Halloween Wind Storm

It scattered seventy trees across or into Balsamea’s 2.5 miles of trails.   It’s seventy-give-or-take; I lost count a couple of times while stopping to think about how to deal with some of the fallen trees.  Thinking never has been a reliably good idea.  It often interferes with nobler processes, even vital ones.

The big winds came on Thursday and Friday, October 31 & November 1, 2019.  It is the biggest such storm tree impact in Balsamea’s 14.5-year history.  Before now, the biggest one was the “717 Storm” of July 17, 2012.

I’ll never forget the way my heart sank into my stomach when I found 33 trees on the trails on July 18, 2012.  Working on clearing them and rerouting paths around some of them — never with a chainsaw, which violates Balsamea law — I learned that it was good for me and good for the trails.  Often when I addressed a change that Nature threw onto a trail, the result was a better trail or connection to another trail.  I’m sure I don’t have to explain why it’s good for me to go work in the woods, for mind and body and whatever else I may be.

My little Cadivus story of September 7, 2018 explains the immersive experience of co-creating trails with Nature.  Handy excerpts if you don’t want to read the Cadivus post (I don’t blame you):

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Normal People Anonymous Support Group

I’m thinking about starting a normal people anonymous support group.

Members have the right to define normal for themselves but not for anyone else in the group.

You’re anonymous to each other, at least at the start of your membership.  If you surrender your anonymity with another member, that’s okay.  You can still attend, together or separately, but it is recommended that you come out of the closet about it, for your own good.

If you have sex with somebody in the group, that’s normal, even if you remain otherwise anonymous to each other.

You do peer-led programs, activities or projects together, such as 12 steps, meditation, yoga, hiking, book study, nature study, photography, joke-telling, litter cleanup, gardening, sailing, canoeing, singing, teaching disenfranchised children how to fish, putting Kahlil Gibran in every hotel room, Christmas caroling in July, picketing industrial cattle and chicken growers, making art together, including music, Amazon forest fire-fighting, skinny-dipping (peer-led), putting on a play about climate change and domestic abuse of males, or what-have-you things that normal people do.

The normality of the activity is as beheld by the peer leader, and you quietly accept it and have fun, perhaps expanding or shattering your notions of normal, and squelching the ferocity of your clinging to them.

The peer-led things, the anonymity, and the group dynamic are good for you.  You affirm this aloud in unison at every meeting and outing, holding hands in a circle, a perfectly normal thing to do with strangers.

The anonymity is to help avoid the stigma of being normal, even more normal than most others are.  In the group, you can enjoy — if possible — a place where you can be non-judgmentally welcomed by similarly frustrated normal people.  You define “non-judgmental” loosely, considering its extremely elusive nature, like unconditional love.

You take it all lightly with good humor because you all know that normal exists only from your perspective in the mirror.  That is the guiding principle.  Take your normality lightly.  You affirm it together in unison, religiously, sorta.

Copyright 2019 TheBalsamean.comOver time, with consistent participation, you may be able to give up excessive notions of your normality, as one might give up excessive drinking, smoking, or gambling, and be freed of the pathetic frustration you inflict upon your deluded self.  Amen.

Take your normality lightly.

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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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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Fern Lifts Leaf, Mind and Body

Another sample of Spring 2013 advancing.

One of our early ferns (May 6) did a little lifting on its way up.  Balsamea never stops entertaining us.

The leaf was gone the next day, so my camera-play had been lucky, leaving me with a souvenir of mindful woods-walking.

That’s what most of my photos from Balsamea are about: just taking time to notice what is really there.  It is a fun hobby to collect souvenirs to remember things, and to remind me to keep being mindful of them.  It is good medicine to mind and body.

However, sometimes I make a point of leaving the camera home, to “bathe” in the essence of the forest just for the sake of doing it, taking a lesson from my canine partner, being there just to be there, belonging there.

But Buddy has learned to pause the walk on his own when he sees the camera come out of its case.