Spring IS coming

Spring is coming.  That is what I tell myself as I watch the snow fall and cover the ground.  It is beautiful and even this late in winter, I get so excited  when it snows. This is a beautiful light, fluffy snow.  It transforms our world and brings a sweet silence to the forest as everything sort of hunkers down to stay warm.  Tom and I are no exception.  We hunker down by the wood stove and enjoy the fire.  I work on a weaving project that I started last week with found objects.

We were walking in the woods not long ago and forest “gifted” me an antler.   I was so amazed.  I have walked miles upon miles through the woods, but never found one even though they are shed every year by the many deer that live here.   I think this is because the other little critters find them very tasty, so they get snatched up pretty fast.  I felt quite honored to find this one and wanted to do something special with it.

My friend, Delaney Smith of Eyeland Studio in Marshall, NC  invited a guest teacher, Taylor Barnes to teach a class on making looms with found objects.  This sounded perfect so I signed up.  What a great thing to do on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon! Both of these teachers are excellent and I highly recommend their classes.

Up here in the mountains, we have a lot of what I call folk schools.   These are places where we can go and learn traditional ways and new ways of creating with nature.  I love learning to use things from nature.  In this project I used sassafras saplings, grapevine bark, wool, yucca fibers, crystals and hemp to weave with the deer antler.

Yesterday, the sun came out.  When this happened, the snow began to melt and the birds at my bird feeder went crazy.  The whole forest seemed to sing in exultation!  Spring is on the way!

Tom and I went hiking.   We chose a new trail and we had ford a few creeks. Now Tom just bounces over these crossings but for me it meant taking my boots off each time.   By the time we got to the 4th stream, I decided  to just go barefoot for awhile.   Even though it was cold, there was something quite wonderful about walking in the forest with no shoes on in late winter.  Our forest floor is covered with the many different kinds of leaves that grow here and they make a soft landing for the bare sole.   The sun warmed the leaves and this warmed my feet in between the icy creeks.  There was something magical about this time, a slipping off of winter if you will.

I want to leave you with this video from last year as it gives me the ultimate hope of Spring.  This happened last year in the little garden behind our house that we lovingly call GrandMary’s garden as it was created outside my mom’s window when she was alive.  She loved to watch the birds and the flowers come alive this time of year.  So this video is in her memory.  It speaks to the love of motherhood and the promise of Spring.  Enjoy!

Love Changes Everything

 

Heart fence at Labyrinth

We feel so grateful to live here in the  Pisgah National Forest.   A dear friend told me that I would never really understand this place until I stayed here for a full year, watching the subtle changes in the forest everyday.  This time of year really proves that statement true.

As I watch the bulbs begin to push up through the partially frozen earth, as if they are groundhogs, just poking their heads up to see what it’s like above ground, I think, “Yes, it is Spring”.   And then comes a big, beautiful snow storm that covers the daffodils with fluffy crystals of white.  The whole place turns into a magical snow globe that beckons the song birds from the forest to my feeders.  I watch as the yellow finches flock to the bags of thistles hanging from the trees outside my kitchen window.   It will all melt soon, no doubt, and the daffodils will make a full recovery.  Spring will reappear and, as  Mr. Emerson exclaimed, the earth will laugh in flowers once again.

Meanwhile, we shall enjoy the beauty that nature displays everyday.  We  cherish this opportunity and are so grateful for this forest.  We work hard to  be good stewards of this place.

One of our biggest challenges arrives this time every year as we fulfill our commitment to keeping the water clean and pure up here.  We are at the top of the public watershed and it is important to us all.  So, every year we must clip and cut all of the brush that grows beneath our power lines so that the electric company will not spray large amounts of herbicide that decimates the natural flora and fauna and and leaches into our native springs.  This is about 1/2 mile of power line easement.  This is a lot of clipping and cutting!

This year, as I was sharpening the blades on our loppers and Tom was sharpening the blade on the chainsaw, I had an idea.  I needed to  “flip the switch” on this attitude of mine.  So, I came up with a way to make it fun.  I decided to start weaving a fence with all the saplings that we cut.  Not only would it provide a great use for the materials, but it would provide a much needed barrier to keep our chickens out of the new garden space at our house.

I started researching ways to build a fence and discovered an old technique called wattling.  It turns out this is a practice that has been around for centuries.   It is a great way to use up all this wood we are cutting.  And, because it is now an art project, it became FUN!  Yes, fun!

Now, I am excited to head out with my loppers to see what I can find to weave into my fence. There are different colored saplings that grow here.  Some are red, bright green and even purple.   And, we have an endless supply of grapevines that grow in the forest and kill the trees.  This gives us the ability to begin to sculpt with vines.  Tom came out of the forest with  a 75 ft grape vine!  Wow!  I had a lot of material to work with for days.  And the trees seem to say, “ahhhhhhhh”  when you release them from all of that constriction.  It’s quite rewarding.

So,the weaving has turned to hearts, as so many things do up here.    I invite my friends to come and join me.  I am envisioning hearts made by all my friends.  Even the birds joined in and wove a heart shaped nest into this old wreath hanging on our shed.  And the hearts are growing as you can see in the photos.   But the chickens?

Well, they are laughing, of course.DSC chicken

 

Heart fence at our house

Shed heart made by birds
Even the bird joined in and built a heart shaped nest in this wreath.
This is the little heart shaped bird’s nest snuggled into the old wreath on the shed.
Romantic Heart Rock at our Waterfall just a short hike from your cabin door

Mountain Spirits

Blue Ridge Mountain Spirits

 

From the little book, Attitudes of Gratitude, by M J Ryan.

"I've learned over time that it helps to take the long view, to choose to see our lives from a spiritual perspective. I know we are here to "grow our souls," to heal our wounds - or at least bless our woundedness - and become more loving, kind, fearless, and hopeful. The longer I live, the more I recognize that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the key to living from an open heart, that is living in a spirit of joyful expectation."
MJ Ryan

We are so thankful to live here and to be able to share this mountain with others.

Today, as I reflect on the sparkling snow outside, I am mystified by the beauty of life.  

Gratitude is a powerful force that can shift any situation.  In my work as a nurse, I encountered many people who had great challenges.  The ones who healed the fastest were the ones who were able to find the "gifts" in their situation.  As hard as it is to imagine, even in our darkest times, there is a gift there somewhere.  Focusing on gratitude shifts the vibration of it all.

When we walk in these hills we often find hearts in nature.  Tom and I have a tradition that we kiss every time we encounter a heart.  This is a reminder to stop and remember our love.  It helps us to focus on what is important.