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Earth Stories: Early Spring Delights


Feb 5: The past is always present

By Jess

How transparent and unashamed a forest is of their past. How unafraid they are of death. A forest sheds many skins, making their bed among decomposing bodies and limbs.

Death feeds life. Present consumes past.

A forest has to look at what is painful. A forest must confront the truth of their past. This is necessary in the regenerative cycle of new life.

A forest lives in complete dignity, perfectly rooted in their wholeness. For each tree, although seemingly separate and truly unique, is like a single drop of water whose source is the ocean.

The source is the whole. The larger body of a forest lies underneath our feet. The life of a forest flows through the interconnected web of relational root systems, streaming through mycelial pathways of ancestral wisdom.

We must remember. Our ancestors lie down beside us. The lives of our beloved dead never stop feeding us. They help us to remember who we are and where we’ve come from.

Our roots are bound in the composting bodies of our loved ones. Their bodies become altars; moss-covered resting places in the mothers embrace.

Feb. 10: Fertility of Spring

By Jess & Michelle

One of the sure signs of Spring is the high-pitched chorus of the magnificent SPRING PEEPERS! Are y’all hearing them where you are yet? Wait until you find out what THAT’s all about!

For such a tiny frog, they sure do make a BIG impact! Don’t you think there’s something incredibly magnetic about the vibration of their collective sound? It’s as though they’ve taken it upon themselves to stir the rest of us awake from winter slumber. Truly though, I am fascinated by these tiny creatures and am dying to learn about the energetic influence their healing sound has on our nervous system!

So get this… these frogs actually live and survive all winter long. Wanna know how? By freezing themselves! GAHH! There are only five species of frogs in North America that can freeze and survive and one of them is the spring peeper. As temperatures dip below freezing, these little fellas start producing their own “antifreeze” to help preserve the most essential organs to the point that even the heart stops pumping appearing to be dead.

Scientists still aren’t sure how frozen frogs wake up again (duh, magick), but once they thaw out, most will go through a period of healing before they resume normal frog life. And when they do, they’re ready to find a mate.

This is where the epic chorus comes into play…

All that wild peeping you hear? Why that’s the intoxicating sound of frogs mating of course! Nature’s loving-making is not only music to our ears but I’d take a gamble that it has an arousal effect on our nervous systems too. So basically, the sound of Spring is one big orgy-tastic party that we can enjoy and participate in! The end result? Egg-laying. Can you believe that one female can lay up to 900 EGGS?! If that doesn’t blow your socks off I don’t know what will!

The spring peepers not only orient us to life unfurling, but they also emit healing sounds that get us activated and awake! So next time you hear the joyful song of Spring Peepers, just picture thousands of frogs getting it on!

Feb. 15: Tiny Visitations

By Jess

Today a little tiny spider came out to explore me...

It had been about 10 or 15 minutes of sitting quietly against a large oak tree before a pale little yellow spider made itself known by crawling up my leg. I immediately began to imagine what it must be like to have a gigantic form position itself within my back yard and the utter shock at realizing an immense, yet mobile mountainous terrain is now sitting on my house.

I am astonished at the courage and curiosity this little spider has to come explore the vastness of this new landscape that is my body, and I see myself reflected in this tiny spider who, like all beings, is impacted by changes in their environment.

I wonder....

How long must I sit here quietly before more insects come out from hiding?

How long before a spider makes a home in one of my ears?

How long before a bird makes a nest in my hair?

How long before a furry friend burrows a hole underneath me?

How long before my toes turn into roots?

How long before I decompose?

Go outside and sit in one spot.

How long does it take for an insect to feel safe enough to reveal itself to you?

Feb. 20: Return of the Winged Ones

By Michelle

The time is nearly upon us when the hibernating winged ones awaken to Spring's warming and the return of our migratory friends draws near.

Walking along the ponds edge this morning, my gaze falls upon a hidden, empty nest that is usually camouflaged quite well by foliage. Soon, this empty nest will be filled with life once again... I wonder who will make a home in this bed.

As the days lengthen, the barren body of the landscape is slowly beginning to reveal herself to those who watch closely, courting her every gesture. It won't be long now until buds burst forth from every branched fingertip, and the bulbs poke their heads out of the earth in joyful glee. Soon the bees will be buzzing between flowers doped up on pollen and the butterflies will return from the south to repopulate northern regions. And the empty nest by the pond will soon be filled with morning songs!

With March right around the corner, we will be keeping an eye on the return of the winged ones and we invite you to do the same! The following bird species will arrive in North Carolina from their winter homes in Central or South America sometime in March. Actual arrival times will vary depending on location and, of course, luck.

Here’s when to start watching for these early birds:

Purple Martin – early March

"Our largest swallows, Purple Martins perform aerial acrobatics to snap up flying insects. At the end of the breeding season they gather in big flocks and make their way to South America." -- Cornell University, All About Birds

Louisiana Waterthrush – mid March

"The ringing song of the Louisiana Waterthrush, in cadence so like the rushing streams that are its home, is one of the first signs of spring in eastern North America. Its brown plumage and bold streaking help explain why this member of the warbler family has the word “thrush” in its name. At all seasons, this species stays close to moving water—especially forested streams and creeks." -- Cornell University, All About Birds

Barn Swallow – mid-March

"Glistening cobalt blue above and tawny below, Barn Swallows dart gracefully over fields, barnyards, and open water in search of flying insect prey. Look for the long, deeply forked tail that streams out behind this agile flyer and sets it apart from all other North American swallows." -- Cornell University, All About Birds

Chimney Swift – late March

"A bird best identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch insects. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves." -- Cornell University, All About Birds

Broad-winged Hawk – late March

One of the greatest spectacles of migration is a swirling flock (also known as “kettles") of Broad-winged Hawks on their way to South America. A small, stocky raptor with black-and-white bands on the tail, the Broad-winged Hawk is a bird of the forest interior and can be hard to see during the nesting season. Its call is a piercing, two-parted whistle." - Cornell University, All About Birds

"A flash of green and red, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is eastern North America’s sole breeding hummingbird. These brilliant, tiny, precision-flying creatures glitter like jewels in the full sun, then vanish with a zip toward the next nectar source. Enjoy them while they’re around; by early fall they’re bound for Central America, with many crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight." -- Cornell University, All About Birds

I do not live happily or comfortably
with the cleverness of our times.
The talk is all about computers,
the news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest,
it held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touch them.
Then went away softly,
having felt something more wonderful
than all the electricity of New York City.

- Mary Oliver

Feb. 23: Bald-Faced Hornet

By Michelle

For many of us, technological culture has our gaze focused and narrowed most of the day behind screens. As a result, our eyes are trained to spend so much time looking at eye level or towards the ground. Peripheral vision, which requires softening and expanding our gaze to include the whole of our environment, isn’t cultivated as much.

It becomes a practice to look up and out.

It becomes a practice expand and broaden our view.

Often, when I find myself going for long, meandering walks on the land, I intentionally practice looking up and out. I do vision strengthening exercises where I oscillate between near and far focus. I notice colors, textures, and details of the micro world and then expand into the larger patterns, colors, and moving elements at a distance.

It was during one such walk when I noticed for the first time a large paper nest hanging high up in a nearby tree. I was immediately reminded of a childhood memory when I learned about such nests. I approach the nest to look more closely at the egg shaped cavity, curious to know who lives and sleeps here. Turns out, they are known as bald-faced hornets, scientifically classified as part of the family Vespidae.

Are you just as eager to learn more? I knew you would be...

So get this, Bald-Faced Hornets make their nests using small particles of wood gnawed off from trees and then mix this digested wood with their saliva. This then hardens to create the paper-like structure. This is how it works....

A wasp queen will use her mandibles (aka. a pair of appendages near the insect's mouth) to scrape bits of wood fibers using saliva and water to weaken the bonds of such a solid material. Heck, you might even spot your neighborhood queen gnawing on your fence for all she cares. She then flies to the nesting area with this soft paper pulp to begin constructing her home. She begins by finding something to work off of - a branch, window shutter, gutter - to support the downward suspension of her nest which is shaped like a football. As the soft wood fibers dry, they turn into hardened paper-thin material.

Wowza! And get this... the castle she just built. Yep, it's all for her.

The queen will overwinter, but the rest of the colony will die as things cool down over the winter months. As Spring re-awakens, so does she! Hello world! She's back at it, building a brand new castle in the sky for her coming colony, laying just 1 egg in each tiny compartment within the nest. She will feed the larvae protein from flower nectar and other insects. Eventually the colony can house up to 400 workers... But only the newly hatched queens survive through the next winter, all others will die.

Feb. 26: Spring Pleasure & Sound Murmuration

By Jess

When we are in pleasure, we are sensually alive, open, uninhibited, and able to express our joy which resonates through the body. Your pleasure and your joy are sacred.

As Spring awakens all around me, I'm picking up subtle pleasures in nature that arouse my senses and fill my being with interconnected delight and aliveness.

Lately, we've been spending many evenings at the wetlands to participate in dusk's unfolding magic: the spectacle of wood ducks in flight coming from all directions as they prepare for landing, the courtship call between Barred Owls, the occasional glimpse of a beaver and the wild warning sound of a tail slapping the water's surface.

What brings me into pleasure is sound… and movement; how the two of them dance and inform each other. Like the spring peeper chorus that grows in rhythmic pulsation as daylight turns to dusk. Waves form blanketing the landscape in sound rising and falling, both near and far. It reminds me of a starling murmuration, except in sound.

Sound Murmuration.

Yours in wonder & beauty,


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We'd love to hear from you!

  • What miracles are you bearing witness to?

  • How is nature teaching you?

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

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