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Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera repens) is a perennial orchid that grows on the bark of fallen conifers. Harvest (thoughtfully, for it is sparse in some areas, and doesn’t grow once a forest has been too disturbed) in the fall and you’ll see that it truly is an orchid, with spongy roots that thread their way through narrow passages in rotting pine bark. The roots are impossibly soft, and seem to wind their way into places unfit for heartier roots, and so its wisdom unfolds with its form, and we can see the brightness offered in this seemingly shy forest plant.

Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera repens)

Despite the environment of decay, or perhaps because of it, there is no more joyful plant in the forest than Rattlesnake Plantain. The rosettes, hugging the ground and hiding in the darker places, catch my eye like little jewels every time I am in the forests near Portland, even in late fall. It is a deep forest plant, not a city dweller, but not for a lack of agreeability. Its job requires solitude and darkness, as well as the home of an old pine tree’s body, and so a stand of largely undisturbed conifers where traffic is light is where you’ll find it. This signature makes it a good plant to give attention to as Winter Solstice approaches, for the promise of Solstice is Rattlesnake Plantain’s yearlong message: Light and Dark are in harmony and together they bring us life. Light consumes darkness and darkness is nourishment for light. Life is sponsored by death. They belong together, the most primal of couplings, and one we struggle to understand. But Rattlesnake Plantain is not struggling. Look to it and you’ll see.

Rattlesnake Plantain can be used topically for scratches, much like the more common Plantain of the great american lawn. It’s juice can be consumed or used directly for soothing eyedrops, but the most widespread use of this little orchid was as a childbirth aid. The native people of North America, as well as Northern Europe, all used the plant for the same reason according to Michael Moore, for “birthing women who [were] having more than the usual pain, discomfort, and panic” (217, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West). They would chew the leaves fresh according to Moore, although they can be dried and used later, whenever they felt the need for support in birth. My experience with Rattlesnake Plantain leads me to suggest it for birthing problems as well, but more specifically for the mental or spiritual kind.  For cuts and scrapes I can go to many plants who are plentiful and unthreatened in their habitat, including the little Plantain at our feet wherever the ground has been disturbed, but for the primordial darkness before the birth of something new, Rattlesnake Plantain seems specially suited. I feel a kind of birthing panic in the dark of the year before Solstice, when many things are dying, and the rebirth of other things seems far away, or difficult. The promise of a new beginning is not yet realized. For this existential discomfort, give your attention to Rattlesnake Plantain.

I stopped to sit with Rattlesnake Plantain in the forest this fall by accident, if you believe in such a thing, after I was caught by its intense joy on my way to the ever-demanding future. Stumbling through a small patch of woods towards more Elderberries on a bright day in late September, I found myself surrounded by dozens of Plantain rosettes, scattered about my feet like spilled treasure, and my mind turned to harvesting them for the first time. But when I bent over to make an offering to the little beauty, I was directed to give my acknowledgment to the large tree to my right instead. I was surprised by the request as I squinted into blue sky to drink in the magnitude of the nearby pine, and realized it was the largest conifer in this patch of forest. The pine, a remaining old growth tree that had been left untouched in the previously logged area, was a serious presence. As I looked the other direction, I saw the remaining upright trunk of the pine tree that had fallen, undoubtably the former elder in this small village of plants, whose body was sponsoring the many Rattlesnake Plantains now growing at my feet.

After acknowledging the pines, both standing and fallen, and feeling permission to harvest, I set about removing one of the rosettes from it’s home. It wasn’t easy removing the plant’s roots from the intimate pathways it formed in the bark. Soft and deeply embedded in the rotting wood, Rattlesnake Plantain partly lives inside the fallen body of the pine it so reveres, gently breaking down its mightiness with the most delicate softness. Why the plant would want me to acknowledge its benefactor instead of it was no mystery now. The joyful support of little Rattlesnake Plantain is the former grandeur of a mighty pine, and this debt of sweet gratitude is never forgotten as it grows. What has been is in harmony with the life that now is: they are deep allies, the pine and Rattlesnake Plantain, richly complicit in their life and death.

So Rattlesnake Plantain sings the body of its beloved elder back into the earth, and we step over such small and potent miracles nearly every time we wander off trail in the conifers of the Pacific Northwest. Here is the grace I hear in the voice of Rattlesnake Plantain as well as in Solstice: that just a small amount of light, if consistent and joyful, is enough to herald great change. Whenever you feel like you cannot shake your grief, that you are not strong enough to meet your dreams in the face of significant loss, consider Rattlesnake Plantain.

You might not even need to harvest this little gem for a significant effect; it seemed odd to try and tincture the little bit of it I brought home, honestly, like I was doing something very unusual. Perhaps the plant has no familiarity with being tinctured at all, and wondered, out loud if you will, at my methods. Looking in the photo below, you can see it has lost some luster just a few hours later in my bowl, probably mostly due to a loss of moisture, but the tincture has a notable energetic imprint, and one I’ve barely begun to explore. Even a few drops are soporific and relaxing, and make it easier for me to remember what is lovingly allied with me. Perhaps even an essence of the plant would offer the same wisdom. Consider your method before harvesting. Many subtle medicines are grandly healing, and a gross amount of this plant seems unnecessary, indeed, even its signature suggests otherwise.

Rattlesnake Plantain 4 hours post harvest

If available to you, sit with Rattlesnake Plantain in a shady bit of forest someday. Stop, at least for a moment, and try a nibble of the leaf: fresh, grassy, and a little nutty. It might be enough to help you remember that what has come before supports you now; something to grease the wheels of your grateful acknowledgment. Turn your reverence to the sweet harmony of the dead and the living so native to this Plantain’s life. Remember the joyful complicity of the mighty and the small. With the help of Rattlesnake Plantain, remember that Life isn’t a competition, a war, or a cause for endless lament; Life is a dance of gratitude, and everything that has ever been is invited to join.

Solstice Blessings,

Laura


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I awoke Sunday morning to the first snowfall in the Puget Sound lowlands.  The mountains have been getting dusted and accumulating thier white winter robes for the past few months. But Sunday the rain finally turned solid and floated softly from the sky and coated the trees and grasses in stark white.  It seemed appropriate for our Solstice gathering, even though it made driving out to Ellen’s peaceful cabin on Fidalgo Island a bit more challenging.

Seven of us braved the white roads but poor Michelle and Kelsie, who were coming the farthest, were forced to turn around after making it well over half way here 😦

In accordance with the season our gathering activities are relegated to indoor activities or nature communing  as there is little to be harvested this time of year. We planned to gather to celebrate the season change and try our hands at percolated tinctures.

Last month when Carrie and I were scouting Devil’s club harvesting grounds I mentioned to her that I was interested in attempting a percolated tincture.  I had researched the subject online and found very little information regarding how to make them.    As it turned out Carrie had made a few while attending a class with Micheal Moore in AZ and she offered to lead a demonstration for our little group.    I’m hoping she will update the site with a detailed post on the process but I’ll go over it briefly.

A percolation is a tincture that can be made fairly fast compared to an infused tincture.  The process takes roughly 24-48 hours from start to finish.   I was interested in trying it out for those occasions where a tincture is needed sooner rather than later and you do not want to buy a tincture from the store.  It also seems like a good choice for when a herb is out of season as you use only dried herb for this process.  If you are not familiar with percolations think coffee,  dried coffee beans are ground to the consistentsy of sand and a menstrum is poured over it and the resulting liquid that drips through is rich and dark and coffee laden.  In the case of a percolated tincture the process is very similar only the menstrum is high percentage alcohol instead of boiling water.

Carrie, a Montana native, drove fearlessly down the snowy highway hills from Bellingham with Shana and arrived with a large box of all the tools she had brought for the demonstration.  The night before she prepared the herbs we were going to be using.  She ground up dried roots of echinacea and burdock and then mixed them with alcohol until the ground herbs were as moist as sand for building sand castles.  That herb sat overnight and was slightly rehydrated.  She next brought out her Perc Cones which were San Pelligrino bottles with the bottoms cut off.

We proceeded to place a small bit of cotton in the neck of the bottle and then began lightly packing the herbs into the cone.  After they were packed we placed a bit of a coffee filter on top and some clean stones and poured the rest of the alcohol over them and waited… after a few minutes a dark, potent medicine began to come out the bottom, drip by drip.

Megan getting the first pull off the Echinacea Perc 🙂

It was a really exciting skill to learn and we were all thankful for Carrie’s well worded teaching and effort she put into guiding us through the process.  She is definately a skilled medicine maker.

After the demonstration we gathered around the table, food was layed out and then the really fun part began- Presents!  Trading gifts with other herbal enthusiasts is certainly a treat.  It was so amazing  because not one item was duplicated and each was certainly given with love.

Shana gifted us each with special blend of tinctures and oils she has made,  I ended up with a gorgeous styptic blend of calendula and yarrow.

Megan brought a lucious lemongrass cream made with aloe butter and clay masks made with French green clay, oatmeal, hibiscus flower and willow bark.

Ellen gave the group spray bottles of the awesome Hyrdosols that resulted from the essential oils she made this fall from geranium, cedar and rosemary.  And of course many of us left with green, cottony bundles of her specially crafted Moxa.

Carrie brought a selection of lovely lip balms in peppermint, rosemary and lemon, each in colorful containers reminiscent of their contents . She also gifted us each with oat heads that she and harvested.

I arrived with a homemade soap  made with cottonwood and lavender infused oil. I also brought an elderberry, rosehip, ginger and cinnamon syrup and dream pillows filled with lavender, pacific mugwort and desert sage.

We all got quite a take if you ask me 🙂

I watched happily as Coralie was passed from the arms of all of these wise, strong women. The gathering activities were to include time in the wood fired sauna in Ellen’s circle of cedars, but snow kept falling and we parted a bit early to avoid trecherous roads.  But as always, we enjoyed a lovely early winter day in shared company, each of us working to build community and share our love of the plants with one another.

Happy Solstice!

January Gathering- Reunion with Suzanne from Good Natured Earthing and Cedar Mountain Herb School

The Slightest Idea

At our gathering on Sunday, Carrie ended the meeting by reading this poem.  I thought it was a beautiful contribution.

The Slightest Idea
The moon
and I call each other moon.
And the sun and I call each other sun,
all while this truth also
exists:
I have been so crazy in love with the earth for the last fifty years
that not for one second have I lifted
my head out from beneath
her skirt.
Who
is that
wild looking character then,
who can shop in the market and tend for his family,
that some may call
Kabir?
I don’t have the
slightest
idea.

~Kabir

It’s taken a while to realize I don’t know what healing is… really, at all. It’s a bit like sitting in yoga class and realizing I don’t know how to breathe, or what breath really is. How could something so basic escape my attention? Many of my attempts to “Know” healing have some virtue to them, but they also expose a kind of well-intentioned arrogance in me, and some heady naivete. But whenever my effort to know is met by an acceptance of my own ignorance, then a relationship begins to form and the wisdom that is ever present becomes clearer. If I know I don’t know, then the plants become my teachers.

Rattlesnake Plantain

Rattlesnake Plantain near Mt. Hood

People often talk of moving towards or away from healing, as if it might be a location, or a direction. There seems to be somewhere to go when many of us speak of healing. To that end, there are many guideposts pointing the way to healing, and so many of them seem like fine ideas. There is no doubt of the value of structure and theory, but the philosophies always overlap in my mind, cluster and spin, and ultimately collapse. Holding the idea of healing without injuring it is difficult, if not impossible, ironically. There is less active relationship inside intellectual understanding, however valuable it is in other ways, and relationship is essential to healing.

For this reason, like many others, I return to simple experience to find healing. For experience, there is nothing better than a walk in nature, as Kate describes so eloquently in Verdant Healing. The forest is unfathomably true. And truth, in all its evolving diversity, is the calibration point for us all. How could it be otherwise? And how could a plant be anything but true?

Elderberries

Elderberries in October

But I also want the truth of nature to be portable. To move around with me wherever I am. I wonder about and work at bringing the truth of nature into the city where I live. How do I do that? It can’t always be literal, as in a garden, and gardens do not capture wildness, do they, so what do I do? Like many herbal healers, I attempt to carry the wisdom of a plant in a bottle. It’s easy to pack, easy to pass on, and gives form to something exceptionally abstract. But what, exactly, does that bottle contain that makes it healing? The question is less naive than it sounds.

I entertain many answers, but I come back to one simple truth: I must form a relationship with plants for true healing. I need to form a real relationship, and feed it daily, then the bottles I fill, or whatever I do with the plants to heal, will have meaning. At it’s best, the prepared herb is more than alkaloids, certainly, more than an archive of memory, and more than a packaged intention (which is magic enough), what the medicine also provides is a focal point for a living relationship.

The relationship I speak of is not significantly different than forming a relationship with a person. It takes time, devotion, and patience. The plants already embody these traits, it is I who must learn them, and keep them with me, even as I move. I have compassion for how difficult this task of keeping relationship is as a person. All this moving and trying to remember. All this dreaming without losing the present. It’s not easy.

To form this relationship I devote time to meditation, alone and in groups, focusing on a particular plant until I can experience it in my body and mind. I keep pictures of the plants I spend time with, for surely their images are part of their healing power, and they evoke powerful memories in me. I keep memories of time spent with plants in the woods in my mind, and I call on them when I feel myself getting lost. I drink tea, and I carry and use tinctures, but these days the tinctures feel more like a locket worn around my neck than medicine. The power of the healing seems to lie in what the tincture helps me to remember, not in a series of constituents which act on my physiology, although surely both are happening. The unseen and seen worlds mirror each other, yes, but it is the unseen world we are likely to neglect.

Red Belted Polypore

Red Belted Polypore near the Salmon River

So the plants give of their bodies and spirit, and I give of mine: relationship. They remain in truth always and when I drop some tincture on my tongue, or sip some tea, or burn them in fragrant bundles, I am enveloped in an experience with them again. I always have a choice: I could drink a cup of constituents that have some effect on my body, true enough, and no harm done, but the sacredness of healing is not in that act. When I choose instead to open my spirit and acquiesce to remember the plant, and let it be my experience one more time, then I am in relationship and I find healing. Healing surrounds me again and I know it has never gone anywhere, but it is I who have wandered, and I return, however briefly, back to everything.

The snow level has fallen and the mountains, now colored black and white, threaten to begin blanketing the river valley with the same frozen rain that will cover them through the winter and into summer. Smoke from the moxa Ellen made wafts out of the bamboo box it burns in and the room is doused in the earthy smell of Artemisia. The smoke drifts through the air and I sence it has latched ahold of my spirit and carried it with it. Bundles of dried Pearly Everlasting, Lavender, Pink Hardhack and Goldenrod hang from a solid wood beam and serve as reminders of summers flourish. The grasses outside remain green and tendrils of Usnea hang from tree branches while the staunch Cedars wave their feathery arms in the cold wind.

Pacific Mugwort ~ Artemisia suksdorfii

Plants are full of medicine, medicine of the mundane and medicine of the surreal. They evoke their healing powers in ways both physical and ethereal. They are our co-inhabitants of this planet, our green ancestors who have sprouted from this earth from times well before their mobile offspring. Their existence is a spiritualists dream, organisms that consume nothing more than light, rooted in place, presence must not be a practice but a compelled state of existance.I come to the plants for healing, they heal the body and do so with intelligence that begs the existence of a god. I come to the plants for more healing, they heal the spirit with undue compassion the likes of which a buddhist could only strive for.

Red Cedar ~ Callitropsis nootkatensis

The magic of this healing is twofold, much time is spent speaking to the physical healing aspects of the plant, but I experience so much of the work in mere communion. A barefoot walk to the river brings my body in direct contact with plantain, chickweed, grasses, dandelion and fallen pine needles. A glance out the window frames a world of varied, green giant trees. An evening meal is comprised roots and leaves and flowers. All of this is plant medicine.

Walking fern ~ Polypodium hesperium

The plants have the power to evoke experiences both unique and universal. The smell of the  Cottonwoods in a river valley rouses memories of smelling them before and affords me the ability to remain in the present and yet ply it with the experiences of the past allowing for an ever-growing sensation of life. Rather than life loosing its lustre after so many years of living, it gains the depth of feeling and love and color given only by many layers.  Think of memory and presence as co-celebrants, creating a life full of depth just as a painting is comprised of so many layers of paint but only one picture.

Goatsbeard ~ Aruncus dioicus

The plants also lend us a macro model for the micro-experiences of our life. They offer a model of strength and a promise of outcomes. In the winter, when much is dead or dormant, the plants that remain green remind us that the wheel will turn again. The spring is likened to the quickening, the first sence that life is growing among us, tender and new. Summer is a glorious and intense labor: long days and short nights, heat and power and production. And Fall is the ecstatic moment of sitting back and holding the harvest in our hands: a ripe tomato, a newborn baby and a deep full breath. It is followed again by the pause and the promise.

Devil's Club ~ Oplopanax horridus

In an abstract sence, healing the body begins first with healing the mind. The plants are an access point, a way to engage in the act of returning to wholeness. I suppose we are born whole and either through outside guidance or our own mis-informed acts we begin chipping away at that wholeness. Many of us later engage in a conscious path of healing or home-coming. We seek to return to the place we sence we once were. This, for me, is the true power of the plants, their physical acts of healing are merely door shows meant to entice us to buy a seat to the Big Top.  And once inside the path home is illuminated in green. Step outside, notice your ecosystem, let the green neighbors conjure images of what our lives could look like if we remembered ourselves as unbroken and again intact.

Old Man's Beard ~ Usnea longissima

Near my little home, a walk in the woods gleans views of trees strewn with long strands of Usnea longissima hanging from the giant rainforest trees like fairy-made tinsel. Usnea  is a powerful anti-microbial, assisting our bodies  in warding off unwanted intruders. But there is more. Walk through the woods and bring your awareness to the lichen: half plant, half fungus. Notice where it takes you, what thoughts it excites or inhibits. Sence your place on the planet in connection to it’s environment. Breath deep. Do this again with dandelion, with hawthorn, with beebalm, with whatever grows around you.
The plants evoke shifts in consciousness, they remind us to think of healing as wholeness and to notice that the planet is a web of healing. Everything we need is here and every living being, every mineral and every formation truly is our kin.  We are whole and we are not alone, never are we separated from other life. Let the plants remind us of the closed system we live in, let them tell us how our bodies feed the smallest life forms and make soil, which feeds the plants, which in turn feed us.  We all share air that has been breathed in and expelled by countless bodies, we drink water that has been ingested by inumerable entities and travelled through the skies and down mountains and rivers and again to the ocean. The basic elements that afford formation of our cells come from the rocks and the soil. Remember that the very air we breath is a creation of the plants.  It is the elixir they released and began summoning us out of the waters and into life. They are light eaters and without them we would not exist.  Look to the plants and let them remind us that we all live off light.

This month our gathering fell on November 1st, the day after Halloween and the day before lunar Samhain.  Here, in the Pacific Northwest, there are still yellow leaves clinging to trees, the weather is cool but not yet cold, and the recent rains have made the water in the rivers run high and brown. Samhain is the time that many of the creatures in the Northern realms have died or have gone dormant.  Considered the Celtic New Year, it is a time to honor your ancestors, those that have been put to the ground and returned to the earth.  It seems fitting that Samhain be the time of root gathering as we pull from the dirt those things that have grown and flourished from the remains of the death and decay that has come before.

Devil's Club
Devil’s Club ~ Oplopanax horridus

This time of year the power of the plants are returned to the roots to be held until the time of regrowth in the spring.  Root medicines such as dandelion, burdock, Oregon grape and red root are at prime harvesting time.  If you are lucky enough to live in the area where the powerful plant of Devil’s club grows, sit with it , dig it, scrape it, and honor it.

We met this morning at Carrie’s super cute house.  Her sweet dog Lucy met each of us at the door.  I arrived with Coralie and Ann showed up soon after driving all the way from Quincy (a 4.5 hour drive.)  Shana joined us as well,  she took the same apprenticeship class that many of us did only a year before, however she has years of herbal and wild crafting knowledge, she is definitely an asset as well a pleasure to have join us. Carrie had also invited Michele, owner and proprietor of the really amazing and quaint  Living Earth Herbs  in downtown Bellingham.  If you’re in the area stop by and peruse her great selection of dried herbs, tea blends and herbal products. Although the forecast threatened rain we were graced with clear skies and fair weather as we loaded into two cars and began heading down Mt. Baker Hwy towards the Nooksack river.

baker
Mount Baker from highway lookout

Devil’s club, or Oplopanax horridus is a sensitive plant, growing mostly in healthy forests with lots of moisture.  Its range is relatively small found in south-central Alaska to central Oregon, and sparsely east to the Rockies.  It is a relative of ginseng and is often referred to as Alaskan ginseng.   The very best information I have found on this plant is located on Ryan Drum’s site.  Considered and ethneogen,  a substance used in a religious, shamanic or spiritual contexts,  it is a well honored plant of the native people’s.  The plant is very delicate growing, so if you intend on harvesting it take only what you need in thick stands leaving the tall standing grandmothers to stay and propagate more plants.

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Gorgeous Root!
devils club 055
Late Fall Devil’s Club

 Carrie and I had used our intuition to lead us to area we thought was appropriate for harvesting.  The place we chose was also a harvest site for cedar bark, one hopes that the bark stripped from these trees was done with reverence and respect.   We alighted from our cars and descended down a hill leading to the rivers edge where several stands of the magical plant stood.  Entering a grove of devil’s club is akin to entering a deep forest cathedral.  On this November day the leaves were yellow and appeared illuminated from the sunlight above.

devils club 051
Carrie, Ann and Lucy

This plant begs reverence. A heady spirit mover, silence rolls over you as you near it in quiet recognition of the it potency. This plant does not so much bring presence as it does call us into the spinning corridor of the earth, a grounded entrance into the unseen.  It is a plant that demands healing and offers it to those already committed to doing what is necessary to achieve that health.

devils club 040
Ann In The Woods
devils club 045
Shana Gathering Roots

The five of us, accompanied by little Coralie in a bundle on my chest and Lucy, the sweet puppy,  approached the plant and sat in silence for few moments.  Carrie offered a strong tincture to sample and help connect us with the gorgeous if dangerous plant.  We carefully pulled a small portion of recumbent stem from beneath the forest duff and layer of moss and gently pealed portions of the root bark and cambium from the stem.  Each of us chewed a small piece and Michele offered to lead us in singing a hymn to the Cedar trees.  After pausing in silence for a space we separated and each found our own places to harvest.

devils club 062
Michele With Her Harvest
devils club 050
Carrie Processing Root Bark
After a time of digging through the forest detritus and avoiding, if possible, the millions of pokey spines,  we gathered in a circle and began processing and peeling the roots to use in tincture.  Carrie brought her deck of Medicine Women Cards (which seemed very appropriate 🙂 and we each pulled from the deck. 
devils club 056

Kate, Shana and Coralie

 We engaged in sweet conversation while the river roared heavy with the recent rains behind us.  The strong smell of the plant permeated the air as the day slowly darkened beneath the canopy of cedars. We joined in song once more and offered thanks to plants and the forest and returned home.

 
December Gathering- Solstice potluck and percolated tincture making.

I am lucky to live in a Valley surrounded by vast wildernesses. The main road leading out here abruptly ends at the base of a mountain.  One can accurately  describe this place as being “in the middle of nowhere.”  The area is even largely forgotten by outdoor enthusiasts so trails are growing over and roads are washing out and no one is repairing them.  As a local, I lament the loss of access to these remote places,  but as a lover of the wilderness, I secretly rejoice that there are vast stretches of land fully returning to the wild and are being left unvisited.

However, there is a road  less than a mile from my house that winds up into high alpine areas.  Waterfalls abound,  mountain vegetation covers the rocky slopes,  furry pikas live in the scree and bears feast on fields of blueberries.  This time of year the plants are vibrant and multi colored.  The greens have disappeared and been replaced with hues reminiscent of a childs box of crayons. Yesterday we headed up the hills and admired the height of this seasons colors.  

The little, dirt mountain road was lined with thimbleberry plants turning shades of red, yellow and orange.

herb walk 011
Thimbleberry-Rubus parviflorus

 Golden bigleaf maples lit up hillsides across the valley.

Vine Maple - Acer circinatum
Big Leaf Maple – Acer macrophyllum

 Fireweed, dead but standing, colored the path looking more like a physical representation of its name than in its summer glory.

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Fireweed – Epilobium angustifolium

 Low bush blue berries carpeted the trail in a variety of fall inspired colors.  The vibrancy of the leaves illuminated the entire mountainside.

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Lowbush Blueberry – Viccinium angustifolium

 Bushes bereft of leaves clung yet to the last of their berries.  The branches looked as though they were hung  with fairy-made chinese lanterns.

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Sitka Mountain Ash (rowan) – Sorbus sitchensis
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Stink Currant – Ribes bracteosum
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Highbush Blueberry – Vaccinium myrtilloides

 

Green but fallen alder leaves covered every inch of the trail we walked. The day ended at a full flowing waterfall.  The wind picked up and small snowflakes began to fall which quickly turned to rain.  My small family stood surrounded by a Technicolor valley and listened to the sound of water pouring over cliffs. I watched my infant girl feel snow land on her face for the first time.  Next month the plants will be dead or in hibernation, this final show was nothing short of amazing, ending with a bang, not a whimper.

Coralie 035
My husband Dylan with little Coralie in the wrap.