Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hallowtide Berries

I'm reviving my blog after its long hibernation while I participated in National Novel Writing month for the fifth year in a row. I've never yet completed the 50,000 words (I got closest the first year when I wrote 45,000) but I did write 25,000 words and ended up with a detailed plot outline for my detective novel.

Meanwhile I've been thinking about a new structure for the blog. Although I love the idea of focusing on a plant each day, it's too much for me. I end up doing some rather superficial research and just dump a whole lot of raw writing onto the page. It's often days after I write about a plant before I find a representative or get a chance to try it out in a recipe.

So I've decided to feature a plant a week, rather than a plant a day. I'm partly inspired by noticing that Susun Weed has a new correspondence course featuring 52 herbs. Here's the link if you want to check it out:

I started thinking about what plants I wanted to feature and realized I could choose whole categories of plants based on seasonality. Lately I've been really noticing and appreciating the berries in my neighborhood and I decided that's a good focus for Hallowtide, the six weeks between Halloween and Yule.

But I've been having a hard time finding sources to help me identify the berries in my neighborhood. The only site that listed some berries native to the Northwest was the poison center for the local Children's Hospital. As I was reading this list, I thought about the paper I wrote in eighth grade on poisonous plants (I learned the word alkaloid while writing that paper) and wondered what the nuns made of that. Did they wonder what deeds I might be planning?Or just recognize a nascent witch?

The berries that speak of the season most vividly to me are Snowberries or Doll's Eyes. I always think of them when I plan my Winter Solstice party as I first saw them in a vase at the Lucia Party given by my mentor and friend, Helen Farias. For years I've been finding them in my neighborhood, down the block, under a tree beside an old mansion but last year they dug up those plants to install a stone wall. This year, I found them growing alongside the parking lot of the Greek Orthodox church in my neighborhood.

For a great photograph and description of snowberries, I'm going to refer you to my favorite garden writer on the web, Paghat:

During the six weeks between Winter Solstice and Candlemas, I'm going to feature evergreens, one a week, starting with the yew tree which has berries and is evergreen.


Joanna said...

Glad to have you back in the blogosphere, Waverly. I love snowberries too. Here on the island we have thick hedgerows of snowberry and wild roses along the roads. Looking forward to learning about the evergreens. Blessed Solstice.

KerrdeLune said...

Waverly, you are back and it is good for me to be able to visit here again! I missed your blog when you stopped writing here for a while. Happy Happy Solstice to you. BB, Cate