NHGS and Being One With Everything

If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet,
you’ll come to understand that you’re connected to everything.
–Alan watts

This is true.  However, it need not be a far, far forest.  It can be near.  In fact, it can be your backyard.

It reminds me of the joke where the Dalai Lama goes to a hot dog street vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”

This photo was manipulated to resolve trouble with the output of the old 35mm film camera that shot this about 17 years ago, in not enough light as the sun was slipping away from the woods, but it is still true to the original, with perhaps an artsy touch.

I have always called it, “Reincarnation of a Birch,” but this fungus decoration is only one phase of the new world that will be created from this old gray birch stump.

It was in the campground at Taylor Pond, part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest state land complex, which includes Taylor Pond Wild Forest, Terry Mountain State Forest, Burnt Hill State Forest and the Franklin Falls, Shell Rock and Black Brook Conservation Easement Tracts, a handful of my nearby nature immersion areas within 20 miles of Balsamea.

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Creekwalking and Beaverstick, 1st Look

Cold Brook North Branch, June 2016. Click to enlarge.

Updated 20220705 20:12 – added pictures.

What’s a great way to enjoy a sweltering summer day with 90 degrees, drinkable humidity, magnified sunlight, and a chance of fast-moving wild thunderstorms?  Do a creekwalk!

It is a style of bushwhacking.  Instead of working through trailless woods, you work up or down the middle of a creek, brook or river.  It is your route, but not a trail.  Rain?  So?  You’re hiking in water.  Don’t let the weather tell you what to do.

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Nature Therapy for SCOTUS of the American Soul

I want to share a comment/essay that I originally scribbled on the blog of Nan Yielding, author of the 2012 book, Things I Never Learned in Sunday School: Facts about the Christian faith that will surprise and astound you.  She wrote:

If you’re going to put all your faith into something, you need to thoroughly examine it to make sure your faith is justified.

… Of course, when I was a Christian the Bible was my source of truth. It was the “final word” and beyond it there was no discussion. In fact, anything that was not based on “Biblical truth” was most certainly from Satan!

However, once I got the courage to look beyond the “Holy Book,” I discovered there is a whole world of available information (historical facts) about the Christian faith. What I learned was so fascinating that I felt compelled to share.

Thank you, Nan.  As a former (more than 30 years ago) fundamentalist evangelical with the Christian & Missionary Alliance (I was not an adherent or member of the “Evangelical” political movement or voting block – I was politically inactive), I appreciate what you’ve done for our world.

My philosophy is now generic Naturalist, as a world view, not by affiliation with any organization, and not by adherence to any program or particular school of thought.  I sum up my personal brand of Naturalism as, “I don’t believe in anything supernatural.  Nature is super enough.”  In my comment on Nan’s blog, you’ll see this reflected in my prescription for a world gone mad.

You can learn about a formal treatment of Naturalism at Naturalism.org:

Naturalism as presented here is a comprehensive worldview based in a scientific, empirical understanding of reality. It offers a positive, rational, and fulfilling alternative to faith-based religions and non-empirical worldviews.

This website, Naturalism.Org, serves as a resource for those interested in worldview naturalism, its personal, social and existential implications, and its practical applications.

My comment was on Nan’s post, Can the Supreme Court Be Fixed?  As they always do, her post sparked a lively discussion by people with strong opinions, many of whom are insightful, well-informed, articulate, and fed up.

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Singing Balsameans

No, I will not sing for you.  You don’t have enough money for that.  (But if you do, contact me.  I’ll do a charity event.)

I would thus from time to time take advice of the birds.
—Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 12 May 1857

This post may seem as if I’m smoking pot, but I’m not, even though it is now legal in New York State (since March 2021).  I only smoke OP’s.  “Other people’s,” because I can’t afford it.  I limit my social existence, so I’m always short on OP’s.

Below is a 30-minute audio track of birds around the yard and nearby woods early the morning of Sunday, June 26, 2022 .  Make sure the volume slide (right) in this player is pushed all the way to the right.  Also turn up the volume all the way on your device.

Don’t be thrown by the silent minute starting about a minute into the recording, and again later, around eight minutes in.  They were natural events.

It plays louder for me directly from my phone or PC, but weak from this web page.  Ugh.  Let it be just a soft background music while you read.  I’m going to get smarter about how I record and make another track soon.

These singing Balsameans know that I love them.  Especially the crows.  Crows recognize human faces and remember if they are a positive or negative presence.  See The Crow and the Cave Man, a two minute video clip from the PBS documentary A Murder of Crows (30 minute video, terrific, must see).

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A Wet, Dark Saunter

Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it
so that the other half may reach you.
–Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Well before dawn today I sauntered barefoot around the outer edges of the yard, out of range of the motion-sensing lights on the house.  Mentally half adrift, luxuriating in sensory silliness for about thirty minutes, in the dark, in a warm, light rain, clothed in a summer robe treated with bug repellent, hat & bandana flowing out from under it (also treated), otherwise attired only in warmer-than-usual night air.  The rain slowed to a drizzle and breezes gradually picked up, turning the air to silk on my skin.  No lights but the ones in me and around me. They get brighter as I spend more time in the dark.

I walked out the north side of the driveway, 250 feet to the road.  There are no cars at that hour.  I walked down the yellow lines in the silent road for a minute, noticing the pavement was still warmer than the grass, even after a lot of rain.  I stood still and listened to a gust rattling drenched leaves to a roar of tree internal rain.  The wind foretold of a change to a clear day.

Returning on the south side of the driveway, I walked in the shallow ditch that drains the water from the yard.  It entertained my feet and my soul with cool puddles in squishy grass and white clover heads in my toes.

I poked around in short parts of the trails nearest the house.  Steinwald Path as far as the giant spruce, and back.  Whitetail Way to Rock Wall 2, through Delaney Place to the original Camp Balsamea, past the shed and Buddy’s Tree, then out Balsamea Way to Arbor Lane and Concordia.

I did not earn this forest home.  I remembered the grace, unmerited favor, while standing in Concordia, one of the sacred places in Balsamea where I am more apt to be mindful of the blessings, if I stop moving and be absorbed by what is there.

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Willa

Are her musical gifts enriched by color synesthesia?  Join me for an introduction to a new star born in our midst.
 
(Note: Willa Blog Post Review is a YouTube playlist of all 24 videos shown or linked in this blog post, in the order presented, including the music, news and interviews.  It is a one-stop source of all the video material presented here.)
 
I found Willa Amai while looking for covers of the 1993 song What’s Up by Linda Perry and 4 Non Blondes. It is a song that I would scream at the top of my lungs, as it says, if I could sing.  (Image above snipped from Willa’s music video of What’s Up.)

 



 
The song offers no solution.  Not a clue.  It just says how things feel, and how they don’t make sense, and how we ache because of it, trying to keep the faith, wanting to hope, despite the impenetrable insanity of the inhuman side of humanity.
 
The song cries out loud from the heart for revolution, the only solution.  As do I, at times in tears, wishing I knew how to start it, finding that all I have is a song short on hope.
 
It sings, “And I tried, oh my God did I try, I try all the time, in this institution.  And I pray, oh my God do I pray, I pray every single day for a revolution!”
 
The line demands a middle finger thrust to the sky in revolt.

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On my relationships with trees and forests

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The next best time is now.
~ Chinese Proverb

The Balsamean; Scribblements from Balsamea contains 34 posts about relationships with trees or forests, out of 128 total posts in the ten years from September 2012 to May 2022.  This is the 128 posts remaining after many were withdrawn from publication.  (There were also many drafted and never published.)  Still, of the published ones NOT removed, 34 of 128 are about trees, forests, and human integration with trees, or immersion in them.  That’s 27% of the total posts.  It is not enough.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.
–John Muir

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Hermann Hesse on Tree Reverence

Some of my beliefs, thoughts, and feelings I am unable to express as well as others can do for me.  Hermann Hesse is one example, particularly on the topic of relationship with trees.

Right: Book cover illustration by Peter le Vasseur on the 1975 Picador/Pan Books Ltd. edition of Wandering, listed new at $1.75!

“Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. His best known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game (also known as Magister Ludi) which explore an individual’s search for spirituality outside society.” —from goodreads Hesse author page

Hermann Hesse book “Wandering” (1920) translated from German by James Wright

Below I offer a large passage on trees from Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) in his book Wandering, Notes and Sketches (1920); translated by James Wright. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972:

There is a comprehensive review of the book at Hermitary.com.  It begins, “Hermann Hesse composed his little book Wanderung: Aufzeichnungen as fiction, but it reads as autobiography, as do most of his little sketches wherein a personable narrator reveals his convoluted emotions.  Wandering finds the fictional narrator at a psychological crossroads, and Hesse’s clear, simple, and heartfelt prose makes the book a candid and attractive reflection.”

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Did Lockdown Spring Bring a Lasting Connection to Nature?

Some of this data confuses me, but the part that stands out as most important is the “noticing.”. I often refer to it as nature immersion, as opposed to nature visiting.

Finding Nature

A blog with Dr Carly Butler.

Many of us found a friend in nature during the first lockdown in Spring 2020 but new data suggests this was just a short-term relationship for some. The latest data from Natural England’s People and Nature Survey shows that levels of nature connectedness fell by 25% between April 2020 and April 2021, meaning fewer people reported feeling a part of nature.

It’s not that people have stopped visiting nature, as the proportion of people accessing green and natural spaces grew during lockdown and has stayed higher. As lockdowns eased, it’s likely that people took the opportunity to meet with others and engage in outdoor activities. But it seems that the boost to ‘noticing nature’ in the quiet times of April and May 2020 has diminished. The data shows a 13% drop in the percentage of people reporting they are taking time to notice and…

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Surprise Peace of Life in Morning Light and by Fox

I can contemplate peace endlessly and never know it as much as when it takes me by surprise.

It’s a beech tree in a wild blueberry patch at the east side of the front yard.  The tree and I have a long history, as with everything in the picture.  Everything.  Long.  Deep.  Immersive relationship history.  Yet on this mid-June morning, they all greeted me as if for the first time.  I’ll just share the new part of the history that began at that moment.

I don’t feel that there is anything especially fantastic about what I saw.  It was the peace it wrought in me, and I’ll never be able to share that except as a mention, with this souvenir of it.

It was damned silly of me to rush back into the house for the camera.  When I got back out there, the light had changed, as rising suns do, and kept changing by the second, and none of it was as beautiful as when I first saw it.

This picture can never be more than a souvenir, especially because it is not a picture of the peace that caught me by surprise when that light and its verdant subjects first poured themselves upon me, into me.

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