Evergreens and The Longest Night: A Solstice Celebration in Pictures

Evergreens and The Longest Night: A Solstice Celebration in Pictures

Last night while I laid back in our old wood-fired clawfoot tub and felt the giant snowflakes falling on my face in the dark I was entirely consumed by how beautiful and precious these long nights and cold air are to me. All around me in the evergreen forests of my home, the snow fell silently and the ice grew a little further over the surface of the river that runs through the center of the canyon. While I’ve always enjoyed the quiet and beauty of Winter, it seems to me that this particular cold season is the most pleasurable and lovely I’ve ever experienced. Part of this is no doubt simply due to how much I needed the slowing down that this time of the year brings for our family. Another aspect is my deepening relationship with the special medicine...

Of Smoke and Spice: Two Teas for the Cold Moons

Of Smoke and Spice: Two Teas for the Cold Moons

On this windy November afternoon I brought a thermos of my favorite smoky chai and a crisp mcintosh apple with me to a small copse of Alder trees and Wild Roses by the river. Listening to the breeze keening through the Pines on the mountain above, I sat down in the soft leaf litter and leaned against the silver barked  trunk. All around me, the air was thick with the musky-sweet smell of Autumn turning rapidly to Winter. On the ground, the rust and copper colors of fallen Oak and Maple leaves provided a stark backdrop to the lush green of young Mountain Nettles (Urtica gracilenta) that continue to persist and have been providing our family with nightly meals of Nettle soups and Nettle breads. Frankly, I’m not sure there’s much in this world better...

Medicine from Disaster: Herbs of the Mountain Meadows

Medicine from Disaster: Herbs of the Mountain Meadows

Today I saw many miles of what’s pictured above. Black, dead trees and ground covered in a thick layer of ash. Exploded Pine limbs littering the periphery of the fire’s path and shattered trunks that collapsed into dust with a gentle exploratory touch on my part. While many sections of the burned forest were old growth Pine and burned so hot that they will be a long time indeed in regrowing, there are also many areas where lighter fires swept through and green patches that escaped entirely unscathed. Fire itself is of course an age old occurrence that has a natural and beneficial place in the ecology of these mountains. What’s more recent is the decades of fire suppression combined with humans lighting accidental fires much earlier in the year...

Spring in the Country of Lichen and Spines: Fragments of Home

Spring in the Country of Lichen and Spines: Fragments of Home

Spring in the Country of Lichen & Spines: Fragments of Home by Kiva Rose ~~~~ Warm temperatures have arrived early in my corner of the Gila, with the Golden Smoke blooming sooner this year than I’ve ever previously seen. This follows a cold (-35F is plenty cold for me, thank you) and dry Winter. Now our seasonal winds blow the sand up in spiraling circles until it dances like the shifting forms of whirling dervishes against New Mexico’s lapis colored sky. The skeletal limbs of shattered Russian Thistles caught up in these little whirlwinds give sharp edges to the dancers. ~~~~ The Canyon trees bend in the same wild winds and yet last year’s withered purple Juniper berries cling to their branches as they’re tossed about in the breeze. They retain their pungent...

Earth-Deep: On Roots and the Cold Moons

Earth-Deep: On Roots and the Cold Moons

“Deep roots are not reached by frost” – J. R. R. Tolkien As the dark months roll in and the seasons change, I find myself spending a great deal of time digging, washing and chopping freshly gathered roots. The sharp fragrance of Elecampane, the earthy bite of Cebadilla, the anise intensity of Sweet Root, the unmistakable aroma of Oshá and perhaps especially the sweet spice of American Spikenard all permeate the cabin kitchen, the medicine lodge and even my skin. I have often been known to take bites right out of the freshly washed Aralia or Ligusticum roots, chewing them thoughtfully as I continue my processing. I find that this direct sensory interaction with the plants greatly aids my understanding of how the herbs work and the particular properties of...

Deep As Root & Song: In Rambling Praise of Wildcrafting

Deep As Root & Song: In Rambling Praise of Wildcrafting

This is for the July Blog Party on Adventures in Herbalism, hosted by Darcey Blue of Gaia’s Gifts. I’m all about the up close and personal.  I learn best through my senses and direct experience. This is perhaps more true in the way I practice herbalism and relationship with the plants than almost anything else. While I enjoy reading and hearing about herbs, my most significant learning happens when they’re about two inches from my face, or when ingesting or actually applying them. I cherish the tactile, the sensual, the immediate. Nearly all of the herbs I work with in my practice are wildcrafted, and so I have myself a fair number of plant adventures. Whether fording shoulder deep, fast-moving floodwaters with Darcey Blue to harvest Hops stroibles,...