Friday, February 10, 2012

I've Moved!

I have moved to: 

at Wordpress

there you will find new & current posts as well as all the archived
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

slow down.....

This photo really has nothing to do with this post, except
to show the slow, transforming power of Nature, as the ocean
carves these 'sea stacks' at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

As I posted (below) my thoughts about trees falling I reflect on how incredibly boring this topic, and no doubt many of my posts, would be to the majority of people in our urban, fast paced society.  A whole blog entry on trees falling down!  Get a life lady!  My blog certainly does not follow the 'rules' for keeping a blog interesting - clever, fast paced, contemporary.  There are of course wonderful blogs full of philosophical, even spiritual sentiment and positive guidance.  I hint at such in some of my posts.

Perhaps my slow blog, (should I start a 'slow blog' movement?), moving at the pace Nature often moves here in the Northwest (think slugs, snails, big trees, mountains, though some of them move quite speedily when erupting!) might slow down a few readers. If I put people to sleep that would be a great service as insomnia reaches epidemic status!  

If slow is not your thing, think about this, in Nature life forms which go, or grow, slow - giant tortoises, elephants, Redwoods, Spruce, even our Douglas Firs - will outlive us, and most everything else.  Obviously not all in Nature is slow - gazelles, waterfalls, bamboo, move or grow quite accelerated! But we're talking slow here.

To create what we want requires focus and intent.  In order to eliminate something in our personal lives or as a society we need to turn our attention, thus our energy, away from it.  Our energy, or life force, is designed to nurture and create.  Continually staying focused on, and pushing against, what we want to bring an end to nurtures it.  Seems counter productive doesn't it?  Right now in the world many well intended and energized people are not creating the future, but are engaging, and thus buttressing, the status quo.

Psychologists, philosophers and spiritualist alike have expounded upon this truth. It has come down through time.  I humbly subscribe to it, having seen it work in both the grand scheme and my own little life.  

So I offer up small, anecdotal reflections and stories about Nature, for it is my simple but steady way of staying focused on what I believe is a powerful antidote to the stress and troubles we all face.  Reconnecting to the slow, healing power of Nature, drawing from it substance to nurture and create our future as individuals and as a society shows wisdom. Nature offers us lightness and teaches us humbleness, it shows us when to slow down like a tortoise, when to take action like a gazelle.  We must first slow down to allow ourselves to be in its presence.

Are you falling asleep yet?  Good-night!

Evergreen, ever growing trees

About 75 rings tell age and history
of the cedar, some years
wet, some droughty.
 A few weeks ago we came home to a fallen tree across the driveway, not just any tree, it was the cedar snag that stood, dead as a door nail, for the 30+ years I have lived here.  Not particularly old, for a conifer, this tall tree towered above its surrounding, and living, neighbors, mostly Big-Leaf Maples and a few smaller cedars.  It was the look out of numerous birds and the convenience store for a variety of woodpeckers.  Many a fascinating bird sightings came from just looking up to the top of this cedar beacon.

a well used tree, the cedar snag came down
on a windy day
It began to lean a few months ago, but often trees lean a long time before falling, so though inevitable, it was still with sadness we saw this giant bird perch lying on the ground.  No doubt it will be missed by the resident woodpeckers even more than by us. Finally having a chance to see the tippy-top, it appears they excavated it down to a thin bit of wood, but it was the wet ground, causing the base to rot, that brought down the tall timber. Retired as a look-out and feeding station, it will now become firewood.

It is always with mixed emotions we decide to intentionally fall trees, but this winter it was with resolve we made the decision to do so. Our summers have been getting darker and darker, even on days when the rest of the NW might be enjoying sun.  Unlike children, trees do not noticeably seem to get taller, it seems to happen both subtly and suddenly. When I realized I could no longer hang clothes to dry, for the window of sun in our yard was less than a few hours, I looked up more. Accustom to blaming cloddy clay soil for our gardening challenges, I had failed to notice, until a few years ago, our sun seeking veggies were having a difficult time growing, even surviving, in the shade of giant evergreens.  The Douglas Firs had become sentinels whose job, it seemed, was to keep the sun out.

Aware of our woodsy surroundings, long ago I resigned to growing modest primulas, mugworts, and other shade "tolerate" flowers, but for decades I managed short season and cool weather veggies in a plot on the south side of the house.  Peas, lettuce, beets, and even some summer squash seemed to adapt to the short, but often intensely hot, mid-day sun (trees do hold the summer heat).  It was my own growing summer 'blues' that made me realize we had been engulfed by the firs surrounding us.  When I would go somewhere, anywhere, even the post office, I would notice there is SKY 'out there'!
two giant Grandfather Firs frame the half moon

After saying good-bye and thanking them for their majesty and the warmth they will be providing as firewood, a few tall firs were fallen to open up sky to the garden and our own sun-seeking souls.

The first tree down showed some rot, so perhaps that was a good one to fall, before it fell in a less opportune place.  The next few seemed to fall almost gracefully, hitting the soft ground with more whoosh than thud.  As the last tree fell, an Eagle flew over, circling.

Though a wider window of sky now exists between the stands of the giants, grandfather firs that will never be taken down, ancestors of all others, the space opened by the fallen trees is barely noticeable.  Nature, the original succession planter and sustainability grower, has young trees behind, to the side, and in front of the ones that fell. They too will now thrive and grow with the added light.  We are not greedy, wanting only a bit more sun, and in love with the trees that surround us, this next generation of tall timbers will be here long after we are gone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bird antics

Cleaning up under a feeder, a small band of a much larger mob!
I love these guys, and gals!  Evening Grosbeaks.  They remind me of clowns!  They hang out in large flocks in the winter and eat A LOT of seed!  Not shy, if there is seed on the porch, close to the house, they will come and get it.  They are not intimated by other large birds. Generally amiable, they seem to share well with smaller birds.  I watched several times today as one Varied Thrush or another tried to take an aggressive stance with Thrush vs 8-12 Grosbeaks  (talk about thinking much of oneself!). The Grosbeaks, who always stand with sentinels looking in different directions, barely looked up.  "You want us to leave? You're kidding right?"  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snowy Magic

Not much blogging on this blog lately. Difficult to share my musings about the joys and mysteries of Nature when for the past month Nature and I have not hung out much.  Gimping around in a leg brace due to a fractured kneecap has made this winter an inside event.  And I have certainly grumbled on the rare days of blue sky and sunshine, missing my winter woods walks. Sitting in a lawn chair bundled up with my leg on a stool does not satisfy the desire to be walking a beach to shake out the winter gray.

But today Nature came knocking.  After a tease of snow over the weekend, today is the promised “winter weather warning” weather pundits have been excited about for the past few days. In urban areas snow in western Washington can bring disruption and havoc, but here it is absolutely transformational.  The noisy county road, slick with black ice under newly fallen snow, is almost abandoned. Only the brave, foolish, and critically needed venture north from south county. 

I sit mesmerized as the world around me becomes bright. Snow is falling and every little branch and ‘branchette’ heavy with mini snow piles.  Birds of all shapes and sizes decorate every bush and tree in our yard as they take turns at the feeders.  I toss out extra seed close to the house where there is still exposed dirt and grass, and the adventuresome wander unto the porch to see if I am providing extra feeding stations, which I do, as I cannot resist Curious Juncos, bold Stellar Jays, and flitty Towhees who find the competition at the feeders a hassle.  Both Chickadee varieties and dozens of Pine Siskens compete for, and empty, the hanging feeders.  Against the white, birds that usually blend in become colorful tree ornaments - Stellar Blue, Thrush Orange, Towhee Brick Red & Black, the earth tones of Junco & Chickadee, Finch Red, and a plethora of Sisken Stripes!  A Grosbeak just arrived, a young male with just a slight show of bright yellow.

And there are all the antics that go along with the color show.  Small Siskens are the bullies, and hang out in very large gangs. They open their tiny wings in a show of aggression and chase anyone else from a feeder.  Towhees are the flitterers, hopping and bopping about on the ground.  Chickadee darts in, procures one seed to take to a branch, opens and eats it - seems like more energy is expended than gained, but not being a Chickadee I don’t know.  Jays, big and bold, spend a lot of time in the trees picking at moss and bugs and who knows what else.  I just looked up as one ducked to avoid a mini snow avalanche falling from the branch above.  Thrushes hunker down, making their elegant long bodies into large round fluff balls to stay warm.

And there is the constant twitter and cooing, special sounds that are either only sung on snow days, or against the snow muffled silence take on a sometimes eerie, always charming, tone.

Yup, Nature came calling today, drawing me out and captivating me with snowy enchantment.  Stay cozy, and if you are living in a warm sunny earth place…ah you are missing the magic!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seasonal Reflections.....

apples floating in lovely oil lamp bought at Quilcene Holiday Bazaar
Our dark, northern winter days encourage the celebration of light, a theme found in the traditions of all the December holidays.

Christmas is full of lights as people celebrate the symbolic light of hope and love brought by the birth of the baby Jesus during a time of great turmoil in the world. Hanukah, the “Festival of Lights”, also celebrates hope and victory during a time of crisis, focusing each day on the lighting of a candle in the menorah.  The relatively new holiday, Kwanzaa is celebrated by lighting seven candles in a kinara.

And Solstice celebrations commemorate of the return of light as the earth makes its way back toward the sun. (at least this northern part of the earth!  In the sunny southern hemisphere they celebrate the earth and sun at their coziest point during these holidays of light.)

The short, sometimes dreary days of December inspire us to be reflective and look deeper to find light not only within ourselves, but in our relationships; and to find light in a world once again in a time of turmoil.

And there is light to be found - in the joy of new births, the smiles brought by kind deeds, the work of good people bringing relief and hope to people in cities and villages everywhere.  It has become cliché, because it is true – we create our own world by what we focus on.  Our greatest gift to others and ourselves would be to turn our focus on that which is light, that which is hope, putting our focus, thus our energy into the change we want to manifest. Shed light on what you want, not on what you want to be rid of.

December holidays come from strong traditions of people with faith, ‘rebels’ of their times focused on hope and positive change – people who looked for the light and found it.

Wishing you a season of light, love and joy and a New Year full of hope.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flutter Tree

A Red-breasted Nuthatch darts in for a single seed.

Red Osiers are the oaks of western woods, turning
shades of red in stages, resulting in
multi-colored fall foliage
While writing the post below there has been a flutter of activity outside the window just above my desk.  There is more to write, another time, of this remarkable tree, a giant Osier Dogwood I call the Grand Central Station of our yard, but today I call it the Flutter Tree.  A bird feeder between the window and the tree attracts (obviously!) birds and depending upon the time of day, those who show for the feeding frenzy changes.  Earlier, there were the Stellar Jays hanging off the feeder, dumping much seed on the ground, and discouraging smaller birds to venture near.  Now there is constant movement as Red Breasted Nuthatches, Juncos, and Black-capped and Chestnut-sided Chickadees dart in and out, grabbing a single seed and sitting in the Osier Dogwood to crack and eat their claim.  The feeding frenzy has slowed as the sky darkens, but deep in the web of the trees branches I still see a few tiny birds sit.  They do not spend the night there, but it is the avian community center of day time life!  Last winter we did not keep a feeder so close to the house due to the horrible rat problem we had the previous year, yet life in The Tree was still busy.