Day 13 of The Year

So at some point somebody is going to say ” Hey, you keep pressuring us to rebel. But look at you, you’re just an armchair activist, safe behind your computer. What are you really doing that’s so revolutionary?”

And they’ll be right to ask that question. And maybe I am an armchair activist, at least in some respects. But armchairs are comfy, and a great spot for nursing babies with my milky breasts, and reading to beloved nephews, and snuggling with dogs, and husbands, and having great conversations with neighbors, family, and friends, or even making love if you’re so inclined…but I digress.

So, I think it’s time to share my rewilding story with all of you.


For the past 11 years, Wil and I have dedicated ourselves to rewilding. Our bodies, our souls, our minds, our land. “What does that mean?”you ask.”You say that, but what did that really look like?”

It looked like sunrise to sunset spent outside. It looked like the squirrel’s nest in winter, the Black Walnut Tree Bark, The Peterson’s Field Guide to birds. It looked like the eye ring of a robin, the tracks of the deer, the first pluck of the first string of the first bow and first arrow we ever made from scratch. It looked like the blood dripping from the first deer butchered in a beloved College Ave. apartment’s backyard. It looked like books- piles and piles and piles of mentors in the form of pages and words. It looked like, at least to our family, at least at first, we were wasting our time, our talents, our lives.

It sounded like the Great Horned Owl’s call, the song of the cicada, and the whispering of Mill Creek. It sounded like long conversations with local old-timers, fishermen, naturalists, farmers, and land lovers. It sounded like the beloved voices of my brilliant mentors, Sarah Preston, and Katie Singer.

It smelled like the organs of a road kill raccoon, and the urine smell of nettles, and the horsey barn smell of a fresh deer lay. It smelled like sun on water, and the decay of fall leaves, and the earthy aroma of stones. It smelled like the first whisp of smoke from the first successful bow drill fire, and the rubbery smell of band-aids for the blisters caused by the hand drill.

It tasted like the fresh, sun kissed fruit of the wineberry bush, the dry mouth tannins of an acorn, the prickling pain of calcium oxalate crystals (oops!). It tasted like the wild water from a mineral rich spring, the backstrap of the first successfully butchered deer, the first successfully grown squash from our garden and the still beating heart of the snake. It tasted like the terrifying taste of the first wild mushroom and the sweet drop of honey at the base of the honeysuckle flower.

It felt like the shell of the snapping turtle, the mud between our toes, the sting of the nettle  and the itch of the poison ivy. It felt like leaves in my hair from our first night spent in a debris hut of our own making. It felt like digging our hands into the soil of our first garden, never having enough money, and working menial jobs. It felt like tanning hides with brain, it felt like the stitches needed while learning to use a knife, it felt like the sharp sting of learning to flintknap. It felt like sleeping in the back of a suburu, in the back of a van, in a wall tent, in a tent, in our dear friends’ yurt, and under the stars. It felt like cold wind on warm cheeks, warm sun on cold skin, and the bite of a dip in an icy cold mountain stream.

It felt like falling in love.

With each other, with ourselves, with kindred spirits (and we discovered there are many) with our ancestors, with the land, with the creator.

And it still does. This is a love affair that never ends. Because each day we learn something new. Because each time we see the spots on the back of a salamander, or hear the call of the pileated, or plant the heirloom seeds of the ancient corn in our backyard garden, we fall in love all over again.

And the rebellion part here is that we teach. Anything people want to know. Nature observation, permaculture, gardening, natural healthcare, plant lore, herbalism, how to make a bow and arrow, shelter making, anatomy and physiology, rebellion 101…anything we know we’re more than happy to pass on, sometimes for pay, sometimes for free, and always for free if that’s all you’ve got.



We are living proof that two people, products, born and raised in the culture of destruction can rewild themselves to the point that they are unrecognizable even to themselves.

Living proof that we can love the land so hard that we forget where we end and nature begins.

So we believe the rewilding process is threefold, that to heal from the wounds we all suffer as members of this culture we must: rewild ourselves, rewild the land, and actively rebel against the culture of destruction.

For us this has meant learning about our bodies, minds, and spirits and how to keep them healthy naturally, how to become more aware and more attuned to our surroundings.

It has meant learning the details about ecosystems, permaculture and plants, and growing techniques that allow us to understand and tend to, and enhance the landscapes and  around us.

And it has meant organizing,  protesting, and monkey wrenching; fighting for and standing up against, and connecting to others who feel the same way.

“But this has taken years!” you say. “And you said you’re STILL learning. And really, what has it all amounted to? The world is still all messed up.” Yes, that’s true, and here comes the heart of the matter.

I believe we are running out of time to learn these things. The planet, our bodies, our minds, and our souls can only take so much. We are running on empty, stretched too thin, afraid to make a change, and spinning our wheels.

It’s true, I’m just a mama, an auntie, a wife, a tender of wild spaces, an activist, a lover of the land, a teacher. I’m just one person.

But that “just” is a tricky thing. It’s the governor on the merry go round that keeps you from going at break neck speed. The speed bump in the road that slows you down, and the anchor that keeps the boat tethered to the bank.

And if we take the anchor off, remove that tricky “just”, the statement reads very differently.

I’m a mama, an auntie, a wife, a tender of wild spaces, an activist, a lover of the land. I AM one person.

And that small change changes everything.

Refuse to do nothing.

Rewild yourself, the landbase, your community. Dismantle the culture of destruction.

Take the anchor off, and go at breakneck speed.

Because we just don’t have much time.

And this is one of the reasons why.

I could list a billion others.

Thank you for listening,



And here’s a beautiful guest post by my amazing friend and The Year’s photographer, Michelle. Thank you Michelle! Love you. The photos are also hers.

The wall of green.
before i knew a single plant, before knowing them became a part of my life, there was the wall of green. the countless plants, trees, shrubs, and vines that crowded together and blended one into the next into the next so that everything looked so similar. it seemed  daunting to learn their names, their uses, whether they were edible, or good for medicine. that is, until i moved to lancaster and met the many beautiful souls who reside here. the ones who know this earth like the back of their hands because the earth IS the back of our hands, and the soles of our feet, and our hearts and lungs, and i didn’t sit as they lectured me and memorize facts. we explored everything.
then i’d go back to the wall of gray. the asphalt. the fumes. cars honking, lights flashing, signs everywhere telling me where to turn, where to stop, what not to do. someplace or another under constant construction, crowding us in. the poles with their endless swooping electric and telephone lines i tried with all my heart not to see.
the wall of gray is the picture of my grief. i mourn the wall of gray and all of us who suffer behind it. the neglect of this planet by civilization. the gradual taking over and poisoning of very things we need to survive. it makes me feel sick, sad, confused, scared, hopeless, and angry. i didn’t know/still don’t quite know how to handle or deal with this sadness. so i go back to the woods again and again.
we hiked at county park. at kelly’s run. at house rock. martic park. reed run. susquehannock state park. chickie’s rock. trout run. fishingcreek nature preserve. spent time at the farmacy. gradually ran into the same plants again and again- stinging nettles, jewelweed, mullein, gill-over-the-ground, solomon’s seal. those funny, foreign-to-me names. i would ask, “what’s that one again?”, and wil would reply, “yeah, what’s that one?”, so i learned to use identification keys and narrow down the search myself. plants have stories and they were told to me by many different people and books. suddenly, the wall of green began to come down. the thrills came everytime i set foot on those trails. i played and observed and thought and realized. i interacted with everything surrounding me. i saw indian cucumber, spring beauty, jack-in-the-pulpit, snake plantain, indian pipe, rue. on the farm i tended the medicinal herbs, echinacea, mint, hyssop, all of them. starting learning from eli how to heal myself with plants. i grew so fond of these that i began thinking of them as friends. everyday there were new friends to be made. every season a delicious new edible i’d never heard of- from trout lilies to wineberries to air potatoes to paw paws.
i guess what i’m trying to say is, the wall of green holds my heart behind it. bringing down that wall makes it easier for me to wake up everyday and love the world all over again. i couldn’t do it otherwise.
what makes it easier for you?

One response to “rewilding

  1. Mmmmm…. good sensory descriptions,
    I could go on & on, but now is not the time.
    Yes and yes.
    Amen and amen.

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