This past weekend, I scooped up my foraging gear and loaded the pup in the car and took off on a long autumnal hike in the October Blue Ridge of Virginia. It’s been some months since I’ve gotten myself outside on a slow and unhurried hike by myself. I’ve had a lot on my plate this year, and even when I had the time to take, I chose not to…for whatever reason. I forget sometimes, that getting myself outside in my woodsy element is what my heart and soul needs basically all the time. As it happens for many of us, life can throw a very heavy cloud over our creative landscape, and it’s easy (and sometimes appropriate) to curl up and weather through the storm for a little while. But on Saturday, I received something in the mail that just completely sparked my creative juices and set my heart a flutter. I received my Gather Foraging Journal from Timber Press, and as soon as I opened up this gloriously beautiful illustrated journal, I couldn’t get in the car fast enough to head outside.
I had been waiting for this journal for weeks, from the moment I heard it was being released from the small Portland OR based publishing company, Timber Press. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and once it arrived it was even more stunning than I imagined. Maggie Enterrios thoughtfully illustrated these gorgeous botanical drawings on every page to keep field notes on what you’re foraging and finding and making in the woods, or fields, or mountains or by the side of the road. As I was flipping through the pages yet to be filled in with my foraged treasures, it felt like my dormant fairy magical energy came coursing through my veins. It was just the unique spark of creativity I needed to shake the clouds off and explore and begin filling my foraging books again.
Gromit and I took to a waterfall and stream filled hike just off the blue ridge parkway. I packed my little herb shears and my pens and colored pencils and a few of my plant ID books (along with trails snacks and a thermos of reishi coffee, of course) and set off, without any time limits or goals really. Just to go slowly and see what we find. In October, things begin to go to sleep and the ground is covered in a crunchy autumnal mess of leafy puzzle pieces. Moss and vine creepers covered most of the ground, but thanks to the constant rains here the past several days there was no shortage of mushrooms. The colors now are just amazing. And we wandered along leisurely, stopping and sitting and taking deep breaths and inhaling in that intoxicating new fall smell of decomposing leaves and moist soil and a hint of woodsmoke.
Why do we so often deny ourselves the practices that we know nourish us and instead stay cooped up in creative ruts in the slog of sticky thoughts? When I get out in the woods, especially in the fall, it’s like my eyes and perception of things feels a hundred times wider. My senses are activated and cleared and the stagnation of heavy thought patterns just dissipate like clouds after a long storm. Things feel brighter, and bigger, and more approachable. Writing slows the thoughts, and paying attention to the details of things sharpens my concentration (that can feel like a jumping bean most times). Starting the practice of journaling through what I’m gathering moving forward feels adventurous and very correct. In my pack, this sweet little journal will live daily, and be my companion tool to sustain my creative thoughts…and keep me paying attention to the details of slow moving things.
Huge thanks to Timber Press for gifting me this beautiful Gather Foraging Journal.