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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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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Renew the EXPIRED Land and Water Conservation Fund #SaveLWCF

I feel so stupid about this.

I’ve got to pay more careful attention to what goes on in environmental policy and legislation, so I can act on them BEFORE they get ripped up and the funding given to buying more tanks and bombs.  How many people you know will have known about this before Election Day (among those pitiful few who vote)?

Since the national Land and Water Conservation Fund expired on September 30, 2018, this is the moment-by-moment ticker of funding lost to environmental programs all over the USA (this is a static picture of it, not the real ticker):

You can see the real ticker in action on the website of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition.  Here is what their page says:

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is [was] America’s most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation.

America’s most important conservation and recreation program, which has saved places in every state and nearly every county in the U.S., expired on September 30, 2018.

The time for action is now.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is [was] in its 53rd year of conservation and recreation success. It is because of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to start protecting our recreational opportunities, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s instinct for conservation action, John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the outdoors, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of LWCF that we as Americans now have the most extensive network of open spaces in the world to hunt, fish, hike, swim, and play.

In order to build momentum towards finding a long-term solution for authorization and funding, the LWCF Coalition launched a year-long awareness initiative counting down to the expiration of our most important conservation and recreation program.

Over the past year leading up to expiration, each week a state or U.S. territory was highlighted showcasing LWCF success stories from the federal, state, and local level, and opportunities that are on the horizon for LWCF to improve recreational access and conservation across America, and places that could be lost forever if Congress does not act by September 30, 2018.  [The state-by-state info in on the web page.]

#SaveLWCF before the places we love are lost forever

~
[You know the drill.  Call your people in Congress.  Even if they are not “our” people, sometimes they will act like it, instead of acting like they are attacking the USA and everything it stands for.]
~

Body positivity: The latest trend in Shame.

I hope this piece reblogged from author Natalie Swift will break a lot of eggs and make a masterful omelette.

The Midnight Ember

We’ve all come a long way from where we started.

Gone are the days where you see people telling you ‘how you have to look like to be loved’ and that ‘you just starve yourself for a few more days so that you’ll fit into a dress size’.

Today, we’ve truly managed to create something that could have been beautiful: Acceptance. Empowerment. Confidence. Freedom.

But somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten caught up in our heads and gone down the wrong road. A single blunder has changed everything.


People have started asking: if you truly loved your body, why would you want it to change?

That wouldn’t make sense.

A fairly simple, innocent question, really.

But there’s something far more menacing at work here. Shame.

Shame has found itself yet another expression, hiding behind banners that cry out messages of self-love.

All of a sudden, it’s…

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Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017

Since they named this holiday for me, though people will be inclined to say to me, “Thank you for your service,” I want to say to them, “Thank you for my service.”

Naval Aircrewman Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Lanard, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron HSC-22 of USS Wasp carries evacuee off an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter following landfall of Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica.  (As a former petty officer aboard two aircraft carriers, this picture strikes a particular chord in me.  It is so nice to see the Navy used this way.)

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Poison Ivy Quiz | The Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac Site

Learn to identify poison ivy in a fun way at: Poison Ivy Quiz

Click yellow buttons under each photo to see the answers. It’s not really a quiz … it doesn’t keep score.  But it’s a great educational exercise, even for people who can already spot poison ivy.

Thank you, Buddy

While close-up face to face with him and looking at each other’s eyes, Buddy slipped instantly from fully conscious into unconscious perfect peace, and then within a couple of minutes (tough guy – he needed a second dose) into irreversible, eternal oblivion at 9:06 AM today, August 5, 2015, eight years since he adopted me in August 2007.  He was about 9 years old, date of birth unknown.  He adopted me as a stray.  The last words he heard, repeatedly, were, “You’re a good Buddy.”  Nothing is more true.  Thanks, all, for your caring support.  I know that some of you have been really “there” for us, and continue so.  It counts.  It matters.
.Buddy-13

Thank you, Buddy.

I’m going for a walk now, as you would have
me do now and at least three times every day.

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Buddy, Prince of Balsamea to Die 8/5/2015

Buddy 20150801-SS0On Wednesday, August 5, 2015, The Balsamean will euthanize Buddy, Prince of Balsamea.

He chose Wednesday because there is a cord binding our hearts as three, and the third person will say goodbye to Buddy on Tuesday.  The cord has an existential role in Balsamea and its inhabitants’ relationships with each other and the world.  It has been a lifeline keeping me out of the hospital and morgue.  On countless occasions, the cord has heightened Balsamea to a state of being that banished impossibility. Continue reading

Buddy Waits

                                       “I will wait for you.”

I can only imagine the wonders that Buddy enjoys in the woods of Balsamea every day and night, with his great capacity for scent, hearing, and night vision.

When he stops in the trail to investigate something, I wait.  It’s the least I can do for all the times he waits while I do things in my never-ending pursuit of amateur silviculture, naturalism, and trail tending.  Come to think of it, he spends most of his time waiting for me.

There never has been and never will be a friend so patient, so tolerant, so forgiving, so playful, and so nice to pet.  A good dog is medicine for mind and body.  Cats, too.  But you can’t take cats for a hike, and they’re generally not so big on tug-of-war and keep-away with a stick, in all seasons and all weather.

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