Tag Archives: nature

Mount Liamuiga

1185510_10151854289507790_1387038499_nFirst off, I owe an apology to those who read my blog. I am very sorry that I have not written in quite some time. I have several posts in the works but the words just have not flowed well. I think writing about my adventure here is a good, easy start off to get my jump started back into blogging. Hopefully after this I can get the other posts done that I have been working on.

On Friday, I finally got to complete one of the big things on my bucket list for the island. I finally hiked the volcano here on St. Kitts. What an experience that was. I have been on the island for a year straight now and sometimes it’s difficult to find time for nature here in vet school. Often times it is just my time on the beach or my walks in the toxic plant garden on campus. There are several hiking trails on the island and I have yet to explore any of them. There is also the fact that life here sometimes feels like a constant battle with the island. We are always dealing with massive, poisonous centipedes, thousands of ants bent on eating your food, and humidity that would crush all productivity. It is hard, sometimes to enjoy the nature when it is downright oppressive, but I try my best and work hard to find beauty in every moment. So when my friends said they wanted to do this, I leapt. The six of us got up bright and early in a failed attempt to avoid the heat of the day.
It was possibly the most challenging hike that I have ever been on. The volcano itself is just under 4,000 feet at the summit, but the trail switchbacks the whole way up. It took us the better part of four hours to get to the top. I was determined that this long hike would be a spiritual experience. I packed an offering to the spirits of the land and meditated on the path before we set off.

A tree that happened to catch my eye.

A tree that happened to catch my eye.

The dog made a troupe of monkeys rather unhappy. They shouted at us and threw things as we passed by.

The dog made a troupe of monkeys rather unhappy. They shouted at us and threw things as we passed by.

This is the first time I have ever been in a rainforest. The plants and animals were almost entirely foreign to me. I only recognized the green vervet monkeys that we disturbed at one point. I found myself in awe as the plant life and bird calls changed with the rising altitude.  It was not very hot on the mountain, but under the rainforest canopy, the humidity was extremely high. We had all sweat through every piece of clothing we wore within less than an hour of hiking the trail. It was a trance-inducing experience. Between the physical exertion, the constant sweating and the forest close in all around us, I was quickly in another state of mind. The volcano became more of a challenge as we hiked on. Some of our group just plowed on up the mountain, while some lagged behind, needing breaks. I played the middle man to keep the two groups together and it gave me a lot of time to just quietly observe the jungle around me and listen to the sounds of nature over the sound of my pounding heart.  There was a tree that caught my eye because the area where old branches had broken off looked like evil little, laughing faces, taunting us as we struggled up the mountain. I called them the jumbie trees, after the local spirits. They seemed to be daring us to go on. I also found a natural doorway  to the otherworld in a tree alongside the path. I made friends with that doorway while waiting for stragglers.

Jumbie Tree

Jumbie Tree

Tree Doorway

Tree Doorway

After almost four hours of hiking and scaling boulders, we finally made the summit. Most of it was under heavy forest, but there was one area where you could get on top of a large cliff and look out over the crater and out on to the Caribbean Sea. The crater was amazing. I am normally terrified of heights, but for some reason, my inner mountain goat took over. I climbed out onto that perch you see in the first picture and some time there, just listening to the wind and drinking in the beauty of the island.  The photo is deceiving, because that rock is actually pretty high up and out over the forest. You can sit there and look right over the crater and the sulfur lake inside or turn left and see Saba and the Caribbean Sea. It was a breathtaking seat.

DSCN2478

The cliff face and Caribbean Sea from my perch

I meditated for a bit on the summit, then brought out what I had to offer. A shot of rum and my some of my white sage and tobacco. I got a big feeling of joy and relaxation after that. I had finally been to the highest point on the island and seen the crater. It felt like a big achievement, for some reason. I did not really question why, just basked in the feeling. The volcano itself is sleeping. It has lain dormant for over a thousand years since its last eruption. It is still active, and we get occasional tremors on the island. The rainforest on its summit is very much alive though. It was a great treat to have been there. I really hope that I can do it again before I graduate. Maybe spend more time at the top. There are also many other hiking trails to be explored.

Blue snail

Blue snail

Caribbean fiddlehead

Caribbean fiddlehead

fungus!

fungus!

This was an amazing experience. I loved seeing all kinds of new plants. I am determined now to learn the names of as many of them as possible in my time here (as if I don’t already have enough to learn in vet school as it is).

So what is your next adventure? What is your mountain to climb? I say, go for it. You may be surprised by what you find.


My Beach

A stone pile that I found on the deck when I arrived. It really added to the magic of the place that I intended to use

A little stone pile that I built atop a volcanic boulder. To be washed away when the tide comes in along with my stress and fears

My new necklace after being blessed by the sea upon a second cairn that I built next to the ones that were already on the deck

The altar I built in my room. A circle of 5 stones from the beach which were gifts to me. My tourmaline. A jasper skull and some sea shells for the spirits here. A place for me to do my work as well as a way to bring the sea into my living space.

Having just taken two anatomy exams in one week, I find myself a little fried and words are not being my friend. So I decided that 5 photos would be work more than I could say in words. I have been a busy vet student without a lot of time for spirituality, but I do find some moments now and again. I am quite excited for Halloween despite having a test that day and currently having caught the Caribbean plague cough that is going around campus. I have great plans involving my beach and some witchery and general awesomeness made more awesome by the corresponding full moon. Very excited. If I do not hear from any of you before Samhain night, may you have a magical night. Have fun and stay safe.

Iolair

 

 


The Old Growth Forest

I walk along the sidewalks of my development. The well-manicured suburban lawns and topiaries pass by, lit by a full moon. It is a familiar course that I walk, I have done it hundreds of times in my waking life. I come to a favorite place, where the suburban lawns end and an empty, fenced off lot begins. The trees and plants here are not friendly and held back by lawnmowers and chain link fence. They live next to the highway and have to fight for survival, but I have made friends with them. I ask nothing of them except leave to sit beneath their branches. I pass by the lot until I get to the gate that divides the “pristine” suburban world from that patch of wild. I take one look back at the topiary across the street and wrinkle my nose, then turn back to the gate. I smile as I step through it.

Immediately, the world changes. The drone of traffic on the highway, the airplanes roaring overhead, the dogs barking among the houses all gone. The barren, poisoned patch of forest that is normally there is now gone completely. I stand in an old forest. Older than any I have ever been in in my life. The trees here make my King of the Forest look like a child. I turn behind me and found the same chain link gate. It is rusted and the hinges barely held the gate up, and the rest of the fence was nowhere to be seen, but that gate is still there. I step up to the nearest tree and held my hand out to it, run my fingers over the bark. It is so old and wise and strong. I have never met anything so old in all my life. I smile as my hands feel the rough bark beneath them. I turn my head to study the forest around me. The ground is coated in brown leaves and occasionally some pine needles. I can see oaks, beeches, sycamores, and even a hemlock or two. I can hear a small brook babbling over the rocks somewhere nearby, the wind through the ancient trees and some birdsong. I inhale deeply and take in all the scents of the forest.

Then, I am running, weaving in and out of trees and jumping brooks.  Not fleeing, just running for the sake of it.  My bare feet push me along faster than I have ever run before. They are hard and calloused, unaffected by the undergrowth or terrain. The knee that gives me so much trouble in waking life is not painful at all. The asthma that holds me back un waking life is nowhere to be felt. My lungs expand and contract unhindered and powerful. I can feel every muscle as they work in harmony to propel me along. I feel free. I marvel at this feeling to run like I never have before.

My attention returns to the old forest around me. I am not alone. As I crash through the undergrowth I can hear and feel something running with me. I catch a glimpse here and there through the trees of a tan blur. Curious of who I am running with, I stop, and so does my companion.  A pair of massive antlers push through the undergrowth, and there before me is Stag, noble and proud. His tan coat gleamed in the moonlight, and his deep brown eyes bored into mine.  The spirit that has helped me and guided me for some time now stands before me in all his kingly splendor.  He reaches out and touches my chest with his nose, a sad, apologetic look in his eyes.  My chest tingles where he touched, and I realize that I have the brand on my chest. It is now healed completely, leaving only the design in ghostly white scar tissue upon my pec.  I reach out and touch his face and antlers and then wrap my arms around his neck in a hug. I can smell the earthy, musky scent of him. He then turns away towards the forest, moving his head as if to follow.

Then we are running again. This time together. I try to show off and outrun him, and he allows it for a few strides before leaving me in the dust.  We run together like this for some time. Most of the time with me just keeping pace and following him along his trails through the forest.  When the moon was low in the sky, about to set, Stag slowed to a jog and then a stop in a familiar clearing.  He looks into my eyes again. His look said “We will meet again.”  I shake my head as I spot the gate through which I came to this forest. I do not want to leave. Why would I want to return to topiaries and asthma when I can have the freedom of this forest? He stamps his hoof, indicating no room for argument. I resignedly move towards the gate, happy that I can at least return.  I give Stag a last hug and he assures me without words that I am welcome here when I want to return. Happy in that knowledge, I walk back through the gate and into suburbia.  I turn to look back at the gate and see the sad trees that live there in waking life.  I whisper a thank you to them.

I open my eyes to look at the ceiling of my bedroom. The sky is just beginning to lighten, indicating sunrise. My covers are kicked off into a tangled mass at the foot of my bed. I stretch and then fix the comforter. I roll over and go back to sleep with a big smile on my face. I do need some proper sleep before starting my normal day.