What are a few things that are especially helpful for you to feel more connected?
I AM FROM
where the hills are alive with the Sound of Music
where beer is consumed in big heavy mugs with pretzels
where chestnuts are covering the old mill's creek and the nauseating smell of red geraniums nestled in planters on a balcony overlooking the town center.
I AM FROM
a home I am scared to be alone in, feeling in danger, hiding from the evil, who's ashes are now spread all over Hawaii in stark contrast to the sweetness of the warm buns 'finger-dick' topped with Nutella - oh, so forbidden - cut up in little bit sized squares with unconditional love by my grandparents, followed by Grandpa peeling potatoes for a big family dinner to the sound of Formula 1 engines ravving on TV.
I AM FROM
a lake where the nightly summer storm is announced by flashing red lights, alarming everyone to get busy, taking laundry of the umbrella clothes line dryer, rushing home, the air electrified in excitement, the first heavy raindrops releasing the warmth of the asphalt - and in this mix my best friends familiar smelling fish hands.
I AM FROM
a place where we are pretending to be a happy family - then & now - like so many. The endless bickering reminding me of my own shortcomings and how we are all one driven by the power of love and kindness. Where our piep-piep-piep rhyme is captured in a book about nurturing family rituals, called Heart Tending. We must do something right.
I AM FROM
a soul inspired by all my tree hugging friends who are giving the best hugs ever, likely from years of practicing on trees and how I miss them.
I AM FROM
from many landscapes traveled with others equally passionate about being alive and part of something bigger.
I AM FROM
the lust of adventures running deep through my veins for centuries.
I AM FROM
random kindness making my heart skip a beat, thriving to witness these moments every day!
Came across a tree with unusual leaves and this spike cone at Lincoln Park. Looked in my Trees of Seattle book and over all the Lincoln Park tree walk maps and couldn't find it.
Googled for 'rare leaves' and after scrolling through images for a while, finally found it:
Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree)
Listened to Carrie Harwood, "Plants Have Microbiomes Too: Plant-Microbe Communication in Cottonwood Trees" on Zoom tonight.
It was a webinar by the WNPS. It sounded very interesting, but I didn't know enough to make all that much sense of it. I mainly learnt that there is a Deportment of Energy that has top secret labs around the US and is experimenting on Cottonwoods and some other plants. BP apparently also experiments on some - you might have heard of algae as one future source of energy, but it sounded it is still a bit early for major discoveries.
Here is some more information from the WNPS website:
All plants have beneficial bacteria and fungi living on them and in them. Plants have microbiomes. Microbes can increase plant growth and confer resistance to pathogens. Cottonwood (Populus) is a dominant perennial component of temperate forests, has the broadest geographic distribution of any North American tree genus and is a model woody perennial organism being studied by the US Department of Energy.
Carrie will describe a large project that is being carried out by the Department of Energy on Plant-Microbe Interfaces. Its goal is to characterize interactions between Populus and its microbial community with the idea that such information will set the stage to better understand ecosystem responses to climate change, the cycling of carbon on earth and the management of a renewable energy source. This talk will present a broad overview of how we do the research and of major things that we have learned. It will not be a detailed technical talk.
Carrie Harwood is an expert in the care and feeding of bacteria. Especially the kinds of bacteria that like to live near, in and on plants. She states her knowledge of plant biology is weak. She took a botany course in college 45 years ago, but nothing since then. But she notes we are always learning! That’s why she likes this project so much. She has been a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at UW since 2005 and before that spent 15 years as a Professor at the University of Iowa. A large part of her time is devoted to running her research laboratory – which overlooks the Montlake cut. She studies fundamental questions in bacterial physiology including how bacteria sense surfaces, how bacteria survive long-term starvation and biofuel production by bacteria.
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.
If I'm really honest with myself, why am I here?
I'm a wild thing. Tamed and muted by education, anxiety and capitalism. Society, crazy and deep. Destroying our home.
I'm a worker bee caught between adventure and duty. Inspired by the brilliance of each flower, snowflake, seed gathering life's elixir. Mystery. Beauty. Grief. Keeping it together. Propolis. One with the hive. Unique. Like everyone. One. Temporary.
What longing am I moving towards?
Giving my inner child what it needs to be happy. Playing in the forest with friends. Wondering. Creating space for magic. Dazzle. Enchantment. Desperate for connection. I want to feel home wherever I go.
Fun activity I want to save for later:
This summer when I got to spend some time in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, I tried to find out more about the creek running close to our rental.
During the research I learnt about a group restoring Ennis creek and then came across this song son Wes wrote for his Mom to acknowledge restoration efforts.
I think it's beautiful, the story as well as the song: Lifeline
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.
Wander at Schmitz
Slugs, mud, log
Looked at crusty lichen on big trees
Got to Linne Doran late
Emailed til 2
Heard alarm at 6
Not a happy camper
Learned about Linne Doran History
Went on a bird wander
Saw a grey jay maybe
Learnt more about bird language
Presented spotted towhee pipilo
Cool stories about poly robins
Walked to Mosswood w Genevieve
Chatted with Rowan + Maggie
Went to Tolt with Allegra
Camas is Self-Heal
Bird long white brown
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.
Curious Bee. Forest Steward. Nature Nerd. Climate Activist Mom.