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Seedballs, Willow Wattles, and The Bear Theft Part 1
The rising, the remediation, the wreckage
A seedball is a little universe in a marble-sized package.
As I held it in my hand, feeling the clay smooth against my palm and the seeds held within, I felt a sense of peace click back into place that I hadn’t felt since the previous April.
I’d found what I had been seeking.
Since the wildfire I had been in a sort of suspended waiting, knowing that there was something important coming but not being sure if, or when, it would arrive.
Many people had stepped up to help in profound ways post-wildfire: with donations, with emotional support, with the hard, sooty physical labor of cleanup and erosion control.
Yet there continued to be a sort of empty space within me, a knowing that something was missing that I needed to keep seeking. This is sometimes how intuition works: instead of a specific nudge of where to go or what to do there is an obvious unfilled gap within, like a missing tooth. Our awareness is drawn back to the hole over and over again, never getting used to the vacancy.
This is sometimes how intuition works: instead of a specific nudge of where to go or what to do there is an obvious unfilled gap within, like a missing tooth. Our awareness is drawn back to the hole over and over again, never getting used to the vacancy.
And so for a year I kept feeling the hole in my being. I waited and wondered.
I carried my affirmations around and let others hold the vision of restoration and renewal. (Read my previous article: When You Lose the Vision Let Others Hold It For You)
From my first phone conversation with Beata, who had also been through a devastating wildfire in New Mexico, I had felt a sense of relief. Maybe her wisdom and experience with both high levels of destruction and soil remediation was the needed puzzle piece.
So when it was at last the day of our meeting I waited nervously, looking at rows of 1 pound and 5 pound seeds in brown paper bags.
Desert wildflowers. Dry grassland mix. Field peas. Red clover. Blue gama grass. Indian rice grass.
A familiar dread started filling my being with the smoky mist of overwhelm: “Where do I start? Which seeds are the right ones? How am I going to replant 175 acres?” I felt the paralysis of decisions stiffening my muscles and clouding my mind.
“Can I help you?” A soft voice asked.
I grabbed the lifeline and turned towards her. “I’m so overwhelmed!” I shared. I lost 175 acres in the Hermit’s Peak fire and I don’t know where to start.”
She took a breathe and nodded. “Yes, that was a bad fire. Tell me about your property. Where is it exactly?”
Gail, it turns out, has owned and run Plants of the Southwest for 50 years, and is an absolute treasure.
Her calm assurance, as if we were discussing which tea to buy, calmed me down. She had seen decades of fires, and had helped many people restore their desert wilderness post-fire. She shared stories and kindness.
She talked about seed balls, broadcasting grass seed, and which types of plants to put in depending on the need.
Desert Four O’Clocks for hillsides to help with erosion.
Desert grasses on the flatlands.
Wildflowers by the creek.
Then Beata and her friend came in, and of course Gail and Beata greeted each other like old friends, which they were.
I realized I had now joined a rare and precious community: those dedicated to restoring land in the harshest conditions.
When I stepped in to be the steward of Warrior Heart Ranch, I thought the most difficult decision I would have to make would be around which trees to thin. I hated the thought of taking down any tree, and also knew the necessity.
Now I had impossible decisions around how to tend to 175 acres of dead trees and scorched, sterilized soil. What I did know was that I didn’t want to take the easy to access pathway: the forest service method of mono cropping pine trees.
As I watched Beata and Gail talk happily, I felt my shoulders soften. Others had walked before me. They could help me with the complexity of the task before me. There was a sustainable, women-led, land-dedicated path.
What I didn’t know was they would help me fulfill those outrageous affirmations I had made a year ago that I didn’t believe in, two months after the wildfire.
- The land is taken care of by the right people
- By feeding the land you nourish the whole earth
- The unfolding new dream is even more beautiful for me and the land
Healing so often comes not from the specific remedy, but from the care and compassion of the person bringing the medicine. When someone has experienced, integrated, and alchemized the same hurt and trauma as we have there is a kinship, a seeing that pierces the fog like a lighthouse.
When someone has experienced, integrated, and alchemized the same hurt and trauma as we have there is a kinship, a seeing that pierces the fog like a lighthouse.
Speaking with Beata and Kaitlin I felt the empty space within me fill in with hope.
I could do this.
One seedball at a time.
And I would learn later from Kaitlin, the secret ingredient for all of our future restoration was something I couldn’t pronounce.
Meet mycorrhizae: a fungus made up of very tiny, almost or even entirely microscopic, threads called hyphae. The hyphae are all interconnected into a net-like web called a mycelium, which measures hundreds or thousands of miles—all packed into a tiny area around the plant.
More on mycorrhizae, and Kaitlin’s work which weaves art and mycology with research in ecotoxicology, next week.
But now, a recipe for you…
Recipe for Seedballs
Some of the challenges of planting seeds in the desert include: wind blowing the seeds away, critters eating the seeds, lack of rain to sprout the seeds, lack of nutrition in the sand to support seeds, and the huge areas that need to be seeded.
Seed balls are a wise way to bring healing and life back to damaged earth.
They can also be used in gardens, with kids, and anywhere you want to give seeds extra support.
Here is the process, with my added bonus of putting a little “spell” on each seed ball:
Clay (red is best because it contains iron)
Compost (organic is best)
Mycorrhizae (helps the seeds root in drought conditions)
Seeds (preferably indigenous to the area)
Then take all your ingredients and mix your magic. You are going for a medium marble-sized seed ball:
Form the clay into a little flat tortilla, a little bit bigger than a quarter
Add a sprinkle of compost
Add a sprinkle of seeds
Add a teeny tiny pinch of mychorrhizae
Whisper a prayer or a blessing
Bonus: add in biodegradable glitter or bead
Fold up carefully by pinching the sides together and then rolling into a ball
Let air dry
Scatter on the surface of the soil or dig them in a bit; best places to plant are near water drainage.
Do a little dance and sacred song for rain
HINT: You can make anything mundane, or everything a little bit witchy. Just add prayer, focused intent, magic, and sparkles.
THANK YOU to those of you who are subscribers to Out of the Fire; I cannot even begin to tell you what it means to me to be supported by you. Deep bow.
If you want to join in a massive restoration prayer and action from love, please consider becoming a paid subscriber to Out of the Fire, or donating to our ongoing Fundraiser.
Warrior Heart Ranch is a wilderness retreat and sanctuary for our Warrior Goddess community and beyond. In May 2022 we lost 175 acres to a wildfire. We are slowly recovering and rebuilding.
I’m currently inviting donations (and blessings) for buying the supplies to create thousands of seed balls to help regenerate Warrior Heart Ranch post-wildfire and to help complete our building projects.
All donations are fully tax-deductible through our nonprofit, the Center for Creative Intent.
Any amount helps, as do all of your good thoughts and prayers and love.
Part 2 of Seedballs, Willow Wattles, and the Bear Theft