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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Marya of the Wood: The Stillness of a Wild Meadow

Daisies, Mj Pettengill
Daisies, Mj Pettengill

There’s a sacred place—a meadow here, rooted in trust, intuition, and inspiration. It is the lowest part of a green wooded valley, surrounded by mountains and virgin forests. Of course, much of the land here is like this, but I must consider the planned gardens, berries, and fruit trees out of practicality. So many tend to only think of what is needed from the land. What can I get? What can I take?

It is vital to turn it around, to ask of the land what it needs from us. We learn how important it is to landscape, plant, mow, and take at a young age. As beings, we are conditioned to harness and control our surroundings. We must obediently tidy up our land spaces to appear responsible and well-meaning. I’m over that. Not that I don’t mow. I do. I have many carefully carved pathways meandering through large patches of wild medicinal plants that have volunteered to show up. I give thanks for their offerings. I sing praises, thank them, and never over-pick.

Many wild, untamed patches of land here, where Our Mother has the freedom to grow as she wishes, surprise me with new plants that I come to know. To some, it looks like a tangled mess of weeds. To others, it is beauty and transformation. It is healthy alternatives to what is on the shelves at the big box stores. Just as I loved taking care of my children, I love caring for the land. Our descendants are counting on us.

Caring for the land is more than planting seeds, ripping out plants that we have been told are undesirable, and spraying poison to keep it pretty and manicured. In fact, that is uncaring for the land.

Every new season here is unique. I don’t know which plants will dominate the fields. I have learned that those I bonded with in the previous season may barely come up the next. The Earth, Our Mother, knows what She is doing. She will always strive for balance. There is nothing more exciting than exploring the wildly populated growth in and around the pond, fields, streams, and edge of the woods, merging into the shadows of trees.

I have many notebooks filled with scribbled notes and drawings—roadmaps to the future and journaling of the past. These stories are dreams of healing and realizing that we have what we need in our midst if we only allow the land to reach Her full potential.

Today, I stood in the stillness of a wild meadow. The Fleabane is taller than me, and the Evening Primrose promises to reach the sky when the time is right. The Solomon’s Seal, bordering one side, is woven in with the Curly Dock and a rather large patch of Daisies and Yarrow. I wander deeper into the heart of this miraculous place to find an abundance of flowering Wild Basil and St John’s Wort. The Dandelions are done flowering for now, and they boast large, healthy leaves. Following the Wildcrafter’s Promise (stewards that love and protect the land), I will collect roots in the fall. Then, of course, there is the ever-present Mullein, Ground Ivy, Self-Heal, and more. The best part is trusting that the Earth is aware and then taking a step back to watch. I am in awe of Her artistry and magic, once given a chance to express it. And the Milkweed patch? I cannot even begin to describe the scent of the flowers and close my eyes when I imagine the return of the monarchs. In the meantime, the hummingbirds and scores of other pollinators buzz around, all adding to the riotous symphony that I will carry with me throughout the days ahead.

I give thanks for the fertile land, singing and celebrating as I meander through the labyrinth of intended life. Should I lose my way, I will remember that it is always meant to be. I likely walk on an ancient path, now hidden beneath moss, ferns, and wildflowers. In time, I will make my way home, leaving behind footsteps for future generations while adding another rich layer of memory on this much-loved land.


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