Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Woman and Wild

Woman and Wild

I can't tell you
the first time the wild
whispered into my 
tiny child heart
because the wild
has always been here...

always an undeniable
aliveness tucked just
behind my ribs
stretching from 
collar bone into the
rich bowl of my (now)
crone woman hips.

we occupy each other
as woman and wild
creating spaces
where life flourishes

each of us

 each of us

each of us
at home

© 2018 Tracie Nichols

A Poem about Hope and Place by Wendell Berry


It is hard to have hope.
It is harder as you grow old,

For hope must not depend on feeling good
And there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
Of the future, which surely will surprise us,
…And hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
Any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
Of what it is that no other place is, and by
Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
Place that you belong to though it is not yours,
For it was from the beginning and will be to the end

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
Fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing
In the trees in the silence of the fisherman
And the heron, and the trees that keep the land
They stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
And how to be here with them. By this knowledge
Make the sense you need to make. By it stand
In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.
Speak to your fellow humans as your place
Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
Before they had heard a radio. Speak
Publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.

Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
From the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
By which it speaks for itself and no other.

Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
Which is the light of imagination. By it you see
The likeness of people in other places to yourself
In your place. It lights invariably the need for care
Toward other people, other creatures, in other places
As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place at last is better than the world. The world
Is no better than its places. Its places at last
Are no better than their people while their people
Continue in them. When the people make
Dark the light within them, the world darkens.

Spring Perspective

by Tracie Nichols

In the spring, I wander the course of the stream that skirts the bottom of my yard. It’s one of hundreds – possibly thousands – of small, nameless, feeder streams striping the landscape here, meandering towards rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s something I’ve been doing for over twenty years, now. As you can imagine, this stream and I have seen some life together. Over time, I’ve come to think of this wandering little waterway as family.

So this spring walk is when I discover where the stream is now, after the winds, snowmelt and hard rains of the winter months. By visiting before the riot of jewelweed and other creek bank plants overrun the terrain, I can see where banks have been undercut or collapsed. It’s easy to notice where the streambed has cut more deeply into the red sandstone bedrock, or where trees have fallen or held their ground.

This walk is also when I discover where I am, now and how my course has changed through winter. As I walk and notice the stream, I also notice myself. Where I’m feeling undercut, or rebuilt. Where I’m letting go and where I’m continuing to stand my ground.

Walking the length of this small stream is a moving meditation. An exercise in deep listening and deep presence, teaching me about cycles of death and rebirth in the land and in myself. Walking the length of this small stream offers me the gift of perspective, and anchors me in the reassuringly unending cycles of this land.

Tracie Nichols, M.A., IAC believes that if there ever was a time when the deep perspective of 50-ish+ sensitive, introverted womxn is needed, it’s now. She is a mentor, poet, aromatherapist and rebel crone creating spaces where sister Rebel Crones can find community, information and support to unfurl their voices, be who they choose to be and do what they choose to do. You can learn more about her at

Finding Your Sense of Place at Home

by Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW

The weather is quickly warming up and soon we will find ourselves outside more, traveling to the beach or the mountains to relax, slow down, and enjoy the beauty of nature. We may experience a sense of awe and wonder when we realize just how connected we are to the universe.  But what happens to that connection when we return home again, when routine takes over like an invasive vine and The Commute, the Target Run and the school or work commitments become the focus of our day?  Do we check out the sunset?  Do we know what the plants and the birds are doing?  Do we have any inkling of the water level in our local streams?  If not, what’s the psychological effect of living like this: an “alien” or a tourist in our own land?

These are the types of questions that Eco-psychologists study in their efforts to create a sustainable, livable world and to foster a more psychologically healthy population.  Their premise is that the attachment and meaning given to a particular place is central to the health of the planet and the person. A “sense of place” here refers to “...a psychological construct that involves attributing a geographical location with meaning, values, and a sense of “connection.” [From: The Power of Connection: Sustainable Lifestyles and Sense of Place.  Ecopsychology Journal Vol 4, No. 4 Jan 31, 2013, found at].  It follows then that if more people felt a sense of connection to their natural environment, they would feel motivated to engage in actions for sustainability. I would also add that having a sense of place cultivates curiosity, belonging, connection, and a greater sense of well-being in us.

A disconnection to the land may be a uniquely American problem.  As Americans, most of us came here as immigrants.  Because of that we may have an evolutionary proclivity to restlessness.  We are always on the move, searching for greener pastures and hoping a change of location will promise a better life.  Over caffeinated, hyper busy and digitally connected 24/7, we move through our daily life at an unnatural pace.  The downside of this movement, borne of our pioneering spirit and freedom to roam is an underlying feeling of displacement, alienation and a lack of identity.  Wendell Berry says we don’t know who we are unless we know where we are. So, who exactly are we?  How do we connect to an adopted land?

Know the Plants
One way to counteract alienation is to reclaim the space where we live or as Robin Wall Kimmerer says, in Braiding Sweetgrass, to become “naturalized” citizens of the land.  Kimmerer would agree with the poet Gary Snyder, who teaches that spirit of place is accessed only through knowledge gained by direct experience in a specific locale.  "Know the plants" is his mantra. Once you become curious and start to know the names of the plants and trees around you, it’s like a faucet has turned on.  More questions come and you begin to be curious about all the things you may have previously ignored and taken for granted.  The plants become like familiar friends or trusted allies.  This is the beginning of belonging and connection.

Write a Poem or a Love Letter
Wallace Stegner in his great essay entitled “Sense of Place” states, “that no place is a place until it has had a poet.”  
[Insert link to:,%20Wallace%20%20Sense%20of%20Place.pdf  ]  Who is our poet?  Edgar Allen Poe wrote about the Wissahickon, sure, but who is the modern day poet laureate of the entire region?  Beth Kephart who writes Flow, a prose poem history of the Schuylkill River may be a contender.  You can read an excerpt here. [Insert link to:

Many people have written love letters to their favorite places in the Wissahickon.  It was inspiring to read this article about how many people went to the Red Covered Bridge to feel their “fullest and best versions of themselves”:  Go to your favorite place in your local park and try to write it a love letter.  You may feel a deeper attachment to it after you’ve expressed how you feel. 

Don’t Get Discouraged by Urbanism
Even in this major East Coast city, we can still feel a sense of place that doesn’t involve cheesesteaks and Rocky.  We who live in the Greater Philadelphia area are lucky to have an active urban garden scene, two major rivers, Fairmount Park, the Wissahickon, Pennypack, Morris and Awbury Arboretums and Bartram’s Gardens.  We may not be able to walk barefoot through the parks, but we can walk like “each step is a greeting to Mother Earth”.  With respect and reverence and love.  Slow down, observe the little things that are all too easy to overlook.  Our personal wellbeing and our planetary survival just might depend on it.  What’s happening right now outside your window?

Ways to Connect with Local Nature:
  • Join Friends of the Wissahickon or the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association or Like them on Facebook.  They post a lot about the local wildlife and plants.
  • Start an in-home naturalist training course through the Wilderness Awareness School: (I loved this program.  Please reach out if you want to learn more about my experience)

Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW has been a psychotherapist for over 10 years. She specializes in helping anxious and depressed teens and women connect to and live in harmony with their true nature.  Heather is passionate about using mindfulness and Eco-therapeutic approaches to restore balance, reduce isolation, and create a greater sense of wellbeing. She can be reached at  or 215-485-7205.