Over the river and through the woods…
You know that song?
It’s all about the excitement of going.
But what about when you gotta drag yourself back, worn out from too much food and small talk?
How do you regain yourself, get grounded, and regulate your nervous system after all that “fun”?
Here’s how that goes at Darkwood.
Even before going into the house to put the leftovers in the fridge, I stand and pause.
I notice the curl of the rhodo leaves — darkest green and curled tight means it’s gettin’ cold.
The wind blows my hair off my shoulders, and I close my eyes to greet this unseen friend.
I walk to the ritual garden and lay hands on the big queen tree, the Black Gum, and see what she has to say.
She says the crows were by, and the sun moved across her crown, lower than yesterday, and that a squirrel is building a nest in her high, naked branches. That her roots are warm.
It takes a long time to hear her.
I eventually go up the stairs and into the cold house.
I wrap up in a warm shawl and get a fire in the woodstove going, smiling when I think how cute the house must look with the little chimney puffing away.
Then I fill my copper steam pot with water and dried Lavender, gifted to me throughout the summer by garden-growing women trekking to Darkwood for outdoor rituals. I dry it all then bask in the aroma all winter while it simmers on top of the wood stove.
Inspired by the warming stove, I also make a pot of seed tea, the brew I always serve at Darkwood — cardamom, cumin, coriander, clove.
It will soothe my digestive and lymphatic systems well after all the feasting. And the scent along with the Lavender is lovely.
And while I’m at it, I slice up some apples that are starting to get a little too soft and layer them in a thick casserole dish with raisins, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. I drizzle maple syrup and shake some cinnamon on top.
I add the apple dish to the top of the woodstove too, making a mental note to put them up on a trivet in about an hour. They smell like pie while they cook.
The top of the stove is stewing and brewing — better there than head or heart.
Then I sweep the floor, further tidying up my head and my heart.
Once the fire has warmed the room and the tea has roiled awhile, I pour a cup and prop up my feet, settling in for a good long stare.
I stare at the fire.
I stare at the waning light and the dark outlines of trees.
I stare at nothing at all.
And slowly, I come back to myself.
Over the river and through the woods
and back to myself again.
This is the beauty of deep Self Knowing, the beauty of being friends with yourself.
It’s the beauty of a magical life.
A real life.
Tended and cultivated like any relationship.
love & settling in,
PS: hi from the apothecary!