By Lynn Pacifico
It is difficult to find earth with soul left in it when living in a highly-urbanized city, so I need my forays into the woods. I signed up for a gathering in a wilderness area, after which I would stay on for three additional nights. I was excited at the chance to use my outdoor skills alone. On the last evening of the gathering we cooked and shared a meal as the rain and dark fell, talking late into the night. By noon the next day everyone else had gone. I was alone.
Autumn ushers in the dark season.
The sacrifice has been made.
and the fields lie barren.
Demeter enters the underworld
in search of Persephone.
I packed my gear and set off further into the woods. The music of nature accompanied me as I walked, the songbirds, late summer insects and breezes through the leaves. I set up camp near a creek. It seemed ideal and I was happily excited with my adventure.
I hiked all afternoon before noticing red off to the side of the trail. Upon investigation I realized that I had found an abandoned garden. I picked a ripe tomato and ate it as if it were a ripe peach. I was starved for nature and overjoyed with the gift of the garden.
Whenever I can, I eat weeds as they are packed with nutrition, and being wild have more vitality than cultivated foods. What grew in the abandoned garden was as close to wild as ex-farmed plants can get as they not only survived unattended but they pushed everything out of their way to grow. I also found squash, sweet little strawberries, wild carrots, lambs quarter, oyster mushrooms, blueberries and blueberry leaves. I was hungry. This was paradise.
I munched on strawberries as I walked back to camp. For dinner I feasted on wild salad with sautéed wild veggies. Dessert was blueberry leaf tea and blueberries. After relaxing in the creek, I settled in for the night. The crickets and creek serenaded me and I felt as if I were in heaven as I fell asleep. That night was uneventful and I woke with the light.
We call all who are hurt and afraid,
those who are unwilling to leave their lives,
What blooms fades, following in infinite cycles.
Death is a return to the Mother’s great womb.
from where we come and where we unite.
My senses became sharper as I could discern the scent and direction of different plants. I also noticed the small movements in my surroundings and so didn’t miss the activities of area fauna. My energy and focus were better. I was recharging.
It rained on my last full day in the woods. I went to the garden for breakfast and returned to camp to write a prayer for All Hallows Eve. I wrote it on a damp piece of paper on a wet rock in pencil then returned to my retreat.
The rain continued throughout my afternoon hike, dinner, and into the night. To the sound of the rain, I fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly, the sounds of breaking twigs and branches startled me awake. I thought, “Maybe this creek is a favorite bear spot also.” In the dark of my tent I dropped into meditation, pulling my attention inward, and hardly breathing. The noise slowly moved into the distance.
We call that you are delivered from the shadows,
that you may leave this world.
Let go. Do not be afraid.
Love, peace, and spiritual progress to our ancestors and all spirits,
Let go, Let go, Let go.
The next morning, it was time to leave. I felt more alive, calm and centered. I broke down camp and while hiking out of the woods, found a feather from a Yellow Shafted Flicker, a power bird, as a parting gift from the forest.
Lynn Pacifico, is a fourth generation Villager, who loves nature, dogs and New York City.