Updated: Nov 4
A short and sweet newsletter this season, since we’ve had a busy start to the fall! Here’s a couple of highlights from the past few months:
It was wet and cold for Mabon this year (thanks Tropical Storm Ophelia), but pagans are not deterred! It was wonderful to see everyone who was able to make it out to join us, including our friends over at the Firefly House.
Photo credit: Mason
Intro to Backpacking
Of course, sometimes pagans are deterred by the weather. Since rain and freezing temperatures make for a miserable slog, the backpacking trip relocated from WV to South Mountain State Park in MD. We had excellent fall weather and some gorgeous views.
Photo credit: Top left and bottom right from Jackson, Top right and bottom left from Caitlin
The latest details on all WB events are on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/wilderness-between/events/
The next Planning Council Meeting for Jan-Mar events will be held December 15, 2023
In keeping with the spirit of growth and our purpose as a collective organization, we would like to hear from members who have skills they would like to share or events they would like to lead. If you feel called to do so, please visit the new page on our website and fill out the form here:
Silent Twilight Walk/Meditation
Sun, Nov 5 · 4:30 PM
Byron Avenue Park
Sat, Nov 12 · Time TBD
Book Discussion: StarHawk’s “The Earth Path”
Sun, Nov 12 · 7:00 PM
Sun, Nov 26 · 7:30 PM
Getting to Know Trees
Sat, Dec 2 · Time TBD
Yule Sunrise Hike
Sun, Dec 17 · 6:30 AM
Rock Creek Park
New Years Hike
Mon, Jan 1 · 10:00 AM
Patapsco Valley State Park
Friends of WB
The Firefly House Samhain Celebration
Sat Nov 11 · 4:30 PM
Frederick CUUPS: Intro to FCUUPs
Sat Nov 4 · 12:00 PM
Virtual Bardic Circle
Thoughts on the First Frost
In Montgomery County, Maryland, we had our first frost early on Thursday morning. Wednesday, my squash vines had been setting out nearly a dozen new fruits, and I had been admiring the sunny yellow dahlias that bloom this time of year. On Thursday, the squash looked almost as if it had melted - sad and limp, with some leaves turned crispy. The cheerful dahlias looked bedraggled, and the leaves turned black. The frost is, for me, the definitive line crossed that signals the end of the summer and the beginning of winter.
Frost happens when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, when water vapor condenses out of the air and settles on a cool surface, like the leaves of plants. It’s a frozen form of dew. A light frost can form around 30-32 degrees, but will melt quickly and will usually only harm the least cold hardy plants. As temperatures drop lower, frost damage increases and it becomes a “killing frost”. In a killing frost, water expands when it freezes, and the water within plant cells bursts through the cell walls, causing the plant to die and transforming the landscape overnight.
Trees and cold hardy perennials, however, undergo a series of changes that protect them from frost damage. The changing leaves of the trees and plants around us indicate that these changes are already underway. One way trees adapt is by making their cell membranes more pliable and allowing water to leave cells and move into the spaces between them. When that water freezes, it exerts pressure on the cell walls but doesn’t burst them.
They also thicken the fluids in their cells by converting starches to sugar, lowering the freezing point inside the cells to prevent freezing. Trees can then keep the living cells around the outside of the trunk from freezing even while the dead cells that form most of its above ground parts freeze next to them! It’s said that certain cold hardy plants, like kale and brussels sprouts, are sweeter and tastier after a frost because of this process.
This is the time of year when all but the hardiest of food plants, things like kale, broccoli, mustard greens, and carrots, die, and even they will greatly slow their growth until the light returns. It’s the final chance you have to harvest most things as the summer growing season abruptly ends. The death of our gardens, the falling of leaves, and the changing of the living world from green to brown invites thoughts of death, of letting go, of loss and grief. The old falls away, plants and trees rest, the dead leaves and plants decay, undergoing transformation and eventually rebirth in the spring. We are reminded that nothing is permanent, and to be part of the living world is to be part of this cycle of life, death, decay, and transformation.
Nature can’t stay the same - to be static is to become stagnant. When we cling to things that no longer serve us, old assumptions, old stories we have about ourselves, old ways of viewing our relationship with the living world, ideas of who we should be, old wounds, we become stuck and unable to grow. All change and renewal involves loss and death. The things we lose in our lives, our little deaths, can over time transform to be nourishing compost that allows us to grow again.
As the seasons change, when you spend time outside among the trees, take some time to notice the changes happening in the landscape around you, what the plants, animals, and bugs are doing as the living world begins to change. Maybe you could consider whether the coming, irrevocable change of the land through death and release has any messages or meaning for you in your own life. What have you lost? What is it time to release, to let fall away, to decay and transform into new growth in the spring?
Meet a Steward
Jillian was raised with the woods as their playground. Now he is a tree-hugging, atheist, barefoot-enthusiast Druid with an intuition-first practice. A casual linguist, baker, crochet-er (ist?), and origami aficionado, she spends time with her spouse wrangling two kids and one cat. If xe sees something sacred in the woods, xe WILL touch it.
Contact Rosey and Caitlin via Meetup or Discord if you have something you would like to share with the community and we will include it in the next newsletter.