Faires, Friends, and the First Fires of Fall

Where do our inspirations and aesthetic inclinations come from?

Surely culture has a lot to do with it.
But, it seems to me, there's something more...

Myself - I have a particular fondness for the medieval period, especially when blended with fantasy and myth. I don't think, as a woman - especially a woman who tends to reject the status quo and who is deeply interested in herb-y, nature-centric, Pagan things - that I'd want to go back to that time period, but still I'm so drawn to it... in literature, in art, in film, in clothing even (muted linen dresses and tattered brown leather boots, please).

Throw in some tales of old world mythical enchantment into that medieval landscape and I'm beaming.

I perfume myself in archaic aromas like frankincense (DoTerra makes the very best!). I long to travel to old European villages and sit inside inexplicable stone circles, or walk through the ancient streets gaping at every cobblestone and imagining the myriad of characters who have interacted with it in some way throughout the centuries...

So I suppose it's no wonder I'm drawn to Renaissance Faires.

As an American trying to satisfy a faraway (in time and geography) itch, there aren't many options for those of us wanting to get as close as we can to that old village feeling, with its fools and tricksters and minstrels and edge-walkers...

So recently, on the most Fall-feeling day yet, we drove a couple of hours north to behold a bit of pseudo-village revelry.

Aside from the costumes and theatrics, the marketplace is probably what I most delight in, with its furs and iron and leather and potions.

(And how I would love to have this tunic for daily wear...)


As summer winds down, along with the outward extroversion it seems to promote, I feel the inner creative hearth-fire stirring in me. 

If I have lost parts of myself in the mad dash of summer, it feels I gather them back together again in the Fall. 

Not having a home of our own right now, and hopping to and fro while we work out long-term goals and plans, it can be difficult to feel rooted anywhere. And this tends to mess with my emotions, creativity, and sense of self. 

Two of the best, and most necessary, ways for me to cope are woodland walks and making things with my hands. 

So I set aside the new project I've been working on, which I mentioned in my last post and soon - I promise - I'll get around to telling you about, to work on a gift for our friends who just celebrated their very first wedding anniversary. 

I procured a round slab of wood and decided to convert it into a chess board for them - enjoying chess so much myself, and seeing the similarities of playing chess and navigating a good relationship: both requiring slow, careful patience and an honoring of the space between stimulus and response.

The wonky shape of the wood required strategic measuring to get all of the squares just right. Then, while listening to the transporting music of Wardruna and Hildna Guddnadottir, I painted them with an antique copper, added a border design of foliage, mushrooms, and a little hut with woodsmoke wafting from the chimney...

And after all that dried, the next day I sealed it with coconut and grapeseed oil, wrote a calligraphical note to them on the back in indigo, stamped the bag of chess pieces, and it was ready!

We arrived to Lindsay & Daniel's cozy river home, situated in the countryside just on the river, to Lindsay and Pamela Jay (another one of my dearest companions) swinging in the new tree swing.

I can't tell you just how good it was to see everyone...

Of all my friends, I believe these two most resonate with the inner aesthetic world I occupy of awe and enchantment and a love of Old Things and Ways.

Lindsay and Daniel are due to birth little Oliver Eno Duncan into the world next month! And so we talked about birthing and our society's views surrounding it, we talked about the art of learning to let go, and we talked about Russian folkloric inspirations and films to inspire that kind of creativity...

I cuddled Emma the bashful Bernese Mountain Dog, and Bilbo the chill chihuahua.

And if you look above Emma in that last photo, you'll see a round green thing hanging on the wall.
That's the embroidery I made for Lindsay and Daniel last year, celebrating their Pacific Northwestern honeymoon van adventure!

They loved their chess board, and I loved the delicious meal Daniel prepared us, which we enjoyed beneath the darkening Kentucky sky - a brew of lavenders, blues, pinks, and oranges.

Later as the night set in, the fire drew us all to it - the first fire of Fall - and I savored sitting around it as songs were sung and crickets harmonized...

And you can even see that last photo come to life just below...

We drove home that night, sleepily talking about how dear ones make it worth being here, despite how terribly we miss the vast Northwest.

What a dilemma it is: for most of the ones you hold so dear to be so far from the place you hold so dear.

A torn feeling to sit with and think on and make space for...

I think time will sort things out, as it tends to do...

And on that note, with deadlines completed for the day, I'm off into the afternoon to see what waits for me there. 

Until next time ~

A Morning Postcard

Just poking my head in to leave you this wonderful film which you'll surely love if you too are a fan of woodland enchantment, Russian folk tales, and the wonders ingrained in the natural world. It's called The Fox and the Child and was filmed in the French and Italian countrysides and features magical birch-lined boreal forests...

I'll be back very soon with more tales of late, but for now - here's a peek at the beginnings of a brand new project I've been enjoying working on. I'll tell you more about it next time...

The temperatures have finally dropped, about 12 degrees, and I am falling into a flow at last. For now, there are deadlines to meet, places to be, and faces to see!

Have a lovely weekend, anyone reading this x

Return to the Metropolis


To the thick, wet air. To stop-and-go traffic. To chemical smells in the air. To traveling 1/4 mile in 10 minutes. To hurried people moving fast and expecting you to do just the same. To driving great distances just to find a dense enough forest...

In truth, I have been experiencing anxiety since returning to the metropolis here in Kentucky. I'm certain that trouble breathing is playing a large part (ragweed pollen), so I've made sure to get to a hiking trail daily for some grounding time.

My husband calls me Sensitiffany, and it's true - despite all the mental and emotional resilience I've gained through the years, I am indeed a highly sensitive canary.

I learned in a book called The Highly Sensitive Person that about 20% of the members of many mammal species exhibit these sensitive genetic traits and that it has an evolutionary role: to protect the group by sort of sounding an alarm.
"Likely you know a few; a family member or friend who seems overly sensitive. With only casual attention, they may get labeled as emotional, withdrawn, or just "funny." For them, lights are often too bright and noises too loud. They become easily overwhelmed and need time alone.

But these people are not socially maladjusted; they are exhibiting traits that have come to be known as a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP. Being highly sensitive is not a disorder or a diagnosis. Like blond hair or brown eyes, it's a neutral genetic trait; one that affects the way the body's nervous system processes information.

In fact, it turns out that 15 to 20 percent of over 100 species, from fish to horses to humans, are more sensitive to their environment than others. The trait is thought to have evolved as an alternate survival strategy in nature, as being highly sensitive makes animals and people more deliberate and slower to act, which in some cases can be advantageous to jumping right in." [source]

Those of us with these sensitivities are able to react to - though not always identify - the presence of environmental threats. Unfortunately, this can make life a little uncomfortable for us. And in modern times, this trait surfaces in the strangest ways: I become ill soon after entering a building with mold present, I physically cannot have an unhealthy diet - if I consume sugar, for example, the symptoms that might take years to gain attention in a normal person seem to surface quickly in me.

I'm able to accurately hone in on intentions and thoughts of others - thankfully, with years of work and awareness, I've been able to reach a point now where I'm much better at handling these things and am better able to gauge the level of concern or empathy I'm willing to give a certain situation.

"HSPs are both gifted and cursed with nervous systems that simply pick up more sensory input than normal, keeping them busy but keenly attuned to the world around them. Brain scans of HSPs have confirmed this and show that they also process that input deeply.1 Sensory sensitivity can take many forms, including sensitivity to light, noise, smells, food, medicine, and more. Not every highly sensitive person will have every characteristic; some have only a few but experience those intensely.

HSPs often experience emotional responses intensely and need to work at dealing with the wide range of human emotions. Further, their sensitivity may extend beyond what we consider normal senses; for example, many tend to be highly empathic and able to pick up the emotions of other people. Having so much sensory information to process is overwhelming and can be anxiety-inducing. Consequently, HSPs generally require reasonable doses of quiet time to restore inner balance and tranquility."

In a nutshell: Things and situations that aren't good for me (or anyone really), I feel quickly.

As the phrase goes: this has all been a blessing and a curse. A curse because of the obvious personal discomfort, and a blessing because in many ways these events help me to stay on track when it comes to caring for my body and mind.

Returning to the metropolis is something my being does not want or need, and I'm deliberately going against that knowledge for pragmatic purposes. So, of course, I'm going to feel resistance deep in my bones.

You are likely reading this thinking: Oh c'mon, deal with it like the rest of us do. 

And I understand where you're coming from. If I weren't myself, I'd say the same thing.

But - most everyone is adapted to this way of life. I'll even get into the grind myself as the days pass.

I'm just not sure I want to adapt to modernity. I don't find inspiration here, my creativity sinks, life feels fast and therefore short, and the general population just seems so... unwell.

The saddest part, I think, is: despite swallowing pills every morning or nursing some addiction, the populous doesn't see the sickness they swim in. Because it's the norm. But just because something is common doesn't make it normal, and certainly not optimal.

The quiet spacious wilderness of Ferry county has ruined me, indeed :) The contrast of returning from there is truly intense. Now, I know how life can feel - how my mind takes on the landscape: the anxiety slips away, contentment and grace slip in, the pace slows, attention grows, I feel like I'm really digging in and giving life the respect and honor it deserves when I am part of that landscape.

Culture influences us all to extents we aren't even aware of. But in the city, even more I think. I have even noticed the females talking a certain way - the best way to describe it is that they're trying to make their voices sound smaller and squeakier? The cashier today at Whole Foods randomly started telling me how hungover she was and that "Yeh! I mean it was vodka we were drinking...."

Okay? Thanks for letting me, a complete stranger, in on such exciting and stimulating information...

It's also increasingly difficult to complete a thought in conversation - I notice a tone of anxiety, haste and ADD in the majority of interactions I have.

But depth is in relaxation...

I just don't relate to so much of it, so it's not where I belong, and I'm writing all this merely to say: this has become blindingly obvious and I will be working hard to develop a strategy to live in Ferry county full-time. 

We'll be returning to Ferry County in the Spring, so it's only a Fall and a Winter to spend here in Kentucky. And I hope it goes without saying that I am so very happy to spend time with my family and friends. I'm just being transparent about how I feel - we are all individuals who experience life differently, and I happen to be this way.

A wilderness lifestyle is indeed a deep need of mine. And my brain is the kind that thinks: life is so short, the days are just flying right on by, and I feel it's a duty of mine to honor life by creating the best one I possibly can.


Zoom out and imagine the earth from space, then go further out to the Milky Way galaxy, and how bizarre to even be here at all, let alone able to think about being here. So though traffic light to traffic light, in the exhaust-filled air (literally and figuratively), constantly checking the clock... is the norm, I just can't allow it for myself, or for any family I might bring into the world in the future.

Anyway, I believe I've made my point. I have to find beauty and inspiration in daily life, I can't stay fussy about something. So thank you for letting me spew negativity while I move through the stark contrast of being back amongst the populous.

Already, there is plenty of beauty to focus on here, too. So let's switch to those gears...

I took a stroll through Bernheim Forest's new (to me) edible garden just outside of Louisville, and it was a real delight...

With heirloom vegetables plump beneath the hot sun, and bright amaranth waving below the solar panels.

The bees were buzzing, creating a soundtrack akin to how I imagine Beorn's homestead, and I even came upon some bear scat after talking with one of the sweetest employees - Kathy - about the black bear that lives there and has been seen recently on the trail camera.

Plants and wildlife. The bulk of my love and inspiration.

Speaking of - yesterday, on a nice slow hike, I heard fast movement through the forest uphill to our left and we watched as a young deer sprinted past. I heard more movement coming behind it, and - expecting to see another deer - was shocked when I saw a large, red-shouldered coyote pummeling right toward us, in hot pursuit of the deer!

Kentucky only has a few more uncomfortably hot and sticky days left and by next Thursday, should begin a lovely cooling phase. Already there's a yellow hue to the green landscape, and soon this place will be an autumnal palette of reds and golds.

I've been enjoying the mushrooms along the trail, since northeastern Washington was so dry this summer, there wasn't much mushrooming to be done. 

I've come across some lovely turkey tail of late, with some green and blue hues mixed in. 

And even found some puffball mushrooms growing just off the trail, in their common circular patterns, twice the size of my head, and looking like alien lifeforms. 

See my Mora knife for size comparison^

Tomorrow I'm visiting family in the south of the state and making plans for fun outings with friends this Fall. One of my dear friends is expecting soon and I'm so happy to be here to help her as she transitions into new motherhood.

I've been enjoying the plethora of wildflowers still blooming - Goldenrod, Ironweed, Great Blue Lobelia, White Snakeroot... and with that, I believe I'll go on over to my hiking grounds. Despite wanting to recoil from the heat and humidity, I might as well embrace it and sweat some things out.

Until next time... x