two years of photos from Bridgeport, south yuba state park, nevada county, CA.
Things come around in layers and episodes it seems.
Experiences of a place, of an interest, relationships and people in time.
Something that seems lost or at a distance can often come back around after many rotations trying other things.
It can land right there in your lap, without your preparation, without your expectation. Some things seem so far out into the nostalgic past of loving and owning that they never really comes back to incarnate in another form. They can drift away slowly in time like old furniture gathering dust. And it is okay. Waves of grief or relief can fill the chest depending on the day or the time of the year. Old patterns can keep things coming and going that could be very fine just staying put. Or the old patterns might land things right where they need to be.
Joy is fleeting just like pain; but it is all worth it.
I have been gifted with the experience of seeing a place, feeling into it, studying it, breathing it in, over and over in layers of time. Not just one place in the way that is infinitely valuable; but many.
In increments, I ride the seasons of various lands and see them take many incarnations.
It gives me incredible insight into the web of connection, between traffic patterns, growth patterns, weather patterns, soil structures, air smells, river flows. What will become of it, I do not know. What it matters and means, well, I’ll let the land decide why.
I like to remember when the Wild Cucumber comes up every year since I first found it off of a favorite trail, remembering even precisely which week it flowered three years before.
I like to watch as Buckeyes fan out, Redbud blossoms edible flowers covering the hills with a pink brush of color.
I like to remember where my favorite four pronged Ginseng plant likes to hide by wind downed logs deep in the forests of Pisgah.
Or, where the giant two-headed Morel comes up by the old outdoor kitchen at the community farm I lived on in North Carolina, under the Sycamore, in the leaf litter, next to compost scraps and chickweed.
The Witch Hazel that was flowering next to leafless Tamarack by a pond on land I have loved in New Hampshire.
Or, collecting Cottonwood buds from a subtle patch by a favorite hot springs in the high Sierras of California.
Year after year, they continue to give. I remember to find them, greet them and be warmed by the continued friendship of these old companions. My heart fills with joy as I greet them again, further and wider the scope has seemed to become. I live for these relationships.
I’ve also had the gift of being in one place for awhile, tending the land closely, watching the plants grow and shift day by day, tuning into their needs or responses to the weather.
As a gardener and farmer, it has profoundly affected the way I then move around in the world.
One thing I enjoy the most besides seeing wild lands far and wide: waking up daily at sunrise and walking the gardens just to seem the plants with dew. To check on their nighttime transformation. To tell them my dreams, to process the plan for the day.
I also will do this in the evening, at dusk, and find respite hanging with the plants I care for day after day and hope that with these silent prayers, they will fill me and my neighbors with nourishment.
This goes for the ‘weeds’ too, as I like to watch and remember and witness the patches of Yellow Dock come back up in the same place from the year before, or the tall Sunchokes intermingling with the Comfrey plants, or the Creeping Geranium trying to overtake Horseradish and freshly transplanted Cabbage. The place where the Ground Ivy likes to eat the beds, or the little quiet grove of Stinging Nettle that reminds me of her presence when my bare legs brush by. Sometimes it's revisiting the first patch of Bloodroot to come up every Spring, in the same nook by the same creek in the same trees.
These relationships of far reaching engagements and daily devotion seem almost counter to one another even though the common silky thread is noticing and repeated greetings. Staying and listening day to day has its gifts, as well as being able to revisit year after year, or every few years. I long for both, sometimes feel like I have to pick, but in the end, its not so black and white. Just like the temporality of a night flowering Solanaceae or the pain of grief, is thus the repetition of these relationships. I find myself in an interesting place. Of having such an incredible gift of a life to be able to make so many plant friends in so many places, that I feel I owe it to them all to revisit often enough that we don't lose our connection.
Eventually, the land calls to focus and tend. To mend, to lend a hand. To give ourselves.
I give myself to all of the lands, and don’t think I’ll even let go of this longing. I fall in love with so many landscapes that it surpasses all other loves. But, that relationship with land we can see daily, over many years time, is one that is hard to replace. What we learn from noticing the interconnectedness all over can be mirrored in tending a simple garden patch or a woodland forest grove. How will we then really know the patterns? The life of a land loving nomad: the longing quiet push and pull of stillness and movement dominates every action.
This photo set features photos from two years of engaging a place I love dearly. The photos merge and intermingle into quiet observations of Spring beginnings. I've come here more than these two years. I always surprise myself with how much I actually remember when I come back. Which Elderberry leafs out first, where the Cottonwood leaves litter the bridge, which seasonal creek washes out which bend in the trail. What would I then notice if I walked this place daily for a year?
As above, then below.
Gather from the far and wide and bundle, taking it back to the nest.
Weaving the branches collected from distant places, forming a common container and understanding.
This is what I have been doing.
I long to continue, yet I long for time to weave the basket, so that it can be filled with branches for more baskets, to share, to give away, to give back to the land as an offering.
When is it time to stop and process all that has been gathered?
When do the repeating relationships demand focus and added attention?
And when, I wonder, are we ready to move on from the teachings.
At least for awhile, until the land calls us back.