The usual sounds of the forest were temporarily replaced by the rhythmic sounds of our knives carving the black cherry tree pieces from which we were making our digging sticks. Most of us had never used a digging stick but the process of carving one helped to slow our minds down so we could contemplate the world below. How many of us stop to think about what is underneath us? About that intricate highway of roots weaving in and out of each other.
Roots are our silent companions, working in darkness underneath the ground turning our mother’s body into food so we can all eat. The strength and medicine they carry is incomparable, they can anchor themselves where they need to, on the side of a cliff, in the muddy depths of a swamp or in the cracks of a sidewalk. Roots always find a way to make life happen.
Sarsaparilla was first, her long roots weaving back and forth just below the surface of the earth and although we didn’t have to dig deep we still had to work hard to follow her trail that spread in multiple directions.
Burdock showed up next, he seems to be the complete opposite of Sarsaparilla with his roots reaching deep into the ground. That digging stick came in very handy as we were elbow deep in the soil trying to reach the end of Burdock’s fibrous roots.
As the day went on we got to see several more plants and their roots. They were already preparing for next year’s growth, all their energy being put to their new shoots. On the surface the forest was looking sleepy but we could not deny the amount of work that was going on in the ground. Just like farmers at harvest time, roots work hard in the fall to prepare for winter.
All roots grow so differently into the earth. Makes you wonder what their jobs really are, they are obviously far more than just food and medicine for us.