Archive for March, 2012

We came back after just a few days; the warmer weather made it impossible to resist.

The things I brought for the offering were about the same: honey in the comb, steel-cut oats, dried blueberries, dried apricots, wine, sunflower seed kernels, chopped walnuts.

Again, I went with the triskele pattern, this time at a different spot, not on a hill. As a result, the “arms” of the triskelion turned out much better.

I drew them with steel-cut oats, using a chunk of honey in the comb as the core of the pattern. At the end of each arm, I put a trio of dried blueberries, circled round with sunflower seed kernels.


Around the core, I placed apricot halves, bracketed by three small piles of chopped walnuts.


And at the far borders, in a circle around the whole, I poured the wine (the dark circle):


It was in the mid-60s today, brilliantly sunny. I’d learned that the most interesting parts of the forest aren’t on the path, but are found when you wander off the path for a while, so I did, quite a bit, while my patient husband indulged me.

And that’s when I found the deer skull. It was very old — had been sitting in the grass by the fallen tree for at least a year, I think — and was fairly fragile. I gathered it up carefully and wrapped it in extra plastic bags and took it home with me, murmuring to it all the way. No antlers, or places on the skull for them to attach to, so it was pretty clearly a doe’s skull.  I was too excited to look to see if there were other bones at the site (i.e., from a coyote kill, or natural causes).  Will have to look around next time I go back.


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A week or so later, I went back to Thorn Creek, bringing an offering and garbage bags.  I left the offering first, at the same spot where I left the last one (and where I found the deer bones).

The pattern, laid out (I was trying for a Celtic triskelion, but the tilt of the hill made it a bit lopsided):

The dark circle around the edges is wine. The pattern itself (the bars of the triskele) are made of steel-cut oats. At the center, a chunk of honey in the comb sits atop a pile of sunflower seed kernels, and is bracketed by chunks of bananas (between the arms) and turbinado sugar (atop the arms). The arms branch out and are topped at the end with a half of dried apricot, accented with chopped walnuts:


Between the honey in the comb and the chunks of bananas, I placed three dried blueberries at each junction:


The park was coming to life with the warmer weather. The multiflora roses (which are something of an aggressive invasive) were putting out leaves:

There were other plants coming up, including trout lilies, trilliums, moss, cutleaf toothwort, hepatica, and several I couldn’t ID.

I found some more deer bones (from the same coyote kill at that spot), and then later on the walk we saw a pair of living deer.  🙂

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Well, Spring is definitely here now.  Grass is growing, trees are sprouting little buds, birds are singing, and people are enjoying the 50+*F weather, leaving much more trash at the park.

Nothing left from last week:


The goodies I brought: bananas, green grapes, chopped walnuts, sunflower seed kernels, dried blueberries, dried apricots, honey in the comb, maple syrup, honey butter, steel-cut oats, wine, turbinado sugar, and raisins.


Turbinado sugar:


Maple syrup:






I didn’t take as many shots of individual elements, concentrating instead on — as I had at the other park — trying to lay out an elegant pattern with a more artistic flair.



Close-up to show blueberries, raisins, apricots, sunflower seed kernels, honey in the comb:


From above:


Through the veil:


I tried to bring a wider variety of offerings this time as a nod to the warmer weather and the coming of Spring.  And as I walked around picking up trash that day, I saw the first robin of Spring:


It was definitely warmer that day, in the mid-to-high 50s.  (Almost 60*F!)  I enjoyed the day very much.

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This is going to be a very short post, as the batteries in my camera died before I’d gotten to take very many pictures.

Thorn Creek Nature Preserve is a short drive away from where I live (less than half an hour), just over the border in Forest Park, Illinois. Like many nature areas in Illinois, it is chronically underfunded and has no paid staff at all, just volunteers.  It is one of my favorite places, with an oak/apple/hawthorn/white pine forest, lots of deer, a huge resident coyote population, several miles of trails, a fair-sized colony of owls near the furthest lake (which boasts a huge colony of bullfrogs), and plenty of other interesting things around every turn.  Spring plants include trout lily, trillium, cutleaf toothwort, violets, hepatica, skunk cabbage, and at least one species of swamp buttercup.  Lots of birds besides owls.

Over the last two months, I’ve sort of adopted Thorn Creek and go there to clean up trash and leave offerings there in the same way I do at my own park. My own park is a very sparse bit of city ground — baseball squares, seesaws and swings for the kids, and picnic tables. Thorn Creek is nothing but forest and hiking trails and boggy spots, much closer to actual nature (for all that I love my own park and my willow-tree temple!)

On this first visit, I decided to be a little more ornate with the offerings that I usually leave, instead of piling things up on the ground in heaps. I tried to actually be artistic and make a pattern with everything.

I had brought along a banana, green grapes, raisins, honey butter, wine, chopped walnuts, raisins, and rolled oats, and decided to try to draw out something based on threes and fours.  I drew out a wide outer circle with the oats, then a smaller inner one of grapes. At the 12:00 position, I put a handful of chopped walnuts. At the center, the banana. At the six o’clock position, raisins. At the seven-thirty position (it turned into a peace sign), honey-butter.  And at the four-thirty position, the wine.


I got a couple of pictures of the individual components (banana and honey-butter), but that’s when the batteries died (and I didn’t have my cell phone with, it’d been malfunctioning lately).

But apparently the spirits appreciated the offerings (and all the trash I picked up that day, three bags), because not far from where I left the offering, at the base of a dead tree — and that, about 500 feet off the path and down in a ravine — I found about half a deer skeleton, very well-gnawed.  Ribs, vertebrae, leg bones.  I’ve found that communicating with the spirits — especially those of the animals — is easier if I have a physical relic to use as a tangible focus, so this seemed almost like the spirits’ way of saying “thank you”.  I collected the bones respectfully, with thanks to the deer that had died and the coyotes that had hunted it and benefited from its flesh, and then went on my way.

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From a distance; the first buds of Spring on the branches:


Nothing at all left after last week.


The offering: raisins, rolled oats, honey butter, wine, a couple of bananas, turbinado sugar, apple cider, chopped walnuts, green grapes.




Turbinado sugar.




Green grapes.



Maple syrup.


Chopped walnuts.



The wine, poured out:

The whole offering:


Through the veil:


It was marginally (mid-40s instead of mid-30s) warmer out today. I can feel the world getting ready for Spring; it’s even a little early.  I hope it gets here soon.

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Nothing left from last week. Still cold out.


What I brought: honey-butter, maple syrup, rolled oats, a banana, green grapes, turbinado sugar, and golden delicious apples.


Maple syrup.


Honey butter.


Turbinado sugar.


Green grapes.


Cut-up apples.




Rolled oats.


The whole offering, spread out.


Through the veil.


So tired of winter.

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Nothing left from last week.  As usual.  This late in winter, everything is hungry, and nothing gets left for long.


Maple syrup, for the small things with swift metabolisms that need lots of sugar. At this time of year, mostly mice. In warmer temperatures, it includes ants, bees, and hummingbirds.


Homemade honey-butter, in honor of Brigid.


A banana.


Green grapes.


Barley. Lasts forever, stores no matter what temperature. A good staple food for most things.


Rolled oats. Another long-lasting, high-energy food.


The offering in its entirety. Smaller than usual; needed to go shopping.


It was very cold out that day, as I recall. I made it out, picked up trash, did my usual devotions, but the cold was killing my soul.  I was happy to be back inside.


Through the veil, threadbare as it was.



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