In the summer of 2014, my family and I, along with my cousin from Kamloops, attended the 35th annual Kamloops Pow Wow. One of the largest celebrations of First Nations culture and heritage in Western Canada.
On our walk from the parking lot to the Pow Wow, we passed a large, grey, dark building. My cousin educated us on the original use of this structure, the Kamloops Indian Residental School. We could feel the cries and sadness that eminated from the building.
In sharp contrast to the beauty, the power, and strength, of the Pow Wow.
Before reading Finding the Mother Tree, and The Hidden Life of Trees, I wanted our forest to be pretty, park like, and tidy.
I spent the past two springs working hard, with park visions in my mind. This work had to be done by early to mid May, when that dreaded poison ivy plant would emerge and very quickly blanket this part of the forest floor.
I busied myself trimming trees, clipping saplings, and removing anything dead or estheticly unpleasant.
After reading these two, very informative books, I’ve come to realize that what I have removed from the forest belongs in the forest.
This past week I’ve walked, where the poison ivy does not rule, and have made my peace with the unnecessary cutting and cleaning done by my hands.
Next spring, when new seedlings sprout and bloom, my little piece of forest will be quite different. It will allowed to develop, and move to its own groove.
I just finished reading The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and discovered what trees feel and how they communicate. In Wohlleben’s work, his research follows the science of, Canadian, Suzanne Simard whose story is told in her book, Finding the Mother Tree. These two books have taught me so much about my little forest, which I have separated into three parts. The first being The Planted Forest.
This part of our forest was planted. I had brought home a couple of bundles of spruce saplings from a tree nursery where I had seasonal employment. My father stopped by and planted these little spruts in the northeast corner of our property. His work being interrupted as he had to rescue two, adventurous, three year olds. Returning them to their moms, after they had left the backyard and were traveling down the road to visit their dads at work.
He planted these seeding, in straight rows. They bordered on a much taller pine forest that had been planted years earlier by the Ministry of Natural Resources. He planted these trees thirty-five years ago.
Left unattended, these seedlings grew into trees. The forest becoming the beautiful sanctuary it is today. Occasionally they gave one of their own to adorn our living room at Christmas time.
This past year I have spent a lot of time in this part of the forest. I trimmed branches and removed dead trees.
I’ve learned from reading this past week, that forests allowed to develop on their own provide for one another, and communicate with one another.
Trees planted by people remain individuals, growing independently. They will age, but not to the years of those left to naturalize on their own.
I went back into this forest today. I sat on my bench. It is made from the branches of the cedar tree on the opposite side of our property. I contemplated, what would these trees be like if they communicated with one another?
We have this lovely rhubarb plant that we have been housing for my husband’s oldest friend, in years of friendship, not years of age. It was moved from his childhood home, and has traveled with them as they moved from home, to home, to home. It is, at the moment, rooted beside our backyard shed. Awaiting transplant, once again to the latest destination in their journey.
We have never really been overly fond of this bright pinkish red stemmed, sourly crisp, topped with a gigantic poisonous leaf, plant. I have, though, used this leaf to form a beautiful bird bath, and a couple of stepping stones.
We have decided to give this, what I previously believed to be a fruit, and have since discovered is a vegetable, another try.
This rhubarb crisp, baked in a cast iron skillet, is helping us ease into experimenting with this nutritious plant. A good portion of the rhubarb was replaced with apple and blueberry. This should have led to a reduction in the sugar called for, but it didn’t.
It will be a spring of discovery as we play with different recipes, and projects for the gardens.
Two little birds Sit on a twig. One sits still The other, dances a jig.
Like teardrops; The old tree cried. So much more Was hidden inside.
If you place a sundial The wrong way; It will be midnight, In the middle of the day.
So often people grow old With their stories left untold. It is sad, When all is lost Not understanding What their lives have cost. It is important For our mental health, To know the cards Those before us were dealt. Sometimes, through the story of a tree, You could learn a lot About someone like me.
Sniff, sniff Said the owl. Sniff, sniff Said the rat. Then they both sat down. Now, what do you think about that!
Little forget-me-not Getting ready to bloom, You have a story to tell, Write it soon.
And the music still plays, In the forest grand. As a story unfolds In a far-off land.
Daffodils, by William Wordsworth, from the album Favourite Poetry.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves of glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Pussy willows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses
Rainbow in the woodlands, water to my knees
Shivering, quivering, the warm breath of spring
Pussy willows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses.
by Gordon Lightfoot
All around the daffodils
One, Two, Three.
If you want to find a friend,
Just choose me!
by Sara Mullett
My earliest Easter memories include that of a candy store. My oldest sister was the proprietor. Using money given to us by our parents, we would spend all afternoon deliberating over the brightly colored, sweet treats.
Another memory includes weaving and decorating paper Easter baskets. Baskets then used for our afternoon Easter egg hunt.
My favourite, though, was the wearing of our new Easter hats, to church on Easter morning. Pretty hats, with flowers and ribbons.
A new tradition, a first for me this year, was the building of a Paastok – a branch of a shrub decorated with Easter related ornaments. Another wonderful Dutch tradition.