My intention when I began this blog was to create a place to share reflections, essays, prose, poems and photos of the creatures that I have met or may yet encounter in the forest here in the western mountains of Maine or elsewhere.

As an cognitive ethologist and psychologist (Jungian therapist) when I observe animal behavior in the wild I am always asking myself what the animal might be thinking. I pay particular attention to the relationship that develops between an animal and myself over time. I also question the role of projection on my part when I am pulled into an animal’s field of influence without understanding why. Most important I follow gut feelings and any nudges when observing any animal. I am a woman with Native American roots – is that why I make the assumption that every creature has something to teach me? I think of the natural world as being a place of deep learning and wonder.

It is my experience that intention and attention on the part of the observer opens a magic door, and once over the threshold inter-species communication becomes possible. I would like to invite others to cross that threshold with me.

As a feminist, ritual artist, and a writer I am Her advocate, that is, Nature’s advocate. I believe that when I write about the animals and plants I am giving voice to their truths as well as my own.

I developed an intimate relationship with the black bear in the above photo for a number of years while I was engaged in an independent, trust based study of his kinship group (15 years). Little Bee interacted with me on a regular basis but always preferred to “hide” behind a screen of leaves and saplings while doing so. Whenever I was around him I felt touched by “Bare Grace”.

Please feel free to comment. I would love to communicate with anyone who wants to share experiences they have had in Nature or simply make observations about what I have written.

If you would like more information about me, please read the essay on how I became a Naturalist…

Unfortunately, I am dyslexic with numbers and directions and have a difficult time with the computer in general and with WordPress in particular so I ask the reader to forgive me for the errors I will surely continue to make.

Sara Wright


I am spending the winter in Abiquiu New Mexico and am currently using my blog as a journal of my experiences in this mysteriously beautiful place. I ask that the reader bear with me as I continue this process… some entries will, of course, be about my relationship with animals, but others will not.

With deep appreciation,



Honoring the Animals: The Seeds of Friendship



All Pictures taken by Jeff Beeman, except the one of Shawnee taken by me.

Jeff Beeman became my first real friend in Abiquiu. I first met him when I walked by his house to wander up the arroyo back into the little round hills. Jeff’s home and business are perched on a rise that overlooks the Chama river valley with the mountain range I call “the reptiles” that hover over the n/eastern horizon with the Pedernal marking the spot from the south. Sunsets are stunning from this location, but the view was not what drew me to this place.

Jeff’s animals were the reason I first stopped by. I noticed that the large and immaculately kept enclosure housed my favorite farm animal, the mini- donkey, and Jeff had three of them so I was anxious to get to know each one personally. When I discovered these animals were equally anxious to make my acquaintance, I was delighted. Shawnee, an older mini – donkey (all three are 16 to 18 years old) immediately stole my heart, and before long seeing them on the daily hikes I took with my two dogs became something we all looked forward to.

Jeff and I had a lot in common, I realized, because of our mutual love for all animals. I was impressed by the way he took such good care of all of his non – human friends, and how much they adored him, following him around and standing at the fence to be noticed the second he popped out of the house!

Jeff also impressed me with his honesty. I gravitate towards folks who are upfront with their opinions regardless of whether I agree with them or not. Over the following months I also met a lot of his guests, who seemed equally impressed with Jeff’s attention to detail as a host. Many of his people have been returning to his Casita(s) for years.

But back to my story… It wasn’t long before the other animals, one a magnificent horse (that became my favorite horse in the world because he was so gentle and sweet natured) captured my affection. I had been uneasy around horses most of my life because they seemed so high strung, but Buster, an American Paint Horse, given to Jeff a couple of years ago, changed my perceptions with his loving and sometimes very humorous attentions. Buster has a habit of pulling shirt sleeves to get more attention! And when I am inside his enclosure he has a tendency to lean on me, which is always a shock because Buster is a very big horse and I am a little person!

All Jeff’s animals except for Buster are rescue animals. The two Llamas, Cinder and Cusco, were a bit introverted at first, paying close attention to us but keeping their distance too. I promised myself that I would make friends with them in time. Sadly, not long after Jeff and I became friends Cinder had to be put down, and the other, Cusco, became even more distant – even depressed. Jeff was deeply concerned about him and I could really feel the depth of that concern on a visceral level. Cusco would watch me intently with his beautiful black pools for eyes, sometimes positioned behind a shredded juniper. He seemed too lonely, even with the other animals close by, and this sense I had made me even more determined to befriend him. To our mutual amazement (Jeff’s and mine) within a relatively short time, Cusco was approaching me at the fence along with the other donkeys (Sunny and Lolita), Shawnee braying the loudest of all.

So many farm animals seem to have lost their souls but not these characters who are clearly people oriented and respond with great enthusiasm to attention once they are befriended. It took a couple of months before all of them started a conversation with me every time I walked by! I had to teach them that I would visit on my way back from a hike because otherwise they wanted me to stop each way, and often I was trying to stay ahead of the heat because my little dogs don’t like to walk in the hot sun except during mid – winter.

When Copper and Forest were rescued I was thrilled because I hadn’t seen any alpacas since I lived in Peru, and I had become attached to one while living there. These two were so friendly and so funny to watch as they cavorted around. When Jeff had their hair shaved off for the warmer months he left each with fuzzy topknots. For the summer they were given what I would call a sail cloth to provide them (and the others) with more open shade to help keep them cool, and they also received fly masks.

With Jeff’s permission I fed them organic carrots last fall (all but Cusco, who could only eat pellets). I think it was around Christmas that Jeff started leaving a pail of pellets for me to feed my friends but I was cautioned to feed only a few to each animal, because overeating was a threat to their health.

I was amazed at how gentle all these animals were with my five and six pound Chihuahuas, and felt safe enough to allow them to interact on a regular basis. Sometimes though, I just wanted to be with one of Jeff’s crowd and that was when Jeff put up a hook so I could keep Hope and Lucy away from their enclosure while I visited.

Leaving Abiquiu for the summer was made so much more difficult because I knew that it would be a few months before I got to see all my barnyard friends again. I miss all of them a lot.

One day soon, I hope, I will be surprising Shawnee, Lolita, Sunny, Buster, Cusco, and the sprites, Forest and Copper with a return visit from me.

Sacred Datura Sings in the Rain


Last night I was sitting out on the porch listening to the rain. The sweet scent of water wafted in through the open window as the song Tree of Life was playing softly in the dark. In my heart I was thanking each and every tree, especially those trees that surrounded the house for their protective canopies and for their steadfast love and support over so many years… My Trees had become Sisters; we developed deeply personal relationships and more fluid boundaries over time. These friendships, already established with apple trees as a child and young woman, intensified in my early 40’s when my children first left home.

Trees and plants gradually taught me how to respect myself as a woman who had been rejected by her family, although I have no idea how they accomplished this feat. All I know is that at some point I was no longer able to separate my love for trees/plants from this woman that I was coming to respect. Both trees and plants often came to me in dreams, and occasionally a tree would utter a single word or two while I was walking in the forest, but mostly I just felt all of them caring about me. I am convinced that trees also brought me two women who became the sisters I never had… My gratitude for all plant life was peaking as the song was playing, a visceral response to the rain, the night, the stillness, and my enduring love for trees and plants.

It was in this frame of mind that I first heard something singing. Assuming it must be an unknown tree frog I went to screen and opened it. Strangely the sound seemed to be coming from the west, so I was surprised that the song didn’t increase in intensity when I stepped outdoors. I came back in and opened a west window in my bedroom – nothing. Returning to the porch I just stood there baffled. Where was the song coming from?

Earlier, that evening I brought in my Sacred Datura plant to protect her from possible heavy winds and the coming rain and placed the large ungainly pot on the porch table for the night.

After bringing her across country all the way from New Mexico (much to my companion’s dismay) and settling her outdoors in Maine, I watched her first fragrant moon blossom open just days after we arrived. I tended her lovingly, carefully removing any damaged leaves, watered her frequently, fertilized her, and told her how beautiful she was, remembering how I had nurtured her as a germinating seed… All summer this plant has had blossoms most of which open around dusk much to my continuous astonishment and delight. I discovered that I could actually watch as each flower unfurled, beginning with a lavender tinted spiral that would open into the most exquisite lavender tipped moonflower within about 15 – 20 minutes if I paid close attention. Needless to say I am in love with this Lady of the Night.

When I walked towards the Datura in the dark last evening, the singing suddenly stopped. I stood there rooted to the floor. Stunned. It had been the plant that was singing. My mind couldn’t comprehend what I was experiencing. When the Datura began her song again as I stood before her, I turned on a light. The singing ceased. Darkness brought the song to life again. I listened intently, awed slipping into another state of awareness, “the space in between” where time ceases to exist, and now is all there is.

Later, as I returned to a normal state of consciousness my mind buzzed, sending me to the computer to research relationships between the Datura and bugs because by then it had dawned on me that it must have been insects that were singing from somewhere inside that plant!

I researched what botanists called mutualism and what I call relationships that develop between plants and insects ( isn’t it amazing the lengths humans will go to distance themselves from other non -human species?). Thus far I have learned that the tomato hornworm loves the alkaloids that are present in Datura and gains protection from feasting on the leaves of this poisonous plant. Both the water scorpion (Nepa cinerea) and the saucer bug (Ilyocaris) have relationships with this plant, and night scarabs hide in the blossoms and emit a buzzing sound but no blossoms were open last night. I learned that leaf notchers puncture holes in the leaves that I had been carefully removing all summer. I also already knew that the Datura plant is only pollinated by the Hawk Moth, which is present in Maine as well as the desert areas in which Datura grows naturally.

But who was doing the actual singing remains a mystery. Evidently, I am going to have to do a lot more research to identify the chorus!

Last night after this remarkable incident I had a simple little dream:

I am with my brother Davey who is very young in the dream although I am my present age. My brother’s hair was shorter than it was at the time of his suicide. I am introducing him to many others and I am so proud and happy I could burst.

When I awakened from this dream I felt heartsick with grief because even though Davey has been dead since he was 21 (and I was 24) I still think of him constantly. I will miss him all days of my life… If he had lived we could have shared what would have been a whole life together… I mourn too because he was my soul mate. And when he died, some part of me died with him.

Reflecting on the possible meaning behind this dream I suddenly remembered that the one thing Davey and I did not share in our brief naturalist lives together was his love of bugs. And last night, I probably had a visitation from some kind of singing insect. Might this incident have been my brother contacting me from beyond the grave?

In my world where plants start singing in the rain of their own accord, virtually anything is possible.IMG_2269.JPG

Postscript 8/18/17

I am still unable to track down an explanation for this “singing” Datura after many hours of research. I have reached the conclusion that maybe no one has heard this plant singing before?

What I didn’t know at the the time was that this experience preceded a potentially life – changing personal event in my life that involved “breaking ground” in New Mexico that occurred the following day.

What follows below are the words to the song that was playing when the plant started singing.


Beggar’s Blocks and Blind Man’s Fancy,
Boston Corners and Beacon Lights,
Broken Starts and Buckeye Blossoms
Blooming on the Tree of Life.

Cho: Tree of Life, quilted by the lantern light,
Every stitch a leaf upon the Tree of Life.
Stitch away, sisters, stitch away.

Hattie’s Choice (Wheel of Fortune), and High Hosanna (Indiana),
Hills and Valleys (Sweet Wood Lilies)
and Heart’s Delight (Tail of Benjamin’s Kite),
Hummingbird (Hovering Gander) in Honeysuckle (Oleander),
Blooming on the Tree of Life.

We’re only known as someone’s mother,
Someone’s daughter, or someone’s wife,*
But with our hands and with our vision,
We make the patterns on the Tree of Life.

* I would add someone’s sister.

The Datura literally sang over this song, forcing me to turn off the music to understand the strange music that I was hearing.

I must add that I knew the singer Gordon Bok as a young girl who came to Monhegan Island ME on the Victory Chimes to sing his songs at the schoolhouse. Trained as a classical guitarist Gordon fell in love with the sea and began his career which continues to this day as a folksinger. I have loved his work all my adult life, and in particular this song.


Losing Your Children to Patriarchy*



There are many ways to lose your children. Some parents endure the death of a child from illness or accident. Others, like my own parents, lost their only son to suicide.


I lost my children to the dominant culture. Of course, as a young twenty one year old mother I colluded in this process without knowing it. First by repeating the cycle of abuse I had been born into, and then making a series of poor choices as a young woman and mother.


I grew up in a terrifying abusive family, one that looked like the “American Dream”- great from the outside – rotten from within. Living in an upper middle class environment in a “nice” house in the country in upper Westchester New York my father ran a successful business and my mother was a stay at home housewife and artist. Both considered themselves academics because each had attended the colleges of their choice, although my mother never received an undergraduate degree. My father was an immigrant who came to this country from Italy when he was 12 and put himself and his brothers through college becoming an aeronautical engineer in the process. My mother, an only child, came from a family of privilege and she never let anyone forget that, particularly her daughter who she treated like a servant.


Inside our family walls unspeakable violence of all kinds occurred. Both of my parents drank – a lot. My mother used deathly silence as a means to control her husband and children, sometimes refusing to speak to the perceived offender for a week. Sometimes, she inexplicably left home for days. I was so terrorized by the threat of those silences/abandonment that I did anything my mother wanted me to, giving up my personal self in the process. My father’s explosive rages kept both his children walking on egg – shells whenever he was around which fortunately was only on weekends. We both hated him, gravitating towards our mother who seemingly was the better of the two because she endured this abusive behavior although she struck out at her children instead.


Theirs was a marriage made in hell. Silence and Rage make poor bed partners, and I remember begging my mother to divorce my father when I was barely six years old (it is astonishing to me that I knew what divorce meant at that age).


To escape my family I went away to college and got married.


My abusive drunken husband threw me down the stairs when I was three months pregnant with my first child.


Four years later my brother killed himself just after graduating from Harvard.


Single motherhood became the worst nightmare in my life after the loss of my only brother who I adored.


As a suicide survivor I believed that I owed my parents my children and willingly surrendered them whenever my parents wanted them (a prime example of what survivor’s guilt can do).


How did I manage to forget what it had been like living with people like that?


It wasn’t until mid –life after having made the terminal mistake of letting my parents “parent” my children that I began to suspect that something was very wrong with them, and that maybe I wasn’t the whole problem after all.


By that time I was divorced, my children were grown, and both had left home. It was too late to repair the damage. I didn’t understand at the time that my children had internalized the very worst of their grandparents’ patriarchal values of “power over” and were embracing my parents’ view about how defective their daughter was as a human being.


I began to craft my own authentic life.


I thought time would soften my children’s vicious treatment of me.


I didn’t realize that my children thrived on this sense of having emotional power over their mother.


Power Over, not Love.


I am ashamed to admit that I kept trying to repair the damage with both of my children up until this year, enduring the silent treatment, endless bullying, and verbal abuse at the hands of my youngest son after my oldest simply shut the door on our relationship 25 years ago.


This is not to say that eventually I didn’t became aware of what had/was happening.


I did, but like Cinderella, I kept “hope” alive for a different ending.


Until now.


This spring the chains that once bound me as a sorrowing mother snapped and I was set free.


Grace intervened.


At this point in my life I respect who I have become too much to sanction more “family” (familiar) abuse.


Still, it is frightening to acknowledge how our personal accounts repeat themselves over generations without interruption.


These family stories are bigger and more powerful than we can ever know, creating a cautionary tale for those who think they have escaped abusive situations. We either repeat the story, or embrace its opposite. In rare cases, if we have the courage, we can break the cycle, something I hope that I am doing today.


First Harvest Moon (The Blueberry Moon – 2017)

Published on the day of my youngest son’s 49th birthday.






The word Patriarchy requires an explanation:


Historically, Patriarchy was defined as “The Power of the Fathers.”


This definition is partially correct. Patriarchy is a hierarchal system of domination that thrives on white lower, middle, and upper class men (and some male identified women) having power over other less fortunate individuals especially other women.


Carol Christ defines Patriarchy as a system of power that seeks to control women through their sexuality.


However we define it, Patriarchy is a destructive system that is endemic to our culture and is mirrored by the collective in countless ways including our insatiable need to “control” nature.


(As an eco – feminist I believe that what we do to nature we do to women. A poignant example is the way we continue to sanction rape of both women and the trees that provide us with oxygen to breathe).


An equally horrifying example is the attempt by the dominant culture to control a woman’s right to have an abortion. A woman’s right to choose is just that – a basic human right to have control over her bodily processes including pregnancy.


I have worked with women for most of my life, and I have never met a woman who didn’t struggle with the right to choose abortion, and then have to deal with the guilt and shame she endured as a result of making the choice to end a pregnancy.


As a naturalist/ethologist I am struck by how nature has built in abortion as a response to too much stress in most non – human species, if not all. If the mother in question does not have enough food or resources to survive, spontaneous abortions occur without danger to the mother. Survival of the potential mother comes first.


Black bears, for example, practice something called delayed implantation, which means that the mother mates in the spring, but the fetus will not develop unless that mother has sufficient food and has gained enough weight to survive hibernation. If she has, cubs will be born and cared for while the mother is denning during the winter.


In my own life I experienced a spontaneous abortion after leaving my abusive alcoholic husband. I had no money, no place to live, one toddler and one 6 month old baby (I went to work as a waitress). Without support from my family I did not see any way through this horrific situation until Nature mercifully stepped in and ended a third pregnancy.


Most desperate women are not as fortunate.


I have come to embrace Carol Christ’s belief that Patriarchy is primarily a system that seeks to control woman through every aspect of her sexuality. The obscene emphasis on the way women are supposed to stay “ young” is yet another way we cage our women like the animals we consume so mindlessly, objectifying ourselves and animals without consent or compassion.


As women, we still struggle to develop an identity beyond being someone’s mother, wife, grandmother, servant.

Christina’s World: Longing for Home



In early July my companion and I went to the Farnsworth Museum to see the Andrew Wyeth exhibit of watercolors and drawings. I have loved Wyeth’s work since I was a young woman. The Farnsworth was a museum I visited every time I stayed in Rockland overnight on my way to Monhegan.


I moved to Monhegan Island year round after graduating from college, having married a local fisherman to get there. I walked through every patch of woods and on the cliff trails every single day sometimes coming upon Andrew as he was painting, tucked away in some craggy nook. We exchanged few words, but like so many other people, I had fallen in love with his work and when I moved into my house on Southport a portrait of Christina’s World found purchase in the center of the mantelpiece over the fireplace, where it hung for 27 years, the entire time I lived there.


I added a Wyeth painting of mayflowers next, and later when the kitchen was added on, a third painting, Blue Door, graced its piney walls. My children grew up with those paintings…


When Andrew’s first book was published, my grandmother gave it to me for my birthday. I kept the book open upstairs in my bedroom, changing pictures with the passing of the seasons or by what seemed like whim at the time.


As a daughter of an artist and a naturalist by nature and temperament I was drawn to Andrew’s work because he took the simplest subject and made it into something that I wanted to look at for the rest of my young life. A broom, a bucket, a door, a basket of blueberries took on an air of depth and mystery. I loved too, that Andrew painted realistically because I had fallen in love with Nature as a child. I had trouble relating to abstract art even though I had been extensively exposed to it living in the metropolitan New York area for much of my early life. I absorbed art like a canvas does, unconsciously.


Because there was no room in my house for two artists, I never pursued art in school becoming instead a watcher or seer, someone who saw beauty not just in museums but everywhere, in natural surroundings, but I rarely attempted to draw anything besides stylized pictures in my journals.


After I moved to the mountains I put away those paintings, although I didn’t understand just why except that this coastal part of my life was over. The last time I looked at Christina’s World I felt so uncomfortable that I turned the painting towards the wall even though it was in my upstairs closet.


Another artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, became my muse, first with her depiction of the flowers I loved so much, and later with her stunning and more abstract art of “her” desert, a place I longed to visit … I loved the way Georgia was able to paint the essence of a flower or place


Imagine my astonishment when I re- discovered Andrew’s work through old eyes some 50 years after I had first been exposed to it. When I first entered the museum (which I no longer recognized, so much had changed) I was pulled back into the past in a most poignant way; the power of those paintings to move me almost overwhelmed me with tears.


In a sense I felt that I had come full circle and had returned to a place in the beginning…We spent many hours viewing both the watercolors and the drawings, some of which I had never seen before.


Blue Door, I was stunned to discover, still drew me in much the same way it had when I was young. What, I wondered was behind that light filled wooden door that so mesmerized me? I dearly wanted a print of that same painting, not knowing what had happened to the other during moving, and my very generous companion graciously bought one for me.


When I first saw Christina’s World the room spun around me crazily with revelation. For the first time I understood that the reason I had been so drawn to that painting as a young woman was because I had been crippled emotionally, just as Christina had been crippled physically. I had been longing for “home” for most of my life and had no way of reaching this place except by crawling on the ground like a snake or a vine might, to make its way towards a distant house, staying close to the Earth, the only mother I had ever known.




We spent that night in Tenants Harbor, a small seaside town where I once took the Laura B, the mailboat to Monhegan, sixteen nautical miles away. The quaint little harbor was still filled with working lobster boats I was happy to note, and I could see Burnt Island in the distance. Later, I suddenly became very ill, and in retrospect believe that the emotional shock of re-entering the past in such a powerful way had triggered this attack. The next morning we returned to the museum to finish seeing the exhibit.


An “extra –ordinary” experience.

Blueberries for Bears


Above: Andrew Wyeth Print


This morning I went to our local blueberry festival and ate blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce and started home with three quarts of blueberries, one of which was delivered to my friend Roy who is almost 102 years old.


A second quart went to the bears who are already under fire for the coming slaughter which begins this month…that quart contains a bevy of earth bear prayers.


The third quart became the blueberry sauce that I lovingly make every single year in honor of this Turning of the Wheel. The month of August signals the beginning of the harvest and for me, like gathering the first ripening pods, making blueberry sauce speaks to my participation in the great round, a holy undertaking.


The recipe I use is one that I created, but it has its roots in this wild blueberry festival and the local folk, the men and women who painstakingly pick the berries. Traditionally it is still the women who make pies, muffins, tarts, and cakes to sell – but for me the lure is those fresh berries picked with so much love and attention to detail (no green berries end up in these quarts).


As I am stirring the sauce, my mouth literally waters in anticipation of what’s to come and at the end of the cooking time, I scoop up spoons of this deep blue concoction savoring the flavors while staining my mouth and teeth an impossible dark purple! Making blueberry sauce is a wonderful way to preserve the fresh fruit and once the season has passed, opening a jar of the sauce brings late summer back to the table.


My young pine forest was once a field that provided me with more berries than I could ever eat. The field fed birds of all kinds, coyotes, foxes, and mice, voles, and squirrels, while bears combed the steep field with claws raking whole bunches into their mouths at once; We all feasted on Nature’s bounty and I felt such child-like gratitude to be part of what was then, still an unbroken whole. Memories of time spent with my little brother picking berries for my grandmother’s pies were startlingly vivid during that period as were those spent with my youngest son, who once loved to gather both strawberries and blueberries for the pies and muffins I used to make. Those days are gone now along with most of my berries, though I still know places along the pond where high bush berries and huckleberries still grow in abundance.


Today I thought about my two beloved women friends Iren and Harriet and wished that somehow I could have spirited them both from their kitchens to mine to smell and taste this sauce, the color of which defies categorization.


Perhaps I think of them because creating delicious concoctions from wild berries is an ancient practice that women have been engaged in since the beginning of humankind.

Too Young to Know



In this late summer season of baiting

the unwary,

where can a little bear go

to be safe from human predation?

He must travel to find his territory.


This question haunts me

even as I imagine Bb

combing sweet blue berries

with curved claw and paw

on a speckled granite mountain slope.


The young are too trusting.


Survival drives all bears to

bait sites where men with guns

wait, hiding like cowards

inside huts camouflaged in dull green.

One explosive blue flash

And white death claims another innocent body –


The Spirit of Nature keens

at the mindless loss

of one of her own

as I do, imagining.


The young are too trusting.


But it is also true that few wild

creatures young or old

have learned the ways

of man and his obsessive need to kill

if not a bear, then a hapless turkey, elk,

red fawn, or antlered deer.

All this slaughter for bone, skin, or roaring head

stuck on someone’s wall.


Nature provides a safe haven

for those fortunate to live

within her forested embrace, but

the trees are dying from disease

and relentless human logging.

Great holes rip

open the sky,

the sun beats down

turning to tinder,

damp ground

where mushrooms once grew

in abundance…

Fires burn out of control.

The forest is disappearing

even as the mist rises

out of this once peaceful mountain valley…



The young are too trusting to know.