Last week, we lost another large oak. Its trunk snapped about 15 feet up and fell taking small trees and branches with it. The insides look like pulverized dust.
I was, of course, filled with tremendous sadness. I always take it personally. Was there something that I could have done to help it live a longer life?
Then, I am usually relieved that no one was hurt - other than the plants and trees in its falling wake.
And, I noticed the sunlight pouring through - into the void. It was beautiful.
What has fallen has made space for other things to grow and thrive.
I sat in the sun smelling the oak’s dust, thanking the tree for being here, and wondering what will grow next.
Part of the work we do here at Spring Bird is to maintain trails that were laid out by Torkel Korling years ago.
The jungle like tendencies of the weed trees keep us busy with just their trimming, but every once in awhile a tree or larger branch will cross a path.
This tree has been arched over this path since before we came here. We used to be able to limbo under it. Eventually it sank too low limboing.
So, Pat cut the end off, and we walk around it, creating a bump in our path.
I think it is lovely. It is like a gate, a reminder that it is a gift to be able to walk through this place.
My neighbor Danuta Loane gifted us with the opportunity to care for a dozen monarch caterpillars, fatten them with milkweed, and release them after they emerged from their chrysalises.
We had never cared for monarchs before, and their appetite was astounding to me. At their most voracious we’d make a couple of trips a day to pluck leaves from the milkweed stalk, allowing its sticky milk to ooze out. We’d look underneath the picked leave to brush away any unwanted insect eggs.
Once delivered to the caterpillars, they would make the leaf disappear in hours.
Then, came the waiting time. The caterpillars climbed to the top of the enclosure, made a J shape with their bodies.
Okay, we thought, soon they will be forming a chrysalis. We’d watch and watch, and it seemed like just as we looked away, the caterpillar made a chrysalis in a blink.
Then, waiting for the butterflies was the same. The chrysalis would darken and become transparent. We could see the wings all folded up inside like origami. Surely we’ll see it happen - we’d catch the butterfly coming out, and sure enough we stepped out of the room and return to find a butterfly or two or three delicately moving its wings to dry them.
After each butterfly emerged, we’d keep it inside for a few hours to finish drying before releasing it outside wishing it a good trip to Mexico.
Butterfly is significant to me personally. It’s the symbol my Mom assigned to me - yellow butterfly to be precise, and I feel really lucky to have been able to witness the transformation of 12 monarchs. It was such an unstoppable process to watch, to be around, and I hope that for the four of us in this house, we are able to absorb that energy of transformation into this next season.
I can feel hints of the transformation in how we rearranged our house. I can feel it in the stirrings of my business. I see it in the kids who are growing as fast as those caterpillars and are as hungry. I can see it in Patrick as he is planning and thinking about his gardens. We are full of this butterfly energy and are so lucky to be here.
In my opinion, there is little that you can grow in your Summer Garden that is better than a tomato! They just don’t taste any better grown anywhere else!
Garden tomatoes represent so much of my childhood and the best parts of Summer. My Mom would trade them with neighbors, family and friends. There were tomatoes of all sizes and colors. Bags would appear at our back door. A neighbor couldn’t leave without a couple as large as her hands.
They were canned, carved, deseeded, sliced, diced, and pureed. My favorite tomato eater was my Grandma. She would eat a bowl of cherry tomatoes at every lunch. It was her standard Summer lunch.
I find myself eating almost as many beautiful tomatoes that Pat has grown at Spring Bird. This year he grew these dark chocolatey tomatoes, yellow, orange, grape, and plum. I can’t get my fill! I eat them with fresh mozzarella, crusty bread, basil, and lots of salt! It’s so satisfying to just revel in a bowl of tomatoes, and when they are ripe, you need to eat as many before they spoil!
Do you grow tomatoes in your Summer Garden? What is your favorite variety?
Last year, I shared a blog post detailing this same project. Here is my video version of making a pamphlet book.
I use these pamphlet books for EVERYTHING! They work for making notebooks, sketchbooks, idea books, journals, schedules, and the list goes on.
For this next video series, I refer to this pamphlet book as a Nature Notebook, which is October’s workshop at Spring Bird.
Learn more about it here!
Hope you enjoy it and let me know if you make this project!
WorkshopMake your own Nature Notebook and spend the day observing, collecting, and writing in it, while connecting with nature!
Join us for a day in the Spring Bird’s woods learning to make your own pamphlet book, sun prints, and leaf rubbings and create a book for your writing, sketching, or creative project. Get inspired by being in the woods!
October 1st & October 3rd
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
At Spring Bird's CottageREGISTER NOW
Workshop Cost: $75
Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.”
I am always aware of how spaces and places affect me - make me feel open or closed or afraid or hopeful or creative or inspired.
It is interesting that in relating to ourselves and to others we can choose to create mental and spiritual spaces that allow our wholeness and their wholeness to exist without judgement and without constraint. In this way, we can practice a hospitality of the mind and of the spirit.
Sometimes a change of place promotes this practice. Shifting our physical bodies into a new place can shift our mind and our spirits.
In a new place, from a different perspective, we can open our minds and spirits to be more gracious to ourselves and to others. We can create room for being unconditionally whole.
At Spring Bird, we invite you to this space, these woods, and this cottage so that you can find change if you are looking for it and to be wholly present.
You are always invited!
Learn more about the cottage here.
What if we could fashion a restoration plan that grew from understanding multiple meanings of land? Land as sustainer. Land as identity. Land as grocery store and pharmacy. Land as connection to our ancestors. Land as moral obligation. Land as sacred. Land as self.
This past weekend, I just finished reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, after two years of picking it up and putting it down - not because it wasn’t captivating, but because I was having trouble making room for reading in my day to day.
Anyway, if you have not read this book, I wholeheartedly recommend taking a look. It contains a tremendous amount of wisdom about our relationship to nature, the Earth, and ourselves. It is a book that will help you to mourn what we have lost, come to terms with what we have done, but it also offers a way for us to move forward.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and lost in the panic of the climate crisis we are in, Braiding Sweetgrass and Robin Wall Kimmerer offer a guiding light and a mindset of reciprocity that will help to heal and hopefully grow out of this era of destruction.
You Are Nature!
This is the FINAL Video in the Weaving Tutorial Series!
This one features a bowl loom! Learn how to weave a strap on a bowl loom and learn about how weaving can be like dating and also how weaving is about strength!
I hope you enjoy the video, and if you are interested in learning more about making small weavings on interesting looms, check out the Small Weavings Workshop that I will be teaching in September at Spring Bird!
And if you do make a weaving, please let me know what you make and share photos!!!
Small Weavings Workshop
Create small weavings using natural materials and yarn!
Join us for making small weavings with
rocks, sticks, wood, and bits of colorful yarn!
September 10th and September 14th
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
At Spring Bird's Cottage
Workshop Cost: $68
While I just wrote more in depth about this in the Fall Issue of Woolgathering (New Issue coming out soon! It’s a good time to sign- up!), I thought it appropriate to share now since this is the first week of school for us!
Last year, I started waiting with Penelope for the bus each morning, when big brother Abe moved on to middle school and a different schedule, bus, etc. At first, I may have been a tiny bit resentful to spend my precious minutes that I could be working (self important - harrumph) waiting for a grumbling bus to arrive.
But, I soon realized what a gift these 15 minutes or so were to spend not only greeting the morning, noticing the weather, noticing the environment, but most importantly to spend extra time with Penelope.
With the construction on Rt. 31, the bus would often be late. So, we had to make our own fun, and we somehow began to study the Trumpet Vine that snakes around our Spring Bird sign and the honey suckle that lives there.
This Trumpet Vine is quite common in south to the point that it is a nuisance, but here at Spring Bird, the winter keeps it in check.
We notice all of the parts of the plant, the nubby bits that grow before the flowers and then the beautiful orange blossoms that remind me of the color of port wine spreadable cheese. We don’t pay too much attention to the green leaves that get sort of mixed-up with the honeysuckle, but the curious green pods that grow after the blossoms wither are our favorite. We watch the pods all year long. They grow brown and rattly in the winter. We watch what gets eaten and where. In the winter, the deer tracks in the snow give away the culprit.
We keep our eye on the trumpet vine each morning. It announces the beginning of the school year (for us, anyway), and will carry us into Summer vacation.
Have a great school year everyone! And for those not impacted by the school schedule, enjoy your empty local swimming pool, or lake, or park while the weather is warm!
Anne S. Writes: We are up in Alaska looking at the majestic mountains. Question is... why do trees grow only to a given elevation? Is it lack of oxygen, temp, or what???? Always wanted to know.
The short answer is temperature.
Trees will not grow beyond a certain elevation at a specific location if the climate is too harsh for survival. There are several factors that contribute to trees’ ability to grow and survive. As these factors vary in different locations, the elevation of the tree line also varies across the globe. For example, the tree line in the Teton Mountains is at 10,000 feet, while the tree line at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is at 4,500 feet.
The primary factor that determines the tree line is temperature. According to plant scientists, plants cannot effectively build cells when the average growing-season temperature is lower than 44° F. Trees can withstand quite cold winters but need a long enough and warm enough growing season in order to build up sufficient energy reserves to grow, reproduce, and survive. The Teton Mountains have warmer and longer growing seasons than Mt. Washington has, accounting for the difference in tree line elevation between the two sites. Similarly, mountains near the equator have a much higher tree line elevation than mountains at higher latitudes due to higher temperatures in the tropics.
Other factors also influence the location of the tree line, including moisture, sunlight, wind, and soil. The tree line in the desert or on the slopes of Hawaiian volcanoes is often at relatively low elevations because the soil is too dry for tree growth. Trees often become smaller and smaller as you approach the tree line because smaller trees need less moisture and oxygen to survive than tall trees. The larger canopy of taller trees also shades the ground and makes it colder. Taller trees are also more exposed to chilling winds that damage tender growing buds.
As the planet warms, the tree line in the Canadian Arctic is much higher than it used to be due to warmer temperatures and greater precipitation. But the tree line may not move higher in other areas due to the presence of other factors such as fire or increased insect pest pressures.
National Geographic - Timberline
Northern Woodlands Magazine - Autumn 2008 issue
If you have a question for Pat email firstname.lastname@example.org! He looks forward to answering your questions!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.