Snow Quest

So fellow travelers, February turned into a long, dark month. 

Winter made a roaring comeback complete with winds howling in delight at our delusions of a “mild winter.” Even leap year’s extra day in this shortest of months seemed an added mockery. Displays of forced spring bulbs in my local grocery stores felt like false promises in the face of so much loss around me. 

So many, too many, grieving friends.


One friend lost his only child, a beautiful young woman just a few years older than our own older daughter. One rushed to be with another friend facing her final hours shortly after receiving a fatal diagnosis. One was blind sided by a sudden job loss. Several friends said goodbye to cherished four legged companions.

And there is our neighbors’ house, which stands shrouded in mournful tarps, scorched black by a terrible fire in late January. Thankfully the young couple, their children and both dogs all escaped without harm but they just found out the house has been declared a total loss. They have lost most of their  possessions and they had to make the heartbreaking decision to give up their dogs for adoption because they no longer have a home. Broken windows and doors have been boarded up to prevent vandalism, still, we keep a watchful eye on the property. Kid and dog toys lay scattered in the yard, the baby’s swing hangs empty, daily reminders of a life so fiercely and suddenly disrupted.

Sometimes there are no words to ease the intense grief of sudden loss. So for five weeks, while I navigated the ice dam of emotions. silence reigned my creative space. Until yesterday, when a message sent me 35 miles west on a quest to find something marvelous.

Those specs in the sky are hundreds, maybe thousands,  of Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens) arriving at a wetland north of Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Delilah and I arrived just in time to catch this wave of migrating visitors seeking a resting place for the night. Although I only had my phone to capture photos and a short video*, a good pair of binoculars (which are always in my car) verified these were indeed Snow (not Canada) geese. The vast flock, gracefully swirling back and around, sent waves of calls across the shallow water. Wild music punctuated, by the dissonant squawking of resident gulls displeased at being ousted from the mudflats each time a band of geese would come to rest. As the sun slipped closer to the horizon, the marsh began to glow with a magical amber light and the white wings of the snow geese took on a soft rosy tint.

It was a wondrous, miraculous moment and as light faded, I drove home finally having found words to speak, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

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

*(short video can be found at this link : https://youtu.be/1fhBgofT9OM )

Insights for a New Decade

So fellow travelers, this has been a busier than usual holiday season for which I am grateful to have had a full two weeks off from work.

In between road trips to visit family, I have managed to rearrange several rooms in our house. My efforts have allowed me to resurrect my pilates machine, reclaim art studio space with good daylight and establish a new meditation and yoga space.

I’ve been honoring this last gift by spending time every morning reflecting on the passing year and clearing out any burdens I choose not to carry forward as I set intentions for the new year.
(This photo is the spot in my parents townhouse where my Mom meditates and says her ancestral prayers each day.)

Entering this shiny new decade free from past hurts, resentments, guilt or regrets is a gift we can only give to ourselves. I have been trying to write about this (in between packing up Christmas, moving furniture and clearing out clutter) but it came out sounding too diadactic.

Then friend and fellow blogger Lisa Dingle put up a blog post which embodied what I was trying to say- only absolutely on point with her signature Light touch and good humor. You can find her post here https://justponderin.com/2020/01/03/on-my-cup-and-the-new-year/

Synchronicity struck as I read Lisa’s post right after writing my own intentions for this new decade on the first blank pages of my 2020 journal. Intentions which revolve around making choices which will fill my own cup with less judgement and more tolerance and compassion, as much for myself as for others because we cannot give what we do not hold for ourselves. So I raise a cup in a toast of united commitment to “doing the work.” Here’s to the spillage bringing more hope and joy into our weary world.

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

Home Away from Home

So fellow travelers, this weekend brought a much needed road trip through beautiful snow kissed valleys and mountains


and, more essentially, some greatly appreciated time with several good friends . Which is why my favorites views on this trip were actually from two different windows

Sunrise at the Quarry

Morning at the foot of Mt Monadnock

To visit the homes of dear friends who have always made me feel “at home” was a respite my work weary spirit was grateful for. I may write more about this trip but for now this haiku will express my gratitude

A new place and yet
instantly you feel at home
friendship’s sacred gift

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

Orion’s Return

So fellow travelers, a few weeks ago I received a reminder from Earth Sky (an astronomy news site I subscribe to) that Orion will be returning to the evening sky.

Orion is the hero of our dark winter skies, shining valiantly through the bittercold nights which seem to last an eternity. His reappearance is my reminder that Light prevails even in the season of deep cold darkness.  And ever since my good friend Kate wrote a poem which featured Orion, he also stands as a reminder of the gift of solid friendships; to see him rising on a cold night fills my heart with warm memories. Ours is that rare kind of friendship which picks up right where we last hugged goodbye, impervious to time or distance.

Sunset view from one of our adventures

Today in honor of her solar return ( aka birthday ) the stars at dawn gave me these words to wish her well.

Orion returns 
behind him winter lurks but
friendship keeps us warm

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready
You can follow Kate’s poetic journeys at her blog Life with Horace

Poem: Speakeasy

So fellow travelers, clarity is a gift beyond measure in writing .

One of the many benefits of being part of a creative tribe is what we call the “ripple effect” of sharing inspiration from each other’s work. At times the dynamic exchange of encouragement and energy will bring insights which shift my perception of something I am working just enough to reveal how something I was struggling to express. This morning a post from my friend Tom Atkins did exactly that for me by defining something I experience when I am at a show with my favorite band.

The context is slightly different but the reference of being in a safe space where we can “spill ourselves is precisely why I go to as many concerts and events as possible. Each time it is an unburdening of doubt, healing of sorrows and an infusion of hope made possible by faith in the ultimate power of Unconditional Love.

The original post is shared here

Quarry House

Speakeasy #1.JPGSpeakeasy

A single red light at the end of a brightly lit alleyway,
your secret place,
a place of release,
more about the safety than the alcohol,
where everything spills out.

About this poem

We all need that safe place to be, to talk, to spill ourselves out.

The painting, one of mine, is also called “Speakeasy” and inspired the poem.

Tom

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Stopping Time

So fellow travelers, fellow creative tribemate Deb German Young posted a photo from her recent travels to see Falling Water, the iconic Frank Llyod Wright house in Pennsylvania.

The image not only caught my attention, it literally stopped me mid-scroll and I gasped out loud. “What is it?” my husband inquired as we wound through traffic in downtown Portland. “Something amazing one of my friends posted on the creative page,” I said once the neurons in my brain unlocked. “Oh, ok” he responded in the matter of fact manner indicating he is fully acclimated to the “wow” moments which often occur when I check in with the creative page.

“It is as if you stopped time” I commented under Deb’s photo, tears welling in my eyes as I posted. This image, so delicate and powerful all at once, went straight through my heart, deep into my soul, calling up that thought.

Isn’t this part of why we take photos? Are they not attempts to capture a moment so when time takes its toll we can re-ignite the fading memory into the brillance of the present? At least for me this is true. I rely on the photos I have in my camera roll to help me write because my emotions are embedded in the images I capture. When I sit down to write, I need the images to bring me back to the moment so the words are more genuine.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to take fewer shots, and be more present in the experience. Over the years, as my aptitude for writing has developed, a modest confidence in my ability has allowed me step back from creative misgivings. Being intentional of when and why I take photos is becoming more habitual. Mindfulness makes everything, including creativity, flow with less resistance.

The tears in my eyes at that moment came from the emotions I am experiencing on this year’s visit. The sense of belonging has grown exponentially since last year. I just wrote about the weather factor, but as I have been crafting a post about my Switchfoot week in San Diego I am aware there is a bigger shift happening. The words to express it have not yet become coherent, but the moments I captured and stored in my camera roll are helping me get there.

Stay tuned.

Rainbow over Encinitas

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

… on a letter to the first owner of my second-hand dog

So fellow travelers, a guest post here from a fellow blogger and now rescue dog adopter whom I am blessed to also count as friend. Grab some tissues and be ready for your hearts to smile.

Dear Sir, Firstly, I’m so sorry for the anonymous nature of this salutation. It’s just that I don’t know your name. My name is Lisa Dingle, and I adopted your Bella nearly a month…

Source: … on a letter to the first owner of my second-hand dog

Birds Doing New Things

While I head out to clear snow (yes it’s still snowing on and off in March- ah Spring in Upstate NY) from my own backyard birdfeeders to keep the early spring migrants well fueled against the return of Winter-like temperatures I thought my Fellow Travelers might enjoy a trip to a bird sanctuary in warmer climates. Sylvia’s blog keeps my birding dreams alive through our long cold season.

Tonji and Sylvia's Wildlife Refuge

Sometimes we see birds as predictable creatures of habit. They have favorite perches that they return to day after day. Their behavior becomes familiar and part of the flow of the day.

This has become a familiar early morning sight. 5 White Breasted Woodswallows perched on top of this Agoho tree.

Other times we get to witness entirely new behavior. I thought it was unusual to see a Philippine Bulbul perched on the round pen. They usually hide inside the trees. What was it doing?

This looks to me like a young Philippine Bulbul. Based on the sounds, I think there was a nest inside the aratiles and this bird is one of the young from the nest.

The Philippine Bulbul was carefully, drop by drop, picking up dew from the fence posts.

I’ve never seen other birds do that on the fence posts before.

Soon there was a second…

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Journey

So fellow travelers, I find myself navigating airports, car rentals and unfamiliar highways this weekend on an unplanned journey

This is a trip prompted by a calling of the heart, a response to a feeling, an inner directive this is a time when hugs need to be given in person.

After two consecutive major winter storms which disrupted air travel and shutdown major roads in the Midwest and East Coast, Mother Nature blessed my flights here with clear weather.

Even with a snowy drive to reach my destination last night, the morning brought a cold but beautiful sunrise, complete with a halfmoon cookie in the sky.

The memorial I am here to attend is a tribute to a friend’s husband, a man I never met in person yet feel as if I now know well through the wonderful stories his colleagues and friends gave at the celebration.

And what a beautiful celebration this has been. A room full of so many people, of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, callings and professions all touched by one extraordinary human whose life has been dedicated to kindness, family and joy.

Oh yes, and pie

~ lots and lots of pie because he loves pie just as he loves others, all kinds are equally awesome.

“Loves”, in the present tense because as a family friend said in her tribute, the essence of who he was as a person, his energy, still is. She referenced the Law of Conservation of Energy, a basic principle of physics and her words proved true.

Love, kindness and joy filled that room, embraced my friend and her two young daughters, already working to mend their broken hearts. Their lives, forever changed, will go on supported and surrounded by the “bigger circle” he created for them.

Ducks at a park nearby.

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

Successful Simplicity

Insight and something worth considering from a good friend , fellow writer and in many ways a mentor who makes a difference.

The Wisdom Letters

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This morning on my poetry blog, I posted the poem below:

Every. Thing.

Simple curved wood.
A few tacks.
Stain.
Shellac.

A place at the table
void of clutter.
A pair of pencils.

Enough.
No more.

In the next room a clock.
The pendulum swings silently.
Time is told.
No more.

Every.
thing.
tells you about
yourself,
about what is enough,
and if you poke at it,
why.

Simplicity and Minimalism are all the rage these days, but…

We are told how many books we should have, how to fold, what to cut out. The Ipod, that now nearly extinct music player that once dominated our life reduced a wall of audio equipment into a tiny little thing that fit in our pocket, with one of the great user interfaces of all time. In business circles, we are told to simplify, simplify, simplify, all while the world demands…

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