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.

As it turns out I am presently a “snowbird” having returned to Abiquiu for the winter and spring of 2017 and 2018.

With deep appreciation,




Growing New Roots


(this photo was taken through the lens of a bottle that holds precious new roots)


Recently I lost a plant that I had a deeply personal relationship with for thirteen years. The grief I experienced felt overwhelming because it took three months for this plant to die and I did everything I could to save her.


Last year I had given my friend Iren the “mother” of my dead passionflower plant as a gift, never imagining that her daughter would be dead a year later. When my friend gave me cuttings from the mother plant, I hovered over them like an anxious and somewhat frantic mother for weeks, bringing them into our bedroom at night to sleep with my dogs, bird, and me.


I had learned that propagating this plant through cuttings seemed impossible for others, although I seemed to be able to root them myself. Eventually, after rooting at least 50 plants for people over a period of about ten years, I reached the conclusion that my emotional connection to this plant must be the key to my ability to propagate them because no one else I knew was able to do so.


Every morning I peered into the bottle of cuttings anxiously, fearing that my emotional relationship to the passionflower had been severed permanently by the untimely death of the plant I had lost, which by the way, mirrored what had happened to me in my own life in an uncanny way.


A few days ago a solitary bud appeared on one of the cuttings. Although I knew from experience that this bud wouldn’t bloom it indicated that some growth was occurring. Another cutting sprouted a normal leaf, again suggesting something positive was happening…But where were the roots?


And then yesterday morning as I placed the bottle of cuttings in the early morning sun I saw them. Roots! Only one cutting has sprouted an abundance of those precious white filaments, another has a couple of submerged buds. I feel fierce hope brimming… I am frankly overjoyed to be sharing the same space with young rooting passionflowers. And perhaps this passionflower event heralds something similar about finding new roots for me?



Re Weaving the World


(“Heartwood” – Valentine’s Day Gift from artist Iren Schio)


At winter solstice I was becoming physically ill from an intolerable situation involving sleep deprivation during which time I was possessed by the idea of making a wreath. Since I have been weaving wreaths out of balsam greens since I was a child and they have been an intrinsic part of my solstice rituals for almost forty years, I assumed that my not making a wreath was breaking an emotional and spiritual tie and this was why I was so distressed/obsessed.


I knew that my friend Iren had grapevines so I asked her for a few to fashion a small wreath. I was then troubled to discover that even after soaking the vines they remained stiff and un – pliable. Determined not to give up I struggled to form the vines into a circle without success.


By this time I began to suspect that there was more going on than I originally thought because I knew that my inner state usually mirrors what I am experiencing in the world. Certainly, I was not doing well spiritually, emotionally, or physically.


I fought with the vine. Eventually, I formed an ugly distorted round that I had to tie with twine in order to create the semblance of a genuine open sphere. The use of twine forced the vine into a shape it refused to choose on it’s own and that fact alarmed me.


I hung the wreath on a tree outside my window after placing a calcite “dagger” that I had found on the day of the solstice in its center. The calcite gleamed like ice, and this addition to the ugly skeleton wreath felt just right, so I left it.


Shortly, after finishing the wreath I found the strength I needed to make the decision to get myself out of my intolerable situation. Every time I looked at the wreath with it’s dagger I thought that the struggle to make it, ugly as it was, had helped me make a decision I would have done most anything not to make.


When I moved I left the misshapen vine hanging from its tree.


One day, returning for some clothes, I saw the bedraggled wreath that now looked quite pitiful. Feeling sorry for it I picked it up and took it with me not knowing why. Before I left it on the ground outside my door, I removed the dagger. It sat there for about a month, neglected.


When the red willows began to glow, turning that unearthly golden green I decided to use some reeds to add another layer to the wreath. I gathered some, and late one afternoon I sat on the floor at the window and started to thread the willows into the grapevine skeleton. I was delighted to see that a circle was emerging without effort or string! I was re- weaving my world, I suddenly thought with surprise and delight not having a clue what I meant.


When I ran out of reeds I hung the wreath in the living room and every time I passed by it the wreath seemed to remind me that it was a work in progress and that soon I would be weaving some more!


Valentines day dawned and with it came a dark cloud that had been hovering since the day before. I was grieving loss of trust and possibility.


Knowing how important it was to honor my feelings because this was such an important part of self love (if we cannot love ourselves we cannot possibly love others I had learned over the course of my life) Yesterday afternoon I gathered more reeds. Placing them in a vase under the hanging wreath I marveled at the beauty of these willows that grew so straight and true and bent with such grace.


Once again I sat down on the floor and began to weave a third layer of reeds into my wreath. I could still see the places where brown twine peeked through, but at some point I had already decided how important it was to let them be. The original circle had been broken. I needed to witness and stay with that brokenness…


Once again I ran out of reeds and re hung the wreath on the living room wall. This time I felt real satisfaction because the wreath had become thick and strong.


Earlier during the day (before re-weaving for the third time) I had received a beautiful card and a piece of “heartwood” with tiny bones attached to the string from which the wood could be hung. I placed the heart inside the now sturdy hanging wreath and suddenly heard words in my head: “You are re- weaving the world.”*

Thinking this thought to be a form of personal hubris or wishful thinking because I was in an ongoing state of despair over Earth destruction and in particular the lack of desert rain, I ignored the message, finished the third (but probably not final) weaving listening to poet and prophet Bob Dylan’s song “It’s Not Dark Yet But It’s Getting There” feeling both personal and collective grief flowing through me like water.


When I re hung the wreath with it’s new “heartwood” center Bob’s song “You Gotta Serve Somebody” was playing… Oh, he was so right.


Freed from the day’s depression and feeling physically lighter, I had an illumination: By honoring my grief, and acting out this grief by working on my wreath, I was making the choice to love and strengthen my heart self and choosing Life in all its wonder, grief, and complexity.


At the same moment I heard the desert crack and open to the healing balm of falling rain…



In retrospect I think it may be possible that re-weaving one’s own brokenness also may also help the Earth in some unfathomable way.

A Reflection on Love


(Author practices heart shapes for a Valentine’s Day and is struck by the white heart with it’s hole in the center… the Navajo say that it is in these open spaces that the god comes through)


(The Valentine’s Day card and beautiful grained heart shaped wooden heart that Iren, extraordinary artist that she is somehow cut and fashioned into a heart…it is trimmed with bones – just right. Another treasure)


In this land of scarlet sunrises the desert skies are muted on this Valentine’s Day morning. A few shark gray clouds slide by as I watched for the rising sun star to peak through a “hole” in the center of bare trees that lace the horizon. This space seems to hold the sun like a lover on most days. Today its light is diffused.


In the Russian Olive a cloud of Redwings sing love songs, celebrating their love for each other and the coming of spring. They rejoice daily, oblivious to the fact that in this soul destroying culture we celebrate love with a capital “L” with red hearts and flowers for only one day a year. The skeptic looks scornful when I remark mildly to myself that even one day is better than none. But is it?


This year I sneeked over to my neighbors’ studio early this morning to leave a homemade card (yes, it had red hearts) that I hope will express my gratitude for the deep friendship and affection I feel for these two people every single day of my life. The point here is to remind myself that there are authentic reasons to participate in Valentines Day.


For all practical purposes I had given up what I consider to be a day devoted to Collective Sentimentality but this year was an exception. I have found friends in this place who see the Earth with eyes that mirror my own visions in Nature, and this has been a gift beyond all imagining and well worth a red heart celebration.


I cannot afford to be sentimental about human love that even at its best is always conditional (I include myself in this ocean of humanity).


As a child having suffered the ravages of constant criticism, rejection, invisibility, and human cruelty, I turned to Nature to find what I needed. And S/he did not disappoint me.


I found love in my grandmother’s flower gardens swarming with bees and the brilliance of impossible hues, scents that perfumed the sweet Earth leaving my nose in a state of ecstasy. Maybe that’s why my first word was “fower.” The Goddess of Flowers came to me as First Mother, rising out of the sea like a Botticelli Venus.


S/he came on the wings of every white moon and under the hooves of the red deer that grazed under my grandmother’s golden apple tree.


I also found love in the trees that I leaned against, climbed, hugged, even slept in. They whispered love songs as I slept against rough bark.


In retrospect though, it was my relationship with dogs that was the bedrock of my learning about Love. the depth of their capacity for this emotion astonished me. They loved me because I was, when humans turned away. They loved me when I was sad and angry, when joy overflowed, when melancholy struck. They loved me! I couldn’t get beyond the wonder I found in their ability to continue to see me even as I slowly became invisible to myself.


Initially, dogs were probably my most important teachers… As I write these words I look at the two lying here on the bed with me as I write. One, with her bulging coal black eyes peering into my own as she stretches out lazily, four paws in the air, the other dreaming as her tail wags, her precious little body rising and falling with each breath. “My two little girls” I call them as I celebrate each day of our lives together including today!


Dogs throughout my life offered their Love as safety and comfort, freedom from anxiety qualities that I needed to help me survive. But most of all my dogs embodied TRUST, the one quality I must experience to some degree (or the illusion of it) in order to feel affection for any human.


Dogs are predictable – not mercurial – even on bad days. Unlike people, they always mean what they say. Their actions are predicated on what they feel. Not what they think. No room for chess games where people are used as pawns. Even when dogs act out their trickster sides it is never with the intention to harm.


Dogs also opened the door to my becoming a naturalist because it seemed to me as a child that all animals embodied the qualities of “dog” so I wanted to know more about every non-human species that lived on the planet! This obsession remains with me today.


Communication between myself and other species developed quite naturally through my ongoing experiences with birds, skunks, groundhogs, otters, beavers, to name a few (although my conditioning prevented me from believing what I knew to be true for years). Some call this form of communication without words telepathy, I call it an aspect of Love.


When Lily b. a collared dove came into my life as a free flying housebird 27 years ago he read my mind almost from the beginning, cementing my belief in telepathy forever. Today, for example, he bellowed out his song when I wrote about the necessity of trust re-affirming the truth that trust is more essential than any other quality I need to experience the emotion I call love.


Eventually my fascination with animals brought black bears to my door and I have spent the last twenty years of my life as their student. I have learned more and more about communication (verbal, behavioral, and telepathic) grounding my present perspective in “black bear” reality.


There is one wild bear, a namesake, that I reach out to today thanking him for his unconditional love and teaching. That bear, still a sub adult, has survived last fall’s slaughter, I know now, and still dreams beneath a tangle of tree roots somewhere in what is left of a tortured forest above my cabin on a mountain in Maine. I wear a black bear fetish, carved by Zuni artist Stuart Quandelacy with its red Heartline touching the skin around my heart, a concrete reminder of our deep connection through space/time through relationship and our dreaming. If this bear is to survive he must move north soon after emerging from his den this spring, and so I send these words of encouragement his way each and every day.


In my personal life, aside from friends and my love of the Earth and her creatures, and the gift of my own creativity, I experience this day as a time of grieving for all that has been lost. People I loved who died, lost children… and most recently, TRUST in a relationship that was broken, probably irrevocably.


My grief is small but part of the great swell of humanity. Poignancy on this (too often) sentimental collective day of love seems more than appropriate. It feels like reality.




I had no sooner finished this reflection when I opened the door to find a Valentine’s Day card from my beloved neighbor. She always knows…


Thank you Iren for being.

S/he is Always Changing



I am struck with wonder when I contemplate how Nature announces the change of seasons and manifests them in such concrete ways…


February 2, the day the bear emerges to see if he can see his shadow (yes, it is the bear and not groundhog),   the first robin sang his plaintive love song from the Russian Olive tree at dawn, even as a brilliant golden eye rose out of bare trees across the river. A flock of white winged doves arrived cooing for their breakfast while redwings chattered from the highest trees, the males perched highest, trilling that mating song that heralds the coming of spring.


Back further in the hills a cloud of mountain bluebirds, cobalt on the wing, signaled the shift, and the sandhill cranes followed suit announcing their arrival with unearthly cries. The Great Horned owls are silent, their mating season is over and now the focus is on raising their young who are already born and will fledge in less than a month from towering sandstone castles.


I marvel at the peach tree branches that Iren has given me, buds which are already in full bloom. The delicate five petaled pink flowers with filaments of yellow anthers take my breath away!


The twinkling lights in my vase that once accompanied the long winter nights are gone, replaced by red willows that provide stark contrast against pure white walls. Some slender twigs are tinged with pale green, yet another sign of spring. On the desert floor tiny plants like filigree hug the sandy arroyos but are already greening. Cottonwood buds swell.


And yet, with all this glory, there is heartbreak. The windstorms that roar out of the west darkening the skies with hope for precipitation, only to disappear like smoke, leave the parched desert floor even drier than before. A once raging sea green river barely ripples over once sunken stones. I feel thirst driven like the plants and trees around me, feeling their screams in the stillness of dawn. They can survive anything but lack of water.


The ravages of climate change are upon us, and those of us who love the Earth feel our grief growing, a great underground serpent of sorrow…for Water is Life and without it even the hardy junipers with their deep taproots will not be able to stand another year of drought. In some places here even the sage is dying. Fire is an ongoing threat that worsens with each day.


Every moment I can, I remind myself to concentrate on gratitude. This is a survival tool to counter the despair that lurks under this global threat that may eventually engulf us all.


I deliberately align myself with life, planting the first wild seeds of Sacred Datura that I readied during the Blood Moon, Bear Moon or Datura’s Moon (I think of this moon as belonging to all three) on January 31st, marveling over the fact that this tiny speck holds inside its case the DNA that codes for protein, and more mysterious, the form of the plant that will one day emerge to become a stunning bush with purple tinged trumpet like flowers, fragrant beyond imagining.


There is an element of teleology present as each seed taps into its collective memory to grow into its own unique form, (this collective memory is present in all Nature according to Biologist Rupert Sheldrake and all living things tap into their own biological “fields” which are soul – like and surround not just plants but people pulling them into the shapes of who they will become and already are). Between the two, each seed is Nature’s miracle in the making.


Last night, when the skies darkened with potential rain clouds I lit candles and sat at the west window working willow reeds into a grapevine wreath that I struggled in vain to construct at winter solstice. I have been making wreaths since a child so I was deeply distressed that this one even after the vines had a good soaking in hot water never came together. In the end I had to use string to tie the lopsided form.


Because I believe that what is happening inside affects what one creates I finally abandoned the project leaving the skeleton wreath lopsided and broken, but something kept me from throwing it away. I understood that the reality of personal wholeness, as well earth wholeness, the symbol I was consciously working with while making the wreath was being withheld. My life was in fragments and the Earth struggles mightily to survive. I cannot separate one from the other.


Last night when I began to work on the wreath for the second time it seemed to me that the willow reeds wove themselves into the grapevines almost effortlessly and for the first time I felt the wreath taking on her own unique shape. It was a deeply satisfying experience to sit there in a darkening room mending a broken circle though rain never came and spring is on the wing.


This morning I look at my wreath with deep appreciation understanding that this circle is as yet unfinished and that when I am moved again by the spirit and soul of Nature I will weave in more wild reeds. What pleases me the most is the knowledge that I didn’t have to force this wreath into shape, the reeds did the weaving.


Another sunny day stretches out before us here in the high desert. I would like to think that perhaps the next time I work with the reeds rain will come…. I think Earth Wholeness: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.


Once again I remind myself:


The hope I have left comes not from humans, our need to have power over to control and kill, or from our obsession with technology, but from the powers of Nature where the potential for genuine change is a reality mirrored by each of Her Seasons.


That S/he is so critically out of balance should give us pause.

Mourning in Blue



It took you three months to die.


I watched, holding my breath – “hang on” I cried in silent desperation each morning as I touched your leaves – I wept as each a fragile green shoot appeared and withered before my aching eyes. Stunted palm shaped fronds curled, turned gray with the poison in the air as invisible fungus spores settled on insect weakened leaves. I managed to kill the bugs within a week but it was already too late.


Some part of me knew that I was losing you almost from the first day we arrived there, but I couldn’t stay with that truth. I could not help you because I could not help myself. We were both drowning in grief – You became the mirror for the two months of torment that we both endured, the lack of sleep, the weakening of our will, our inability to fight a kind of darkness that became your death shroud…


I had a prophetic dream two days after I arrived. In the vision Iren and I were in a hospital watching a woman die. That woman dear passionflower, was made of plants and human flesh. That woman, of course, was the two of us entwined…


Who can separate a woman from her plant and animal soul?


Maybe when we get out… I would think in desperation as I too became ill.


I had moments of wild hope.


When Grace opened a door for escape we fled.


Perhaps, in this house made of light you might still recover? I mused. You were hanging on by a thread. I brought you into our bedroom hoping to warm dying roots. I saw each new shoot struggle to take form as you tried so desperately to live while I choked on the same prayer. “Oh please grow,” I begged, “I cannot stand to lose you.”


I know one truth. If I could have I would have let you go more gracefully than I did. Decomposing roots and leaves returning to the warming earth to nourish new plants and trees is closing the circle of life.


But I had already lost too much too fast…


And I am human.


Forgive me.


I was selfish, I know.


As the warming light settled on your pitiful trunk, now cut back to it’s only living arm I still hoped, even as I watched bud after bud appear and shrivel until at last, a week ago, there was only one tiny green nub left…


This morning that one bud gave up the ghost of your soul.


The canyon was flooded with mountain bluebirds returning for spring…


All day I circled back to stand over your dead body. I held you close to my heart – imagined you wrapping your beautiful leaves around me – you were part of my family – and I was grieving.


When the cloak of night closed on bleeding crimson sky I picked up your dead trunk and pot and gently placed it outside in the cold night air. It seemed for a moment that even the stars cracked and dimmed over my head, or perhaps it was the tears I shed. A solitary coyote howled down by the river.


You were my sister for thirteen years. Losing you I lost a part of myself that I will not recover. Your bountiful passionate vines that spiraled to the sky and blossomed impossibly fragrant crowns of blue tipped flowers, to my endless child-like delight, have entered deep time. Our joy in each other’s presence has been stilled forever.


I asked Iren for cuttings….


These came from your mother. Last year I gave this plant to her as a gift – (my most precious plant besides you) – in the depths of my gratitude for this woman who has such a great and generous heart.


Perhaps, one day, I will once again see a fragrant pink multi – petaled face with a startling cobalt blue crown appear out of the emerald green of healthy spiraling vines that will begin their lives flourishing in the same house where you once bloomed with such joyful abandon.


Each morning I search for that first root to appear… Be patient I remind myself ruefully. Be patient!


But no other plant will ever replace my love for you, not ever.


When I awakened in the pre-dawn hours this morning I went outside and stood there at the river’s edge watching the sky turn crimson again… my heart was torn in two – and yet from sunset to dawn, the Earth closed round us both.


Postscript one day later:

This morning one of the cuttings I am trying to root developed a small blossom – literally overnight. Although it will not bloom – I know this from experience having rooted so many cuttings for others – it was if the passionflower cutting responded to this writing in the most powerful way she could.

Some would call this synchronicity – I call it interspecies communication and offer my heartfelt gratitude for this message of hope.

The Dreaming Body


(Offering to Avanyu)


Recently, I had a dream that informed me that I needed to peck an image of Avanyu into a canyon wall. I took this to mean that I needed to visit a snake. Avanyu is an ancient Tewa Pueblo Serpent who is pecked into the walls of canyons or overlooks the rivers from high on the mesas. These petroglyphs usually have at least one horned serpent and are accompanied by smaller snakes without a headdress. Some of the images on the mesas show Avanyu spiraling skyward while some that I have seen in the canyons run parallel with the arroyos that are flooded with water during storms. Avanyu is the embodiment of Spirit of the River, the one who brings life – bringing water to the desert.

I “read” these petrogylphs as Avanyu having access to the spirit world, as well as being a manifestation of the body of earth and water, at least for the Tewa Pueblo people. For me every time a snake appears in my dreams something important is trying to be conveyed through my body. After the dream I decided that I needed to make a pilgrimage into an arroyo to visit Avanyu in hopes of having another dream to help me clarify what his presence might mean.

The air was still as I walked deep into the canyon. The sweet pungent scent of sage wafted my way in the early spring sun. Briefly, I noted the large distinctive prints of a puma and the hooves of mule deer. As I made my way through the stony arroyo the light was in my eyes making it difficult to see pictures on canyon walls.

At one point, I entered a little cleft in the canyon, and just below a pinion pine l discovered a pile of bluebird feathers. The sun made the feathers shimmer with an unearthly blue light. I gasped in wonder at this sight. Examining the feathers carefully as I collected them, I concluded that this was not a pinion but a Stellar blue jay because there were black feathers mixed in with the others. And the cobalt blue was almost unbearably intense.

It was starting to get warm and I decided that Avanyu had chosen not to make himself visible to me for whatever reason, although I felt gifted by those feathers, so I began to retrace my steps. And that’s when I saw him pecked into the canyon wall. The petroglyph had been flooded many times and I knew that I was in the presence of an image that was in the process of disappearing into deep time, though I firmly believed that because Nature has memory, the power of his presence would remain. I felt a rush of gratitude. Taking one of the best feathers I had gathered I placed it in a niche in the canyon wall offering Avanyu a gift.

Last night I had a strange dream about a television breaking down. The sound was blocked and I felt enormous frustration. Since I don’t own a television this mechanical device was blocking communication by using silence as a kind of weapon, an emotionally abusive blocking tactic I was familiar with because it’s part of my family history. I think Avanyu was warning me that I needed to let go of trying to understand someone else’s craziness – something that never belonged to me in the first place. Thank you Avanyu.


Working notes:

Not surprisingly, up until the advent of Christianity serpents were always associated with the Life Force and with the body.

In Greece women priestesses dedicated themselves to Artemis and watched over temples where people came to bathe in warm springs to have healing dreams.

In Neolithic Old Europe serpents were always associated with the Great Goddess who also had a bird aspect. Rarely was this Goddess associated with “mother.” In ancient times The Great Goddess of Nature had both a bodily (serpent) and spiritual (bird) aspect because She was One Unto Herself.

I see Avanyu, as a manifestation of both the Spirit of the waters and as the Body of the Earth, both images of undivided Nature.

An Unquenchable Thirst


(you can’t see it but I took this picture during the brief moments of rain)


A gust of wind

sweeps wild grasses.

Charcoal gray skes

bend flat mesas.

Moments later

raindrops fall.

Moisture seeps

through cracked ground


parched Earth

a few seconds of relief.


Sand shifts colors

reddening before my eyes.

Standing at the door

to breathe in scented water

I invoke the Horned Serpent.

Has Avanyu,


of the River,

heard the People’s prayer?


Not today.


Too soon the sky is blue,

and I struggle to

give thanks for

this momentary pause

in a year of ceaseless drought.


Working notes:


This morning when the leaden clouds sailed across the sky hope rose unbidden as I tasted the air for rain. Winds rattled windows – for a few minutes drops of precious water mixed with snowflakes drifted by… Too soon it was over, disappearing like a dream, leaving barely a trace. No tree root received precious life sustaining moisture, and within the hour our desert was once again swept bone dry by a relentless west wind.


Climate Change is making me crazy.