The Tree

Week 20: Artful Shamanism with Effy Wild

This week had another personally powerful exercise. Effy shared a meditation technique where you listen to a drumbeat while using a prompt that she provided. The prompt had to do with becoming aware of the symbols that came to you during the meditation and to later explore their meaning as you are doing your journal page.

The symbols that I saw were an old growth cedar tree and and eye. The tree could symbolize steadfastness, life, vitality, prosperity, culture, etc. The eye could symbolize watchfulness, awareness, spirituality, seeing, knowing, & accountability. This is what I wrote:

The tree has a masculine, protective spirit–everything I love about masculinity. It is protection, it produces the seed of life, oxygen, art, shelter, a portal. We use it for staying out of the harsh elements, for telling our stories, building our communities. They have been here before man. A tree is a tree. It teaches us to be authentic. The cedar has many uses. It was used to build huge war canoes & masks that told the natives sacred stories. The eye tells us to be watchful of our planet-God is watching. The tree has life & has an awareness of that life that we cannot understand. We will understand only through spiritual eyes. We know deep down the right things to do and this makes us accountable.


Connection-Nature’s Message

Week 7: Artist’s Walk-Lacamas Lake Park 

Recently, I have been feeling the urge to get out to places that I haven’t been to for a while or not at all. I have come to realize that a big part of the walk for me is the scenery. I want to feed my inner artist plenty of images and recapture the connection that I feel in nature with the trees, vegetation, and the wildlife.

I remembered that Lacamas Lake had some pretty great walking trails and thought that I should check them out again. As I pulled up to the park, several cars were in the lot and other walkers were also heading up the trail even though it had just finished a steady rain not 15 minutes before. I had time to get my camera ready and stop by the visitor’s reader board before heading out on the main trail. I find these boards answer quite a few of my questions about the location and even go into their history as well. In this case the reader board touched on the watershed system and why it was needed (it was made clear that their were many sources of pollution in addition to the mills). Another section talked about the Native American settlement when the European Americans arrived. The town had been named after the camas lily which was a staple for the Native American’s diet and still grows in the area.

As I walked up the trail, the first large manmade structure that I came to was a fish screen that had been placed there to keep the fish in the lake and not in the mills down stream. The next structure was a dam that had been constructed to aid the local mill operations. The contrast of the natural and manmade environment felt entirely contradictory in my mind, but somehow it was working. Sort of. I didn’t hear the chirping of birds or the rustling around of wildlife, but at time on the walk the roaring of the water crashing out of the dam was soothing and its power enticed me nearer. I went up the lower falls trail to get a better look from another angle. In the end, I got lots of pictures and had many thoughts and ideas, so I would say the walk was productive.



Week 8: Artist’s Walk- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Birding Trail

The next idea for a walk that came to me was closer to home. I had heard so many people rave over the bird watching spots in Ridgefield’s Wildlife Refuge. The place that people swear by is a drive through area, but I wanted a spot to get out and walk through. I asked my good friend who lives there and she told me about the walking trail. She offered me a water and granola bar and said that I should think about turning on my phone’s GPS since I like going out alone on my walks. I am so comfortable in my local woods that I don’t consider them to be unsafe. Only after I got home did I see the list of animals living in the refuge  which included hundreds of birds and also a few carnivores (even the dangerous mountain lion).

My walk, however was peaceful. I have come to realize that I feel a deep connection with the chirping and calls of birds.

Like the park of the week before, there was another area for people’s information.  This too was a Native American settlement that the Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered that consisted of 14 houses that a village of people were living in. They harvested wapato tubers that still grows in the wetlands.

Unlike the last park, few walkers were out and about. The day was overcast, but not cold or rainy. It seemed as I got there most of the walkers were leaving. I walked up the trail and the first structure that I came to was the Cathlapotle Plankhouse that had been a replica of the houses that were found during the early expedition.

The wetlands were filled with what looked like ducks and other water foul. I didn’t bring my binoculars or my high-powered camera lens. Both mistakes that I kicked myself for. I could see blue jays in the trees and other common birds.  I wondered what else I was missing as I walked up the trail. The trees were what captured my attention first. They were big deciduous trees with branches sprawling  widely, even some close to touching the ground. Trees that hadn’t been pruned by man, but had been left to their natural course. Some trees grew in one direction. This commonly happens with a persistent wind.

At one point the paved trail ended and became a real dirt trail. I followed it until I got a feeling to turn around, to go no further. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t passed another person in a good thirty minutes. Whatever the reason, I turned around and as I headed back up toward the beginning of the trail I saw a huge blue heron flying over the body of water. I wished that I could capture it with my camera, and tried. As it landed, it walked gingerly along the water bank. I did the same keeping pace with it. I wasn’t sure if its caution was courtesy of me or if it was looking quietly for food. Whatever its reason, I didn’t want to disturb its activity so I was still for a long time just observing. My need for connection had been satisfied. This was a place that I would come again and hopefully frequently.