Know your wild herbs: A is for Angelica

Angelica in bloom, surrounded by rose bay willow herb (fire weed) and with fields and hills in the background.

AKA plants I meet while walking my dog.Throughout this summer, I've noticed what a vast range of medicinally, magically, and otherwise useful herbs grow all around the place, here in the valley where I live. The diversity of plant life is one of the things that helps me to feel that yes, this is indeed home. It's one of the things I most miss when I'm away, or during the winter months.So I've decided to introduce you to some of my vegetable neighbours by way of an A-to-Z.A is for … [Read more...]

When water is cut off: from Cochabamba to Detroit, by way of my bathroom

Spring water catch box

In the mid-1990s, the water services of Cochabamba, a town in Bolivia, were taken over by the subsidiary of a trans-national corporation, Bechdel. Water bills rose at an astounding rate, and people were charged even for collecting rainwater from their own roofs.The people revolted.Despite pressure from both private and public security services, the people of Cochabamba won through in 1995, and made a declaration -- reiterating, in more earth-centred language, the UN's declaration of … [Read more...]

The Common Riding: Langholm’s Great Day

_44028024_langholmone

This Friday just gone was Langholm's Common Riding. Since I've lived in Eskdale, I've been both fascinated by Langholm Common Riding, and mainly stayed as far away from it as possible -- although I have been, once.It's an odd local custom, involving thousands of people, a couple of hundred horses, and an awful lot of alcohol. And for some Langholmites, it's a bigger day than Christmas.What happens on 'Langholm's Great Day'The Langholm Common Riding is held on the last Friday in July, … [Read more...]

Finding Home

View of Mt Rainer from Anderson Island

Today was a fantastic day. I did two unusual things. The first was meeting my fellow Sense of Place author Rhyd Wildermuth for the first time. The second was buying clothes. More on the second in a moment. (Trust me, it's relevant.) Rhyd and I talked about a lot of things, but the thing that stayed on my mind as I left him and set off in search of new clothes was what we discussed about Seattle as a place that we both feel we can call "home".It's not that Seattle is the absolute most … [Read more...]

The power of the song thrush: life, death and the feast of St. John

Image by Jose Sousa, used under Creative Commons license.

"'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, 'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, I heard a thrush, singing on yon bush, And the song she sang was the jug of punch."These words are the first verse of a traditional Irish drinking song, The Jug of Punch, in its simplest form. I'm thinking of it today, St. John's Eve. The feast of St. John, celebrated on the 23rd and 24th June, is a Christian gloss over the celebration of the … [Read more...]

Home.

Today, I was going to write a long post. About how happy I am to be home after two years of rebuilding. About what home means. About how good it feels to walk around 'our' land and know each plant and bird and critter by name. About how happy those beings seem that we're back -- the non-corporeal ones, too. (I'm sure the sweet things I left in the trees and the little "Happy to be home!" song I sang helped with the latter.)But as happy as I am, I'm surrounded by boxes, the house smells of … [Read more...]

Signs of Beltane Approaching

blackthorn

The land is finally waking, here in the cold north (aka Scotland). Ostara is the balance of day and night, as elsewhere, but the land does not really wake until Beltane -- also known as Beltaine, or Bealtuinn.Spring and summer come upon us all of a piece, here. Here and now, the oyster catchers nest, the swallows arrive, the curlews warble, yet the sycamore is still bare-limbed. Daffodils and celandines and coltsfoot and wood anemones all bloom together.The blossoming … [Read more...]


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