Volume 5, Issue 5

May, 2012

Dear Friend,

Blessings to you during this Beltane time of year when spring is in its fullness. Here in the North country spring has been a long slow unfolding event. After the extreme warmth of March this past week we covered the herb garden to protect the tender emerging plants from cell bursting night time temperatures. But the energy is high and the veggie gardens are being planted along with the new Sanctuary Garden of my dreams that is finally materializing.

Our classes have begun and even though the first apprentice weekend was a bit nippy we had a great time beginning our courtship with the newly emergent plants and budding trees. The hike up Marble Mountain here at Sweetwater Sanctuary to feed the spirits of the land was particularly exquisite.

We want to remind you about the Earth Spirit Healing Intensive that is coming up May 31-June 3. This event is not to be missed as you will deeply connect with Earth and her shifting energies learning how to thrive instead of merely survive on this planet in 2012 and beyond. The time is now to fully embrace the Nature Renaissance and take up our rightful place within the matrix of human/nature co-creative partnership. Visit our website to read more about this life-changing event and about all the other classes offered at Partner Earth Education Center .


Morel Walk by Mark Carlin

In April as Earth warms and Sunlight increases and Poplars have long since leafed and the first Trilliums begin flowering, the search for the delicious Black Morel mushroom is at hand and I grab my vest and hat, sling a cloth bag over my shoulder and head up and into the forested hills. I anticipate with excitement the gifts of the forest as it promises to be a good year, again.

I owe a lot to this particular fungus for it has been both guide and teacher. I don't know plants all too well, never paid much mind until Pam shared her Beloveds with me, had "over looked" them in my far sighted way of walking and way of seeing. I think animal, I think rock and water and tree and sky. But these recent annual spring sojourns searching for mushrooms have been a real eye opener. I remember 16 years ago when I took my then 10 year old daughter, Rebecca, out for a 5 night canoe trip in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota. She had her own youth paddle, her billed cap, backpack and compass and minnow net and private stash. We traveled 30 or 40 miles by water. I was always strategizing, focused on where we were and where we were heading and how to get there. I'd be checking my compass and navigating countless islands then enter expansive waters where I'd search the distant hillside horizons for that low cut in the tree-line signifying a likely portage trail following a stream or river connecting the next lake. And I would think about a lunch spot and how far we needed to get that day and Rebecca would sit in the bow and faintly mimic bird songs floating from the forest, would roll her paddle slowly in her hands and watch the sun glisten off each silent drop of water falling off her blade, or would lean over the canoe rails and dip her fingers among the water bugs scooting without pattern across a smooth as glass lake surface. On a portage trail she would pack up and head out first while I loaded up canoe and gear and 30 rods later I would see her stuff laying around on the ground, well before the shore of the next lake, and she would be floating sticks or orange peels down the rapids or checking out a Lady Slipper or closely inspecting a frog or the smallest of whatever caught her attention. She taught me much about being present and being in the here and now.

Morels come up from their mycelium grounds at the most vibrant and sensitive season of the year, this time of year when a heavy dense mat of brown dead leaves appears able to restrain nearly all possible tender youthful emergences. But then almost overnight and day by day, helped by turkeys scratching and gusty weather fronts, like an egg shell giving way and cracking apart by the rumblings of a claustrophobic chick with an attitude, the leafed floor begins to lift and separate as new Earth beings reemerge once again from below to lick the warm radiant face of Sunlight. Unlike its green being neighbors, the Morel visually blends with dead wood and brown leaves and when on the prowl I feel like I'm hunting for meat. The first one I come across I offer a pinch of tobacco and tell him how good it is to see his face again and I thank him or her for teaching me how to walk in these woods, thanking Morel for bringing me to places less traveled and more unfamiliar, for leading me through these hills and forests and showing me what's around, for paying such close attention to where I place each of my steps and where I kneel lest I injuriously crush the very thing I'm looking for. Isn't that a teaching in itself? Like seeing with the eyes of a child, what's really real is what's right in front of me, and with such spectacular new growth rushing forth in the desire to live again out here in the forest in mid April, I leave that first Morel where I found it.

When I come across a large family I remind myself to show respect and leave alone at least the first and the last I spot. While harvesting I use a pocket knife and cut sharp and clean down low on the stem just above its connection with soil, but that's after first tapping its head once or twice to spread any possible loose spores. So often I'll find Trillium and Black Morel sharing the same ground, favoring similar soil conditions, to the point that when I'm walking along empty handed for a while and then come upon Trillium (being so much easier to spot than Morel) I'll stop in my tracks and circle around and often then discover the shroom. Around here I find they prefer areas relatively undisturbed, areas like old unused wood roads, old earth mounds made by who knows when or what, or areas in the still forest with a lot of scattered or direct sunlight and little undergrowth. Morels have a short and grand season with an intelligence and preference for place of their choosing. I wonder if our harvesting diminishes their regeneration. I have seen no indication that it does. Yet I know it's paramount they be given something in return for my taking. I feel deeply indebted to them for how they've called me forth to walk so very lightly on the land and how they have taught me so much about this land where we live. At a time of year when there's this slight opening between the busyness of spring and the long dormancy of winter, the hunt for the elusive Morel is one fine occupation to engage in, for in trying to find something so hidden much of what is happening out there this time of year is wondrously revealed through relationship with the Morel. Then there is the best of all – the delicious flavor of Morel in just about any dish you choose to prepare – a delicacy and delight – thank you Morel.

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