Thursday, October 19, 2017
As Autumn progresses, the flowers around the cabin begin to turn brown. Some drop their seeds to the ground, some shrivel and turn to dust to be carried off on the Wind. I realize that this process actually started weeks ago. Each flower had its peak color, and started to fade, but it only now that I start to notice.
There is a line that I wrote in a song. The song is called Flowers. The line is, “Flowers grow and die away, and don't ask for another day.” The song is a testament to the wisdom of Flowers. They live fully in every moment, and die away when it is time. They don't wait for the perfect moment, or hold back because of what someone might think. These are traps I have fallen into.
Today, I am grateful for the wisdom of Flowers, and the lessons they have taught me. Today, I will live more like Flowers.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
There are four ideas that form the foundation of my personal practice. They are acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and service. This is how they weave into my life today. I accept the pain that I have to deal with in each moment. I forgive myself for the mistakes I made that lead to the injury. I am grateful for the things I can do the the pain does not prevent. I do what I can do to be of use in spite of the injury.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Through the trees to the East of the cabin I see the crescent Moon hanging low, accompanied by a single star. As it is dark in the early morning, I know that the moon will be with me throughout the day, crossing invisibly, just ahead of the Sun.
I am grateful for the Moon and will be paying attention to the energy it contributes to it's more obvious partner.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Every morning, as I collect Mint leaves for my tea, I return to the fact that the Mint I use grows from roots that were given to me by a friend. Her father collected the roots from the town where I was born.
I am grateful to my friend, her father, and the plants for the daily connection I have to them and the place of my birth.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
As I split wood, every log I pick up and put on the chopping block is a reminder. I am reminded of the trees I brought down to provide us with heat this Winter. I am reminded of the damage I did not do to the cabin or myself in doing so. I am also reminded of the mistakes I made when I cut a log too short or too long. Both instances will require some form of adjustment in the splitting process that will mean more work.
As I ponder this, it occurs to me that no matter what I encounter in the splitting process, eventually all the wood will be split and stacked. Finally, it will all be burned, along with the evidence of my mistakes. As we burn the wood this Winter, all my errors will turn onto smoke and vanish up through the chimney. All that will be left is knowledge.
Today, I will be paying attention to the fact that everything I do creates knowledge. I can use this knowledge to inform the moment I am in, or to keep me stuck in past mistakes.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Yesterday was a particularly poignant day for me. It was filled with many connections and re-connections. There were moments I will cherish and moments that invite doubt and insecurity. All of these thoughts are seductive and pull me out of what is currently happening in my life.
Today, I will be working to return to the Now where I can begin to inhabit the possibilities sparked by yesterday, while avoiding becoming mired in reminiscences and regret.
Friday, October 13, 2017
My wife calls out to the Cat that lives with us, and Cat looks up at her. It occurs to me that Cat knows her name. Then it occurs to me how arbitrary her name is. Then it occurs to me that my name is similarly arbitrary. I think of how it connects me to relatives and heritage and to my family, but it also binds me to a fixed state of “Joel-ness” that I associate with my name. Then I think about how any kind of naming can have this limiting effect.
Today, I will be paying attention to the possible limiting effects of naming, and doing my best to avoid these imposed limits.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
As my healing progresses, I realize I have to return to doing things I did before the injury. For me, too much rest means more vulnerability to injury as muscles become weaker and weaker. I am aware of the nuanced balance between work and rest that challenges by healing body without hurting it again. Tension that results from fear of new pain is different from injury pain. Presence in the moment is useful in deciphering the two.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Outside this morning I looked up at the the half moon shining in the Southern sky. It was ringed with haze, and though I thought that might have been a result of the moisture in the atmosphere, it occurred to me that it could also be an artifact of my fifty-something-year-old eyes. This got me thinking about the relationship between me and what seems to be. Everything I experience is a manifestation of me and what seems to be around me. I remember that everything I consider to be not me includes a bit of me. I am grateful for this relationship.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
When I pick up a log to split it, I notice that if it has been on the ground for enough time, the ground sticks to it. As I pull the soft Earth off, it occurs to me that the log has already started to transform. Soil and wood combine to become Earth once again. Than it occurs to me that they have always been connected. Seeing roots and dirt rather than a fluid web of interconnected life is a manifestation of my own misguided thinking. I think tree and soil so I see tree and soil, but where does tree stop and soil begin?
Today, I will be paying attention to the effects my thinking has on my perception of my world; where this is useful and where it gets in the way.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
This morning the thought occurred to me, “How much time will I allow myself to heal?” Then I looked up at the clouds. Between me and the upper stratosphere where there are no clouds, there are many layers of wind currents. While I was watching, the upper clouds were quite still while the lower clouds were moving very quickly.
I was reminded of how clouds move. They travel with the wind, not resisting, not anticipating, and without commentary. They follow the flow created by the warming and cooling of Earth. They are not impatient to reach a destination or longing for their departure point. They are simply where they are, as they are. All this reminded me that I will heal in the time it takes for me to heal. What I allow or don't allow is irrelevant. My choice is to be present to the process as it happens, or lose track of it, risking doing something that will re-injure me creating a new trajectory of healing.
There are things I can do today that I could not do yesterday without pain. For this, I am grateful. That is where I am today.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Thursday, October 5, 2017
There are people living on this planet right now who stay up sometimes for days dancing and singing out of gratitude for a good hunt, or a good harvest, or the healing of a relative. They dance and sing to give back, even though they have to do it all again. Today, I will be pondering this lesson and challenging myself to up my gratitude game.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Monday, October 2, 2017
As I start to heal, I experience the challenge of taking it slowly. Remembering not to rush back into old practices allows me to integrate what I have learned from my experience. Today, I can not do what I was able to do in the past. Using the pain to guide my pace makes it less likely that I will slip back into same patterns. I will use the discomfort to remind me back to the present while I actively attend to my next steps.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Friday, September 29, 2017
At times like this, I am struck by how vigilant I have to be of my own tendency to take things for granted. From the electricity that runs the alarm clock that wakes me to the fresh air I breath in as I turn off the noise to the floor that greets my feet as I get out of the warm comfortable bed in which I sleep. And all that transpires in the first moments of my day.
Today, I will be doing my best to pay attention to the hundreds of times I am gifted with abundance, and be grateful.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Leaves fall and remind me that everything is always in motion. They glide to the Earth were they become soil. Soil becomes Trees and the cycle continues.
Today, I am remembering that I am part of this cycle. I, too, am always in motion. What will I become?
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
As I approached the Mint patch, I saw someone scurry into the underbrush. Waiting for a moment, I saw Chipmunk emerge from the other side. She then ran across a patch of grass, stopped and turned to look back at me. Chipmunk was not panting and did not seem upset by our close encounter, she simply moved to a safe distance and stopped, to look back.
This got me thinking about the assumptions I make about my creature cousins and the prey/predator mythology that is so much a part of my culture. Does Chipmunk see me as a threat or a danger or as a participant in an interaction that she wants to engage in from a distance? Threats are to be eliminated and dangers are to be avoided, but Chipmunk doesn't seem to live her life doing either of these things. She does not eliminate threats by undermining my life, nor does she avoid danger by living far from me. She lives close to me, and our lives intersect because of our similarities. She was looking for some Mint this morning at the same time I was.
I know that she stopped at a distance that I could not cover quickly and looked back at me. But why?
Today, I will be holding onto the idea that I don't actually know the answer to that question. I will also be declining the invitation to think that I do.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
This morning, as I came out the Eastern door, Squirrel began an alarm call. It was the longer kaw call with a wavy tail flicker. She started from across the lawn, than ran closer to me. As she sat on top of the woodpile and kawed at me, I was struck by her. There she sat, not five feet from, letting me know she knew I was there. Her kaws kept calling my attention to her, demanding my focus. After a bit, she ran off the woodpile and over to a White Pine stump, where she continued her calls.
Squirrel's actions remind me of bravery. Her willingness to get so close to me gets me thinking about what it takes for me to do things I am afraid to do. I will remember Squirrel when I am facing a challenge, and concerned about what might happen.
Monday, September 25, 2017
This morning, I saw Orin in the Southern sky. This usually means cooler weather. The warmth of the dark morning got me thinking about how there is no firm connection between Orin rising and cooler temperatures. This got me thinking about how even seeing Orion as a particular collection of stars is similarly not a firm experience. I see Orin because of where I am in the Cosmos. Slowly the Sun rises and Orin begins to disappear.
Today, I will be paying close attention to my ideas about reality and how many of them are linked solely to where I stand. I will be paying attention to the importance of other people's experiences and perspectives and how they can enrich mine.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
It's wood splitting time here at the cabin which means that a part of every week will be devoted to splitting and stacking this years burning wood. As I work through the pile, I have noticed something about one of the trees. As the rings grew out every years, they never made a complete circle. Maple tree must have been scarred in some way. The vertical scar continued to be incorporated into Maple tree as she grew. No more that a sixteenth of an inch wide, I would not have noticed it if I looked at the tree, but now that I have cut the tree into sections it is quite obvious. The scar runs almost completely to the center of the tree. It must have been injured when it was quite young. Even with such a deep scar, one almost as old as the tree itself, she still grew into a tall beautiful Maple, as majestic as any on the land.
This gets me thinking about my own scars. My culture teaches me that scars are something to hide, something that is debilitating, something that must be healed if we are to survive. Maple tree teaches me that a scar is something that can be grown with, something that is descriptive of the past, but not something that has to limit the future. I realize that Maple tree, without the scar would be different, but not better.
Today, I will live like Maple tree. I will accept my scars, recognize that they have changed me, but stay curious about the ways in which I have been changed. I will decline the cultural invitations that describe scars as limiting or as problems that need to be solved. I will remember that me without the scars would be different, not better.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Squirrel buries Acorns. I have seen her do this many times. I have also seen spots in the snow where she has tunneled down to collect them again. Yesterday I saw Squirrel burring Acorn in the woods, but it wasn't until this morning that a thought struck me. There will be many Acorns at the base of Oak tree where she drops them. Even in the Spring after Mouse and Vole have been eating from this larder all Winter there will still be many Acorns left. So why would Squirrel bury Acorn if she could simply go back to the base of Oak tree and dig some up. It occurred to me that some of the Acorns Squirrel buries grow into Oak trees. These Oak trees provide the Acorns of the future. Squirrel in her burring is connected to a far larger arc than the one I was thinking of. This arc goes far past this Winter or the coming Spring. The Acorns from an Oak tree planted this fall will not be picked for ten or twenty years. Does Squirrel know this?
Today, I will be considering my actions in the context of Squirrel and Oak tree's arc. I wonder what effect that will have.
Friday, September 22, 2017
As I sat this morning, a large tree crashed to the ground out in Pine Grove. Pine Grove is one of my favorite spots on the land. There are many large Bull Pines out there, and the forest floor is soft and brown from the years of falling needles.
I wondered which one had come down, as I knew I would notice the change. It got me thinking about how the time we have to enjoy what is is always limited.
Today, I am cherishing the moments I am in, while avoiding the temptation to try to hang onto them. Pine Grove is no longer what it was, but what it has become is also worth treasuring.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Wind bends the tree tops as the storm passes to the South and East. The display is powerful but inconsequential compared to what is happening further South. Today, I am walking in a place of gratitude as I consider the problems I don't have to deal with today.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
The first thing I heard this morning as I walked out onto the Eastern deck was Acorn falling. I looked up and, sure enough, Squirrel was up in Oak tree sending nuts to the ground. It had been weeks since this process began. Day after day, Squirrel has been climbing up into Oak tree, harvesting Acorns, and sending them Earthward. One by one they fall, accumulating beneath the tree to be buried, or lost, or stolen by Chipmunk.
I was struck by Squirrel's … Squirrel's what? Was it persistence? Was it hard work? These questions got me thinking. Squirrel didn't stay up in the tree for the whole day picking every Acorn she could find. She didn't toil for hours on end. Squirrel wasn't planing for the worst, making sure she had downed enough nuts to get her through a possible difficult Winter. She didn't even seem concerned that Chipmunk was stealing part of what she had dropped. What was it that let Squirrel know she was done for the day? What was it that brought her back again to harvest more on subsequent days? How did she know she when had done enough?
Today, I will be paying attention to ideas that suggest that I can not be prepared enough, or that I have to be concerned about all the potential problems that I could encounter down the road. I will be doing my best to keep my head where my feet are remember that there is something about how Squirrel does what she does that keeps her, first and foremost, from falling out of the tree.
Monday, September 18, 2017
We call the dog that lives with us Brichy. In the morning when I head out to the front porch to eat my breakfast, she likes to come along. She takes her time, though. When I am ready to go, I open the front door, and wait for a bit. Eventually, she ambles around this corner or that depending on where she was lying. She stops and looks at me, and I say something like, “Let's go.” There is no predicting what she does next. She might start for the living room, or head around the back side of the island in the kitchen. Whatever she does, it is usually the least direct root out the door.. Now you may be wondering if she actually wants to come out with me. I don't know, but I can tell you that if I leave her inside, she mopes at the door and whines until I come back and get her. I do know tat she likes to be chased. In fact she like to turn just bout anything into a chase or into a game. I appreciate this about her. She seems to enjoy turning everything into something fun.
This gets me thinking about how I might do more of that myself. Birchy has the ability to turn walking out the door into a game. I usually just walk out the door. Today, I will be paying attention to times when I can turn what I'm doing into a game and see what effect it has on my experience.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
As I rounded the Northwestern corner of the cabin, I saw two Deer having a snack over by the North stonewall. Turning to the East I saw Phoebe resting on Apple tree. Looking back to the Northwest to check on Deer, I saw Squirrels chasing each other. In that moment it occurred to me that nothing about this day was dissimilar to a Spring day. Then I realized that every day contains the four cycles of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. A Spring of possibilities, a Summer of action, a Fall of contemplation, and a Winter of rest happen each day regardless the season.
This got me thinking that there is a difference between getting old and being old. Getting old happens as a result of the passage of seasons, be they diurnal or annual. Being old is result of choices I make. This gets me thinking that I have the power to participate in what old will be for me. I can choose to see wrinkles as a symbol of what I was, or as a testament to what I have become. I can count on changing, but how I understand those changes is up to me.
Today, I will be paying attention to times when cultural assumptions leak in and attempt to modify the preferences I have about how I see myself and the world around me.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
As I opened the Eastern door of the cabin and stepped out, Acorn fell from Oak tree. I looked up to see Squirrel clambering through the branches. The morning was warm and thick. A good day to be lazy, I thought. Just rolling along. Nothing out of the ordinary.
By this time I was in the screen house, and heard a splash on the old Cow pond. Louder than duck, I thought, craning my head to see past the plants that blocked my view. I saw a black bird hit the water, but only briefly as it was lost behind a bush. Cormorant? Loon? If it was Cormorant she would swim to the log and climb out. I adjusted my view to see the log and, sure enough, there she was fluffing out her soaked feathers.
As I watched her fly and drop and swim and climb back onto the log to look around, I thought about how quickly my morning had turned from familiar to extraordinary. I had never seen Cormorant on the pond before. Just when I thought I would settle down to a morning of same she made it different.
Cormorant reminds me that I can never know when the landscape of my path will transform. She gets me thinking that perhaps the sameness that I was experiencing before she showed up was more about what I was paying attention to and not what was actually going on around me.
Today, I will keep my head up and my eyes open as the landscape of my path unfolds in front of me. What will I notice and what will it take to shake me out of the illusion of sameness that might overtake me?
Friday, September 15, 2017
The Rain started so softly that at first I thought it was a gentle wind. I stopped and watched, but could not see the leaves moving. I stepped off the porch and felt the tiny drops falling on my face. The Sun shone brightly, but there was a dark patch of clouds just to the East. I reasoned that the Rain must be coming form there. The Peepers had been peeping, but as the Rain fell their peeps turned into a sound I hadn't heard before. They were cooing. After a brief shower, the rain stopped and the frogs fell silent.
This got me thinking about the gift of these fleeting experiences. The Rain only lasted several minutes, and the cooing even less time. I had to be there to experience Rain, and I had to take the time to experience how Frog responded.
Today, I will be thinking about slowing down to notice what is in front of me, and taking the time to see what happens next.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
I picked the last apricot this morning. Slicing it open relieved that Cutworm had been inside, munching through the juicy flesh. The residue of her skillful tunneling was a slightly darkened trail flowing in one side of the fruit and out the other.
This got me thinking about how although I could describe Cutworm as a pest, what makes her a pest is how similar she is to me. I don't burrow into apricots, but I sure like to eat them. I don't suing from trees on a thin strand of silk, but I do like to climb in trees.
These similarities exist for most of the creature cousins my culture describes as pests. Cutworm and Slug and Potato Beetle and Rat and Wolf are all pests because they like to eat what I like to eat and live where I like to live. Cousins like Salamander and Turtle and Frog aren't described as pests because they don't like the kind of places I like or the kind of food I like.
Today, I will be thinking about how conflict can sometimes spring from sameness rather than difference. It seems to me that this change in awareness might illuminate a whole different set of possibilities for living together with those I might have considered pests or even enemies.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Scotch Broom lives just off the Western porch of the cabin. This winter, the heavy snows crushed the plant almost flat. In the spring, its branches were broken and bent. It laid brown and beaten, seemingly lifeless. We didn't think it would make it through the summer.
It is now almost six feet tall and reaching higher. After blooming in the spring, it seems to have rebuilt itself. New growth is bursting from every branch with no remnants of the past winter's destruction.
I am struck by Scotch Broom. This seemingly unstoppable plant regrew from a tangled mess of twisted branches into a beautiful upward flowing cascade of green tendrils. From what seemed like unrecoverable injuries, Scotch Broom lives on taller and stronger than ever.
Perhaps it is its flexibility that allowed it to survive, or perhaps a refusal to let go, or maybe for Scotch Broom, there is no trajectory of living that does not include regrowing. I don't know, but Broom teaches me that regrowing from what seems like catastrophic destruction is possible. I will carry this lesson with me.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
I stood next to the Mint patch as I was about to gather my morning tea herbs, and I heard Chipmunk chirp. Chipmunk reminded me about seeing Squirrel in Oak tree, so I looked up. Oak tree reminded me to look up at Sky, where Moon hung bright white. I was struck by how often I forget to look up.
Today, I will be looking up more often.
Monday, September 11, 2017
Apricot Tree grows in the far Eastern edge of the garden. As a result, the back side of the tree is mostly in the shade. This year the Eastern branches did not leaf out. Is Apricot Tree dying, or prioritizing the branches that catch the Sunlight?
Apricot Tree gets me thinking about perspective. I can look at her bare branches and see a dying tree, or I can notice where the Sunlight tracks and be amazed by her ability out reach out and catch it.
Today, I will be paying attention to the effects of my perspective.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Today, I will be harvesting potatoes. Though I have done it many times, I am always struck by the beauty of the potato as I pull it up from the Earth. We grow Cranberry Red's, and when they emerge, they are almost luminescent. They are a deep red, almost purple, and the thin crisp skin slices more like that of an apple.
As I dig them out, my mind goes to what is like for people who rely on the harvest for food. They take a perfectly good bag of potatoes, cut them up into seeds, and plunge them into the ground. All this in the hopes that the seeds will become plants, and the plants will produce fruit, and the fruit would be enough to get them through to the next planting season.
As I sat in the deck this morning, Ant passed in front of me. First moving North to South, the South to North. Ant and all it's members fan out in many directions searching for food, communicating what they find back down the line, and organizing to bring the food back to their home. Once there it is shared with everyone.
When Ant ventures out, finding food is a possibility, not an inevitability. Sometimes Ant finds food. Sometimes Ant doesn't. The bounty or the hunger is shared by everyone.
Today, as I dig potatoes, I will be thinking about Ant, and the wisdom they live by. That no one is entitled to abundance. That scarcity and starvation are a part of life. We must share both when we need to, because sometimes we bury the bag of potatoes, and Mouse eats them all.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
The morning Sun glistens through the rain soaked trees. A gentile wind blows and raindrops shower down to the forest floor sparkling like millions of diamonds. As I witness this, I experience a rhythm that is very familiar. It is different from the rhythm I experience when I hear a clock ticking. Though both come from outside my body, one resonates with me and one does not. Wind, Rain, and Tree rhythm calms me and energizes me. Clock rhythm seems to call me from this place of calm.
Today, I will be paying attention to the rhythms I encounter and discerning which ones have a familiar resonance and which ones do not.
Friday, September 8, 2017
The cool wind blew this morning as I sat in the summer house. It got me thinking how wind makes Air tangible, and reminds me of the existence of this most precious gift. It wasn't until later that I noticed the cloudless Sky.
While I stood in amazement beneath the stunning clear blue, I thought about Air flowing above me. I felt it flowing beside me, and through me, but took in the grandeur of it's flowing all the way to the furthest reaches of the atmosphere. I realized that the Air I could feel was connected from my body as far as I could see.
Today, I will be remembering to be grateful for the gift of Air and it's reminder of my connection through our atmosphere.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
By the time I got outside this morning the rain was mostly over. It still fell from the edges of the cabin roof, and collected in small pools on the deck. It occurred to me that the ripples in the tiny puddles were the same as the ripples in the greatest oceans.
For me, Rain is one of the most tangible reminders of the interconnectedness of everything. The drop of Water that lands in my hand came from some far distant place where it evaporated up into the Sky after having landed there. And it landed there after traveling from somewhere else. The cycle of up and down, Sky to Earth has been repeated over and over again. In this way Water is always everywhere, in a process of constant transformation connecting place, person, and thing through its fluid motion.
Today, I will be remembering the power and preciousness of Water as it travels through me and past me on its continuous journey of connection.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
In the dim light of early dawn it is difficult to discern anything. What might be Deer could also be a bush. Movement can be an illusion because my vision alone can't decode what is in front of me. I have to make sure to tune in with all my senses. If it is Deer and not a bush, I will hear something or smell something.
This gets me thinking about how important it is for me to pay attention with all my senses. As Sun rises and the mist concentrates, I can feel the cool air, smell the thickening moisture, and see the water droplets drifting down. The complexity of what is going on around me is available to me, but not if I rely only on my vision.
Today, I will be paying attention with all my senses and catching myself relying on one more than another.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
The hazy golden Sun this morning reminds me of Summer, but the angle of the Sun's trajectory lets me know we are heading toward Autumn. It would be easy for me to start to pine for what has past, but, as I do, it occurs to me to stay open to what is happening in the moment. As I do, melancholy of memory fades and the wonder of what is ahead brightens.
Today, I will be paying attention to what I am paying attention to and remembering to hold myself open to what is in front of me right here right now.
Monday, September 4, 2017
This is the time of year around the cabin when splitting wood takes up part of my time. I have noticed that the wood will always let me know where it will split. It has been seasoning for a year now and is already starting to crack. Following those cracks makes for less work.
This gets me thinking about how easier paths will always manifest if I pay attention to what is in front of me. Once I have discerned the easier road, I can choose not to follow it, or not. It is a choice, and all choices have consequences.
Today, I will be paying looking out for clues, like cracks in cord wood, that illuminate the paths unfolding in front me and the choices I make in response to this guidance.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
This morning I watched a leaf fall from Birch tree onto the ground. It got me thinking about how that leaf fall is part of the cycle of everything. It's contribution to the Earth becomes becomes the fuel for the beginnings of Spring. In turn, that becomes the fruit of Summer and the falling leaves of Autumn.
Today, I will be paying attention to the cycles that are happening around me all the time, and the part I play in them.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
My favorite Apples grow on a tree that lives on the edge of a mall parking lot in the middle of a city. They have a crisp buttery sweetness that I can't find anywhere else. On a good harvest year, I will pick three or four bags full. The ones I don't eat fresh I pop in the freezer. In use a Tomato knife to slice up the frozen Apples, and I put them on hot cereal. Combined with a good Strawberry crop, they will usually last me until the next harvest season.
Here in Maine Apple trees are everywhere. I find them in fields, by the roadside, and even in the middle of the forest. Some of the varieties date back to the days when Apples were introduced to this land from other parts of the world, and when conditions are right, the trees fruit out generously making their abundance available for anyone who happens by.
Today, I will be paying attention to the abundance that exists all around me, and using the example of Apple tree's generosity to guide my actions.
Friday, September 1, 2017
I woke this morning to the sound of Crow. Looking out the window, I could see about one hundred gathering in the Pine grove, just Northeast of the cabin. I was glad to see them. Having so many Hawks around this summer seemed to keep my Crow friends away.
Hearing their energetic caws and watching them swoop and dance in the Sky together got me thinking about the lessons I learn from Crow. Knowing that Crow hangs out in family groups I see this as a reunion of sorts, and they remind me about the importance of the family I surround myself with. Whether by blood or choice, the people I choose to put in my circle are the rock upon which I rest when things get tough. I have seen Crow and her brothers and sisters risk their lives to push Hawk away from their territory. Seeing such bravery reminds me that leaning on other is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to the power of our interdependence.
Me leaning on you reminds you that you can lean on me. The structure of our interlocking threads of love makes gives us a strength we can not manifest on our own. Crow reminds me that life does not have to be a solo flight to be honorable.
Today, I will remember Crow's lesson to fly with others and welcome them flying with me.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Squirrel was out this morning, rooting around the Pine trees North of the cabin. Disappearing behind a tree trunk, I couldn't see if she had climbed up or headed off the the Northwest, out of my line of vision.
Just seeing Squirrel got me thinking about all the Squirrel lessons I learn. The fact the Squirrel wasn't over on the East side of the cabin where the Acorns are reminds me that life isn't always about gathering supplies and being prepared. Sometimes it's okay to root around in the Pine needles just to see what's what.
Today, I will be thinking about Squirrel and the lessons she teaches me about possibilities for living.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
I woke up this morning to Cardinal's call. Cardinal's call is a lot like Chipmunk's alarm call, a pattern of single loud chirps. I figured it was Cardinal because of the way it moved around the cabin, getting pretty close to the upstairs window before it moved off to the West.
This got me thinking about how easy it can be to mistake one thing for another. If I don't pay really close attention, I can be convinced I am hearing one thing, when it is actually something else. In most instances it is about taking the time I need to really listen or really look and see, or really thoroughly feel.
Today, I will be doing my best to slow down so I can make the distinction between what seems to be and what, upon further reflection, actually is.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Great Blue Heron glides gracefully over the pond. As she stalls her flight, her long stick like legs penetrate to surface of the water, seemingly without a ripple. Like a 747 landing on a lily pad, Heron improbably morphs from magnificent soarer to stealthy hunter finding her footing in the soft clay bottom of the pond.
To accomplish this act of transformation Heron is able to see through the water surface. In order to calculate her gentile trajectory, she must be able to see where the bottom of the pond is, and be sure that the depth of the intervening water is not deeper than her legs are long.
Heron gets me thinking about how easy it is for me to see the surface of things and miss the richer description that includes what is just past the immediately obvious. Like Heron, it is useful to see and understand the surface, but to also take in what is below, just beyond what we notice at first glance.
Today, I will be remembering to ask questions that illuminate territories that exist just beyond what is immediately obvious, so that my life can be more richly described. I will also remember that what might seem obvious is also worthy of my curiosity inquiry.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Here in Maine, the chill of the coming Winter starts to show up around the middle of August. By now, most mornings are pretty cool. This morning my thoughts about the coming cold distracted me from the abundance of this time of year. Elder is bursting forth with berries, the potatoes have yet to be harvested, and there is more Mint and Rhubarb than we could ever use. Fresh greens are everywhere, and Winter berry and Partridge berry will be around till the Spring.
This gets me thinking about how the abundance of the Earth is around all me the time, it's just a question of knowing where to look. The obvious abundance of Summer can be overwhelming, while the abundance of early Winter is more subtle. Subtle or not, it is still there, I just have to stay open to the possibilities.
Today, I will be remembering that abundance is all around me all the time, I just have to be open to its varied manifestations. It may not be what I'm looking for or what I think I want, but it's there.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
As the Sun rose from behind the mountains, they seemed like a ridge of rolling hills. The center one did not stand out in any way, aside from seeming slightly higher than the rest. Without knowledge from the previous day, I would not have known it was what we call Mount Washington.
Eventually, the Sun crested just to the South of the peak, and began to illuminate the craggy top giving some contrast to the scene. Eventually, the other peaks were exposed and gave reference to their relationship to each other. Not only the height of the top of the central mountain, but its proximity to me were easier to discern.
This got me thinking about how much my perspective and view of thing can change over time. Things that seems near, can eventually seem farther away. Things that seems to be one way can, with some illumination, appear completely different, and then change again. This process goes on constantly, yet I am rarely aware of it.
Today, I will be paying attention to how often my perspective changes and is changed by what is going on around me, and by what I am doing in the moment I am in.
My culture teaches me that it is a dog eat dog world. My experience is that, if it is not a survival situation, most of my creature cousins live in balanced coexistence with each other. I also know that when my local friends were given the opportunity to gather in support of Love, 40,000 of them showed up.
Today, I will be noticing opportunities I have to stand up against the idea that it is, or even has to be, a dog eat dog world.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Each morning around this time of year, the point at which the Sun rises over the horizon tracks further and further North. As this happens, the are fewer and fewer bird songs when I find myself out on the back deck sitting. Since the time that I go out is based on clock time and not the actual cycles of the Earth what seems like the same time for me every morning is actually earlier and earlier for my creature cousins who's lives are connected to something far older than my culture's clock. So as the Sun rises later and later, they sleep in longer and longer.
This gets me thinking about my culture's mythology that teaches me how hard and long my creature cousins labor to “survive in the wild.” These stories of constant toil and suffering aren't supported by my experience. When I am getting up in the darkness because the clock tells me it is six in the morning, I know my creature cousins are still sleeping because their calls don't greet me when I get outside. I know they are sleeping in until the Sun comes up and warms things a bit. When I'm working into the darkness because the clock tells me the day has not yet over, by the time I get outside to end my day my creature cousins are already in bed avoiding the cold of the nighttime. I sit alone in the back deck, accompanied only by the vastness of space unfolding above my head.
Today, I will be paying attention to the effects cultural ideas have on how I think about my life, and the choices I make to comply with these ideas (or not).
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
As I approached the Southern edge of the garden to collect Mint for tea, I realized I hadn't yet taken in the sky. I looked up and was awed by the pale blue expanse filled with high textured clouds. Each quarter of the Sky seemed populated by a different pattern, some almost imperceptible, some more defined. The resulting light rained down like an airy ocean, blending blue with green as it enveloped the trees.
As the Sun rises in the East, Sky morphs in response, ever changing, ever original.
I am grateful for Sky, and it's ability to remind me that everything is in a state of flux, and that each moment contains it's own fleeting uniqueness.
Today, I will be looking for signs of Sky in everything I experience, standing up against the mythology of stagnation and recognizing the beauty in impermanence.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
This morning I was woken up by the call of Pileated Woodpecker. Later, Woodpecker called out again. Hawk also called out from the Northwestern forest.
I wondered if I would see either of them, and if they would have a lesson for me. I waited and listened carefully for some indication of where either of them was. The I noticed something. While I was listening so carefully for my bird cousins, I had not heard the Cricket song that was going on all around me.
This got me thinking about how I can get so intensely focused on something I am searching for or waiting for that I can miss what is already happening in front of me. I was so anxious to see my bird cousins, that I wasn't hearing my Cricket cousins. I started to wonder what else I was missing.
Today, I will be noticing when I start searching for something that I might find, and am missing what is already in front of me. I will also listen through what I am listening to to hear what I am also hearing.
Monday, August 21, 2017
It seems to me ironic that I stared this journal one year before a solar eclipse. When I was young, I was told stories of how the ignorant savages believed that the darkening skies foretold the end of the world. Later, I learned that these same savages knew that the world was round, and, long before the civilized world discovered it again, understood the ideas of zero as a place holder.
All I know is that some of the most important lessons I have learned about living come from Squirrels and Crows. Lessons about fun and family and courage and forgiveness have all come from my creature cousins. These are people not civilized, but connected to a way of living worth attending to.
I have been told that if a full solar eclipse happens in the Spring, the Peepers will start their evening song. Is that because they are ignorant, or because they do what makes sense in the moment they are in?
I am deeply grateful for the support I have received from all of you who read this journal. Your interest has inspired me to keep my head up and eyes open, curious about what lessons today will offer. I don't know if I will continue to write. What I can do is be awake to the gift of this moment. What happens tomorrow will have to wait till then.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
I was sitting on the deck this morning when a large dark shadow landed in a tree in the Eastern woods. As big as Cooper's Hawk, I could see it moving in the upper branches. Was it Hawk?
The morning Sun had not yet crested the canopy and still filtered through the trees, causing the leaves to glow in green translucence. Till now the bird was shaded from the early Sun by the tree trunk, but then it swung around the North side of the tree and into the light. When it did, the silhouette of the bird's head flashed bright red like a burst of flame.
She hopped to another branch, out of sight, and the flame was gone. I kept looking, wondering what Woodpecker would do next. After a moment or two, she burst from the trees flying West, her gorgeous black and white wings in sharp relief to the bright blue of the morning sky. Passing over the house, she flew out of my line of sight, and was gone.
Woodpecker gets me thinking about the Sacred confluence of events. How many things had to conspire for me to see that sudden flash of red? I' m not sure, but I am so grateful that they did.
Today, I will keep my head up and my eyes open looking for the effects of the next Sacred confluence of events.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
On the inside of one of the skylight screens this morning was Spider. This particular spider is one of the ones that seems to jump when it moves, starting in one spot, then appearing again in another. Its movements are so quick my eyes can't follow them.
Spider got me thinking about the limitations of my vision. In the infinite spectrum of color, there are only a limited set of colors I can see. The same is true for all of my senses. Spider reminds me that even though my senses can't track everything that exists, that doesn't mean it's not there. Spider is moving from one place to the other. Her seeming to disappear and reappear is an illusion.
Today, I will be paying attention to Spider's lesson. Spider teaches me that what I see is not all that is. My limited particular experience can make illusion seem like truth.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Great Blue Heron stands almost motionless in the pond behind the cabin. Not really blue but gray like a ghost, now completely camouflaged from upward looking prey against this mourning's cloudy sky.
Heron hunts by waiting, knowing from experience that, eventually, something will come along. Years back my friend, Dan Gardoqui taught me that the best way to see is not to chase, but to wait. Eventually, everything you are looking for comes to you.
My culture teaches me teaches me that I have to constantly be running after what I want; That if I'm not constantly on the move, I might miss something. Heron teaches me patience, and that good things are coming. Heron knows that running after things is a good way to keep thing running in the other direction.
Today, I will be working on patience, remembering what Heron knows; That sometimes what I am looking for will come to me. All I need is the courage to wait.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Sitting out on the back porch this morning I was thinking about the weather man saying the toady was going to be a perfect day. The sun was rising clear and strong in the East and the high wispy clouds were all that kept the sky from being clear and blue. Middle eighties and low humidity, that's what the weather man meant by a perfect day.
I know that today will be filled with lessons. It will contain plenty of times when I make mistakes, and when what is going on around me will be replaced by worry, doubt, and fear. I will have lots of opportunities to catch myself living in my head so I can practice coming back to my senses, returning to pay attention to what is actually happening in my life. For me, that's a perfect day. Just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, but there's nothing wrong with a little nice weather.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Walking out the Eastern door of the cabin this morning, the first thing I heard was an alarm call from Chipmunk. Chipmunk's alarm call is a single loud chirp. Louder than a smoke alarm, it rings out across the Forest. And it's not just for Chipmunk's relatives. Anyone who can hear it gets the message, even me. And it's not a warning that says, “Run!” or “Hide!” That's because running and hiding aren't always the best ways to respond. In fact there is no one right response to an alarm call. Chipmunks message simply means, “Pay attention.”
Today, I will be listening to Chipmunk's alarm call and paying attention. In response I will do what makes sense for me.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
The gentle rain fell quietly as I sat on the porch with Birchy, the dog. Hawk was quiet, and the most apparent noise was Cricket, still trying to chirp the morning Sun through the clouds. Suddenly, Birchy stood up and barked. At the same time, something crashed through the underbrush to the North of the cabin. Whoever it was moved quickly to the Northeast and into the deeper woods. All I saw was a brief flash through the thick branches.
This gets me thinking about how things can seem to be one way, then suddenly change because of something I didn't notice. Was whoever was there trying to teach me to pay better attention, or is it that I was teaching them to be more aware?
Today, I will be remembering that sometimes the lessons aren't for me, and that sometimes I am the teacher and I don't even know it.
Monday, August 14, 2017
This morning the quarter Moon hung in the Southeastern sky trekking towards new. Looking up at it, as it glowed in the bright blue morning sky, I noticed how it connected me to a larger ark. It reminded me that there is something bigger than me and this town and this state and this country and this Earth. Bigger than our solar system and our universe and our cosmos.
And I am part of it. I am at the same time insignificant and vital. There is a part I play that no one else can play that weaves into the fabric of eternity, and yet the role is one of an infinite number of roles that intersect and effect each other in myriad ways. It is humbling, overwhelming, and energizing to know that I am a part of something so extraordinary, and yet it is as ordinary as breathing.
Today, I will be remembering to pay attention to the Moon as it reminds me of my connection to the infinite.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Cooper's Hawk is getting better. That's the word from the Center for Wildlife. They are somewhat surprised, since his injuries were so severe. But yesterday morning when they came in they found him standing up and trying to perch.
Sitting on the back porch last night I was telling a friend this news. As I did, one of Hawk's family members showed up in a tree about forty feet away. I wondered if my creature cousin was listening to the story. Then I wondered if Cooper's Hawk knew how concerned his family was. Then I wondered if he knew about our love and concern.
Then it occurred to me. The possibility that someone could be disconnected from the stream of Love was based on my cultural experience. My culture teaches me that love is something that is limited, that must be earned, and that can be revoked. The Earth teaches me that flow of Love at the center of all Life is something that is given freely and without condition. It is infinite, and is never withheld. This Love is a force that one must choose to disconnect from.
The default position if Love is ON. From that perspective, Hawk would have had to disconnect in order to be unaware of the outpouring of Love going on around the cabin.
This gets me thinking about how often I am missing out on the Love that is flowing around me because I am choosing not to participate, or I'm distracted by worries and fears. Then I get thinking about how the easiest way to reconnect with Love is to start to send it out.
Today, I will be paying attention to when I receive invitations that distract me from the Love that is all around us all the time. I will be doing my best to send out Love so that I might reconnect with the Flow.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Butterfly Bush was dead, at least that what I thought. I learned later that the entirety of the plant dries up every year and regrows in the Spring and Summer. Butterfly Bush is now seven feet tall and flowering.
This gets me thinking about how limited my vision can get. How could a huge Bush possibly grow back each year? I could see it will small plants like Lilly and Black Eyed Susan, but Butterfly Bush? And evens still, there is Butterfly Bush, towering over me, unaffected by my shortsightedness.
Today, I will be paying attention to the effects of my ideas about what is possible and allowing what is actually happening around me to widen my frame of view.
Friday, August 11, 2017
On the Eastern side of the cabin the land rises up to the stonewall that marks the Southeastern edge of the property. It is there that the Acorns land when Squirrel and Oak Tree send them to the ground. This morning a young Squirrel crept up the slope stopping near the top. Passing up Acorn, Squirrel settled down and munched on Mushroom.
There are some that say that watching what our wild cousins eat is a good way to know what is safe and what is not. There are others that say they have found our wild cousins dead from eating the wrong thing. Still others say that taking the chance on the often poisonous Mushroom doesn't make sense. They say the food value is to low to take the chance.
All this gets me thinking about young Squirrel, making choices and living life. I don't know why Squirrel chose to eat Mushroom in stead of Acorn. When I got a closer look, I found out that only the top of Mushroom was gone. Was the stem where the poison lived? I realize it is impossible to know why Squirrel does what Squirrel does. The best I can do is take it in, making my own choices living my own life.
Today, I will be noticing when I let my ideas about why other people do what they do get in the way of me making my own choices and living my own life.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
This morning I walked out the Easterner door of the cabin and heard an Acorn fall. “Squirrel,” I thought. Then I realized that this thought had shut down the possibility of other explanations. So I sat and looked up into Oak Tree. There was no movement. No Squirrel. Then I realized. Oak Tree lets go of Acorns on her own as well. All the Acorns aren't pulled down.
This got me thinking about how knowledge can sometimes shut me down to further possibilities. Sometimes thinking I know what's going on keeps me from staying open to what is happening in front of me.
Today, I will be paying attention to time when what I think is going on gets in the way of seeing what is actually unfolding in front of me.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Our Bird cousins start singing at around 4:30 am. I start singing around 6. I love to sing. It is one of my favorite things to do, but for me singing it is a practice. Practice is about learning. I learn by doing something over an over, tweaking and modifying things along the way toward what I can do which become what I will do next.
We get good at what we practice. Today, I will be paying attention to what I am practicing.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
This morning the two remaining young Hawks were darting and diving through the trees just North of the cabin. With every move, each was teaching and learning, pushing the other to fly faster and better, pushing each other to improve. Better flying means better hunting and better skills of escape from their larger Raptor cousins.
This got me thinking about my Human cousins and the “In order to achieve what?”question. How do we as Humans ask each other to improve and in what direction? What does it mean to be a better Human and how do the actions of the Humans around me form the direction in which I go?
I believe that there is an essential unfoldment for each of us that leads us to living in our own unique genius. Today, I will be paying attention to the lessons I learn from my Human cousins and how they contribute to or distract me from my path.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Up in the canopy of Oak Tree, Squirrel pulls Acorns and lets them drop to the ground. I have seen Chipmunk waiting on the ground. Chipmunk grabs an Acorn when it lands and disappears, returning later to grab another. Later still, Squirrel climbs down from Oak Tree and spends time burying some of the Acorns.
This gets me thinking about the mythologies I was raised on. Some are about what Squirrel does with Acorns. The story goes that Squirrel takes them all and hides them in a tree trunk. I learned that later, in the Winter, Squirrel would return to the stock pile and pick away at it through the cold months.
What I have seen is this. Squirrel buries some, eats some, loses some to Chipmunk, and spends a lot of time living life up in the trees doing other things. The idea that Squirrel diligently harvests Acorns to create a stockpile to live out the Winter seems more like a description of what Humans are encouraged to do. Prepare, prepare, prepare. We leave out the part about sharing and eating and planting and living.
Today, I will be paying attention to the possibility that some of the stories that tell me how I am supposed to live are based on thin descriptions of the lives of my Creature Cousins.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
The idea of rescuing wild animals always brings me a profound sense of uncertainty. I am never sure it is the right thing to do.
This morning as I walked out the Eastern door of the cabin, I spooked two of the Cooper's Hawks. They must have been roosting on the old swing set that stands there. In all the months we have been neighbors with the Hawks, we have never seen them settle on the swing set. Were they waiting for me?
I had to go back inside to do a chore, and when I returned they were perched in Cherry Tree, down by the pond. All this is in close proximity to where I eventually caught their brother yesterday. Are they looking for him? I know I have altered the course of all of our lives, but I am left wondering if I did the right thing.
This gets me thinking about acceptance. Whether I did the right thing or not, I did what I did. My actions live in the past and can not be changed. All I can do is make choices about what I do now.
Our Hawk neighbors are closer and louder than they have been in a week. I put in a call to the Center for Wildlife to check on their brother.
Now the Sun shines. Now the Wind blows. Now I am eating my breakfast. Everything else is a dream.