Blood Red Roses

Amazing just how tiring standing in front of a mic laying down tracks can be. No, it’s not an album yet, but it will be soon. Blood Red Roses is the title track, and it kind of encapsulates the album. You know who your mother was, and your grandmother, but how about your great-grandmother? How about female ancestors from farther back? Why is this? Why does the line of blood go through the father alone? These are things we don’t often think about, let alone talk about, and when we do, the conversations usually generate more heat and noise than light.

This song takes the long view. It goes all the way from the Paleolithic to the present. It just struck me one day that the earliest sculptures of humans yet found are of women–and they are faceless. When we finally saw our planet–the organism we are all part of, it, too, is of course faceless. We will never truly know what those first artists were thinking, but for me, living at the time when we first saw our planet as a whole, those two images are linked. Were the carvers thinking of deity? Of all women? Or something else entirely? Those images are all found in Eurasia, another fact the significance of which we don’t know and may never know. The mystery is a gift in and of itself. We are not all-knowing, and right now, I think we can use a reminder of that fact. It might make us think before we act, and see what we can learn in the process. That’s what humans do, after all, when we’re at our best.

This song started life as a sea chantey, also called Blood Red Roses.

The next track on the album is also a pan-European story, that comes to us by way of Wales. It’s the tale of Blodeuedd, and I posted it here.

Next time: Moving forward in time our next stop is the ballad of Tam Lin.

Wilderness Is All Around You


I’m finding the Rewilding Challenge to be a very druidic exercise. It teaches you to see, not just look, and to learn from what you see. The variety to be found in the exercises and the short time given to each of them makes it all manageable, and leaves you wanting more of the ones you like. It’s sort of a sampler platter for awareness as seen through the wild world around us.



I don’t get to a truly wild place very often, so I did more than one exercise that day and revisited some as well. Spending thirty minutes looking at a two foot square of ground was very rewarding. Praying mantises are the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the insect world and this one definitely dominated the experience. I watched it catch and consume a ladybug, and when it caught me photographing it it stood up high and proud and threatened me, waving its arms in challenge. Even mantises have something to fear, however, and except for then, it confined itself the the undersides of leaves or within the shelter of the grass stems. Birds probably find them quite tasty.


There’s an old growth redwood in the area I chose, and I’ve been looking for it ever since I’ve known it was there. I didn’t find it today either, but I did get a chance to explore the hillsides. This is the view from the East Bay Hills. I ran across a hillside guardian. Technically no one is supposed to camp there, but this person’s site was clean and well kept, and we were on the same page almost immediately about the trash everywhere (we take what we can out with us and leave none) and the value of having a mental map of the area. It was nice to see someone living with the land like that.


I found the other thing I was looking for, though, the entrance to the trail that runs from the bottom of the stream to the top. I’d gone all the way up it once, but never down, and I knew the upper entrance wasn’t marked. This is a good thing, as the tagging and garbage stop well down from the top of the trail because people don’t know where it is. This place is one of the few truly wild places easily accessible by the city bus system, and it’s frankly easier to take the bus to the top of the hill and walk down than to do it the other way around.


It was great to see it end to end from the top.

I even got fed, and got a chance to take a pair of pix I’d wanted to blog for a long time. A Druid of my acquaintance taught me the difference between a Himalayan (British species) blackberry and the native California kind.


Only the Himalayans are fruiting up there right now, but they were delicious as always The difference between the two is in the leaves and spines. Himalayans have five rounded leaves and thick sharp thorns.


Native berries have three leaves, pointed and more crumpled than the Himalayas and their thorns are hairlike and there are lots more of them.

What are your wild places? How do you get to them? Why do you go to them? What do they teach you?


Rewilding My Life


My hands are filthy and I reek of redwood.

I found out about the Rewild Your Life 30 Day Challenge today, and decided to go for it.

Being in the middle of the city as I was at the time, finding a tree to spend 30 minutes of quality time under was definitely the first challenge.

I ended up going up–literally. I spent half an hour in a small redwood on the grounds of the Oakland Marriott. Being in the middle of a fenced lawn next to a loading dock, they probably didn’t feel they needed to buzz the branches off below the first four feet or so. I was glad I’d dressed in muted colors today, even though I’d had no idea I’d be climbing in the corporate forest today.


I took a quick look around, grabbed a branch, swung my feet up onto another and disappeared into the tree. Pulling my busking basket through with me was cumbersome, but possible, and I tied it to a branch about ten feet off the ground. I guess there was a reason I had all those ribbons and bits of leather hanging off the sides besides the Renaissance Faire look. Climbing in a skirt was a skill that came back to me in an instant.


It was like going back to college. I used to climb trees all the time back then. I even lived in one for a time. Why did I stop? It was just as delicious now as it was then to be sitting on a branch, completely alone in the heart of the city. No one looks up, and no one looks for people in trees. Secure among the branches I played my tinwhistle, just as I’d done back then. Then I closed my eyes and felt the tree move with the wind.


Meanwhile, the birds went about their business and so did the people. The layers of wildness and civilization were clear to see. They were there all along, of course, but we have to stop and settle to see them. As I stood up on the branch, preparing to descend, I saw a birds nest on one of the limbs. It was long empty, but nice to see that another creature had taken advantage of the shelter of the redwoods to do what was needful.


If you want to join the challenge, or just see what other people have done, follow the link at the top of the post. Look for the hashtags