I carry seed in my pocket. They know this, and we’ve formed an unusual friendship. This is a game where I pretend to stealthily toss the seed down and turn my back to the field. They swoop in and steal away with it.
I pick up a feather and put it in my pocket. It’s a good exchange.
Basket in hand, I step into the forest. A soundtrack plays in my head as I walk. The ground crunches beneath my snowshoe clad feet and I weave around trees and duck branches. The Usnea sways with the wind like an old man’s beard, and brown leaves flutter down from the sky onto the snowy ground. I pick up fallen birch bark and stop to admire the old man mossy tree that I love so dearly. Today I am just wandering without real purpose and my basket stays empty apart from a few curled wisps of birch bark.
On my way home I stand at the edge of the forest and just absorb. I touch the tree that I am leaning against and marvel at its strength. I touch the rough bark with my fingers and send my gratitude. Through storms and drought, it stands strong and shelters us from the worst of the storms. I watch as the setting sun peeks through the leaves. Everything shimmers green and golden.
This is magical. This is the life I have chosen to live.
Am I a nature witch?
I probably sound like one sometimes. My husband’s nickname for me is ‘Freebird’. It’s a funny name but it fits the person I have become. When you finally get a taste of what you’ve unknowingly been yearning for all your life, everything changes. It opens you up to living, an earth bound bird, soaring.
At the root of me is a kinship with those that trust in the magical power of plants and nature. People that love so deeply they weep with joy over the simple beauty of it all. Barefoot, wild hair, lost in moments, messy, always creating and delighting in nature. If you knock on my door you’ll be received with warmth and offered a cup of tea.
I live in a cabin nestled in the woods. The pantry shelves are lined with herbs, flowers, roots and all sorts of things that we nurture and gather with our own hands. My great Uncle Sydney taught me at five years old that if you take care of a plant, it will take care of you too. He found his passion in roses, and these cherished flowers offered him comfort during unimaginable sickness. These are lessons that stay deeply etched into a young mind. It is no coincidence that my middle name is Rose, a namesake that ties me to my mother.
When you think about it, our connectedness with the Earth is lurking within most of our stories – even if we choose to overlook.
The warm kiss of the sun on our skin, wreaths of daisy’s, stolen kisses under weeping willows. Bonfires, herbal tea, and moonlight walks. Nature is always there, embracing us. Those small details, the ones that often get ignored, are the part of living that fills me up with joy and gratitude.
I didn’t arrive here on my own of course. I owe many.
Early on, there was the Grandmother that showed me home cooked food was an expression of love, and the Aunt that taught me about pure organic food.
I had Teachers sharing their love of foraging and wild medicines, and what a blessing that was. The privilege of having a Native elder showing me the magic of the boreal forest, changed everything. I saw thew forest through a new lens. The soul sisters shared wisdom about life, mothering and self care. We laughed and cried together, providing a shoulder through the toughest storms.
My Grandmother-in-law is forever teaching me about Ukrainian folk medicine, gathering, and old world knowledge whilst my mother in law teaches me about gently caring for the creatures of the forest. I appreciate that they hold onto culture and tradition in this modern age.
My father sought solace and fresh air, an escape from long hours spent underground in deep dark mines. Every moment not at work was spent camping with his family, free from the confinement of caves. My mother, gentle and wounded, taught me of hardship, resilience and making do.
I am lucky to have a soul mate who encourages and trusts in what I do.
He nurtures my spirit by loving me deeply and filling the air with the strum of his guitar. He, much like the writers, poets, and musicians, shares my love for all of this and works with me to carve out this life and tell our story.
My little boy, helped me to see the world through the eyes of a child, inquisitive and curious, studying the flecks of lichen on the rocks and gathering artifacts that we still hold in boxes and trunks. We write our life down and create records for him, for his children.
Then, of course, are the friends far and wide that share and inspire, every day.
I am fully aware of just how fortunate I have been in life.
I know in my heart that a lot of what we are taught about life is nonsense. It’s best to simply tune out all preconceived notions and focus on things that nourish the body and spirit. Away from the traffic and bustle of the world, I create my own life and write my own story, one that fills me up inside. On this land, I hone skills, craft, and nourish loved ones. I get to capture the essence of nature in special little bottles! I make a little magic, here and there. Call it what you will, witchcraft, folk medicine or herbalism, at the root of it all is about paying attention, being connected and appreciating what’s out there, right in front of us.