Eye Eternal

So fellow travelers, the adventures of summer are off to a most auspicious beginning.

Yeah, I know it is hard to even tell what this is . Here look closer

That is part of a whale’s back breaking the surface of the water as it feeds in the channel near Anacapa Island off the coast of California.

It’s actually only a very small part of the whale’s back, because this whale is a blue whale, the largest known living mammal on this planet.

Our boat captain had spotted the whale’s spout about a mile away and was navigating towards it. Thing is, he told us, whales stay under for long periods of time and one can never be quite certain where they will resurface.

This one had just reappeared closer. Our captain said it was “lunge feeding,” skimming close to surface of the water.

A few minutes later the whale burst out of the waves, raising it’s massive head up out of the water just a few yards away from our boat. We could see right into it’s huge mouth, water streaming through the baleen. We could see it’s majestic, glistening eye and, much like the transcendent experience of the night sky in Joshua Tree NP last summer, it was as if that eye drew me through a portal to the existence of every living being.

It was like gazing into the eye of God.

An entire boatful of humans, young, old, captain and crew fell silent.

In an instant, this amazing creature turned and dove back down, seeming endless in length, until it’s tail appeared just barely above the surface and then disappeared back into the depths of dark water in search of more krill. The encounter lastest less than a minute.

Even now, hours later , words still fail but one.

A W E

Relentless

So fellow travelers, the rain this Spring has been relentless.

I tell myself I can’t complain if I truly intend to move to the PNW, so, I take it as a kind of meteorological training program and I say things like, “At least we don’t have to shovel the driveway or brush off the car.”

Persistent optimism. It annoys people as I am frequently reminded by the eye rolling, snarkiness going around .  It rolls off my consciousness like the rain sliding down my driveway, washing the abundant maple and elm seeds into the roadside ditch. Away they sail in the rushing water to who knows where, perhaps some will take root and grow into their own little forest.

To dwell on the negativity thrown about too easily thanks to the sparsity of verbal moderation (perpetuated, I believe, by the anonymity of social media) is to allow oneself to become mired in the other peoples muck. 

No thank you! 

My own spiritual guidance pushes me to see this negativity as coming from the storms within these people. Their feelings become so uncomfortable, they project them outwards to rid themselves of the pain and anger.  I can see this compassionately without sinking into the same quagmire.

Restless storm clouds race

Dumping rain then dashing off

Leaving muck behind

Proceed mindfully

The Buddha may teach “No Mud No Lotus” but I prefer to choose what seeds bloom in my consciousness. Making mine an attitude of gratitude has over the past few years truly changed my perspective, which in turn has created changes in my life I would never have predicted.  So let rain, I’ll splash in the puddles to wash the mud off my boots.

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

The Bird in my Heart

So fellow travelers, you know that expression about a bird in hand being worth two in the bush? Well, how many birds would one from the heart equate to?

Once a year, since 2006 on the third Saturday of May, I set out on a special birding adventure called Birdathon. Essentially, it’s a 24hr birding challenge and fundraiser for our local Audubon Society. I’ve written about it a few times and it is one of my favorite adventures of the year. It’s exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating and fascinating all at once. After all it’s no easy task to locate and identify as many different species within a set region in just one day. It’s even harder without my fellow “loonatic.” Missing Favorite Youngest Daughter’s trained ear for pitch and cadence I am often at a loss trying to identify a distant call, even with the aid of my arsenal of birding apps. Since our last run as Team Loonatics in 2016 I’ve been flying solo as it were and even when the weekend holds other commitments I feel the pull to head out because this event holds meaning much deeper than tally marks on a check list.

At every location there are threads which wove a bond between the spirit of this willful, fiercely independent child and my stubborn mother’s heart. The day is not about the numbers. It has evolved into a ritual of reconnection, so even when I’m standing by myself on a trail, listening intently, I am not alone. As my brain is pulling up the memory of things my daughter taught me about pitch and cadence, my heart feels the joy of precious moments shared.

.

Distant songs echo

Love transcends time and distance

A mother’s heart heals

One day Team Loonatics will venture out again, perhaps for the Global Big Day at locations we’ve never charted before. Until then, I keep listening and living the lessons learned on the path of Motherhood .

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Late Bloomers

So fellow travelers, those reluctant lilacs I wrote about several weeks ago have finally come out of hibernation.

Given the constant rain and chilly temperatures I surely do not blame them for holding out as long as they could. For goodness sake, it was 45° this morning! Refilling the suet feeders my hands were so cold I almost dashed back inside to grab some gloves!

I snapped this quick shot with a bit of poetry in mind. With overcast skies it’s not the best of lighting,  but sometimes we just make do with what we have in the moment.

Blossoms bursting free
Flooding my senses with joy
Grateful once again

With the school year coming to a close, I too feel ready to burst out of hibernation. The promise of summer adventures is as heady a rush as the perfume of my late blooming lilacs. All in good time,  they tell me, all in good time.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Washed Out

So fellow travelers, last week the weather app on my phone pinged to alert me to a “continued precipitation and flood watch” forecast.

Relentless rainfall has washed away all my short and long term hiking plans for several weeks now. No fire tower challenges undertaken, no walks along park paths to look for spring visitors on the lake, even navigating my backyard requires rubber boots, which make for very poor footing when walking Delilah close to home.

Cold, wet, windy conditions meant scouting for migration hotspots was most unpleasant and unproductive. With the annual Birdathon this weekend (post pending)I’ve been in a deep funk about being so housebound. Checking my pond obe morning I noticed even the lilacs are holding back.

Buds wait holding tight

Wary of cold winds and rain

Needing sunlight’s hug

Like the lilacs I’ve felt pretty tightly bound. Good news is the forecast turned around just in time for the annual Birdathon, bringing me a much needed hug from the sun while out on the trails counting and tracking down my feathered Stay tuned for the final tally!


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Mixed Messages

So fellow travelers, this has been quite the week of mixed messages.

A few decades ago, in my more pugnacious days I would have exerted tremendous effort in sorting the squabbles out. Presently, being in a transitional phase as work wanes towards retirement, I’m leaning towards an unusually benign state of letting the babble die down.

After all, when even the weather is befuddled, one might as well pour a cup of tea and wait for clarity to resurface.

Snow kissed blossoms fall

Fragile crystals glow then fade

April ends confused


Yes, those are tiny snow crystals with maple blossoms landing on my car .

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Eggs-istential Hunt

So fellow travelers, it seems this morning’s little haiku has opened a gateway to a lot more words and an awareness of what was missing.

As more experiences in my daily life connect to my inner journey, it has become impossible to filter Spirit out of my writing. Close friends and fellow creatives tell me my writing has always been infused with spiritual perspectives yet I have often been hesitant to write about my direct relationship with Spirit, lest it be mistaken for religious sermonizing. Reflecting on my recent drought of creativity I’m aware this essential aspect of my experience has to be expressed if I am to write from my heart. Going forward I will tread carefully as if navigating a path through newly sprouted wildflowers. Light and Love are gentle, patient energies found in quiet spaces and I wish to be respectful of the beliefs others hold close.

~~~~~

I have a muddled relationship with religious observations.


Sacred altar in Luzerne Vally CA

Bear in mind I am that little girl in Sunday School who wanted to know why; for example, if Jesus had risen from death, why was he still dead on the cross in church. Fortunately Lutherans do not ex-communicate, but I did obey the directive to stop asking questions. One can say the most important lesson I learned in Sunday school was to keep my spiritual inquisitiveness in check at least until I was old enough to seek answers in my own. Meanwhile the Lutheran church has graciously adopted the Cross of Resurrection as its focal point in their churches.

Even as a very young child, the Christianity I was taught made no sense to me. How on earth could one put faith in a Father who would sacrifice his “only son” to save people who seemed bound and determined to keep acting in ways which required such an extreme measure in the first place. There was also quite a bit of conflict between what I was taught and what the Voice I heard in church told me. Yes, you read that right- in moments when focused on the beautiful music, mesmerized by the colors of the stained glass windows** there would sometimes be a Voice which spoke in my head.

Before we call for a psych eval know that this Voice did not “speak” in words so much as impressions or thoughts and always spoke of the importance of love and kindness. It was a Voice which, even at a very young age, I knew did not originate from my own mind. It is the Voice which, when I choose to listen, guides me to live from my heart, to choose compassion over judgment and continues to lead me to profound, if fleeting, experiences of the Presence of Light and permanence of Spirit.

Yeah, I know

Pretty wHeird.

And trust me, as an adult, for many years, I did everything I could to disprove the existence of this Voice. Except the more I did, the more the things this Voice told me proved to be true. Things like~

~ forgiveness releases you from the prison of holding others guilty

~ hatred is toxic and accomplishes nothing; it can and will kill you

~ most anger is self directed; letting it go brings healing

~ gratitude increases joy

~ peace is possible, see all of the above

So, in this season where tradition would have us reflect on the meaning of sacrifice and the concept of resurrection, I came back to those unanswered questions from my Sunday school days. The celebration of Easter itself has a complicated history, interlaced with pagan traditions of decorated eggs and an 18th century mystical egg laying “Osterhaus.” Much like the secular garb of Christmas, these are glittering distractions which we must go beyond to find deeper meaning.

In the spring season we grapple with resurrection and rebirth, two significantly different concepts. Rebirth is a new form of life, generated from something other than itself. Resurrection on the other hand is raising what was once dead to live again as itself. Easter, which always occurs after the Spring Equinox, is a time to be mindful of what we might resurrect in the annual cycle of rebirth. Awakening lost memories, buried wounds or guilt entombed long ago can create shock waves which unnerve our resolution to move forward. Yet, much like the contemporary “Easter eggs” of digital media and video games, these hidden elements can reveal new levels of awareness which help us live more fully in the present. To live our dreams, we must emerge from the shadows of the past and embrace the person we have become. In essence, while the past has shaped us it need not continue to define us. We can resurrect lost dreams infused with the energy of who we have become.

So fellow travelers, whatever beliefs you hold as truth, I wish blessings of this holy day to you . May the Easter eggs you find on the path bring gifts of joy as sweet as jelly beans .


Favorite Younger Daughter circa 2005

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

**Photo Note: WordPress new block format randomly refuses to place some of my photo captions where I want them, so here is the caption for the window photo: The beautiful stained glass windows at Rupert United Methodist church. Several times a year I have the blessing of visiting this wonderful faith community where my friend Tom is minister. You can find his blog Two Tiny Churches at this link.

Easter Blossoms

So fellow travelers, today is Easter Sunday and it dawned appropriately shrouded in mist.

Being in a bit of a fog myself lately, this mood of ponderous mystery felt somewhat comforting, as if the gods and goddesses of earth and air had gently acknowledged my dispassionate sentiments. Unable to voice the emotions eddying within and around me, my writing has trickled into silence. So, Delilah and I have spent as much time on the trails as seasonal rains permitted. We’ve been blessed with relatively warm weather which has cleared most of the snow from our favorite trails. Although spring migration is in its earliest stage, we’ve had some excellent waterbird sightings and yesterday evening a small gathering of white throated sparrows singing close by our yard spoke of the promise of more warbling visitors soon to come.

Those dots are various water birds like mergansers and scaups visiting Onondaga Lake

When I cannot write, I seek solace in the wild. Often my experiences on the trails open up the block and words begin to resonate, but even my usually reliable haiku companions seem to have gone on hiatus. I have a dozen or so incongruous attempts and several narrative blog pieces which read flat and worse still, miss the mark of my intended reflection.

This morning I sat in deep meditation by my pond; finally, overnight temps are consistently above freezing so we can safely run the waterfall filter. As far back as I can remember, that sound of gently flowing water has always created joy in my heart. A handful of juncos and chickadees trilled their thank you’s for the fresh seed  just placed in the feeders. One perched on the branches of a quince bush full of newly emerged pinkish buds. Among them, at last, were words which sang true.

Peace waits silently

Seeking but an open heart

Joy ready to bloom

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

April Fools

So fellow travelers, thanks to daylight savings push forward in time earlier this month, it was still dark when I got up to get ready for work this morning, but not too dark for me to catch the signature white glimmer of new snowfall.

Ah Well ! At least the snow brought a bit of poetry with it !

Phone message early

Spring is cancelled winter’s back

Not just April Fools

The phone message informed me school was on a one hour delay; time enough to enjoy an extra cup of coffee.

The photo of the spring blossoms were taken this past weekend on my visit to Philadelphia, a bit of hopeful forecast of warmer days to come.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Season’s Edge

So fellow travelers, this haiku showed up on a chilly walk the day before the vernal equinox.

Time frozen in waves

Thaw at season’s edge reveals

Sleeping memories

What looks like waves along the shore are actually frozen layers of water

Delilah and I have been walking the East Lakeshore Trail at Onondaga Lake Park, training for the upcoming 6legged5k event. We participate in this event most years as it’s a fund raiser for local dog rescues, including Helping Hounds. As Delilah is an HHDR alumni, it’s only fitting we put our best footandpaw forward to do our best.

To hit our stride on race day, we start training early in March by walking the trail a few times a week, gradually increasing our distance from one to three miles. At least that’s our goal, but some years the weather throws things off with either late season snowstorms (both April 2013 and 2016 had snowstorms the week before) or flooding which almost postponed the event two years ago.

20170409_091703

In 2017, lake levels came right up to the pavillion near the 5K trail

This year, March has been blustery with at least one day of heavy (8-10 inches) snow but the county parks crew has done a fantastic job of keeping the walking trail clear and we are on track to finish with a respectable time.

One side benefit to walking the East shore trail is catching a view of incoming migrants resting on the lake. The ice has not fully receded, so our seasonal visitors are clustered along the edge where open water meets the slowly receding ice shelf.

Those smaller dark specks in the distance are a variety of ducks

Delilah does not mind when I stop to scan the water with my binoculars. It gives her a chance to track the scents of a variety of critters, including foxes, opossum and an occasional mink often seen skirting the shoreline.

Soon those frozen waves will thaw and spotting the various waterbirds will become more challenging. One afternoon, there will come a warbling trill from the trees. I will turn my binoculars to catch a glimpse of migrating songbird and memories of so many grand adventures will break free as the icy grip of winter finally thaws.

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.