I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Thursday, June 02, 2011

tenth hike of 2011: pennypack ecological restoration trust, best hike yet (?), plus, Swedenborgians!


Possibly my favorite of the new plants I've learned this year: the may apple, whose homespun-sounding name does not betray its strange and potent nature--one of its aliases is American mandrake, which suits it better. Each may apple makes one paired set of fruits that taste, I think, a little like pomegranate seeds, and should not be eaten in large quantities; the may apple contains podophyllotoxin in all its parts, a poison which can overcome cancer and venereal disease; and--one of my native plant enthusiast friends told me--a grove of may apples is actually one organism, each stem emanating from an ancient root that can live for centuries. The may apple is the only plant of its genus in the Americas; its closest cousins live in China, Tibet, and the mysterious, Yeti-haunted Himalayas.

(To me they look like symbols of the true, occult sun that alchemists believed burned with philosophical fire.)


Since the first of the year we've been making our way through a mediocre hiking book, 50 Greatest Hikes of the Delaware Valley (I change the name every time I reference it, so I can malign it freely), and I think we agreed that the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust is our favorite so far--though we've been so many great places this year, it's tough to pick one!

The Pennypack creek is an historic mill creek that begins in Montgomery County PA and ends 22 miles downstream in Northeast Philly. We saw downstream Pennypack with our friend the Duchess in April, and last week, at the end of a spell of mellow, cool, rainy, English weather, did upstream Pennypack--


My hiking companion and camerado loves streams, so this was a great hike for him. I was particularly excited to see the managed meadows of the Pennypack Trust; land in the Delaware Valley yearns to be oak hickory forest, so meadows are rare here:


I'm fascinated by manipulated landscapes that exist in cooperation with nature. In the creation of a natural, but anthropogenic place, a meadow maker performs a task that would otherwise be the work of fire--he becomes fire's proxy. Meadow makers actively sculpt the land, passively farm it, and offer hospitality to meadow birds and insects.

There was also a perfect pond, where we heard green frogs calling:


and lush riparian woods, where we saw bladdernut:


and a rustic Swedenborgian kiosk:


It's good to know there are Swedenborgians around; Swedenborg influenced some of my favorite minds: Yeats, Borges, Jung, and Blake--there's a Rushmore for you--and my mother, who was always just heterodox enough to make the other evangelicals nervous.


I wish she could have seen this idyllic Swedenborgian garden, she would have thought it was cool. We did!

After our hike, we went to Earth Bread Brewery in Mount Airy to celebrate our tenth hike, because we went there after hike #1, in the bleak midwinter.

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