It's been a busy summer so far, since the beginning ofJune we have had one initiation with another one coming up next week, An outdoor Litha celebration in the park, and a Ritual Leadership workshop... not to mention spending time with our friends and loved ones in the summer sun! I have been out in the Garden for much of the summer, escaping the dark hallways of the theaters I normally work in. Both the community garden and my personal gardens, with the occasional glass of red wine with the sunset on my balcony.
As you can see I have a bit of a green thumb and love growing things. I have been running my local community garden for 3 years now. And through working on the Community Garden I became a member of the Master Gardeners Association of Alberta. Please note: I am not a Master Gardener and do not pretend to be, they just let me come out to play and are encouraging me to become a Master Gardener. I am thinking about it...
Anyhow, I had the opportunity this past weekend to go on a Botany walk through Nose Hill Park with the Master Gardeners Association of Alberta guided by Gus Yaki. It was not a hard walk physically (anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good long hike) but it was a walk that made my mind work. In a 3 hour session we had walked maybe 500m and identified over 50 plants. Their scientific names, common names, their uses, how to identify them or differentiate them from similar species. We saw three deer, a Swainson's Hawk carrying a pocket gopher, grasshoppers, dragonflies, two species of bees, and a Bedstraw Hawkmoth Caterpillar.
There was discussion regarding how over 80% of the park is no longer native species... there are also a great many invasive species in the park. Discussion on how insecticide use in Costa Rica can affect bird population in Canada and hence our rodent population. By the end of the walk my mind was stuffed full of information.
But it was also walk that connected me more strongly to the earth, by learning the names of the plants and how to identify them, it was like meeting a new neighbour.
Hi! Welcome to the neighbourhood. What's your name?
- Thanks! My name is Amelanchier alnifolia
Wow, That is a mouthful! Amel... Do you have a nickname?
- Oh sure, most people call me Saskatoon berries.
Wonderful, Can I call you that?
- Absolutely, but it is good to know my real name just in case my cousins come over, we can be hard to tell apart - genetics. LOL.
Ok. Where are you from?
-I'm a local, from the prairies.
Really?! What do you do for a living?
-Oh I'm an edible berry, the Indigenous peoples in these parts use me in pemmican.
Ok, not quite... but you get the picture. Some plants, like neighbours, we get along with and others...well, we would really prefer they moved somewhere else.
The walk also made me understand how much we truly live in a global environment, where what we do today can and will likely affect someone on the other side of the planet. The choices our ancestors made affect us today and will for generations to come. It has made me ponder what decisions am I making today, and how they will affect future generations.