I recently had the chance to escape to my favorite solitude retreat location: Christ in the Wilderness in Stockton, IL. This was my fourth time visiting. You can see my previous 3 stays here: Sept 2015, Oct 2016, and June 2017.
When I feel like I need to get away from life just to regroup and clear my head, I go here. There are three individual hermitages, a tiny chapel, and hiking trails. Oh yes, and wildlife like you’ve never experienced before!
One day while hiking, I thought I spotted a young white pine tree by the swing. Hey! Let’s make pine needle tea!
WARNING: Do not drink pine needle tea if pregnant or nursing. Do not make pine needle tea if you cannot properly identify the pine tree. Some pines are toxic.
With that being said, I was able to properly identify. White pine has 5 needles in a grouping. It’s easy to remember because the word “white” has 5 letters. White pine needles make good tea. I washed the needles, crushed them to release oils, and poured boiling water over, allowing them to steep for 10 minutes.
It tasted like drinking a Christmas Tree.
The benefits of pine needle tea are vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants, and free ingredients found in nature.
On the next day, I found frozen bracket mushrooms laying in the snow. I assumed they fell off of a tree based on how they grew.
It was interesting studying the frozen fungus up close. I did return it to the woods when I was done using it as a still life reference. I never eat mushrooms I find. I’m not too fond of the taste and I’m not trained in mushroom identification.
This time I stayed in Sabbath Place, one of three hermitages. I think I prefer this one over the rest as it’s in the most secluded location. Nobody could see me.
It was very healing to sit at the desk painting while watching the sunset and listing to the birds at the feeder.
A visit to the tiny chapel at night is a magical thing. When it’s you and the deer and nobody else…the creaking of trees in the winter wind is a type of ceremonial music played for the both of you!
May you enjoy similar adventures which can heal and restore.