Zen Moment: Woodpecker’s Haiku

So fellow travelers, I’ve just returned from a week of camping with a good friend at one of the wonderful State Parks we are blessed to have here in Upstate New York.

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Round Lake Trail at Green Lakes State Park

Lots of rain meant plenty of time to write, so I can promise a series of posts about my recent #Spiritof60 road trip will be coming up.  Between rain storms, there were some good opportunities to get out on the trails.  Cooler temps kept bugs at a minimum although the grey skies and flat light made for poor photo conditions. Still the sun put in an appearance bright and early on the last day and the birds responded with great enthusiasm as if to make up for so many hours of precipitation induced silence. From the glorious morning wake-up call of a pileated woodpecker and feathered friends came this grateful haiku

Drumbeats at sunrise
Songbirds join in harmony
Trails call rise and hike

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

 

 

 

 

Finding the sunshine

Gentle mindfulness from a friend who lives there. Her perspective zooms in beyond News to the hearts at the center. May peace come to all affected .

Quilt of Missing Memories

“I’m crabby,” I told my pup Rex early yesterday, but he wasn’t listening.

He seems to know when Sunday’s rolls around again, and that day is his fun day.

Rex wasn’t going to let my foul mood and gray skies get in the way of his plans.

He knew an extra long walk was already on the morning agenda for just the two of us.

Just like we do every Sunday.

With my senior canines softly snoring in some kind of post breakfast bliss, Rex and I quietly snuck out the back door.

As we got closer to the lake where we typically walk, my mood was still heavy.

The heat and humidity generated during the week hadn’t come from just the weather.

Ignoring his usual stop to smell sweet cinnamon bread cooling from the oven at the bakery, Rex’s nose instead led me to a display of flowers on…

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Thoughts on Being Lost.

While I am weaving the threads of images and words from my recent road trip leave it to my friend Tom to find words that set the tone for whats to come.

Quarry House

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I am sitting in a little diner called Nicks in downtown Athol, Massachusetts.  It is a bustling place, with people coming and going and all talking to each other as I sit in the corner and write.

I am in Massachusetts every week now. The woman I love, my new bride, lives and works here. So until she finds good work up in Vermont, we are sort of a migratory couple. I spend 2-3 days a week down here, working out of diners and her apartment, and she spends three days or so up in Vermont over the weekend.

It’s not ideal, perhaps, but having her in my life, day to day, each morning and night, is worth the extra driving. Fortunately for me, she seems to feel the same.

So, every week for the past couple of months, I’ve found myself in Athol.

Athol is one of those Mill Towns…

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Road Markers

So fellow travelers, today I stand at the road marker of six decades on this journey of Life. While I’m rarely inclined to make much of milestone ages, I admit approaching this point has felt different.

Sunset reflection @ Onondaga Lake 

It’s not about getting older, that is after all something we do from the moment we are born. Yep, newsflash : none of us are getting any younger!

The turning point from young to old is a relative perspective. I’ve known octogenarians who still run marathons and young adults who dread turning thirty. Age is a number, being old is a state of mind. I embraced my fifties by saying “I’ve been around at least half a century,” when the question of age came up. The comment often surprised people, a few of whom professed disbelief until I told them my actual year of birth*. Eventually I started saying  “Well, I’ve passed the double nickle mark,” because my mid-fifties was the first point when stating my age felt uncomfortable.

Reflecting back I realize I was coming to grips with accepting the time I have left to live life’s adventures is considerably less than the time I have already lived.

And that is perfectly ok. I’ve lived a good life so far and I’m nowhere near done yet. So at sixty, yes that is 60, my mission is to mindfully go forward seeking adventures and experiencing all life has to offer for as many years as I am granted. Whether those are two or ten times that, it is not the number which matters but what we do with it that counts.

#Spiritof60roadtrip is off to a joyful start. Stay tuned.

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

*That would be 1957.

In This Spot

So fellow travelers, yesterday was a landmark day.


The experience of being at Theodore Roosevelt’s home was deeply moving. It will take some time to find words to give form to my thoughts. In the spirit of TR who was a writer long before he was a conservationist, RoughRider or President, I will let those words find me when ready. For now these will suffice.

To stand where he stood

Let his vision fill my soul

Hold nature sacred


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

Zen moment : Morning with a Wren

So fellow travelers, sitting by the pond enjoying my morning coffee, I hear a little wren has discovered the house we put up last week. 

New wren house in morning sunlight. The tenant stayed hidden in the shrubs while singing.

 

It may seem late in the season for adding a birdhouse yet I must take advantage of my husband’s assistance when he’s available. Good weather usually finds him out on a golf course or in the garage restoring a classic car.  For him the yard is something to mow and weed whack. Still, I am blessed he recognizes it as my sanctuary and I’m honestly  grateful for his efforts when I need them.

Our pond for example, where I spend so many moments gleaning peace, was a birthday gift built one hot summer, eight years ago.True it came at the urging of Favorite Youngest Daughter, but it would not have been accomplished without his hard work. 

Listening to our newest yard tenant’s joyful bursts of song I am reminded of the importance of simple joy.

Trilling proud and loud

Inspired morning wren song

Seek joy live each day

Finding joy in each day, living the moments with simple gratitude. Lessons to carry with me forward on the journey.

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

Zen Moment: Small Things

So fellow travelers, today someone made a difference in my day with a simple “thank you.” It came via email, as I was working through an unrelated problem born from a minor misunderstanding. The misunderstanding itself was minor but carried an emotional impact because it is part of a serial communication problem that surfaces periodicially in a key relationship.

The simple note of appreciation allowed me to feel heard and understood, even though it came from someone else. In turn, that moment of grace gave me some insight on how to move beyond the impasse I felt caught in. It was a gentle reminder healing and hope can be granted if we ask and release any expectations on when and how they are granted.

Forget not small things

Acts of kindness and thanks~ Grace

given and received

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Walk gently on the path my friends and remember kindness matters.

Editor’s note:  The photo is from a hike I wrote about in this preview post.

Detours

So fellow travelers, on a recent camping trip, I spent some time hiking one of my favorite trails near Lake Ontario.

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Delilah and our camping buddy Sammy hiking the trail a few years ago.

This trail is unique because it starts with a handicap accessible loop, a short gravel path through shrubs and new growth forest.  The loop has benches scattered about which provide perfect spots to catch glimpses of the many different birds that spent their summers by the lake.

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Midway along the loop, a longer trail branches off. This trail winds through an open field, over a creek, into a cool hardwood forest and around a wetland. Eventually the trail comes to a wooden bridge which crosses an inlet by a beaver dam and joins a boardwalk over the dunes to the lake shore. At least it did but flooding this year from high water levels has washed out the section which connects the bridge to the dune trail.

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The trail currently ends here.

The lake trail which leads back to he campgrounds along the shoreline is also currently underwater due to high water levels, so I knew when we set out on our hike that morning we would end up doubling back, but I had hoped to at least be able to reach the dunes. No matter, the bridge by the beaver dam made a nice stopping point for a snack and water break.

As Delilah sniffed out assorted critter news of the day, I reflected on how my thoughts on the hike out reflected my unsettled inner state.  The entire forty five minutes of the hike to the bridge had been filled with anxious worrisome thoughts about supplies (Oh I forgot to check if the cooler still had enough ice ) ticks ( Would the organic repellant I use on Delilah’s harness and paws be enough to ward off the battalion of ticks said to infest the trails everywhere this year?) incoming weather ( would I have time to get a fire going to cook with before storms predicted for the afternoon arrived?) the camper (Did I close the windows on the upper deck incase the rain came early?) on and on.

Such a barrage of nervous thinking is uncharacteristic; when I set foot on a trail, my mind customarily focuses on the immediate sights, sounds and even smells of the experience. It was not until just before we reached the beaver dam bridge that I caught how frantic my thoughts had become.  A rumble I thought was thunder almost had me turn back until I realized it was the pounding of waves .

Woah girl, stop and settle.

Unable to reach the boardwalk leading to the dunes, I  sat on the bridge, letting the water running over the beaver dam soothe my rattled brain. Once my thinking slowed, I laughed at my worries everytime a wave boomed in the distance. I shook my head in amazement at how easily I had slipped into fearful thinking. My eyes stung a little at the thought of being so far off balance. Just how much of a detour had the stress of the year set me back?  Perhaps sensing my emotions, Delilah relinquished her pursuit of a moth and sat next to me. A gentle nudge of my elbow reminded me we had snacks and water in my day pack.

 

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So we sat, Delilah and I, munching and listening to birds and bullfrogs and the boom, boom, boom of waves through the trees lining this side of the dunes. A few moments of serenity and grace. I even found myself smiling in anticipation of a good summer afternoon thunderstorm.They can be quite a spectacular sight rolling in off Lake Ontario.

“Now that’s more like myself,” I thought as we packed up to head back to camp. I realized I was not even a full week into summer break. I need to give myself time to regain my balance. The hike back was peaceful and slow. I walked mindfully, noticing wildflowers I had missed, heard more birds and caught sight of this grand wooded cathedral.

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Walking back to the trailhead words reflected the lesson within.

Time brings endings and

All which has passed falls away

Healing follows grace

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

 

 

 

 

The Art of Asking Questions

So fellow travelers, last week, while reserving a campsite for a trip with a good friend and her family, I came across a rare find at a favorite spot.

A=Available

“Ah a day or two of beachfront camping is just what I need to help me kick off the summer,” I thought. The past school year has left me strangely off balance. Falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking to the view of Lake Ontario would be the perfect mechanism to hit my reset button.

There was a catch; the site was available as a “walk-in” only, meaning I had to arrive with my camper and book the site in person.  Now, bear in mind:

~the campgrounds are fifty miles north and my camper shudders like a dying mastodon if pushed over fifty MPH.  It would take about an hour and a half to get there even if I left immediately which I could not because

~I had not yet stocked the camper with my gear or supplies for the season. Our winters are long and the camper spends the off season in our backyard, so anything susceptible to cold or dampness like linens, flashlights, spare batteries, graham crackers, etc. gets stored in our house. As well as

~The cupboards were bare (see “graham crackers” listed above.) Not a jar of coffee, can of  soup or beans nor bag of chips to be found. No sense tempting little critters to move in during the off season. A major grocery run was required.

Never mind.  A beach site was open.  

I dashed to over to Wegmans (yes I am fortunate to live within ten minutes of not one but two of the Disneyland of food stores) filled a cart with jugs of water, enough camp food and snacks for a few meals, Delilah’s favorite dog treats and a huge bag of ice. The ice is essential because the beach sites are non-electric and I don’t have a generator (yet), so all perishables are kept in a cooler.  I also turn the little fridge in the camper into an old style “ice box”  by putting a block of ice in the bottom bin. It works to keep fruits and veggies fresh, drinks cool and chocolate from melting until it’s time for S’mores, leaving room in the cooler for essential items which need to be chilled like beer.

Back home I threw, yes literally threw, things into bags and boxes and stashed everything, including a stack of wood and my big box of kindling anywhere there was open space on the floor of the camper.  It could all be organized later, on site, with a view of the dunes.

Fortunately, I have a checklist created from years of camping and hiking which now allows for spontaneous “hit the road” trips. The list means anything left behind (and there are always things left behind) is not an essential item, like my daypack or the dog’s paperwork or chocolate or the previously mentioned box of kindling and matches or chocolate, or a flashlight and spare batteries or my hiking boots and spare hiking socks or chocolate.

Just under two hours later, after checking if the site was still open, I strapped a reluctant Delilah into her car harness. Her Royal Highness detests riding in the Big Scary Moving House on Wheels with its creaks and groans and banging cabinet doors (at least one pops open every trip, if I’m lucky its the one with the linens and not the one with the cups and mugs.) She sits on the passenger seat sideways staring fixedly at me with her “ARE WE THERE YET?” scowl and a periodic whine.

Pulling up to the park office to check in I noticed the big “Public Beach Closed” sign. Unprecedented high water levels from record setting rainfall throughout the region has caused severe flooding and most of the beaches along Lake Ontario remain at least partially if not completely underwater. But I was not here to swim, I was here for the elusive beach loop campsite, IF it was still available.

Turns out thirteen was my lucky number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As in site thirteen, situated towards the end of the beach loop with it’s expansive view of lake’s western horizon.

Within a few hours, all the hastily packed inventory and supplies were organized, Delilah fed and given a good long walk around the grounds so we could make note of all the critter trails and I sat tending the first precious camp fire of the season. Fire is life. I believe that knowledge is deeply ingrained in the ancestral memories of our DNA. I feel it everytime I manage to bring a fire to full blaze from a little mound of kindling and sticks.

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Watching the gulls diving for their dinner, as I ate mine,  simply being present with the waves and the breeze, taking in the ombre wash of colors as the sun slid through layers of clouds towards days end I felt a deep peace. A thought drifted into my consciousness.

What went right today?  

This question is one we can use as a way to shift perspective, frame an experience and break a pattern of suffering. It’s a technique I realized I had lost track of, one I needed to reclaim to move beyond survival mode.  Another piece of the puzzle to help me unravel, strengthen and reassemble the essential components of my inner gyroscope.

That night, lulled by the sound of the wind and waves, simple gratitude filled my soul. Emotions held back for months rolled to the surface and broke like surf on the the shore of awareness. Relief washed over me, tears rising and falling. Eventually I slept longer and deeper than I had in months.

Today? Today, at least, everything went right. And Today is all there ever is.

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