Today was one of those days where only the purity of nature could rescue my mood. When my mind dwells on dark thoughts, going for a hike forces me to be aware and alert to beauty and peace. How grateful I am to be able to walk out my door and follow a path into the woods of my own backyard!
This stump beckoned me to just sit and listen awhile.
Then I got out my High Spirits pocket flute and let my experience of place direct my fingers to a melody.
Taking some deep breaths, I looked back on the trail I had come up,
then ahead to where I might find mushrooms for dyeing. It rained some days ago and fall is a good time to find fungi.
Still enchanting colors and shapes, in this "dead" season.
And nourishing moisture awaiting some small, forest creature.
Towards the top of the hill, the forest gets denser and wetter. Perhaps this is where I should really start paying attention for mushrooms...
My fingers freezing and my backpack full, I stopped gathering 'shrooms and continued the hike to a sacred place just off our property we think of as The Manzanita Grove.
Marveled at the beauty, did a little meditation, played a flute song, and headed back home.
View to the southwest.
The hike back down brought interesting finds, too.
Ended my hike with a smile: This scene brought to mind, " You have to be this tall to be a Christmas tree."
And now I have eight different mushrooms to experiment with!
After the rain, it is such a treat to hike our property in search of stunning views and forest bounty. Colors and dyestuffs!
Mushrooms! Mycopigments! ~dyeing to use them :-}
Good thing I brought my collecting bag along.
Fuzzy, bluish-grey ones. Haven't found these before. Wonder what color I will get...
What are you doing up here? Sherpa is surprised to see me anywhere but where I throw hay for him, down the hill, near the house.
A last view before I go back inside to get warm by the woodstove and sort through my bag of treasures.
The most valuable and reliable (the squirrels and deer don't seem to care for it) plant I have growing in my dye garden is madder. I started five years ago with four, small plants and look how it has spread!
The impressive leaves are not the dye material, though. The root is harvested and has a orangish-red color.
I cut the root into smaller pieces and let them dry.
A handful of dried roots produces this lovely salmon color in the dyebath. Supposedly, each year the roots get darker. I wonder if I'll get a deeper red from this year's harvest...
I used to think ground squirrels were cute.
Last year, however, we were overrun with them, and they destroyed much of my dye garden.
The marigolds, madder, amaranth, and sunflowers thrived, but the indigo, which unfortunately is an annual, was squirrel food. Wanting to be humane, I tried pouring hot pepper sun-tea around the plants. It discouraged them, but not for long.
This year, I tried seeds, to no avail, and finally bought a few plants. They came in the mail (!) and so far have been undetected by squirrels. The growing season here is so short; I can only hope to get usable indigo this year.
I want to be able to get this blue again. I'm committed to using dyes from only what I can grow or find here.
I also wish I could find these colors in the mushrooms I find in our forest. I've been collecting and experimenting.
So now I just have to figure out a way to discourage the squirrels, without resorting to the slingshot or a pellet gun. Trapping them and releasing them to some other place they'll be unwanted doesn't appeal either. There is a feral cat that showed up a few weeks ago and I spotted her with a squirrel in her mouth...