Field Notes: Blooms & New Beginnings

MAY 2021


As I look back upon the month of May, I feel deep gratitude for the energy that comes with new beginnings. For me, May captures the essence of becoming as this is the month when flowers are blooming in every direction. Life is bursting from the seams and so there is a lot of energy available to build momentum toward our own becoming.


We arrived to our new home at Common Ground Ecovillage at the beginning of the month and began settling in by unpacking, painting our new office space, and getting our hands in the living soil. There's a little area outside of the front door that we're excited to turn into a tiny bird sanctuary. We imagine a lush green space filled with ferns, shade loving native plants, and flowering and fruiting bushes. We've also begun tending to a small herb garden and two veggie gardens that have now been re-awakened! Here are a few photos of those areas... I'll be sure to share progress photos with you in our next newsletter!



May 9: Sleeping Under the Stars

illuminated tent situated next to tall trees with a fire blazing at night under the stars
Sleeping under the stars

It's a cool breezy morning as I sit next to the pond. it was our first night sleeping in the tent on the land. It was a little too cold for our liking, so we'll wait to do it again in a couple of weeks. Becoming intimate with place takes time, and so for me, sleeping outside immersed in the sounds, atmosphere, temperature, and soul of the land is foundational for relational attunement with Earth. Becoming familiar to the land in this way not only grounds me, but it also gives the land an opportunity to get to know us so that she will begin to recognize us as we become acquainted with her many different faces. This means taking time to BE WITH her, listening with all of my senses, slowing my pace to appreciate subtleties and simple pleasures, deepening my breath, and staying connected to my body and overall felt sense. The land seems shy right now, so we're considering all of the different ways she can get to know us.



May 15: Tulip Showers


I'm beginning to feel more at home, and I think a big reason for this is the time I'm setting aside to explore and be with the land. She is 120 acres of mostly forest, rolling pastures, a teardrop pond, flowing streams, and 4 miles of trails. I've been running the trails every couple of days, getting to know the curvature of her body and the unique dimensions of her personality. I'm beginning to bond with certain areas that call to me...


yellow and orange Tulip Flower flower pedals lying on the ground
Tulip poplar pedals

One is a little fairy mound of moss covered rocks and boulders in the far woods. I always stop here and say hello to the spirits who live there. I like to sit atop an old rock face who doesn't seem to mind. There I sit quietly as I listen to the birds and the rustling of the leaves. I usually take this moment to settle my body and my thoughts, resting my awareness on my breath as I notice what is around me. Then within an instant I'm off running again. I'm not a serious runner by any means... I mostly just like to run as a way to get the juices flowing, to cleanse and detoxify my energy body, and to activate the feeling of aliveness!


A drawing of a tulip poplar flower in a sketch book
A drawing of a Tulip Poplar flower from my nature journal

I will always stop for flowers, interesting sights or sounds, and any intuitive prompting that beckons me in another direction. Speaking of flowers, a prominent sighting right now are the tulip poplar flowers covering many areas of the forest floor. I usually can't see them when they are blooming high in the trees, so I am cherishing this short period of time when the forest rains tulip poplar flowers! I love the beauty of this unique flower, how vibrant and droopy it is...the colors are bright like highlighters. If you're eager to learn more, check it out here!


The other spot I've been getting to know is this little clearing in the woods down by the stream where a prominent Beech tree stands in her power at the center. Every time I pass her by, I can't help but stop to admire her, to feel her smooth bark skin. It feels good to give her a long hug. Sometimes I'll sit by the stream. I look forward to camping here soon.



May 21: Native Flowers

This week we took some time to explore the southern border of the land. It took me by surprise at how impactful it felt to begin getting to know the contours of the landscape in this way. It’s like getting to know a new friend - each time I venture into new territory, new layers of her personality are revealed. I appreciated learning about how thoughtfully her border had been stewarded and how each direction was marked through prayerful ceremony.


Although I don’t believe in the colonial concept of private property, I do believe that there are ways that we can begin to heal our relationship to the lands we have the honor of tending and loving. Marking and walking the boundaries is a powerful way to form an initial bond with the land you intend to form a healing relationship with. Whether it be for a garden or a larger landscape, walking the boundary while holding a clear intention in your heart and mind communicates to the land your desire to work together to reveal each other’s true selves.



On our walk, we were gifted with surprises meeting many new friends whose shining faces brought so much joy! They are:

  • The dazzling Liparis liliifolia, commonly known as the Mauve Sleekwort, is a beautiful native orchid

  • Silene virginica, commonly called Fire Pink, is an herbaceous clump-forming perennial wildflower with downy and sticky stems

  • Zizia aurea, also called Golden Alexanders, is a flowering perennial forb of the carrot family attracting dozens of species of bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, and other insects.

  • Penstemon hirsutus, or Hairy Beardtongue, is a beautiful wild native flower that attracts bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

  • Heurchera americana, also called Alumroot is a genus of largely evergreen perennial plants.



May 22: A New Friend

Although every day is a special day, today was EXTRA special because we came upon our very first turtle preparing to lay her eggs. Right around this time last year we met another turtle who was in the midst of similar preparations though we were unable to stay to witness the unfolding magic. Today was different. When Michelle first came upon her she knew right away that this beautiful Eastern Painted Turtle was getting ready to release her clutch. You can tell this is happening by the way she digs a hole with their back legs.


As soon as I heard this was happening I immediately got my camera gear together and went to meet our new friend who had found the perfect sunny South facing location to lay her eggs. I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable with my presence because it's always a risk getting too close. Feeling threatened or unsafe could compel her to leave altogether. I moved very slowly and spoke softly to her, letting her know that she is safe and that I am here as a witness, acknowledging the gift she is giving me by letting me hold space for her process.


Back end of an Eastern Painted Turtle laying her egg in a whole freshly dug
Mama turtle lying her egg

I was able to position myself about six feet away and stationed myself there for an hour as I watched her dig and dig and dig. Such patience. Such intelligence. It was beautiful to say the least! She ended up laying about 7 eggs and then slowly began covering them back up before departing back to her home, the pond.



May 24: Full Blood Moon

Something I love about living so close to nature is the way that she expands my awareness to include the wider seasons, cycles, and patterns of life that inform my daily existence. That I am what the whole universe is doing is somehow very comforting. This vessel of ensouled matter is as ancient as the moon herself. I am just one small dimension or facet of a wider self ebbing and flowing, expanding and contracting. Grounding in this knowing is a daily practice of remembrance... and a coming home.

A leather bound notebook with a sprig of green leave with text overlaying the image that reads: Embodied Nature Wellness Ritual Guide

For the past several years, I have been deepening my relationship to Moon through personal tracking methods. For me what this entails is simply paying attention to the phases of the moon and noting how my mood and overall sense of wellbeing changes over the course of a lunation. As nature, we are constantly in a process of change... always outgrowing old forms and making way for the new. There is a time for waxing, and there is a time for waning. This is what the moon and whole of nature teaches us, if only we would just take the time to listen. I created Embodied Nature for those who also wish to deepen their relationship to the seasons and moon tides.


That's why I like the practice of incorporating new and full moon rituals into my life. It's an opportunity to slow down and come into conscious re-alignment. It's easy to get caught up in the narrow focus of our lives, not to mention the tendency to fall under the spell of unhealthy cultural pressures that aren't good for us. Moon rituals invite us to pull out of the narrow vision and relax into a broader view of ourselves in relationship to the world. For me, attuning to the moon fosters an appreciation for the different seasons of life that are easy to miss if I'm not taking time to pause and reflect.


The red of the full blood moon took my breath away when I first saw her. Michelle and I were walking through the big field when all of a sudden I stopped dead in my tracks seeing her warm shining presence just above the tree-line. I couldn't believe how large she was, and how red. Truly one of the most beautiful moons I've ever seen. Life sure is magical.


Dark nights sky with the red full moon illuminated
Awe inspiring Full Blood Moon

May 28: First Dip in the Pond

Today was my first dip in the pond. It was extraordinary... a homecoming. If you would have asked me years ago, I would never guess that those words would come out of my mouth! I can't tell you what a gift it is to live next to water. Although I was raised in the north, along the shores of the great lakes, water is water. When I first came to North Carolina, folks would talk about going for a swim in the lake... only to find out it was a pond. Womp wommmp.... Swimming in a pond? EW. But like I said... water is water and you get used to it.


There's something deeply intimate about swimming in a pond though. There's a certain level of trust you have to have, because let's be real... you never know what could be swimming around underneath of you. But spending the last three years living next to a pond, I came to cherish that beautiful swimming hole. Every morning it became a part of my practice to jump into the pond... and every time it was magical, even when it was cold. There's something incredibly revitalizing about swimming outside first thing in the morning. It's like a jolt to the system and really set a grounding tone for my day.


Large pond encircle by green trees
At the ponds edge

So when we first arrived to Common Ground I was so excited about the pond... but I'll tell you, it never really crossed my mind that I'd go swimming in it. Partly because there's no dock, and also because I heard it was too shallow. The last thing I'd want is to feel the muck underneath my feet. But today was HOT and after completing my trail run, I found myself at the ponds edge taking off my clothes. I don't know what came over me, but I'm glad I did it. I took one step to the edge and glided out toward the center. Damn it felt good. Sure I was a little nervous... after all, it is my first time feeling the body of this pond. Would the creatures who live here welcome me? I swam toward the center and was pleasantly surprised to find that my feet couldn't touch the bottom. A swimmable pond... the beginning of a new love affair.

Yours in beauty & wonder,

Jess



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