Introduction: A Mage Learns Science

Kelsey and Handsome Jack foraging for Usnea

My name is Kelsey and I do fancy myself quite the magician. My best trick is turning a 30-minute stroll into a 90-minute woodland adventure where I will manage to fill both our pockets with pretty rocks, then create the illusion that we’re leaving in “just a minute”. Despite knowing exactly how I did it, I promise you, the magic is real. The secret is this: When you forage, you gather more than just leaves and berries, you collect your thoughts and if you look hard enough, you can find yourself.

Foraging has always been a way of life for us, so I have a working knowledge of flora. I have a greenhouse and a garden in the summer, and grow mushrooms in the fall. Year-round, I have a vegetation congregation of various greenery in my goblin grotto of a bedroom. Despite all this, I have little knowledge of the science of plants. What I know, I learned in high school many years ago and have retained only what was usable for me at that point. What I know now isn’t much, but I guess that leaves so much to look forward to.  I am extremely interested in learning from this class, and my hope is that it will help guide me in the direction that is best suited for me.

After my child flies the coop, I want to be a Green Witch on a homestead in the forest with my dog, a flock of quail, and some really nice baskets  For now, I am the world’s second best mom, being just one place behind Mother Earth (although my kid thinks I’m terra-ble). The second in command of my merry band of troublemakers is my teenage son, who I’m sure is somehow part skyscraper, part Duracell battery, and still my baby boy, He is a 6 foot copper-top at 13 and has more energy than hours in the day, so he takes a lot of mine. Next is my dog Handsome Jack, who I raised from a newborn pup so I don’t know who his biological parents are, but I think he’s part bully breed, part scardy-cat, and 100% Brave Little Toaster. He might be shaking in his boots when things get hairy, but he’s fiercely loyal, protective, and the best person I know. Next comes my kid’s cats, Mama Rook and Link Link, who consider themselves wild apex predators but still eat food from a can at the kitchen table. Both arrived nearly a decade apart through the Cat Distribution System, as cats normally do, but in two very different ways. Last is my grumpy old frog, Jupiter, who is the physical embodiment of a wart the size of a fast food cheeseburger, and has a very bad attitude. I also have a tiny aquatic frog and a fish, who I like but haven’t pack bonded with yet. I won’t even tell you their cringey names, which are a bigger mouthful than they are and came from my kid who uses words like “rizz”, “rate my fit”, and “Ohio”. We’re a peculiar little family, and we’re happy.

 We live with my folks because I went and got myself in a bit of a pickle by getting sick. Initially, they gave me three weeks left on this side of the dirt, but that sounded ridiculous to me as I had zero intention of leaving my kiddo an orphan. Despite the red hair, he’d make a really bad Annie because he has the acting skills of a sardine. I’m End Stage 4, but I feel pretty great. (besides getting a bit tired occasionally and morphing into an incoherent potato, which is why I feel it’s important you know). With a transplant or two, I’ll be around to keep the hearth fires burning a while longer, and I wouldn’t miss that for the life of me. 

I’ve lived all over Alaska, most recently in the Dena’ina Lands of the Matanuska Valley. There is a vast amount of flora in this region, so it’s hard for me to choose just one favorite plant. It is a revolving door, depending on my needs or what I’m currently researching. Currently, I’d say it’s Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L). I’ve always loved the camphor smell of yarrow, and there are so many beneficial uses. The folklore surrounding yarrow is both legendary and pragmatic, which supports evidence that it was used medicinally as far back as 60 centuries. Yarrow is visually subtle but full of stealthy merit. She is simply bewitching.

One comment

  1. Welcome Kelsey,
    what an amazing introduction. Love your spirit and all the great images! This will be a lot of fun, I can tell. ‘Cuddle Puddle’ is my favorite picture from this post, although the common yarrow is a close second 🙂 I love the different shades of pink you can sometimes find in yarrows in Alaska naturally, although there are many cultivated varieties you can purchase in the nurseries as well.

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