Originally Published April 9, 2014
I began writing this on February 29, 2012. It is a leap year. A year where we are offered “an additional” day. It reminds me that days are artificially created. They are created so that we may have a common meeting frame of reference as a human race. And as I reflect I am drawn to ponder what other frame of reference we share. What other way of knowing time or more importantly knowing cycles exists. And as a person who loves plants, is passionate about seasonal local food and who has always preferred to be in the woods, it is not surprising that I am immediately drawn to reflect on seasonal cycles and rhythms as a common language. This language is one that many of us in the the west either don’t speak or loose track of when we get caught up in the modern world of schedules and deadlines.
One of my own comical awakenings occurred when I lived in Alaska. Yes another Alaska story..smile, they seem to appear each time I write these newsletters. While I lived in Alaska I worked with the Native Health Care Corporation. We traveled to 15 villages and since we would be transported by small planes to provide services to the people in the village we often would spend a few days meeting with “patients/clients”. I was in the Norton Sound Region, so the winter days were long and dark and the summer solstice brought 24 hours of daylight. During one of my visits to a village I remember laying in bed in the health clinic where we slept and hearing children playing outside at midnight. Now mind you the village was small, right on the coast, it was only accessible by airplane, so there would not be a safer place to play in the middle of the night. It was summer, so there would be no reason to go to bed at a certain time and no reason to awake at a particular time. So as I lay in bed, following my typical schedule for sleep, I heard a voice in my head saying “why are those children I hear laughing and playing not home in bed?”. As I heard this voice I immediately recognized my conditioning and how ridiculous this voice sounded. The truth is they were following natural cycles and I was lying in bed because it was “time” to be sleeping. And truth be told it was not easy to sleep around the summer solstice and the long days without darkness.
I was reminded of this story several times recently, even though it happened well over a decade ago. One of my past apprentice students brought it to mind, when she shared that she had been yelling at the Magnolia Trees to go back to “sleep” and suddenly realized that they are adapting to changes in weather patterns and that she was being resistant to the changes. As I write these words and remember my story I am relieved that the calendar and clock are not the only way to perceive the world.
It is the plants and the natural elements that remind us of our core essence. And please do not misunderstand, I am concerned about climate change and yet see the deep wisdom in the words of my friend and teach Isla Burgess. Isla shared with us last year during her visit that her current definition of health is the need to be adaptable, flexible and resilient. These words ring true as we in the Midwest are experiencing an extremely mild winter. I anticipate that spring and the plants will be here sooner that I can imagine. But it will arrive and I will greet it whether it seems early or not, as plants do to adapt following the rhythms and the cycles. And they the plants are wise and reliable!
So as I anticipate spring I am excited about all of the programs and events that we here at Moonwise Herbs will be hosting, facilitating and teaching. Our hope is that the programs will contribute to those who participate as well as those who simply support from afar. Thank you all for your support and presence on the planet. May you find peace through the natural cycles and rhythms.