This past year I have been trekking into the cedar swamps of Long Island, not too far from where I live, to see how these mighty trees grow. It didn't take long for me to find and map most of the major stands that grow here. Over the years, development has encroached into the wilderness where they thrive and many of my hikes have been short, as roads and old trails are not too far from any major highway. I can't really explain why I have such an affinity for this particular tree. Maybe because Atlantic Whites are scarce on our planet and that alone draws me to it. Perhaps its because it holds deep rooted history here on Long Island or the fact that this tree thrives in places other trees don't usually tolerate. I am researching and planning The Atlantic White - Wild Places Cologne, which will be comprised, mainly, from the oil of the leaves from this tree, (for a little perspective - 100 pounds of mulched green yields only a half an ounce of essential oil). Needless to say, this is a tiny bit insane. It may be a safe assumption that I am the only person on the planet distilling this tree.
In the next year I will be telling the story of The Atlantic Whites. This winter I have been mapping the cedars in Rhode Island and New Jersey and will continue this all summer long. I will be hitting the long forgotten trails, blazing through the bramble, walking knee deep in the mud. I will be working with lumber companies who are sustainably harvesting timber to restore these cedar swamps to healthy stands again. I will be involved in habitat restoration and have already started germinating seeds for replanting out there. Once I finish the north east I will head south, down to North Carolina and eventually and lastly to the Gulf Coast of Florida where the Gulf Atlantic White grows. In the end I will help spread awareness about the collapsing habitats of these trees. Spreading the word through the intense citrus and gingery aromas that come from this tree. It will be a labor of love. Worth every soggy step.
Up at this elevation the bug didn't infect the firs. This was a comforting thought but a fleeting one because soon to follow was the impending knowledge that some day, in the not so distant future, the climate would warm just enough for those bastards to make their ways to these healthy stands.
For me wild crafting is a ritual. Its a study of myself & what it means to be part of the natural world. In a nutshell, it means I go into the wilderness, whether it be the grand wilds of America or the local ones in my backyard, & I get dirty.