Sometimes you’re lucky enough to read something that opens up a place inside you that was tight and closed before. You walk away from those words to a world with a bit more spirit and texture.
That’s how I felt after I read this piece by Frieda Kipar Bay, an herbalist, mother, artist and educator who I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with a time or two. She also happens to make wild-crafted, herbal syrups that the boys and I happily guzzle down when our bodies need them. So do yourself a favor, read this transporting story that Frieda is letting me share here, and then take some moments to check out Taproot Medicine, which is, like all things Frieda creates, a thing of raw, elemental beauty.
what happens when we watch
i happened to have put a bench in the middle of a robust little hummingbird’s territory (calypte anna for you latin geeks). i’ve been visiting that bench in the overgrown wild garden for some time now – many seasons – watching him spin around me from tree to tree, singing at the top of his tiny lungs and fearlessly dive bombing anyone who dares to enter his home. but today something new happened. this funny little creature flew way up above me, so far!, and just when i thought he’d never come back he swooped down towards the horizon, disappeared, then reappeared on the other side of me with a loud warrior cry, and went back up towards the sky to do it again. he circled around and around, at first i actually thought another hummingbird was chasing him he was so fast to rebound, but no. it was just this one tiny being ferociously enjoying his very own roller coaster. i was completely exhilarated. then, he was done. back on the oak branch, chewing out his ballad of a song.
it’s not often i’ve had the opportunity in my adult life to be somewhere long enough to watch another animal’s nuances unfold. it makes me feel at home. when i began learning about the plants in sonoma county, my relationship to them solidified my sense of homecoming, that i belong here, that i’m even needed here. and my hunch is that knowing a place is what has the capacity to heal an entire generation of wandering children. (which is just what we are.)
so when i go on a little hike to tend the mugwort patch, thin the hemlock, or prune the elderberry it’s not just a pleasure stroll, or a harvesting trip, but a collecting of the medicine of belonging. if you don’t know it, kat anderson’s book tending the wild is a lovely informative read, as is braiding sweetgrass, by robin wall kimmerer.
from wherever you are on the earth right now, i wish you homecoming.