Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Birds in Spring

     One of spring’s gifts here in the northeast is the return and presence of the birds.  First the red-winged blackbirds call out their territorial presence in the marshes and wetlands. Soon after, the robins return, often before the snow has melted, to hop about the cold ground in search of a meal.  The partridges beat their wings to drum a call in hopes of attracting a mate and the white-throated sparrows call out their song from the tips of the tall spruce trees in the woods.

  Eagles and osprey cry out or fly with soft wings over the Utica marsh and West Canada Creek, as great blue herons singly and silently wing their way to quiet, hidden spots among the wetlands tall grasses. Chickadees sing their spring song and other species come through on their north~ so many colors and sizes, a variety of trills, chirrups, calls and pure sweet songs.
     The call I listen for, which touches my spirit, with its melodious piping tune is the wood thrush, a shy bird of the forest that sings early, early morning and later in the day. A pure delight to hear. I wonder at the connection of the birdsong and early spring wildflowers~ and like to believe that the songs wake the woodland ephemerals and trees encouraging their flowering.

    Last weekend I visited a dear friend in western Massachusetts ~a gifted and dedicated gardener and artist who has created such beauty on her land. As we wandered the gardens I saw an elder shrub that was blooming weeks earlier than I would expect. 

Coming closer to investigate, I discovered Robin’s eggs gently cradled in a woven nest of grass, tucked into its branches. Holding the promise of life, the rich vibrant turquoise color stunned me in its beauty. Nature herself paints with a rich palette and sings through our winged friends. Perhaps we also are awakened by birdsong and color in the flowers, reawakening to a season of life and beauty!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Scots Pine Pollen Gathering

    There are tree flowers and tree fruits, tree nuts and seeds.  The evergreen tree  “flowers” are unique in their form, which reflects their form of pollination~ the pollen being carried on the spring breezes and gusts of wind.  The pollen is held in tiny parcels, of which there are many, that spiral round the male strobile (see photo). Around the end of May these strobiles mature and open to release a tremendous ( Hmmm, tree-mendous?) amount of soft, silky grains of pollen that is blown about in every breeze. 

    We wash it off our car windows, notice it covering puddles in the street and the surface of ponds.  Some may know the pollen as the culprit that triggers an allergy-like response that ends when the evergreens have finished their pollen dance, for a dance it is.  The windborne pollen grains ride the air up to land on the tiny female cones, most of which emerge at the tops of the trees.  Amazing to think of the billions of pollen grains a tree produces to be sure of the best pollination of the much smaller number of female cones.
Then again, in human procreation, there are quite a few sperm swimming up to find the one or two eggs awaiting fertilization!

   Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of many books including The Vital Man, found in his research that both Black Pine and Scots Pine pollen had been studied in depth and that their pollen could be used to support the endocrine system, in providing the building blocks of testosterone.  Please refer to Stephen’s book for further information on the pine pollen.

    Several years ago we went out to gather the pollen from our local Scots Pine trees and were delighted to find the process quite engaging.  The window of time is quite brief- only a few days each Spring, as the trees are in tune with each other and “bloom” at the same time. 

   This year we gathered as a team, our berry baskets at our sides, picking the strobiles that were at the correct maturity, talking and singing, or quietly tending to this sweet work.  The trees gathered us into their embrace~ we noticed the spiral aspects of the trees, their circle of limbs, their fragrance and prickly needles.  They felt protective and ancient.  They felt like elders and friends.  They are rich with essence in their pollen and presence.  They shared their wealth in tiny grains of gold, and we are deeply grateful as we process this gold into plant medicine to help others enliven their own essence!

  What a joy it was to spend a few days in the pine grove gathering with friends and the Scots Pines.  Thank you dear Trees for all your gifts in all the seasons.