Non-essential people

REALLY, who needs federal employees, anyway?

I offer this post to connect personally with one kind of public servant we discard when we cut off their agency funding.  I hope this helps readers feel … well, just feel.

Meet Jim Hudgins, who was the Michigan Private Lands Coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 25 years.

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Thoreau’s Love for the Living Spirit of the Pine Tree 

I will return to this topic with photos when they get done harvesting all the straightest and tallest white pines from the predominantly pine forest on the 50 acre lot adjacent to Balsamea.  Harvesting is one thing.  It’s another thing to kill thousands — maybe millions — of other trees and myriad other things living above and below ground to get that harvest, and leave the forest ugly, sick, and disgraced.  When it’s a forest you knew well, which truly is now no more, an alien thing left in its place, it’s the kind of thing that can almost make you wish your eyesight was now no more, too.

Forest immersion can do that to you, as it must have done to Thoreau:

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Aranyaka – Part 3 – Thoreau, Shakespeare, Maharshi, Jung and Aranyaniism

Continued from Aranyaka Part 2.

Pine flower. Thoreau discovered them by climbing a big pine to the top. I got lucky. This one was on a tree bent low to the ground. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a scotch pine, of which we have very few at Balsamea. I’ve never seen another one of these “flowers,” so I feel lucky.

If I were to invent a religion, it would be centered on forest immersion.  It need not be a highly social alliance of souls, because silence and solitude are like vestments of immersion.  Other critical components of the Order would be creativity, play, liberality and education.

Religion that has lost its playfulness can be dangerous.from an article by Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn

This new religion is wrapped around a core understanding that there are not two natures, human and non-human.  There is one Nature and we are part of it.  Forest immersion can make this knowledge holistic, both visceral and intellectual, drawn from the primordial biophilia in human nature, and from burgeoning modern science on the topic.

Adherence to this religion calls for daily walking through forest or field, ideally twice or more per day, at least 40 minutes at a time, ideally 90 minutes or more.  That would be merely casual adherence.

You never know what may happen during deeper immersion, if you let go of the usual tight grip on yourself and let “wild mind” roll.  For instance, here’s Thoreau doing it (in one of a thousand possible ways):

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“Sweet Darkness” by David Whyte

David Whyte:
I went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences that I had in Galapagos. Science, rightly, is always trying to remove the “I.” But I was really interested in the way that the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos, I began to realize that because I was in deeply
 attentive states, hour after hour, watching animals and birds and landscapes — and that’s all I did for almost two years — I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had, inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs, but my identity actually depended on how much attention I was paying to things that were other than myself and that as you deepen this intentionality and this attention, you started to broaden and deepen your own sense of presence.

I began to realize that the only places where things were actually real was at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you […] But it’s astonishing how much time human beings spend away from that frontier, abstracting themselves out of their bodies, out of their direct experience, and out of a deeper, broader, and wider possible future that’s waiting for them if they hold the conversation at that frontier level.  […]  John O’Donohue, a mutual friend of both of us, used to say that one of the necessary tasks is this radical letting alone of yourself in the world, letting the world speak in its own voice and letting this deeper sense of yourself speak out.  -David Whyte, speaking in interview with Krista Tippett (full transcript and audio)

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Wise and Chatty Trees

“As you’re walking through the forest, under a single footprint there’s 300 miles of fungal mycellium stacked end on end. … Can you imagine the activity that’s going on there? … Can you imagine that every time you walk, you’re on this big superhighway with all this stuff moving around all over the place? It’s huge!” —The Science, Culture and Meaning of Forest Wisdom, a talk given by Dr. Suzanne Simard, Ph.D.

You might say this post is about the bio-psycho-social life of trees and people who study them, how a scientist became a forest ecologist, survived a grizzly bear multiple times trying to figure out how trees talk, and helped her Grandpa rescue their dog who had fallen into the outhouse hole.  Fun stuff!  I also want to recommend the book excerpted below.

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Global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018. It’s not Kansas anywhere anymore, Toto.

Sing along: Somewhere over the rainbow oceans rise …

“The figures suggested there is no clear end in sight to the growth of humanity’s contribution to climate change.”Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes appear to have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.”

Source: ‘We are in trouble.’ Global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018. – The Washington Post

Note from this blogger:  Climate science deniers needing medical treatment for your children please see your neighborhood priest or faith healer, who can also advise you on global climate matters, nutritional supplements, and social media propaganda tactics.

Die as I should

Often when I walk these woods I get awe-struck by the enormity of all these trees cradling me, nursing me in mind and body, opening themselves to me, entreating me to surrender ever more fully to their care.

Autumnal view of a big American beech (with splashes of maple and balsam fir)

I have no idea how many trees are in Balsamea, so I say ten thousand.  It’s probably a drastically low estimate, especially if you count all the little ones just getting started.  I also say I’ve walked these trails ten thousand times, but I know it is many more.  I just stopped estimating when it reached ten thousand.  It’s all too much for me, and never enough.

I am immersed in the virtually miraculous nature of this unbelievable gift in which I swim.  I did nothing to deserve it or earn it.

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Drop the tech and take a hike

Hi Folks.  National Take a Hike Day is Saturday, November 17, 2018.  I invite you to join me in taking this challenge farther than asked by my friends at the American Hiking Society in their article Why Technology Should Take A Hike, beginning with posting this picture on your [whatever kind of] website.

click for full size view

It’s a good article loaded with source-cited research results about:

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I live not in myself …

“I live not in myself, but I become a portion of all around me … Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part of me and of my soul, as I of them?”  -Lord Byron.  See the full poem at the end of this post from which this quote is derived.

Of course that’s what I always say when asked what I am.  Actually, I often take it as far as saying that I am all that is not me.  Yeah, well … never mind.  A line for another time.  But do read on for something that makes sense to normal people.

I stumbled onto this quote at Joseph Cornell’s Sharing Nature website.

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Mushrooms of Balsamea

I shot most of these pix in 2009, a banner year for mushrooms.  The two with the blue coffee cup (does it have to be coffee?) are chaga mushroom harvested from one of our birch trees this summer.  Click the first picture to open the gallery and see the larger views.  There are 49 pictures.

The last one, “Reincarnation of a Birch” looks like some sort of abstract painting.  It is an actual photo of fungi growing on a birch stump at Taylor Pond in Black Brook, NY.  I remember exactly where it was.  Continue reading

Tap Into the Therapeutic Power of the Forest

So often on my daily trail saunters, I look at something in nature, anywhere from the sky to the stones and roots, and a simple, single sentence, or just a word or phrase occurs to me and it feels like the perfect fit for the experience, a way to describe or explain it without describing or explaining it, like a poet, I suppose, though I’ve never been a poet and don’t try to be one. I’ve tried writing them down, but the act of doing it seems to dissolve the experience into the ether, and the second I put pen to paper, the words often escape me, like trying to write down the content of a dream. It’s something like losing the true experience of something by focusing attention on taking a photo of it. I see it as a combination of forest nature and my sylvan nature that prompts these moments of unbidden mindfulness. Why should it matter that I write them down or record them or send them to somebody? It doesn’t, and I’m not sure it does me any good to try, distracting myself from the experience. Still, Dr. Ellison’s 30-minute-sit challenge feels like a push from within to let those words get said beyond my little head, along with a profusion of these experiences lately. I’m going to give it a shot, writing down some of them. I’m out there at least 30 minutes every day anyway. Join me in the challenge.

Hiking Research®

By Mark Ellison, Ed.D.

What do you do that gives you energy, that fuels your ability to work and play? Do you have anything? Do you escape from the stress of life to allow your mind, body and spirit to heal?

There are so many benefits to our health from spending time in nature, particularly forests. Research has found that spending time in forests can increase attention capacity and creativity, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and improve mood.

44693726_10216885191942854_1445662352333602816_n Sunset from the Waterrock Knob Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway (NC)

Are you tapping into the power of the forest as part of your plan to improve your health? It is a key ingredient that could take your health to the next level. It is the multiplier. If you are walking, biking, relaxing in an urban environment, then  you are getting health benefits. If you do the same in…

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Aranyaka – Part 2

Aranyaka Part 1 ended with a description of the Hindu goddess Aranyani in Rigveda Book 10 Hymn 146 and my personal look at it.  Here is another interpretation, by a qualified authority:

David Kinsley, author of Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, wrote:

One hymn of the Rg-veda (10.146) refers to a goddess of the forest, Aranyani.  From this one hymn we get a rather clear picture of the goddess.  She is an elusive figure who vanishes from sight and avoids villages.  She is more often heard than seen.  She speaks through the sounds of the forest, or one may even hear her tinkling bells.  She seems to make her presence known especially at evening, and those who spend the night in the forest sometimes think they hear her scream.  She never kills unless provoked by some murderous enemy.  She is sweetly scented, is mother of all forest things, and provides plenty of food without tilling.

To develop a special relationship with her, create trails!  She has a lot to say about how you do that, and she loves to change them for you.

In Part 1, I said that Aranyani is incarnate as forest; forest is the embodiment of Aranyani.  Maybe this is why she is so seldom depicted in human form by classical artists, unlike so many other deities.

Aranyani, The Hindu Goddess Of Forests by Bijan Pirnia, photo in the San Isabel National Forest, Colorado. Click for the larger source image at Fine Art America.

I was happily surprised to find this work by photographer Bijan Pirnia titled Aranyani, The Hindu Goddess Of Forests, with no anthropomorphic entity in it (that I can find).  It is just forest, the embodiment of Aranyani!

Enjoy browsing terrific forest photos by Bijan Pirnia.  Thank you, Bijan.

Back to making trails with Aranyani …

The following are not pretty pictures, just documentary, to show you one part of the Aranyaka Maze of paths, each a unique experience.  I’m starting with the path into Aranyaka Sanctuary from the west.

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