top of page

Earth Stories: Blue Mountains & Heron Blessings


July 1-4: Mountain Magick

By Jess

The first few days of July were spent immersed in the predominantly oak-hickory forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’ve ever seen or visited them, you know that these mountains are noted for having a bluish color when seen from a distance… a serene palette of Indigo, Sapphire, and Carolina blues keep us coming back for more each Spring and Fall. It’s the trees that put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere. This contributes to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.

We passed one foggy afternoon meandering through the trails of a well known hikers haven called Craggy Gardens, named after the mountain range of this region - the Great Craggy Mountains, commonly known as the Craggies. They are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains and encompass an area of approx. 194 square miles and are covered with purple Catawba rhododendrons in mid-June. While we were there, it was the mountain laurels that sang out for attention, and we gave them all the love!

The Craggy Pinnacle Overlook trail is a moderate .73 mile hike to a stone wall overlook with 360 degree views. Of course, it took us much longer than most folks to reach the top since we like to go reeeeal slow, taking time to notice all of the small plant folk and tiny creatures who are very easy to miss if you’re in a hurry. We saw the cutest little creatures peering out from dense tiny fern forests and burrowed homes covered in moss. It was magical!

Another afternoon was spent meandering along a creek close to where we camped. We splashed about and found rocks to sprawl out on, watched the fish swim by and soaked in the song of tumbling water over rocks. This was my favorite day of rest, which also included ice cream cones and cooking dinner over the open fire.

July 7: Hello My Deer

By Jess

I woke up early this morning to a chattering of finches and cackling of crows outside my window. It’s hard to sleep through such excitement… which is most mornings! I entered the cool breath of dawn with a smile on my face feeling the dewy grass beneath my feet which promptly led me in the direction of the pond. I chose not to wear shoes, which is often the case. It helps me to stay more alert and mindful of where I’m placing my feet. I also like how quiet I can be and how easy it is to blend in with my surroundings. My friends of the woods are very sensitive, and an abrupt sound can send some of them off scampering.

I noticed a flash of brown against the green in a lush area along the stream's edge. It was a doe, leisurely enjoying her morning while munching on tender green leaves from a nearby tree. I immediately stopped in my tracks before she was able to notice me since I was quite close. She was so peaceful there in the dappled morning light. I watched her there for about 20 minutes simply allowing myself the gift of her presence. I haven’t come into much contact with deer here yet, so this was my first intimate encounter.

Deer appear in art from Paleolithic cave paintings onwards, and have played a role in mythology, literature, and spiritual traditions from around the world throughout history. As such, deer hold a special place in the human heart . My own personal ancestors (the Celts) believed they were part of the fairy world and had magical powers. Celts thought deer lived deep in the forest so that they could have secret knowledge. As one of the oldest animals in existence, the deer was a symbol of life, fertility, and vitality.

I thank her before continuing on my way.

July 11: Chicken of the Woods

By Jess

It’s been over two months since

first arriving at our new home. One of the first things we were excited to do was go mushroom foraging, especially for edibles! To our surprise they were nowhere to be found. After weeks of keeping our eyes wide open and scanning the forest landscape for the first signs of fungal delicacy, we were beginning to think that perhaps they weren’t here. It wasn’t until we stopped “trying” to find them that they finally found us. Michelle was on her way for a morning road run when she felt the inner prompting to stick to the woodland trails. That’s when she came upon these beautiful polypores.

Laetiporus, commonly referred to as Chicken of the Woods, is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Laetiporus has been a long time fungal friend and favorite of ours. We always receive this gift as a blessing from Land. Land speaks to us through the aspects of self we have been conditioned to ignore and suppress under Empire: instinct & intuition. This severing cuts us off from our own bodily wisdom and primal forms of intelligence that are innately of Earth. I liken these invisible threadlike aspects to the mycelial matrix beneath the forest floor.

Instinct and intuition are the invisible web strings that weave in and through our environment, connecting us to everything else and constantly feeding us with new information about the state of our ecology through multi-sensory perception. When we are cut off from instinct, we are cut off from ourselves and from the source of life itself. It’s taken me a long time to get to a place of recognizing the voice of intuition when she speaks and then learning to honor such inner promptings. Sometimes intuition can disrupt our plans by leading us down unexpected paths. It takes courage to trust your inner voice because often it goes against the grain of what is expected of us.

The voice of intuition shows up for each of us uniquely, so it’s up to you to learn the subtle language of your soul. No one can do it for you. Learning the language of your intuition is the key to unlocking your natural multi-sensory capacities, which is to say your authentic power. As Gary Zukav puts it, “The multi-sensory human is able to perceive, and to appreciate, the role that our physical reality plays in a larger picture of evolution, and the dynamics by which our physical reality is created and sustained. It is in this invisible realm that the origins of our deepest values are found. This is where our authentic power lies.”

We are so much more than who we “think” we are.

July 14: Charmed

By Jess

I’m spending the afternoon in the garden, tending to our squash plants mostly, among other things. For those of you who’ve grown your own, you know what serious business that means. If we’re not diligent enough in ridding our plants of squash bug eggs, especially in the beginning stages, the squash bugs are sure to take over and quickly deplete and kill the plants. So the first round of business is the glamorous task of squishing every beady little egg I’m able to spot on the underbelly of the leaves where they can be found clumped together close to the stem. It’s definitely not my favorite pastime; it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Up next is harvesting some of my favorite herbs and plant medicines blooming: chamomile, lavender, echinacea, lemon balm, mint, tarragon, basil and more. I try to do this every couple of days, ideally in the mornings as a part of my morning practice. I find it deeply nourishing when I have the spaciousness to engage with the plants in a slow and contemplative manner. I then lay out my collection of herbs to dry in the solar food dehydrator which, to my surprise, works so well! I’ll add them to my tea blends next.

While all of this is happening, I’ve set up the camera next to the flower field with the hopes that I might capture the finches at play. They are an absolute delight to watch… I love getting lost in their world of levity and flight. The way they squeak and whistle in a high-pitched cheerful chatter. They truly ARE such a charm! *chuckles to self* You must know (in case you didn’t), that a group of finches are referred to as a CHARM of finches!! I’ll tell ya, the day Lily told me this I just about fell over. It made sooooo much sense and I was tickled to death. I was then obsessed with wanting to know all of the words for groups of different animals… I can’t help myself but here are some of my favorites: a quiver of cobras, a conspiracy of lemurs (LOL), a pandemonium of parrots! Omg, stop me now...

I’ve now found a cozy seat next to the flower field as I watch the finches weave in and out of the flowers nibbling for seeds. After sitting here for nearly 20 minutes, all of a sudden I witness a flurry of action - a finch kerfuffle in flight! Unbeknownst to me, there’s been a disagreement meriting a three-finch high speed chase. Zooming through the flowers they startle the others who are gleefully feasting. All within a moment's flash, they disappear into the forest canopy.

I put together a wee video that gives you a snapshot into this day! I hope you enjoy!

July 20: A Visit from the Green Heron

By Michelle

It was three years when I first met this friend. I didn’t recognize her, so I watched her closely, studied her features, posture and gait. When I finally looked her up in my bird book, I discovered her name: the Green Heron. Who knew there was a green heron? Not me. She is much smaller than her relatives, most notably the grey heron and great blue heron, yet her slender legs, curled in neck, and silent, slow walk are familiar characteristics. She is quite mysterious, prefers to stay invisible and in solitude. She was there in a moment and then gone, and never returned in the whole three years that we lived along that same ponds edge. I wasn’t sure if she’d ever return to my gaze.

This past year has been challenging. My faith and connection to my inner spirit, my previously built sense of deep trust in myself and in life, was shaken. I wasn’t sure if she’d return: that place within me where I feel completely silent, still and at ease, in communion with myself. I wrote a prayer to her for the first time in almost a year. And then, a few days later, I walked down to the pond in the morning to sit. I closed my eyes and there she was: that deep still, silent, completely undisturbed place of belonging within me. I felt my inner home again for the first time in a year. I opened my eyes, and there she was flying above me: the Green Heron. She had returned just as I had! It was as if she needed to be called upon to be seen, to be felt, to be experienced, to be touched in a moment of gaze once again.

If you liked this blog post, we'd love to hear from you!

  • What miracles are you bearing witness to?

  • How is nature teaching you?

  • What forces, practices, awarenesses, or insights have shaped you over these past several weeks?

Leave a comment below :)

Want more? You might like to read my Field Notes from JUNE Or get up close and personal with a mama Eastern Painted Turtle laying her eggs!

Yours in wonder & beauty,


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page