We spent a fascinating day with Ancel at the Botanical Gardens learning about the layers and language of the Rainforest during our recent Women’s Warriorship Retreat in Costa Rica. Here’s a glimpse into her world:
I like to talk with trees. It’s not necessarily a verbal communication— though quite often conversations do begin with an uttered word or sound—it’s more of a moment of shared consciousness. Some trees catch my attention, others are regular conversationalists. Right now the nispero, the largest tree on the farm, is dropping fruit. It’s a beautiful thing to see a tree in fruit; primal; abundant: there will be . . .
And the forest celebrates: great lolloping morpho butterflies arc and stagger through the air; green and brown butterflies lazily open and close their wings as though doing so helped pump the juice into their bodies; bees and wasps collide and collude on heaps of the salmon brown fruit; clouds of fruit flies rise as I walk through: ants order, dissect, remove; black beetles dive below sticky peels. The insects are the most obvious, but wait a moment, stand still (if you can bear those clouds of fruit flies); there’s a dozen lizards, frogs, spiders here to feed on the feasters. Birds perch on branches looking sharp and full on the banquet below. Squirrels and agoutis dash in and out, gorging between. Look more closely and another layer will appear: grubs, larvae, maggots move through the pulp, stirring it up, breaking it down, spreading it out. Tonight raccoons, skunks, armadillos, rats and martillos will snuffle through enjoying sweet and meat together. Bats and moths will step in to butterflies’ footsteps. Tomorrow a new world will arrive – molds, yeasts, fungi, bacteria feeding off the sugars and the debris. These new folk will bring a different wave of insects and worms. Gently the leftovers – sugars, acids, exoskeletons, poop and pee will enter the earth and the nispero and all her neighbors will inch rootlets and mycelium forward into the nutrient stew.
And there she is in the center of the feast, the hostess. How could one not appreciate her generosity? A simple thanks is not enough. Awe and wonder and sheer delight in the magical coherence of nature, the exuberance of communal forest life. I feel nurtured. I honor and appreciate. And she answers, as almost always the trees do,
“that’s ok, it’s all ok”.
Sometimes I worry if a tree limb cracks in a storm, that thought stopping noise which raises the shoulders and the pulse. The tear looks always ragged and sore, the heartwood exposed so pale in contrast. I have felt pain and sorrow, offered my condolences.
“That’s ok, it’s all ok”
… and always comes new growth, opportunity, change. The opened space becomes a hive of activity with sun and air bringing different species of plant and insect, creating a new and dynamic micro-environment. Seeds sprout, tendrils reach, leaves unfurl. A spider casts her web across the open space and lizards bask in the dappled glow beneath. Meanwhile the fallen limb becomes home then food for others, before finally turning back into rich dark soil. The forest gains.
Wise teachers, trees.
About the Author
Ancel Mitchell has been a Waldorf educator for 18 years, teaching in the UK, USA and Costa Rica. She has been working with the energetic and medicinal uses of plants and environments for much longer. She lives on a permaculture farm with a healthy, vibrant and well utilized medicinal garden, gives workshops and classes on plants and makes chocolate in her spare time. Ancel teaches during the Sacred Warriorship retreats in Costa Rica.