One of my favorite things to do, while walking in the woods around Tipi Village, is taking a moment with the Madrone trees. The thin bark peels off leaving a smooth layer exposed and I am in constant awe of its twisting and gnarled branches. One of the older Madrones, called Grandma by the kids and I, has swallowed a barb-wire fence. Nature does not care about our imaginary boundaries.
It is one of the many sacred trees of the Pacific Northwest.
In the legend of the great flood, the Salish First Nation describe how the Madrona tree provided an anchor for their canoes to hold steady and not drift away. It is known as a Tree of Knowledge because it knows how to find the sun. It twists and turns, growing new branches where the sun can reach them. Poet Richard Olafson shares another Native legend, writing, "The tree's webbed roots hold the splintered earth together." If it should disappear, the myth warns, the planet would fly apart and be utterly destroyed. The Madrone is also known as the Tree of Depth and Integrity, and is symbolic of protection and versatility.
One of our fellow villagers found Madrone berry necklaces at a primitive skills gathering and I couldn't wait to make some the following year. Waiting is one aspect of wildcrafting that makes things more exciting and cherished, you usually only have a short window of opportunity to gather materials!
I spent a good amount of my time, while driving to Missouri, stringing the berries and after a month of slow drying they are ready to become necklaces.
I am honored to adorn my body with these berries and hope those of you that get your own will appreciate this trees beauty.