Fern Hollow

I awaken to the common yellowthroat warbler’s song. A light breeze wafts through the open window intensifying the scent of wild honeysuckle. Phoebe chimes in followed by Ovenbird, another warbler. Mama phoebe takes flight from her nest as I open the door. I peer out into emerald green – sweetly scented hay ferns define the edges of the mixed conifer and deciduous forest that overlooks a mountain brook. My home. A canopy of leafy limed branches protects the house from what will become fierce heat from the noonday star… summer is almost upon us. But not just yet. For now I am still living in the space in between. Fern hollow is an edge place, etched out of olive and jade.

sensitive fern

Seduced by moist air, stillness and dove gray cloud cover I follow my Forest Muse wandering down to the protected field through the pines. The mountains are still shrouded in mist. Lupine spires and lemon lilies peek out above a raft of sensitive ferns. Deep blue iris startle sensitive eyes. I breathe in the intoxicating aroma of the last flowering crabapple as I examine unfurling ostrich ferns. Always the spiral. The Wild Goddess lives here. Once, just after I moved here, She rose up out of the field to embrace me, told me that I was loved… She spoke through pure feeling in that place beneath words. Now She comes to me through the trees…

one of my paths leading to the field

Approaching the brook I experience a momentary chill. The noticeable drop in temperature is due to the spreading boughs of the Eastern Hemlocks who protect this brook (as well as other streams and rivers) from warming, so that trout can thrive. These remarkable trees slow summer storm run off, purify waters, add nitrogen to the soil through their needles, and create a moist microclimate that supports rich avian and plant diversity. As if to confirm my thoughts the call of a Blackburnian warbler reminds me that some warblers will only nest in this particular tree. Because of their trunks tendency to split, loggers left the “redwoods of the east” behind, and some hemlocks are probably 150 years old (maybe older) although this forest was cut about 40 years ago, primarily for white pine. Hemlocks can live for 500 years or more. Because they are the most shade tolerant trees of all hemlocks can survive on the moist banks of rivers and streams for many years waiting for the moment when enough light penetrates the forest floor; then they shoot up spreading their graceful boughs wide enough to create a cool understory where tender wildflowers thrive, and deer and rabbit browse.

 Another warbler is singing, a high – pitched fluted call, this one is a black throated blue warbler. Migration is winding down and I wonder how many of these birds will actually stay to nest and raise young. 

 Taking another path up the hill I drift back into that space of belonging, my animal senses stilling all thought.

 Green Peace.

Trillium rock totally covered with brocade moss and starflowers

 Approaching Trillium rock I am once again pulled into mind, reflecting upon how quickly golden lime brocade moss covered the entire boulder once a few dead trees came down. Starflowers adorn brocade, the same moss that phoebe used to construct and line her nest…

Phoebe and her brocade nest

A morning dove is calling in the distance. Mourning and Morning belong together. Just as Thinking and Being do – humans are capable of moving back and forth between the two, but because being is not honored we must re- learn how to do the latter.


 One way to frame living through difficult and uncertain times is to perceive oneself as Entering the Mystery (Martin Shaw). When I align myself with the rest of nature I lose myself in the mysterious, utterly fascinating present, develop strength to go parallel with what is, and can give thanks with all my heart for the gift of being alive.

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