CURRENT MOON

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oaks and Beltane


My little cottage is surrounded by some (three-to-four-hundred-year) old oaks. They help me to ground; every day I run my roots down into the red Virginia clay where these lovely beings have been thriving since before America was America. They also center me; I know that I am home when I can feel myself surrounded by oaks. They support the squirrel clans who are my closest neighbors and they provide housing for over a half-a-dozen different kinds of birds. They shade my house in the summer, give me more than enough firewood, and provide me with provenance. I'm not embarrassed to announce myself to the Elements or to the Potomac River when I can state that I come from that bit of Earth bounded by all of those old oaks. There are callouses on my hands from raking up oak leaves and acorns; those are my bona fides to the doors between the worlds.

"My" oaks are slowly dying; although oaks can live 400 or 500 years, global climate change is drying out our summers and stressing our oaks, making them subject to oak borers, which kill them within a few years, at the most. Since I moved here almost a decade ago, my neighbor and I have had to take down three of them, and the final few are only going to last another couple of years.

When they go, we will probably replace them with pine trees. No leaves and acorns to rake every Fall. But I am not sure how I will know, without them, that it is Beltane.

Yesterday, I came home from work and sat outside for a long time in the woodland garden. There was not an oak catkin to be seen. Not one. I wandered the whole yard; no oak catkins. Today, I came home from work and there were oak catkins all over my front steps, all over my back deck, all over everywhere. It's as if, at some point in the last 12 hours, the bell sounded and every oak tree in the neighborhood said, "Oh, OK, time for the Great Rite. Here you go!"

There's never been a Beltane here at my little cottage when I haven't gone out, an hour or two before the Witches showed up, and swept mounds of oak catkins off the steps and deck. There's never been a Beltane when I went out at dawn to wash my face in dew and didn't find the dew full of yellow-green oak pollen. How will I know that it's Beltane when all of my old companions are gone?

What tells you, sans doubte, that it's only days until Beltane?

Picture found here.

10 comments:

Cari Ferraro said...

When the cottonwood trees along the creek behind myself start releasing their puffs. In Fellini's movie "Amarcord" the movie begins and ends with these puffs. Then I know it's Beltane time.

Cari

nanoboy said...

Go ahead and replace those oaks with other oaks, maybe varieties from further south. You should consider live oak, southern red oak, or maybe blackjack oak.

Celestial Elf said...

Thinking of your Oaks ....
thought you might enjoy my Beltane Blessing machinima film
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VElZSplpxQc
Bright Blessings
elf ~

Teacats said...

Around DFW so many oaks are killed by mistletoe -- there were SO many fine specimens near out home -- but now -- far too few!

liminal-spaces said...

Living in southern New Hampshire, its the achingly bright yellow of forsythia. One day there's a collection of bare branches, the next there's an explosion of color, shouting "Yellow!" at all who pass.

Clymela/Singing Sparrow said...

I so loved this article although I know nothing of oaks. With your guidance I have become conscious of the water table and the water that rushes through this land to the bay so near by and from there of course to the Pacific. I know that I will open more to my land because of you. Thank you dear one.

Souris Optique said...

Pine trees really don't shed any less, and instead of the little catkins you get a thick sinus-killing cover of yellow powder. And they shatter in ice storms.

nanoboy said...

Well, I can't speak ill of pines (as they are the topic of my dissertation) so I will have to point out that people are not generally allergic to their pollen. Most conifers have non-allergenic pollen, actually. Junipers (including eastern redcedar) are notable exceptions, but if allergies are a major concern, don't plant oaks, birches, or elms.

Marcellina said...

When they go, we will probably replace them with pine trees. No leaves and acorns to rake every Fall. But I am not sure how I will know, without them, that it is Beltane.

The spruce trees in "my" woods have all been dropping cones like crazy. So perhaps you will still get the sign!

Souris Optique said...

*lol* I suppose I'm a freak then, nanoboy -- pine trees are the *only* pollen I'm allergic to. I didn't know that was so unusual.:)