The river is lower this week, thanks (or not) to the declining number of storms coming through the Canyon. She’s still sandy and far from clear, and you’re likely to sink at least to your knees should you try to get from bank to bank. It does make for lovely swimming though, as the current pulls you down through the Willows and Alder on either side, and the sand softly strokes your skin.
Late Summer smells something like heaven here: wet and green and laden with storm turned soil. Since the river is so sandy, and the banks are so muddy, we’ve been going to town on the trail up the mountain. It’s only a little over a mile to the parking area up there where we leave vehicle, but some of it’s steep switchbacks on loose gravel which makes for a challenging walk if you’re carrying much of anything. I’m easily distracted from the weight this time of year though, by the beautiful plants adorning the forest floor. The trail winds upwards through old Ponderosa Pine forest where Yellow Flax, Pale Hyssop, Pague, Oregon Grape Root, Blisswort, Yarrow, Brickelbrush and Epazote abound. We’ve also been harvesting lovely golden Bolete mushrooms from under the wet pine needles to sautée with onions and serve over Elk and Summer Squash Stirfry.
It’s prime Nettle seed (well, they seem more like fruit, but here the technical term is nut) season so I’ve been harvesting every chance I get, I try to wait until they’re perfectly ripe and drooping heavily against the stems. I’ve also discovered a local variation of Stachys with huge red flowers and a delectable fruity mint scent.
Although I’m also writing several magazine columns, working on student curriculum, updating the website, planning this Fall’s restoration efforts, creating an online student forum and catching up on emails I’m aiming to post a bit more frequently here, hopefully at least three times a week not counting the weeks I have events (just two more this year) or workshops to teach. Did I mention I’m writing several books? Yes, I’m busy, but I still seem to manage to spend lots of time working with students and clients with herbs and even out rolling around in the wild green yonder.
Expect some interesting new series type posts here as well, including one on women in the wilderness, one on preparing and preserving primal foods, one on talking to plants, and one on the ceremonial uses of plants.
There appears to be a storm rolling in, so I think I’ll just go take myself a hot juniper wood-fired bath in the claw-footed tub, there’s nothing like a Rose petal scented bath out in the pouring New Mexico rain.