In the Burned Forest: A Walk Through the Mist

In the Burned Forest: A Walk Through the Mist

In the more lightly burned areas of the forests just above us in the White Mountains of Arizona, the Fireweed is blooming in colorful profusion between the blackened spikes of destroyed trees. This beautiful member of the Onagraceae family is also one of my favorite herbs, being especially talented at reducing inflammation, astringing lax tissue, and encouraging healing, especially in the gut. This makes it a rather ideal addition to gut healing infusions, especially if a food intolerance or other trigger has been recently removed. Rhiannon declared this bit of mountainside a piece of her personal heaven, and danced through the mist and ferns for a while before settling into harvesting just ripening Raspberries. She particularly enjoys the not quite red fruits,...

What the Forest Holds: A Solstice Story in Pictures

What the Forest Holds: A Solstice Story in Pictures

It may be hot indeed down in the middle mountains and deserts of the Southwest, but head up a few thousand feet and the subalpine forests are cool and lush with the verdancy of the Summer Solstice. This past week Wolf and I took a much needed break to explore the cienegas of the Little Colorado river in the White Mountains just above our canyon home. . Wading through the cool currents of the river, we stopped to examine almost every little flower and leaf underside. Surrounded by Alder thickets and rambling briar patches, the sunlight fell on us in dappled patches through the trees. The scent of Wild Roses made the air sweet and heady, giving an even more enchanted feeling to an already fairy tale like walk. . The river banks were fertile and green, wildflowers...

Spiced Roots: Autumn Updates & Harvest Celebrations

Spiced Roots: Autumn Updates & Harvest Celebrations

As the light shifts from the brilliance of high Summer to the shadow-touched gold of Autumn, and the last flood of color bursts from the wildflowers, I find myself rearranging my herb shelves. Nutmeg, Ginger, and Cinnamon get pulled to the forefront, along with the rooty earthiness of Burdock, Elecampane, roasted Chicory, Astragalus, and Codonopsis. I sort through the clay and glass containers filled with dried mushrooms for medicine and food (often at the same time), stopping to sniff their wild musk in between other tasks. Dandelion-leek miso and jars of seaweed are pulled out for easy access, and the tea kettles and soup pots are all brought out and reintroduced to the woodstove. In the kitchen, Loba’s been turning mountains of fresh Peaches into jam, sauce,...

A Desert Fairy Tale: The Ringtail Woman

A Desert Fairy Tale: The Ringtail Woman

“The hills call in a tongue I cannot speak, a constant murmuring, calling the rain from my dry bones, and syllables from the marrow… Twined together, root to root, sap seeping from flesh, the Wood Wife plants me in the soil and give me language once again.” -Terri Windling, The Wood Wife Very often, we may unconsciously place fairy tales in the in the green rolling hills of Ireland or the dark forests of Germany, but in truth, stories of magic spring from every land. Nowhere is this more true than the deserts and mountains of the enchanted Southwest. The vibrant blend of cultures here can create tales of surprising power and beauty. When I first came to the Southwest over a decade ago, and met the Palo Verde, Ocotillo, and Saguaro of the Sonoran...

Spine Songs: Spring Comes to the Northern Chihuahuan Desert

Spine Songs: Spring Comes to the Northern Chihuahuan Desert

That girl, she was a Red Rock woman. Soft as pine needles and strong as the stone -Terri Windling, Red Rock Many mornings, when I wake up gazing at the brilliant lapis of the New Mexico sky, and the dusky rose of the canyon’s cliffs, I entirely forget how I managed live anywhere else. The volcanic rock hums underneath my bare feet and the wild winds tangle my hair with errant bits of Juniper bark and Evergreen Oak leaves. There’s no doubt that not everyone feels at home in this arid, stark environment where the grasses dance golden for a good part of the year, and most anything you touch is likely to have thorns or claws attached to it. It’s hard to explain to people unaccustomed to or uncalled by the Southwest, how the spines sing to me, how the beauty is made...

Plant Devotions in Smoke: Bioregional Plant Incense

Plant Devotions in Smoke: Bioregional Plant Incense

~This post was written for the Smoke Theme of the Wild Things Roundup~ Finished block of incense made with Piñon resin, Juniper berries, Red Cedar heartwood, Douglas Fir needles, Rose petals, and much more. The rising smoke of fragrant plants has long been considered the food of gods and ancestors by humankind. Throughout the centuries, it has retained the connotation of sacred space, magic, and the sensual. Even now, just the description of white smoke rising from an ornate censer can evoke images of ancient temples and forgotten rites. This is no surprise given the power of the olfactory system over memory, dream, and desire. For the modern American human, however, the word incense may be more likely to bring to mind the suffocating stench of chemical infused...