant in South America. Yerba Mate also comes from South America and is made from I. paraguariensis. English Holly leaves are good for colds and cough.
Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, I. pallida, Balsaminaceae, Annual, Turtle Island
Jewelweed helps with Poison Ivy. I make a Jewelweed salve. I. capensis is orange flowers and I. pallida is yellow flowers. The watery stem can be boiled to make a soup that can be frozen into ice cubes to use topically to treat Poison Ivy.
Juneberry, Amelanchior canadensis, A. arborea, Rosaceae, Turtle Island, Tree
Juneberries are a cross between a Blueberry and a Cherry. There is a seed in the center, but the flesh is worth it.
Spring is in the air. The snow has receded sooo fast! We tiptoe our way out doors as Mother beckons. Here's to another season. Another level of relationship with Earth. May your gardens be abundant and your days filled with rays of sunshine and just the right amount of rain.