Friday, September 23, 2022

Summer of Sweetness and New Beginnings...

I missed the first flock of 30 broad-winged hawks kettling higher and higher into the sky, but I didn't miss the next 20; Steve made sure of that, dear love of mine. 

We haven't missed the thousands of monarchs and green darner dragonflies resting and feeding in the plants or cruising over.  Migration is a time we pay rapt attention. Everything is changing, everything is in flux and we find ourselves caught between two worlds.

Every morning we get up, make our coffee and sit at our table with the cats and look out the south door towards the cup plant, Lactuca, pokeweed, ragweed, spicebush and Mother Black Walnut. We wait with anticipation for the sun and start excitedly sharing directions where to look and descriptions of color patterns when the warblers and other migrating birds and insects come into view. 

In the afternoon, we lay in our west facing chairs and watch the western sky, a highway leading to lands far, far away. I can't get over it. How we don't have to chase migration. How these plants growing right here on this land are so filled with insects and fruits and seeds, that birds and insects migrating to Mexico, Central and South America are stopping here to refuel. It's these native plants and the connectivity of the plants. It's AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING. It makes logical and scientific sense ecologically, but knowing that we helped with the restoration and said please come back and that they responded in such a huge way, still makes me giggle in awe and love and pure devotion to this planet. 

Part of this stopping here by migrants, I am certain, is because resident birds and insects are abundant and loud right now, because they also find plentiful food here. The American Goldfinches are a daily chorus of 30 or 40 birds. The juveniles are catching up with their parents and it's a wonder to witness them feasting on the abundant cup plant seed crop. We found one of their old or abandoned nests in a goldenrod and I know part of the trust of these migratory birds to stop here on mornings when they don't have to, is the certainty in the voices of their bird relatives, that this place is safe and full of food.

I'm glad they feel that way, because we do too, on land that is more their land than ours. We pass through these places on footpaths made for us humans, by humans, but we see them along the way.

We always work to honor them by saving them and giving them space when theirs is being taken away. In this moment, it's goldenseal and allies. You can see the video we made here

We can't move the Mother Trees that bind them together in a mycelial web in this forest, but we hug those trees and wish them well in this world and thank them. 

We also hug the Mother Persimmon we annually gather from and even got the word to do so from a fellow Persimmon World follower who said, "That is a Grandmother!" Absolutely.


I told Steve I want to follow the birds and butterflies and warm weather and in the future we will, but not quite yet. This year we had/have other plans. Like discovering the magnificent Carrion Flower at our niece's wedding celebration... 

and spending time with family...

and friends... 

and 3 kitty cats that are happy to be lounging in a stick built house. 

We are also getting back to our roots. Pure nature. Less home projects. How could we do anything else when there are black ratsnakes to ogle?

And hoverflies to receive love from? Ok, maybe they did want my salt, but maybe also they were saying hi? They aren't saying they weren't so I'm saying they were.

Morrow County is blowing up with development faster than we ever dreamed and if everyone would share space, we would be doing a dance of joy, but they aren't, so instead, we agree with the sentiment of this mammal:

And to counter the devastation somewhere safe and somewhere we can afford, we bought another property. This one in Highland County in southern Ohio. This 10.2 acres will be loved, tended and restored by us and then donated to the Arc of Appalachia eventually. We hope to find a place for our 3.5 acres in Morrow all these lives are safe and protected. We can't wait to hike further onto this land this winter - the winter that we are staying put to tend land in Morrow County, land in Highland County and ourselves. The cabin is already moved to a new home and the land is breathing a sigh of relief. 

Sadness enveloped this land for a while, but now new hope is given. Death and decay always lead to rebirth. Thank you, Tim G., for your much needed clarity and generosity of friendship. 

And with that friends, we bid adieu. We wish you a Happy Autumnal Equinox and a season full of richness of heart and spirit. Thank you for protecting this Earth with us. It heartens us to know we are all united together, in community with one another, working for abundant, respected and diverse life. 


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Stories from this Land

House Wrens are nesting on our porch again. They probably don't think of it as "Jen and Steve's porch," but probably as a sheltered space with a perfect sized house facing southeast. We are frequently scolded by them, but I think they know we are trustworthy. We have to be much more careful in the winter when the Carolina Wrens spend the night in the straw baskets. There are always two, tucked in together, trading baskets depending on the day and weather conditions. 

Sharing space on this 3.5 acres is an important and necessary act of nature activism, but it's also a return to wonder for both of us. The front plantings are growing, feeding and screening us from the road activity and the whole feels like a fairy tale setting...a place where magic happens.

Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins and Northern Cardinals gobble the serviceberry along the front sidewalk and out in the berry planting. To have trees fruiting that we planted to feed birds and other wildlife is beyond satisfying. I don't know how quite to describe it, but it's almost as if we knew this would work, but couldn't really imagine seeing it working and then suddenly, it IS working. Beautifully. Perfectly. Like Mother Nature knows exactly what she is doing.

The Redbuds, for the first time since planting, have set heavy fruit and there is no doubt once ripe, they will be eaten by so very many. 

The plants everywhere here are filling in, connecting with one another, boggling our minds. 

Trails lead all of us living here through these enchanted places. What makes them enchanted is not only their beauty, but also their ecological function. 

These plants, insects, soils, animals...are all in relationship with one another. They support one another through shared and known history. Planting and letting grow, these native communities of plants, harnesses an ancient knowledge that is needed for survival, not just for our non-human kin, but also for us humans too. Nature is where we came from. Nature is what allows us to live. Nature is where we belong. Nature needs and deserves our help. 

Ohio Spiderwort:

American Bladdernut:

Wood Frog:

Yellow Slant Line Moth:

Winter Firefly:

Carpenter Bee on Gooseberry:

Feeding Sign from?:

Nature is not just in our National Parks, which is only about 3-4% of the land in the United States, INCLUDING Alaska. Nature is in our local parks, along our roadways, out our back doors. It has to be. If it's not out your back door or front door or patio, have you thought about how to welcome nature back? This moment is the perfect time to begin. 

Some At-Risk plants we've planted here to return them to land they cannot return without help, are beginning to settle into their native soil. Black Cohosh is going to flower here this summer, for the first time in how long? Decades? A century? More? 

American Spikenard is growing healthy leaves and will someday be the giant bush-like plant it has the potential (ancient knowledge) to be.

A few American Plums survived the cold spring and will grow pink fruits to make more plants and feed hungry bellies in the process.

Steve and I have now planted American Persimmons all over this 3.5 acres. Experiencing the tremendous numbers of animals that benefit from persimmon in all forms and knowing 70-80% will be males (non-fruiting), we planted dozens more this spring. We now have 50+! One persimmon is flowering here this spring and we have many babies popping up their hopeful heads. 

Sassafras are dioecious just like American Persimmon so after a tremendous flower set this spring, there is only one fruit growing. We need to plant more so pollination is successful! Planting densely isn't wrong; it's how Mother Nature plants and grows because some plants thrive, some plants die. 

We work for the Earth. We work for ourselves. We work for humanity. Thank you to all of you reading and sharing space and planting plants with relationships to one another and the land and all life. Thank you for being scrutinized and doing it anyways. Thank you for remembering we are part of a beautiful, magnificent, functioning WHOLE.