Tuesday Coffee Meditations

After days of overcast, I stepped out the back door this morning before first light and say the moon. After the initial shock wore off I glanced around and saw stars too…Amazing. I had almost forgotten what clear sky looks like.

This photo is what the Bluebonnets we Texans are so proud of each spring look like at this time of year. The little star shaped leaves scattered through the background clutter are the Bluebonnets. I don’t have any good digital shots of what a field of Bluebonnets looks like so I guess you’ll have to wait for spring and a trip to the northwest of here for me to capture a good one. One would almost think it was the shape of the leaf that led the Texas Legislature to designate the Bluebonnet the state flower of Texas

As the day lightens it is almost springlike outside. I sit here with the door open drinking my first cup and listening to some hawks playing noisily outside. I am not sure what has them riled up this early but something has them announcing to the world they are here. Not a common birdsong of the early morning. It probably arose from them being discovered by crows or mockingbirds, both of which will sometimes drive a hawk from a roost.


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Tuesday Coffee Meditations

After days of overcast, I stepped out the back door this morning before first light and say the moon. After the initial shock wore off I glanced around and saw stars too…Amazing. I had almost forgotten what clear sky looks like.

This photo is what the Bluebonnets we Texans are so proud of each spring look like at this time of year. The little star shaped leaves scattered through the background clutter are the Bluebonnets. I don’t have any good digital shots of what a field of Bluebonnets looks like so I guess you’ll have to wait for spring and a trip to the northwest of here for me to capture a good one. One would almost think it was the shape of the leaf that led the Texas Legislature to designate the Bluebonnet the state flower of Texas

As the day lightens it is almost springlike outside. I sit here with the door open drinking my first cup and listening to some hawks playing noisily outside. I am not sure what has them riled up this early but something has them announcing to the world they are here. Not a common birdsong of the early morning. It probably arose from them being discovered by crows or mockingbirds, both of which will sometimes drive a hawk from a roost.


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Thought for the Day

My morning email brought me this from the Blue  Mountain Center of Meditation…

January 30
And then there crept a little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.
  – John Keats

Today I was walking with some friends in Armstrong Redwoods Park and I was astonished at those trees. The more I looked at them, the more I came to appreciate them. It was completely still, unlike our tropical forests in India, where elephants trumpet, tigers roar, and there is a constant symphony of sound.

Here everything was still, and I enjoyed the silence so much that I remembered these lines of John Keats. It is a perfect simile for the silence of the mind, when all personal conflicts are resolved, when all selfish desires come to rest. All of us are looking for this absolute peace, this inward, healing silence in the redwood forest of the mind. When we find it, we will become small forces for peace wherever we go. – Eknath Easwaran

As I read those lines it is suddenly spring 1992 and I am standing by the creek in the Muir Woods on the coast north of San Francisco. This was only my second trip to northern California and the first time I had managed to get out of the city. It was total serendipity that I ended up on that creek on that day because truthfully, I had never heard of the Muir Woods. I forget which day it was, probably a Thursday, and the park was almost completely empty when I arrived. Walking in the silence Eknath Easwaran speaks of above was such a spiritual experience that every time I’ve returned to the area I have made the pilgrimage back to the site.

Standing at the base of those ancient trees with the creek running by was mind expanding. Thinking about the years those massive towers of life had stood on that spot brought to mind the concept that they weren’t the first of their kind to stand here. When I think about my ancestry, ten generations barely gets me back to the Declaration of Independence. Ten generations of these trees would take you back thousands of years into the past. As I stood there in the shadows of those ancient beings I could fill the serenity of the years pressing down upon me. The deep earthy smell in the air, the ferns growing in the shadows, even the ancient corpses of the fallen giving back to the earth that birthed them, all of these things made me slow down and just breathe…In awe.

For some reason almost all of the places in my life that have had that effect on me have been in the presence of really big trees. From the old spreading Live Oaks of my home state to the massive Elms of Charlotte when I first laid eyes on trees that spread their shade not over a house but over a whole neighborhood. Even to the tall forests of the mountains I have come to dream about where I can stand and crane my neck for hours just looking toward the heavens where the trees brush their upreaching limbs in constant contact with the sky.

Such are the thoughts of my morning…gotta run.

Source: Thought for the Day

Listening to the voice of a place…

 Fred First has a piece up this morning that really speaks to those of us who listen to the voice of those sacred places we discover in life. The photo he posted with the story almost brings the voice of Nameless Creek to life. I can imagine the fireflies beginning to flash their welcome to the night as dusk grows heavy on the summer eve. The stars competing for attention as the fireflies rise toward the tops of the trees above. Yes, this is a sacred place to sit the day down…

The pine tree beside the lawn chairs–that we could never bring ourselves to put back in the barn–was only head high when we saw it there on our first walk down this way. Things are different now. And things there are just the way they’ve been since the first settlers found this valley in the early 1800s. The seclusion and peace is unchanged since both Confederate and Union deserters took refuge in this wonderfully-forsaken place. It is the same as yesterday, even on days we don’t go there.
The Christmas ferns grow ever-green along the banks. The squirrels chatter from the tops of White Pines, shedding fragments of their morning meal like crumbs from the table. The creek sings whether we are there to listen or not.

I can understand the call such a place has on a person because in my life there have been a number of these sacred places that have called me back to them over and over. Unlike Fred, all of these places I have owned only in my mind. Someday soon I hope to own my own place to become part of, to grow into.

Thanks Fred, some mornings become sacred because of the friends you visit with even when you travel no further than your computer…

Source: Morning Comes to Nameless Creek

Building Communities

For some reason, it always amazes me to stumble across someone who understands the internet (or at least the way I think it should work). Dick Eastman, who writes online genealogy articles, pointed the way to Burr Morris of Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks and deserves the thanks for this find. After reading Dick’s post I wandered on over and discovered another online writer of place. Burr is a descendant of the pioneers of his part of Vermont and writes eloquently about the people and the place he calls home. Like many of the folks I have discovered of late, he too has a book out. He also publishes a newsletter (to which I now have subscribed). The following is from his newsletter archive…

Hello again maple people,
Things are starting to green up here in Vermont in spite of a chilly,
rainy post sugar season. We’ve finally gotten the fences fixed and today a
stock trailer backed up to our acreage out front. A guy got out, critically
scanned the electric fence and lowered the trailer’s tailgate. Inside, a
small herd of mixed bovines stood, dirty from winter stalls and confused
about their future. With a little prodding, they slowly sniffed their way
down the tailgate and onto the green grass. The cow guy and I watched,
knowing contact with the grass would trigger a ritual of spring I love to
watch. Sure enough, those critters didn’t let me down. They blatted and
bellowed and kicked their hooves high, drunk for a short time with
freedom. We watched until they settled down and began a summer of grazing.
The cow guy and I shook hands and he drove off, down the road, beyond the
land that my ancestors had cleared for cows.
We sold our herd years ago. This place stayed “cowless” for one season,
which about drove me crazy. All summer long I sensed unrest from those
ancestors who shouted from every ragged clump, “Graze this land!” I knew I
needed to honor them for their hard work so long ago. They cleared the best
of Vermont for the cows and the worst of it for the sheep. My old friend,
Ernest Gould, used to say, “The devil’s apron strings broke over Vermont.”
He meant, of course, that we can thank the devil for the rocks and boulders
that curse these Vermont hills and valleys–hellish for man, but pure
paradise for sheep. Our sheep industry thrived for a long time. It built
our villages and fortified our economy; then that same economy, fickle
like the weather in Vermont, took the sheep away.

Mr. Morris seems to make a portion of his income from selling local Vermont products in his online store. He offers Maple Syrup and assorted Maple products along with Vermont Cheeses. He is also building quite a community among his customers (and evidently non-customers alike) with his “News from Vermont”. To read the latest newsletter from Burr visit Dick Eastman’s EOGN. While you are there you might want to check out Dick’s blog on Genealogy, he’s been writing on-line now for over a decade.

Source: News from Vermont # 82 – ‘Possum Possibilities

Floyd County Naturalist/Photographer’s Weblog Published as a Memoir of Place

Fred’s getting some good press these days. They are even offering the book through their on-line store. 

(Floyd, Virginia) Some of us long for belonging to the land, for roots in particular and special places where, for reasons usually beyond our knowing, we resonate with the landscape.

For those like Fred First who have lived other places and then been drawn to the Blue Ridge, it is almost always the mystery of mountains that brings them here. Fred describes this as a “magnetic resonance in their bones” that pulls them toward an altitude, latitude and slant of sun that simply feels right for them. For such souls as this “the mountains hold a nutrient that they can not live without.”

For anyone who hasn’t checked out their site before it has some great info…

Source: Floyd County Naturalist/Photographer’s Weblog Published as a Memoir of Place

Leon Hale: A dream of rain

For Pablo who I know is out of the country. I thought this would help ease the pain of no real rain… 

A dream of rain

We’re in the old country house at Winedale for a few days, and last night we had rain. Every time I woke up during the night rain was making music on this tin roof.

I had a dream. I dreamed that it rained for three days and three nights, and the gauge filled and ran over, and the water in our stock tank rose and rose until it ran around the spillway and into the creek, and I could see bass jumping in the tank and ducks flew in, and geese, and deer came to drink, and the land all around was soaked and happy.

At 5:30 I got up and I knew I’d been dreaming but maybe some of it was true so I took a flashlight and went out to the rain gauge to check, and all through the night we’d had four-tenths of an inch.

Source: Leon Hale: A dream of rain

Loose Leaf Notes: November Porch Vacation

Colleen does it again…She takes me to where I need to be on this the day before I return to the grind. She starts it thus…

A good book. A lounge chair. The sun makes freckles on my bared skin. A single fat fly buzzes by like a fighter pilot that doesn’t know the war is over. This one doesn’t know it isn’t summer. A clumsy yellow hornet goes down, crashes into my arm. I flick it off while sipping every color of the rainbow reflected off my cobalt blue mug.

Follow the link to see how she ended it…

Source: Loose Leaf Notes: November Porch Vacation

The Lighter Way to Enjoy Culture Shock

I have been reading a new blog. Kelly Harmon is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova. I love the way she looks at life and the slightly twisted way she writes. If you have a minute or two go have a look at what she has posted since moving to Moldova. Her perspective on the joy’s of the back to the land movement seems to have an added depth now that she has some experience with 13th century living conditions…

– To All Hippies: I know having a farm and living off the land is the ultimate hippie reverie, I have had similar fantasies of self sufficiency. But no more do I have that aspiration; now that I have had a little taste of farm work and being partially self sustaining, I realize that is totally a pipedream. Farm work is hard, farm work is age you long before your years hard. So to all those hippies dreaming of getting a farm up in West Virginia and not having to live your life by anyone else’s lead, I hate to urinate in your breakfast cereal, but forget it.

Another of her posts deals with indoor plumbing…

I never realized how much of a luxury a fully functional toilet was until it was gone.
Now I see that the toilet seat is not a necessity, however, it makes toilet time much more pleasant. I must admit nothing wakes you up in the morning like the cold porcelain against the back of your thighs; better than a shot of espresso.

A bit of synchronicity in all of this is…I was reading Kelly’s blog to my wife yesterday and one of the segments on this mornings “Sunday Morning Show” was about Moldova.

Source: The Lighter Way to Enjoy Culture Shock

The Lighter Way to Enjoy Culture Shock

I have been reading a new blog. Kelly Harmon is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova. I love the way she looks at life and the slightly twisted way she writes. If you have a minute or two go have a look at what she has posted since moving to Moldova. Her perspective on the joy’s of the back to the land movement seems to have an added depth now that she has some experience with 13th century living conditions…

– To All Hippies: I know having a farm and living off the land is the ultimate hippie reverie, I have had similar fantasies of self sufficiency. But no more do I have that aspiration; now that I have had a little taste of farm work and being partially self sustaining, I realize that is totally a pipedream. Farm work is hard, farm work is age you long before your years hard. So to all those hippies dreaming of getting a farm up in West Virginia and not having to live your life by anyone else’s lead, I hate to urinate in your breakfast cereal, but forget it.

Another of her posts deals with indoor plumbing…

I never realized how much of a luxury a fully functional toilet was until it was gone.
Now I see that the toilet seat is not a necessity, however, it makes toilet time much more pleasant. I must admit nothing wakes you up in the morning like the cold porcelain against the back of your thighs; better than a shot of espresso.

A bit of synchronicity in all of this is…I was reading Kelly’s blog to my wife yesterday and one of the segments on this mornings “Sunday Morning Show” was about Moldova.

Source: The Lighter Way to Enjoy Culture Shock