Sep 17, 2013

Please Touch

This morning I was walking beside the river, stopping to look closely at the plants just now blooming, and those releasing seeds or fruit, and I was struck at how strong the need to touch is for me.  I ran my palms over rabbit brush and long grasses, stopped to roll rose hips and wild grapes between my fingers, and pet and murmured loving words to the beloved mullein.  I delight in sight and get giddy with scent, but touch is intoxicating to me.

Rabbit Brush

We see children like this - exploring everything with their hands.  Being told "don't touch!" by their parents (or by well-placed signs) whenever they wander through stores.  My parents tried to teach us to keep our hands glued to our sides, and then they just gave up. They took us to the hills to touch and play and get dirty.  My brother had a rock collection as a child, and I was forever bringing home pine cones.  I'm sure my mother threw out buckets of each, every year, and we simply brought home more.  I never seemed to grow out of it though - that need to pick up things, touch them, and bring them home.

There is a long tree branch with a forked end that stands in the corner of my bedroom.  One day it will become a stang, but for now I admire the texture of it, having been stripped of its bark by a beaver.  I found it by the river on Christmas morning.

There is a wand, also a piece of beaver-stripped wood, that I oiled with blessed blends of oil and herbs, that sits on my altar.  There are found, shed antlers and a portion of long ago evacuated wasp nest that share space with roots and dried plant allies.  Stones picked up, pressed leaves and flowers, and still, pine cones...always pine cones, find themselves tucked into any space that will hold them.

Milkweed gone to seed.

I wanted so much today, to bring home milkweed seeds.  I lingered over them, just barely touching their silky 'wings' while a beaver slapped its tail in the river just beyond.  I longed to harvest some of the remaining Oregon grapes I spotted, but knew I wouldn't have time to process them.  I touched everything I could - barely containing myself when a gentleman and his pups walked by with raised eyes as I hovered over the edge of the riverbank reaching for the goldenrod.

There is, in humans, a biological need to touch other humans.  But in some of us - the ones who hear the plants whisper and the marsh reeds sing, and who fall prey to the sharp taste of wild mustard and the thorns of wild roses - there is nothing quite like the touch of leaf and grass and flower on our skin. Nothing like the cool hardness of river rocks. Nothing ever like the strangeness of pine tree bark and the ghostly tickle of dandelion turned to seed.

I've always imagined that at the entrance to parkland and wild spaces, there should be a sign that reads: "Please Touch."


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I would suggest only one caveat to your imagined parkland sign:


* except for poison ivy

Rue said...

Ha! Yes! And poison hemlock, and a few others. ID your plants first! Or simply stick to rolling around your lawn.

Anonymous said...

I was laughing at parts of this, as I am quite the hoarder of interesting things and textures and found objects. One corner of my workbench is rapidly accruing small bones, feathers, hickory nuts and acorns and maple is clearly fall on my bench. :)


jaz@octoberfarm said...

milkweed. i love that stuff!

Tilda E. said...

I've got pine cones jammed into every nook as well. That habit from childhood of picking up interesting things has never left me :)

Bird said...

I love to touch things as well. Not just with my hands, but if I can rub something against my cheek, especially the softness of popped open milkweed pods with their fluffy white seed carriers peeping out into the open. I love the feel of them. And Lambs Ear, too. Rose petals... Mums... yeah, I could go on and on. I hope you have a very blessed Autumnal Equinox, Bird

Bohemian said...

There is something about Touch that makes it one of my favorite Senses as well. In Public I don't allow my G-Kids to touch what doesn't belong to them, but in Nature and at Home, I Encourage it. Experiencing the Feel and Textures... as well as the Pleasure of all the other Senses, is intoxicating.

Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian