the woodlot

Forestry Majors*

By the time they graduate, forestry majors know all the trees, their properties and uses, where they can be found. They know the oldest and wisest trees on campus. They know which ones can walk and which ones harbor dark, rotten hearts.  Each graduating class plants a new tree and puts many blessings in the soil around its roots. Legend has it that as long as the tree lives, at least one member of that graduating class will also. No one has done a study to verify this claim.

Forestry majors know how the paths in the woods can shift. Compass and Pacing is a required course, and Foresters learn to adjust their stride to exactly a meter so they can always measure distances. When compasses fail (and they always do, at one point or another), they have to be able to navigate the woods without the help of iron.

Silviculture is a class reserved for upper level students, and is by application only. Students are screened for their abilities in diplomacy and the depth of their knowledge of trees. They must be courageous as well, to face the beings that inhabit the forest.  They are taught to be careful with words and to avoid tricks of the mind. The exams are rigorous and long. Failing the class is sometimes a relief – these students are excused from missions into the very heart the wild woods.

Many hours of studying are spent learning the true names of the trees, not the Latin ones that Linnaeus developed, but the old names that the trees will listen to. The trees hide their real names almost as well as humans do. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus, or Chouchun are all the same tree, but none of those is the tree’s true name.

The professors in intro class are careful to explain the proper way to determine if a dryad inhabits a particular tree. The university owns a woodlot where it farms its own trees, so these trees should be safe, but controlling the Others is impossible and they can’t be kept out entirely. Of course, there’s always a freshman who doesn’t listen and is too in love with their chainsaw. The results are usually  … not pretty. If the rest of the crew is lucky, the unfortunate one is just gone. If not, if something is left, then the professors and upper level students have to be called in to deal with the ritual to destroy the chainsaw. No one wants to use a chainsaw that has a taste for human blood.

Another important first year class is firefighting. Fire is a tool of humans, but the enemy of the trees. Forestry majors are expected to be on hand to deal with any wildfire no matter whether day or night, or whether they have exams or papers due.

Tree hugging doesn’t necessarily mean environmental activism to foresters – it means literally hugging trees. The hugging goes both ways – humans seek comfort, peace, and strength from the trees, but they also encourage the trees to grow tall and strong, to endure, to resist whatever danger the forest is facing.

Forestry is a technical field though, and forestry majors also take many engineering courses. The field attracts people with an affinity with either the science end or the magic end. Some forestry majors have both. When you spend most of your time in the woods, it’s hard to avoid the knowledge of magic. No matter how scientifically inclined they may start out, most foresters end up talking to the trees.

Other students (those who have classes indoors in temperature controlled buildings) are wary of the forestry majors – with most of their classes outside, the foresters dress rough, steel-toed boots and layers of flannel, the men with beards, the women with broken nails. They always carry what appear to be weapons – fire rakes, axes, cant hooks, pikes, and chainsaws. Some students who understand the true danger of the school know better, know that the foresters aren’t the worst thing on campus.

The holy grail of forestry is the unending battle to restore the American Chestnut. The chestnut was a beautiful and durable tree, whose wood would never rot. But the Chestnut Blight came and destroyed them all, killing the magic of the chestnut trees. New trees would sprout, but as soon as they reached adolescence, the Blight would attack and the tree would die. Most foresters try to work through science, crossbreeding the American tree with exotic ones in hopes of finding a strain that can resist the Blight. However, all know that the Blight is a magical disease that science ultimately cannot solve. Every American forester longs to restore the chestnut tree, but the price for that would be very high indeed.

Forestry may know too much about trees and may use trees for their own purposes, but they also protect and nurture the forest.  Therefore they are tolerated.

*Many forestry degrees have the words and Wildlife added to the diploma. But Wildlife is an entirely different topic that would require a separate post.

[x]

If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck


myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them


while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…

—  Sappho
8

brief, not-at-all comprehensive list of classics with strong queer themes

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

It is quite true that I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man usually gives to a friend.  Somehow, I had never loved a woman.I suppose I never had time. […] I quite admit that I adored you magically, extravagantly, absurdly.I was jealous of everyone to whom you spoke.I wanted to have you all to myself.I was only happy when I was with you.When I was away from you, you were still present in my art.

The Poetry of Sappho

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know 
well) whom you leave shackled by love

"If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

"myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

"while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…”

Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

However, this sceptic had one fanaticism. This fanaticism was neither a dogma, nor an idea, nor an art, nor a science; it was a man: Enjolras.  Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras. To whom did this anarchical scoffer unite himself in this phalanx of absolute minds? To the most absolute. In what manner had Enjolras subjugated him? By his ideas? No. By his character. A phenomenon which is often observable.  A sceptic who adheres to a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. That which we lack attracts us. No one loves the light like the blind man. The dwarf adores the drum-major. The toad always has his eyes fixed on heaven. Why? In order to watch the bird in

its flight. Grantaire, in whom writhed doubt, loved to watch faith soar in Enjolras. […] Grantaire in the presence of Enjolras became someone once more.

Leave of Grass, by Walt Whitman

Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,

Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your 
         hip, 

Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;

For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,

And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried 

         eternally. 

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

There they sat, hour after hour, talking in her bedroom at the top of the house, talking about life, how they were to reform the world.  They meant to found a society to abolish private property, and actually had a letter written, though not sent out.  The ideas were Sally’s, of course—but very soon she was just as excited—read Plato in bed before breakfast; read Morris; read Shelley by the hour.

Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin

For I am—or I was—one of those people who pride themselves in on their willpower, on their ability to make a decision and carry it through. This virtue, like most virtues, is ambiguity itself. People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception. Their decisions are not really decisions at all—a real decision makes one humble, one knows that it is at the mercy of more things than can be named—but elaborate systems of evasion, of illusion, designed to make themselves and the world appear to be what they and the world are not. This is certainly what my decision, made so long ago in Joey’s bed, came to. I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me. I succeeded very well—by not looking at the universe, by not looking at myself, by remaining, in effect, in constant motion.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you might come across four or five times in your life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.

Howl, by Allen Ginsberg

who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,

who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,

who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,

who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom.

7

Dinner at Aldine in Rittenhouse Philadelphia. First course: Albacore Tuna Crudo with beets 3 ways. Carrots with house smoked yogurt, almond, and sprouts. Second course: Farm Egg (I believe 60 minute egg) with frisée and asparagus salad, and shallots. Pork Belly with sunflower brittle. Surprise course (on the house): Cavatelli with house ricotta and peas. This dish wasn’t even on the menu it was a work in progress and chef knew I was fired up about it so he gave us both a portion. Third course: Woodlot pork with Kumquat jam. Duck with parsnip purée. Everything was absolutely perfect and I whole heartedly miss being in the kitchen there.

In the forest I thought was a woodlot,

where stood a birch of   darker bark:
by the thorns; by the flowers feeding

two bees w/ one seed—where the rootworm
wriggle; where the vegetation

vibrate  senseless to the sky—
there grew corn of     hedgerow by

wizard of the rhubarbstalk:
  who cast a spell upon

suburbia: to garden  go!
Two bee or not—the noun

be also verb. Remit!
He vouches for the magic—

how then knows the seed
when sky is blue? To cut

the worm again in half
by hoe—the trowel knows:

though tail turns not to head, the top
will sprout abottom new.

* * *

Written May 2017.

271: Axes

Axes, much like knives, have been used in Ozark folk healing as a method of symbolically “cutting” maladies like fever, cramps, or birth pains. They’ve also traditionally been employed by weather conjurers to “cut” through storms and cyclones. 


Under bed for chills – “Some families are accustomed to treat chills-an’-fever by placing an ax under the patient’s bed.” ~Randolph OMF 146

Under bed to cut birth pains – “Near Pineville, Missouri, I once sat with a neighbor out in a woodlot, while his wife was giving birth to a child in the house. This man had a regular physician in attendance, but one of the neighborhood granny-women had arrived ahead of the doctor. The patient screamed several times, and then the granny-woman came out to the wood pile and picked up the ax, which she carried into the house. I was horrified at this, but the husband sat unmoved, so I said nothing. After it was all over I asked the doctor privately how on earth the old woman had made use of a five-pound double-bitted ax in her obstetrical practice. The doctor laughed and replied that she just put it under the bed. ‘A common superstition,’ he said. ‘It’s supposed to make a difficult birth easier, and she saw that this was going to be a pretty bad one.’

“Later on I learned that this ax-under-the-bed business is practiced in all parts of the Ozark country. An old granny near Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, told me that an ax used for this purpose must be razor-sharp, since a dull ax may do more harm than good.” ~Randolph OMF 200

Under bed for fever – “An axe under the bed will break the fever.” ~Parler FBA II 2226

Under wash pot to stop rain – “Put an axe under a wash pot to keep it from raining.” ~Parler FBA XI 9617

To divert a cyclone – “When there is a cyclone coming, put an axe in the ground with the handle pointing in the direction of the cyclone, and the storm will go around.” ~Parler FBA XI 9698

“When a storm cloud threatened, and the folks of the village sought cellars for safety, she would grab an ax, rush into the yard, swing it in the air, calling out widely, ‘I’ll cut ye hyar, I’ll split ye thar.’ Through some kind of witchcraft or magic she would ‘cut the cloud in two’ and break the power of the twister.” ~Rayburn OFE A-13 “Axes”


Sources:

Parler, Mary Celestia - Folk Beliefs of Arkansas
Randolph, Vance - Ozark Magic and Folklore
Rayburn, Otto Ernest - Ozark Folk Encyclopedia 

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love

"If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

"myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

"while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…”

—  Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard via sappho.com
No Word

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know well) whom you leave shackled by love

If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared"

all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…

- Sappho

Sappho: I Have Not Had One Word From Her

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love

“If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

“all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

“myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

“while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…”

Edible Fungi Interview with Olga (smugtownmushrooms)

How did you get into foraging for mushrooms?

It started about 8 years ago… I was always interested in botany and was taking a course at our local Community College, when I stumbled across the ever most inspiring class called “The Natural History of Rochester” taught by the genius Steve Daniel. This professor knew everything growing, forming and singing in the natural world around us.  He inspired me to take a deeper look outside of the Plant Kingdom and dwell deeper into other realms.  One class though was the trigger… we went to a local park that is one of the only places in Western New York that has naturally occuring ponds that were once formed by glaciers 12,000 years ago, on that day we found over a hundred different varieties of Fungi and about 40 pounds worth that were edible.  I was like, “Are you serious? There’s free food by the pounds in the forest? Breakfast, Lunch and DInner!” At first it was all about the food aspect but the more I studied and became immersed into Fungi I realized they held secrets to food sovereignty, health and becoming closer to the natural world.

What is your most fond foraging experience?

Oh dear, how do I count thy ways?? Every experience is amazing.  Its always great finding a huge haul the second you walk into the forest.  Its almost like welcome gift by the forest faeries or something.  But as I have already mentioned,  I live in the Great Lakes bio-region in Rochester NY. Where the weather in early spring can be either a foot of snow still or eighty degrees.  Last spring, in early May we had classic mid Spring temperature, blooming Lilacs and Magnolias all around, temperatures in the favor of the growing season ahead.  One day, we decide to take a hike to a new woodlot to look for the elusive Morel.  Which, at that time, I still have not had the privilege to find and try.  Well, that day was a warning of high winds and a blizzard!! Yet we still hike and are on our hands and knees in the under brush, plucking our first Morels we have ever found!  Days before we are sunbathing and that day, wet, cold, snow is hitting our faces, and we are wrapped in wool, romping around the woods with a basket filled with our first Morels ever!!  Oh the glory!

Do you have a favorite mushroom?

Its hard to pin point a favorite! Believe it or not I love finding Amanitas, of all kinds, A. muscaria for the sense that THIS mushroom may have created consciousness as we know it and A. phalloides for being a potent killer, the toughest mushroom in the forest. That it has the power to take life is SO powerful and to be in its presence is quite humbling. But this past fall I was in the Pacific Northwest and found my first cauliflower mushroom or Sparassis crispa!  Lordy lord what a beauty and a delicious find. I have to say this species might be my new favorite edible out there.  But the list could go on..and on..

Is there a mushroom you are really wanting to find?

Hmmm…Well my love affair for Amanitas make it tempting to find an edible variety out there.  My family originates from the mountains of Greece and when I visit there, the natives always harp that the Amanita caesarea is the best.  Alas, when I have gone to visit, its not in season.  One day!! I shall eat an Amanita!  But runner up would be Lepiota americana.  I feel like Ive found these dozens of times but havent had the proper IDing or confidence that it was what it was, so I’ve always tossed these potential edibles to the compost pile.  As they say: When in doubt, throw it out!

—-

Want to be interviewed? Answer the questions above & include a favourite picture of yourself foraging or mushrooms you have picked and submit! If you don’t have a tumblr, you can email me at zoeenuage@gmail.com. Make sure to include a link to your tumblr or any sites of yours that you want to share. Interviews are posted on Tuesdays whenever possible.

His baby girl

Originally posted by lyricalarrow

“Mor-“ Felicity started, but was interrupted by a long yawn,”-ning.”

Chuckling, Oliver turned his head over his shoulder to look at her. She was standing in the door frame with messy bed head and dressed in one of his white shirts. Oliver smiled. He had always thought that she was the most beautiful when she was looking like that, natural without any effort.

“Morning,” he replied, turning his attention back to the omelet. “How did you sleep?”

Keep reading

I Have Not Had One Word from Her

by Sappho

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead.
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to
me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love

If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song …”

The Black Winter ((closed rp for indepenndentalsoomse))

       A girl, about seventeen or eighteen, was walking through a twisted dark woodland called, The Dark Grove. There were legends and stories of fairies and spirits that live in the woods, anyone with sense stayed away. Of course this girl was not normal: she had long white unruly hair that spiked in some places, turquoise colored eyes; with unusually shaped irises, and pale skin -like a frozen corps. The girl was bare foot and wore the cloths of peasants-a long dark brown dress with loose long sleeves, a light brown tunic, a brown leather vest, a belt, and a long wool cloak. She also had an ice blue scarf rapped around her neck, that was one of the many things that made her stand out against the dark background of the wood. She also carried a long shepherds crook, the wood was twisted and it looked vary old. A hunting knife was strapped to her belt, for hunting purposes, and a quiver and bow were strapped to her back. If her appearance did not strike as odd, then her abilities did. Sometimes when she made contact with something, frost patterns would form.  It wouldn’t matter what it was, if she made bodily contact with it frost would cover it. However, it only happened sometimes. But, recently, it  has been happening more often. This girl was named Jacky, Jacky Frost of The Dark Grove.

      The reason why Jacky was out in the woodlot today was to collect fire wood for her little cottage, Jacky’s cottage was make of well placed stone and a thatched roof. It was small, but sturdy. It could stand up to the harsh winters. Which was why Jacky was collecting wood this evening, the winters were dark, cold, and harsh. Though, in recent years, the cold hasn’t really bothered her. Hints, the reason why she was bare foot.