It’s a Dogs Life

So fellow travelers, I am finally back in Portland Oregon, resting comfortably at the residence of Favorite Older Daughter and Favored Son-in-law. 

It feels like we never left. And it feels like an eon has passed. Time is strange like that. 

Caught this moment with the kids two rescue dogs, Zeus and Coffee. 

They go and they come

Mysterious human ways

We wait patiently

Simple moments are sometimes the best respite from the worrisome moments in life.

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

Spirit of 60 Road Trip: Conclusions

So fellow travelers, I can think of no better way to end a road trip than a day of visits with friends. My trip concluded with two days of such joys and I headed homeward filled with gratitude and a haiku in my heart

20170716_221645croppedHugs lunch and laughter

Tales of music grandkids dogs

Blessings of friendship

I arrived home in time to take my dog for a sunset walk.  It was good to be home, carrying a journal of notes and a portfolio of photos to sort through. Fodder waiting to form what became this series.

 

Writing and discovering the feelings embedded in the images I take helps me process my experiences. It is extremely difficult for me to weave together the narrative which creates the essence of the experience without sounding pretentious or full of hollow platitudes and trite banalities.

Take for example my experience with the Buddha at Chuang Yen Monastery.  When the experience began to crystalize into thoughts I could communicate I struggled with finding the words to do so.  I write often about seeking peace, finding joy, embracing hope and the Zen moments when I feel Light within me responding when I find them.  Honestly those moments are as fleeting and transient as the Light which inspires my photography.

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Most of the time I stumble through the commonplace pitfalls of getting through a day. Often I get stuck simply trying to get out of my own way.  Oh there have been periods of serenity and balance, times of joy and deep contentment;  I am blessed that they are becoming more frequent and inspiration is less elusive. Still a profound moment of near transcendence as I lived in the hall of the Great Buddha at Chuang Yen Temple is an exceedingly rare gift, something genuinely beyond description. I hope I did it justice.

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On the last morning of my road trip, which was a Sunday, I attended morning worship at Rupert United Methodist Church where my friend Tom Atkins is minister. It is a beautiful church with a small congregation of kind hearted people who are even more beautiful. Tom’s sermons are more spiritual encouragement and thoughtful discourse than exhortations for repentance.  If you have read any of his blog posts* which I have shared here, you have a sense of his honesty,  deep reasoning and lively sense of humor. He brings all that and more to his services at Rupert UMC.

By grace and good fortune, his talk that Sunday focused on the parable of seeds, a fitting reflection on the many kernels of insights I had gathered on my road trip.  The biblical narrative tells of seeds, scattered on different ground,  some landing on rocks, others on dry soil, others sprout but are choked by weeds and some land in just the right conditions to sprout, grow and bear fruit. Tom spoke about applying these analogies to our own spiritual environment. I saw rocks as hard and unrelenting anger, weeds as the habits which crowd out our potential and dry ground as fear which kills before inspiration can take root.  Tend to the condition of your spiritual dirt, Tom said, and you will find the seeds scattered your way will bring a plentiful harvest.  He had a flat of bright red salvia plants, end of the season “discards” from a local garden shop which he encouraged us to take home to plant as symbols of our committment to attending to our inner gardens.

Now I have several plants tucked in special spots around my pond and in my little herb garden, reminders of the gifts of friendship and the simple wisdom in the parable of the seeds. I sense there are many seeds gathered into my inner garden which will bear harvest throughout the coming year. There will I hope be much to share. Thanks for reading.

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

*Editors note: You can follow Tom’s blog on wordpress here.

 

 

 

Spirit of 60 Road Trip Part Seven: Glassy-eyed Wonder

So fellow travelers, in my first post I alluded to an event which guided the timing of this trip.

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Acquiring coveted tickets to one of the viewings for Chihuly Nights at the New York Botannical Garden had more to do with when I scheduled this road trip than it being my 60th birthday. In all honesty if I could have picked anywhere to be on my birthday I would have spent it with my daughters in Portland, Oregon. However an impending alignment of the sun and moon required choosing between heading west for a solar return in July or a solar eclipse in August.

The eclipse won so hopefully I will be writing about that adventure next week!

So the main lunacy of this expedition became a late afternoon drive from Oyster Bay to the NYBC, a trek which involved navigating both the Long Island and Cross Bronx Expressways, which I might note are not so “express” at that time of day. Allowing myself two hours to make the 35 mile drive turned out to be just about right.  No, don’t torture yourself by doing the math to figure out my average speed; I lived it, trust me you don’t want to suffer needlessly.  We are after all on a quest to seek the counterpoint to suffering.

What I will say is every minute on the congested roadways was absolutely worth it.

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Illuminated

Garden fantasies create

Glassy eyed wonder

 

 

 

But I’ll let you decide that for yourselves. Enjoy~

 

 

 

 

 

~ and these are just a smattering of the images I was able to capture.  There are many more, which will make appearencs over time as I discover the words embedded in them.

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

 

 

 

 

Spirit of 60 Road Trip Part Two: Comfort Food

So fellow travelers, a little over an hour later, I defied the GPS directions to stay on the highway and headed south on Route 17 because I knew full well what wonders could be found along this alternate route.

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There is something about a hearty meal of good comfort foods that fortifies a troubled soul. After a brunch of corned beef hash, poached eggs, rye toast and good strong coffee I definitely felt more settled.

 

Driving through the vibrant green hills, often alongside rushing waters which still retain their Dutch names for “creek” such as Fishkill, Mudkill or Littlekill, another Buddhist teaching came to mind.

In this story, two monks are traveling and come upon a woman standing at the bank of a river, afraid to cross because she cannot swim. One monk offers to carry her across on his back, much to the dismay of his fellow monk. Upon reaching the other side, the woman climbs down and bows in gratitude, thanking the monk for giving her safe passage across the rushing waters. The two monks continue on their way and after a while the other monk breaks his disgruntled silence, indignantly questioning how his companion could dare break sacred vows against touching women. To which the monk who had carried the woman across the river replies,

“For heavens sake, I left her at the bank, You however are still carrying her with you.”

Clearly he choose to be of service and let go of any “sin” incurred in so doing, but the other monk carried a burden of anger and judgment far longer than the first monk had carried the woman in need of help.

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Rounding a bend in the road, I caught sight of a tall barren tree, filled with birds perched on the dead branches. The image spoke forgiveness which my heart accepted gratefully. Then, as they so often do, words began to weave thoughts into form

 

Forest bones stand tall

Feathered ornaments adorn

Purpose beyond death

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Photo Note: the tree is a similar image which presented itself later in my travels when I could stop to take the photo.  Add birds of your choice.

Oh and if you ever have the good fortune to travel along route 17 through Roscoe New York, do yourself the favor of stopping for a bite at the Roscoe Diner.  It’s worth the trip.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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 Gift

So fellow travelers, this graceful image greeted me this morning when I opened my WordPress reader feed.

The sketch is by a friend I first met in our online creative group.  Her post credits the original artwork as drawn from the photography of another creative tribemate.*

The image invoked one word

JOY

A simple yet deeply liberating key to to a question I’ve been working through for a few weeks.

And then a comment I started writing on my friend’s post turned into a haiku.

Ribbons of summer

Petals dancing joyfully

Gift of gratitude

Ripples of creativity flowing across the miles, connecting spirits, expanding joy. A reminder too, we need more joy in this off balance world.

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

Editor’s note: color sketch by Kathy Cary from an original photo by Jeanette Randall. You can follow Kathy’s work on Instagram