Birthday Resolve

On this auspicious day, the day of my birth, I made what is sure to be a life-changing New Year’s Resolution.  I resolved to start a project that I’ve been thinking about for at least a couple of years now.  The main idea was to document the life cycle of these woods for a year, the woods of my home, the Midwest, the Ohio River valley.  And, as an added bonus, I would get to venture into the woods every day for a year.

I’ve always been drawn to and fascinated by these woods ever since I can remember.  I used to spend hours as a kid in trees or exploring the creek bed below our house.  I moved away from Ohio a couple of times, but like many I know, it never stuck.  Certain times of the year I get homesick for my second home, the West.

But a weird thing happened last time I went to Colorado, thinking about the possibility of relocating again.  I felt disconnected, ungrounded.  I thought to myself, “How can I feel ungrounded when I’m surrounded by mountains?”  But I realized I felt disconnected from this lush, deciduous woodland.  So, though it would sound strange to my rebellious teenage self at the time, this is my home.

More on the project.  As an Herbalist, a budding (ha ha) Botanist, a nature lover, a spiritual person, and a mom with constantly too much on her plate, this project gradually became more and more attractive.  I added to it, too.  Not only would I document, in pictures and words, the progression of the local flora and fauna throughout a year, I would have an excuse to get out and connect to nature every single day and write about it and my experiences.  Then I would share it, in the hopes of peaking others’ interest in the local wildness.  Hmmm…

So here goes, . . .

A WILD YEAR IN THE OHIO WOODLANDS – DAY 1

I have several birthday traditions.  The most important of which is getting out in the woods by myself and doing some  introspection, meditation, and general feeling of my feelings.  This year was no different, even though I felt icky.  I felt the draw of the trees and the budding wildness.  I convinced myself I could take a short, low-intensity hike.  Of course, no matter the weather, once I’m out, I never want to go back in.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m gradually opening to my spirituality, or some astrological event, or what, but this year the time around my birthday has been pretty rough.  Sickness, serious introspection, big emotional waves and more included.  It’s good, though.  So many things have been revealed that I needed to see, though they may be painful.

So many amazing things happened on this amazing hike!  First I noticed this beauty (sorry it’s a little out of focus), like a fungus rose just for me on my special day.  I love fungus!  It’s one of the few things you can see growing in the winter and it’s so interesting, the shapes, colors, textures, and how different it is from plants.

Then I saw a truly awesome thing!  I heard this weird bird call that I didn’t recognize, almost thought it was a crow.  I looked around and saw a beautiful bird with a big wingspan, a hawk.  Then there was another one!  It was a gray day and I forgot the binoculars, but I think they were Cooper’s hawks.  Unfortunately they eluded my camera, but here’s a picture of the nest they were making.  One of them kept flying to various trees, gathering sticks, and adding them to the nest.  What a birthday present!  At that moment I felt so blessed and the feeling just kept getting bigger.

I saw all the baby plants, plants I know and love, struggling with all their might to push their way through the leaf litter up to the light.  I felt their growth and my own and felt totally connected.  We’re really not that different.

baby wild strawberry plants poking out under log

The day was so inspiring, I couldn’t resist writing some poetry.  Here’s one I’ll leave you with:

THESE WOODS

How appropriate that I walk through these woods again,

The woods I know like the back of my hand,

but offer me a new surprise every time.

I walked through these woods every day of a sweltering summer,

big and pregnant,

feeling my life, the life inside me, and the life all around me

without boundary.

Soon after, I labored to push a stroller up this trail.

Now, years later, I reflect on my own birth.

Today the veil is thin and I reflect on everything,

I open my heart and the wonder peeks through,

like the new green growth sprouting

and working its way through the leaf litter,

against all odds.

These woods are a metaphor for my life.

I hope you’ll join me in this project, checking back for new posts of my adventures in the woodlands of Ohio and leaving your comments.

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