I visited my parents home for Easter, and took a walk in the afternoon in my family’s woods and the surrounding lowland. This is where I grew up – ridges and small hills, creeks and flooded bottoms. I have walked here countless times. It was good to feel the energy of the place as the Green mantle of Earth begins to rise in spring, to walk the land that birthed my longing toward the numinous in nature; humble though it’s beginnings may be.
When I was growing up, the strip of land between the neighbor’s wooded ridges and Bishop Creek was plowed and planted with corn or soybeans. a losing endeavor since the creek floods with every extended period of heavy rain. Now its been let to grow up into lowland woods with patches of Box elder and standing water from which spring peepers call and snapping turtles sun themselves.
The flowers of Box elder (Acer negundo) stand in contrast to the green twigs.
There were many deer tracks stippling the wet earth all along the edge of the woods.
Here we have Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), the Queen of Thorns; a potent tree, and one who will get it’s own post in the near future.
A Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum recurvatum) sprouts in the hollow of a decaying log. When mature these trilliums bloom in early spring with a maroon-red flower and are pollinated by flies and carrion beetles.
Willows cluster in the bottomland near the creek. In springtime this whole area has pools of standing water from frequent flooding.
A huge gnarled wild grape vine twists at the edge of the woods.
In the lowland woods, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) blooms.
The forest floor is carpeted with Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). The common name of this plant where I grew up is ‘Turkey Peas.” The small round tubers are edible; I’ve eaten them raw and they taste like mild raw potatoes.
A patch of moss grows luxuriantly near a small woodland stream.
This landscape of small twisted understory trees, wooded ridges dotted with tall oaks, wet bottomland and the smell of mud and slow-running water – this is the nature that imprinted itself on me when I was small. I know the language of it, and speak it as a native tongue.
Want to know the indwelling spirits of your own land, the unique energy and matrix of life in your own place? Here is a worthy place to start, by learning the names and moods of the landscape itself as the seasons ripple through it.