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The Plant's Quiet Return: The Meaning of Spring in Canada's Southern Forest

Updated: May 8, 2022

May your gentle way of walking, allow spring ephemerals to bloom still in your wake. it is high time to kick off the shoes, let go of it all, and dive forever into the mystical landscape you love. This year, you will learn a lot if you look deeply and listen. The plants around you have something to say. Practice communing with them, and your consciousness will bloom like a tallgrass prairie. There are Morels and Ancient Trees out there, there is great mystery, and limitless compassion, manifesting in the forest.

Slow down and fully enjoy, as the forest puts on her fresh robe of green vegetation.

Look at the spring growth, covered in rain. The season is always changing, every day, wonders new and old greet our mindful eyes. Today I will share with you, pictures from the sacred Ancient Forests of the Southern Great Lakes. And I will continue to share like this, for my wanderings will bring me to many rivers, escarpment ridges, swamps, prairies and marshes, I want to help others fall back in love with Mother Earth, so I will continue to become dear friends with the landscape. So today I want to share about how to become friends and communicate with plants in your own way, as well as sharing a message of inspiration and hope, to let go of our culture of colonizing and strangling land and life in ignorance. Come take a few mindful breaths with me as we explore a better way, ancient as the stars, young and tender as the Mayapples and Ramps. May we learn to walk on Earth with eyes that illuminate reality like the sun, and ears that soak up the soundscape of life like moss in the rain. I am crazy because I talk to plants and talk big shit about our badman culture of capitalism and colonial killing. maybe you are crazy too, and to be crazy about life is truly a great and blameless joy!

a few portraits of solid Elders, and me, their devout disciple, sheltering beneath their generous canopies on a rainy spring day. I feel grateful, in awe of, and held by their peaceful presence. Walnut, Beech, Tulip, Pine, Maple, Oak, Ash, Hemlock, have become my dear friends :)

Layer upon layer of protection, love, and fullfillment live in the forest. Every hundred meters deeper that you walk, you can move away from that busy stressful feeling, into the healing embrace. Make friends with the trees that are around you. How do you become friends with trees? They are quiet, so it is helpful to be quiet too, if you are loud, you won't scare them off like you would a bird or a deer, but trees speak more in whispers, and through non-verbal communication. Since trees and other plants don't speak out loud exactly, it is not only the external noise that must be calmed in order for deep communication to occur, but also the internal noise and human centric narrative that is playing often in our minds. We have to learn to ease our rigid ways of looking at the world, if we want to find good company in trees and herbs, because to understand them better and be a true friend to plants, we need to use our imagination, practice interpreting the landscape, and get in touch with the great mystery of life that trees express.

Even the ripples of raindrops cannot shatter the absolute stillness and peace of the Vernal Pool, an enchanted and spiritually charged heart of the forest, quietly enjoyed by the Salamander. This Vernal Pool and another nearby are known to have endangered Jefferson Salamanders occurring in high concentration.

To listen deeply, and become friends with other species, we must practice mindfulness, to touch our true presence. Names are not overly important, direct experience is our aim, more than having an intellectual knowledge of names. Once you have met them enough times, you will be able to tell a Tulip Tree from a White Ash, whether you have known the names or simply observed the reality of those trees existing in their natural environment. You will in time, know which maple is which, that one enjoys the rich upland and shady slope, and another enjoys the floodplain, the swamp and lowlands. You will see the environment, and the individual tree, and the recognition will be that of seeing an old friend. And as you would an old friend, you can hug the tree before you with great love and affection bursting from your heart.

Hugging a tree is a wonderful practice, you are so full of love, you love the whole world, and hugging is an expression of love. You need not limit your hugging to just humans, trees are there to hug as well. Trees are even lovelier to hug than humans sometimes! Most people don’t want to hug for very long, you’ve barely taken a single breath in their embrace before they start to pull away. A tree on the other hand, will never pull away, you can hug them for hours on end if you wish. We hug to deepen our connection with the beings we love, as you hug a tree, feel into solidity, you can be solid like that too, but to do so you have to root yourself in the rich ground of awareness, then you will be able to sway gracefully in the storms, through grief, tragic loss, stress or hardship. Even if your branches break, new shoots of life will continue to grow, for the resilient. Trees show us how to be like that, growing contentedly wherever we find ourselves, totally connected to Earth, Sky, Sun and Cosmos , giving ourselves out of compassion to the people and animals around us..

Salamander Eggs clusters in the Vernal pool. The delicate little life forms, are no less sacred or wondrous than the large and well established. To slow down and notice what is going on in the present moment, is the path to healing, connection and peace.

Sometimes a Bear will scratch trees to mark their territory. As humans, we don't need to mark trees to establish dominance in the landscape. We are quiet conscious wanderers, and at our best, we leave not a trace that we were present as we move through the landscape watching ,listening, learning, eating and drinking. As you travel, and see more of your homeland, more of the earth, you can make more and more non human friends. In our world today, we are socialized in a very human centric way. We are not taught to talk to plants, we are taught to gravitate towards human constructed areas and activities (think sports, mall, bar, concert) as opposed to daily immersion into natural wilderness. So part of the training of Rewilding must be to rewire our brain to gravitating primarily towards a more land based experience. When I see an old growth Tulip or Oak rising through the Canopy to touch the sky, all the words, ideas and titles dissolve from my head from a moment, and I say hello to my old friend. Trees are gentle beings, this is undeniable. They have not evolved with arms that push you away, strike out of violence or fear, a tree has not evolved to run away, hide from you, and though indeed some trees have poisonous fruits and leaves, there seems just as many who are sincerely and wholly inviting you to join them. To eat their fruit, drink their special sap in spring, and the cool pure streams that their shade protects, is to share in the abundance of the Earth with them, and to weave together your precious lives. Trees have arms outstretched, they live in a state of open compassion, and are the Ancient Plant Bodhisattvas, awakened beings of Earth.

Though they are so strong, wise and ancient, they are vulnerable, and we have destroyed some of our favourite and most precious trees from the landscape on Turtle Island, not to mention the forest ecosystems that they composed. Colonization, Globalism, Industrial Revolution, an empire of Genocide and Ecological Destruction. Chestnut, Ash, Elm, Hemlock, Beech, Western White pine, and many others, all affected, wiped from their homes to varying degrees, not to mention our smaller friends, like Ginseng, and now Ramps, who's existence is also threatened by human impact, deforestation and especially, over harvesting. The genetic diversity of the plantscape, stolen and stepped on by people who had their own understanding of the Earth stolen from them, just to become stormtroopers in this crazy colonial empire... Stolen Land indeed, and it is up to each of us, to return the land to herself, to return to the land ourselves, to belong to it all once again, and to return it to our brothers and sisters who's cultures have been being destroyed with the landscape.

Human and River, Sunshine and Forest, is it not perfect just like that? Life is inviting you to restore the balance in your own daily life, so that you may influence our collective direction of on earth towards abundance, healing, and mutual understanding.

A few more notes from the field:

Crown Land doesn't exist 🔥 It's all Unceded, even the supposedly ceded, for land can never be given or taken truly. That is the ignorance, the devilish myth itself, that there is anything on this Earth that can be privately owned, besides our personal conduct and way of being.

What does the Queen of England, that faraway island who I love but know not so well, have to do with this Maple tree before my eyes, indeed this is a CULTure of Colonizing that we live in. And we only have THIS lifetime, me and you, right now. It feels not good enough to say "perhaps after the government changes, and our children learn some stuff, and a few generations pass, maybe then this colonial culture will be done and gone." No my friends, for it is this very culture that is poisoning our present existence. A shadowy veil, obscuring the nourishing sunset and the healing moonlight. Souring our relations to such a degree, that any ecologically/spiritually minded person would have to say, most Humans have become a Parasitic aspect of life on Earth. Depleting, growing unsustainably, as a cancer on the mystical landscape, a society of fallen angels (knocked down repeatedly by overlords who stole our wisdom and medicine people) . We have become sleeping beauties, who no longer embody or experience their great potential! And that is the way of some of our ancestors, but not all, and no more, for I must be going back to the forest to be released from this nasty game of money madness.

It is up to us to each of us to swear off this Babylon Shitstem here and now. By any means necessary, for our Mother Earth and her remaining intact peoples cannot withstand these gunshots, these bombs dropping, these dynamite sticks blowing roads into mountains, to harvest the last ancient forests... In this lifetime, right now, we can begin our personal journey to becoming a conscious and compassionate Earthling again. Culture is not a fixed entity, but a collective of ever changing, growing and decaying, beliefs and ways of being. So changing our personal conduct and practices is absolutely essential if we hope to see change in the collective culture. "be the change" sorta thing. . Well I have already shared a bit about making friends with different species, but no less important is making friends with, and listening deeply to, our Indigenous brothers and sisters who are still here, present on the landscape, in our community, holding the most sacred understanding in their hands. Even after hundreds of years of abuse, murder, dispossession, and so on, at the hands of the colonial empire, people still remember who they are, where they are, and why they are here. and even those who had long forgotten, may awaken from their slumber and wholly embrace the land again!

There are those who believe the colour of their skin inherently makes them a colonizer, that this is some inescapable thing you must identify with. But the story you tell about yourself has a tendency to come true, even if you wish it were not so. Since this kind of Colonization and Imperialism are still very active, it isn't enough to label yourself this or that, which may entrench harmful patterns, we have to fight back and stop it from occurring anymore in our lifetime (the colonizer/colonized dynamic of false separation and abuse) And truly it is up to us to transcend all limitations, all isms and schisms, false borders, and conventional designations which are like lines drawn in sand. You and I have to choose another way of being, because the intergenerational momentum of lost ancestors is very powerful. And it is all to easy, and even encouraged by greed and ignorance, to repeat cycles of harm, disconnect, craving and abuse, towards our own bodies, other peoples, and the earth. So let's keep building our community, where we look deeply into each others hearts, so that we may cultivate more mutual understanding, more compassion and friendship, to ultimately weave together our land based existence, as a truly conscious family. Whoever wants to join us is welcome, and I hope you will join me, in welcoming a better way of being into the land.

Plants r Frendz not food ;)

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