Lazy summer

Most people love summer and sunshine, so they migrate to the sea on vacation. Our little country doesn’t have its own sea, the population is heading especially to Croatia. I’ve never been there.

Although I’ve been to the sea several time (even to the shore of Pacific ocean), I prefer a more intimate contact with the power of such mysterious element than is allowed by crowded beach.

Moreover, I discovered that the sea is too exotic for my soul, I feel better and more alive in the middle of forest. I love the tall trees and all the greenery inside which also provides cool shade from the aggressive summer sun.

The older I get, the worse I can stand the power of sun. So when neighbors run to the pond to swim, I hide in the depths of the forest or come out after dark. I celebrate every cooldown and rain that breaks a range of tropical days. I believe greenery does the same.

Just today I celebrated the all-day rain. Not too strong, just pleasant enough for a walk. Thousands of snails crawled out and happily enjoyed the wet day with me. What they actually do during a drought? I doubt they have a shower in their handy home.

Because it’s easy to celebrate the rain, when you have a hot shower and a dry sofa waiting for you at home. The snails made me think about comfort, general proclamations and hidden truths.

With love and hugs,

Ivana

The snail illustration is my watercolor painting.

Back on board

It was quite a long break due to healthy and recovery issues, but I am back!

I was painting almost all the time, but my pictures reflect the lack of energy.

Some of my “painting forest” challenge:

Now, I am looking forward to paint and feel more happiness. I bring it soon to you, hopefully.

With love and hugs,

Ivana

Painting forest

I love walking forest, I love watching little changes every day. Changes that are proof of life. Nobody says which ones are good or bad, everything is natural and alive. Walking forest means a kind of therapy for me, therapy of freedom or therapy by freedom.

What would a professional therapist say about the fact that I like to bring a trophy from a walk? I don’t care, but I do so. A small leaf of interesting shape or color is enough, I can use it later as a reference for painting. Actually I prefer trophies that I can use in some way. Trophies like leafs, bark, herbs, fruits, mushrooms, etc. Why to waste all the treasures?

Painting forest is a part of my personal art challenge for this year, see above. Probably not enough for me, so I joined another challenge in early March. It came to me in response how to improve my watercolor. Paint the same topic every day for a long period of time! Do not spend much time over it, do it as quickly as possible. You will gradually relax and your own style should appear. Yes. I want that!

After a month, I am still at the starting line. I painted without reference picture for the first 5 days and it was a disaster! I hope those scary pictures are not the only image of my mind. Having reference photo is much easier, I have something to lean back and focus on painting.

Do you have a favorite?

At the moment, I would like to apologize to all excellent authors, whose photos I devaluated with my quick painting. I promise not to exhibit them! They are quietly hidden in my sketchbook, thin sheets buckled because I didn’t use watercolor paper for this exercise. I hope to improve next month!

Hugs and love,

Ivana

Left in silence

I needed some therapeutic painting yesterday. To bring peace to troubled heart, I tried to paint the silence in the middle of snowy forest. Scenery, which I have seen only on TV in last years, while as a child I remember the snow every winter. It sounds like from my grandma when she remembered her youth 🙂

Anyway, I spent several hours trying to create a snowy serenity that I finally had to break by a snowman in front. And then the sleigh, forgotten by the child builders, made the point behind the whole story. Still, it’s a landscape of silence, but the signs of playful creativity bring a kind of hope and hidden joy. At least for me.

I’d like to share the feelings that yesterday’s painting gave to me.

With love and hugs,

Ivana

Mistletoe

When I was a small girl, we didn’t keep many traditions in our family. But having a Christmas tree and mistletoe was a must. I loved colorful lights and gifts, as well as the scent of fresh needles, but I didn’t care why people cut trees and moved them into their homes.

However I was curious about the mistletoe. Where does it grow and why does it look like a bird’s nest? What are the white mini-balls? And why people paint the mistletoe with gold or silver color? Isn’t green good enough for holiday’s decoration?

My mother patiently explained to me that the mistletoe grows high in the trees, so it’s not easy to get it. It symbolizes happiness, health and prosperity, which is also not easy to get. And some people are painting mistletoe silver or gold to increase the probability that it happens.

Much later I learned that mistletoe belongs to the medicinal plants and that people from ancient times attributed extraordinary and even magical qualities to it. I always felt great respect for the mistletoe, but my curiosity was always stopped by the knowledge that this plant is poisonous. Plus there were plenty of other plants I could play with.

Of course I noticed several nests of mistletoe in my neighborhood – high in the trees, difficult to access. Exactly how my mother said. But recently, I found mistletoe on the path, fell down in windy weather. It reminded me, that although happiness or prosperity seems to be far away, sometimes the opportunity falls down right under our feet. Then it depends if we catch it and make use of it.

I picked it from the path, brought it home and drew picture of mistletoe with the bird, responsible for spreading seeds of it. I hope you like it, and I double hope it brings you happiness, health and prosperity as my mother promised 🍀

Happy holidays!

Ivana

The sign of Scorpio

I was born in Scorpio and I’ve never liked the animal picture related to it. Nothing to say about trillion people repeating that Scorpio is the worst sign of zodiac and that it’s better to keep far from it.

Long ago, I created an easy visual tool for astrological beginners. The chart was divided in 12 areas like Olympic arena, Himalaya, Amazon rainforest, etc. Then I personified the planets and put them down to the relevant areas. It was like a funny desk board game.

All of us have the whole circle, but we differ in what areas the population is and what they do there, or how they interact. As soon as I simplified and visualized the chart, people understood their potential and pitfalls much easier.

Recently, I decided to renew the old board with more precious drawings. And here we have the Scorpio area!

Imagine rainforest deep in Amazon, wet and dark, colorful wilderness around you. There is breathtaking beauty combined with mortal danger at every turn. Half instinct calls to fall into forever, because all previous experience was empty gray in comparison. But the second half calls for caution. You watch the life and death so close each to other, both so intensive.

And there, hidden from civilization, the native people live with their traditions and ancient wisdom. They know the secret of living on the border between life and death. Their shamans know the healing rituals and potions above which modern medicine can shake the head with disbelief.

Daily life might be simple, golden chains or shiny cars have no meaning there. Life might be short, so it’s better to live intensively. And the powerful are those who know how to heal and protect life from death.

And how about the great sexual appetite of Scorpio, you have certainly heard about it? How does it fit into the Amazon jungle? Sex is magic from many reasons. At least it is connection, leading to creation of a new being, which is a miracle for sure! And from the long-time perspective, creation of new generations is a tool how to deal with death, perhaps the only one.

Having Sun in the Scorpio sign means the inner King lives in Amazon. And that’s nothing easy. Each king likes power and comfort of his palace, wide range of servants and plenty of fun. He needs to be important but how to manage it in the middle of rainforest, where death could be so close? Before anything else could be done, the king must assimilate on the jungle territory. Keeping too much pride could even kill him.

Looking at the other planets on board makes the whole story, or better to say the complete picture. I believe to finish my updated version soon.

Today, I wish all the best to all Scorpios worldwide, either in the Amazon or anywhere else.

Happy birthday!

Ivana

Liverleaf, Hepatica nobilis

Besides Lungwort, Liverleaf is another spring flower that blooms before new leaves are fully developed. As if they couldn’t wait longer, light purple flowers raise their heads from damp soil to the spring sun even in the shadow of forest.

I know the place where Liverleaf grows in abundance, creating incredible carpet of live wildflowers. The beauty of them takes my breath every time, and I am almost afraid to enter the place because those flowers are so fragile!

Yesterday, I found the first blooming Liverleaf. So far, it was the only Cinderella in the middle of nothing, but also it was a clear sign that the right time is coming and sisters are going to bloom very soon.

If you are looking for the place with Liverleaf before blooming, you can find it easily according to the evidence of last year leaves. They are very unique with 3 lobes, tough in consistency like an old alcoholic liver. No matter how long and hard the winter was, the old leaves stay in their place, so the young flowers could lean on them.

Similar to Lungwort flowers, I like to eat the Liverleaf flowers. As they grow close to each other and bloom simultaneously, they create beautiful and healthy mix of edible flowers, suitable for immediate consumption.

Even though I’m careful to keep the ratio in favor of Lungwort because Liverleaf is slightly poisonous as it belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae, But the main portion of active substances is contained in leaves, so the consumption of flowers is quite safe.

As the name suggests, Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) is used in cases of liver disease. Although I prefer to use other herbs for this purpose, I still gather some Liverleaf because I’m fascinated by the shape and tough consistency of its leaves. I admire the ability to overcome difficult conditions and hope to learn it, drinking the tea.

With love, Ivana

Pink beauty for healthy lungs

It looks that spring is finally ready to manifest itself! Despite strong frosts and snowfall recently, sunshine calls nature to start unrolling buds. Even though it’s too early, I’ve been already checking my places and searching signs of new life among dry and brown last year’s leaves.

First what I’m looking each spring for, are wonderful flowers of Lungwort. I’m hungry for the moment when I see the incredible tenderness of pink and purple. In my daily life I always prefer yellow before pink, but the first spring flowers of Lungwort are probably the only exception.

I really love the unique colors of Lungwort, sweet to look and also sweet and juicy to taste. It’s like a promise that the whole season could be such sweet and delicious. Once I discover the first Lungwort flowers of the year, I gather them directly to my mouth and eat them immediately 😋

My second choice for Lungwort flowers is still eating them directly, but in more civilized way like adding them into salad or put them on potatoes with cottage cheese. It looks and tastes fantastic!

Lungwort belongs to the plants that bloom before their leaves grow fully. So you can enjoy the beauty and taste of flowers before serious harvest for healing purpose. And there is one big purpose of the Lungwort, clear by the name, the healthy lungs!

Lungwort has strong anticarrhal and demulcent effects, so you can successfully use it in case of cold with cough. It reduces unwanted mucus caused by pathogens and protects irritated tissues. The content of silicon and allantoin accelerates skin regeneration, so the Lungwort can be also used externally for longterm wounds even with pus. But the most common use of Lungwort is still in wide range of lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, etc.

Even though the Lungwort looks so useful and kind, there is one warning for all who have problems with blood coagulation (clotting) because the Lungwort slightly increases the level of it. A few fresh flowers should be fine, but be careful about longterm use.

I hope to see the pink and purple flowers soon and this year herbal season will really start!

Which plant is the sign of spring for you?

With love, Ivana

Hunting mushrooms

I would say that people are divided into two basic groups: either they love eating mushrooms or they hate it, nothing between. I belong to the lovers!

In my country, gathering mushrooms is very popular. It is a kind of national hobby, which probably comes from the bad times when people were looking for food in forests, whether it was during various wars or like in my childhood during Soviet occupation. I already remembered a bit of that mushrooming in the restricted area in the Pine Tree.

But even today, when you can easily catch anything including mushrooms in supermarkets, the summer forests are crowded by mushroom hunters. They get up early in the morning to be first in the forest and pick up the best pieces in the largest amount. Even the main evening news deals with mushrooming in the season. It often looks like competition rather than fun.

Most population gathers mushrooms of the family Boletaceae, because they are easily recognizable and delicious to taste. Who has never tasted schnitzels from these mushrooms, has missed much!

However, there are many species of mushrooms. One of my high school teachers was a mycologist and used to gather mushrooms throughout the year, even in the snow and winter. Once he took the whole class into the forest and I remember how I brought colorful mixture of mushrooms back to home. Unfortunately, my traditional mother forced me to throw away all the beautifully colored species except of Boletaceae.

Since that, many years have passed. Even summer is gone and the main mushrooms season with it. But the sun was shinning and I wanted to bring some nice trophy from the walk. This time, it was strangely colored mushrooms. I double checked them on internet, cooked a tasty dinner, and so far I am alive! 😁

With love, Ivana

Nobility and wisdom of Spruce

A tall and noble tree, which likes to live friendly with other trees of the same species, this is Spruce (Picea abies). Despite of its vulnerability to pests and regardless of the softness of its wood, Spruce is kind of forest’s High Priest.

Spruce belongs to the old trees, whose original homeland is Europe, especially its mountains and foothills. It seems to me, that the higher positions give to Spruce its natural overlook. Spruces domesticated in lower areas are somehow impoverished.

Spruce is tall and spiky, but not proud. It has always willingly offered wood and cones to people for heating and later also for industrial processing. It was people, who became proud and greedy, so they almost devastated some locations.

My most striking experience with Spruce is a few years old, but still very vivid in my mind. I spent holiday with friends in local mountains and all the roads were lined with spruces. Their branches rumbled in the wind and kept whispering me: Don’t forget your nobility, don’t forget your nobility. And the more I defended myself from listening, the more loudly they called.

When I finally opened my heart to their message, I realized that nobility doesn’t mean pride. It was more like: Stop to underestimate yourself! It is not a shame to be soft and vulnerable because this is exactly what spruces are. It is important to take and use benefits that sensitivity brings. You cannot make oak from what was born as a spruce.

I also realized that I can happily live with all my opposites. I don’t have to choose between them. Like Spruce, I can enjoy the juicy sweetness of the young and inexperienced shoots, being protected by sharp prickness of the old needles. It’s important to learn how to merge the opposites or let them live side by side.

And then, one of those old and spiky spruces gave me a very personal advice on the level of a real high priest: Stay in your heart, you will find there everything what you need. And try to merge the wisdom of desert with the wisdom of forest.

And so I do.

With love, Ivana