Renewal Medicine


wetland – land consisting of marshes or swamps; saturated land.


marsh – an area of low-lying land which is flooded in wet seasons or at high tide, and typically remains waterlogged at all times.


swamp – an area of low-lying, uncultivated ground where water collects; a bog or marsh.


In the land of ten thousand lakes there is plenty of water and the marshes and swamps  vacillate back and forth in the wetlands of the region. I have a particular sense of peace when I come into White Earth reservation from the east. The reservation has three distinct biomes and as a result is full of medicines and diverse plant life. Winters are long and can be harsh. When the earth and water open and come to life there is constant change in the landscape.


Renewal Medicine resulted after I went out to scout some of my favorite places to see what was changing. Swamp areas held a layer of shallow water from snow melt, though snow still lingered on north side of dense foliage areas. I was looking for ‘that’ particular green that first emerges in spring. I was also looking for red willow (Salix laevigata) to gather. I was happy to find plenty of both. The early greens of moss, other ground cover and lichen seeing sunlight for the first time in months.  The pulsing bright red of the red willow just before it buds was magnificent. I took plenty of photos for inspiration, and then went back two days later and found the swamp areas had already absorbed much of the snow melt, the greens were already changing hue, and the willow was darker and many had crowns of buds. The marsh and shallow lake areas were fully melted and water plants were sending up tentative green shoots.


There is an essence of hope that is intrinsic to this particular color pallet. The insistent brevity of their appearance never fails to feed me, as it reminds me how temporary and continuous everything is. Each time I return to the deceptively serene wetland environments I am always .guaranteed  the ephemeral saga of life and departure will still be unfolding. 

River Siren Greets the Sun
The Origin
Karen Goulet
Artist Bio & Statement