What are a few things that are especially helpful for you to feel more connected?
Today our Anake session was to connect with our sit spot land in a deeper way. We set some intentions in the morning before going out for about 2 hours. Tending, listening, offering, touching, beautifying,... inspired by the 5 Love Languages and aware what we offer might be not what the land asks for.
My intention was to listen to the land. I started with taking the trash out. I had a pile collected at Fairmount and was meaning to get it out for a while. It was a rainy morning and I enjoyed getting soaking wet. I cut my way through a lot of blackberries on my way to the little Madrona I planted with David 2 years ago. She looks very happy with her glossy wet leaves. I also freed up the little Thimbleberry and Gooseberry Patch close by.
A woman played with her Golden Doodle in the Park and they sounds they made where very different from all the other Dog/human-pairs that frequent the field. I looked up a couple of times but could not really figure out what was so special about their play.
I continued my blackberry cutting east of the Cherry log and listened to the birds chatter about me. There wasn't much else going on, so I was pretty sure it was about me. I wondered if they are annoyed by my actions or if they can feel my intention of bringing more diversity and food sources for them instead. I could feel their energy and started whistling the melody of 'grateful to be' but didn't connect the song with the lyrics at first. I just felt like their alertness switched more to curiosity and general chatter and away from my presence.
Like the birds in the sky
Like the dragonfly
Like the trees listening
What lives in them lives in me
I am grateful to be
Breathing, heart beating, joyous, and free
Even though hard times are all around me
I am grateful to be
When we met on Zoom again after our dirt time, and shared about our experiences. I was completely soaked but very happy. Cutting blackberries is meditative and very satisfying for me. I can listen to all the sounds and rediscover plants hidden under 15 feet of blackberry canes.
Later I looked up the song online and loved how much meaning the words had to my morning. It was the second day after the 2020 Election and we were all waiting for the call who will be the next US President. There was a general heaviness in the air. I worried a lot for the future of the planet if the US leadership would continue under an evil person that lacks any sense for stewardship and the importance of a healthy ecosystem for human survival.
Happy little Madrona
This little tree is one of 3 that made it through some drought and other odds. It is tugged behind the cherry log and I didn't even remember planting it there until I took off some blackberries and found it thriving underneath them this spring. Resilience.
I think I know about at least 4 of the Grand Firs that are still going strong after being planted in 2018. They make me so happy, my little babies.
One of two so far that I found growing close to my sitspot. I love watching nature do it's thing. I hope that all the new plants I bring that survive will continue thriving on their natural cycle, so it won't need humans to do as much invasive work as I do now.
Also the flower of the State of Washington.
My Sit Spot is next to my house in Seattle. I moved here in 2015 and the woods/green belt next to my house seemed very scary and dangerous. It took me almost 2 years to master the courage to slowly explore the area. There was a patch of ferns, a row of Holly trees of different ages and a few Maples. It was very overgrown by Himalayan blackberries and trashed with the remains of a homeless encampment. In 2017 I heard about the Green Seattle Partnership and reached out about the Park next to my house and how I could volunteer taking care of the woods. I got some Forest Steward training and over the last years I took out a big area of blackberries and planted over 600 native plants with the help of roughly 200 volunteers. I feel very connected to this land and not scared anymore as I check in with a lot of the new plants and spend a good amount of dirt time there.
When Covid started in March, I started going to a regular sit spot under the big maples in the Northeast corner of the park adjacent to my backyard and took my 14 year old son along. He was introduced to sit spot at WAS overnight camps and kind of likes it, but wouldn’t go without me asking. We usually sat for 15 minutes and asked each other some questions afterwards.
When I had to find a spot, I immediately went to my established sit spot facing the big Beaked Hazel and thinking about how I sometimes have to leave my sit spot in a rush when kids from the playground on the West of the park come explore the woods and I don’t want to scare them and hide quickly. I want to avoid that they go back to their parents and tell them a weird lady is sitting there and the parents wouldn’t let them go in the wood by themselves anymore out of fear that person, me, could be dangerous. Some of the kids know me from Nature Club and introduced me to their friends and parents when I work along the edge of the green belt, but I understand how I might seem scary if they haven't met me yet.
So, after a week of sit spot I decided to move my spot about 25 feet to the North into my backyard. It’s still under the big Maples but a bit more open, but also private, so I can see the big Douglas firs in the East and the tree tops of the Maples and the single leaning Madrona along the Park edge and won’t have to hide any longer. I instantly got rewarded by a Flicker pair hanging out in the tree top and was able to watch them for a while. I haven’t seen these for the last 7 months going to my old sit spot tucked away under the tree, but might have been right below these Flickers without ever noticing.
When I printed the maps I noticed how much tree cover the entire North edge of the Park still has with these huge towering Big Leaf Maples of different ages next to each other. I think the two closest to me on the top of the slope are the oldest, probably around 80 years old. Then 2 going down the slope, one entangled with the Madrona, past my previous sit spot seem to be about 70 years and then 3 more closer to the opening that seem 5-10 years younger. But they could all be the same age just growing differently in different conditions.
On the other site to the North of my sit spot is a giant Laurel that is very dense. I hear some noises in there, but can rarely spot anything. It’s just so wild.
On the slope east of me is Ivy covering the ground. I started planting dewberry there 2 years ago and harvested a bunch of yummy berries this summer. I have to be careful to walk through as the dewberries try to catch my feet and make me stumble. I had all the ivy removed but it grew back strong. Every time I sit, I think about how I should take out the Ivy again. It’s just such a nice ground cover for the birds and little critters. My hope is that I can take out the Ivy and the dewberry will be thick enough to take over the job of providing cover.
I try to go to my sit spot whenever I come home from running errands or a walk. Instead of walking up the stairs I’ll walk up to my spot first, sit a bit. When we moved in there was a giant tree - probably a walnut, maybe also home of a tree house - covering half of our backyard. After a couple of months, we finally saw it apart into big stumps to sit on. I call it the Elder Circle. We sometimes have a fire pit in the middle of it in summer, singing songs and roasting Marshmallows.
I can also see my empty bee boxes to the North and a young pine tree that is fighting for some light under a big long Maple branch. It feels a bit like a sick child. I thought about transplanting it but it’s about 14 feet high by now and I fear it might not survive a move.
On my way back I pass my little tracking sandpit I set up a while ago, while doing Tracking Intensive. It is covering one of the steps leading down the slope to the back patio. I am always amazed how many critters come through. I thought they might avoid stepping in the sand, but it’s lovely what nice prints they leave for me to inspect. I’ll scare the bunnies, when I approach the back entrance too quickly where they roam in our sunroom. Scaredy buns.
I try to practice fox walk coming in and leaving the spot, do deer ears when I want to tune in to sounds, and remember owl eyes to pick up on movements. Often I get tricked by leaves sailing down when I was excited about a bird or the squirrels showing up. I have to turn around to take in all sites and that seems a bit challenging. I don’t want to miss out on any action and try to use body radar for where my attention should be. Sometimes that changes quickly. I am curious how the activity will change with the time of day and can’t believe I have not seen or heard any critters (rats) hiding in the ivy yet. I was also confused I haven’t seen any squirrel activity there, but then saw one right when I foxwalked back to the house and it didn’t notice me, hauling an acorn past our backyard barbeque.
I am excited about all the things I might discover the next couple of months.
Walked Camp Long and saw 2 Garter snakes under Critter Board.
Visited my sit spot and had an almost magical moment when after 20 min of Seahawks cheering neighbors and the bummer, I heard about 5 different birds alarming all of a sudden.
About 2 minutes in the big black neighbor cat hunted by. He didn't notice me at first. Then he looked a bit irritated at me and took off through the curved cedar.
All the birds still alarmed for about 2 more minutes steadily before the quieted down and only a sparrow kept alarming.
After doing a Bird sit last week it was super cool to experience this.
How did the Oakmoss (Evernia prunastri) get under the hazel?
And do lichen grow on specific trees?
I also discovered the mysterious plant shining in the light was a wall lettuce, which I always confuse with nipplewort and also sow thistle.
I reviewed some plant descriptions.
Sat a little after a nice wander exploring Me Kwa Mooks. It was pretty quiet. Just some sanding sounds from neighbors. Sanding wood? And some music. And some screechy sound from the cherry log. Juvenile crow? And some clicking. Most likely from the little hummer.
I talked with Hazel, my old friend. Left my scent next to the log. Put some branches on the new trail and downhill. Whoever has the guts to master the course can explore.
I smelled Hazel, the maple, the soil, the ivy. Most familiar and surprisingly not strong. Ivy leaves don't smell in September.
Right after, it rained and rained and I stayed happily inside.
A wet day in the PNW. We needed it to have some relief from the smoke, but still. I was not super excited to get out when it got darker - it was already dark all day - and also colder, but I did it. I needed to figure out how many paces in each direction I need to draw my Master map.
I walked in, enjoyed that the trash pile was gone, walked up, sat down, noticed the rain hitting the leaves and with my Owl eyes I tried to react to every movement, but all the movements where just leaves bounces up and down after being hit by a raindrop.
When I took off the mask for a second, I could smell the smoke in the air, like a camp fire.
I then focused right in front of me where the Roly-Poly was hanging out yesterday, but couldn't see anything move. I looked to my left and there she was. Graciously blending in with the pretty stump. I was memorized for a bit by this beautiful sight. She looks like marble. Not all slugs are usually that pretty and elegantly glued to a stump.
I saw some fresh cut hazel twigs on the ground and tried to figure out what happened - and found a little trail going along the power line connecting to the power pole to one of my neighbors back yard fences. Now I wonder if they want to be connected to the Park, or just needed excess to the power pole where all the Internet cables are connected, but I couldn't see anything different about the hazel there. Very mysterious.
Walking back to my spot - counted steps - I noticed this plant beaming in age. So fragile. Delicate. Laced. Another master piece. And the light just hit it to make it shine. One more time.
I visited my sit spot. I would think I come here since May. It definitely feels longer, but I think I switched around from my front porch to the opening to different spots in my little forest. After Kai, my mentee left, I started taking Tim to do sit spot - and started climbing up the little hill - and then left. It's close to the Junction in 4-5 directions.
Today I stepped into the forest with the intention of taking out some of the trash left behind as it distracts me from focusing. It was a lot and I could not understand where all the new trash came from. Did the wind expose it as there is a whole layer still there from a former camp. I was very happy to clean up the bits and pieces. One was a plastic Easter egg (apparently left behind from our last egg hunt - and then rolled in the open - who does that?) where someone clearly enjoyed the chocolate inside. The wrapper was torn in lots of little pieces. Squirrel?
I went and took note of the scat on the little hillside next to the beautifully rotting log, which could be cat or raccoon or anything that size. Will need to investigate. Looked up all the scat in this size and didn't find anything that fit it. It was too small for house cat or raccoon and the form too long for anything else in that shape. Close by are lots of empty hazel nuts and feeding debris. Probably from the Squirrels or rats? Will need to investigate.
On my way back I found 3 feathers about 3 feet apart. Two bright blue and one fluffy. I was looking around for more, expecting a kill site, but couldn't find any more.
Later, I looked up 'Fairmount Park' and my sit spot on Google Earth and the parcel finder and another page and did the same for my sit spot at Linne Doran.
We were given a story about 2 boys experiencing nature very differently.
How do you relate to the characters?
I relate to Sean experiencing endless curiosity about about basically everything and how all is related. I do feel like I had a 'Grandmother' (my Dad), in my life that modeled deep nature connection to me early on. We spent a lot of time outside, always barefoot, had a little garden, lived along our Sparrows, harvested berries and smelled hedges as we passed them on our walks. We walked a lot. We walked in a sit spot loop - always passing the same spots - keeping track of the natural world as it unfolded over the seasons, as well as the people.
I can also relate to Martin feeling I don't know as much about all my neighbors in my new home (for 15 years - compared to my home growing up for 18 years). I did lose a bit of that connection during college and career and slowly pulled on the threads of connection when I raised my kids. I tried to raise them a bit like I was raised, just with a lot more restrictions, as city life and crime rates seemed to be a little more threatening to let them free roam when they were little. Over those years we all got lazier and less comfortable with harsh weather, longer excursions, but still went on walks. Just more like Martin. Getting from point A to B without stopping, taking it in, smelling, observing, wondering.
I slowly get more comfortable with the uncomfortable now, having backpacked over 125 miles this summer and being out and about for the last winters, on tracking trips, camping, driving on ice and snow. And also going on evening walks passing the same yards, noticing changes in the seasons, 'for sale' signs, stickers on cars, birds in the highest trees on the route.
We will spend a lot of dirt time this year and sit.
My current relationship with my sit spot is somewhat torn as I see so many things and feel really connected but the space feels somewhat transient. Change is in the air. It's a City Park and neighbors on all edges interact with the space in different ways.
I did have the most impact on the space, restoring it to native plants, removing the intruders. It feels interesting as an intruder myself. But I might call myself 'introduced' and 'non-invasive', as I try to play along with the others in a respectful, harmless way. Am I really?
Stealing valuable resources: Light. Water. Air. Space. Smothering over the others. Just like the Himalayan Blackberry? I do use resources. Some are limited. Some raised in value because people like me moved here and made space more rare. Outpricing the locals/natives.
I will go now and introduce myself to my little nature patch, I feel to know for a while now, and try to reach out and find my 'Octopus teacher' (Jon Young just suggested his friends Craig Foster's new film). I will try to see everyone and everything with new eyes.
I really like the idea how external tracking and relating to a place also activates internal tracking. I will try to pay more attention to that.
But this time I will wear shoes as my spider limbo made me be a little less cautious and step in Himalayan blackberry which left an inch long gap on the bottom of my foot. Ouch.
Despite the smoke, I needed to go outside and check in with my forest friends. I took off my socks and climbed down the stairs.
First, I visited Hugo, my little buddy. The fern I gave him as a companion didn't seem to have survived the summer heat but Hugo seemed to be doing better. It definitely helps that he doesn't get as many destructive visitors.
I had to roll back my little log I used in my sit spot. My sit spot rock was still there. I had to clean up a bit. Lots of trash left from the telecom workers.
I went up to the curvy cedar, picked up some trash there and sat a little bit in my sit spot. I heard a lot of city noise and the ferry horn. Air plane. Construction. Cars. But also the hummer and some other birds. I watched a
On my way back I noticed all the spider webs and I started to do a limbo dance/crawl so I wouldn't touch all their cobs. There were about 6 back to back and it was quite the challenge and a lot of fun. I didn't enjoy the blackberry canes as much on the ground. Barefoot. I grew up barefoot. I should check in with my Dad how often he is still walking barefoot.
I visited my little Madrone babies. My toddler seems to be doing great. Everything around him is brown but he is bright green in his little spot over the marker. Seven of the 10 babies seem to be viable. The Cedars on the other hand are all dried up. :-(
There were lots of clumps of moss lying around the south of the house I once learned the crows love to feed their offspring with.
When I came back in my socks where not on the porch anymore. I found them on the couch.
We had our Orientation Day yesterday. Strix Occidentalis. 2 Clans.
The smoke moved in quickly and it was nice to have the face masks.
I particularly enjoyed the walk and learning that my sit spot for years is between the 'Cable Tree' and the Ancestor Hill.
I also got to visit my sit spot and decided to put some intentions in my Anake year and remembered how Kyle introduced me to the site and demonstrated his skills on the log in the Enchanted Forest. So, I took this and thought what would Kyle do and started rolling down from my sitting position and lay above the big old stump where the 3 little birds visited me a while ago, where I got inspired to learn about the Hemlock, Cedar and Huckleberry, I didn't know yet. I loved to lay there in the still and look up in the tree tops. Another perspective. A bit of playfulness and cheer build-in.
Curious Bee. Forest Steward. Nature Nerd. Climate Activist Mom.