Do the rest of you feel the communion with a higher energy that I feel when I'm in a forest? I feel...harmonious. Like I'm a part of everything, and everything is a part of me. I have internal conversations with the plants and the spirit of the place (or is it the place? Perhaps the "Spirit" is a larger energy), and I lose track of time. I'm never bored or lonely; as a matter of fact, I prefer these walks to be solitary, as my mind is so stimulated by everything I'm seeing, and my senses are engaged by the smells, sounds and textures of the living things around me. I almost feel as if I've stepped into a dream.
I imagine that our brain waves change naturally under these circumstances. I wonder if there have been studies done. I'm certain that my body becomes more relaxed in nature. A biofeedback study would be interesting, if only to promote the habit of communion with nature for those who need such proof. I'm content knowing that what I'm doing feels like "coming home".
On Sunday morning, on the way to my mother's home (an hour from my own) my husband and I stopped to do a little wildcrafting. It's full-on spring here in Pennsylvania, and now that kidding is done at the farm and my mother is recovering from her hospitalization, I've been able to take some healing time for myself. I asked him to join me on Saturday, as it's such an important part of my life, and he's my loving partner. I want him to have the joy that I feel, as well.
When I was a child, my father used to take me with him to collect minnows for fishing. He'd hold a big net on two wooden poles downstream from me, then he'd tell me to splash my way downstream toward him. The stream where we did this is fed by a spring, where people have been filling their water bottles for at least 50 years (I remember 45 of them!); the spring first drains into a marsh, and the marsh produces the best watercress I've ever eaten. I don't know why more people don't harvest it, but it's there year after year, and it’s wonderful. I've been there twice before already this spring, so my stop on Sunday was leaning toward the end of the season for the watercress, but stop I did, with peter in tow. He watched from the bank while I negotiated the crossed wood and tussocks that are strategically placed in a hidden, marshy path to the heart of the cress. I have a small gardening shear that I carry, and had two plastic bags that I filled with my bounty; one for us, one for my friend Stephanie, who has offered a trade for some morels today. I love collecting watercress; the peppery smell, the rampant growth, the cool, moist surroundings. I've been coming to this spot since I was on my own, not so long after my minnowing days. I have never been disappointed. Watercress is one of the blessings of spring.
Nearby, I have a favorite spot to collect ramps, a short walk from a country roadside, and a little hop over a sweet, crystal clear stream. Peter joined me there, and we dug two bags of ramps from a large sandbar, barely making a dent in the population. It was a warm, sunny morning, and the moist air had us perspiring despite the early hour. I thank the ramps as I take them, and I feel their willingness to come; whether it's that process or simply more experience, I don't know, but I harvested nearly twice the amount he did, but he enjoyed himself, and was a willing participant. I pointed out the trout lilies and skunk cabbage as we harvested; the poison ivy on the walk back, and the garlic mustard by the car. I showed him the mullein growing by the roadside, and the lamb's quarters alongside it. Just steps away, we found wild mustard and plantain; curly dock and burdock. What a wonderful place.
I breathe easier in nature. I find peace and spirituality there. As we were enjoying our morning in the sun, by the dancing stream and the dozing trees, my heart was lifted in something akin to prayer, and I felt, as always in nature, that I was exactly where I needed to be. My sanctuary, my sacred place. We are blessed.
Later, Peter described the experience to my mother, who just nodded her head. "She always did that", she said. It's true; but now, I'm learning more. What was always a part of me is becoming a studied path. I feel like I'm coming home.